Here’s what they don’t tell you about eating disorders: They’re usually pretty innocent at first. An endeavour to “be healthier.” When my restrictive illness first developed when I was fifteen, I never would have considered that I might still be terrified of white flour and […]
…I have learned that I struggle.
I know that God knows that I love a good story. A self-titled (and, now, professionally titled) writer since I was eight years old, I see everything in life in stories. A good storyline complete with metaphors and compelling arch is what I appreciate most about movies and books. My love of stories is probably why I adore spontaneity and thrilling music and consider myself a hopeless romantic. It’s why I don’t summarize the beautiful way my fiance proposed in a matter of minutes, but have written it out in detail and still tell it with glassy eyes and a voice of wonder.
So, when something happens IRL that is utterly story-like, practically telling itself through its serendipity and ability to tell itself, and then comes to an end that makes it all NOT very worth telling… I struggle.
But it’s good that I struggle, because it’s brought me to an awareness of the fact that I easily see God in “the story” and assume it’s Him and assume His will before praying, actively seeking His will, and discerning.
And, what this really is, then, is me “playing God,” and taking His righteousness into my own hands.
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 TIMOTHY 4:3-4
It is very easy for us to make this mistake and jump to conclusions as Christians who live in harmony with Jesus, and live for His will to be done in our lives. It is very easy to assume that, because something good and cool and happenstance has happened, the odds for the outcome of that happening are directly in my favour.
But really, rather than writing the rest of the story, I’m called to sit in His presence and rest.
He taught me this very tangibly when I first met Johnny. Boy meets girl that I didn’t force or forge and that took months of contentment in the Holy Spirit before anything happened. In those months leading up to Johnny and I actually talking, I might have presumed, through our classroom glances and mutual but unspoken affection, that we would have spoken sooner. In the books, it would have been a week into class.
But, MAN, am I ever grateful for God’s timing on that one.
Time and again, He has shown me where my love of storytelling is a gift for His glory, and where it could trip me up into playing God. And don’t get me wrong: God is in complete control, and allows all things that happen to happen– but the outcomes are not based on me and me alone. It is easy to be egotistical and assume that the odds are in the favour of my own dreams, because “God is on my side.”
The outcomes are always in my favour because God is on my side, absolutely. But those outcomes are far better chosen by Him than me. So the best thing we can do as followers is submit to THE Storyteller. He’s a pretty darn good One.
Yup. I’m a 21 year old Canadian female and only just recently got my ears pierced. And then… un-pierced. And the whole debacle is what led to some leaps in my physical recovery from eating disorders, and a greater understanding of my personal identity. Excessive? […]
The first time I met Angie Smith was in the middle of the first service I attended at C3KW.
I was crying during worship, and she calmly and confidently tapped my shoulder and asked if she could pray for me. I didn’t quite know how to get the words out for what I knew I needed God’s help and guidance in, but somehow, I did. And then Angie, through the Holy Spirit, took over, and prayed for me. Since then, I have been continuously inspired by the love and kindness and joy of this precious woman, day in and day out, despite her struggle with a chronic illness. Angie aims to live in full submission to Jesus Christ, and that is evident in the person she is. That is why I was so excited when Angie sent me the following prose to edit, and then gave me permission to share it here. I hope it is as encouraging to you as it was to me.
Find Angie’s uplifting Instagram here.
You know those moments when you are getting to the end of your rope? It starts with the list of things you need to figure out becoming overwhelming. The small decisions suddenly seem life-defining. On their own, these decisions seems manageable, but when three decisions become ten all within a limited time frame, they no longer seem small. The weight of it feels suffocating until you get to the point you just shut down. That fear and worry turn to exhaustion and apathy. You become too numb to care. Your motivation is lost. The apathy slowly shifts from having the feeling of not caring to having nothing left to give even if you wanted to. When you start to experience this, it’s easy to stay here as you compare what used to be or what other people are doing. You question if it is normal. If it is your fault. Are you being lazy? Would this be different if you changed your life trajectory? Maybe if you were truly excited & passionate about what you do, you wouldn’t feel this way. Were the hopes and plans you had just a mirage formed in the whirlwind of excitement and emotion? Are your ideas for your life realistic, or will this always be your reality? Are you dishonoring God by not having that joy and gratitude? Maybe if you worked harder and were determined enough then you wouldn’t crash. Maybe you thought too highly of yourself and what you could do, and you created the very situation you feared. In reality, the more “determined” you are not to crash happen, the more you are only perpetuating & prolonging it. Your determination becomes a way of coping; a distraction from facing and dealing with the reality ahead of you. When we reach this place, it’s easy to be aware of the obvious manifestations that impact our day to day, such as fatigue, apathy, & fear. But there is an aspect to this that creeps up that is buried within each of these things & becomes ever more prevelant the more we push ourselves. That is, our sense of worth. What you bring to each day, your friends’ lives, & community. What are parts of your personality that you bring to the world? What do you contribute? The problem with these statements while in this mindset is the negative tone in which we view each of these questions. It’s easy to allow what people say of you to work its way into becoming your identifier. When we get to this point of apathy & exhaustion, it becomes easy to view through the lens of “do not.” What i am lacking. How I am not the same as I was. How I do not have the same passion. How I do not have anything to give. How I am not living for God the way I want to be. How I do not have the same joy or energy. How my way of thinking & processing is hindered and lost. The ironic part of all of this is that it is only once you’ve truly felt you have nothing to give that you realize how much God does give. His grace abundant. His Spirit working. His love in you. His hope as your foundation. His words. His wisdom. His strength. Though guilt & lies of not being enough can linger, there is such a quiet beauty about feeling empty yet grounded. Empty of yourself. Stripped of everything that made you feel like yourself. Every motivation that you attributed to who you were. And instead it is replaced with this wave of humility. Humility and awe! Not empty humility that builds on worthlessness, but full humility out of awe of who God is & who I am in relation to God. That I am truly empty of everything I thought made me me, but how amazing that is, because I get the honor of being a “vessel” for God. That it is His Spirit, His doing, and by His grace! Humility, because as much as you don’t think you view your worth through what you bring/what you do, it slowly creeps through, lurking behind affirmations. Compliments or comments on who you are, how you influence the lives of the people around you. What started out as encouraging, your mind has twisted it; deceiving you into thinking that you are only noticed when you do those things. That you know have to keep up this expectation of how you think people see you. Even if it is genuinely you, there is a pressure & obligation to be that when you are around those people. Because that is what they get from you. You become trapped in the identity of expectation and you didn’t even realize you were there. That is until it all got stripped away.
Although humility can be tough, to see God’s grace in how He humbles us leaves me not with feelings of anger or hurt but true breathless wonder & awe of His character and love. That He humbles to show where we are putting our worth, our idols, and identity and trust & how easily they fall. Everything you held on to and thought made you you is gone. Empty. Yet He remains! And you realize what you thought made you “you” was only because of God’s Spirit, and further more in that emptiness it can only be God working in & through you. He gives a new depth of understanding of what it means to die to our self. He gives a new understanding of what it means for your life to be for God, and not you. He gives a new understanding about how to wait on Him to provide, and acting only as His Spirit acts through you.
This past Wednesday, May 22nd, I embarked upon a journey that changed my life, and that I will never forget. This time last year, my dear friend and pastor, Nat, came home from a mystery excursion to the Muskokas raving about his experience, and telling […]
This past weekend takes the cake as one of the best of my life.
Friday morning, in one of my theology classes, in the midst of my friend Bethany’s presentation, my phone started ringing.
I quickly silenced it and responded to the caller– my friend Sheldon– that I was in class. His reply was quick and to the point:
Want to drive to Wisconsin?
To see Johnny’s soccer game.
I need an answer soon. I’m leaving at 4pm with or without you.
My mind started racing. My heart leapt into my chest at the thought of seeing my boyfriend, who lives in Winnipeg, and plays varsity soccer through the states. Sheldon and I had been planning on seeing his nationals games in North Carolina, but it wasn’t guaranteed that Sheldon could get the time off work. And, being the most spontaneous person I’ve ever known, it was not surprising to me that Sheldon would text me with the thought of leaving for a 12 hour road trip the very same day.
All the reasons I couldn’t go
You have so much homework, You work tomorrow, You volunteer at church on Sunday
flooded my mind. I slipped into the bathroom to call Sheldon and tell him I needed to figure some things out. And ask him that, if I could get things taken care of, we could please leave after my classes, so at 7pm. He agreed.
The events of this weekend were grounds for me to witness some of the greatest compassion, selflessness, and love I could imagine from many of my friends.
One of these people was beautiful friend and co-worker, Brooke. I texted every employee at Pure, the restaurant I work at, to see if anyone was able to cover my Saturday shift, and no one was able. Brooke works harder than anyone I know, and she told me that she would absolutely work the shift if no one else was able to, even though it was her one day off. I didn’t want her to be the one to work it, and fought her on it, but she ended up insisting.
Brooke, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to go on this incredible trip and support Johnny. I don’t want to say “I owe you–” I just want to show you love in the same way. Thank-you, a thousand times, thank-you.
I also received words of encouragement and approval from my incredible pastors and team of leaders at the church I go to, Risen City. They displayed grace, love, and understanding for the fact that I wouldn’t be there Sunday at the last minute– and also excited for Johnny and I to see each other!
And so, I packed my bags quickly before heading off to my evening class… where, even MORE last minute, Bethany decided to join, and Luke, our friend and Sheldon’s roommate, did, too.
With only a few bumps along the road (literally and figuratively), we embarked on our journey from Waterloo to Wisconsin, my heart fluttering with the thought of seeing my love, who I hadn’t seen in 2 and a half months, while he had no idea I was coming.
The four of us made for one of the most fun car rides of my life… except, of course, they would tell you that I slept most of the way there. Sheldon, bless his heart, drove for the entire trip on no sleep, from 8pm until 7am. We stopped only a couple of times, in between singing our lungs out, laughing our heads off, and, some of us, snoring quite peacefully. We couldn’t stop talking about how comfortable and close we all became so quickly and easily.
I also have Jay, one of Johnny’s best friends and teammate, to thank for the fact that we made it to Wisconsin. He received my last minute messages with grace and excitement, and woke up early to make sure we arrived safely.
Sitting in a McDonald’s 8 minutes away from the hotel Johnny’s team was staying at, I couldn’t contain my excitement to just hold my man any longer.
“Can we just go guys?!” I bounced up and down like a little kid while my friends nommed their sausage breakfast sandwiches.
Jay let us know that Johnny was still asleep, unsurprisingly, but encouraged that we head to the hotel anyway. Jay met us in the front lobby where he noted, “We should just wake Johnny up. He wouldn’t want to waste any of the time he could have with you.”
So Jay walked me down a hallway to Johnny’s room, where, after some whispering, he knocked. And waited. And knocked again.
After a moment, a very sleepy, very bed-headed Johnny slowly opened the door sporting an unimpressed expression directed at Jay, until he saw me. His eyes widened, and he slowly said, “Whaaaaat?”
I could barely contain my excitement and energy, and neither could Johnny. “Come here,” he said, and we thanked Jay before having a moment to ourselves. And then all the questions came.
We went after a few minutes to see Sheldon, Luke, and Bethany, who had graciously waited in the lobby so Johnny and I could have a private reunion. Johnny was, as I suspected, so excited and humbled by these amazing friends having shown so much care in order to take a weekend to make such a long trip.
We got to spend the morning all together just catching up and chilling before Johnny got ready with his team for the big game, the game that would decide whether the team would go to Nationals in South Carolina.
While Johnny spent time with the team, we took a quick trip for lunch in downtown Watertown, Wisconsin.
We all reunited at the soccer field to watch Providence’s girls’ soccer team’s game, which they won in an intense and hard-fought match that went into overtime. Then, we got revved up to watch Johnny play.
I can’t begin to put words to the pride and emotion I felt watching my man do so amazingly in what he loves. There is so much to say for the determination, passion, and love he has for this sport, that is the main reason he sought out his degree in Winnipeg. When we first started dating, soccer was just “soccer” to me. But I now have a love for it that comes directly from seeing the joy and passion Johnny has for it. Not to mention I have witnessed firsthand his skill in the sport grow tremendously since I’ve met him. He is the fastest, most technique-focused soccer players I’ve ever seen live. And I’m not being biased ;).
All this emotion and excitement made for an intense game. With so much pressure coming from both talented teams, the rivals scored one goal in the first half of the game. Not long after, though, the Pilots tied it up, ending the game in a tie that led to 2 ten minute periods of overtime, in which there was no score.
This led to an intense best of five shoot-out, in which Johnny’s team just barely lost.
Walking over to Johnny at the end of the game made for a very emotional embrace. I just wanted to hold him forever, my Johnny, who looked so disappointed and defeated while still sporting a little smile, and overall amazing attitude. Thanking me for being there and just saying how grateful he was that I was able to be there.
Our goodbye was the shortest we’ve ever had, which made it difficult to process. Saying goodbye to Johnny always leaves me in a pool of tears that I always just want to be alone in. But, in the middle of nowhere 12 hours from home, I had no choice but to be surrounded by my three amazing friends in Sheldon, Bethany, and Luke… and this ended up being the biggest blessing.
We booked a cheap hotel, stocked up on snacks (dairy free ice cream only available in the States!) and basically crashed as soon as we got to our room.
I woke up the next morning incredibly disoriented. Had I really just seen Johnny? Was I dreaming? Where AM I?
As it all slowly came back to me, the friends and I packed up and headed out for our long journey home. Continually, and throughout the whole day, the patience, fun-lovingness, and compassion of these three beautiful friends inspiring me.
From IHOP to Chipotle, THE CHICAGO BEEEEEAN and a beautiful patch of fall trees, our trip home was nothing short of incredibly eventful.
And the drive home took us to about 3am, where I ended up on my doorstep realizing I’d left my keys in the coat I lent from Bethany that I had given back to her.
Yet another show of kindness the end the trip, I had no other choice but to call my roommates, and Mary answered her phone graciously and kindly, coming downstairs to open the front door for me.
This spontaneous trip taught me so many things that I will never forget.
Selflessness cannot be planned. Spontaneous sacrifice is real sacrifice. My friends sacrificed time, money, and their own agendas for Johnny, and to support him. This is a true and real kind of love.
Routine is no way to live. I’m a creature of habit, and get very comfortable in routines and timelines and plans. This very nearly prevented me from embarking upon one of the most beautiful little adventures of my life.
People should be celebrated. If it weren’t for Brooke and Sheldon, I would not have seen Johnny this past weekend, or likely ever seen him play varsity soccer.
Little acts of kindness that focus on the other are what it’s all about. A parking garage monitor reduced our parking cost significantly, just cuz. Sheldon bought a homeless man a donut and coffee in Chicago, just cuz. Jay got up at 6:30am to make sure we were safe. Brooke sacrificed her weekend plans so I could see Johnny. Sheldon drove with no sleep to make it all possible.
I have been so inspired to live in a way that serves others, as I know this is the way to serve Jesus, the ultimate completely selfless lover.
What a weekend, and what a God, who has blessed me with such incredible people as role models, friends, and my amazing boyfriend.
Until next time, Wisconsin!
My Sweet, special sister, 18 never looked so beautiful. My sweet pea, you have such a fiercely loving heart. You have always had this beautiful compassion for people that translates to the way you interact with people. I have watched you feel so deeply and […]