Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
This is a guest post from Brittany Fisher:
Easy Changes to Help You Gain Financial Freedom
Finances can often feel like a complicated subject. There are thousands of books on the topic, magazines dedicated to money management and investment; sections of the newspaper devoted to stocks and business, television channels exclusive to finances, podcasts, radio shows, and classes everywhere teaching some method or another on budgeting. While there’s a lot of information at your disposal, you don’t need to become a finance expert to have financial freedom. You can start improving your finances by implementing a few easy changes.
Look for Alternatives
We live in a world of options. No person or business has a monopoly on entertainment products or services, which gives you options on almost everything you consume. For instance, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies. Streaming services are an affordable alternative to satellite or high-priced cable; and there are plenty of streaming device options that will suit your needs and offer you access to thousands of shows and movies.
If you enjoy audiobooks or books and pay for subscriptions, look into getting digitized library cards so you can tap into thousands of free book titles, including new releases. If you enjoy a gym membership, shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal in town. You don’t have to give up what you love to be smart with your money — just do a little research to ensure you’re getting the most for your dollar. You may find there are stores and providers that offer identical or comparable products or services at a lower price.
Change How You Give Gifts
Gift giving should be an enjoyable experience. Celebrating birthdays, weddings, holidays, new babies, and graduations should be stressless and not cause you anxiety about going into debt. When at all possible, plan ahead. If you know you will need to give gifts, as soon as possible, budget for the expenditure, shop sales and clearances, and use promo codes and/or coupons.
If you give gifts to groups of people, such as neighbors or co-workers, make homemade gifts that will show your effort and thoughtfulness while saving you money. Homemade gifts are not always cheaper than store-bought, of course, so do the cost benefit analysis first; but if you can save by making a crochet hat or baking cookies, that’s the way to go.
“One month free.” “3 months for only $24.99.” “Cancel any time.” “Check out these spoilers!” That’s how they get you. Whether you’re subscribing to certain lifestyle items, books, games, magazines, monthly beauty boxes, and/or food delivery, subscription prices can add up quickly. If you forget to cancel at the end of the promotional period or you don’t use the subscription enough, it’s time to cancel now. It may only be $9.99 here or $14.99 there, but over the course of the year, those costs add up. Don’t get rid of subscriptions you love and use all the time, but do take time to evaluate how often you use each one, why you have it, and if you still need it.
You don’t need to invest hours of your life every day to understanding finances in order to be financially smart. Budgeting and financial planning don’t need to be painful, either. Every so often, take a look at where you are spending money.
If you have extra money going out to overpriced goods or services, then you should look for alternatives. If you spend over your budget every year on gifts, then it’s time to look at other options and bring the joy back into gift giving. If you have memberships or subscriptions that drain your bank every month, then take time to evaluate what you actually use. Smart budgeting is not deprivation — it’s just planning.
Homes are no longer the place where we spend all day relaxing. They’re our home offices and even schools. With everything that you and your family are responsible for, it can be difficult to make your home feel relaxing, but it is incredibly important to make it so.
Here are a few ways that you can make your home now relaxing and help you feel more prepared for everything in your life.
You should take some time with your family members to pare down any belongings that you don’t really need or have a sentimental attachment to. There are quite a few different ways to do that, so search for the downsizing method that will work well for you.
No matter whether you’re relaxing in your kitchen or in your bedroom, you need to hide the clutter in your space. If there are things you can’t get rid of, like your pots and pans, it can help you to hide it behind screens or cupboard doors instead of having it all out in the open. This will make a huge difference in your mental health when you are relaxing, and in general in the space.
It can be really fun to decorate your house with all sorts of wacky objects that draw your eye, but you want to avoid going overboard with things that are distracting. Things that make noise and that catch your attention are more likely to distract you from your goal of relaxation. Noisemakers are also likely to stress you out when you hear them unexpectedly, so avoid them whenever possible. Funnily enough, the most relaxing color you can paint your walls is a pastel matte blue. It brings to mind the idea of the sky and water which is very relaxing.
One of the ways we sabotage our relaxation is by spending tons of time on our phones. Not only are the notifications addictive, but the blue light emitted from the screen also makes us much more likely to continue paying attention. That blue light also makes it harder for us to go to sleep at night, making us more stressed overall.
If you can, designate certain areas of your house phone free at certain times to maximize the amount of relaxation you can feel. When it’s bedtime, try and keep your phone on do not disturb and on night mode so that if you do have to use it, it does not emit as much blue light. Keeping your phone out of the bedroom altogether would be best for your relaxation and sleep habits.
If you find yourself struggling to relax regularly as well as struggling to sleep, there might be more to it than you think. Talk to your doctor to see if there might be a medical issue causing you to struggle. Medication and treatment for sleep disorders can make a huge difference in the level of stress and sleeplessness you feel.
Fears are a natural part of life, an honest and real emotion. Our hearts race. We tremble. We feel a nauseous sinking sensation in our stomach. We’re terrified. Frozen. We’re not going to be brave this time.
We’ve all experienced fear. Often it’s a healthy reaction to a dangerous situation. Other times, it’s rooted in past or recent trauma or chronic worry. Conquering a fear can offer countless opportunities and accomplishments we’ve previously avoided. Sometimes fear of loss or harm motivates a courageous act we wouldn’t otherwise consider.
Each of us must face our fears if we want to move ahead in life. Maybe it’s leaving home for the first time, moving, flying, heights, elevators, a job interview, starting a new job, public speaking, failing, or __________. My fear is dogs—especially barking dogs. I live in a rural area where most people own dogs. Heading out for a morning walk, I pray the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), and in a particular area, I recite the twenty-third Psalm. I refuse to let fear stop me from enjoying my hike. With God’s help, I overcome fear and proclaim 1 Chronicles 28:10: “Be brave, determined! And do it!” (msg).
My grandkids now have a cute little dog appropriately named Barkley. Gradually . . . bravely . . . I’m getting to know this little shaggy mutt and we’re becoming friends. Something those who know me thought could never happen. Actually, I didn’t either.
We usually try to avoid the object of our fear; but I can’t avoid all dogs.
If you’re afraid of heights, you might try to avoid high places, but that’s not practical either.
Sometimes, we’re afraid of failure so we don’t even try. I didn’t start writing until I was fifty years old. I’d never taken a writing class or had any aspirations of becoming an author, but I had started a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at my church and other churches were asking how to start one at their church. I knew God wanted me to share this ministry, but I would have to write about it. I had never sat at a computer to compose, and I didn’t think it was even possible. All through seminary, I wrote my papers in longhand and my husband typed them into the computer. I was computer illiterate and had no desire to learn.
But with much prayer and prompting from God, I overcame my fears and doubts and sat down one day to type my thoughts into the computer. To my surprise, the ideas flowed as my fingers flew over the keyboard.
Then new doubts taunted that I was too old to start writing. But God reminded me that I was only getting older by the minute so I'd better start now. That was twenty books and twenty years ago. I’m so glad I didn’t let those initial misgivings stop me from the writing and speaking adventure God had planned for me if I would only trust and rely on Him.
God didn’t create fear, anxiety, doubt, or worry. He wants us to call on Him when we experience those mind hijackers: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:4–7). Paul wrote these uplifting words while sitting in a Roman jail, not knowing if acquittal or beheading was in his future.
Overcoming some fears may require the assistance of counselors, therapists, or doctors. Admitting you need help and acquiring it is courageous. A friend recently shared wise words from Mary Anne Radmacher on a wall hanging in her home: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”
In times of trial, we may find ourselves, by God’s grace, able to overcome our fears in an instant, or our journey could prove to be a long process. The triumph is always worth the struggle, as the Lord helps us remain brave and steadfast in the face of uncertainty. Let any fear or apprehension send you straight to prayer and reliance on God.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)
What fear has been stopping you from something you want to accomplish?
*Any excerpts from Everyday Brave used with permission from Leafwood Publishers
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 20 books. Her passion is to mentor other women in sharing their life experiences and God’s faithfulness. Her new release is Everyday Brave: Living Courageously As a Woman of Faith available at Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes and Noble, and signed at author’s website.
She is also the author of Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness; Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.
Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.
Visit Janet and sign up for her weekly blog and free online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com.
About Everyday Brave: In Everyday Brave, Janet explores the extraordinary bravery of fifty ordinary women in the Bible. Twenty-eight women of today also give testimonies of realizing their strength and courage through God’s love. As Janet shares the stories of these women, she reminds us that the real heart and substance of bravery comes from unconditionally placing our hope in the only One who can give us the courage to stay the course.
For those with faith, church is very important. It’s a place where you can go to learn more about God, meet like-minded people, and be a part of a community. Moving to a new city can be very daunting. Not only do you have to find appropriate housing and pick the best school, but you need to find the right church too. The journey of finding a church isn’t easy, but once it’s done, you’ll see it was more than worth it. With that in mind, here are six tips to help you find a new church.
1. Get Recommendations From Friends
Before you move away, ask your friends, relatives, and colleagues if they know anyone who lives in your new city. Even distance connections between friends of friends can reveal options you might not have otherwise heard of or tried. As you meet people in your new home, you should explain to them that you’re new to the area and looking for recommendations for a new church.
2. Listen To Sermons Online
Many churches post their sermons online, either on their websites, social media, or a podcast. This means that you can begin listening to sermons before you even move to your new city. As you do so, you will be given a peek into the style of preaching, which will help you to narrow your options. Without even leaving the house, you can determine whether a church is right for you.
3. Read Through The Website
Most churches these days have a web presence. While many just have a website, others have social media too. You will also find churches with their own Wikipedia pages, such as Pare de Sufrir. Make sure that you read as much information as you can, including lists of staff, the events calendar, and stories of the ministries. This too, will help you narrow down your search.
4. Check Out Your Options
Although there’s a lot that you can learn about a church online, you can’t get a real feel for the place unless you visit. Once you begin seeing churches in person, you should try to attend more than once. After all, it can take a few weeks before you begin to feel comfortable in a new place. Sunday morning only comes around once a week, so try to visit another church in the evening.
5. Visit The Welcome Desk
When you attend a church, you should visit the welcome desk for more information. Many churches offer a welcome packet for visitors, which can help to answer a few of the questions you have. Even when a welcome packet isn’t offered, you should visit the welcome desk anyway. This gives you an opportunity to ask your questions and is a great way to get to know people.
6. Ask God For Guidance
When you open your eyes and heart to God, He will guide you. Although you’re able to do as you wish, God can show you where you need to be. All you have to do is ask. If you’re struggling to choose between two or more options, then pray about it. With any luck, God will direct you to the church that is best for you.
If you’re looking for a new church, hopefully, the advice above will be able to help.
We live in a consumer society, where we’re told we should only be loyal to products and brands if our wants and needs are satisfied. This is why it can be easy for churchgoers to have a low threshold for leaving a church. When the preaching loses luster, or another churchgoer begins to annoy you, it can be very tempting to move elsewhere. However, these reasons aren’t nearly good enough for leaving your congregation behind. Here are six good reasons to leave a church.
False Teaching Takes Place
The Bible may seem politically incorrect these days, but it is sure about the fact that not all we hear is true. Some information that comes our way is false, not to mention dangerous and evil. While you might think that these false teachings can’t infiltrate a church, that isn’t always true. When the word of Christ is no longer dwelling richly in a church, leaving is the best thing to do.
Unsuitable Leaders Are Established
There are good leaders and bad leaders in the world. This is something the Bible makes very clear. Any leader of a church must be a person of integrity, operating in holiness in private, as well as public. Most pastors do their best to live holy lives, but others hide sinful secrets. Rather than allow unsuitable leadership to drive you to sin, you should separate yourself from them.
No Opportunity To Serve
Every churchgoer should be serving in their church in one way or another. While some people welcome guests at the door, others teach Sunday School classes or take up the offering. If your church has no such opportunities to serve, then that is a good reason to leave. While this may be rare in churches, it does happen on occasion and can make church members feel unhappy.
Moved Too Far Away
Being an active participant in your church is difficult when you live very far away. You may find yourself attending fewer church events, which can pose challenges to your connection there. This is a fair reason for moving churches. With congregations all over the US, Universal Church makes this easy. Everyone should be able to attend a church where they can actively service.
Sin Is Going Unchallenged
Sinners should be called to account, not just for the sake of the sinner, but for the whole church community. When you allow serious sin to take place, it can impact every member of the church. The trouble is, there are situations in which leadership failure mean that sin is going unchallenged. If sin is prevalent in your church community, leaving may be the only option.
God Has Asked It
Far too many churchgoers use God as an excuse and scapegoat for their actions. However, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore Him when He does speak. When God asks you to leave a place and go somewhere else, you should listen. He won’t ever tell you to leave the church completely, but he may ask that you realign yourself with a different one.
Leaving a church is never easy, but, if you’re facing any of the situations described above, it may be your only option.
If you are unsure whether or not you should attend your local church the don’t worry, you have come to the right place. Whilst you may feel a little nervous about visiting a new church for the first time, there are lots of benefits to going along to service. Whether you’re looking for community or you want your children to find their faith, attending a church service could be an incredible experience. With that in mind, here are 5 reasons to consider going to your local church:
One of the best reasons to go to your local church is to experience a sense of community. There’s nothing better than being in a room of people that you know will support you no matter what and that’s exactly what church is. Whilst it may take some time to get to know those around you, you will soon become a close-knit family. For more information about building a community at church, you can visit this site here.
As well as building a community, you will have the opportunity to meet like-minded people. The great thing about going to church is that you already have one thing in common, you all follow the same beliefs when it comes to faith. If you're unsure on how to talk to people and get settled in, you already have a great starting topic. For more information about visiting your church for the first time, you can visit the Universal Church site here.
If you feel you have lost your way when it comes to faith going back to a regular church service could really help. Although you don’t have to go every single week in order to feel a connection to your faith, having a place where you feel supported is important. The more often you visit your local church, the more comfortable you will feel. If you feel as though you are losing touch with your faith, you can visit this site here.
For those of you that want to help their children discover their faith, attending church may be a great option. Whilst you don’t want to force them to attend, they will feel much better if you’re all going together as a family. If they’re at a young age, it will start to become a regular part of their life.
If you want to join a community that is regularly going to host events and get-togethers, your local church may be just what you need. If your local church doesn’t host activities, why not offer to help them organise some?
Are you unsure whether you should be attending your local church? What benefits could it bring to you and your family? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.
When my husband was a little boy, he enjoyed playing cards with his grandfather. He loved to play Rummy 500, where a player picks up one card on their turn and discards one into the discard pile. Once a player gets three cards in a row, either of the same number or in the same suit, he can put those cards down; lessening the amount he keeps in his hand. Often, his grandfather would pick up all the cards in the discard pile, only to get one set of three. When my husband asked him why he did that, he said, “the more you pick up, the more you put down.” Hand after hand his grandfather would match all of the cards in his hand and win. This seemed counterintuitive to my husband. How could picking up more result in winning a card game?
Because it wasn’t what his grandfather picked up that led to his wins, it was what he laid down. My husband could have picked up all the cards in the pile too, but still holding them when his grandfather discarded the last card in his pile would not allow him to win. It’s only when he chose to lay them down was how he won.
In Exodus 14:10-14, Moses gives the Israelites an interesting strategy to win the war against the Egyptians: “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see the day you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:10-14
The Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for His help. Yet, He tells them once they laid down their weapons and their self -made plans for how to win the war and pick up their trust in God, He would fight for them. Ironically, it is in their ability to be still that God could do what only He could to win the war.
So often, I fight an uphill battle. I try so hard to create peace for myself by doing everything in my power to control the outcome of my circumstances. It’s not until I surrender my life to God’s trust and control that I can truly achieve the peace God desires for me.
It is in our stillness that God gives us peace. But we must lay down our desire to control and manipulate outcomes to achieve it.
What in your life must you lay down in order to achieve the peace you desire?
As parents, we expect our kids to obey us by following rules without complaint and respect our authority. Have you ever thought about why obedience is important to instill in your kids? Obedience instills several character traits and teaches kids lessons we can’t teach them at home here are eight reasons why obedience is so important for kids:
It helps them to respect authority- When kids obey the rules set for the by parents, they understand that people who have been placed in charge of them are to be respected. When they obey rules, they are saying they respect others, particularly those looking out for their well- being. They might not always understand the rules, and they may go through phases when they challenge those rules.
But parents who stand their ground teach kids that people in authority are to be revered. The quicker they learn that, the more likely they grow up to respect government, pastors and other officials in higher positions. It also allows them a better opportunity to follow God when they become adults.
It helps them understand people want what is best- Rules are there to help kids draw healthy boundaries, keep them safe and develop self-control. Obedience is important because obeying parents or other authority figures helps them understand the people around them are also safe and can be trusted. Like a fence that lines the outside of a home to divide up property lines, it helps them know how far they can go without getting hurt.
Obedience equals submission- Submission is a tricky word in this day and age. Modern interpretations interpret this word as meaning people, particularly women, have to become a doormat, allowing whomever to walk all over them. Yet, Paul writes this to denote a mutual submission, so a relationship will flow smoothly.
Neither person in the relationship is above or higher than the other. In certain circumstances, one partner submits to each other and vice versa. In a relationship with parent and kids, kids submit so the relationship can flow smoothly. There are situations where a parent will submit to a child in order to serve the family, and a parent will know this and do so accordingly. But kids that obey their parents, submit to their authority. And every person in the relationship benefits.
Obedience opposes independence- Kids with an independent spirit will rebel often to a loving parent relationship. This causes much strain for everyone involved. Kids need to learn at an early age that every relationship involves them to be in relationship with others. There is no independence in a kid’s life, especially in their spiritual lives.
The quicker children learn that they need to live in co-dependence with others rather than independence the easier life will be for them. Even God chooses to live in community with others. God, who needs nothing from anyone, still desires to live in community. Therefore, we were created for community. Nothing is done independently from others. Obedience helps them to live in co-dependence with others.
Obedience means to surrender- Surrender is much easier said than done. Surrender for kids means letting go of their agendas, laying down their wants and desires and trusting God will look out for them. With half of kids who struggle with fear and anxiety, laying things down is harder to do than it seems.
Adults struggle with this, and children since they were young, throw fits when they don’t get their way. Kids that don’t learn that they can’t always have their way, turn into spoiled adults who think life is all about them. Kids need to learn how to let go so they can gain Christ.
Obedience demonstrates our love for God- it’s no surprise that Jesus’s first command when he called his disciples is to obey: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Jesus calls us for to demonstrate our love for him than through our obedience. Whether it is waiting on him, obeying his commands or loving the unlovable, God calls us to some tough tasks. But when we choose to obey rather than rebel, we give God the love (and worship) He deserves.
Obedience produces perseverance- “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).” Although this verse doesn’t explicitly link obedience and perseverance but the more we obey God, the more Satan hates us. Therefore, he wages war on us, lurking around waiting to devour. When the time is right, he pounces and creates suffering in our lives. God did not create suffering, but He does allow it.
This is because when we suffer, it creates within us the ability to persevere which in turn transforms our character into more Christlikeness, which in turn produces hope. Suffering starts with obeying God’s commands and calling on our lives.
Disobedience leads to destruction- While it’s true that obedience creates good character traits in your children, the converse is also true: choosing to disobey only leads them down a wrong path. The bible is full of people who chose to disobey God and none of those stories ended with the abundant life God wants for His children. Teach your kids that obedience is worthwhile and that disobedience leads to only negative things for them. Satan wants nothing more than to teach your kids to live independently away from God, so he can lure them to himself. Every time choose obedience, it makes it easier for them to obey over and over again.
Obedience can be tough at times, especially when God is calling us to things that require great risk and sacrifice on our part. However, Jesus calls us to approach the Kingdom like a child: Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Kids have less to worry about in life. Therefore, obedience is an easier choice for them to make. Model for your kids from a young age what it looks like to obey god even when it is difficult. Parents are their kids’ greatest teachers. The more we model, the more likely kids will want to adopt our behavior.
Often, the word sabbatical is associated with emergencies, but that shouldn’t be the case. We don’t have to wait until we feel we’re at the breaking point before we recuperate. In fact, a sabbatical can be exactly what your career needs to be elevated to the next stage.
Why Choose a Sabbatical?
There are numerous reasons to go on a sabbatical, from health benefits to boosting your current career. You know it’s time for a break when you’re not sleeping due to anxiety or constantly battling illnesses. Your body is telling you it needs relief, and a sabbatical is one way to get it. Taking a step back from work can give you a new perspective as well, one that affords options you may not have seen. It can help you find ways to overcome past challenges or even realize a passion you may have overlooked. The fact is, a sabbatical can change your life for the better.
How to Afford It
Unfortunately, a sabbatical is more than an extended vacation. Many last longer than a year, and you must be financially prepared before committing to one. This requires plenty of research and planning to come up with a reasonable budget. To begin, you'll need enough money to cover expenses and an emergency fund, so start saving by cutting unnecessary outgoings and minimizing debt. There is a possibility that you will also have to purchase health insurance, and it’s best to meet with a financial advisor to plan out a journey that works for you.
How to Spend Your Time
When it comes to what you can do, you have choices, from volunteering for a charity to starting a business or even relaxing at home. Another option is to take a road trip across the country. Of course, you’ll need a reliable car, so it’s wise to get one or make sure your current vehicle is in excellent condition before you leave. If you want to do things yourself, use guides and reviews online to make sure you’re getting the best parts and accessories for your vehicle. Changing your own brake pads, battery, or spark plugs is one way to save a little extra for the trip itself. Likewise, you need to plan your route and arrange accommodations so you don’t get stranded or end up sleeping in your car from sheer exhaustion.
Best Places to Go
If you choose to go abroad for your journey, be sure to extensively research your options. There are places for every activity and mindset, beyond the typical hiking through the mountains. You can take a train across Russia to see a diverse ecosystem or go on a yoga retreat in Mexico to seek peace and balance. If you prefer Europe, take advantage of the freedom of movement by biking from France to the Czech Republic. You can consider giving back by teaching abroad, giving you a small income and letting you experience a new culture simultaneously.
How to Pitch It to Work
If you are unsure how to discuss the subject at work, have a list of benefits for you and the company ready before you meet with your boss. However, don’t spring it suddenly on your employer; instead, allow them plenty of time to prepare for your departure. This may also help make them more receptive to losing you for a few months. Once you get the okay from your boss, don’t jump for joy just yet. Get the terms of your sabbatical in writing to ensure you have a job to return to when you’ve finished your expedition.
Take care of yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. We can all benefit from having time off to do some soul-searching. Stand up for yourself, plan accordingly, and you may see yourself flourishing in ways you didn’t think possible.
“Do you like Nirvana?”
My friend’s sudden question snapped me out of my daydream. An hour-long bus ride home from school tended to make me oblivious to everything around me.
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused. She handed me a cassette of a new group. Curious, I popped in the tape and listened intently, the knobs in the clear cassette player turned, churning out note after glorious note.
Something happened that day that I’ve never forgotten.
I fell in love.
My friend changed my life in that instant. Kurt Cobain spoke to all the feelings of loneliness, depression, and inner angst I had wrestled with for many years. I discovered a piece of myself that day through the gift of music.
As I explored this new genre of alternative music, I tested out other bands in my cassette player. Bands like Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and Primus screeched out their musical harmonies along with enough guitar reverb to shake my bedroom walls. They also awakened my soul. When I listened to them, I felt alive. The words and music resonated with me and helped me get in touch with feelings that lay deep within me.
Nirvana didn’t just change the way I listened to music; everything else changed too. I soon found myself walking down the hall decked out in Converse shoes and red plaid flannel shirts—identical to what my friends wore. Soon I was not myself anymore. I found myself belonging to something bigger than just the music—a whole way of life. Because I liked the same music as my friends, they soon invited me to parties and to sit with them at lunch. Soon I wanted to do what they were doing and go where they wanted to go.
Nirvana wasn’t just any band. They changed the face and future of music. Not only did it open me up to a new genre of music that allowed me to express all of the angst I held inside, but my self-concept changed as a result. Even though I didn’t like the grunge look that the new bands made popular, I wore it anyway because by changing the way I looked on the outside, I gained a wealth of new friends and opportunities for social interaction.
But I lost myself in the process.
That same year, I began dating my first boyfriend. Five months of puppy love turned sour one day as I got the dreaded phone call: “I think we should break up.”
My self-image crumbled, leaving me a big lump of insecurity. I wondered if I was worthy of love and if I would ever love again. That insecurity turned into crippling fear, which turned into full-blown panic attacks and bouts of depression. At the age of 16, I was a mess.
In my senior year, all of that changed. Questioning the role of God in my life and struggling with why I was put here on earth culminated in a one-time event where I got real with Him. I prayed that He would reveal Himself to me in a way radically different than anything I had experienced. When I finished praying, something was different.
Although I didn’t feel different, I began to see things around me differently. I didn’t worry so much about what others thought of me. I regained my confidence and saw myself again as a beautiful young woman of God. I learned to love myself again. I stopped worrying about what others thought of me and began to focus on how God saw me.
I was forever changed.
Because I was learning to love myself, I loved others too. It took time, but I began to see myself as God saw me: unconditionally loved and accepted.
Loving and accepting yourself is at the heart of your relationship with God. Through understanding God’s approval of you, you can discover your purpose, not only in the church, but also in the world.
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