Saturday, February 21, 2015

I'm Still Here

Two years ago I was depressed and lonely, contemplating leaving life behind and just giving up.

Today I sang a victory song on my terrace in Germany.

It's strange knowing where I used to be. It's hard for me to process how I could have ever sunk so low when my reality now is so different from then. But here I am, on my two-year anniversary of having conquered depression and I get to celebrate yet again.

I think it's significant that twenty-four hours after I was puking my guts out and sobbing my eyes out because I wanted to quit, I found myself in a crowded theatre called Stargazer's dancing with beautiful people to the sound of amazing music, clad in a pair of red high heels. I think it ended up being important - that it was foreshadowing the years that were to come. So much music, so much laughter, so much life. And I never would have experienced it if I hadn't pressed on.

I want to encourage you in whatever season you are now, whether you feel like you are on top of the world or that you carry its weight on your shoulders. I was once at the lowest of low points, being hunted down by demons and fears and horrors unimaginable but in spite of all of their efforts to tear me to pieces I'm still here. I'm still here and I'm still strong and I'm still pressing on in spite of how not every day is sunshine.
"You must cling to hope even in the darkest of midnights and sunrise will always find you." --line from my novel, Uritus and the Sword of Fire
When I say that it gets better, I truly mean it with all my heart. I hesitate even to use that phrase because of how it has become such a cliche and, my word, how I loathe cliches. But it does get brighter and you will be alright. Let Papa carry you for a while if you need to. That's why He's here.

(Unrelated side note: I made a YouTube channel for my music if you care to give it a look. Cheers!)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

You Make Beautiful Things

This is not what I had in mind.

This weekend began the Carnival holiday here in Germany, leaving us all free from school or work until the 23rd. We have been planning the trip for weeks now - going up to stay at Sylvie's cabin in Austria for a long weekend of skiing and good food. The trip still ended up happening, I just bade everyone farewell when they left yesterday afternoon. Conveniently enough, I fell miserably ill on Thursday and decided it would be better to quarantine myself than expose everyone to my germs.

So here I am, horribly sick and horribly alone on Valentine's Day weekend when I was supposed to go skiing for the first time with my adopted family.

But the thing is, it's okay.

I'd be lying if I said this was even remotely close to what I wanted. Being alone is hell enough, being sick and alone is a whole new level of not okay. But I said goodbye as they all drove away, reassuring myself that Jesus has got this covered, that He's going to make this work out anyway.

He did.

Last night I had a bit of a mental breakdown. I felt miserable and feverish, tired and hungry while not actually wanting to eat anything. I sat on my bed and did that thing, you know, where you talk to Papa but you're just monologuing, not allowing Him any place to cut in. I went on and on about how I knew that I wasn't really alone, how I knew He was there with me and that was more than enough, how I was sorry that such knowledge hadn't passed from my head to my heart yet. After a while, He stopped me.

"You're not getting it, Beloved."

"Getting what?"

"This weekend is not about you falling in love with Me. You already are, so fervently. This weekend is about you falling in love with yourself."

I shut up and let His words sink in. Obviously, He was right. I've spent years trying to see myself as He does, trying to understand that I'm worth real love. But it is a far more difficult process than we think. So I got up off of my bed and crossed the room to where my little mirror rested on a shelf and looked at the girl in the reflection.

She was tired and her eyes were red. Her hair was frizzy and her lips were chapped and her nose was puffy from all the tissues. She was sad and defeated, all the while feeling guilty for feeling that way while she has such an amazing life. I took a deep breath. And then I started to affirm her.

"You're good, you know. Even if you're not perfect. You don't need to be perfect, you're amazing as you are. And you're beautiful and you're talented and you're smart. And I'm sorry that I never tell you so. I . . . I do love you, even though I never say it. And I'm sorry about that and I'll try to get better. And I will keep telling you that you are beautiful and good and smart and talented until you believe it for yourself. Because I know you don't see it now but it's true. And you're going to be okay. You already are."

I think there was a reason that I needed to have such a revelation when I was sick and sad, when I was at my physically "least attractive" and least content since I moved here. I don't for a second believe that Papa made me sick - that's not who He is - but I undoubtedly believe that He used my sickness and my lonely weekend to bring me something amazing.

Love. From myself. The only thing I've ever really been missing.

I know with certainty that it's not just going to be easy to keep loving me. Surely there will come days where my reflection or my personality or my voice will irk me indescribably. But I took off another pair of shades yesterday, one that was tainting my view of the amazing woman that Papa designed. I am no one to tell Him how to do His job.

Like He said to me yesterday, "Charity, you're always talking about how people are art, how they are so uniquely beautiful and fantastic. You, Dear, are the same way. The next time you count beautiful things, include yourself on the list."

Darlings, I implore you to do the same thing, to look at yourself the way Papa does and to accept yourself for the exquisite person who looks back. It is not easy. But let me encourage you in what I know, that life is too short to tramp through ignorant of the beauty that you contain. Let's make 2015 the year of self-love. I assure you, it's more than worth it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

One Month Down

Come Tuesday, I will have officially lived in Germany for one month.

Wait . . . what?

This is strange to me for two different reasons. The first is that I feel like I literally just got here. I so vividly remember stepping off of the plane and seeing Luzian race out of the house waving hello when the car pulled up and eating my first meal here. It doesn't feel like a full month has gone by, like I've existed in this space for longer than even a week. But today I turned the page of my Beatles calender and admired how perfectly ordered February is (four full weeks, beginning on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday. I find this more satisfying than I probably should).

The second reason is mostly what I'm writing about today, and that is that there is no way that I could have been here for only a month because I've done at least six months worth of healing and growing and learning in this time. Did my ability to figure things out just miraculously speed up when I crossed the border into the EU? Surely there's an explanation.

I sat in a Starbucks with my mentor, Rebekah, the day I had accepted the job here. She's been doing life with me for almost seven years now and so I wanted her to be one of the first to know that I was leaving. She was the only one who didn't express deep sadness or concern when I dropped the bomb, mostly because she knows that this has been my heart for so long and she was over-the-moon stoked for me.

I described the job and the location to her - four days a week taking care of three adorable children in a tiny town made up of five thousand people which sat between the Alps and Lake Chiemsee. I remember her saying that of all the places in the world, a small town in Germany was not at all where she had pictured me. She envisioned me in a city or on a beach, somewhere big and loud and always moving.

"This is better though, I think. I know you're a people-person, and you love being around others, but this is a chance for it to just be you and Jesus, for you to focus on yourself and not have anything to distract you from that."

I knew right away that she was right and that this was why all of my other attempts to escape the Rockies had fallen through. This was my chance to escape with Yahweh, this was my opportunity to just be away with Him.

And up to this point, that's exactly what it's been. I'm playing guitar, I'm editing a novel I wrote long ago, I'm going running. I'm eating three times a day, I'm drinking more water, I'm getting a solid eight hours of sleep every night. But even more than that, I'm learning about myself, I'm shaking off all of the fears and emotional issues and problems that I once dealt with, and I'm growing. On my own time, at my own pace, I'm figuring myself out.

I had a Skype date with my best friend a few days ago, and I was able to say with the utmost certainty that I am more myself now than I ever have been before.

I can't even begin to write down all of the stories and all of the dreams and all of the me-and-Papa dialogues that I've had that have taught me things about myself and about Him and about the world around me. At one point I became concerned that I should be even better off than I am, that maybe I should be happier or less lonely, even though I'm in a very good place in both of those areas. He responded with a phrase that I have dearly taken to heart.

Do not concern yourself with ever needing to be better, Beloved. You are exactly where you are supposed to be exactly when you are supposed to be there.

I'm resting in that now, that there's no pressure on me to be better, that I don't need to worry about pushing myself even farther forward. I am good. Here, now, where I am, it is well with my soul.

I live in a country where no one speaks my language. I don't technically have any friends here, save the family I'm staying with and a few people they know. It's not always easy to communicate with those I know back home because of the eight-hour time difference. But I don't really care. None of that really matters now.

I am where I am supposed to be and that is good enough.

I hope your 2015 has been at least half as great as mine has and I hope that it gets even better.

Here's to even more growth.

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