If you read yesterday’s post, this is Part II. Thanks for bearing with me in dividing it. It was just a lot to share.
You know how I said I wished the story ended with the real Nina standing up and that it didn’t? It ended so much better. That’s not me being cheerful or positive. It is fact.
This may surprise you but I am so glad this weekend happened–for a multitude of reasons but in terms of what I shared yesterday, God used it to show me that some things I struggle with, high achieving and perfectionist tendencies, had been rearing their heads for a few weeks to varying degrees. The fact that I could not recognize myself this past weekend was the effect of all that.
I’ve always known those tendencies of mine are not good for me. When my illness began, God worked a number on me because a huge factor in the amount of pain I feel on the daily depends on stress and how I handle it. Life has stress so handling it is important. What isn’t great is to create stressful situations (as a high achiever and perfectionist) when they don’t need to exist. For many years, God used my illness this way for my good (because I truly believe He had me bending before I broke in this area…even without the health problem). This may sound nuts to some people but I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t had the seizure that led to my chronic illness. God is sovereign.
This lasted for years but too bad my attention span is only so long and it is easy to fall back into old habits. This time God chose to use another wake up call and it happened this weekend. Look, I am going to be straight with you: 99.9% of the people there either didn’t know me at all or had not met me in the flesh. Of course, I wanted them to get to know the real me. Here was our chance to meet and really get to know each other.
Um, not God’s plan for me. But since His plan is always better than mine, I am filled with hope and joy at this moment.
But this weekend, inside, I felt so drastically different in how I was acting (whether it appeared drastic to those few who did know me or not) that I was more concerned over why this personality shift was happening over what people may have thought of me. It was not nerves. It wasn’t me trying to impress anyone (this version of me was far from impressive). It was something internal going on. The lack of sleep for the week leading up to it sure didn’t help. But mostly it was the stress I’d been just been putting on myself for reasons unrelated to the conference.
This concerned me. But God (my favorite two words when strung together) graciously revealed both practical steps to take and spiritual ones. God made it very clear what I needed to do through His strength (maybe I’ll share that here, maybe I won’t…I do know I am not in the position to decide that at this moment). I’m not fretting over my reputation or the impression I made. God just used the way I was acting to reveal some deeper spiritual, emotional, and physical issues I had been ignoring like a child covering her ears.
I love grace. I don’t know what I would do without it. For someone who is incredibly hard on herself (work harder, work better, that is not good enough), grace is just…it’s so foreign and amazing at the same time. It’s radical and I need it. It’s the place where I need to act and live out of every single day. I haven’t been.
For those who emailed and commented, thank you and also, don’t worry. I’m going back to therapy because it is a great place! I love therapy, especially in non-crisis moments (I don’t consider this a crisis considering other things I have been through). That’s when you get to go deep, search out patterns, be held accountable to all the tools you are learning. To be clear, when in a crisis, therapy is just as good only in a different way…kind of in the way of: please help me hold my stuff together until we meet again type of way, which is also important. But yes, wherever we are, sometimes we need help.
I am not doing any of this on my own power. I can’t (proof: this past weekend and the weeks leading up to it).
I need to get on a soapbox for a hot second because there is a problem when Christians who need help are not encouraged to seek out therapy if they need it. I listened to someone who had been told that and my heart broke. Any Christian who knocks Godly counseling or therapy can answer to me (and that’s before they answer to God) for being ignorant. I think that is one of the first times I’ve used that word on the blog because it’s an intense one. But I am saying it. Don’t tell me or anyone else to pray “harder.” I am praying and you need to get your facts straight about what prayer is and what prayer means and oh yeah, the Spirit is praying on my behalf 24/7 so maybe you should talk to Him about praying harder (see Romans 8 and many other places).
Or this whole believing God more thing. If you believed God more, you wouldn’t struggle with x,y,z. You know what I believe, bozo, or rather, what I know? The body of believers is important. We are asked to carry one another’s burdens. We are also different, gifted in different ways. And asking for help is important. So if anyone wants to ask for help from someone who has been trained in biblical counseling, they are believing God. They are taking a step of faith. You are hurting other Christians when you repeat the type of teaching that says therapy is bad or that if you need it, something is wrong with your walk with God. This teaching is unbiblical. That is is another word I don’t use here very often but I used it. And I believe it 100%.
Therapy can be manna from heaven, okay? God given and nutritious.
I will now step off the soapbox (I’ve never been insecure about therapy but I’ve seen and heard these attitudes before and recently when I was hearing someone’s brokenness over something and that they had been told this or taught this…Maybe I saw red? Or many colors? Can you blame me?)
But back to the point of this post after this detour. I am thankful for the wakeup call because now God and I can work it out (also, yes, therapy). It won’t happen with a snap of the fingers (a flesh pattern I’ve struggled with since I was about one years old just doesn’t disappear) it takes work, done through God’s strength, and that work takes time. But because of this weekend I can reroute. I don’t have to keep driving in the same direction.
That’s good, guys.
Also, I have been told that if I even try to paint the straight lines again…expletive, expletive, expletive.
Thanks for your support as always. Your comments and your emails were such a blessing. My hope now, today, with two decent nights sleep under my belt, more prayer than I’ve done in a long while, and a plan in place, is that by lifting my petticoats so to speak…by showing you just how imperfect I am…you may be encouraged. Or maybe there is an area in your life that needs to be rerouted. I don’t know. I am just trusting God in sharing this.
God is so good, guys.
Finally, beauty from the ashes is in God’s job description. It has always been so since the time Adam and Eve sinned, lighting a match to the perfect relationship they experienced with Him in Eden. If after that fire and ash heap, He still could give us beautiful redemption through His Son, then I don’t know why we even pretend that there is a situation beyond Him. If you feel like you are beyond God’s grace or goodness, please hear me when I say you are not. Beauty from ashes is his thing. Let Him do His thing.
P.S. Remember when I told you that I learned to have a blog schedule but to also be flexible with it? Haha.
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