Excited. Expectant. Unafraid.

Duck #113

Have you ever re-fallen in love? With a person, a thing, a season, a song? I feel like that’s where I am right now. I find myself re-falling in love with charms and treasures of this life that had seemed to lose their…shine. Truth be told, they were still just as shiny, I was just scared. And when looking at anything through the lens of fear, all you see is dark and gray. It’s quite miserable.

But the thing about the human body is that it is capable of far more than you think–even when it comes to the unpleasant. For nearly two and a half years, fear and I had become good pals. The glasses it shoved on my face, while heavy and uncomfortable, just became a part of my normal routine. Every where that Jayna went, fear was sure to follow. Much of this fear took shape as my unwanted partner in crime–anxiety. In fact, my last blog post (written over 6 months ago) was the aftermath of a panic attack. It has been so hard for me to blog since then because there’s been so much swirling around in my head. I wasn’t much able to get a grasp on my thoughts. My counselor has since told me that it’s called obsessive thinking. I just called it the loop. And I thought it was normal. It just happened. A lot. But like I said, the human body is capable of far more than we think. So I would just obsessively think myself into a panic. Often.

Shortly after I had written that last post, I got tacos (my favorite) with a friend. I was trying to explain to her how I was feeling and what was going on in my head. I kept saying, “I can’t tell what’s the Lord’s voice and what’s the enemy’s. They sound so similar.” It was unbelievably isolating. The friend I was sharing with has become a safe haven for me in Atlanta. I can’t thank the Lord enough for her. As I cried and spilled my fears to her and explained how absolutely horrible I had been feeling (for the past 2 years), she met me where I was. With kindness and love. What a gift it was to let a bit of my burden go.

….and after that everything got better. I never had another panic attack. And all my fear dissipated!!!!

 

 

 

 

FALSE.

I had a panic attack two weeks ago. On my birthday.

And that brings me to the meat of this post. My birthday. Number twenty-five. For the first time, in a while, I have great anticipation and expectation for this upcoming year. I’m looking forward to what’s next, not because I need the previous year to be over, but because I’m excited and I’m not…afraid. Like I said, i’m re-falling in love.

On the eve of my 24th birthday, the Lord clearly told me that I was going to be entering a year without fear. This absolutely terrified me. Fear and I were basically best pals, remember? I didn’t really believe God. My argument? I wasn’t worth the time. It was too much to remove fear from me. I was convinced that if God was going to remove fear from me, the way he was going to do it wouldn’t be kind and it wouldn’t be loving. It would be full of suffering and surprises and “see, I told you so’s.”

So for about 11 months of my 24th year, fear gripped the mess out of me. My anxiety was manifesting in new ways (yeah, apparently that can happen) and I was overwhelmed.  Throughout these 11 months, I would kind of snidely bring up to God that promise He’d made me. Where’s this year without fear, huh? I’m almost 25, Lord? Where you at? 

His response. “Right here. As I have been all along.”

Over the summer during a worship night that a friend invited me to, I prayed a prayer. A bold one. Why? I don’t really know. Call it desperation, call it the prompting of the Holy Spirit. But I prayed. Lord, I need you to show me who I think you are, who you really are, and how the two are different.  Almost immediately, my prayer was answered. If we meet for coffee, I’ll be happy to share with you the specific answer.  (It’s intimate, so I’d rather save it for a face to face convo. Plus, I’d love to get coffee with you!) In sharing this with my counselor, she said, “…I don’t even know what to say. That feels too holy to step on.” I wept. The answer the Lord had given me was completely uprooting my categories for him. It was rearranging “truths” about his character.

Part of what he told me was, “I’m so proud of you. You’re safe with me.” I wept. Again.
What I hadn’t realized is that so much of my fear and anxiety stemmed from a belief that God is not safe, that he couldn’t be trusted. I had no idea how far down this belief went.

Since that moment of clarity over the summer, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have been in cahoots to capture my heart. I know, I know how cheesy that sounds. I just honestly don’t know how else to describe it. Purposefully, passionately, and persistently I am becoming more of who the Lord is calling me to be. I have stood up for myself, I have stayed quiet when I would normally feel the need to speak, I chased a BIG dream and published a book, I let myself be seen by my friends and let them know it means the world to me that they see me, I have apologized, I have repented, I ran a 5k (lol. I consider this a big deal), I started to believe that God is who he says he is and not who I had formerly thought him to be. And oh, am I so thankful. He’s good, y’all. And kind. And BIG. And loving. And hilarious. And adventurous. And faithful. And EXACTLY who Scripture says he is.

Never before had the lyrics of “I asked the Lord” made so much sense to me. In my begging and pleading with the Lord during my deep fits of anxiety and fear, I didn’t realize that what needed to happen was that I needed to see the depths of my heart. I needed to see what I was projecting on the Lord. I needed to see my need to find my all in Him, not who I thought of Him to be.

…I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

Yea more with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

“These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”

I’m still learning. I’m still processing. But I am so excited. I am expectant. I am re-falling in love with Jesus and with myself and with this life that He’s given me. I’m no longer a slave to fear. Sure, I know that I will again be afraid, but I also know that fear is not my God. Hallelujah for that!

All right year 25, let’s get it!

 

[THANK YOU, JESUS!]
❤ Amen

Some Finished Thoughts

Duck #86

Wanna know something kind of funny? Well, it’s not exactly funny, but it’s interesting…to me, at least. Okay, here it is: I’ve been avoiding my blog. I’ve intentionally been not writing. I’ve been saying to myself that I’m just waiting for inspiration to hit, but every good writer knows that if you wait too long to write, you’ll never do it. Writing is a lot less glamorous than most people think, actually. But honestly, people keep writing about how unglamorous writing is, so you’d think everyone would get the idea by now, amirite?! Anyway, back to the subject at hand…

Avoiding. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been on a bit of a social media hiatus. Honestly, it’ll be better for my ego if you haven’t noticed, even though I really hope you have noticed. (Jk). (Not really). This hiatus has been really good for me and has probably been one of the better decisions I’ve made this summer. It’s forced me to be present where I am–I’m kind of cringing at admitting this because the idea of “being present” has become so culturally popular within the last few years, it’s almost hackneyed. However, despite the bandwagon popularity that “being present” has undertaken, the heart behind it is solid.

As a proud millennial, I am completely aware of my generation’s rampant use of social media and the ways in which it’s become a device of avoidance. We use it to avoid school work, awkward social encounters, talking to family members, etc. Because of this, I decided to take a break from it, and here’s what I’ve realized: I love to live in such a way that other people will find interesting because who other people say or think that I am is really important to me. I’m a self proclaimed people pleaser, but it’s not so much that I want to please people, but that I want other people to be pleased with me. Maybe that’s the same thing, but it feels different. I mean, what’s the fun in experiencing life if I’m the only person that will know what I’m thinking or seeing, right?

Wrong.

Since taking this social media break, I’ve found myself finishing thoughts (shocker!), instead of grabbing my phone to tweet about what’s happening. I’ve found myself noticing  small things around me because my eyes aren’t glued to the latest celebrity dispute. I’ve grown a deeper appreciation for key changes in certain songs because I’ve been able to soak them in instead of posting about how everyone should go listen to them. (I’d provide you with a list now, but I don’t remember all of the songs I’ve listened to recently…it’s been a lot.)  I’ve been forced to notice where I am, take inventory, and be present. Truthfully, I didn’t realize how much I use social media to distract myself from…myself. I think that’s why I’ve been avoiding my blog, because I’d have to intentionally acknowledge the fact that I became aware of how unaware I was. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you know less than you thought.

However, as I have become less, the Lord has become more. Now, this isn’t me saying “take a break from social media and suddenly you’re understanding of God will become perfect,” because it won’t. Mine hasn’t, but I am learning more and more that He is far more extravagant than I give him credit. For some reason, this is really hard for me to digest, let alone swallow. With the time that I’ve given to the Lord, instead of social media, I’ve been going through the book of Psalms. What I’ve seen consistently about the Lord is this: He is faithful, his love is steadfast, he is strong, he is powerful, he is just, he is personal, repeat.

You see, even though I’m learning that I continually come up empty handed, the Lord is faithful, forever loving, strong, powerful, just, personal, repeat. Again and again and again. The question that I keep asking myself is, “Do you believe that? I mean, do you really believe that?” I’ve had time to think about whether or not I have been allowing the truths of the Psalms, of the gospel of Jesus Christ, to sink into my heart. Have I been allowing these truths to sink in so deep that I won’t struggle to want to live a life that other people find interesting? Have you?

 

…[Dear Jesus,
I must decrease and You must increase.]
<3Amen