faith

Real Talk: I'm F---ing Sick of Suicide and Mental Illness Killing Our People

I just need to get this out because it's burning hot in my bones like fire, my soul wants to just scream and wail but it can't because doing so will terrify my children. I've been thinking all day about how we've lost another person, another woman of color to suicide and mental illness. The more I've thought about how we lost Karyn Washington to suicide, the angrier I get. I'm talking SEETHING. I'm talking a white-hot, blinding rage that just wants to go tearing through things as it travails in mourning. I'm talking a rage that causes my teeth to ache from a clenched jaw and gnashing.

I. am. ANGRY.

I. am. MOURNING.

 

I. am. HEARTBROKEN.

I didn't know her, but I didn't have to. She was my sister, a fellow woman of color, a writer, a voice, a human being dedicated to uplifting her people. And she is gone. Suicide came and took her from us and I'm here grieving like she was my own daughter gone from me.

I'm fed up with the stigma that permeates minority communities and takes the lives of our people-as if we already don't have enough fucking things that are killing and destroying us. I'm enraged at the lack of resources available to us. Our people are living and suffering from all types of 'hood trauma all across this country, and have been for decades, centuries, even and our mental health isn't taken seriously and addressed.

Our people are left for dead and to waste away in their minds.

Our churches-the cornerstones in our communities don't adequately address mental illness-we keep perpetuating this "I'm too blessed to be stressed" bootstrappin bullshit that's basically the equivalent to handing us a razor to slice our wrists open with.

Black men are conditioned to believe they have to be hard, and in reality, it's true-they MUST be and live hard because society views them as inhuman and unworthy of even being able to walk to the corner store or listen to music in their cars in peace.

Black women are conditioned to bear a resilient silence-our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and grandmothers have to be so strong for everyone else without a not so much of an utterance as to how such a burden is eroding at our thought life and well-being.

I'm disgusted that the mental health advocate community has a major diversity problem. I'm tired of POC not being seen and heard on mental health platforms like our white counterparts. I'm tired of seeing awareness campaigns full of nothing but white faces, and quality treatment facilities and practices in the white neighborhoods, with even sliding scale fees only white people can afford.

I'm tired of hearing our people say that therapy and medication "are for white people." I'm tired of our mamas not knowing what perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are and how they can manifest over the first year of their baby's life-ON TOP of all the other shit they're dealing with that can contribute to depression, PTSD, and anxiety. I'm tired of our mamas not knowing the risk factors for developing such disorders during and following pregnancy-especially when previous trauma and violence are the top risk factors.

My heart bleeds for the Karyns. The Miriams. The Ebony Wilkersons. The Don Cornelius'. The Lee Thompson Youngs. My heart rages for them, and I wonder when their mental health will become a priority. When will the psychiatrist or licensed social worker graduating from school decide to go set up shop where our people live and listen to their stories. Educate us. Chip away at the stigma that has become a death sentence?

Who will help us? People of color, when will we speak up about our own struggles with mental illness and light the way for our own? Can it be today?

Please tell me we can start today. I can't bear the pain of losing any more of you to this selfish son of bitch.

If you are struggling today and having thoughts of suicide, please DO NOT hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) . 

She Said It: Kathryn Greene McCreight on PPD, Bipolar Disorder & Faith

My friend Audrey lent me this book a couple of months ago and I'm just starting to read it this week. The second paragraph of the first chapter made me catch my breath as I read words that seemed to explain what parts of my experience with PPD was like.  As I continued to read the following paragraphs and discovered that the author is not just a mother, but a priest, and also bipolar, my eyes stung with heavy tears and I had to pause every now and then to process the emotions I was feeling.

When I was going through my experience with PPD I felt so alone, because it seemed no one around me had experienced it, or if they had, they didn't speak up about it. I felt confused and misunderstood, mostly because I couldn't even articulate what was going on with me, and when I tried, my words left the hearer with the impression that I either just needed to pray more, take more time, or "fix" my circumstances...as a Christian I was even told that I was experiencing the depression and turmoil because I had chosen to have a child out of wedlock...the hell and pain I was reeling from were just the byproducts of my "sin" and I needed to just endure it.

When I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder last July, I felt my faith shaken and my first question to God was, "Can I be a Christian and be bipolar?" How was I supposed to know what was real, how was I supposed to hold on to God in my lowest and darkest moments when all I wanted to do sometimes was just die? My next question was, "Are there other Christians who are bipolar? Where are they? Why don't they talk about their experiences?"

I've ranted on Facebook and Twitter about how there's a lack of open dialogue, awareness, education, and services in the Christian community for those living with severe or chronic mental illnesses. There are even far less in the African-American Christian community....I've yet to hear of mental illness addressed in a sermon or anyone in our culture openly discuss this subject.....

So when I started to read this book, the first few pages seemed to scream what my experience and thoughts motherhood and these illnesses have been like. Her words shook me, so much so that I had to put the book down a few times because my hands and arms couldn't stop shaking, my body trembling from the force of the tears and emotions welling up inside of me.

So for today's post, I thought I'd just share an excerpt, share the paragraphs I read yesterday that spoke so soundly to me and I found myself in. If you know of someone who is struggling with their mental illness, especially as a mother or even a Christian, please share this post with them as well. I hope it helps you and them the way it has already started to help me.

When I became a mother for the second time however, the hem of my mental health began to fray. Motherhood by nature challenges the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical endurance of any woman. It is a highly over-romanticized and underestimated pressure cooker, matched in potential not only for the creation of a new family but also for the destruction of both mother and child. Think-with horror-the Susan Smiths and Andrea Yateses of the world. ......of course not all postpartum suffers are this detached from reality.

.....Motherhood, I believe, was only the precipitant for an internal agony that I had been holding back for years. Maybe God had postponed my storm at sea until I could be buyoued by the hopefulness and joy that I derived from my children and husband.The experience as a whole and the experiences that constituted the eventual illness were at least bewildering and at most terrifying. The blue sky which normally fills my heart, stung my soul. Beautiful things like oriental rugs and good food like bean soup absolutely exhausted me. Noise was amplified in my ears, and I fled sound and conversation in search of silence. Small tasks became existential problems: how and why to fold the laundry, empty the diswasher, do grocery shopping. My memory failed me. I was unable to read or write (except for sermons, by the Holy Spirit's providence, I believe.) And it went downhill from there. A back and forth in and out of darkness lasted for years. ......

....I have a chronic disease, a brain disorder that used to be called manic depression and is now, less offensively, called bipolar disorder. However one tries to soften the blow of the diagnosis, the fact remains that bipolar disorder is a subset of the larger category unhappily called "major mental illness.' By the latter of my thirties, I had sought help from several psychiatrists, social workers, and mental health professionals, one a Christian, but mostly non-Christians. I had been in active therapy with a succession of therapists over several years and had been introduced to many psychiatric medications, most of which bought quite unpleasant side effects and only a few of which relieved my symptoms to some degree. Those medications that have in fact been helpful, I must say despite my own disinclination toward drugs, have been a strand in the cord that God has woven for me as the lifeline cast out in my free fall.  The medications have helped me rebuild some of "myself," so that I can continue to be the kind of mother, priest, and writer that I believe God wants me to be. "A threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:12) The three cords to my rope were the religious (worship and prayer), the psychological, (psychotherapy) and the medical (medication, ECT, and hospitalization).

Yet while therapists and counselors, psychiatrists and medications abound, I found no one to help me make sense of my pain with regard to my life before the triune God. I write this book, then by way of an offering, as what I wish someone had written to help me make sense of the pain and apparent incongruity of that agony with the Christian life. Those Christians who have not faced the ravages of mental illness should not be quick with advice to those who do suffer. "Pray harder," "Let Jesus in," even "Cast your anxiety on him, because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7), which of course are all valid pieces of advice in and of themselves, may only make the depressive person hurt more.

This is because depression is not just sadness or sorrow. Depression is not just negative thinking. Depression is not just being "down." It is being cast the very end of your tether and, quite frankly being dropped. Mania is more than speeding mentally, more than euphoria, more than creative genius at work. The sick individual cannot simply shrug it off or pull out of it. While God certainly can pick up the pieces and put them together in a new way, this can happen only if the depressed brain makes it through to see again life among the living.

This is an excerpt from "Darkness is My Only Companion: A Christian Response to Mental Illness," by Kathryn Greene-McCreight. You can read her brief bio on her church's website here

Music That Moves: Rend Collective Experiment, Gungor, Switchfoot, & Newsboys

Five songs that are inspiring me today to push through.  It's hard to hold on to your faith when you're bouncing like a pinball between mania and depression on a daily basis; but being able to believe in something bigger than myself pulls me through the chaos that clamors in my emotions and mind...It's the only thing that anchors me to this life.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains;  it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." (C.S. Lewis)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCYgQWLO8vY]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SswMKsFaHWE]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_OTz-lpDjw]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypSz8WqRc_M]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHhzbWaAcgo]

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful... Hebrews 10:23

Beautifully Broken: A Much Needed Reminder

May God help me...I've done a vlog y'all. ugh....

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQFnA75iCYU]

Lyrics to "Never Let Go"

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death Your perfect love is casting out fear And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life I won't turn back I know you are near

And I will fear no evil For my God is with me And if my God is with me Whom then shall I fear? Whom then shall I fear? (Chorus:) Oh no, You never let go Through the calm and through the storm Oh no, You never let go In every high and every low Oh no, You never let go Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on A glorious light beyond all compare And there will be an end to these troubles But until that day comes We'll live to know You here on the earth

(Chorus)

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on And there will be an end to these troubles But until that day comes Still I will praise You, still I will praise You

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKjayagPbWw]

Manic Mondays (On Tuesdays): Hypersexuality, Faith, & Womanhood pt. 1

Confession: This is the probably the hardest series of posts I've ever written here on 'Confessions, because it deals with a personal and often 'taboo' subject in Christian culture. But I believe in the power of transparency, and I realize that this is part of owning my story and having honest dialogue with others, so that's why I'm writing about this particular subject. Not sure how many parts there will be  this series, but I hope that this proves to be a healthy exploration for myself and whoever finds themselves in reading these posts. Bipolar Disorder: When Sexuality Is in Overdrive - Bipolar Disorder Center - Everyday Health.

I read this article today while taking a break from doing my project on the book of Philemon. I'm in the middle of finals week and the end of the semester, (hence my absence from the blogging world) but I knew after reading this, I had to stop and write about it...

...or rather about my experience with hypersexuality as a woman trying to manage BP.  About being a Christian who struggles severely with this symptom of BP and what how I believe it impacts my walk with God...

About a year ago, I started noticing that I was having very sexual dreams, which was out of the norm for me. While sex isn't something I dream about normally, that's not what bothered me about the dreams. What bothered me was that I was constantly dreaming about having sex with women, which was definitely something I had NEVER done before. I also started noticing that I would have days (possibly a couple of weeks...or a month even) where all I would think about is having sex.

Now, let me say this. (Again, I'm being transparent here, so understand my disclosure serves a purpose) I lost my virginity at 16 and didn't have sex again until I was 20-when I met my next boyfriend. While I enjoy sex, I'm not the type to have "friends with benefits," one night stands, or even casual sex with strangers or people I don't know very well. I tried having a casual sex relationship once and I hated it. (and it didn't last very long). The only other person I "casually" had sex with was my ex...but I had known him for over a year. We were friends....and then we were dating...and the sex? It just happened. In other words, if I'm sharing my cookie jar with you, it's because I know you, I trust you, and we're in a monogamous relationship.... and even then, depending on how my spiritual health is, sex might not even happen under those circumstances.Sex and being intimate with someone I care about is awesome, but I've never been the type who felt like I had to have it regularly if I was single. I had more of a "take it or leave it" attitude concerning sex...if I was taking it, I thoroughly enjoyed it with my significant other...if I was single and leaving it, I was perfectly okay with that.

So while I enjoy it and I don't mind exploring my sexuality, I've never been a slave to it...or felt like I was at the mercy of my desires....until I started having dreams about trysts with women (and liking it) and found myself getting into these moods where it's all I seemed to think and fantasize about.

These moods would always catch me off guard because after having Alex and starting Zoloft, I had noticed that my sex drive or desire for it had dropped significantly, which is pretty normal after pushing a bowling ball-sized object out of your vagina and starting an anti-depressant. I would have days or even a couple of months where I wouldn't even think about it, or it didn't feel like a need that just had to be satisfied...and then I would find myself  waking up with my hands down my pajamas....dreaming about random sexual encounters with total strangers....and wanting to jump on top of my ex every time I thought of or saw him.

If you're reading this and you're a woman, I'm sure you know how um...aroused you can get as you draw closer to your period, right?  (yep, I went there and said the p-word-go ahead, you can squirm a little more, it's ok) Well imagine those feelings multiplied by, oh I don't know, maybe a thousand or so and you'll get a picture of how I would feel in these moods. They would totally consume me, I felt like some kind of pervert or sex addict. It was so bad sometimes that even my ex would look at me and be like, "uh...yea...NO!" and would ask if I was okay. You know it's bad when you're so overwhelmed with needing to have sex that it decreases your partner's desire for it.  Yea....ouch.

One of the frustrating things about feeling so sexual was that no matter how much I had, it never satisfied the need, it only intensified it. I even took to pleasing myself which while I've known other women who do it and it's not  a big deal, it was for me because it was something I had never done. These feelings weren't just about trying to explore my sexuality or what I "liked." It was literally like a wildfire just burning out of control. I tried everything to uh...satisfy it, squash it, ignore it. It literally became a highly agitating state to be in, and I didn't really understand what was going on....

The even more frustrating part about my hypersexual feelings was the fact that because I'm an unmarried Christian, I felt endless amounts of guilt about what I was experiencing. And the shame. Oh the shame that would consume me and still does at times was all encompassing. I felt...dirty. Full of lust. A lustful, sinful woman who just couldn't control herself. I didn't know how to talk to anyone about it, let alone God. I felt guilty for wanting sex as much as I did, guilty for having it as much as I was, guilty for pleasuring myself (masturbation is a no no in Christian culture, apparently), guilty for just any and everything about sex. It was awful and the guilt and shame I felt only fueled my depressive moods, tying me down in the gravity wells these moods placed me in.

During these states my mind would swirl with racing thoughts: Was I just consumed with lust? What was wrong with me? Was God disgusted with me? Angry with me? Did He understand? I would stand at the altar at the end of service, begging God to help me stop compromising, asking for forgiveness and desiring to be and do better. Then a few days would pass or maybe a week or two and I'd find myself right back in the same state: hot, bothered, and full of this urge I lacked the ability to control...

Since my diagnosis in July, I've learned so much about BP and its symptoms I feel less guilt and shame because I know (for the most part) what's causing it. Learning that it's a symptom of my disorder and not necessarily a reflection of my character has brought me to a place of acceptance about it. I still wrestle with what to do about these feelings when they arrive and become overwhelmingly intense, but I don't beat myself up over having them anymore...

My questions to God these days are more about management and how to maintain celibacy until marriage. I'm rather frank with Him about it and I believe He's far more understanding about it than I originally gave Him credit for.

Hear me: I'm not trying to justify my behavior, so Christians don't crucify me. I'm also not trying to use this symptom of my disorder as an excuse to just be all "A'Driane Gone Wild." But I am trying to manage, understand and walk this issue out in a way that is spiritually healthy and doesn't "taint" my relationship with God.

I'm also trying to be more open and honest about this issue, which is something I don't think enough of us Christians do...

I'll talk about this and more about my faith, hypersexuality and how they impact me next week. Until then....any thoughts? Feel free to share...

Dance Party Friday: Everyday LOVE Edition

Can we take a moment and just exhale?

Go ahead-breathe in very deep, all the way down to your core....hold it....and REEEELLLLEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASE.

Feel any better? I do. I can speak for myself & say that it's been quite a week, so taking a few moments for self-care just now makes me feel so good!

How was your week? Was it uneventful? Hectic? Overwhelming? Troubling? Too much? Awesome?

Mine? I've spent mine in the trenches, waging war against the Plague that invaded my house. Somehow Brennan is the only one who has managed to escape unscathed (so far). Alex not only had a cold but he was also teething on top it. I went to bed late Monday night with a pretty high fever & was told at the ER on Tuesday that I had strep throat & tonsillitis. Eh, can I get a side order of DEATH with my illness please? Thanks. Thank God for my ex-he was a lifesaver this week, taking care of me, cleaning my apartment, nagging me about my meds, and taking care of the boys. I wouldn't have stayed above water mentally had he not been here, let me tell you.

So I've been eating penicillin like tic-tacs and am feeling way better finally...despite the STYE I have on my left eye. (the rhyming was so unintentional, I promise you) This week my body has failed me miserably, but I'm alive, so I'm grateful :)

Since I'm under the weather, dancing this week is totally out of the question. I don't want to push it. I took a walk yesterday for some fresh air, and while I LOVED it, it wore me out & killed my back. SO, no dancing this week. But that's perfectly ok, because I still have something for you to enjoy (hopefully).

This week was a lot to handle, not just because I was sick, but because I watched someone get swallowed whole by despair. I watched someone stand on the edge of their life, of their sanity, and who was ready to step off. They didn't want to live anymore, they were weary of being under Bipolar's oppressive thumb, and honestly, I DON'T BLAME THEM. Living with a mental illness, especially one like bipolar disorder is far from easy. Just doing what it takes to make it manageable is not for the faint of heart. It literally feels like you're constantly swinging back & forth between life & death, and the intensity of what you feel.....I can't put into words how unbearable it is. For me, it got so bad that I spent a Friday night slicing into my wrist with a piece of glass just to let it out. ( still so grateful for The Band, who let me write that!)

So watching someone else be on the edge and understanding how hopeless you can feel in that state was terrifying. I've never met this person but I didn't want to imagine what it would be like to not have them in my life-even if it was just online or through a blog post. I watched someone else acknowledge that they aren't doing well either and that they are in a fragile state, that they needed help. And my heart broke for them this week. I thought about Strong Start Day & all of the moms out there who are struggling but aren't getting the real help they need for various reasons: shame, stigma, judgement, lack of insurance, resources or finances. And my heart broke for them. And I felt helpless. I asked God, "what can I do? How can I do something tangible to help?" The answer I got back was simple: "LOVE. LOVE THEM. In every & any way you can. Show them you love them."

So this video is about that. It's me trying to encourage anyone who needs it to hold on to love. When I think about where I was a year ago, when I just look back over my life & all I've been through, LOVE is what has kept me. God's love & the love of people He's placed in my life. LOVE is what makes an impact, what changes things, what leaves an indelible mark, what brings a person back from the edge....it's brought me back time & again. I'd be dead & gone without it!

LOVE has been on my mind for the past couple of weeks and I'll talk more about it & why in another post, but for now, just know that I'm being challenged to have everything I do for others & myself rooted in LOVE.

LOVE carries. LOVE heals.LOVE lifts. LOVE inspires. LOVE completes. LOVE strengthens. LOVE never fails us. Hold on to it with everything you have. I am. It's not easy, but I'm learning how to.....everyday.

It's Mental Health Awareness Week. This is for those of us battling, struggling with, recovering from, & triumphing over the parts of us that have malfunctioned. Keep holding on, keep kicking @$!, keep fighting....use LOVE as your weapon.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/30204143]

Shine.....So I Can See You

My prayer as I start this week.......

(and can I just say how much I freakin LOVE DCB?!!!!!)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8cAU475dQo]

And the promise I'm holding on to as I go into my week...holding on to this knowledge with a white knuckled grip....

(and yes, my music crush on John Mark McMillian is super fierce)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiuPcrW01zo]

A Tumbling Out of Thoughts

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhI4CpAH8wM]

It's been a rough couple of days.....it seems like for every forward step I take, I have a day or two where I take three or four steps back...sometimes it's a series of events that trigger the relapse or regression....more recently it seems as though I'm hyper sensitive; the slightest touch triggers me & sets the pendulum in motion, even if it's just for a few hours....or a day.

Being triggered and having an anxiety attack or falling into a "mood state' reminds me of three things: how fragile my own strength really is, how important it is that I stick to my wellness plan & keep finding coping strategies to add to it, & my need for God....for His love.... It reminds me that He's really the only one who can really bear the full brunt me when I'm like this, and it reminds me that even when I'm at my lowest, He's still there, walking with me, "fixing me" along the way.....

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TsR1yiAe9g]

(you should definitely go to youtube to watch this...trust me it's worth the click)

Taking care of myself & believing in someone outside of myself are the only ways I know I'll make this "manageable" & be able to put it in it's proper place. Under control. So I can live. So I can mother. So I can be the better parts of me more often.

I'll get there. Until then, I'm going to do my best to just.....breathe & keep moving.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEXhAMtbaec]

Thank you #PPDChat mamas (every single one of you-those I talk to consistently in The Twitter & those of you I've never met who sent me hugs & love last night), The Band, & Katherine Stone for being there and reaching out these past two days. Thank you for being that safe place I can go to when I need to just say exactly how I'm feeling without worry or fear of someone thinking the worst of me. You all are seriously the best therapy :) And also to my Pastor....thank you for reaching out, for your prayers, and for your words of encouragement this week. They are always timely & invaluable.

On Beat Up Faith, Re-Focusing My Gaze, & Resetting My Mind

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

This scripture jumped out from behind some corner of my mind this morning while I was trying to sleep, which led to the following confession:

My faith is taking a beating.

The events of this summer have left me asking God about 5 million questions. Some I've received answers to, others I have not.  And I am yet sure that there are still even more that I won't get the answers to-at least not in this lifetime....and I'm learning to be okay with that, because since God knows me better than I know myself, He already knows that as strong as I might try to make myself appear, I probably wouldn't be able to handle the reality of those answers. At least not right now, and like I said, maybe not in this lifetime. So they're left hidden from me, and He leaves them unanswered.....

My faith is taking a beating, but not in the sense that I'm giving up on it. Or Him. Unlike what I went through last summer, where I questioned this thing called Christianity, I'm not in a spiritual crisis, I'm not rejecting Him or what I believe to be true...I'm not in a state of doubt....at least not about Him being my Father & Jesus being my Savior. What I am questioning, what I am doubting (a little) is this place I'm in. I feel like I've been relocated. A couple of months ago He told me on the altar that I've turned the page into a new chapter in my life, but just as soon as those words gave me some peace, some hope, and I was starting to feel like things were settling, the ground I had been standing on....shifted. Drastically. Changed.And left in the aftermath of the quake were some things I knew without a shadow of a doubt would sustain the shaking and then there were others that had fallen, left completely dismantled from it's sheer force....leaving me to wander among the rubble, wondering if they ever really belonged there in the first place....wondering if what had been erected in my life over the past couple of years was built up out of my own selfishness, my own desires, the consequences of my own mistakes....or placed there by Him. Had I been holding onto and fighting to protect things & people that didn't belong in my life? Had I been hearing wrong, those things I thought He told me in secret? Those promises that I had been holding so close and so tight to my heart-were they born out of His plan for my life or my plan for me? Or are they a part of the plan, but I sabotaged them somehow because I have a hard time giving up control?  If I was wrong, and had been erecting buildings out of my own selfish desires or because I was too afraid to just let Him do the work, then I understand why the earthquake came. I get it. I understand why some have fallen away and what remains has stood strong. Afterall, the bible says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." (Psa 127:1) But if I wasn't wrong....and if this is all somehow part of the plan, how things should  be going....then I don't understand, and that is why I am having some doubt.

So yea my faith-it's taking a beating. It's being stretched and pushed and pulled in every direction, causing everything in me to strain & bulge from the pressure, pushing me to go deeper, stretch out further and reach out to Him in response. And as painful as it is, I don't mind really. Because I believe that despite the pain that can accompany it, growth is necessary, especially when it comes to faith. Maybe that's what it maybe that's what it means to go from "faith to faith, & glory to glory?"  Perhaps.....So even though I don't understand some things, right now, faith in Him is what I'm holding on to.

The hard part about standing in the rubble though, with beat up faith, in this new, unfamiliar place I don't recognize is that I don't know who to trust, who to confide in on a human level. I've learned the past 8 months and pretty much my whole life that people don't like mess, and they can take but only so much of it, for varying reasons, all of which I understand and don't blame them for. I know first hand how going out of your comfort zone can take a lot out of you, making you uncomfortable and uneasy. Dealing with others & their "stuff" is icky, especially if you have your own "stuff" to deal with.  But as Christians, aren't we supposed to bear one another up? Aren't we supposed to be loyal to one another, even when it's tough, when it's messy? I have, over the past months had a handful of people who have stuck it out and waded through the muck & mire of my "stuff" with me. I've also had amazing support from an online community of Mamas who are always a tweet, FB post, or direct message away. And I can't even put into words how grateful I am for them-for all of those who have chosen to remain close inspite of my "messiness".  But I've also had others who have backed off, walked away, stopped calling, texting, have pretty much stopped being my "friend." I'm sure they have their reasons, and I don't blame them. But that doesn't change the fact that it hurts. It doesn't make the loneliness I feel any easier to bear, especially during the moments when I feel as though I'm losing it, or now that I've been diagnosed with something that freaks me out to a degree. Maybe being a Christian and having a mood disorder or being bipolar isn't a that big of a deal. But if it isn't, then why aren't more people in the church talking about it? Why don't Christians reach out to those who are suffering from such things? Shouldn't the response be different? On a human level, I understand the desire to retreat for self-preservation purposes, but on a spiritual level, I'm struggling to grasp how that can even be an option.

So while the beating my faith is taking isn't making me retreat from God, it is making me retreat from people. From Christians. From church. For the reason I mentioned above and for others as well that involve some shame and embarrassment about the things that have happened this summer. Even from my family. People's responses or lack thereof just leaves me pretty uncomfortable & gun shy. I don't know what to say when they ask "how are you? what's going on?" , because quite frankly I have a hard time believing they really want to know. Or even need to know. Or should know. I have a hard time believing that if I do tell them they can handle it. From what I've seen so far, most can't, it's too much for them to bear....so....I retreat.

And I'm starting to welcome the retreat because the lesson I'm learning through all of this is that I've got to rely less on people and more on God. I've been letting what's happened & the actions of people get under my skin & cloud my vision.  I've got to refocus my gaze, stop paying attention to how beat up I'm feeling, how freaked out I am about some things, how lonely I am & how hurt I feel & just focus on what's above the clouds in my skies-Him....His purpose for me....my kids....my health, my goals...I've got to take some time & work on me. Let Him work on me. I need some time to find the treasures He's got laying in the darkness I'm fumbling in. (And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Isa. 45:3)

That's why I'm glad I'm in a new apartment, gearing up for another semester at a new school. One with an environment that I know will challenge & stimulate this growing process I'm in.  I'm glad I'm "away" in a sense. Glad I made some tough choices to let go of some responsibilities (ie no more consulting).

So I'm hoping that being in this new place, despite it unfamiliarity & despite how beat up I'm feeling affords me the chance to push the reset button on my mind, & help me zero in again on what's important.

Here's to looking up and seeing the bigger, more beautiful picture He's painting of my life. Here's to taking the beating.

My Boy's Love Gives My Faith a Powerboost

Confession: If you've been reading my posts the past month then you know things have been rocky in my little corner over here. So, that means I've been crying a lot as a result. Smiling. Laughing. Clenching my jaw and trying to find comfort in the discomfort. But there are times when I just can't hold back the waters-my levees break and I cry. I'm talking snot filled, hand wringing, fist clenching, wailing into a pillow to muffle the sobs crying. I have however been making a concentrated and determined effort to hold it together in front of my boys. Things are rocky enough as it is with all the transitioning going on between my ex and I, so I've been making sure to shield them from as much of it as possible. I was doing a good job of it too, making sure we're still finding ways to enjoy our time and summer together inspite of the upheaval.

This morning after breakfast though a wave of emotions hit me, taking me by surprise and nearly knocking me over. I had barely set the boys up with their toys and made it to my bedroom before the tears exploded. As I layed there, face buried in the pillow, hurling my grief, confusion, hurt, fear, rejection, and everything else at God, telling Him how alone and scared I am in this place, I heard a quiet knock on my door.

It was Brennan.

"Mommie can I have some chalk to draw outside (on our balcony) ?" Wiping the snot and wetness from my face, I opened the door. "Sure Bren. What do you want to draw?"

He looked at me, stepped forward and hugged my legs. Then he looked at me again and said, "A heart. I want to draw a heart."

Grabbing the chalk and walking towards the balcony door I asked him "Why a heart?"

"Because its going to be okay and I want you to see the heart so you'll feel better," he replied patting me on the shoulder. And with a kiss on the cheek, off he was, on the balcony, in the OMG sweltering humidity drawing me a heart-two in fact.

The thing about God that just continues to blow my mind is how He knows what we need at the exact moment we need it. My faith, my sanity, needed that boost today. And my heart is grateful for it, for Him, and for my boys. :)

A Control Freak Who Hates Being Controlled Lets Go

Confession: I can't handle being nagged, micro managed, or controlled to a degree that borders on unhealthy. I grew up with a control freak of a father so to me my inability to handle such things is no surprise. He made every decision from what I ate to what clothes I wore to how I did my hair.

Growing up this way made me determined to fight for and maintain some sort of independence for myself, almost to a fault I admit. Because I was robbed of the ability to think for myself as a child/teen, trying to learn to do so as an adult has been a challenging one, one that involves a lot of second guessing myself and my decisions as I navigate up the hill. I also appreciate people's advice and the wisdom they dispense but even if I totally agree with them, sometimes I just have to see/learn for myself. Not because I want to rebel or be defiant or think I know better, but because I'm trying to experience it so that I form my own conclusions and learn more about myself and my life. But don't get me wrong-I always keep the wisdom or advice I've been given in the back of my mind as a reminder or a gut check that tells me when I've gone far enough.

Being in the military, I was at a base where our every move was micro managed-It drove me and my co workers crazy. That's one reason why I didn't stay in. That's not to say I can't follow directions or listen to authority. I can and do, but when it starts to feel smothering or too restricting something in me can't take it.

When I come in contact with people who exhibit as much stubborness as me or control freak tendencies I usually reach a point where I just give in. I don't do well with power struggles-I figure if you want to call the shots that bad, who am I to prevent that? So after awhile it just drains me so I retreat, concede, and try to be as supportive as possible while praying for the best outcome.

So I grew up with a control freak dad, have had to fight for the ability to think for myself and have independence and don't deal well with being micro managed. Oh and I concede to those who's stubborness or need to control outweighs mine because I'd just rather let the other person have it.

All of this pretty much adds up to the fact that its hard for me to let God have control in my life. Surrendering and conceding to people is easy-I can physically see them and what they do. But I can't see God. Sure I feel Him, sense His presence when I worship Him or try to talk to Him. But I can't see Him, I can't see what He's doing, I can't peek over His shoulder and see what He's working on when it comes to my life. And that freaks me out. So that turns me into the control freak I despise. I become the resistor, the one who holds tightly to my independence and my constant need to figure it out on my own with an iron clad death grip. But at the same time my heart yearns to surrender, to let Him take control. Its just that from my experience the people I've given control of my life to (or they just took it) have just jacked it up or abused it, myself included.

So I'm trying, very hard to learn to let go. Loosen my grip. Let God do His thing and just trust in Him and not my own thoughts. I'm putting down the chisel and walking away from the urge to carve out my life and just let Him do it for me. His designs are better anyway. I mean afterall, I'm not handy with a hammer and nail-Jesus was a carpenter. I suck at drawing, God is the master illustrator, the ultimate creator.

And He keeps telling me that if I just let go and focus on Him, His design for my life will take shape and come to life. He knows what I want, what my heart desires, and although I didn't do it because I thought I knew better, I spent the past two years trying to carve it into what I thought it should be. I wanted to try and keep what I thought was my family together but well...I couldn't. Especially with a partner who was just as stubborn and controlling as me.

So I'm done fighting. Done carving. I'm letting go, I'm losing control. And praying that while I can't see what He's doing, He's working out the kinks in me and working out His plans for my life and that of my children.

Did I mention this is SCARY?! I'M FREAKING OUT!!!!!! UGH! Pray for a chic! :)

addyeB

Letting the Dust Settle Into Something Beautiful

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY]

I woke up this morning and in my mind's eye all I saw was dust. Everywhere I looked, in every area of my life, I just saw dust, like a sandstorm had blown through my life and left a finger thick film on each piece of it.

Aside from dirtying things, dust is annoying because too much of it can make you sneeze, cough, gag...and a host of other bodily reactions I'm sure aren't pleasant. It's also irritating because it's so hard to get rid of and even when you swipe it away with some pledge, it comes back not long after. You might even find that you've gotten rid of the dust, but the tiny little particles of material from whatever you used to clean it up with are left behind, in it's place, seemingly immune to the cleaning agent.

So what's my point? Simply this: You can't get rid of dust. You can buy the best cleaning solution/furniture polish/super-microfiber rag that money can buy, but dust is always going to be there annoyingly sweeping itself back over your walls, appliances, baseboards aka YOUR LIFE. So what do you do about it? Well, as I laid in bed with Alex's foot in my ribs and Brennan's dragon breath scorching my cheek, I thought of this song and about how God really can make beautiful things out of anything. If He could create the Universe and every single particle & organism in it, is it really hard to believe that He can make something out of the dust in my life? The dust that makes me sneeze, that causes me pain, that makes me (or my house) look dirty, that can seem to overtake me?

Here's the thing about dust, er LIFE. It's always there. Causing you pain, being annoying, being difficult to get through, creating messes that are a pain or really tough to clean up....but the God who created the stars out in galaxies we haven't even discovered yet can take the dust in your life, in my life, and use it to challenge us, stretch us, grow & develop us, even mold us into who He designed for us to be before we were even a thought in our Mama's bellies.

So as I sat here with half my cheek melting away(4 yrs old is too young for halitosis isn't it?) thinking about the recent dusty events & situations in my life, I heard God challenging me & my OCD to put down the dust rag....Put the pledge back in the cabinet for a second and just let Him take care of it. "I know it looks Sahara desert dusty right now, AddyeB and that is throwing your OCD into overdrive, I know you're freaking out...but watch the wonder & beauty I create out it-watch the beautiful things I make. If I can make man out of dust, what other wonders can I create if you'll just sit back & let me do what I do best ?"

Well God, it's like 6am, and since my mind's already been blown for the day I'm just going to lay here and marinate on what you just knocked me upside the head with....and watch you make beautiful things out of my dust. Just please remember to pass me a mask when you really get going-I have a feeling it's going to get thick in here for awhile and I don't want to choke.

Are Problems Necessary?

I saw this on Faith Baby's Facebook page (who by the way has adorable clothes for wee ones):

Every problem is a character-building opportunity, and the more difficult it is, the greater the potential for building spiritual muscle and moral fiber. Problems also force us to look at God and to depend on Him instead of ourselves. 

"And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4"

Just wanted to share their post because it's good food for thought ( at least it is for me), especially when deciding what's better to strive for: a life of happiness, or one filled with joy

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.. "

James 1:2-4 MSG

On Medication: Reason # 1

After fighting myself, going back and forth over it, and dispeling my own stigmas about it, I chose to take medication to help me deal with my depression and anxiety. One reason I made this choice was so my thoughts can just stop racing...settle...quit clamoring for my attention...slow down enough for me to be able to talk to God.

The past year and a half I've struggled in my prayer life for two reasons. Discipline is one and the other involves my struggle with keeping my mind from wandering. It doesn't wander lazily, as if uninterested in the material or as if I lack the desire to sit before Him. It races, quickly zipping from one thought to the next. Focusing, concentrating, being able to quiet my mind and soul-these are things I'm often unable to do because my mind moves at the speed of light. The result? I'm a fidgety mess with a raucous mind at God's feet and my prayer life sucks.

Navigating Consequences & Faith

I believe wholeheartedly in the power of transparency, but there are times when even I shrink from wanting to talk about something. After a lot of thought, some back & forth pros vs. cons discussions with myself and of course God, I finally decided to that if my blog is called "butterfly confessions" it wouldn't really be fair of me to not divulge a crucial change that has occurred in my life. I can't gloss it over or act as though it's not going to have an impact on myself or my future writing, because it is. So....here we go. I'm a Christian. I love God and Jesus Christ is my Lord & Savior. But look, here's the truth: I don't have it altogether. I don't have all the answers. There's alot that I don't understand. I have doubts. I have fears & anxieties. I fall short of His standards every day-several times a day. Sometimes I'm more concerned about my own selfish desires & what I want more than I am about what He wants for me & my life. That's just the truth. Do I desire to do the right thing & live a life that's pleasing to Him? Yes, very, very much. But I'd be lying if I said I do, all the time, everyday. I'm an imperfect being-that's not an excuse, it's simply a fact. There are things that I, even as a Christian, struggle with. And when I give in to my own selfish desires instead of turning away from temptation, when I let my flesh overpower me, I sin. And those sins always have consequence(s) that have to be lived through & dealt with.

2 years ago this summer I gave in to some selfish desires that led to sinning & some consequences that myself, my boyfriend, & my oldest son have had to live with ever since. I wasn't married. I had sex. I got pregnant. I had another child. Out of wedlock. A pretty much normal occurrence these days, but not very Christianly, eh? Yea, I know. The guilt I felt over it rocked my relationship with my boyfriend, myself & with God. The shame & guilt over what I had done pretty much kept me from enjoying much of my pregnancy-I tried. I desperately wanted to. I eventually came to a place where I realized that while God may not have been please with me, He forgave me. But I still struggled with the guilt. And shame. And judgement. Not from God but from people. And it depressed me. That, along with health issues, & the challenges one would expect from two different people with two different lives having to learn how to merge & grow together into one, into a family, ravaged my relationship. To say it's been a roller coaster ride is putting it mildly....

A little over a year ago, I wrote about one challenge in particular that I was struggling with: moving in together or continuing to live in two separate places. Marriage was something that was talked about, but we weren't even close to, so that wasn't an option. Having the baby meant I wouldn't be in school, which meant no GI Bill benefits to pay my bills. Living in two separate places would put a strain on our finances, especially with him being the only one working....but I felt I couldn't compromise...and neither did he.....long story short, we broke up and were stuck with two leases for another year. Two rents, two car payments, daycare for two kids, two utilities payments....yea, everything has been double for the past year. Once I went back to school I was able to start carrying more of the financial weight, but a year later we're both pretty much broke. We've made it through the year, but the strain of dual living arrangements has destroyed us financially.

So back in April, after I had gotten accepted to my school of choice & was jubilant over my upcoming graduation, we were faced with the same question: were we going to live together or not?  After breaking & making up for the second time, we had pretty much decided that this, our family, was what we were going to make work, regardless of our differences or circumstances. No more running. No more walking away. No more giving up. We have kids we're raising, my boyfriend is the closest thing to a father my oldest son has had the past 2 years, & despite our growing pains, we are best friends. We just are. And while we are in a much better place than we were even just 6 months ago, and marriage is definitely part of the plan, it's not happening tomorrow...so the question became whether or not we wanted to go through another year of like the one we just had. The honest answer & conclusion we came to is no. Even if we wanted to, we can't. Our circumstances just don't give us the room to. It's not feasible, financially especially. So again, I was faced with truth versus my circumstances. Compromising. As I've said before I've learned some lessons about compromising. Hindsight is always 20/20, so looking back I can say that it's best not to compromise when it comes to issues such as this at all. But once you've made the compromise that leads to a sin that yields it's consequences, what do you do then?

I've thought long & hard about this for months. Prayed about it. And the conclusion I've come to is that all you can do is navigate the waters as best you can. Would it be better to never get in the boat in the first place? Yes. Should I have not put myself in this position? Yes. But I did, and part of being an adult is accepting responsibility for your actions, and that's what I've been trying to do for the past two years.  Be responsible. Live right. Please God. I don't always hit it right on all three counts. But I've been navigating the seas of consequence the best I can and begging God for mercy & grace as I ride through each tidal wave. And when I made the decision to move in with my boyfriend, I did it with a prayerful heart. A heart begging for a sign, or a door to open, or a way to avoid this. But....there was no sign, no doors opened & the waves that lay before me proved  unavoidable. So I'm doing what I have to do, especially for my sons, until the season comes when I can do something different. That's all I've got folks.

I know this isn't the "Christian" way to do things. I know this isn't considered Godly. I know this isn't ideal or traditional, I know people will have their opinions & judgments about me "shacking up" with my boyfriend. I'm not sitting here pretending like I don't know these things, or like I'm comfortable with this or like this is how I want my life to be. I'm not even going to act like I think God is okay with this. I honestly don't know the answer to that question. I've asked. But I've also asked for understanding. For mercy. I want to be married. But I don't want to force someone into marrying me-what's the good in that? That's not healthy. I truly believe that it will happen when it's supposed to....so until then...I keep navigating. I keep putting up what boundaries I can (like being celibate) & not allowing guilt or shame about my situation to keep me from drawing back from Him.  I keep praying with each step I take that I'm using this experience to grow, learn, & lean heavily on Him...trust in Him....ground myself in Him so that I give in to my own desires less & bend toward His more. And I honestly wouldn't be in this relationship if I didn't believe I wasn't supposed to be-I've struggled & prayed over that too. And well....I'm here.

I'm not asking Him to "bless mess". My prayer instead is that when I make mistakes, mistakes that break me, that He will help me wade through the mess those sins create, building me back up in the process. No more shame. No more condemnation. No more guilt. Just more navigating....and giving myself to the building process :)

Truth vs. Circumstance

I didn't intend for this to be my first post. However, this issue weighs heavily on my mind this morning and highlights an ongoing conversation I've been having with God, so I felt the need to express it...maybe someone out there has dealt with it, has advice, can share their perspective with me....or maybe someone reading is going through the same thing and is searching for the same answer I am.... I'm a Christian, (no denomination in particular-I don't believe in those, but that's another discussion for another day) I'm 27 years old, & I'm 33 weeks pregnant with my second child. I'll talk about the process I went through to reconcile my  emotions about it, and how it  has affected my faith in another posting....but for now let's just summarize and say I've finally moved into a place of acceptance concerning it and have finally shed the guilt I carried about it. And for the record, let me state it was no easy task-it tore me apart and challenged my sanity in a way I didn't expect.

Thinking about it now, this whole experience has challenged me in ways I didn't expect. Each stage has confronted my very beliefs, forcing me to really seek out God and ask myself some hard questions about what I believe, why I believe it, and what God really has to say about my "situation". Notice I said what GOD has to say...not people, not other Christians, not my parents, not my pastor, not my boyfriend, not what "religion" says....I say that because I've come to the point in my life where I've finally learned that people really don't have the answers. They might have sound advice, they can give you guidance, they can suggest what you should do, but at the end of the day, only God can give you the answers to your problems, or questions you have. Now of course I believe He can speak through a person to give you the answer you're searching for, or use someone to confirm something He's already started to point out to you....but I think sometimes as Christians we come to depend too much on people and have a tendency to go to them to vent, to express how we feel about something, to ask tough questions, when in reality, we should be going to God first. Now maybe that's not you...maybe you go to God first for everything, and if that's you, then kudos. But if you're like me and lots of other people I know, then you know how easy it can be to put people in God's place, even when it's not your intention. Friends, family, your church family, your pastor, your mentors, they mean well, but this experience has taught me that they don't always have the answers, and that it's best to go to God first, lay it all out there on the table, and then see what He has to say about it. By going to Him first, I've also learned that sometimes what God has to say is the complete opposite of what people have to say. People are limited in what they know and what they can see about a situation, but God isn't. I mean, He's God. He knows everything, He is limitless-why not go to Him first? Your closest friends and confidants may mean well, but ultimately, shouldn't what God has to say about your situation matter more than that of the opinion of man? I'm not saying you shouldn't consider or even listen to the advice you receive from people. I'm simply saying that it should be secondary to what God has to say. If you go to Him first, He might direct you to who you should talk to about it, to the person who, with His guidance, can give you the right answers. Sometimes, you might get the answers by just sitting quietly at His feet, listening until He speaks, the ways God can give you the answers you're searching for are endless, I've just learned that the process goes alot smoother when you "cast your cares" on Him first, and not people.

So it seems I've digressed, but I said all of that to say that I'm dealing with an issue that I know only He can answer...I know what people say about it, but I'm in the process of asking God what He has to say about it, and what it means for me.  I know what religion says....I've started searching the Word to see if the answer is written in His word...but I'm desperate to know what He thinks about it, and how He proposes I should handle it....

Like I said...I'm 33 weeks pregnant with my second child. I'm in a relationship with a man I love, a man who is committed to being there for me and my children. However, we aren't married, and we don't believe we should get married just because we are having a child together. We are committed to building a strong relationship with each other that could lead to marriage in the near future, but we see no need to rush things because we have a child.  I'm also not comfortable with getting married to him just so it won't "look bad". Yes, I love him, but if I married him now it would only be because I don't want people(mostly Christians) to judge me or think less of me because I'm an unwedded mother with two kids. My parents are divorced and I watched my dad remarry 6 times. My mother remarried and has been so for 21 years and I've seen how much work marriage is. These factors make me hesitant to just jump into a marriage...especially if it's for the wrong reasons. So that's why we aren't married and are only focused on continuing to build our relationship and work through the challenges of having a child together.

The problem is that we are considering moving in together once the baby gets here in 7 weeks.Let me say that if I wasn't pregnant, this wouldn't even be an issue, there would be no need for it, so our reasoning for it isn't coming from some desire to just be with each other.  Our reason for doing so really comes from a matter of practicality: it would make things smoother for both of us, especially financially. With a new baby here, why pay two rents when one is cheaper? And of course, with two children to care for, it would help if both of us were here to take care of both, especially during the first few months. I know there are single mothers out there who do it on their own, independent of their partner, even if he's playing an active role. But I'm just talking about what fits my situation, my circumstances and the only solution I forsee working. The truth is, could I do it all on my own? Yes, but it would be alot harder, the transition wouldn't be as easy to navigate. I've even asked myself, do I want to go it alone? Do I want to be the only one in the house taking care of two children 24/7, with him helping out when he can? The answer is no. And besides, we are in a relationship, trying to make it work-so moving in together shouldn't be a huge deal right?

For most people these days it wouldn't be. It isn't for my boyfriend. He sees it as a matter of practicality and even though he (well, we both) acknowledge living with someone isn't easy, he sees it as something that could be more beneficial than harmful....and so do I....until my circumstance is confronted with the Truth that says you shouldn't be living with someone you're in a relationship with unless you're married to them.  Now I'm not saying I'm an advocate of just living with your boyfriend/girlfriend-as a matter of fact, up until this experience, I was staunchly against it. However, circumstance has the stigma of "shacking up" whispering in my ear, and I find myself staring the Truth in the face and questioning it, wondering how it applies in this situation.It makes me uncomfortable, which I can honestly say I don't know if its conviction or something else. It has forced me to run to God, earnestly seeking a solution that satisfies both Truth and Circumstance, if that's even possible.  I want to do the right thing. Despite my mistakes and my shortcomings, I love the Lord and my heart is tender toward Him. I believe He has a plan for my life and has amazing things in store for me inspite of my mistakes. And even though it took months, I finally believe that He has forgiven me for having another child outside of marriage, and is going to get me through it.  But I have tough questions to ask and possibly a tough decision to make.

If I move in with him when the baby gets here, am I wrong? If I am wrong, then by what standards? Am I wrong according to the Word-if so, where can I find it? If I am wrong, then why am I wrong? Why is it wrong to move in with someone I'm having a baby with especially if we are doing it for practical reasons? Who says it's wrong? Does God say it is, or does "religion" say it is? I know sex outside of marriage is wrong, it's stated clearly in the Word, but what about this?  Is there a solution that satisfies both  Truth and my Circumstance, or am I searching for the impossible? If I do move in with him, how will it affect me spiritually? Will I be living in sin? How am I going to deal with that? If I don't move in, then what?  Am I wrong for wanting convience and practicality? If I move in, will it taint my annointing? Will it inhibit my ability to minister, will it prohibit God from using me and my gifts to help build the kingdom? Will He still be able to use me?

These are the questions I'm asking God. The questions I need answers to. The questions that I ask myself while I'm washing my dishes, driving my son to daycare & sitting in my ridiculously boring Sociology class. They wake me up at night, I see them when I look at myself in the  mirror sometimes. They are the angel I wrestle with during the night, like Jacob did,wrestling what I know with my current circumstances, refusing to let go until I find out the answers. These are the questions I lay at His feet daily, seeking guidance, because in my heart of hearts, I want to please Him, I want to rely on Him to work it out.

Navigating through this experience hasn't been easy, it's shaken me to my very core. It has reshaped me, redefined what I thought I knew about faith, about God, about being a Christian. It has forced me to really find out why I believe what I believe, and sometimes to find out exactly what it is I believe.  I haven't really talked about it with anyone outside God until now. It wasn't until my mother pointed out to me over the phone how readily she could see my struggle that I realized how deeply it has been affected me. 

As dramatic as it may sound, I feel like I'm in the middle of a battle for my soul. Despite my struggles, shortcomings, and questions, I'm still determined to ensure He wins out....until then, like Jacob, I continue to wrestle.