Entitled, You Are Not

“I deserve…. I have a right….”

Have you ever had anyone demand that you tell them something personal or act a certain way?

You have a say in how much you share with another person. No one has a say in what you choose to share with them about your life and your story except for you. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

It is your choice to share with another or not. What you share may be a testament to your relationship, your closeness, how much you trust that person.

Whatever comes from this decision will happen, but let it be from your choice. Do not allow others to dictate that must you share things about yourself with them.

No one is entitled to you or your story. You can allow them past your walls to see who you are and to share your past, but they do not have the right to demand access. No one has that right.

Advertisements

When Revision Happens Before The First Draft Is Done

Last night was brilliant. Completely unexpected and frustrating beyond frustrating, but last night may have been the best thing to happen to my book since I started writing it.

I have been sending chapters as I write them to a friend of mine, and I finally was able to sit down and talk to her last night. She gave me excellent feedback, not pleasant to hear at times and not all that unexpected either, but it was very helpful. I had no idea who my main character was, and I had no idea what anyone’s motives were. And it was blatantly clear in my writing. All of that brought attention to the fact that the historical backdrop was full of holes, lacking essential tension to make the story I had mean anything. There was no reason for any of it to be happening! Like I said, it was frustrating.

After about an hour or so of agonizing, I pulled out the map I had drawn for her to take a look at. Slowly, we began to piece together a history for this world, one that would give motive and meaning to the story I wanted to tell. The ideas picked up speed, snowballing and gaining substance. I made the decision to cut out several minor characters to keep my already complex world from getting more complicated. Politics were added. The first four chapters were cut and replaced with a new storyline that would fit into the world we created.

I still didn’t know who my main character was. I had facts about her, knew her name and her story, but I didn’t know who she was. My friend hopped on her laptop, pulled up a personality test, and had me answer the questions for my main character. At the end of all of that, I finally knew who she was.

Now, I am faced with the dilemma of what to do with all of this new information. I have quite a bit of my book written, and I just had a few scenes here and there near the end to stitch it all together into the hodgepodge mess that I like to call “draft zero”. I can’t decide if I should write those scenes before beginning the next draft with all of this new information. I now have a different story from the one I started telling, and it is with a character that I know instead of one that I don’t know. The stories are similar, but they are not the same.

I don’t want to leave draft zero uncompleted before starting in on revisions. Well, I suppose I have my answer. I’ll stop stressing over the details and get those last few scenes onto paper, regardless of the quality. I can fix it later. The sooner I get those scenes written, the sooner I can start revising.

Stumbling Through Life

I don’t know what I’m doing next, and that scares me. For a long time, I had my life planned out. I knew what was going to happen and where I was going to be. Now, none of that applies. It’s scary. There are so many options. I don’t know what scares me more – the abundance of options or the complete and utter lack of control. 

If I’m being honest with myself, my biggest issue is with the absence of control. My perfectionism stems from a need to have control. But the reality is that I don’t know what is yet to come. I can’t tell you what will happen next or where I will be in five years. I can’t even tell you where I will be in the next five minutes. I can give you an idea or a well educated guess, but none of that is for certain. Nothing about the future is. 

I base my life off of the what ifs. Not only does that hinder what I do today, it keeps me from moving forward in the grand scheme of things. I am terrified of the future. I will admit that. My past informs and still affects my present. I am not proud of some of the things I have done, but I am learning to own them. When I worry, I always leave out the most important figure in my equations. God. God is the one who has control, not me. That thought is both comforting and terrifying. 

I do not know what I am doing. I have ideas, things I think I would like to do. And if you ask me, I will gladly tell you about them. But do I know what I am doing? Nope. Not even close. I’m just stumbling around, trying to figure things out.

Thoughts vs Reality

The world is a terrifying place. I figured my life would be cut and dry. I’d get married, have kids, and then stay at home and run the house. That was the plan, and there was nothing wrong with it. But that isn’t what happened. And if you look back farther, I had different ambitions. I was going to be a famous piano player and travel the world. That was my goal in life at the age of 5. That isn’t what happened either.

What actually happened was much different that what I dreamed up as a child and then teenager. I went through high school for four years then graduated. I went through college for four years and then graduated. In that time, I loved and lost, experienced a natural disaster, traveled all over the world, was manipulated and abused, made friends with amazing people, had the privilege to learn from great teachers and professors, saw and experienced God work miracles, and went through many therapists.

I never expected some of the things that happened in my life, but all of it has had a hand in who I am today, why I am. It doesn’t define me however. Rather, it informs me. Whether that is wrong or right, good or bad, that is how it is.

Actively Waiting While in Limbo

I have never been much of a patient person. I do not like to wait, which is probably why I am having such a hard time with being in a state of waiting, in limbo. I like to be active, doing things. I tend to forget that I can still be active while I wait. I don’t have to sit around for hours on end, stare off into space, and twiddle my thumbs while I wait for the next step.

I don’t have to have life planned out right now even though it feels like I have to. I can still get involved in the community even though I don’t have a set plan for the next few years. My life doesn’t have to be perfect. It can’t be perfect. There is no magic formula to create your future and the rest of your life. It doesn’t work that way, but sometimes it feels like it.

Although it feels like I’m not doing much, I am doing things. I am being active.

  • I am unwinding from the insanity that was all those years of public school and the intensity that was my four years at a private Christian university.
  • I am taking time to get to know myself and see how I function in the workplace.
  • I have a job.
  • I am involved in community theater.
  • I am writing a book.
  • I am slowly building new friendships.
  • I am seeing a therapist that I finally think I can stick with (She is number 9 or 10).
  • I am digging through the gunk and sludge, smoothing out the sharp rocks, and clearing out those places in my mind I locked away.

I may not be sure of what is going to happen next, but I am making progress. And that is a pretty good start.

NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again. Writers and aspiring writers all over the world are getting ready for the crazy insanity that is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). All of their planning, or lack thereof, is gearing towards this goal of writing 50,000 in the month of November.

Last year was my first attempt at this massive project. I didn’t get very far. Life was far to crazy with term papers, homework, choir, and everything else that was my senior year of college. A year later, I have graduated college, gotten myself a job, and spending my downtime with my family. I have made the decision to attempt NaNoWriMo yet again.

I am going to be working on the same story as last year, but I’m starting from the beginning. I’m scrapping all of my previous work. I’m not throwing any of it away, but I’m not going to be looking back on it while I start over. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally decided on the backstory and history of my story. I had been playing with several different ideas but nothing concrete, and my story suffered from it. Now, I have more of a clear idea of the world I’m writing about and where my story fits inside of it. I’m starting to get excited about writing it all down. We’ll see what happens next month.

I’m home

After the insanity of “living” on three different buses, hopping on and off airplanes, and riding in multiple vehicles this summer, I am finally home. I’m back from all of my travels, and life is finally starting to slow down. After moving so fast for so long, I finally feel like my life is moving at a somewhat regular pace.

Right now, I’m working for my dad on the ranch checking and fixing irrigation equipment. I’m looking for a job, which is difficult, especially in the area I live in. Hopefully something will turn up soon.

I found a yearlong ministry training program in Ireland that I am really interested in participating in. If I apply and I’m accepted, I’ll be leaving in August 2015. The cost of the program is a fair chunk of money, so I need to start saving for it now. It is through a mission’s organization, so most raise their money through support, but I’m tired of asking for money for trips and programs. If I can get a job, then I can work and save the money, hopefully, without having to ask anyone for anything.

I feel like I’m free falling. Anything can happen. Nothing is set in stone. It is scary but, also, exciting. We’ll see what God has planned.

I graduated! And I’m still running around like crazy

It’s been just a little over two weeks since I graduated from college. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It has been nice not having to worry about registering for classes and buying books, but part of my brain still hasn’t come to the realization that when school starts back up again in September, I will not be heading back down for another semester of classes. I’ve been told that’s when it hits you the most, when the academic school year starts back up and you aren’t participating in that cycle for the first time in 17 years.

Everything has been so busy this past month with preparing for graduation, finishing up projects, papers and other assignments, moving out of my on-campus apartment, and packing for choir tour. The School of Theology had an awards ceremony during the afternoon on the day before graduation in the afternoon, and there was a Baccalaureate/Alumni Initiation Ceremony for all the graduates and their families and friends in the evening. Graduation was a busy day with check out, getting last minute things for tour, and then the actual ceremony (which was looong…there were a lot of us). I had a nice dinner with some of my family and friends after the ceremony.

While I may be done with classes and graduated, I am by no means “done.” As I’ve been telling everyone, I’m done at the end of June.

The morning after graduation, I woke up bright and early to pack up on a bus for 2 weeks of choir tour. We had our final/homecoming concert last night. I’m home for a few days, which is really nice, before I head back down to Southern California. I leave for Poland with my choir for a music missions trip in less than a week, and we have a couple of days before we leave of cultural training and other preparation. We’ll be gone for about 10 days. I’ll be back in the States for a little over a week before heading back overseas to Ireland for a different missions trip that will be about a week and a half. After that, I’m sleeping for a month. I kid…mostly.

Questions on an application

Not too long ago, I was filling out an application for an internship that asked what my Christian faith looks like and how I live it out. It took me a while to come up with an answer. I wanted to present myself in a positive light, but at the same time wanted to be truthful about where I’ve been and where I am now. After several days of struggling to answer this question, a night of insomnia and prayer produced this.

I talk with God. My goal is to listen to Him and obey. I don’t always get it right, and sometimes I outright ignore what He is trying to tell me. I’m not perfect, but God is. I love God, and I aim to serve Him with all that I am.

I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. According to my mom, I accepted Christ at the age of two and a half. I grew up in the church as the daughter of two active members, my father being one of the elders of the church. It wasn’t until the age of seventeen that I developed a more personal relationship with Jesus when I attended TeenStreet, a Christian conference for teens in Germany put on by OM, also known as Operation Mobilization. It was there that I had a breakthrough in my faith, and, in many ways, it was a defining moment. I decided there that I wanted to give my life over to Christ to be a disciple. I wanted to do what God wanted me to do. It was there that the beginnings of my “listen and obey” foundation began.

During my four years of college, my faith has strengthened and grown. I developed strong friendships with other young adults who I have walked alongside for several years. We have encouraged each other, cried together, laughed together, prayed for one another, and studied the Bible together.

The all-women’s ministry choir I am a part of has been a large part of this growth. I have done life some of these women for three years, and others only a semester, but we have done our best to embody our sisterhood in Christ. We sing about God, His love, and work hard in order to perform our best so that God can use us as a tool of encouragement, love or hope for each other and our audiences.

My professors have questioned me, tested my faith, and pushed me to continue to grow in my faith. It is a common joke that Bible majors end up leaving with more questions than they came in with. If there is anything that I have learned from my classes, it is that Jesus is Lord and I don’t have the answers. It was a difficult lesson to learn, as I like to know the answers to things. However, after all of the theology, Bible and ministry classes, I have come to the conclusion that there are a handful of non-negotiable Truths and those are what I am going to hold onto. Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. He was born to the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. On the third day, He rose again. He died for my sins, and I am free because of it.

The campus pastors at my university have walked alongside me these past few years and have been extremely encouraging. When I had given up hope, the campus pastors held onto that hope for me until I was able to hope for myself again. They stood by me when my life was in flames, and they rejoiced with me when the Lord performed miracles. They remind me of the good things the Lord has done for me when I get discouraged.

I listen to God. I pray. I go through phases of just how much I read my Bible, but I do read it. I read other books, theology based books and devotionals. When I don’t have words to say, I find a worship song that fits the situation and I sing it. Other times, I draw, paint or dance. I journal as a way to communicate with God. I am by no means a perfect person; I make mistakes. I said that in the first paragraph. I go through different seasons. I am human and therefore am bound to err. Even in all that, I am a sinner saved by grace who loves God with all of her heart and wants to please Him in all that she does.

(UPDATE: I did get an interview, but both those in charge of the program and I decided that ultimately I was not the best fit for their internship.)

Survivor

How often does that label get tossed around? I sure don’t feel like a survivor. I’ve done a lot and gone through a lot, but I haven’t gone through many of the terrible things out there that I know others have. I feel like my experiences don’t even compare. And they don’t.

However, I shouldn’t get down on myself because my experiences were not “as bad” as another person’s trauma. It isn’t our place to belittle one person’s trauma while elevating someone else’s. Trauma is something that shouldn’t be compared.

Many people have told me that I’m strong. I have a hard time believing that one as well. I have deal with panic and anxiety on a daily basis. I have had flashbacks that render me frozen and shaking. Why would anyone call that strong? Their reasoning is usually related to the fact that I haven’t turned to drugs or drinking as a coping strategy. I still don’t see it.

The closest anyone has ever gotten me to agreeing with them on that was when they told me that my strength is big because my strength is as big as the God that is in me. Wow. My strength is as big as God’s because my strength comes from him. Cause for thought, huh?

I still don’t like to label myself as strong. I’ve been through a lot, and I have survived. I have God’s strength inside of me, and I have been gifted with resilience that enables me to bend without breaking in storms, much like bamboo. I still have a ways to go and a lot that needs to heal. But you know what? I’m going to be alright. It may not be in the way that some people would use to label as alright, but that’s ok because what matters is that I’m ok.