Resolution

So, I don’t normally start my New Year with a Resolution, but this year, I feel like I really need too.

It’s not going to be one of those regular resolutions where you vow to go to the gym 3 days a week, or lose 20 pounds! But, it is something I have struggled with for a really long time.

My resolution this year is to love myself. Or at least work on loving myself.

I have struggled with loving myself for YEARS. As long as I can remember I have hated myself.

There have always been things about my body, my mind, myself in general, that I dislike, hate is not too strong of a word.

So, this year, I am going to try my best to love myself. To see some positive things about myself. To work hard and appreciate what my body does and can do.

I didn’t want to make a resolution to go to the gym, because I have already been going to the gym (reasonably) consistently.

And I didn’t want to make a resolution that revolves around a number, because I have discovered (through past attempts) that that type of resolution doesn’t work. And when the number isn’t realized, it feels devastating and the cycle of self hate starts all over again. I don’t want to fall back into that pattern this year.

Do I have goals for this year that revolve around my weight and my appearance? Of course, but that’s all they are. Goals. Not requirements, not things that HAVE to be done. Just things to work towards, this year, and in the future.

Some of my goals include finding and fitting into the perfect wedding dress for my wedding later this year (That’s right! I got ENGAGED!), I also want to work on my money management.

Budgeting is not my favorite thing, I actually am really not very good at all when it comes to managing my money. So I would like to make it a goal to be better with money, especially with a wedding on the way.

Do I want to lose weight? Of course I do. I think everyone does. But I am going to focus on other things first instead of making that a priority.

Do I want to make more money? Of course. Everyone wants that too. But I am comfortable in my job. I make enough money to live very comfortably on, so now I need to just learn to budget it.

Most importantly, I want to learn to love myself. I NEED to learn that.

So, here’s to 2017.

 

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Reflecting on 2016

Looking back on 2016 I can’t help but be proud of myself. Which is a really weird feeling.

I can’t tell you the last time I was proud of myself. Maybe when I got my job? When I bought my car? My house?

I wish I could say, yes, I was SO proud of all of those things! But I can’t. Because I wasn’t. My sister had already done all of those things. She had a new car, not a used car, and a house in the city, not a rural area.. So I wasn’t proud of those things. Those weren’t accomplishments to me.

So why is this year different? I didn’t make any large purchases. No new house. No new car.

So what makes me proud of myself? I stuck with it.

I joined Weight Watchers last October/November.. I stuck with it.

Have I lost as much as I wanted? Not even close.

But I didn’t give up.

And looking back on what I have learned in Weight Watchers on this journey.. I am hunting for positives.

Positives that have come about..

I haven’t self harmed in years. Which to me is a major accomplishment. And sadly, I hadn’t thought about that or felt proud of it until now.

I may not have lost as much weight as I wanted, but I did lose some. So that’s a win for me too.

I have the love of my life beside me. Bobby has stood by me for several years now, and it looks like he’s in it for the long haul. Definitely a win.

There are so many good things. So many positives.

So why is it so hard to see these things?

And why am I focusing on them now?

Because I have decided 2017 is going to be the year I maintain a positive attitude.

This year I am going to be happy FOR me.

Proud OF me.

I want to see and remember all of the wonderful things that I am, that I can do, that I HAVE done.

2017 is going to be the best year yet.

Why?

Because I am going to make it the best year yet.

Best of luck to everyone else in 2017!

Fear

So, I have toyed with writing this post for awhile now. And I don’t know why today seems to be the day I want to do it. But it is.

This idea has been rolling around in my head for.. well, I guess a few months now. And I want to address it now that I can accurately put a name on what it is.

Fear.

Someone, I think my mother, asked me the other day, Sunday I think it was, if I was considering joining a new church.

Since my fall from grace at my last church I have been a little gun shy about opening up to people about my religion, especially when trying out new churches. I am so AFRAID of being judged by them as well.

Now, fast forward a few months. I have been trying out a new church that I really do love. The pastor is fantastic. The way he delivers his sermons is relatable. He is personable and open. And I really enjoy going to this church.

That being said, when my mom asked if I was planning to join, I answered “No.”. Quickly. Decisively. Instinctively.

Why do you ask? Since I am obviously enjoying this new place. This new pastor. This new chance to study the scripture from a perspective I enjoy listening too?

Fear.

Now, it just so happens, this new church is in the same town as my old church. I know quite a large number of the people that go there. Some of them even went to my old church before they were either asked to leave, or followed someone who was.

With all of that in mind, it’s been REALLY hard for me to open up to anyone in that church about what I have been struggling with, what’s bothering me, and why I don’t feel comfortable asking to be a part of their community.

I am so afraid that this church will find the overwhelming faults in my character too much to handle as well.

When I start to look at this attitude I have with church I have to ask myself, am I really afraid of God’s people? These people he has given a passion too? These people that work in his name?

And the answer to that is yes.

Now, when they brought up to me that my sinful nature (their words, not mine) was having a negative effect on the church, and making the church image look bad.. It really hurt.

It’s not like I was unaware of my lifestyle not being biblical. But at the same time, the way I live was not something that was broadcast in church. Did I have a boyfriend? Yes. Did we go on trips and travel together? Yes. Did we have animals that we took care of together? Yes. Well, how did that work? And this was the question that undid my position in that church. Because we live together.

Now, is my life biblical? No. But, I doubt very highly that every single one of the men in that church can say they’ve never sinned. In the Bible, all sins are equal. That’s why murderers can still get into Heaven. Jesus died for all of us to be saved and clean. I sin differently. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed at church, right? Apparently not.

I was part of the praise and worship team. I felt like they were my second family. I loved those people. They’re wonderful people. And they brought countless blessings into my life. So being told I could no longer associate with them in the same capacity and sing with them on Sundays or Wednesdays was also a really hard thing to handle.

I wish I could say that I don’t understand their reasoning. But I do. I was bad for the image.

Then I get down to it, and I have to wonder, why are they so obsessed with an image that doesn’t include love? Forgiveness? Acceptance? Aren’t those the things we are preached to let show? Aren’t those the things we want people to see?

Now, I know this has gone off on a weird tangent, but as you can see, I am STILL struggling with this. It STILL hurts me. I STILL wish I could feel like I was still loved and accepted by those people.

But I don’t.

All I can think now when I go to visit (I renounced my membership with the church, at their request), is that people are judging me. Like they all know why I was asked to leave. Like now the sermon on non-biblical lifestyles makes sense.. I was made into an example. But I can’t help feeling like it wasn’t an example that should have been put out into the world. Especially not by believers.

So, in a REALLY roundabout way, (sorry about the rabbit trail) I am scarred from this encounter. I have been left in absolute fear of even thinking about joining or committing to another church.

I am scared to be found lacking.

Scared to be found wanting.

Scared to be found in the image that God has molded me into. A sinner who knows she needs God to guide her.

I am scared to be a believer..

And the worst part is, I am not scared to love God in public. I am not scared to love God at home. I am scared of the one place you’re supposed to be able to go to FEEL God in the people around you. The place you can find a family of like minded believers. A place where you can BE a sinner and the people are supposed to love you anyways.

My heart hurts..

I don’t want to be afraid anymore.

I don’t want to be so scared of anyone at church asking about my life that I just don’t speak to anyone.. These are people I have known for years. People that have loved me for years.

I am still scared of handling the shame I know my parents must be feeling.. I hate to know that when they go to church (the old church..) they must have to answer questions.. Or try to make excuses, “oh she’s just busy”, or “she is trying out a new church”..

Fear.

It’s slowly consuming me.

I have been so stressed and upset by this entire situation that I can’t even muster up the excitement I had for my upcoming vacation because I don’t want my parents to have to explain we went, just the two of us, and it involved many overnight stays.. (Yes, that was a question they asked MY FATHER about how “problematic” our relationship was..)

I’ve gained 7 pounds since this. Even though I go to the gym, I have stopped caring about my diet. I am back to eating to feel good. And it’s making things worse.

Now, I don’t have anyone to blame but myself for all this. And I know that. I made the choice to buy a home with him, to build a life with him, all before we formally committed under the word marriage. I wear a ring. We’re planning a wedding. But it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough.

I am afraid of never being good enough for God.

Afraid that if I get to Heaven he will shake his head with disappointment as he looks at me, and think to himself that I am one human Jesus shouldn’t have saved..

Because that’s how I feel right now. So incredibly unworthy of his love, and grace, and forgiveness. So unworthy of the sacrifice his son Jesus made for me.

And that is a fear I don’t know how to combat..

I can say it’s a fear of commitment to a new church, with new people.

I can say it’s a fear of being judged again by people who are supposed to practice forgiveness, love and acceptance.

I can say it’s a fear of being (essentially) thrown out of the house of God again.

But I know, deep down, after writing it, reading it, looking at it, thinking about it, and KNOWING the truth..

I am afraid of never being good enough for God.

Afraid of being a disappointment to God.

Afraid of being a failure in God’s eyes.

Fear.

Browsing History

If you looked at my computer’s browsing history right now, you would see a myriad of things. From destinations for the perfect get-away wedding, to bridal sets and dresses, to thanksgiving food recipes, to miscarriages.

That’s right, even with all of the wonderful things I am planning (like the food) and hoping to plan (the wedding), there is something not so wonderful but just as common in my search history. Miscarriage.

Now, I know I shouldn’t be searching for anything related to children and pregnancy since the wedding hasn’t happened yet, but life is funny that way because it doesn’t care.

Now, let me clarify a few things about why I was searching for information relating to miscarriages..

See, I am on a birth control pill. I am not supposed to be getting pregnant, mainly because I am not ready for children yet and I am not married. So why was I searching for information about miscarriages? Because despite being on an oral contraceptive, and taking precautions with my sex life. I had a miscarriage. At least, according to my doctor I did. Now, did I feel pregnant? Nope. In fact I had just had a period a week or so before. The doctor said it looked like I had had a light period, or some spotting, that was actually a result of implantation taking place. In other words, it wasn’t an actual period, but was the fertilized egg trying to make a home in my uterine wall. But either that failed, or my birth control kicked in and I lost the egg along with my uterine lining in a VERY heavy, week or so late period.

Talk about scary. Even taking excess precautions and an oral contraceptive, I still had a VERY real possibility of a child in my immediate future.

Now, this information was upsetting to me for a variety of reasons.

Number one being that I DO NOT want children right now. I am, in fact, taking every step necessary to prevent a child from being born right now.

Number two being.. My sister, who suffers from PCOS, has been trying to conceive for years now. She’s married and all they want is to start a family. They’re being intentional about things and she can’t keep a baby. She has had multiple miscarriages and with every one she gets closer and closer to a hysterectomy or just losing all basic hope of having a child naturally. For me to ACCIDENTALLY get pregnant before her feels like a betrayal. And that is definitely NOT on my to-do list.

I bet you’re probably reading this and thinking, goodness gracious, she has really lost her mind. Airing all of her personal business on this blog. I’ve talked about sexual assault, mental health, my family, all our business, now this which is EXTREMELY personal. But you know what? I feel better talking about things like this. I am trying to avoid going back to a therapist by essentially airing my feelings and thoughts on here instead. So, thank you all for reading. Even if you do think I am crazy.

I know this probably seems like I am over sharing, but I just want to bring a little bit of attention to the fact that, even though on the outside, where I am happily showing off dresses and bouncing ideas off of my family about whether or not a destination wedding would be fun, inside, there is some severe turmoil. And I know I am not the only one who has felt like this. Like they’re hiding behind the fact that no one knows what’s REALLY going on.

Now, I don’t plan to discuss my miscarriage with Bobby, I think it would upset him, and I don’t plan to discuss my miscarriage with my family. But I do want to put it out there so someone knows. Someone other than my computer.

I want to prove to myself that I am not ashamed of my internal struggles. It’s okay to share the things that are difficult to talk or think about. It’s okay to not have all the right words and to want to wait until you find them before you open up about things that hurt you. Or scare you. Or just make you or the people around you uncomfortable.

I don’t want to hide anymore behind my browsing history. I don’t want to be the only one who knows I am struggling.

So, my final thoughts regarding this particular subject would be, to just find a way to open up. In your own time, in your own way, in your own words. But don’t be ashamed. You may not want to shout it from the rooftops but I know from personal experience that just trying to bottle it all up is harmful.

And with that, I am going to end this post.

Thanks for reading guys.

Bring it up or Bury it?

So, I kind of wanted to go a little different direction with this post.

Let me start off with some background on my mom.

My mother and her family (4 kids) grew up DIRT FLOOR POOR. We’re talking about maybe getting cold beans and a hot dog all day for food. Her mother was never married and only one of her children knows who their dad is (not my mom).

My granny, I loved her, more than life, but she liked older men. Not that that’s a bad thing, but the older man she was involved with for all of my mother’s childhood and adulthood until he died was abusive.

She has never gone into all of the details and I wouldn’t dream of asking because I can see it upsets her and she would rather forget it all. She has hinted at sexual abuse and I KNOW there was physical abuse. She has told me stories about when she would try to sneak extra food at night, or if she got home late from school (she walked most of the time and it was several miles), or sometimes if she told them she was going to the library and didn’t get back when they thought she should have been.. he would beat her. Hands, fists, extension cords, sticks..

Now my mother is a STRONG woman. But that has definitely affected her. It hurt her then and it hurts her now.

So, I want to get into the deeper things now. My mom suffered with depression before she ever left that place. She married my dad at the age of 18 and never looked back. Before that comes across wrong, she didn’t abandon her family or her mother. In fact, she was the only one who was there when my grandmother died after being eaten alive by cancer. She was there for the heart attack, the triple bypass, the stroke, the diabetes and the dementia.

None of those things made depression any easier for my mom to deal with. She suffered from postpartum after each of her children were born, me and my sister, my younger sister, and my younger brother. My dad is also.. difficult.

I love my dad, but he isn’t and has probably never been nurturing. They had a few rough years of marriage at the beginning, and even now they have patches where I worry they won’t make it.

Throughout all of this, she has fought depression. And had to deal with my dad’s attitudes and moods. Which as someone who has suffered from depression, is not easy to do. You can barely handle your own emotions and moods, let alone try to navigate and be responsible for someone else’s.

You’re probably wondering why I am bringing this up. Why I am airing out my mom’s struggles like this. I promise I have a point.

My mom never mentioned any of that until I was struck with my own severe bout of depression at the age of 16/17.

I was sent to see a therapist in high school when my teachers found out I was self harming and had been extremely confrontational all year.

I can’t tell you what triggered my depression. I don’t have an answer. I do know at that same time I was diagnosed with Panic Anxiety Disorder as well. I get overwhelmed and I panic. That panic then leads to a complete shut down where I essentially cease to function.

So, at the tender age of 17 (I am pretty sure it was during my senior year when mom disclosed everything to me after she cried and asked what she had done wrong as a parent..) I learned that depression, mental illness, runs in my family.

My mom had watched me get worse and worse. She said she didn’t recognize that I was spiraling downwards, and looking back now, I believe her. But at the time, I felt like I was begging for attention. I was having panic attacks a lot, I was angry. So angry. At everyone and everything. But mostly at myself. Then at her.

I felt like she should have noticed I was sick. That she had been there and should have realized I was hurting like she had for so many years. Then I realized, she had hidden that she was sick herself for SO long.. Why would she even think that it was happening to me when she was denying it had happened to her?

She wanted all of us to be normal. To be healthy. To be strong. But each of us have our own unique struggles. They change and evolve with us. My twin, Brittany, she struggled in high school with an eating disorder. She just.. didn’t eat. She was a killer 120 pounds and she always looked so much better than I did. Just ask all the boys. But she maybe ate 500 calories a day and was struggling to maintain her health.

Why? Because she was convinced she had to be thin to be successful. Now, my sister is BRILLIANT. She excels at absolutely everything she does in academics. But she didn’t care about her mind, a point she made clear as her mental health took a turn for the worst with her eating disorder.

She was better for a long time, then she got married and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). She gained A LOT of weight and isn’t sure she’ll ever be able to have children even though she literally aches for it. She has also been diagnosed with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She feels the need to be loved and adored by everyone and when someone is on the fence or just doesn’t like her personality, it cuts to her core and she spirals out of control. But she’s working on it with a therapist. Progress. Mental health and mental illness.

Now, when I was forced into therapy, it was the first time anyone in my family had outwardly struggled. My dad is a firefighter so he was gone so much he had never seen my mother struggle and she had been on antidepressants after she gave birth so it wasn’t noticeable. She needed to be able to function for her new children. Therefore, I was made out to be the trouble child.

I was the weak one.

The one that had problems.

The one struggling.

I felt like an outcast. Like an embarrassment. My family was ashamed of me. And let me just tell you right now, that did not help me feel any better. My self harm got worse. My mental health got worse. And that made me feel even worse.

So why am I going through all of this?

Why am I bothering to open all of this up?

Because mental health and mental illness and mental struggles shouldn’t be hidden. My mom tried to bury her mental health problems and they almost killed me (literally, I attempted suicide during my senior year in high school due to my shame and conflicting thoughts).

So my title is Bring it up or Bury it?

My vote, as someone who was blindsided by mental illness, BRING IT UP.

Make it less stigmatized. Your brain is a muscle. All muscles get tired sometimes. All muscles need to see a doctor sometimes. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you, and if there is, that it can’t be fixed. The hate, both from society and internally, needs to stop. It’s debilitating enough to struggle without the world telling you that it needs to be hidden.

And with that.. I am going to be done.

New Beginnings?

So, I have posted recently about my struggles with my (former?) church.

Short recap, I was told I could no longer hold a position on the worship team because I was living a secular lifestyle. I do understand their reasoning. I live with my boyfriend. We are not married. It makes the church “look bad” to have someone who is obviously sinning in a leadership position.

Recently I tried a new church. It’s a HUGE church. Especially compared to my other church where there is maybe 100 consistent members. This new church has at least several hundred people if not a thousand.. I didn’t feel like I fit in. Mostly because I wasn’t acknowledged in any way shape or form.

Now, at first I thought I wanted to be ignored. To just go to a church where no one knew me and no one was judging my lifestyle or my living arrangements.

But after going, I realized I was lonely. I miss feeling connected. I miss the people I went to church with. Even though I feel absolutely beyond embarrassed that my living arrangements were discussed at length by all of the elders and deacons in the church…

Yesterday I got a message from one of the ladies from my old church. She was telling me how much she missed me and I broke down and cried.. Because I miss her too. I miss the people, even if I don’t think the place was the right one for me.

So, today I am struggling. I am struggling with the idea that I need a new church. I am struggling with the embarrassment I feel regarding my old church. I am ashamed of what has happened with all of this.. My grandparents quit that church, my siblings all quit that church.. Now the only people left from my family that are there are my parents. And I hate that they have to handle all of this for me. I’ve only been back one time on a Wednesday and it took me several weeks before I was willing to do that.

Has anyone ever had to handle something like this before? What do I do?

I don’t feel like my old church is the right environment for me. I am scared to go back. I am nervous. I don’t feel like I broadcast my lifestyle. I wasn’t trying to make it seem like that was a good option, it was just the option Bobby and I could afford. I always thought that I could do more good for the church than my lifestyle choice would bring bad.. I tried to organize events. I tried to get the church out there and make it a better place. I tried my best to live my life right with God. And in my heart I know he is disappointed with my choices as well, but he doesn’t love me any less because of them.

I feel like my relationship with God has been called into question and found wanting. I was scared to go to a new church. I don’t think that anyone should be afraid to go to church. But I was. I still am. I am scared to go back to my old church due to judgment and scared to go to a new church in case someone finds out and they decide they don’t want me there either.

So, where do I go from here? Back to what’s familiar? Even though it’s embarrassing and upsetting to even think about? Do I go somewhere new? Even though I am afraid to make friends or risk judgment there as well?

I don’t want to just.. NOT go anywhere.. But this is slowly killing me inside. Especially when I get messages from the people I miss so much telling me they miss me too. I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know if this is a false ending. Or a new beginning.

I don’t know which one I want it to be.

I don’t know..

Hello October

Hello October.

Hello Fall.

Hello cooler weather, sweaters, bonfires and hot chocolate.

Hello beautiful scenery.

Hello cuddle weather.

Hello football season.

What is there to not like about October? What is there to not like about fall? Crisp weather, changing leaves, weather that makes it completely acceptable to cuddle all day, every day.

Fall is a beautiful time of year. Old things fall away and it leaves room for new things to take their place.

Fall is where I always take some time to reflect on who I am. Where I am in my life. Where I want to be. I feel like fall is where I get to really grow as a person.

This fall has been a little bit different.

I have been reflecting on myself, where I am, where I want to go, but this year, I am not happy.

I have been facing some internal questions that are causing me confusion, and disappointment. This isn’t quite where I thought I would be.

And that makes me sad. I have so many wonderful things happening and in my life right now, but I am disappointed with where I am.

I think a lot of this stems from the recent conversations I have had with my former pastor. I am no longer completely satisfied with my “secular” life. I know how Bobby feels about me. I know how much he loves me. I just.. I want more than what we have. I want to be married.

Which is silly. It’s not something that’s ever been a “must-have” for me. Not many people know this about me, but after my first serious boyfriend abused me and left me as a shell of my former self, I told myself that by the time I was 27 if I didn’t have a serious boyfriend, or any remote possibilities of becoming engaged or married or entering into a committed relationship, I was going to undertake the task of becoming a mother on my own.

Now, if any of you have read even some of the things I have posted you know that (now) I am completely terrified of having children in general. But at that point in my life, I was planning on doing it all myself since he mentally berated me to the point I thought I was worthless and no one would want me in the first place.

Now that I have a serious relationship, now that we have all of these “married” things together, like a house, cars, animals.. I have discovered I want it all.. I want to actually be married. I don’t want to do everything alone anymore.

I will be 27 in just a couple of years. I haven’t even reached my personal deadline yet and already I feel like I have fallen behind.

I stay in contact with most of my high school class via social media. The last one of the women I graduated with is now engaged to be married. The rest are all married and most have children.

This weekend I am actually going to a wedding. For one of my younger sister’s friends. She is 20.

There has been so much happening lately. Pregnancy announcements, engagements, wedding anniversaries.. It just makes me wonder where mine is.

I don’t mean to be impatient. I don’t want to rush God’s timing. I trust that he has thought all of this out and brought me to this place in life for a reason. Like I said, I have literally everything I have ever prayed for right now. Marriage wasn’t even on the radar until recently.

However, even my intentions of not being impatient can’t make it easier for me to wait.

I am trying to trust in God. I am trying to trust in his timing. I am trying to see the plan here. I know there must be a reason to make me wait. Whether it’s to prepare me for what marriage will bring, or to prepare me for another challenge that will come instead, I am trying to remain objective. But I want it. And I think wanting it this much is making things worse. Wanting it this much makes patience almost nonexistent.

I wonder sometimes if maybe God isn’t just preparing me. But also preparing him. Bobby is the man I want to spend forever with. But I will be the first to admit, we don’t always see eye-to-eye. We have different personalities. Different wants and needs. It’s taken a lot of time to realize that, for both of us.

One thing he has had to compromise with me on is my need to feel included. He comes from a large family where his parents divorced and remarried and new families emerged with that. Up until just  year or so ago, I had only met his mother and step-father. So he has had to go a little outside his comfort zone and socialize with the rest of his family, like his father and step-mother so that I feel comfortable being around them all. It’s hard to be comfortable around someone you have only ever met once…

One thing I have had to compromise on is his need to stay home sometimes. I am a social butterfly. I love to be busy. I love to travel. I love to visit family. His, mine, extended and immediate. He is a homebody. He enjoys being home with just me and the animals. So I have had to work on not making plans when he will be home and letting him manage how he spends his time at home.

We have also had to work together to compromise on who makes plans. I have always been incredibly independent. I make plans, I pay for my own things. I don’t ask for anything if I think I can do it myself. He likes to be involved in plans. He likes to spontaneously take me out, which can’t happen when I have already booked up our time. He enjoys paying for me (he’s very traditional) and when things are expensive that makes me uncomfortable sometimes.

We have both had to learn things. And I know we will probably spend years learning things about the other that we didn’t know going into things despite living together for a year or more now.

So, maybe it’s not just me that needs to get ready. Maybe God is preparing him too.

Hello October.

Hello personal reflection.

Hello to being found lacking this year.

Hello to new chances to be and do better this next year.

Hello to hope.

Hello to patience.

Hello God.

Hello October.

Losing My Place

So, I don’t know if anyone has read my post about discrimination, but let me offer a short recap: I was asked to no longer take communion or be a part of the worship team due to my secular living arrangements.

At first I was really upset and angry about this. We had a meeting, the Pastor, the Praise leader and myself. And they told me how my secular lifestyle is not good for the church. How people like me are undermining the true biblical principles.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my feelings are hurt. I don’t like being at the center of this sort of discussion. Especially when I can’t even dispute the claims.

Because they’re right. I do have a secular lifestyle. I live with Bobby. We have a house together, cars together, a cat and now a puppy together.

We are together.

I, personally, don’t feel like I am undermining God or his principles. I know that in the Bible he says you shouldn’t have a physical relationship without the benefit of marriage but, we can’t afford to get married right this moment.

We know we will eventually but, I was informed unless we get married immediately, don’t live together, or sign a written contract stating we will cease having any sort of physical relationship, I can no longer maintain my position on the praise team or take communion in the church.

They essentially questioned my commitment to God. They asked me to define how I knew I had been saved because my sin nature should have been hindered if I was REALLY saved.

Now.. I don’t mean to sound hateful but, aren’t Christians supposed to leave the judgment to God?

I don’t condone my lifestyle or choices, but the key word in that is MY lifestyle, MY choices.

I don’t promote the way I live to anyone in the church. I don’t step up and yell at the top of my lungs that I am living with a man!

I don’t hide it either though. I am not above posting things we do together or places we go on Facebook or Instagram. We have taken vacations together, and we’re going to take more. That’s part of a relationship.

I know I live a secular lifestyle. But I don’t feel like I have wronged God. God and I have talked. We’re on the same page.

Is he happy with all of my choices? No. But neither are my parents. It doesn’t mean they don’t love me.

It doesn’t mean anyone has the right to tell me I am not right with God. Or that I am not allowed to sing to God or praise him for all of the wonderful things he has done for me and continues to do for me on a daily basis.

I feel like I am truly blessed by God. Despite my current lifestyle. I’ve had terrible life experiences, in the distant and recent past. I am even struggling currently. But I don’t feel like it’s a result of my life choices or lifestyle. Sometimes bad things just happen to bring you closer to God.

I am choosing to learn and grow from ALL of my experiences, both good and bad.

I don’t know why I felt the need to drag all of this out. I just feel like I have lost my place.

There is nothing I like more than singing to God. I can feel the spirit move through me when I sing. On my own. In church. I hate that that was taken away from me in church, but I am so blessed to still have all of those songs in my head, in my heart for when I need them.

Which is daily.

I will not stop singing. I will not stop praising. Even though I now feel like I can only sing and praise at home on my own.

I have been invited to church here in my hometown through a series of circumstances. I am still trying to get the courage to go.

I am scared.

Scared of going to church.

Scared of being judged for going to church.

Scared of being judged for my lifestyle at church. New or old.

I don’t feel like anyone should be afraid of church. No one should feel like they can’t go to church. Because the isolation I feel right now is devastating.

I just want to go back to church, I just want to feel like I belong. Like I can be comforted by a family that’s bigger than just my immediate family. I just want to feel like I can be there and have my prayers heard and not be judged by the people there.

I just want to feel included. Maybe they’re right and I am not right with God. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel so isolated or alone right now.

With Bobby gone though, those people were my friends. My family. I felt good praising God in like company. Now.. I don’t know how many of those people were actually my friends. I don’t know how many of them actually believe in me as a person. I feel like the subject of gossip.. I thought that all ended in high school. Apparently I was wrong.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Because right now I just feel lost.

 

So Much Stress..

In case the title wasn’t a big enough clue… My life is complete stress right now.

Bobby has gone back to work and so I’m on my own again for a little while.

Before he left, on Monday, he rescued one of the stray dogs in our neighborhood. She had been hit by a car. She was left to die in the middle of the road. She couldn’t move her legs but she managed to crawl/roll into the ditch by the time he went back for her.

He loaded her up and took her to the emergency vet clinic here in town.

She lost a litter of puppies.

She has a broken back.

She still can’t move her back legs..

But she’s fighting. So I am fighting for her. With her.

Bobby and I have talked about it. We’ve resigned ourselves to the possibility that we’ll have to put this poor dog down if she can’t pull through. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that regardless of how this plays out and whether or not she pulls through we are going to have a potentially debt inducing veterinary bill. We’ve resigned ourselves with the fact that we may end up with a handicapped dog for the rest of her life.

My parents aren’t thrilled about this situation. They are worried about how much this veterinary bill is going to be. We’re just getting established. We’ve been trying to save for a wedding. For vacation.

And I’ll be honest. I have never loved Bobby more than I do right now. For rescuing a dog who legitimately has no one else.

He and I visited the vet’s office together twice on Monday, and yesterday before he left for work. I went back again yesterday night and today.

She’s made some progress but it’s still a day-by-day situation.

Now, to add in some more stress. We just adopted another rescue. A barely 8 week old puppy. He’s happy and healthy. But he wakes up a lot. Especially in the middle of the night. When Bobby was home, we had a system where he would wear the puppy out during the day so he slept more during the night. But he’s gone now and let’s just say, last night wasn’t a night where the puppy slept all night.

I’ve been trying to balance vet visits, vet bills for the puppy, grocery shopping, working out, and actually making it to work on time (not a strong spot for me on a normal week).

I just feel so overwhelmed. Adding in the tensions from my recent church experiences I just feel pressure to even survive on a daily basis.

I have suffered from some anxiety disorders but I thought I was doing better. I thought I was coping.

Last night I discovered, I am not.

I couldn’t get the puppy to go back to sleep. It was 3:14 in the morning. I had already been up with him twice. So, I took him outside to go potty, and then when I brought him back in, I am ashamed to admit, I yelled at him..

I was so tired. So just.. worn out from all of the things going on in my life.

After I yelled and scared him, I felt terrible. So I sat in the bathroom (where he is staying until he gets potty trained) with him and just cried until he fell back asleep. I played with him and his toys until he got worn out. The last time I looked at my phone before it was time to wake up it was after 4:00 in the morning.

I have intense anxiety about being a parent in the future to a small human. And this entire puppy situation has just reinforced the fact that I don’t think I am going to be a good mom..

I tried to tell Bobby that and he just said he thinks it’ll be easier when he has a job where he stays home all the time. I think that will help but.. again, he won’t be the mother.

As I said. So much stress in my life right now.

So. Much. Stress.

It’s like my anxiety has just come full circle.

I think part of this is due to recently getting off of antibiotics I was on for a severe kidney and bladder infection, which made my hormone birth control less effective. I suffer from PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). The hormonal birth control helps to suppress that. So when it was being counteracted by the antibiotics, I think it set my system out of whack.

And now looking back at that.. I realize I am just making excuses.. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know why I crack under pressure.

But I do.

So. Much. Stress.

 

Discrimination is Real.

So, for those of you who may or may not read my posts. Let me clarify a few things before I get into this topic. I am a Native American. I am heterosexual. I have a good job and have never been arrested or in any sort of legal trouble.

All of that being said… I have faced what I view as discrimination.

So, how did this all come about? Well, I wasn’t at the grocery store being told I couldn’t wear a hijab, or in the streets being told by police that I needed to go home because I was black and therefore unsafe to be out and about after dark. I wasn’t in any sort of altercation with the law, or really with anyone around me.

I do my best to just be the best person I can be and move on with my life altercation free.

So, where did this happen? What in the world went wrong that I was discriminated against?

Well.. be ready for a shock, because it sure shocked the hell out of me.. I was at church. My church discriminated against me and told me not to return.

I was KICKED. OUT. OF. CHURCH.

I was told I could no longer sing on our praise and worship team, and I could no longer take communion with the church.

Now, before I get too involved with my story, I can respect the church’s reasoning behind asking me to step down from the praise team.

They stated that due to my secular lifestyle, I live with my boyfriend, and no, not as roommates, I was not maintaining the lifestyle necessary for being a role model in the church. I can respect that.

However, how they chose to inform me of their decision, is ridiculous.

First off, the pastor, elders and deacons reached out to MY PARENTS, not me, and not the worship leader at church. They told my DAD that due to my lifestyle choices HE needed to tell me I wasn’t allowed back.

They did not tell the church worship leader. They left that to me. I had to tell the worship leader who had already sent me my set list for Sunday that I had been asked to step down from singing. I wasn’t welcome on Wednesday night’s either.

Talk about an awkward conversation.

Now, as much as I can understand their decision, I can’t respect the way they went about things. Nor can I ignore the fact that I feel so unwelcome at that church now.

All of this came about from a discussion about initiating another elder to the church. A question was asked about how he felt about secular lifestyles, people who live them, and whether those people should be in a position of authority within the church. He replied no.

Now, I only find that ironic because the question posed to him right before that was, we have an aging congregation and no new influx of young people, how can we fix that?

Well, my answer to that particular question is, by being so strict and judgmental towards the younger generation.

Now, I don’t want to make excuses. I know my lifestyle is not biblical, but I don’t broadcast that to the people I go to church with, well.. DID go to church with, as I have decided not to return.

I have volunteered with this church for at least the last ten years. I ran the youth program for awhile until the Pastor’s wife and I got into a disagreement about a VERY racially charged and ignorant statement she made during a lesson/discussion. I have organized volunteer activities for the younger age groups as well as the older age groups. I have volunteered time and money and energy and effort.. And I am just really disappointed that things have come to this.

I enjoyed singing. I loved it. I felt like it was a calling. And now I am scared to even sing in the car anymore for fear of bringing something bad down upon myself.

I have felt bad about life choices before, but I can’t bring myself to regret or feel bad about this one. Bobby is God’s gift to me. He loves me. Cherishes me. And we talk and pray together daily. We discuss God and God’s plan for us. Just because we haven’t gotten married YET doesn’t mean that it isn’t in our future. It’s a daily discussion. Financially we just aren’t ready for it.

I can’t help but feel incredibly judged. Ridiculed. I am upset. I am hurt.. I thought that church was a place for sinners. I feel right with God. He knows my life. He knows my heart.

I just can’t believe how.. unwelcome they made church. I am now nervous and scared to go to ANY church. And a break from God isn’t going to make it better, but I think what I am craving is.. a break from the PEOPLE who think they can enforce God’s will and rule. His judgment.

Church shouldn’t make you want to remove yourself from the company of other “godly” people.

But it did. It does.

I don’t know when or if I will be going back.. but I will keep you updated.