Lately I’ve been wrestling with some important issues; it feels as though I’m being attacked on all sides – both spiritually and emotionally. Being a woman, any number of things can bother me at a given moment, because to me everything is somehow related. However, there is usually any one issue that stands out from the others and plagues me, until I find a temporary solution or am otherwise distracted from my plight.
I’ve had to do some serious soul-searching, and I don’t necessarily like what I see. And not in an insecure, unconfident sort of way – just being honest about my shortcomings. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an intellectual sort of person. Not smart, per se, but thoughtful – I tend to analyze and internalize anything and everything. Due to the many facets of my inconveniently complex personality, there are many inherently negative things which come naturally to me: doubt, fear, worry, anxiety, depression, and intolerance, just to name a few. These traits affect both my personal and spiritual lives; but then, can you really separate the two?
Growing up, my father used to tell me to “just be happy.” He seemed to think I could decide to pick myself up out of whatever depression I had sunk into; I don’t know if I have ever suffered a chemical imbalance, but I do know there were times when I didn’t want to live anymore. And you want me to… how did you put that? – “just be happy”? It angered me to no end.
My parents and I got together for dinner a couple weeks ago, and somehow over the course of the conversation it turned into “what’s wrong with Karla.” We talked about a number of the choices I’ve been contemplating for my future, how things are in my relationships, some of the things that plague me spiritually, and it pretty much boiled down to (in my father’s estimation) changing my perspective and not being so negative.
* * * long pause * * *
Ask me what I want to be when I “grow up,” and I have no idea. Where do I see myself in five, ten years? The exact same place, just… older, possibly fatter, bitter? I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t have hopes and dreams, but I don’t necessarily have much hope that they will come to fruition. I have a number of talents – or, rather, hobbies and inclinations, because I don’t excel at any one thing. I don’t have the time, money, and energy to focus on one [possible business] endeavor because if it doesn’t work out, it will have been a waste. I can’t afford to make the investment on a hope and a prayer. My father interjected that you need to look at it (“it” meaning anything in life) as an “adventure”… but that line of reasoning doesn’t always work when you have something to lose, when it’s not really enjoyable or if what you’re embarking upon is painful in some ways.
As it usually does when talking about the future – the great Unknown – the topic of “faith” cropped up. I’ll admit that this is one concept I’ve always been… leery of. I have faith in some key things – c’mon, we all had to memorize John 3:16, right? But knowing and believing are really two different things, I feel. When you truly believe something, it’s evident in your life, and my life is seriously lacking. In an ironic twist of fate – one I have a hard time grasping – the very being and personality that God gave me finds it hard to believe and accept key teachings. Yeah, I’ve read the verses that I’m “fearfully and wonderfully made,” should be “anxious for nothing,” and “have not because I ask not,” but they don’t really make sense to me (especially if I feel I’ve tried to put them into practice). I get the ideas, but not the manifestations of those beliefs, such as a “peace that passes all understanding.” If I’m going through a rough time, and someone quotes a verse that is supposed to be encouraging, or a characteristic of God that should speak to me, I [oftentimes unintentionally] respond with “yeah, but…”
I have the hardest time not being able to accept that God loves me (at least like He says He does) and wants the best for me – sometimes I think He’s to blame for the bad things that happen in my life, simply to use my insignificant existence as an example… or maybe just for a laugh. I think of the many times I sincerely prayed, asking for any number of things: deliverance from the “thorn(s) in my side,” if not deliverance then somehow acceptance, understanding, increased faith… to be completely honest, I’ve come from this history feeling like there’s – personally – no power in prayer. Now, I know that we’re supposed to pray, and I know we can’t expect God to answer immediately and in the way we want – but why am I not attuned to His workings, if indeed He is working in my life? Sometimes I think I have no Spirit in me, and that’s scary.
Anyway… over dinner with my parents, we went in a circle – self, relationships, career, God – with this reasoning, pretty much all the same convoluted mindset at the helm. Recently, I’ve had the overwhelming sense, this suffocating urgency, to snap out of it. And I think to myself, But I wanted it before, prayed about it time after time, in tears, leaving it all in Your hands, and to no avail – I’m meant to stay this way. =sigh=
I have been doing a couple Bible studies – one that Philip is doing with me, targeting the self-esteem issue; the other is a Beth Moore study called The Patriarchs: Encountering the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob that I’m doing with my mom and a group of other women at Christ Church. I wasn’t too excited about the former, because it deals with an issue that is so engrained into every particle of my being and the whole process is frustrating and painful. I didn’t have high expectations for the latter, especially upon hearing the title – I thought it was supposed to be about and for women! Well, it has already exceeded my expectations, and is in many ways relevant to this point in my life.
Not only have honest family discussions and Bible studies spoken to me of the some of the things that need to change, but right alongside these issues we have the ever-present symptom of low self-esteem: I hate my appearance. Even being objective, I know there are things I need to change – things that will take a lot of effort on my part. I’m hoping to get serious once and for all and deal honestly with what bothers me. Some things I can change, some I can’t, but I want to know I gave it my all. This entails, in part, buckling down and confronting some of the underlying issues – my annorexic/bulimic mindset, relationship with food, willingness/determination to adhere to certain guidelines, etc. Just the thought of the thought is mentally exhausting!
I’m hoping that the initial resistance I feel, the intense emotional turmoil, is just the beginning of a major work God will do in me. The other night – the night we did the introduction to the self-esteem Bible study – I was so discouraged at the walls seeming to close in on me, I just broke down. I can’t handle this all on my own, it’s too much for me. Why all at once? I humbly ask you to pray for me – however you feel led. I learned today that not only does God want us to pray, he values our opinions. Imagine that!
I want to be able to smile even when life throws me a curveball. I want to be able to smile and mean it.