My Story // Part Two: The Teenage Confusion

Disclaimer:
Everything written in this series is from my point of view on things then, as I lead up to when and how I changed. These are the major events in my life that had an impact on my view of God, the Bible, and denominations. If I wrote about every event, we’d be here too long and I too many people would get mad at me.

This is my side of my story and I harbor no ill will to anyone mentioned in it (everyone will be anonymous), I know some people from my past will most likely read this and I don’t want anyone to think I am angry, because this isn’t who I am anymore.

This series will include my struggles with congregational problems in the denominational world, my confusion about what the Bible actually taught, LGBTQ+, depression, and suicidal thoughts, so if any of that bothers you, please click off.

Today, this post is about my struggle with my sexuality and what I was exposed to, I’m not going into depth or writing about everything because that is still too hard for me and there are many things I don’t want to relive, but I know I have younger readers as well and this is your warning to click off, I’ll be posting a lighter post for y’all soon to break up this series. ❤

June (fake name) was everything I wanted to be. 

She was tough, she didn’t let anyone push her around. No one looked at her and thought “teacher’s pet” no one looked at her and expected her to be perfect.

She was as short as I was and skinny, but despite being tiny, she had a look in her eyes that dared anyone to mess with her.

She sat by me one night before Awanas started, “I can’t believe I’m being forced to come to this stupid church event, what a scam.” 

I stared at her.

“My name’s June, and you are?” she reached out her hand.

“Grace.” I shook her hand.

June slumped against the wall and looked me up and down, finally, she just said, “Wow, you’re shy.”

We were friends from then on.

We made jokes about the way the preacher ranted about guns during every lesson no matter the topic.

We whispered about our struggles to each other.

We cried on each other’s shoulders.

She was with me when I had my first break down, my first panic attack. She held me in her arms as I just lost in the bathroom one night after youth group, and unlike a lot of my other friends, she didn’t leave.

She didn’t want to hang out with the more popular kids, she didn’t try to leave me behind for anyone. She stayed.

“Invite her to Sunday worship,” one of the youth leaders told me, “she really likes you, she would come for you.”

So I did, and she showed up. She sat on the second pew to the front as I sang in the choir.
“I don’t belong here,” she whispered as I sat down beside her. I honestly wanted to whisper that I didn’t either, but instead, I just gripped her hand tighter.

I was one of the first people she came out to.

“I’m gay, Grace,” she whispered one night, after youth group.

“What? June, that’s against the bible.” I said.

“I don’t care what the bible says, Grace. That’s just an old book people use to control others, besides all of that is in the Old Testament and no one follows any of the other rules in it, like not wearing mixed fabrics. People pick and choose so they can judge others.” 

I didn’t know how to reply to that so all I said was, “I still love you, you’re still my friend.”

“You’re so brainwashed, you’re the only person I come to these stupid things for.” she scoffed as she hugged me.

And that was that.

June was gay and she was my friend. 

I didn’t know what to think of her being gay, all I knew is that I loved her and I didn’t want to lose her, she was one of the only friends I had. Neither of us knew how to love or how to really be friends with people, but we tried as best as we could. We were just two confused and scared fourteen-year-olds trying to find our place in the world.

The majority of the youth group came out to me as LGBTQ+ after that, June had told them that I was non-judgmental and a good listener, and listen I did, an internal conflict in my mind between what I had been taught and what I had been learning–they were just like me and everyone else: people.

They asked me questions on why being gay was wrong and at the time, I had no idea how to answer.

Then, they started to question my sexuality thinking I was in denial.  

“Grace, you’re anything but straight.”
“Grace, everyone’s a little gay.”
“Grace, stop repressing yourself.”
“Grace, if God loves everyone, why would He condemn you for who you love?”

“Grace we all know you’re not straight.”

“Grace, you like June, and June likes you.” 

Was I? Did I?

I didn’t know to be honest.

I had never really thought about it, but suddenly I had all of these questions.

Was it normal to think other girls were pretty, or was that only a gay thing?
Was I gay?
Was I damned to hell for even questioning if I was? 

I had liked a few boys in the past, but never in the way the kids in the youth group described to me, I had never wanted to do anything sexual with anyone.

The majority of the guys I was around were the gross, disrespectful kind that would brush their hands against your body or grab you and then claim it was an accident, I certainly didn’t like any of them. They made me feel so worthless and empty like I would never be anything more than an object.

I use to wear this necklace all the time and I remember one night the group was really small and we were setting some game up and I ended up alone in a room with one of the guys.

“I like your necklace,” he said, he reached out and touched it, then his hand slid a little bit lower and over my chest.

“What are you doing?” He jumped back as one of the youth leaders walked in.

Oops, my bad, b.”

I stopped wearing necklaces but things like that didn’t stop happening, I could never tell if they were on purpose or accident, sometimes I felt like I was going crazy so I kept my mouth shut.

I was the sheltered homeschooler and they took it upon themselves to educate me. The first time I saw pornographic content was during youth group when someone held their phone in front of my face. It took me a second to figure out what I was seeing and then I was too shocked to say anything so I just shrugged it off and walked away with as straight of a face as I could.

They disgusted me.

The way they talked to me and about my body disgusted me.

Did all guys disgust me?
I wasn’t sure, it felt like they were all the same, so maybe they did.

I was really relieved when I finally got a crush on a guy at my co-op. He was a sweet and very sheltered theater type of guy, he was way older than me, but I was just happy to have someone to tell others I liked, someone that was male.

I thought that would solve it, but then people told me about being bisexual and pansexual and the confusion went on.

I didn’t know. 

One night, I went up to an elder and asked him what the Bible said about gay people.

“He hates them.” the elder stated, “They will all burn in hell.” 

I walked away with no verses to study. 

Rumors about June and I being together started spreading.

I was at a party for the fourth of July and I was washing my hands in the bathroom when a girl turned to me and said, “I know you, you’re June’s girlfriend aren’t you? She talks about you.” 

I didn’t know what to say, so I just said no and left.

June and I never talked about it, I didn’t know how to bring it up, I didn’t know how to ask her if she had anything to do with the rumors that we had done stuff together.

“If I’m gay or bi or whatever,” I told her once, “I wouldn’t ever act on it or tell people I was because I’m not sure what the Bible really says or means about it.”

I was too scared to ask about it, I had briefly talked to my parents about what they thought about being gay, it was wrong, they pointed to Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Mom, if I came out, what would you and dad do?” I asked once in the car.

My mom glanced at me, she looked uneasy. “I don’t know, we would pray, we wouldn’t stop loving you. Maybe we would look into some camps…” 

I didn’t want to go to a camp if I wasn’t straight, that thought scared me, so I decided to keep my mouth shut.

The preacher decided to give the youth group the sex talk over the course of the next two youth group nights.

I went expecting the typical “wait until marriage” spill, and that was the first five minutes, the rest, he told us about how God hated all gay people.

How everyone who is gay deserves to burn in hell and is a monster.

He warned us about gay people converting us.

He talked about how some people are born with sin and sometimes the sin is gayness–I remember sitting there thinking how unfair it was that he was claiming that God sets people up for failure.

He ranted about how being gay was a new sin and no one he knew when he was in high school ever struggled with gay thoughts.

All I felt was rage and one of my friends who was sitting beside me shaking.

She was thirteen and had been struggling because she wasn’t sure if she was straight.

“God will never love me again, Grace, for thinking this way. My parents will throw me out, I’ll be alone.” she cried when she came out to me.

And now, here was this clueless man, ranting about gay people being monsters and the worst of the worst to a crowd of questioning and scared teens and pre-teens.

I was angry.

Yes, I wanted to know what the Bible said about being gay because I didn’t know how to view it or how to answer people when they asked why I thought it was wrong, but he hadn’t read a single verse.

I was angry because I knew he had been married before his current wife and the Bible spoke about divorce and yet, he was here acting as if gay people are the problem with the world and not just sin in general.

I stood up and raised my hand.

“Why are you talking about this out of everything? What about people who got a divorce wrongly?” his face darkened, but I kept on,

“what about people that have sex before marriage? What about pedophiles? There are so many sins that seem worse than just being confused, why are you leaving gay people with no hope? If I was gay I would want to know what the Bible says about it and how I can fix whatever my problem was, but you have given us nothing to do any of that.”

I sat back down but my questions were never answered.

June left after that.

Things only got worse after that.

My Story // Part 1: My Denominational Childhood

My Story // Part 1: My Denominational Childhood

Disclaimer:
Everything written in this series is from my point of view on things then, as I lead up to when and how I changed. These are the major events in my life that had an impact on my view of God, the Bible, and denominations. If I wrote about every event, we’d be here too long and I too many people would get mad at me.

This is my side of my story and I harbor no ill will to anyone mentioned in it (everyone will be anonymous), I know some people from my past will most likely read this and I don’t want anyone to think I am angry, because this isn’t who I am anymore.

This series will include my struggles with congregational problems in the denominational world, my confusion about what the Bible actually taught, LGBTQ+, depression, and suicidal thoughts, so if any of that bothers you, please click off.

The view of that little Baptist church through the back window of my parent’s van as we drove away left a knot in my throat for the rest of the week.

I was eleven and that building and that group of people was all I knew.

It wasn’t always the best for me there, the other kids were all older than me, I was a punk and often (I can’t blame them for it) was excluded, I felt invisible most of the time there.

But it had still been my second home.

I had climbed every tree there.

I had sung my first hymns there.

I had announced that I had become a Christian at age five after praying the sinner’s prayer to the congregation there after services. 

That congregation was a strong group of Baptists, we were all homeschooling families and tightly knit before the lying, the stealing, and the greed set in.

I don’t remember much of the bad, I tried to forget a lot of what I did know.

I remember the glares in the hallway.

I remember overhearing one man say to another “I won’t forgive you,” after a meeting.

I remember my mom crying.

One of the most impactful things for me growing up was watching how people treated my mom.

My mom has always been one of the closest people to me. My mom had a very hard life and is a survivor, she’s one of the strongest people I know.

I watched people who claimed to be her friends rip her apart. I watched them quote Proverbs 27:1, say cruel and untrue things about her and use their knowledge about her past to hurt her and blame her for things that weren’t her doing. I watched them leave her to put herself back together alone.

Hearing your own mom, the strongest person you know, sob like her heart is shattering in her chest is one of the worst things. Seeing her break was devastating, and I couldn’t believe that people who claimed to be her friends would do that to her and just leave.

I watched her family and her friends let her down again and again.

I remember realizing that baptist homeschool moms can be vicious and that they’ll tear you to shreds if you don’t fit their standards or if you ever slip up.

I remember wondering how people like them could claim to be Christians.

Honestly, I think that’s one of the reasons why I never have truly looked up to people because one of the first things I learned about people is that they’ll hurt you and let you down.

I remember being afraid of the adults because there was always something wrong with me and my family and never anything right. 

BUT, I also remember crying when leaving for the last time because they were still good people, and I didn’t know how we would find anyone like them again.

The new congregation we went to was closer to our house and we had already been going to their Awana program, so we knew some people.

In Awanas my siblings and I did really well when it came to memorizing verses and we could quote a lot. Because of this, people thought that we were super smart and we were all basically teacher’s pets.

We were quiet, obedient, and could quote whole chapters of the Bible, so we were already pretty well-liked and known by the adults when we first went.

It wasn’t that big, but it was bigger than the ten families I used to worshipping with.
It took a while, but slowly that building became my second home.

I joined the choir.

I started going to the youth group’s events.

Things felt like they were on the up.

When I was around twelve, I went to stay with my grandparents for a week in the summer with my siblings.

One night, my grandmother told me that she was going to a praise and prayer night at someone’s house and she wanted me to go too.

I went.

The moment I stepped into that house the smell of frankincense hit me and I felt hands on my face as people started to greet me.

I was used to adults ignoring me, not grabbing me by my face or shoulders while talking about how glad they were to finally meet me.

I was freaked out and slightly charmed at the same time.

We sat around on chairs in a circle, except for one lady who just rolled her wheelchair over to join us.

One guy sat down with his guitar and played some songs, none of which I knew but I tried to sing along as best as I could.

This is it? I thought while relaxing, I can do this. I had been worried that it would be crazy weird.

Then they started chanting, they chanted for healing for the lady in the wheelchair, and I watched as she stood up slowly, wobbling, wincing. The pain was evident on her face as she screamed that she was healed while catching herself on the arm of someone else’s chair as she stumbled forward slightly.

I remember wishing that she would just sit back down. I remember worrying that she was going to fall and hurt herself even more.

After that passed and the lady finally sank back down into her wheelchair, my grandmother asked me if I wanted to receive the Holy Spirit.

I had prayed the sinner’s prayer at five and then I was baptized when I turned twelve as an outward sign of an inward decision. No one had really mentioned the Holy Spirit going inside of me, I was always just told to invite Jesus into my heart.

So, I said yes.

The rest of it was a blur, they sprinkled stuff on my head in order to anoint me and to “invite the Holy Spirit in”.

“Speak.” the guy that had poured stuff on my head told me, and I realized that they expected me to chant like them, I opened my mouth but I couldn’t figure out how to make the noise they had been making. 

“You need to have more faith,” he said after staring at me for a minute, he grabbed my hand and lifted them up. “It’s a gift, ask God to hand you the gift and you will receive it.”

I didn’t know what else to do, so I prayed. I was shaking, their excitement was contagious, I wanted it to be true as much as they did.

When I opened my eyes, everyone was staring at me, so I did the only thing I figured I could do… I rolled my tongue.

It’s pretty easy to turn off your brain and let pig-latin and gibberish leave your mouth, and I figured that was all everyone else was doing.

They were overjoyed, one person shouted out that I was praising God, she claimed to be an interpreter.

I wanted it to be true all of a sudden, so I played along and tried to convince myself that I was doing more than just babbling of freewill.

When my mom found out she was horrified, when I looked back on it I was horrified of my naivety and I wished that I had stopped babbling and had just said “sike”.

Even back then though, I was searching for the answers no one could ever give me in bible class.

Back to our new congregation, an elder of that congregation really liked me for some reason, he always told others that I was going to be the first female president, and he was always talking to me about going into law or politics. He would print out articles and give them to me randomly. He also told me that marriage would be a “waste of my potential” when I said that I wanted to be a mom and homeschool my kids in the future.

I was angry at that point in my life, basically, walking on eggshells made me furious, and I decided to stomp on them.

I cut my hair, dyed it bright red, wore all black, invested in purple lipstick, started listening to all of the “devil’s music” according to the kids at my co-op, and got into writing horror.

I actually got a little bit of a kick out of watching the kids and parents at my co-op wince at the fake tattoos that I put on my neck.

I was still a good kid according to their standards. Being the teacher’s pet never stopped.

We got a new preacher, a man who shouted randomly during sermons, read one Bible verse, and then ranted the rest of the hour and a half. 

He liked me in the beginning.

He would use me in sermons, he would praise me during devos with the youth group, obviously, this really helped me be crazy popular with the other youth.

People love the person that others point at and ask “why can’t you be more like them?” right?

My attempt to break that image by being goth didn’t work.

And then… I met her

Modesty: The Definition and Those That Ignore It

Modesty.

Even the word used to make me feel immediately defensive when I was younger.

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Modesty.

That word with that vague meaning that snobby, stuffy people dressed as pilgrims used to make themselves feel superior to everyone else. <—–My old definition.

At the ripe old age of thirteen, I was up in arms about it. My family and I use to dress more conservatively, but I remember the day when I realized that my knee-length khaki shorts weren’t “trendy”.

The memory I have vividly is going to the fair and seeing all the other girls wearing makeup and short shorts and feeling so plain and out of place.

I started pushing for shorter shorts, shorter dresses, lower cut shirts after that, my parents didn’t like it but they realized that they wouldn’t always be able to control me and feared me going all out when I was eighteen if they tried to repress me.

My mom never approved and it was obvious, but the people at our denominational congregation at the time wore short shorts and low cut shirts, so we had a lot of confusion on the matter.

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So why did I change (literally)?

That is the question most people ask.

When I was baptized, and when I realized that I had been wrong about my previous views, I finally accepted that I needed to know what the Bible really said on topics so I could obey fully and correctly.

In the denominational world, modesty was never fully explained to me, it was vague.

It was “be modest”.

It was the moms telling the girls to wear t-shirts to a pool party while the boys were allowed to be shirtless.

It was never the greek words.

It was never looking back at the old definition for modesty and seeing that it hadn’t changed.

I was taught that modesty was more of a conviction matter. If those shorts don’t bother you, wear them, etc. But I have been learning that’s not what the Bible says at all.

I’ve heard people complain that modesty isn’t a black and white subject, but it is.
Modesty can be added to based on culture (In some countries wearing something shorter than your ankle isn’t ok, so as Christians, we wouldn’t go be immodest in their culture), but it can’t be decreased from what the Bible says.

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What does the Bible say? 


A popular and often used verse is 1 Timothy 2:9:

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array”

  • Shamefacedness: a face that can blush, immodesty, or being immodest should shock you.

 

  • Sobriety: Control, clear judgment.

 

  • Broided hair: oftentimes women would braid gold into their hair to show off their wealth, other times they wore gold to advertise that they were selling their bodies.

 

All in all, this verse seems pretty vague on the standard of modesty, right?

 

That’s because modesty had already been defined in the old testament, the people hearing this didn’t need a definition for modesty, they already had one.

Gen 3:7 tells us about Adam and Eve realized that they were naked, thus they made “aprons” for themselves.

  • Chagowr means a loin covering, basically, they covered their private parts.

In verses 9-10, Adam and Eve knew that they were still naked and hid from the Lord.
In verse 21, the Lord made them coats and clothed them.

  • Kethoneth, a tunic, a coat that covered from the shoulders to the knees.

In Isa 47:2, it talks about bringing shame by “making bare the leg, uncover the thigh”. This should bring shame on anyone because it is immodest, and thus nakedness.

In John 21:7, it talks about Peter fishing naked but putting on his coat when he spotted Jesus on the shore to swim to him.
The word for naked that was used is “gymnos” which means “undergarments or clothing that didn’t cover your shoulders and went to your knees”.

I’m not saying that this dismantles the whole “swimming in fewer clothes is okay because it’s swimming” argument… well, actually, I am. Because it does.

There are more verses that talk about clothing and they are:

Lev 16:4, 2 Sam 10:4, Exo 20:26, 1 Thess 4:4, Proverbs  7:10, Proverbs 11:22

I would greatly encourage anyone to study these verses.

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Now, that I’ve explained the biblical definition of modesty, let’s talk about the people who know better but ignore it.

If you know better, do better. 

There’s a difference between being ignorant than being aware of what is immodest and still choosing to be immodest, and that’s a dangerous difference because that is disobedience to God and the standards He set.

I’ll have to admit, I’ve been very sad and disappointed lately.

I joined Instagram yesterday, and I’ve seen pictures of sisters wearing things I know they know are immodest.

I’ve seen skimpy dresses, swimming suits, and leotards, all on girls that I know understand modesty enough to follow it.

These are girls I’ve sat through modesty lessons during summer camp with, girls that I have talked to about modesty before, girls that have nodded their heads along to devotionals about this topic.

Sisters that if I didn’t know them and if I didn’t know they were Christians, I would assume were a member of the world instead of God’s family.

What happened to Romans 12? Is being fashionable in those short shorts really worth ignoring the Bible? 

These are not only sisters I love, but sisters that know better, and it’s terrible.

It’s terrible that you are choosing to disobey the Bible.

It’s terrible that you are posting those pictures for our brothers in Christ to see.

And this isn’t just the girls although our gender is often the bigger culprits, why do I see shirtless pictures of brothers who I know are aware of the definition of Biblical nakedness?

The other day someone made a comment that there are more weak Christian girls than guys and I disagreed.

The difference is that weak Christian girls are easier to spot because they have more options to dress immodestly.  

The guys who shrug at immodesty, repost immodest pictures of girls and set that trash willingly before their eyes are just as weak.

“It doesn’t bother me.”

Either you’re lying or you have been desensitized.

You know what, immodesty when it comes to girls doesn’t bother me either. I can see a girl’s shoulders, thighs, chest, etc. and not care, I’m not attracted to girls, it doesn’t affect me.

But you know what bothers me? The lack of obedience to the Bible when I know those people know better. 

 

And that’s really all I have to say for today, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

If you read this post, please study, and if you know better, do better.

Being modest is hard, but it’s possible, and 100% worth it. 

 

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Don’t Be Pulled Down

When I was younger there was this overgrown shrub/tree that we kids use to climb after church services. I remember once trying to pull a friend up from the ground onto the limb I was on because she couldn’t get a grip to climb up herself.

Obviously, that didn’t work.

Another time though, I remember sitting on that limb, legs dangling, and a boy who I fought on and off with at the time (I wasn’t the sweetest kid) came along, looked up, saw his opportunity,  grabbed one of my legs and yanked.

I remember being on that limb one second and on the ground the next.

As a teacher said at summer camp once: It is easier for someone to pull you down to their level than it is for you to pull them up to yours. 

Sadly, at the time, I wasn’t clever enough to come to that conclusion so I didn’t use it as a comeback, but the story and the point in it still stands.

I wasn’t able to lift my friend up to me, but with one tug from that scrawny boy’s arms, I lost my balance and came crashing down to his feet.

Don't Be Pulled Down

Have you ever felt like you were sitting on a limb?

I’m not talking about one of those broad, sturdy tree limbs, but those small, might-break-off-with-the-wind type of limbs.

You feel unstable like you could accidentally slip off at any second. You’re unsure and you’re clinging onto that limb for dear life.

Sometimes there are weeks where I feel like I’m clinging onto the Bible for dear life.

 

Do you feel that tug on your leg? 

-A friend tries to get you to go to that party.

-Someone tries to convince you that it’s okay to wear shorter shorts, don’t be a prude.

-A family member says “what is the harm of listening to this music?” while turning up a song that wouldn’t honor God.

Do you feel that tug turn into a yank? 

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In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul had a problem.

The problem was that Christians were starting to believe false teachings, people were tugging at their legs, trying to pull them down.

In verse 30 Pauls asks them, “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?” 

In verse 33 he says this:

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”

I like to go through verses and look at the Greek words and find the full meanings behind words, firstly because it helps me understand better and not risk taking it out of context, and secondly because it makes me think about it more, so that is what I want to do briefly here.

  • Deceived, Planao: to be led astray from the right way.
  • Evil, Kakos: of bad nature (habit), not as it ought to be, mode of thinking, feeling, or acting.
  • Communications, Homilia: companionship.
  • Corrupt, Phtheiro: to be destroyed, to perish.
  • Manners, Ethos: morals, character, habits.

Don’t be led astray from the right way, evil and not as it ought to be ways of thinking, feeling, or acting in a companion will cause destruction and death to your good morals, character, and habits.

I know that was a terribly structured sentence, but please bear with me.

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 “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”-Proverbs 9:6

Also, Proverbs 13:20, Ephesians 5:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 5:6.

Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding. 

Those are powerful words, aren’t they?

Yet, it can be hard to forsake the foolish, especially when they are your friends, family, and people you once looked up to.

In verse 34 of 1 Corinthians 15, Pauls says:

“Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.”

When I was growing up, my family and I believed that the Bible was a mystery in so many parts, that it was impossible to fully understand anything, we lacked the knowledge of God and His Word.

God isn’t the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), man is.  

Don’t be pulled down by false beliefs.

Don’t be pulled down by what man says when you know what the Bible says. 

Man says pray a sinners prayer, the Bible says that God doesn’t hear the prayers of sinners (John 9:31), the Bible says arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins (Acts 22:16).

Forsake the foolish, and live, and go in the way of understanding. 

 

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Coffee Dates: Bad Day?

Have you ever had a bad day?

If your mental answer to that question was no, are you human? How long have you been living on this earth? 

Coffee Dates: Bad Day?

Most of us can think of times from recent to even years ago where we were having a bad day.

Maybe you had some good reasons to be upset, maybe you just woke up sad, both happen. 

I was having a bad day (well, more like a bad week if I’m being honest) a few days ago that made me think of this blog topic.

Why was I having a bad week?

There honestly weren’t any great reasons, aside from some petty drama that I wasn’t even involved in, nothing terrible had happened to me that week.

But because I was in that sad and a little bit down on myself state of mind, I soon found other reasons to be sad.

I got my feelings hurt by jokes that were simply that: jokes. Normally, I would have laughed, but instead, I fought back tears.

Clumsy mistakes started seeming like huge travesties on my part.

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It’s like being up at 3 a.m. when you’ve had a long school day: everything just seems ten times worse and like the world is going to end. 

Except, it’s during the day, throughout your week, when you can’t just sit in bed and stare at the wall, you actually have to do stuff.

You have to interact with people, and that’s when your bad day can start affecting other people’s days.

Obviously, most of us don’t want that for others.

We don’t want to make others feel bad, but yet, our bad days can lead to snapping at others, overlooking the needs of friends, and pushing loved ones away.

When we’re so focused on ourselves and our problems, we tend to forget that others have struggles too. 

I could come here and tell y’all that when the bad days come you guys need to take a second and pray, read your Bible, etc…

 

While you should do that, 100%, for some reason people tend to want more of a solution for a bad day.

I’m here to give it.

Are you ready? This could change both of our lives…

Stop focusing on yourself. 

Whoa, and I’m not being sarcastic when I write that, whoa.

One lesson that was taught from my youth group when I was denominational was this one:

The man teaching it that night turned to the white erase board, uncapped his marker, and then looked back at us.

“Kids, I’m about to teach y’all something huge. Something I’m still trying to learn.”

He wrote “It’s not about you” in big blocky letters on that board.

To be honest, that’s all I remember of that lesson.

But it was true:

It’s not about you or me.

 

Isn’t that what a lot of bad days are; us thinking it’s about us?

I know for me it is, I’m being selfish and throwing myself a pity party.

It’s ridiculous, I can be so focused on God and on helping others and then just throw all the progress I’ve made in that area to the wind just because I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to be like that, and I know you don’t either.

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How can we work on getting better with handling our bad days? 

 

  • Remember the bigger picture. Do we take a second every time we start to focus solely on ourselves to remember God, His sacrifice, His children? We need to look to Him instead of to ourselves. (Proverbs 3:5-7).

 

  • Draw closer to God (James 4:8-9).

 

  • Replace your discouragement with encouragement (1 Peter 4:13).

 

  • Focus on truth (Philippians 4:8).

Are your thoughts on your bad days…

 

-True?

-Honest?

-Just?

-Pure?

-Lovely?

-Of good report?

-Virtuous?

-Praiseworthy?

If not, then why are you thinking of them?

  • Talk to a trusted person in your life, they can help you sort through your emotions. If they’re like my mom, they might Edna-from-the-incredibles-slap you in the face with a magazine, but you don’t have to sort through tough times alone. (Also, my email is always open and I try to respond as soon as possible if you need to reach out for encouragement or prayers).

 

Let’s stop letting our bad days control us.

You’ve got this, friend.

We’ve got this. :))

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What do you do when you have a bad day?

What advice would you give?

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When An Absent Family Member Leaves a Void

Absence. 

It’s such a simple word, but one that is all too real for so many people.

Whether it’s the absence of biological parents, relatives, siblings, etc. it’s painful.

Maybe it’s absence from death, separation, or dysfunction.

Nevertheless, absence stings. 

When An Absent Family Member Leaves a Void

An empty chair, friends speaking about family traditions you can only dream of having, seeing a child with a family member of theirs–the role of which was missing from your childhood. 

All of these and so many more can be so painful to many.

There’s the frustration of it sometimes: why do I miss someone that I never knew? Why do I feel like I’ve lost something when I’ve never had it? 

Why can’t they be here?

Am I not enough for them to be in my life?

Why couldn’t they be the grandfather, uncle, aunt, sister, mom, etc. that I needed?

Sometimes in cases of dysfunction, you just want to call them and say:

“I’m tired of wishing other peoples’ family members were in your place.” 

 

It’s lonely, it’s isolating, it’s painful, it feels like a hole in your chest–a void in your heart.

 

Sadly, it’s common for people who feel this emptiness due to an absent family member to seek to fill that void with substances, other people, and worldly possessions.

However, did you know that there is someone who will never fail us? 

Someone who:

  • Is the perfect father (Matthew 5:48)
  • Knows you through and through (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • Sees value in you (Luke 12:7)
  • Loves you (1 John 4:7-9)
  • Sacrificed His life so you could live (Galatians 2:20)

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Life will let us down, our loved ones will let us down, but God will never let us down.

Unlike unreliable family members, He never changes (Hebrews 13:8).

God doesn’t abandon His children (1 John 4:16).

God doesn’t neglect His children (Matthew 7:11).

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”-Matthew 11:28-30

Absent family members can leave a huge void.

God can fill that void and any others.

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”-Ephesians 1:5-7

But how do we become children of God?
How do we get into Christ?

Well, the answer is simple and is clearly seen in the New Testament examples of people becoming Christians.

One is the story about the Philippian jailer:

“Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.”-Acts 16:25-31

Constantly we read about people…

-Hearing the gospel (Romans 10:13)

-Believing the gospel (John 8:24)

-Repenting of their sins (Acts 2:38)

-Confessing their faith (Romans 10:9)

-Baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins (1 Peter 3:21)

-Remaining faithful (Colossians 1:21)

This is the process we read, the one that the Bible gives us.

It’s so simple, yet man has made it seem so complex.

Our earthly families will fail us, leave us, and eventually pass away, but God died so we would be able to be saved and become a child of Him.

“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”-Acts 2:41

 

One day, everyone who obeyed Him and His word will (2 Thessalonians 1:8) be in heaven, and it will be far better than any family reunion we can imagine on this mere earth. 

 

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”-James 1:22-25

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Aren’t you glad that we can be children of the one true God?

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What Shouldn’t End When This Pandemic Does

Remember back to a few months ago when the majority of us thought that this virus was a joke and something people were overreacting to?

It was after my family and I came home from worship on a Wednesday night to find out that the NBA was canceled that we realized that this wasn’t a small joke anymore because America loves their sports, one does not simply cancel them, and yet, they did.

Now here we are, most of us have been in lockdown or a shelter-in-place of some sort and it’s starting to feel like this will never end and like this is our new normal.

However, everything earthly eventually ends.

What End Shouldn't When This Pandemic Does

If I was going to be dramatic, I would write that this pandemic could last until Jesus comes back, but then, that also could be in the next five minutes so it would still be a short life lived for this virus.

Eventually, we know that this pandemic panic will end and people will start working to put their lives together after being out of work, it might take a while, but this will end. 

What shouldn’t end?

This has been a question on my mind lately.

I don’t know about you, but I am ashamed to admit that I’ve listened to more sermons and spent more time in God’s word these two months than I have since the first two months of becoming a Christian.

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So, here’s what shouldn’t end when the lockdown does, here’s what we shouldn’t stop doing when we stop social distancing:

 

      1. Taking the time to study God’s word

Like I said before, I am not proud that I’ve been in God’s word more than before, because we should always be in His word and making time to pray to Him.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditates day and night.”-Psalm 1:1-2

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray without ceasing

Without ceasing means incessantly, regularly.

Are you incessant with your prayers?

Why does it have to take a pandemic to get us to draw closer to Him? Let it be our hearts, our desire to learn and live for Him that draws us closer, not free time, anxiety, and boredom.

We make time for what is important to us, so let’s make time for the Bible. Let us prioritize Him, even when life gives us additional priorities.

 

     2. Spending time with our families

Y’all know I was homeschooled and that my family is a big homeschool family, you guys also probably know that I agree one hundred percent with my parents’ views on homeschooling over public schooling and the importance of family in daily life.

I feel for the public school families that have been thrust into being together all day when they are not used to it, but I hope that this time has helped many to realize how much they need each other.

“And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”-Ephesians 6:4

I can’t imagine how hard it is to raise your children, especially if both parents work and the kids go off to school, and obviously, I am not one to give parenting advice or anything of that sort.

However, I do hope this time has helped people re-evaluate and come up with plans to continue to grow their relationship with their parents, siblings, and children at this time.

Our relationship with our loved ones matters, and we need to continue to make time for them.

 

       3. Checking on our friends

“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”-1 Thessalonians 5:11

Once again, I didn’t do this as much before, and honestly, I’m still terrible at it.

But during this time, I’m sure most of us have been reaching out to people more often with how are yous? and encouragement.

Why stop after this? Why stop calling or messaging your new sister or brother in Christ to see how they are doing spiritually just because you start seeing them in public again?

Do you know how much people won’t tell you when there’s others around?

Technology is such a blessing in this regard because we can be in touch in six seconds, so why stop using it to be there for others even when you aren’t in person?

I personally dislike talking over the phone, and studying the bible over the phone isn’t my favorite because I cannot read facial expressions and the tone of voice is muffled, but after this, I hope to use technology more in order to reach out to people and then make plans to get together in person.

 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”-Hebrews 10:23-25

This verse is used in the context of assembly for worship, but as Christians, we should be a part of our brethren’s lives more than just twice a week if possible, we need each other.

 

        4. Being grateful

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”-1 Thessalonians 5:18

A while back I wrote my post The Spoiled Americans, which was on how we are all so spoiled to be complaining about our situations when we are still so rich in the eyes of so many countries and people who simply weren’t born in the same country or with the same privilege as us.

But while I know I’m spoiled and I know others are (sometimes I just say “I’m spoiled” to myself when I want to complain about my circumstances), I’ve seen so much acknowledgment and gratefulness online as well.

I’ve seen people with good hearts for helping others and once again, let’s keep on working on not only being grateful but realizing how blessed we are to be capable of helping others with greater needs than our own.

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This pandemic will end, but let us not put the lessons we learned during this time to the side and not to use in our daily lives after. 

 

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What would you add to this list?
What are some things you’ve learned in this pandemic?
As always, stay safe and stay in the word.

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