Lord,Hear My Voice

DEAR GOD,

I’m spiraling. I’m floating. I’m spinning. I’m losing sight of you and your love in my life. I keep trying to stay focused on the person I’m supposed to be, the person you’ve created me to be, but right now I just feel so lost.

I need your help.

I don’t know when this all began—the feeling of separation from you, the fear, the exhaustion, the struggle to just get out of bed in the morning, the hopelessness when it comes to my purpose, my place in the universe. I used to be so put together. I used to get up and feel like I was on top of the world. I used to exude confidence, self-assurance, security because I knew I was on the right track.

I used to feel your presence in my every movement; I was so determined, maybe even a little prideful because I felt like I was doing all I was supposed to be doing.

And now I’m just sitting here, staring out the window, wondering how to conjure up those feelings again, wondering if I’m too far gone for you to bring me back to you.

But that’s silly isn’t it? Silly for me to doubt in the moment I need you the most. Silly to think that for a second you’d abandon me, even though my existence is so small in the big scheme of things. Because you haven’t. Because you won’t.

You’ve been here for me, countless times before. Every moment I questioned your presence, you brought something into my life that showed me I was never alone. Every second I found myself slipping, you put your arms around me and pulled me back into your grace.

So why is it that now I’m doubting again?

God, I need a reminder of who I am and where I’m going. I need a reminder of who you are and have always been. I need a reminder of the powerful, loving Savior I serve and the incredible things He’s forever doing in the lives of those who follow Him.

I know I’m being foolish, letting my human insecurities and fears cloud my mind. I know I’m being foolish, thinking that I’m so far away from your light I won’t be able to find my way back. I know I’m being foolish, thinking that you don’t love me or that I’m lost and will never be found.

It’s just so hard when the rest of the world keeps spinning—no matter what I try to do, I always feel three steps behind.

But you remind me that what the rest of the world is doing is not of my concern. I don’t need to measure up, to fit, to be ‘on track’ by human standards; I need to be right where you want me to be. I am right where you want me to be. And I need to trust that you’re in control, leading me through this season of doubt.

I need to trust that you are my God, and no matter what I’m feeling on the inside, no matter what’s happening around me, no matter how hopeless or lost I feel, you’re here with me. And you’re not going anywhere.

So please calm my heart. Give me deep breaths and clear thoughts. When I start to worry, remind me of your word. When I start to question, show me answers and the will to keep moving, even if I feel at a standstill.

Bring me light when I’m in darkness and a path to follow when I feel like I’m wandering in circles. When doors close in front of me, give me new ones to open. When people walk away, give me courage to seek out relationships that both build me, and honor you.

When I don’t know who I am anymore, tell me that I am yours.

And in this crazy world, that’s all I want to be.

Please remind me, each time that I forget.

AMEN.

13 Reasons Why 


To many, Hannah Baker was just a fictional character first in a book then in a Netflix series that went viral. To many others who related, they saw Hannah Baker within themselves.
Many saw themselves walking beside her in the halls as whispers grew louder and couldn’t be silenced.
Other saw themselves in the relationships that went from best friends to looking at one another like strangers. And how having some good memories from the past can hurt.
Many saw themselves in loneliness when surrounded by so many. When you are in a sea of people yet you feel alone you just hope someone will understand.
Others saw themselves in the love story of being too afraid to say how you felt, out of fear the other person might not say it back. So silence broke hearts when words might have healed it. 
“I cost a girl her life because I was too afraid to love her.”
Many saw themselves in the rape scenes. Where fear and shock was very real to a point where you’re frozen just wanting it to stop. Then it does. And you change. And there is no way to undo what has happened to you, so you have to live with something you didn’t choose but was forced upon you. And it takes everything in you to not blame yourself.
Others saw themselves in how depressed Hannah was walking around trying to make sense of how complicated it is to feel things so deeply sometimes. Hiding behind a mask because it’s easier to pretend everything was okay, then admit you need help.
Many others and I think the hardest place people saw themselves was in the suicide. Whether you’ve attempted yourself or thought about it, the scene made me cringe. Not just because it was so graphic but because I know it’s so many people’s reality.

This is to you…

When suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of 18-24, that’s more than a statistic. Those are lives that have been lost. Those are children, friends, students, peers. And way too many people who should still be here.
So to every person who isn’t a statistic…
I’m so proud of you.
I am so proud of you because I know how hard some days are.
I know how alone you feel.
I understand there’s this pain within you, you can’t shake.
I know you think ending your life is a solution. But it isn’t. All that happens when you end your pain is you pass along to someone else. Your death is something that happens to everyone else around you.

And I know you might feel empty or feel nothing at all. Maybe you have a plan already or a suicide note, written. When you know exactly how you are going to do it and when.
But I’m going to stop you there.
I’m going to ask you to stay because so many people need you here.
Because I know there is a little bit of hope left in you. I know you don’t want to end your life, you just want the pain you’re feeling to go away.
And I don’t know what is causing it for you, maybe it’s heartbreak or bullying or depression. Maybe you’re 17 too and you don’t see a future.
But these things you are feelings, these bad days you are having, are simply preparing you for all the good that has yet to come in your life.

Stay around to see those good days.

There are still so many people who have yet to meet you. So many lives you are going to change. Love stories that need you apart of them. Because as lost as you feel and as lonely as you feel, there is somebody looking for someone just like you. Do not deny them the chance of meeting you because you want to take your life.
I know, it kind of feels like you’re alone and no one understands. I know you might be stressed and overwhelmed, not just by school or work but about these heavy emotions consuming you and it’s taken a toll.
And you feel like a burden to people around you. You think their lives would be better if they didn’t have to worry about you so much. But they would rather worry than be weeping at your funeral blaming themselves for something they should have seen.
But people don’t see it. Because I know like Hannah, you’re really good at hiding how you feel. I know you’ve mastered the art of keeping your head down in silence when so many thoughts consume you, taking you to this dark negative place.
I know you feel both invisible and silent. Because you can’t even find the words to describe how you feel, you just know it’s not right.
I know how much it hurts. Even if you can’t describe what that “it” is. There’s a pain within your soul you can’t shake.

I’m going to tell you something you might not have heard in awhile you are so strong. The fact that you can feel these things so deeply and it can only be described as hell when your mind tries to drag you into darkness but you still find the light.
You become a light for others because you know what it’s like to be in that deep.
You weren’t here you simply end your life looking for the easy way out. Because nothing about that is easy. But you were here to prevent others from making a mistake that will cost them everything.
I need you to simply do one thing for me, get it tomorrow. And when you get there, get to the next day. And when you get there, get to the one after that. One day you are going to look back at this and realize how glad you are, things didn’t end when you wanted them to.
And when that day comes and you’re standing on your own two feet and those thoughts at night aren’t drowning you, the way I know they are right now, I want you to reach out to me and tell me you’ve made it.
Because I know you have the strength to get there.
A bad day is only 24 hours but the best day of your life could be tomorrow. 

Time Changes Everyone

I’m happy with the way things turned out. I’m happy with the path that my life took, with all of the twists and turns that lead me to the place where I am today.

But, even though I’m thankful for the location where I’m living and the people that are surrounding me, I still miss the way things used to be.

I miss the friends that I’ve grown apart from over the years. I miss the family that has moved away and lost touch with me. I miss the days when I could carry around a carefree attitude instead of worrying about when I have to pay my next bill and what time I have to wake up for work.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with where I am. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I wouldn’t change any aspect of my life, even if I had the ability to do so.

One of the scariest, but most comforting things about life is that it’s forever changing. One moment we’re up, the next were down, and then suddenly we’re on the upswing again.

We don’t sit still. We’re never stuck. We won’t always feel this low. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that you will be okay, because you will. I promise.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t miss the past. That I can’t relive the memories that mean the most to me.

In a perfect world, I could call up the friends that I miss and have a reunion with the family that I haven’t seen in years.

But the problem is that things change. I’m older now. I’m different now. Everyone around me is different, too. The people I remember from my memories aren’t the same people right now. They’re new, they’re fresh, they’re practical strangers.

Reconnecting with old friends might sound like the easy choice, but it isn’t always the right choice.

I can’t call up the exes I miss, because in my heart I know that we’re better off keeping our distance from each other. And I can’t go back to the job I miss, because I’ve outgrown it and am ready for bigger things.

I can’t just run back to the past when I’m feeling a little nostalgic, because I don’t belong there. I belong exactly where I am right now.

I’m already where I’m meant to be. I know I am. But I’m allowed to miss the past. I’m allowed to look back at old photographs and tell stories about how much fun my childhood friends were. I’m allowed to flip through yearbooks and social media stalk old crushes to see how they turned out.

I’m allowed to miss the past, but not want to go back to it. I’m allowed to think about how many amazing people I’ve met and places I’ve been, but be ready to move onto better things.

Sure, I miss the way things used to be and a part of me always will, a part of me will always love those old friends and cherish those old memories.

But, the truth is, I’m even happier now than I was back then. I’m an even better, stronger person than I ever was before. 

I do believe that everything happens for a reason, and I also  do believe that every choice we have made in the past has put us where we currently are in life. I do not believe that we would have ever worked — no matter how many do-overs we could’ve gotten — but I do believe that we both learned something from our time together that will serve us well in the future. #TBT

Being Comfortable With Uncertainty

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, Infinite Possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle
“If you want to know your past – look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future – look into your present actions,” states the Chinese Proverb.
Reality is filled with uncertainty. 
Seldom do we have an exact picture of the path ahead, so we accept what arises with determined courage.
It is natural to uphold a level of control, yet we need uncertainty to prevail since the seeds of opportunity lie in the unexpected.
At a deeper level, we fear uncertainty because we lack the life skills to navigate through it. Recognised as the mind’s negativity bias, we doubt our capacity to cope with the unexpected and exaggerate events to the detriment of our mental and emotional wellbeing.
With so much talk of stress these days, we need to know what the imminent future holds in store for us. Yet the security we crave for is but an illusion to lull us into a false sense of safety. 
Author David Rock states in Your Brain at Work, “The brain craves certainty. A sense of uncertainty about the future and feeling out of control both generate strong limbic system responses.”
As a result your brain looks to your external environment to reinforce a known sense of balance. In primitive times our ancestors had to contend with a variety of conditions to sustain life. The threat of wild animals, adjusting to climatic conditions, fear of attack from rival tribes and the outbreak of disease, were barriers to their survival.
Thankfully, life in the modern world is not as bleak, yet modern life is replete with its own stressors which pose a hazard to our wellbeing. Uncertainty for the modern man is contained within: intimate relationships, volatile economies, uncertain job security, weather fluctuations and health concerns.
Bruce Hood affirms in his book The Self Illusion, “…in situations where outcomes are important, we get stressed by uncertainty and feel the need to do something so that we can have the illusion that we can control events.”
To retain binding command of our lives is both a blessing and curse. In one way it affirms our sense of safety, knowing we need not contend with tentative conditions. On the other hand, its misleading bias is overstated by our limited control, if any.
It is no surprise that the mind is notorious for emphasising circumstances which appear less dramatic than they are. Known in psychology as catastrophizing, the inherent bias to perceive events within a negative context.
The fear of “not knowing” what lies ahead impedes our long term welfare. At a deeper level, fear of the future terrifies us because of the unfamiliar conditions which lie ahead. It interferes with attaining emotional freedom.
“Faith means living with uncertainty – feeling your way through life, letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark.” – Dan Millman
So how can we embrace the unexpected without the barrage of emotions which ensue?
To accept uncertainty in our lives requires a change in perspective. We yield to the intrinsic forces of life instead of oppose them. However uncomfortable it may seem, we surrender to the natural order of events by leaning in to our fears and insecurities.
You reason with your anxieties by perceiving them with a logical mind instead of becoming embroiled in them. Otherwise, we risk activating our fight or flight nervous system every time, which senses we are in imminent danger instead of being uncomfortable.
Remain present in your body when anxiety threatens your emotional wellbeing. Choose a proper time to examine the motivation for your anxiety. 
Have there been moments in the past which caused similar anxiety? 
If so, are you repeating those same feelings instead of facing them?
Fear is a confronting emotion, though we gain strength when we embrace it as a useful emotion. I often remind myself that fear is an illusion. I can reduce the volume of fear by being exposed to it moderately each time.
We rarely have all the answers, which means uncertainty is as much an inner declaration that everything will turn out well in due course. It strengthens our resolve and commitment to the natural cycles of life. Change in itself is terrifying, not the conditions themselves.
The key lesson is to be comfortable with uncertainty – why? Because it exists and we should avoid retreating in resignation wishing life were different. 
We evolve by being exposed to uncertainty and confronting our fears, otherwise they dominate our mental landscape and grow in intensity. To that extreme that which we oppose must be met head on. 
It was the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who declared, “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your own estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

Find middle ground between living with uncertainty and maintaining a level of control, short of manipulating outcomes. Let go of tension, anxiety and fear by embracing the unknown. Consider uncertainty a worthwhile journey toward a daring future. 
Uncertainty allows us to re-evaluate the past and make new choices in light of what transpires. It presents opportunities to create a compelling future based on new information.

Am Changing My Story

​I’m trying to change my story. I’m trying to change my narrative. I’m trying to change the voices in my head.
I’m trying to tell the world another story about myself. I’m trying to make it a story of hope, faith and success rather than a story of struggle, despair and failure.
I’m trying not to paint myself as a victim anymore. I’m done blaming my parents, my school, my friends or my culture for all my setbacks. I’m working with what I’ve got. I’m finally figuring out the right path for me. I’m finally driving in the right direction. I’m finally learning that it doesn’t have to be a sad story with no destination. I’m finally learning that I can still change the ending. I can still make it a happy one.
I’m trying not to associate my age with everything.Why I’m not rich or why I haven’t traveled to all the places I wanted to visit. I’m changing my hopeless questions to one simple answer: faith. I’m changing my story from being hopeless to being faithful. I no longer think everything in my life was ‘delayed,’ everything was right on time, everything came exactly when it should have arrived — not sooner or later because now I have the wisdom to appreciate them, the strength to endure the obstacles on the way, the stamina to fight harder for what I believe in and the gratitude to be thankful for the whole journey.
I’m changing my story from loneliness and darkness to self-love and light. I’m changing the tone of negative self-talk, of feeling inadequate, of being afraid of missing out, of being too attached to the minor things in life, of being too concerned about what people think to simply letting go of perfection, of deadlines, of expiration dates and expectations.
I’m human. I’m still finding myself. I’m still trying to understand life. I’m still trying to define what happiness is. I’m still trying to understand what kind of love I’m looking for and I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself just because I don’t have all the answers.
I’m done trying to make my story all about answers, I just want to enjoy reading it, I just want to enjoy living it. I just want to try to make it a good one. Even if it means having more questions than answers, even if it means not getting everything I want.
I’m not going to change the essence of the story, I’m changing everything around it. I’m changing the way I tell it. I’m changing the way I write it. I’m changing my voice, my tone and my speech.
I’m taking my pain and heartbreak and turning them into something beautiful. I’m editing my story, sometimes we forget that it’s still a draft, not the final manuscript and we can always go back and change it. It’s not over yet

Be Still My Soul

Nothing stays the same—this is what I’ve discovered in growing up. And of course I knew this, but I continually fight it. I want to understand. I want to make sense of what is happening around me. I want to know where I’m headed and see beyond the present. I want to go and go and go and rush and take everything in, taste it, spin it around in my mind until I get dizzy.

 

But something I’m learning is how to slow down.
Something I’m learning is how to be still.

I’m learning to quiet the rushing thoughts in my head. I’m learning to close my eyes and breathe deeply, smell the earth, the sky, the hint of flowery perfume, the bagel shop down the street, the cotton of clean clothes, the sticky-sweet fruit from the outdoor market.

I’m learning to let life happen—to me and around me—and smile, even through the storm. I’m learning that you cannot have answers held in the palm of your hand or written somewhere on a sheet of scrap paper, ready to be pulled from your pocket and read when life seems to stray from its path.

I’m learning that sometimes what you know will drastically change, and you will only exhaust yourself trying to keep up, trying to run when you’re only meant to walk, trying to make people love you when they’re meant to be set free.

I’m learning to be still.

I’m learning to close my eyes and slow down time, make a moment stay, instead of letting it so quickly fade into a memory. I’m learning to relish in the present, to hold onto it for as long as I can and quit looking ahead to the next adventure, next thing, next item on my list.

I’m learning that I cannot rush—my decisions, God’s plans, or the feelings written on someone else’s heart. I do not have control of this; I must trust, let go, and let life play out.

I am a character in the movie, not a director, not the one who can rewrite the script or know what’s coming, no matter how hard I try to. And I am learning to trust in this.

I’m learning to stand on solid ground and quit fighting the natural course of events, quit being so damn stubborn when what I think should happen doesn’t, or when what does doesn’t match up with my pre-written plan in the slightest.

I’m learning that stillness doesn’t mean a perfect life, but it does give me peace. And I’m learning that when I stop running wild, stop letting myself be pulled in three different directions, stop thinking I have to know everything—I am in-tune with the people around me, stronger in my faith, and more focused on the people and things that really matter.

I’m learning that when I am still I am not static, but strong. I am prepared. I am whole and have regained my sense of self. I’m learning that when I am still, I am not looking at what’s to come, but celebrating what is, and ready for whatever God has planned for me next.

I am learning that life is even more beautiful when I stop trying to have the answers, when I stop trying to write my own path, when I stop trying to continually be something, be somewhere, and instead just be.

I’m learning to be still. 

 

 

In the Words of Charlie Chaplin:

img_20170302_124739_285.jpgI’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another.

Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.
The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.
The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder.

 

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.

 

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you!
You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

 

Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will!

 

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”