A Thankful Heart

Thanksgiving and the days following were difficult. Allow me to start from the beginning. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It’s time to be with family, eat until it’s difficult to move and not feel guilty about it, and it’s like the kick off to the Christmas season, which, may I add, is my favorite holiday. And of course, it’s the one time of year that everyone actually acknowledges what they are thankful for.

For me, personally, I praise and give thanks all year, but it seems like those who are a bit shy to publicly praise have no fear on that day. I probably sound silly saying that right now but just scroll through your social media feed and people you rarely hear a thankful word from are posting it all out.

My new job, well, not actually new as I’ve been here two months already, has kept me busy but thankfully, for the first time in almost four years, I had my first full Thanksgiving off. Such a blessing. I woke up that morning feeling excited to see my family but something felt “off”. It didn’t feel right. I checked my messages as I do every morning and my cousin had posted asking for prayer. I immediately messaged asking what was going on. Dad nor I had heard anything and I was worried.

She told me that her dad had stopped breathing early that morning and was being rushed to the hospital. Not even five minutes later, she messaged me to tell me he passed away. And Thanksgiving immediately turned upside down.

To be honest, I hadn’t seen my cousin’s parents in a long time. She has lived with her grandma, my aunt, for years, and her parents weren’t much for big gatherings. But that doesn’t change the fact they are loving people and we love them. So, when we all got the news, we were shocked. My other cousin and I knew we had to rush to be by our cousin’s side.

She was numb. You could tell it hadn’t fully sank in yet. But she broke down and cried when we hugged her and told her we loved her and were always there for her. And that’s when it clicked for me. There are some families out there who are not like that. They don’t get along or they don’t put forth the time to show each other love and support.

My family has never been that way. And I have a large family on my mom and dad’s side. I’ve never been made to feel alone by anyone. And for that, I’m thankful. I’m blessed to be able to say that my family never fails to be there when I need them. I have always had their support 100%.

Of course, at times a couple of us have difference in opinions, but it never creates a rift. We never go more than a week without speaking and those quiet weeks are always with reason. The kids were sick. Working overtime at work. Lots of school activities. Appointments. Interviews. Promotions.

The more I think back on this past Thanksgiving, I realize how the sadness brought us closer together. It’s sad that something like that can cause something positive, if you think about it, but I feel like it made my cousin realize that she has people there for her. No matter what.

Panic Attacks and Bible Studies

As I’ve stated before, despite being tired and stressed, I love my job. That being said, I have never had an anxiety attack or panic attack at work. To clarify, they aren’t the same thing. An anxiety attack is usually triggered by some sort of stimuli. An aggressive person or something going on in your life that makes you feel uncertain. A panic attack on the other hand, often comes out of nowhere and with no explanation. And that is exactly what I had this morning.

I wasn’t feeling bad when I came into work. I was sitting doing some online shopping to pass the time, watching cars drive by, when BOOM, I couldn’t breathe and my chest felt achy and like it was on fire. I couldn’t focus my thoughts and I couldn’t catch my breath, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t convince myself that I wasn’t having a heart attack. Now, for those who have never experienced such a thing, I know it sounds extreme, but for those who have experienced it, you know how terrifying it can be. It can last a few seconds, all that way to an hour or so.

I contacted one of my best friends to try to calm down, but it didn’t work. I knew my mom was relaxing and didn’t want to bother her, but after reaching out to her, she finally got me calmed down enough to where my breathing regulated and I could focus enough to open my Bible. I keep a travel Bible with me so I can do reading and Bible study at work. It helps pass the time and it’s just great for making me feel better on stressful days. The mix of my mom and God’s word took me from spiraling into panic and tears and calmed me within minutes. And it works every time.

David said in Psalm 4:1,

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Have mercy on me, and hear my prayer.

David called upon the Lord a multitude of times, be it in praise or distress, and the Lord heard him. There were multiple times documented in Psalms when David was afraid, panicked, anxious, about what his enemies may do to him, yet he never failed to put his trust in God to deliver and save him.

I know I’m not the only one who sometimes slips and forgets that no matter what I’m facing, God will NEVER let go of me. Whether its a stressful situation at work or something going on in my personal life, God is the one keeping me safe. There is no one I can put my trust in besides him who can do what he does. No one can deliver me from trials and tribulations. No one can calm my soul in times of turmoil like he does.

For years, I had people telling me that if I were truly saved, I wouldn’t have anxiety or depression. I know that this is a hotly debated thing, but I’d like to add here that you will find multiple times in Psalms that David called upon the Lord to deliver and save him, and you’ll notice that often times, even though he put his trust in God, David sounded afraid, anxious, or even defeated. Emotions are a weird thing, aren’t they?

I know God has me, that he’s caring for me, but sometimes life just has a way of throwing us curve balls that scare us. And because of that, out emotions go into a fight or flight response. And that is okay. I truly believe that anxiety and depression do not go away fully when we have salvation. Can the Lord and his word calm them of course!

I’ve started reminding myself to be like David. When life is against me and I’m afraid, I call upon the Lord. David often called Him his strength, and that is exactly what he is to all of us who trust in Him!

For the Broken Heart

If you’ve never experienced heartbreak, I must say, you are a lucky individual. It is the worst feeling in the world. Be it from grief of losing a loved one in death, losing a beloved pet or friend to death, losing a good friend to differences, a break up, unrequited love, whatever it may be, it hurts. And it may not seem like it in the midst of the pain when you feel like your heart will literally stop, but God knows all about our pain and He’s there for us. He can bring us through the pain and make us whole again.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Psmals 147:3

I faced my first truly bad breakup when I was 25. At the time, I thought I had the perfect guy. The perfect relationship. And when it ended, I was devastated because I thought I’d lost that. But believe it or not, looking back now six years later, I realize that the relationship was NOT good for me, nor was he. They were both toxic. He didn’t want me in a truly loving way. I was just there to pass his time until someone better came along. I wasn’t shown the love that I was taught about. Kind, not boastful or proud. A love that casts out fear. I didn’t have that.

Ultimately, that breakup eventually led to be accepting God into my heart and overcoming addiction! That heartbreak turned into a mighty praise. But guess what? It took time!

After I was raped, I wasn’t brokenhearted, but I was downcast and heavyhearted in depression. And still, He brought me through it.

A year or so later, someone I’d fallen for abandoned me with no explanation at the time, and again, He brought me through it, and years later, once I’d healed and gotten over it, I did get my explanation and ultimate closure, even though I’d already accepted it and was living my life.

My point is, no matter how broken you are, He can put you back together and use you in a way you’d never imagine. Taking me from such pain that drove me to addiction to where I am, the closest I have ever been to Him and witnessing to those who have lost their faith. I’d never have imagined that that would happen, but when people tell me that they have been blessed to meet me, even after stating they’d lost their faith in the Lord, it is an even bigger blessing to me.

There is no river too wide, mountain too high, valley too deep, or problem or trial too big for our Savior.

Burn Out

I’ve been with my current employer for going on two months. They’d just opened a branch in my town and I was one of two people hired to run the place. Now, I love my job. I have no issue with the work or the company itself (other than the fact that they don’t allow any type of clothing that shows our religious affiliation, but most places are like that now).

I work at least 50 hours a week. At least. I’m tired a lot and my immune system is suffering for it. But that isn’t my issue. My issue is that my manager was sick and missed two days of work. No problem, I covered for him. But I try to call in with a migraine and I’m made to come in because he’s already made plans. Plans that mean he leaves early. And it’s not just a one-time thing. It’s an almost every day occurrence that he leaves early. Not an two hours or even just one. I mean, leaving four hours early.

It’s never for a medical or family issue. It’s always the same. It’s just because he needs time to rest and doesn’t want to be here or wants to spend time with his girlfriend. And he gets away with it. Needless to say, I began feeling taken advantage of, and underappreciated for covering for him and doing his part of the work. As people tried to give me advice, most being that I should find something else as a job, or even report him to upper management, a thought occurred to me.

As frustrated as I am, and as tired as I am, I have to press on for ME. I need the money. I need the insurance I get working with this company. I have to hang in there not only for that, but to reach my goals, one being to manage my own store. I’ve prayed about the situation, yes. And it’s always like I’m softly led to pick myself up and bring myself in and make the best of the day.

Yes, it’s difficult with a manager who not only doesn’t want to carry his weight at the company, but considering he makes jabs about my health issues (I have PCOS and scoliosis), I often get very discouraged.

God never once said that we would take on life and not face difficult people. He never said we would live life and not face people who are selfish and take advantage of us. He did, however, promise us that he would go before us and fight for us. So, daily, I pull myself into my job and pray my way through it.

Allow Me to Start Fresh

I’m not perfect. Far from it. I’m forgetful. I can be lazy on my days off work. And those two things together pretty much squashed the upkeep of my previous two blogs. But mostly, I have to admit that I wasn’t passionate about anything I was basing either of those blogs on. And obviously, it’s hard to write about something you aren’t passionate about.

For a long time, I felt a pull to make a blog focusing on my life and my faith. Let me be honest, it made me uncomfortable. I’ll explain. It seems like these days that Christianity is seen as the alternative lifestyle amongst people my age. It isn’t talked about as openly as it used to be when I was younger, and it’s often seen as “closed-minded” or “old fashioned” or that “Christians hate anyone who is “different”. I’ve heard all these.

But today, sitting all alone at my job, I gave in. I felt the overpowering urge to get some things off my chest. I’m a survivor. I hate the word “victim”. Always have. But calling myself a survivor makes me seem stronger than I feel at times.

I’ll just blurt it out. I know no other way to do it. I was raped three years ago. By a guy who said he was an atheist, but that meeting me had made him question his beliefs. Allow me to go ahead and say that this was his way of trying to charm me. He took me as naive. It was a red flag, but I pushed it aside because deep down, I had the hope (at the time), that he would turn out to actually be a good guy.

I’ve never been into casual sex. I have nothing against it. And I don’t judge those who do it. It just isn’t something I’m into. So, when he asked before we’d even been on any kind of date, and before we had even met in person, if I’d sleep with him, I adamantly said NO. I don’t like judging others, but I’ll take the time now to say that this guy had some strange thoughts in his head. He said he was psychic. He used it against me that I may never have kids. He used everything in his power to try to get me to have sex with him and when I kept saying no, he got mad, but tried to hide it.

Our first date was going okay. Honestly, he wasn’t impressing me. I didn’t see it going anywhere beyond date 1. I wasn’t feeling a connection. And I think maybe he could see that. Long story short, this guy, twice my size, scared me and held me down in order to make things happen the way he wanted.

The next morning, I was numb. I think I somehow repressed what had happened. I shouldn’t say that because I’ve never been to therapy beyond being diagnosed with PTSD as a result of what he did to me. But that is the only way I know to describe the blip that happened in my brain. I didn’t tell anyone what really happened until two months after, and I only did it then because my friend could tell something was wrong and she dragged it out of me.

I’ve struggled with depression since college. At one point it drove me to addiction. Giving my life over to Christ brought me out of that. And five years after professing my faith and finding salvation, I’m raped. The depression set in strong and hard to the point I lost my job. Needless to say, I went through a very dark period that lasted years…up until just a few months ago, honestly. Yes, that darker period of trying to find love that saw me as more than damaged lasted for three years!

And then I met someone who had also found salvation after addiction. A guy who loves the Lord and through sharing our testimonies, pulled me back into being close to God and knowing that no love is better than that of our Savior. My heart has felt happier, lighter, and life has just been all around better.

I’m still not perfect. I still slip. I try to read His Word daily, and I admit that lately I haven’t been following through because I fall asleep as soon as I get home from my eleven hour job. I feel guilty, but try not to be hard on myself. I’ve come so far in three years and have the closest relationship with God that I’ve ever had.

It’s a good reminder of:

Weeping lasts through the night (or years….), but joy comes in the morning.