Anxiety and Life without Fear.

For a sister of Christ of a Sister in Christ.

I think it was two weeks ago. The worst panic attack I have ever had. My chest got tight. I gasped for breath and found none. I shut myself in my bathroom, went to my knees and sobbed, or tried to. I began to think my throat was shut for good. I was dying… no. I was fine. I would be fine. I had to hold onto my sanity. I had to calm down. I listened to my pounding heart and freaked out more. The tightness in my chest controlled and drove my thoughts. I kept thinking “I know what this is, I need to STOP IT.” Stop wondering if I was having a heart attack, stop dry heaving (retching) over the toilet and get past this moment. It is just so hard to focus when you are struggling to breath.

I had to stop my thinking. I had a meeting in a new location the next morning. I was terrified. I have become anxious and easily terrified since graduating. Sometimes my fear of… well I don’t know what I am afraid of but it keeps me from going to the store or out by myself. My head was throbbing but knowing what was happening calmed me enough to let me get in some air. Another gasp, more air. I started taking steady shallow gasps. I was going to be okay. People drive to places they have never been before all the time. I wasn’t going to choke on my snot and tears. I was going to get up in the morning and go to a meeting and everything would be just fine!

I had been trying so hard. I wrote the Google directions down twice. I used Google earth to look at the streets. But I felt helpless. No one else seemed to think what I was trying to do was ridiculous and impossible. As I looked at maps I isolated myself from my roommates. I decided for them that they didn’t understand. The place I wanted to go wasn’t clear on the street. I only really knew what the things around it looked like.  Worst of all, I had to do t myself. Anything could go wrong. I could get lost and have to pull over and have an embarrassing attack. Worst of all, I might have to confess that I am afraid of a very normal thing. Going to a meeting that is a whole 11 minutes. I think that is the worst part about panics. That they are embarrassing and make you feel trapped. I can’t live my life because I am afraid of doing ordinary, everyday tasks and you feel out of control of your own life. It sucks.

If you have panic attacks then you understand. If not, you can imagine. We have all had anxiety and felt out of control. Lately I have had that in overwhelming amounts whenever something changes my schedule, a new task is asked of me or I have to go somewhere new. I don’t have an answer for how I will get past this. It seems to be getting worse and I don’t know why it started. My plan is to tackle it like I did my depression. Cling to hope and struggle to adapt. Be thankful for all the kindness people show me. I know when I finally calmed and went to go to bed my roommate came and reassured me that I was normal and I could have a full life. She is a saint. I really mean that, God made her His saint. She is my sister in Christ. She can love me sacrificially and she did. I am so glad I received comfort from her. Comfort is hard after an attack.

I think these attacks might be suppressed from my senior year of college. Or at least I joke that they are! I love my job, my middle school and high school groups, my home and the life I am planning with Chris. I may have already bitten off more than I can chew. Who knows, with prayer maybe I will learn what size of plate I can handle. Not what other people handle. I can find a balance. I can decide that a full time job and youth group once a month with planning a wedding is enough. But I haven’t reached the point to start sacrificing yet. I am ready to change how I view my struggle right now.

“Do not be anxious in anything” is a comforting command. At this moment I feel the peace of it. I understand the life that my Father wants for me. One without worry. My Bible addresses anxiety, let me share with you:
——————————————————-

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).

“I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7) (Also seePsalm 55:22-23)

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?’” (Luke 12:22-26, NIV). (Also see Matthew 6:25-34)

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).

“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:26-28).

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

The apostle Paul found his strength in God, He reminds us that, “I …have …been in prison …frequently, been flogged …severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. …I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. …Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. …I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. …[God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 11:23-12:10).

“So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

“…put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131:1)

———————————————-

Like my housemate, my God cares for me. I can give Him my anxiety by quiet times, devotion and thinking about what I know of Him. Other people might need the help of meds or therapist to get here. No shame in that. I needed that for my depression for awhile. When I start panicking I pull on the Truth. Nothing can touch me. There is no fear in me. Perfect love has cast it out. When I am weak, He is strong. He gives me straighten. For the day and for eternity. Even if my understanding doesn’t make ends meet, His will! I will give Him prayers, praises and thanks. When I think on Him I will not panic. The spiral that lead to panicking stop in their tracks IF I cling to Him. If I do not cling tightly enough and I start to panicking I can get out of it by calling on me. He has delivered me every time.  He will do the same for you.

That being said please get to the root of your issues. Get good sleep, eat well, know your limits, exercise, talk it out. Do all you need to to live well and leave panic where it belongs. It doesn’t belong in me. It doesn’t belong in someone who has been promised by the God of the universe that he has this handled. Turn your eyes off of your fear and cast them onto Jesus and the hope He has given to us. It’s a fight you can win with Jesus at your side. Honest. A fight, but one worth picking. Most days I can go to the store if I need to. I can live my life if I fight my panic and don’t let it rule over me.

Here is my prayer for you if you are downcast or anxious:
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thes. 2:16-17).

The Trouble with Compassionate Men.

Time was of the essence. I had a checklist that I kept adding to. I had a lot to do before five and I was behind schedule. A bit by my choice. I love people more than I love getting everything on my list done on time. Change, bank, hair, props… we had engagement photos in two hours. It was time to double check everything! Chris met me and a friend at Echo, I parted ways with her and we went straight to the bank so we can pay the nice photographer who needs to eat just like me. We met late, I was worried. So Chris drove us in his truck straight to the bank since I don’t like driving when stressed. His truck is one of my least favorite places when I am stressed. I love sitting in the middle on most days. But on stressed days because of a lack of A/C I feel like primping is now a must to make me feel less sticky. ESPECIALLY if we are about to take photos to show everyone how in control of our lives and the time that is spinning toward April we are. As soon as we parked at the bank I was on the move! I stretched my legs out to meet pavement and slid the last half foot out of the truck. Chris and I noticed a man across the street holding their shirt up over their large belly. I pointed them out wondering if they were just warm and trying to tell if it was a man or woman in the distance. Anyways, no time to pay attention. My deadlines were closing in fast! Into the bank I went!

When I went into the bank Chris stayed at the truck. He was speaking to his youngest younger brother. When I came out he was talking about the person across the street. He was wondering if they are having chest pains. His mother is saying he ought to go over. Find out whats wrong and what their gender was. I slid into the truck. A symbol that I was ready and roaring to be on the move. Chris abruptly ended his phone call and looked to me. “I am going over there.”

I felt turmoil and warmth rise in me. The part of me that wanted to be on time battled the part of me that wanted to encourage Chris to be compassionate. “Go, I’ll wait.” The Holy Spirit let me win the battle to support a compassionate man at any cost, even tardiness. In my head Chris and I should have been chilling and preparing. Getting relaxed and flirty for the pictures. I took a deep breath and watched him cross the street in a few long strides. The warm fuzzy feeling I get and the small smile I have when I see him be faithful to our Father in ordinary and fantastic ways grew.He had the right motives right now.  He came back a few minutes later after talking to the man. He said something that made the tight, world is ending feeling come flooding back. “He’s hungry, I am going to get him a sandwich.”

I smiled and rubbed his back. I am supportive, I just don’t feel it. I glance at the dash clock. “Okay, lets go.” I hope he doesn’t hear any hesitation. This man’s life is more important than my schedule. No matter what. We went to the closest subway. He was a sweetie and took the mans preference. He got him the foot-long and drink the man wanted. I sweated in the truck and I tried to keep my hair neat and I tried to hold onto my joy in his obedience.  I felt out of control of how today was suppose to happen. Didn’t matter, that was secondary to what was happening. We went back to the bench. Well, really we parallel parked down a half block from the bench. He turned his big brown eyes back to me, he was in action mode. His heart knows mine and he knew I was watching the time. “Coming?” he was trying to be quick for me and still be fully obedient for God.  There is truly no greater man on this earth that lives in my eyes in moments like this. I had figured he would ask me this. He loved seeing me do ministry as much as I loved watching him do it. I had been thinking about it and what my answer would be. I could only see myself getting in the way. I was struggling to care at this time, it could turn into a glory story about me and I felt no nudge of the spirit telling me to go. He did, I felt the spirit urging me to encourage him, not usurp him.  Today I would be the strong woman behind a strong man. He had done the same for me countless times.

“You go, You felt called, not me” I can’t recall if there was an embrace or a glance that happened before he left. He was just gone in the moments I was counting seconds. I calmed myself. I couldn’t see him or the man and minutes stretched on. I prayed and craned my neck to see around parking meters, a truck on the sidewalk and trees. If I sat just right I could see Chris standing.

At long last he returned. Something was up, he was carrying the mans sack. The man was coming with him. I could figure enough out to presume we were giving him a ride. To where? How long would it take? I smiled at the man as Chris loaded him up all with a casual vibe. He didn’t want the man to feel like he was inconveniencing us, even if he was. I looked at Chris and mouthed “What is going on” he smiled back. He was too close to the man to answer. He opened the door for him, got all of his stuff settled and came around to the driver side to sit next to me. “We are taking him to ODM to get him some help.” How long would that take? Did we have time? What if we had to fill out paperwork? Why did the Spirit call my man to the battle field now of all times?  When we are busy..ug. We had no idea how long this would take. A quick romp is what Chris was protruding with his posture. I suspected worse. I knew how big ODM was. How long would it even take us to find the right place?

I leaned on Chris and the man slid in. I smiled at him. Got his name and gave him mine. “Is this your fiancee? Oh she is gorgeous!” I thanked him. He was nice, but this isn’t what I was planning on doing. “Oh, so young to be getting married. Sixteen?” he asked guessing my age.

“Twenty-two” I corrected him and had a gentle conversation with him while we went on our way. We got there and tried one building. I waited and they came back. Wrong building. We knew the right one now. We ended up at the right one. I had grown weary and the truck was downwind of some smokers. I decided this was the time to get out and go with Chris. I had been in this building before and I might be able to assist. Staying busy could help my anxiety at least. Keep my mind on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy is so much easier when I am taking action. This time after a bit of awkwardness we were let in. They took him and we parted ways. I was concerned that we should stay because I knew the man was afraid of getting stuck there and I wanted to make sure they had a place for him. Chris assured me they had space for him and that is why they took him to fill out paperwork. We still had a whole 10 minutes to spare! No changing, no primping. It was game time. Luckily I was already dressed and we had our props in the truck from the night before. Chris is as functionally organized as I am chaotically organized. We were going to be fine. I just had to relax over the next ten minutes. We were in time. Miranda was none the wiser! We had a great, happy, carefree session. I hope they show how wonderful he is.

You see the trouble is that true compassion requires sacrifice. If you stand by a compassionate man their sacrifices becomes your sacrifices.  It means awkwardly standing through confusing moments and trying to find an answer when one might not exist yet. I have seen it in my father when he lets a mistake slide or goes over to thank a veteran and make friends with them and their families. When he gives up his time for his friends when he is tired and when he goes the extra mile. Thank God for compassionate men. Standing by them means putting their need to see others needs fulfilled above your own, but it is so worth it. God’s call is higher than me. Chris following Christ is more important than my comfort. Every time.

“I am an Atheist”

“Why hello Atheist, do you want whipped cream?” I mean, what is there to say. This man gave me a title and didn’t give me a name until he left. He is thoughtful and disciplined. He was in the military when he was my age and still keeps himself in the same shape many years later! He led an interesting life and had interesting opinions. He was in the military and this year he has officially been an atheist for half of his life. He got out of the military and decided he didn’t think God existed. This was a return visit to Sozo for him. He wanted to get “Coffee and conversation”  and boy was he off to a start!

I think we both have a lot to think over now. We disagreed on a lot of basics. Like how to determine someone’s worth or what kind of future humanity has and if nature being an unmovable force is comforting. I was impressed at my self control. I wanted to yell at him. You believe lies, you don’t know. Satan has won you. But I sat and I listened. I didn’t think of my next witty comeback. I really listened to what he was saying. That left some awkward pauses. I had to think once he was done speaking to make sure I was answering what I felt he was really asking. I guess, if you are reading this pray for “I am an atheist.” He had 27 years of Catholicism and never met Jesus. He met rules, way to fail church. Way to fail. But, we haven’t lost the battle for this mans soul yet. Specifically pray that he comes to these realizations….

1. There are some things that don’t have a price. There are things worth dying for.
2. To continue to bring him to Sozo for coffee and conversation.

3. That believing our worth is limited to what we can do for society removes humans of all worth. That we are unique! And that that is beautiful. I have no less to contribute to society than him because I can’t bench as much as he can.

4.  To look into the historical evidence to the life of Christ. Good luck trying to find this non-miraculous Jesus without looking!

5. To give Him a Hope and a Future. You know, in the only way we can have one!

6. To open his eyes to tragedies. He doesn’t believe Christians face any persecution in this world. He has never seen someone risk something for Jesus. I think he needs to (goes with one).  He needs to understand that he can’t ignore something because he hasn’t seen it.

7. That Jesus is who he says He is and not who we want Him to be.

So Hello Atheist, thank you for your story.  I follow Jesus. There isn’t a price that will get me to claim otherwise, I have looked into the faces of the persecuted in China and they exist, I was created with purpose and it was destined that I would sell you a blended latte’ today. Please come again. Though you were concerned I would ban you for your opinions I have something to tell you. We are here for you! Bring your atheism in for coffee all you like. You did push buttons, I can take it. I won’t pretend it doesn’t upset me to hear my savior rejected. Still, we are not scared, we are not angry. We will listen calmly to your opinions. I can’t promise we agree, and we are passionate about Jesus. I have said things I regret, it doesn’t deter me.  We will be kind even if you are not kind to us. If you push a button I apologize if we fail to be kind, we are still sinners. It will be very hard to push my buttons on most days.  So don’t hold back anything you are really wrestling with. Being passionate for Jesus makes us passionate for you! Someone created in His image. Someone more powerful than gravity. You want coffee and I offer some of the best, I also offer salvation if you want it. If you aren’t afraid of conversation I will listen, really listen, if you will. I will offer you salvation and you can decline. That’s fine. Because I hope there will be a next time.

See you soon! My friends are praying for you.

Spider on the Glass

I had my first really good “Jesus” conversation at Sozo a few days ago. A young personable man came in. He remembered the building from the pancake feed GAMe ministries (who runs Sozo) puts on on St. Patricks day. He told me how the man there told him about meeting Jesus and though he respected the mans stance, he also thought the man was a little off. He then straight up asked me if I was a christian and if the ministry was still there.

If that isn’t an invitation I don’t know what is!

Because he was good humored I told him that I was a super christian! I told him about GAMe and OMC and gave a brief testimony in a few words about how God has called me into ministry.  He asked the logical follow up question “So like a pastor?”

“A youth pastor, I wouldn’t want to be the senior pastor.”

“Why not”

He was honest, well humored and really asking. So I gave him my real answer, bluntly. “Because I am a girl.”

“Isn’t that sexist?” he worded it carefully. He could tell this was important to me and he was being sensitive. I liked him, I think the girl he was waiting for got a good one. “Sorry” he added in case he offended me.

“I am hard to offend” I laughed.

“That’s good me too, isn’t that sexist.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

I wasn’t overly prepared for this. I told him first about the requirements in 1 Tim and how I didn’t qualify for that and that made me feel like not trying to take the head leadership role in evangelical churches. I told him that it would be disobedient in my calling and that I WANTED a man over me. I think that would have stirred some people. I think if Chris had told someone that I preferred a man in charge of me they would wrongly rise to my defense. I am not to be owned and I am not less than man! Correct! But not taking the highest position doesn’t make me less than the man in it. In fact in Christian circles power is an illusion. The guy at top is just the person is the biggest servant! He is a shepherd and required to lay down his life for the sheep. All the sheep have to do is follow. I think the sheep have the better slot personally. It’s not something I would have said as a teenager. I was disobedient at heart then. But the closer I have gotten to God the more I loved submitting.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes I want to go straight to the top and take over! Sometimes I know I could do a better job than a friend. I am only called to be obedient to my husband and I like man was made in God’s image. So when it is wise for me to take charge I will and I will do it well. Because I have the capability to in many areas. I just don’t need to be. Same with a church, I don’t need to I am not called to. Read Titus 1:7-9 that is the job description and it is talking about males. Now, I still am seeking a leadership position. But my authority over the church will be under the authority of a males. I told him I know there are female pastors and that I doubt their calling in honesty. I also told him I can’t be sure they wern’t. God has done far crazier things!

Then I told him that I was engaged. I got one of the best high fives of my life. I told him about the role of Chris in our relationship. He is called to give himself up for me as Christ did for us. That means when Chris rules over me, when he makes a decision he is doing it for my good. Because he loves me enough to lay down his life. If I am serving someone with my needs at his heart I am really serving myself because I am serving my husband and God. He is called to care for me like his own flesh. When we get marries and become one flesh when we care for each other it is for our good as well. The man nodded and told me that was interesting. Not sure what that meant and his date arrived so I made them both coffee and they sat down.

I think it’s scary for people to think that some people want somone’s authority over them. My God, my parents, my husband. If any of those people didn’t love me and care for my honor, dignity, needs and soul it is a broken cycle and it can be ugly and harmful to submit. Especially when our submission is forced and is made cruel.  But that isn’t anything I have experiences. Godly men are worth investing in.

So in conclusion, I told him what I do in the church is just as important in the Kingdom.  I am just suited for different roles and prefer different parts. For instance, yesterday as I drove home from youth group a spider crept down my window. I called Chris, it was almost time for him to be done and I was not going to deal with that. I could have if I wanted to but he was better suited for it and I didn’t want to. He could add it to the list of other dozens of creatures that broke my insect personal space arrangement. I was happy to let Chris lead in that situation and I am happy to have a man lead my church and it isn’t because I am lesser.

Taking a bunny trail, I had an event this morning where I interacted with a man who ran across the street to help me set up work this morning. He told me he was trying to leave his mistake behind and was trying to get rid of it. He was referring to the human being sitting outside the apartments that drunkenly called after him. He was a bit tipsy himself. He was reaping what he sowed last night. She followed him following me. Brokenness in a broken relationships where two people who cared nothing for each other chose to enter into a relationship of sorts.  He tried to sound like the better man who was paying penance for his ways last nights. He tried to make it sound like it was all her. But the truth is that he was responsible as well. Referring  to her as a mistake or as ‘it’ didn’t help either.  It didn’t make him look better in the situation as he was hoping. Explaining this wasn’t normal for him didn’t help the situation. He was supposed to be the leader, she was supposed to be wise. If a spider was on her windshield she would have been on her own and that is wrong.  That isn’t functional.

These may have been a bit scattered. I stayed up all night reading “For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhaun and went to work early. I guess the point is that my name is Jennifer and I am okay with submitting to authority and I am okay with men being given a different type of authority than me. I actually like it. I can serve god mightily from ‘lesser’ positions in just as grand ways. I can do anything God enables me to do from anywhere.

My views on my roles of authority in the church are still maturing. Start your study in scriptures then go to better opinions than mine. Read Titus, Timothy, 1 Cor 14 and look into Pheobe and Pricsilla. Tell me what you think.

Pretty Insecurities.

This is a blog I am struggling to write. I don’t want to come across as overly insecure, or vain. I want to talk about my strange female need to not want to find myself ugly. It’s hard to talk about because I don’t believe my God creates ugly or stupid.  I just sometimes feel contrary to reality.   But I do think it is sad when people communicate with their body language and dress that they don’t care much for themselves.  I also don’t think women have to dress up all the time for any reason or look the way people tell them to look.  I guess I hope that I can adequately describe the unique differences between genders, the adequacy and value we have in Christ and the  dangers of letting our insecurities tell us who we are. Woman should be called pretty by people who appreciate them wholly, but we shouldn’t look to it to make us feel whole.

I was watching Firefly and Kaylee, the beloved good natured mechanic said “Wash, Tell me I am pretty.” She was looking at all the people coupled off and she needed to know she was pretty in that moment. Like all the girls with their admiring fellas. Wash of course gave a hilarious response. My heart went out to that character in that moment. She had one occasion to dress up for the entire one season of Firefly and no one there to appreciate it. She craved the ‘pretty’ dress in the window and when she got it, no one told her she was pretty. She wanted that dress. Why? To feel beautiful. The actress who plays Kaylee is beautiful and we all know Kaylee has a beautiful heart and is content being covered in spaceship oil most of the time. She shouldn’t need to be told she is pretty. The truth is self evident… just not to her.

In middle school and high school I was that girl with the ratty hair, pajama bottoms and baggy clothes. No one ever told me I was pretty and why would they? By media standards I wasn’t.  I was pretty, I just wasn’t projecting it. I am not telling you this to make you feel sorry for me, I have almost fully embraced the awkwardness of my youth. I am telling you this because it is something I still need to hear. Even if I now project it and even if people have started to bother to tell me fairly frequently.

Speaking for myself as a woman, there is nothing like a GENUINE compliment. Never only compliment a girl on her looks. She is so much more, but don’t think looks don’t matter to her at all either. If you can see she took time on herself, you can take the time to notice. Not in a creepy way, in an encouraging way. Thanks to the world my value is always under scrutiny. Thanks to Christ I know my value will never be tied to what I am really worth. I have complete righteousness. I have nothing to fear and my value is more than many sparrows (Matt 10:31 has always been one of my favorites. Also see Gal 2:20) But I openly confess that I need to  affirmed of my beauty every now and then. I have noticed that my female friends need it too. We want to know we are beautiful. We want to feel loved for all of us. That includes our aesthetics.

Note: It does not give anyone the right to break us down to only our aesthetics. We can’t be separated from our hearts, dreams, morals, personalities, fears, faults or any of the other things that make up a human. If you tell a girl she is pretty and you only mean her body, you don’t know what beauty is and you can’t honestly compliment anyone. I know why Kaylee needed that dress. i know why I need a dress.

I do not say the following to show poorly on Chris. The focus is not his small failure but my large human insecurities. I have plenty of dresses. If I confidently put one on and tell my gorgeous self in the mirror goodbye on the way out and no one else compliments me that day it will always happen. Especially if someone like my fiance’ doesn’t say anything. His opinion matters more than anyone else. My insecurities will produce a wrongly perceived reality in moments .  For instance, yesterday I found a dress on sale. I wasn’t sure about it until a friend made me feel like I was on top of the world in it and convinced me to buy the thing. Chris and I had plans for the next day and despite the cold I wore it. If I wanted to be beautiful for anyone, it’s him. So jeans and flannel weather or no, I was going to wear it so he could appreciate it.  I never want to outsource the need to be pretty to anyone else. I never want to have to look past Chris to get validated in my looks, and if I rest in Jesus I won’t have to. I felt great, thanks to a dress. I felt great even though I had been down until I put it on, because I felt beautiful.  That could be vain, maybe petty, but it did. I paired my dress with leggings and a mid-drift hipster sweater after trying an embarrassing amount of other options. I had to find the perfect combo piece to adequately show the world how a new dress made me feel. Strong and ready. I was ready for Chris.

Chris and I got through breakfast just fine. As soon as we left I got a reminder. He didn’t notice the dress. Then another reminder, he didn’t remember the last one either. He called Jenna Coleman  pretty two days ago (It should be noted that Jenna Coleman is stunning) and the last compliment was two days ago.. It was over text and it was non specific. I wrote it off as him just saying it. t felt shallow and he only said it because I complimented him first.  I couldn’t remember the last compliment before that. In fact the last thing he said about my appearance was commenting on a mark on my neck. Poor man, I turned into a trap. I waited for him to say something about how I looked and played other thoughts from other times I felt unnoticeable. It was awful. A female hell.

After going to three places I started to cry. I had been hanging my head, frowning and sighing. How could he not tell I was upset? I wanted him to have the chanch to initiate conversation. It wasn’t going to happen. He HAD noticed something was wrong. Sadly the poor guy didn’t know what was wrong. I knew it was silly and that I can’t ever lean on Chris to make me feel whole. Only Jesus completes me. But I was hurting. He thought that I was homesick. The loving man knows the issues close to my heart, it wasn’t a bad guess. I finally cried. He just sat there in silence. I decided he didn’t care he was upsetting me and grew snappy with him for not asking what was wrong. I didn’t know that he thought he already knew and was just deciding what to say. He had lost. He had gone too long without noticing all the work that I had put into my appearance for the day. I felt useless and ugly and it was his fault. Or at least I was blaming him. I had spent all day comparing myself to every girl, hiding my bad skin and comparing myself to every female in every ad. Our look obsessed culture isn’t kind to us when we start to scrutinize yourself. Was he to busy noticing them? Or did I just not measure up to them? When I finally asked him why he didn’t care that he upset me he was rightly confused. “I upset you?” Something so clear to me had not even crossed his mind. He thought I missed my dad. He hadn’t realized it was so important to notice I got a new dress. It told me he didn’t look at me and if he didn’t look at me when I felt my prettiest, in a new dress, when would he? Oh the dangers of assumptions!

In the end, I guess this a confession. Sometimes I am not satisfied with who I am in Christ. Its complicated because I think I was designed to be loved and to feel that way. I think fiance’s ought to tell me I am pretty (and he does) . But that I can’t bank on it. That my worth will never decrease. I wish I could tell you I am always content with Christ in me alone. The point of this blog is to reflect on my Christian walk. I have  been reflecting on this. I don’t like it, but I don’t think it’s ALL bad. I have a natural need to feel loved. I just need to balance that need with the knowledge that I am handcrafted by someone who really loves me. He loves me with a perfect knowledge of all the wrong I have done without . My worth is in that perfect love. That is a gift from God.

Because it’s good for you….. Eph 2:4-9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,