Happy New Year’s Eve Eve, everyone! The past several months have been nothing short of chaotic and tumultuous, and as a result, I’ve had to take a step back from blogging. Now that I’ve finally had a minute to breathe and let the dust settle, I wanted to come back and give an update on things that have been going on in my life, and what I’ve learned over the past several months.
A few weeks ago, I posted a short life update on Facebook about the season I was going through. In summary, these past several months were extremely chaotic – it seemed like the rug kept on getting pulled from beneath me, there was never enough time for the dust to settle, and, through a series of events, my mental health took a severe dip. My job suddenly became very hectic and taxing, and I found myself having to push harder than ever before to try and get through my work day. Once school started up again, I was once again thrown into a very hectic and inconsistent work schedule that made my days feel exponentially longer. It also didn’t really help that a couple of my professors this past semester fell far under par, and obvious tensions rose among some of my classmates in my cohort. Sprinkled here and there were intense panic attacks and bouts of depression. I fell into such extreme self-hatred, helplessness, and hopelessness, questioning some of my closest relationships and believing blatant lies about myself and my worth that came out of nowhere. I have never felt so isolated in my entire life. To end the series of unfortunate events that occurred over this past season, a friend from college suddenly and tragically passed away at the end of October. Though his passing and the circumstances of his passing weren’t terribly triggering for me, it forced me to truly confront my own mental health issues and the reality that could become my own if I were to keep going in the direction I was going.
None of this is to say that I want to be framed as the victim. Amidst the anxiety and isolation, I had small victories during my moments spent with the Lord, being reminded over and over again of the simple yet overwhelming truth of the Gospel. In those moments when I felt worthless, I was reminded that my worth is found on the cross. In those moments when I felt unloved, I was reminded of the love that the Lord has for me is so deep, He gave His son to the world to die for me. In moments when I felt victory was impossible, I was reminded that victory had already been won through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes, I’ve gone through the lowest of lows, and I’ve never felt such crippling weakness. But I’ve also never known such joy and peace knowing that the Lord has me, and such strength He gives me to keep walking through the storm. I’ve never known such depths of the love the Lord has for me. And it was exactly these things that I made it a point to meditate on in order to truly and intentionally rest from the past few months.
For me, resting during the past couple of weeks looked different than how I used to in the past. Before, resting meant catching up on all of the things I had missed out on – binge-watching TV shows, YouTube videos, making copious amounts of trips to the movies, coffee shops, and spending time with friends and loved ones to make up for lost time. Though I did plenty of those things the past couple of weeks, resting intentionally also meant seeking healing from the chaos that I had just walked through over the past several months. Just like many others, after coming out of a stressful season, I would love nothing more than to just leave it in the past and do my best to pick myself back up move on. I would bottle up the hurt that I was feeling, which would later turn into deep resentment. As much as I would have liked to believe that I had moved on in past situations, the resentment became a thorn on my side that wouldn’t go away no matter how much I tried to ignore it.
A little over a week ago, my sister and I made the drive back up to Sacramento for Christmas, and this trip came at a much needed time. Having the break from work and school was definitely nice and very much needed, but being back in my hometown in my childhood home gave me the space I needed away from the life that I have down here in Southern California. It was the best time to truly reflect and heal from everything that had happened over the past several months. I knew I didn’t want to shove the past several months into the recesses of my mind. I didn’t want to look back at the Fall of 2019 with dim lenses. I didn’t want to pretend like the past several months never happened. I wanted there to be true resolution. I wanted the space to heal.
As I had gotten to reflect more and more about what I had gone through, it became clearer and clearer to me that the root of my anxiety, self-worth issues, and constant state of panic all stemmed from the fact that I had put my relationship with the Lord in the backseat and pursued other things before Him. Though I would have liked to believe that Jesus was always at the forefront of my mind every single moment of every single day, I realized I had fallen far short of that over the past few months. Though I had no issue glorifying God when things went right, the sad and awful truth was that I had a difficult time seeing His goodness in the darker moments. I had allowed myself to put my worth in my job performance, my friendships, and what others thought about me. I had created idols out of my career, education, certain friends and friendships, and, as much as it pains me to admit, even my relationship status. I found it difficult to lay my issues out in front of the Lord before bringing them to others, or ultimately trying to gain control over these things myself.
The Lord has been so kind in revealing to me the idols of my heart – friends, friendships, my job – but still allowing there to be resolution. On the drive up to Sacramento, I realized that in order to see the end of this season of intense anxiety, I had to finally lay these things before the Lord, trusting that He will ultimately work things out for my good. I needed to stop striving for perfection at my job, or feeling the temptation to quit when I fell short of expectations. I needed to stop straining the friendships in my life with the weight of my insecurities. I felt like I was being given another chance to do right by the Lord by deepening first my relationship with Him, and putting all of my faith and trust into Him amidst the anxiety and chaotic moments. These are such simple concepts that have been instilled in me from when I was a child, yet I allowed myself to grow numb to them, not realizing the tumultuous path that would come as a result.
If there is one other thing that I could take away from this season, it’s that the Lord’s discipline is painful, but it is so good. As I began to dissolve into guilt from putting my relationship with God in the backseat, soon after came peace in realizing that none of this comes as a surprise to the Lord – He has intricately and delicately planned every detail of my life to bring me where I am now and to show me where He wants me, which is in communion with Him. It is then that I began to be reminded of the simple, yet overwhelming truth of the Gospel – before I was even in the womb, the Lord knew that I would fail and fall short of His glory, but still He gave His only son Jesus to the world to die for my sins so that I may have a seat at His table for all eternity. God knew of the idols I would put before Him, still I was saved by His grace and His grace alone. There was nothing that I did to deserve my salvation, nor is there anything I could ever do to have it taken away from me.
But none of that is to say that because my sins have been forgiven, I’m free to live in deliberate disobedience to Him. With repentance comes a changed heart and a renewed mind. Gone are the days that I idolize friends and friendships. Gone are the days that I put all of my worth in my job and school work. It is because of the Gospel that I live in loving obedience to the Lord, glorifying Him with every word, action, and thought that I have. I know now that a deepened relationship with the Lord needs to be intentional. I want that deep relationship. I need that deep relationship.
With all of this being said, I know I am not going to pursue this perfectly. Because I am just freshly out of a chaotic and tumultuous season, there are moments where I’m visited with the random stings of memories from the past couple of months. There are moments where I feel myself falling into anxiety again. But true peace and rest comes in knowing that the Lord is near the brokenhearted, and that He hears my cries and knows my pain. Rest comes with knowing that the Lord has me, and that He makes all things work together for my good. There is hope in knowing that tough seasons come and go, and just as He led me into difficult times, the Lord will also faithfully lead me through and out of those times. God is faithful, and He is so, so good.