Decisions to Be Made…

IMG_0624My heart has been anxious, scattered, and felt unnerved lately… And, unfortunately, this may be a little bit of a jumbled post as I try to iron out some of the scattered thoughts…

Last night while I slept, it felt as though instead of sleeping and dreaming, I wrestled with questions and struggled to find my footing again. I am not sure if God and I were wrestling, or if I was just stressing…

For the first time in a long time, I find myself struggling through a plethora of insecurities… Am I good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, loving enough, caring enough?.. Basically my insecurities have boiled down to, “Am I enough?” Sometimes it feels as though my insecurities come in waves, disappearing entirely for a while, and then crashing down on me once again. I love the seasons when they are gone because I feel uninhibited and free to dance in who I am.

I am in this weird place where I have total peace and no doubts about moving forward with my consulting work… I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I mean, it is definitely hard work, and requiring a lot of hours from me, but I love watching it unfold, and I truly enjoy the consulting itself.. but mostly, I love the people who I get to help.

It seems interesting and quite frustrating to finally feel like I have direction in one area of my life, and feel as though satan is attacking (or maybe merely just whispering to) my doubts and insecurities.

The best way I can describe it is, my inner layers are growing weary; that I desire stability and certainty, but instead what I find is doubt and uncertainty… almost across the board too, which is just aggravating. When I stop and survey all the aspects of things in my life, all of the decisions to be made, the stressors and of course all the uncertainties, I find my heart just being tired… No overwhelming emotion, just fatigue. I know that while I have a huge support system, I am ultimately alone in making decisions, and just feel exhausted at my center for at having to make them all.

I also think some of the weariness is due to trying to work towards healing wounds and insecurities, and realizing that I am probably more fragile than I care to admit or show…

True to my nature though, I tend towards being an all or nothing type person. Now that I have financial and professional direction, I want to work as hard as I can to get the other areas of my life to fall together and heading in the same direction as well.

I mean, I am certain that Jesus is my provider, and I have no doubt that He is also my sustainer. But, I would like to also feel secure and safe for a little while. There is a huge difference between knowing and feeling.

I really am thankful and amazed at all of the ways God has taken care of me, over the last year especially. Words really do not accurately describe the emotions that I feel when I think of all of the people who have stood in the gap… Because, regardless of your view of me, I really am not worthy of the amount of love and support that I have received.

On the other hand, I have felt for years, and even more so over the last year that no matter how many people love and support me, I am ultimately responsible for taking care of myself. My sense of responsibility for taking care of myself does not come from a prideful place, and certainly not from the viewpoint of not needing help, and I have no desire to do this because of an “I am woman hear me roar” attitude. However, my feeling of responsibility is more from the practical sense that, if I do not do it, there is no one else walking this journey with me, so it must be me.

I think now is a good time to pause and say that this “by myself” perspective is not at all directed at my lack of need for Christ or the Holy Spirit’s guidance.. Nor is it directed at feeling as though I do not need help.. cause I without doubt do need help. But, I am certain that my need does not inherently mean it is anyone else’s obligation to step in and help.

There are days that I feel like maybe I seek out and rely on others too much because I definitely seek out other people to talk things over with (sometimes ad nauseam) to help me figure out what and how to do all of this well. I am so, so thankful for the friendship, patience, and support of my sounding boards. But, when I climb into bed at night thinking over my day, I mull over and pray for the things that I did not do so well, the choices that need to be made the following day, and the situations that I am uncertain about, and I am reminded that this journey is between God and I.

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22

Excitement and Nervousness…

It has been 51 weeks since I have had full-time job. For the last year, I have put almost all of my effort towards finding a new job and moving forward. In the course of the last year I have dabbled in my consulting work, and really just used it to help cover the basic financial needs that I had.

Throughout the course of job-hunting, I have been struggling with frustration, timing, and desperately trying to hold onto any bits of hope I could find. And then, recently I have started to realize that maybe God is just telling me “no”… But, then what if he was saying “wait” instead.. And then, concern and frustrating would grow deeper because I could not get a clear grasp of the situation or direction.

Within the last few weeks, three more job possibilities fell through, and at the same time I had several people (separately) start encouraging me to really think about and pursue my consulting work… After all, I was already building a client list that includes people in several states, another country, and a vast array of industries… Technically, I was already “succeeding” even though I had not stopped to look at it in that way.

Initially, I dismissed the notion of working to survive off of my consulting work. After all, the level of income I would need means my number of clients would be absolutely ridiculous.. and, I was fairly confident I would not be able to pull it off without killing myself.

Yet, after a couple of weeks of someone mentioning it almost daily, I began to really consider the possibility, but found myself truly struggling with fear of failing. –Which was a unique experience since fear is not often a factor that inhibits my decision-making.

I was plagued with hundreds of “what ifs” and overwhelmed with the possibility of trying and failing, then frustrated all over again that those two things were impacting me to such a degree that I was refusing to move.

So, several weeks later, dozens of conversations with a whole lot of different people, thinking, praying, and really processing what would need to happen in order for me to survive off of my consulting work.. All of which I am fairly confident drove my friends and family crazy (thanks for the patience), I have finally settled with some excitement and trepidation on a decision:

I am going to pursue consulting as a full-time/main source of income.

I may upon occasion still apply to full-time jobs that strike me as particularly exciting or interesting, however, I am no longer going to mainly focus on applying for jobs. If God opens a door for me to walk through that seems right, then I will, but until then, consulting work seems to be the only door open.

Which of course leaves the question, what am I consulting on?

Marketing,
Communications,
Advertising,
Social and Digital Media,
Content and Copy Writing,
Branding,
Strategic Planning,
Business Development,
Leadership Training,
Change Management,
Among a few other closely related items…

I mean after all, I already have a large portion of the up front work done:
www.backinconsulting.com
Facebook

I have been slowly gaining clients through freelance sites online, but I have been amazed by the word of mouth clients that have come along unexpectedly. I am also excited that I have found an interesting niche in consulting for smaller churches.

I really do love and enjoy both the field of marketing and when I get to do consulting work, I like getting to know new people and researching their industries. However, I think what I enjoy the most is using something that is relatively “useless” in the grand scheme of things, and getting to impact people’s lives in a significant and meaningful to them way.

Along the way, some of my biggest hold ups have been that it was not in my plan to switch to consulting work as my main career focus… My plan was to do consulting work if I ever got married and needed to follow my husband, and/or needed to stay at home with kids… But, as a single woman, I never really considered it to be a real possibility… Yet here I am not only considering it, but working towards it diligently every day. Yikes!

A small part of me almost expects a full-time job to come around now that I have shifted my focus, but I am building my clientele slowly enough that I would be able to have both a full-time job and maintain my clients. Plus, I am trusting that God is using this change in direction to restore, rebuild me, and shape my future entirely differently than I had anticipated and planned for.

It is all both exciting and makes me really nervous.

Please pray for me and that I am able to build my clients to a decent level, but also, that I can move forward without fear motivating me one way or another.

Also, I would appreciate you keeping me in mind as you hear of people/companies/churches that may need help!

I think it is finally time to start regrowing.

IMG_1699“My Tree”, you can read more about the story behind this tree here.

 

Growing and Grooming

I have been doing a lot of thinking and praying recently about a slew of things and I think I am finally to the point of having it clear enough in my head to share.

Lately I have dealt with a lot of confusion, frustration and anger and struggles to wade through the last two years. There have definitely been days where I felt guilt for my anger, but other days it has seemed as though it was the sole emotion pushing me to continue to pray so I grasped onto it as hard as I could. I have been really actively trying to process through what it looks like to follow what I believe God lead me to, and then what to do with it when it went so terrible wrong… as in the entirely opposite direction.

What do I do with the fact that I felt God had pushed me towards a specific place and job, and that it was finally my calling made exactly perfectly for me; only for it to fall apart within a year?.. And then, why would he prevent me from getting another job and placing me in a situation of losing most everything for another year (maybe more at this rate)?

Let me pause for a second and say, if you know someone going through an intensely painful period of life, there is very little that can be said to encourage someone throughout a season such as this. In the last two years, the most encouraging thing came from the people who did not offer cute or well-meaning sayings, but instead chose to acknowledge how difficult and frustrating life can be, and then just offered love and support. The people who could quote well placed in context scripture to offer encouragement were like sunshine in the depths of night.

However, above anything else, it has been the people who have just been there. The people who listened, prayed, cried, laughed, and sat in silence with me as I just struggled and continue to work through the emotions every day while not understanding the purpose or goal.

I do not have an aha answer yet as to the reason behind why things have turned out the way they have.. nor why things continue to be difficult. However, I do have a list of things I have learned that have ruminated in my head long enough to share now (or again)…

  • I am learning and having compassion literally grown in me. – I am not a naturally compassionate person, every ounce of it has been cultivated over time within my heart.
  • I have spent my whole life viewing my value as coming from the fact that I am capable. – While I still struggle with this idea daily, I now recognize that my value is intrinsic, not because I am capable of handling my problems AND yours. Every day I struggle with working to view myself as valuable outside of my ability to handle anything thrown at me.
  • I think the most overwhelming thing that I have realized throughout everything is that, every single day (no exaggeration), I have gotten an e-mail, phone call, FaceTimed, text, FB message, hug, coffee, snail mail card etc.. from friends and family checking in to say they love me, are praying for me, thinking of me and wanting to know how I’m doing. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. from a whole slew of people, not even just a small group. It more than almost anything else overwhelms me with emotions to see how many people love me so very deeply.
  • There are a handful of people who have listened to me verbally struggle and be angry throughout this process and they have done nothing but show grace, love, compassion, and understanding; it has made the most significant impact on my heart. I can only imagine the level of frustration they must feel over how long I have been struggling.
  • Throughout scripture you see people asking God over and over “Why?” and “How long?” – I just recently discovered this little bit of truth (thanks to Amazed and Confused by Heather Zempel), and I am so thankful to realize that my feelings are not new or abnormal, but I share those feelings with so many others.
  • Recently, I have realized that the vast majority of my stress comes from tomorrow, not often today. In that realization comes the fact that we are told not to stress about tomorrow. – Having exactly what I need today is enough, stressing about tomorrow is fruitless, but it takes a serious level of active work to let go of tomorrow’s worry.
  • I have realized also how much comparison good or bad is detrimental to our hearts. Comparing someone else’s worse or horrible situation does not make me feel better or guilty about my own situation. The problem comes in that as soon as I compare bad or worse, I also compare those who have it great and better. – Both are pretty unhealthy. Obviously something can be said for gaining perspective, and sometimes looking at someone else’s situation can offer that, but more often than not it is unhealthy.
  • I have watched Dick Foth’s message Enough from NCC in DC twice now, and I keep reminding myself that God’s Grace is sufficient. Meaning that it is just right, at just the right time for me and my situation. It is not too much, it is never too little, but it covers me perfectly.
  • A few months ago I switched from thinking that God was waiting and preparing things so that there will be “something better” later, to believing that he was preventing me from moving on. – I still believe this, but a friend recently said it in a way that put my heart at rest. – God is grooming me with all of this, and God grooms people for a specific reason. It was a small statement, and may have been told to me before, but the right words at the right time that changed my perspective. This means, that it is all on purpose, yet not in a malicious or forgotten sense, but in a healthy and cultivating way. I do not know if “better” in the classic sense is what is coming, but on purpose and healthy IS better when coming from God.
  • I think I often try to deny the fact that I am such an extreme touch person that during periods when I do not receive any form of touch (for days or weeks), that it causes a pretty severe negative impact on my mental state. – I think I like to pretend that I am or should be strong enough for it not to matter whether I am touched… Until I am once again regularly hugged or touched in general, and it feels as though my dry and dying soul is a desert that is suddenly watered and refreshed.

Every day I struggle through more feelings and thoughts, and try to aim towards getting healthy again. I desire more than anything to feel peace once more, and while I am not there yet, I can look back and realize that I am much closer to it than I was months ago. I can see the pieces of the puzzle fitting together, although I have no clue what the picture is supposed to be at this point.

While I struggle daily with a variety of issues and stressors, the biggest and maybe most profound thing that my heart has settled back into is that God has not forgotten me, I am loved, cherished, and this is not for naught.

Reason to Sing…

I stumbled upon Reason to Sing by All Sons & Daughters over the weekend. It has been out for a while (several years actually), but somehow I missed this song in my regular search for new music of every genre. I love this song. My favorite thing is the progression of feeling, which adequately uses music to communicate how I have been feeling.

When the pieces seem to shatter
To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter
Is that I don’t feel you anymore
No I don’t feel you anymore
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You’re still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing

For months I have struggled with feeling like things have shattered, and that I have been left alone to clean up the mess. I have felt abandoned, alone, and tried my hardest to feel God again… And cried repeatedly when I didn’t. I have wanted desperately to feel connected, joyful, and like I had worship within me. I so badly have wanted to feel in my heart once again that God still has everything together, and that He will work it all out for my good and to bring Him glory in the end. I did not care as much about the whole world, but needed to know that I was seen and my world was loved and cared for.

When I’m overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I’m afraid I might let go
I’m afraid I might let go”

Fear has been a huge part of this journey, especially as it seems to be dragging on with no ending in sight. I have denied fear and hurt often, but the reality is “what if..” has plagued me for nine months now… And for a year prior to that for different reasons than I face currently.

Will there be a victory
Will You sing it over me now
Your peace is the melody
Will you sing it over me now”

My mind and heart have battled for months between my head knowing God will come through and my heart being fickle and unsure. I have prayed daily for victory, reassurance, peace, and confidence in my heart once again.

Then slowly, almost without noticing, it has transitioned into:

I will sing, sing, sing 
To my God, my King 
For all else fades away
And I will love, love, love
With this heart you’ve made for me
For you’ve been good always
For you’ve been good always.”

Now I find myself sitting in a blending of the two sides of this beautiful song. I have not yet stepped out of seeking for God to sing His victory and peace over me.. But, I have found my heart slowly.. ever so slowly settling into confidence that God has been good always, and He has made my heart to sing to Him while all else fades away.

What a painful journey the last couple years have been. I always expected to get over it when I had a job and felt like I could move on… In a lot of ways that will be true, but I have slowly (seriously slower than a snail slow) have begun to see how God is working on me. Totally not in my timing, definitely not in the ways I wish or would have chosen, but I can see the change, and that alone helps. Just knowing this was not all pointless, that I have grown, my heart has changed, and coming back around to seeing the goodness of God is profoundly helpful.

I Am Capable…

IMG_1699I have been thinking, praying, mulling over, stressing over, and distracting myself from putting this blog post up for a while now. Something changes when you not only admit the problems you are facing, but when you invite others to peer into your heart and see them too… there is always the chance that it will come back to haunt you later…I have discovered the haunting part the hard way several times in the last year.

Yet, here I am, writing and sharing again anyway because I firmly believe that it is important for my story, although intensely personal, to never be private.

I do ask one thing from you however, this will be a long post, please read all of it or stop reading now. Half of the story or skimming simply will not work this time…

I have always viewed myself as capable.

But, not long ago, I realized that I am broken.

Not a cute or blasé broken, but a deep down all the way to center of who I am. I am a broken person.

Kind of a funny revelation as I think back through my life, and while really I have known my brokenness all along, this time it is distinctly different. It is not as though I have lived a sheltered life, a glamorous life, or even one void of pain and heartache. However, the current result of brokenness aches in places that have never hurt before… It is a solid soaking through brokenness. But, I think it is also important to point out that I purposefully did not say the “end result” is brokenness, because this is far from the end; I am certain of that fact.

Yet, broken is certainly where I sit tonight.

The problem is that I am capable.

For as long as I can remember, being capable is the largest perspective I have of myself apart from my identity in Christ.

Christ is definitely first, and through my relationship with him I view myself and the world. The problem is when I pull away, and stop focusing on Christ, capable is my automatic fallback to place. Capable is my “old man” struggle when I am not focused on pushing into Jesus, and while it definitely causes me to teeter close to pride often, the difference is rooted in my ability thus far to handle whatever comes my way.

I have always been able to handle the good and bad of life. While I definitely cannot claim to have experienced things even close to “the worst” like so many friends have, I can point to my fair share of awful things. Most of my life I have been strong because I know who I am, but also because I must be strong. Sometimes I get through simply by grit my teeth and forcing my way through whatever I am facing. But, as an adult single woman, if I am not strong and capable, who will be for me? Thankfully I can say that I am secure because of God’s Truth, regardless of what I am facing, I just often struggle with the plan (or really the lack of knowing the plan). I would also be remiss if I did not also admit that I am able to press forward and through often because of the support and love of those around me. It is also helpful that while stress affects me a great deal in certain aspect, it has never been an immobilizer…So, I am capable even in stress.

However, a little over a week ago, my stress level collided full force into an immovable object, which shattered the last remaining fragile belief I had in my capability to get through this season and these struggles.

Suddenly, it felt like this was never going to end, I had no way out, and I am trapped here until it all overtakes me.

Over and over recently, I have faced problems and issues that were not my doing, but am forced to deal with anyway. Some of the problems come down to bad luck, others a clash of world views, or still other instances are simply life just dealing out some craptasticness. Yet, regardless each of them must be worked through…

The problem is that so far, to date, I have been able to sidestep most of them, oftentimes thanks to someone coming to my rescue and helping me, other times it has been things just working out exactly perfectly in the nick of time, or just flat-out gritting my teeth and doing whatever I need to in order to deal and move on.

But, this time there is no easy fix, but worse than that, there is no end in sight. There is no hope that if I hold out long enough this will soon be over… This really could go on forever (not logically of course, but from what I can see, it has no reason to end either..).

So, I found myself sitting there flipping through options in my head, and not seeing any possible way to get through the problems before the allotted time I have. I felt my chest tighten, my throat close, my jaw clench, and my eyes begin to burn with the need to cry… only, I was in a place where crying was not really an option… So, I did what I typically do, I took a few deep breaths, swallowed, and forced myself to control my emotions enough to prevent crying. I would deal with the flood later.

However, the reality is that this time, the problem could not go away, nor be forgotten about, so the tightness in my throat did not go away either. In fact, that constricting feeling you get in your throat from swallowing the desire to cry stayed for days… No one could see or feel it, but, it was a constant little personal reminder with no evidence outwardly of my constricted throat. I could talk, eat, laugh, and even sing totally normally, but inwardly nothing I did would get rid of the feeling or emotions.

So, one night I laid in bed and began strategizing and trying to think of ways to get out of my situation. I mean, surely there is something that I can do to fix this mess in my life despite the fact that I did not cause this one.. or the last few. But, as I thought through everything, the more I realized, I have no way to save myself… and on top of that, the real crushing blow was realizing that this had broken me; it shattered the last little bit of belief I have in my capability to handle whatever came my way.

As I laid there, all I felt was fear and failure.

A typical mental exercise I go through to calm myself down is to think back through each situation or thing systematically because it forces me to focus outside of my emotions. So, this time, I started with the most recent problem and worked my way backwards through each difficult thing that has happened over the last couple of years. With each situation, I realized that things have been piling up consistently for a very long time, and as hard as I have tried, worked, smiled, prayed or laid in silence trying to listen to God, nothing was going to force things to change or get better.

And, things would certainly not happen the way I had constructed in my head as the amazing way God was going to save me. He is going to do this His way, His timing, and.. despite what I know to be true, from my vantage point it seems as painfully as possible in the process.

How is it possible that someone as stubborn as I am, as dedicated, hard-working, experienced, educated, and willing to go wherever I need to is incapable of fixing my situation? I am supposed to be capable.

Yet, here I sit, totally, completely, and utterly incapable and broken.

So, in that moment I replaced capable with devastated. Devastation is how I feel.

I was created to be capable. How is this helpful for God to take everything away from me?.. (And, if you cite Job to me, I may throat punch you.)

If one of the key ways I view myself has been forced out of me, slowly over a long period of time, no amount of nice or words or kind things said from others trying to encourage and lift me up can help the shards of brokenness that surrounds me. No attempt at distraction can remove the looming realization that I am not capable and in actuality, I am totally broken and helpless.

I mean, I can function, I have no option. But, aside from the days upon days of constricted throat to remind me, I am surrounded by deadlines, bills, work, problems, much of which I do not share with others… And the looming thought:

If I am not capable, then who and what am I?

Where do I go from here? How do I begin to pick up the pieces when my circumstances have not really changed? I know that it is ok for me to not be ok… but I also know that it is not ok for me to stay this way. I simply cannot stay here in my brokenness, but I am not sure how to move forward knowing that I am incapable of fixing this immovable object before me.

What an interesting place for me to land. After all this time, and all these years to be whittled down to wondering who I am without the key way in which I view myself.

……..

The only thing I know for sure is, despite how I feel, and regardless of what is right in front of me,

I waited patiently for the LordAnd He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction,
out of the miry clay,
a
nd He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord
You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me,
so that I am not able to see; 
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.

Psalm 40:1-3, 11-13

Tonight, I do not see the dawn, I cannot see the blessings, I struggle to remember the harvest, and I work very hard to prevent bitterness from taking hold. But, no matter how my heart feels or my emotions sway, my head knows that I will not and cannot be left here forever.

Despite the fact that the pain makes it hard to focus on much else, I can recognize and be thankful for the compassion that is being born in me. The reshaping who I am at the very center. I realize how much I am learning to accept love and help.. and even ask for help upon occasion. I am blown away by the love and support of those who around me, and they way others have stepped in to fill the gap. When all is said and done, and on the other side, I will be amazed at the way my faith was grown.. even in my unbelief. I will marvel at the this journey and proudly carry these scars I have gained…

But, tonight is not the other side, and I realize that I must go through the pain in order to get there.

This post was written, edited, re-written, re-edited, left for a day, and now I have finally decided to share it with you. Please know that this post is one snapshot into my heart, I am not in fact full of despair, this is all just a part of my life that I must work through and figure out how to blend capable with broken in the hands of my Savior.
Also, this post is not one shared because I am in need of nice words of encouragement, I would much rather your prayers.

Learning…

I feel like I spend most of my days trying to figure out what I am supposed to be learning or doing during this season.

Sometimes I reason with myself that the quicker I learn, the faster all of this will be over.

Maybe if I just DO more, learn more, pray more, spend more time in scripture, apply to more jobs, revise my resume for the 600th time, write yet another cover letter or send a “just checking in” e-mail… Maybe if I just be better all around.. maybe that will help this whole season to end quicker.

Even as I write that, it just sounds silly and stupid and I am tempted to erase it and not share that bit of information.

“Be better”?! That’s never solved anyone’s problems, ever.

That’s why God’s grace and mercy are so crucial to His story; because of people like me, in times like this. We always fall back to being or doing better, and it has nothing to do with that except maybe being a byproduct of the learning that takes place.

Really, I am just admitting that despite everything you see on my social media, or the conversations I have had with you recently, life is hard, I don’t “love” this season or stage at all, but I understand at least in part what if happening, and often I have the mentality of just trying to survive and get through it all.

So what is all of the struggling for?

Compassion and Faith.

One of the things that I have never been good at is compassion. Truly, I struggle with it constantly and have always admitted that I am really not the best when it comes to having true compassion for others. Realistically, whatever compassion you think you see and experience from me has been entirely cultivated by Christ in seasons such as the one I am in currently… And, that is no exaggeration or dramatization of the reality of the situation.

The other thing is faith. Growing faith is something that I have come to realize is just about as difficult as growing compassion. It is like growing pains, and in order for it to get deeper and stronger, it takes trials that force you to dig deeper to increase your faith.

For example, I keep finding myself in a cycle of worrying about finances, and then having no other option but to fall back into convincing myself that everything will be ok.

I have been unemployed for six months. This is the longest I have not worked 40+ hours a week in more than a decade.
I have lost a lot of things over the course of the last six months.
I have worked my tail off applying to hundreds of jobs all around the country.
I have done consulting work to help make up for some of the financial difficulty.

And then, sometimes it just seems like when I get to a point of “ok, I’m good, I will be fine for (length of time)” something happens that throws all of that out the window…. Such as a $300 car repair that came out of the blue.

Yet, throughout it all, I have money to cover the essential bills.

I do not have any way of explaining how my finances have covered my bills for more than six months, especially when I did not have enough of a savings to cover more than a month’s worth of expenses.

I try to rationalize, that this shouldn’t be happening to me because I have THREE degrees, eight years experience, a strong and solid resume… Not to mention I am willing to go wherever the job is.

“How can this be my situation?”

The reality is that, I do not know the answer… nor does anyone else. The only explanation I have is that God is truly using this to grow me. It sucks. This is by far one of the most difficult seasons I have experienced in my life.

I am also confident that I am learning compassion and faith throughout all of this.

Everything has worked out, despite my stressing and worry, so I keep reminding myself that God knows my situation, and He will get me through this… Regardless of what I “do” He will prove Himself faithful.

“…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:3b-5

Frustrations About Race Talks…

I have a love hate relationship with the current dialogues about race, discrimination, and racism going on right now in the media and among friends.

What you read below is a random splattering of thoughts on the issue. They are not all connected to each other, and are thoughts based off of discussions I have been a part of, heard, read, watched, and my thoughts in response to them. These thoughts below are in response to every side of the discussion because I have friends from every perspective.

To give some understanding of myself first.. I am from Michigan (grew up in the Metro Flint area), I have lived in Ohio (briefly), the south, the Metro DC area, I have traveled to many areas around the country and several countries in Africa, East Asia, a couple Central American countries, and European countries.

Please note before you get into this post, I am most certainly not intending absolutes in what I say, these are my experiences and perspective alone. I have (a few or a lot of) exceptions to virtually every thought and frustration below. My thoughts are in reflection to the entire discussion as well, not to one or two things said by people.. Please read below with a thoughtful and compassionate voice, not anger or argumentative one.

Good luck reading my rambling!

I find myself so incredibly frustrated at every side of the “discussion” on race, discrimination, and racism.

I am frustrated because (all) people do and say terrible things for a slew of stupid reasons.

Maybe I’m frustrated me because I am a white woman from the north.

Maybe I am frustrated because I have traveled around the world and have seen and experienced what this topic looks like through the eyes of so many people from all walks of life that I find the discussion often frustrating, ignorant, and shallow.

Maybe it frustrates me because I (personally) have seen and experienced more women (of any color) discriminated against than blacks in America. (I am not saying it does not happen, just that this is my personal experience)

Maybe it frustrates me because I have seen Africans (in various countries in Africa) hated and treated horribly, and it’s awful.

Maybe I’m frustrated because people are people, no matter how they look. Individuals all have good and bad and beauty and personality and preferences and understanding and experiences and many times that is all boiled down to what “group” you are supposed to fit with.

Maybe it frustrates me because when I try to engage in a conversation to gain perspective, my thoughts on race are dismissed because I’m on the “white side” of “privilege” and therefore my understanding boils down to my skin color too instead of my experience and knowledge.

Maybe it frustrates me because my parents are in an interracial marriage, but because both their skins are white everyone dismisses it.

Maybe I am frustrated ’cause I find darker skin tones more attractive and that instantly puts me in a group to be hated upon.

Maybe I am frustrated because American culture tries so hard to make mixed people choose sides… (ps. They are the prettiest people!)

Maybe it frustrates me because I see so much hate and absurd things said on every side of this issue and I just want to facepalm people who refuse to listen and gain perspective.

Maybe it frustrates me because I have watched more of my “white” friends try to seek out diversity and understanding while some of my “black” friends say “that’s right, you should” instead of also seeking out diversity and understanding.

Maybe I am frustrated because some of my white friends are clueless.

Maybe I am frustrated because I don’t understand the issue at all because some of the people I look up to the most and have learned the most from are not white Americans. They are some of the most well-rounded people I have ever met and I want to be like them.

Maybe it frustrates me because I want true authentic dialogue, not just to be accused of having privilege or being racist or ignorant or for having been born white… I can’t do anything with those accusations, but I can change what I am educated with and so can you.

Maybe I am frustrated because personal experience is belittled and trustworthy news sources are held up as the reliable sources when it comes to the topic of race, discrimination, and racism.

Maybe I am frustrated because in America, the vast majority of people (everyone) are melting pots… even the African-American community is a melting pot… Don’t believe me? Go to any country in Africa or the Islands, they look entirely different, and in some places even kill each other for being from a different tribe.

Maybe I am frustrated because there has been a clear confusion between dislike and hate.

Maybe I am frustrated because I watch “race” being pulled in as a factor more often than it should (from all sides), instead of identifying the hate or actions of people as being just that: Hateful.

Maybe I am frustrated because I get judged for my opinion on race simply due to my skin color too.

Maybe I am frustrated because people on every side love to claim discrimination or a lack there of while they take the media to be accurate and reporting the whole story.

Maybe I am frustrated because racism still exists, but now it is tricky because every side expresses racism.

Maybe I am frustrated because avoidance, dislike, or ignorance is not actually racism at all… doesn’t make those things right or wrong, good or bad (depending on context), but it does not make them racism either.

Maybe I am frustrated because I just don’t understand, why does this need to be an issue? People are people, God made you, beautiful and perfect, and sin ruined us… I wish we could just move on everyone.

Maybe I am frustrated because racism and discrimination won’t entirely go away ever, until after Jesus returns.

And, I’m frustrated cause I am fairly certain there will be freaking out and anger in response to this post… Although, I really hope not, I would love for this to be a time of seeking to understanding and dialogue instead.