a blog post for my own sanity and a prayer for my weary soul; incoherent and scattered teedbits

[0] I must repeat constantly to myself: it is okay to not be happy. Nehemiah 8:10 | The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Not being happy doesn’t automatically equate to being sad or unhappy…it just means you’re not happy. But, you could be perfectly okay. Happy is a step above the norm. Not everyone has the luxury of being happy all the time (I just happened to luck out for so many seasons that it feels like the norm to me). God is good to me, even when I am not over the moon, bouncing off the walls, full of excitement and anticipation. God is good to me, even when I am lethargic and plain, mellow and slow. I don’t have to radiate waves of happiness to prove that. So, I am praying for a deeper understanding of where I put my contentment in. That it would not be in my changing, temporal moods that are governed by worldly circumstances, but that it would rest in the steadfast love of Christ.

[1] I must convince myself constantly: it is okay to be weak. 1 Corinthians 1:27 | God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

I despise being weak. I struggled with it constantly when I was working; I struggle with it now still as I try to get through my bootcamp. I look at the med students around me, studying 10+ hours a day and marvel. How they are able to accomplish such a feat has my head spinning. I remember studying for the CPA, setting aside 5-6 hours a day to pound through the material and being utterly spent at the end of each week. After I had taken my first exam, I slept for a week. Back aches, headaches, shoulder pains, chest pains, nausea, dizziness – all these physical symptoms assaulted me the entire nine months I studied for the exam. Not only is my physical body weak; my mental strength has almost no fortitude in the face of stress and anxiety. Nightmares would assault me. I would burst into tears at the strangest things. Clouds invaded my head and permeated throughout my thoughts; I couldn’t think clearly no matter how hard I tried. My anxiety turned into depression. That was the point – I remember it clearly: May 2015. That’s when the suicidal ideation started, carefully thinking through how I would do it, where, and how the aftermath would play out (who would find me, how could I make it the least gruesome, how would my friends and family react, etc). I didn’t have a date in mind. I don’t think I ever would have gone through with it but who knows? It was God’s grace that kept me from attempting anything.

I read over this paragraph and sigh. There were other factors that played into my depression besides the stress of the CPA exam but still…I can’t help but feel like I’m a wimp. Comparison is the devil. Names come to mind (“this person would never do that…she’s so strong willed.” “that person doesn’t blink an eye in the face of adversity…he’d just plow right on through.”) and I think about how I’m so incapable compared to the people around me. That sends me further down the rabbit hole. “Why can’t you get your act together? What’s wrong with you? Are you going to cry over a little bit of studying? Why are you such a drama queen? Why can’t you do anything right? You’re good for nothing if you can’t even do this.” Every day, I would beat myself down, utterly ashamed of myself for lacking strength.

It is this morning, when I wake in a foul mood, annoyed at myself for overestimating the strength of my body and setting my alarm an hour early, that these thoughts return. I’m so annoyed. I’m so damn annoyed that I’m this weak. A bootcamp is a bootcamp. It’s meant to be hard. It’s only temporary, it’s only 40 hours a week, it’s only like a full time job that regular people get through fine so why can’t I get through these three months without feeling like shit. I’m angry at God in this moment, that He has placed such a limitation on me. If only He made me stronger – then I would be able to get through this just fine.

[2] I must remind myself constantly: it is not about me. 2 Corinthians 4:7 | We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

It occurs to me randomly, when the Spirit chooses to work in my heart, that I was never meant to emerge victorious from my battles alone. The main character of all our stories is Jesus. He is the protagonist; He is the hero; He is the victor. We’re all supporting characters. It doesn’t make sense for us to take main stage, hogging all the attention when someone like Jesus exists. The story is not about me overcoming my struggle; it is about God rescuing me from my struggles. Therefore, I shouldn’t expect God in His authorship to write me as a valiant, strong, and capable warrior. It makes more sense to have me be the damsel in distress – as ridiculous, outdated, and cliche as it sounds. What do I have to complain about? Am I able to breathe life into dust as God is? Am I able to write the course of events for the rest of all time, as intricately and beautifully as God does? No. I’m only human. So, I can make my peace (occasionally, when the God chooses in His grace to grant me understanding) with being weak, frail, and inept. Like I said, I’m only human.

I am weak and that is perfectly okay. In the end, I’m not the one responsible for winning the battle. God is and He is perfectly able. Bootcamp is bootcamp. Whether I emerge victorious or not depends on God, not on my own ability, and I will be all the more at ease once I’ve made my peace with that. Instead of feeling ashamed of how weak I am or worrying about how I’ll make it out on the other side, I can think more about how I can glorify God through my weakness. In letting the cracks show (the cracks in my sanity; the cracks in my heart; the cracking of my bones as I stretch my 65 year old granny body) and revealing that behind all the good things that happen, all the things I am able to do, it is God who is the one at work.

[3] I am exhausted. I can’t think straight and feel like I’m running on fumes. I want to curl up into a ball and cry at random times throughout the day. I’m not unhappy but I’m not happy – it’s hard to be when I’m this stressed and tired. I still struggle with accepting my weakness and giving things up to God. My pride hurts, just as much as my head.

At the same time, there are a multitude of things that remind me that God is faithful and that He is working in delivering me from this place.

  • Poplar. Seeing their smiling faces. The girls taking turns to hug me goodbye when I leave early because I desperately need to sleep. Their constant encouragement. People willingly becoming my research subjects for my bootcamp.
  • Food. Starting to see it as a way to glorify God – carefully choosing what I eat because eating without discipline and self control affects my body which affects my ability to do work.
  • Sleep. Exhaustion helps me pass out. Even in my nightmares, God is present and I wake unafraid.
    • Lent. Giving up going to bed with my phone was a good decision. I used to get up constantly to type reminders into my phone, check emails, check social media, message someone I forgot to message earlier, etc. Now my brain turns off because I know I can’t do anything productive until the next morning unless I’m willing to leave the warmth of my bed to fetch my phone in the living room.
  • Judy. Ellen. Josh. They reprimand me about my caffeine intake, withhold excess sugar from me, and encourage me to keep at it.
  • ESL. My students and their laughter and the humble reminder that despite my lack of eloquence, social grace, and ability to entertain, God is beautifully at work.
  • Music. Who knows how I’d be able to function without blasting EDM to wake me up. That and it makes me want to dance so extra points for getting me moving.
  • Bootcamp. As much as it stresses me out, it also gives me life. UX Design is fascinating to me. Every day I marvel at the fact that I actually enjoy it and thinking about doing this as a career gives me all sorts of feels.
  • Many other things I don’t have the coherence to summon into my consciousness for now. But, there’s many. Thinking about these give me a quiet joy. I’m so lucky.

There’s many other things I haven’t parsed out in my half-delirious state but these are the things I wanted to say for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming of bootcamping – with a little bit of praising Jesus sprinkled into the mix. My prayer for the foreseeable future is as follows:

2 Corinthians 12:9 | But, he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.