Doing My Best

We have a new youth pastor at church. Nobody really told me. Or introduced us. I volunteer with the student ministry, which means working closely with the youth pastor. So this is mildly problematic.

The other lady I volunteer with asked me to help make 12 cards pretty last minute (by this I mean this Tuesday) in the middle of finals week for some goody bags they planned to give out. That nobody told me we were giving out. But I agreed, because I love the girls and I love painting and it was very good stress relief.

Then the lady asked me to have them done by Thursday instead of Sunday morning. And I said no. I had two finals yesterday. I of course explained this. She asked if I could have them done by today. I said no. I have a 10 question homework assignment and a final tomorrow morning to study for. I’m not going to see Christmas lights with my family tonight because I have so much going on. And, a little unrelated, earlier this semester I finally realized it’s okay to say no to people. That I have to quit bending over every which way to make everyone else happy. I’m not that flexible, probably because I don’t work out.

Anyways. She texted me back a little miffed. And maybe I’m taking it too personally. Because I do that sometimes. But she said to just quit worrying about it, she’d just get the new youth pastor’s wife to help her. Don’t worry about it. She’ll take care of it. And maybe I’m imagining her tone a little off, but she seemed upset with me. As if I, as always, had let her down. As if she was picking up slack not just on my end, but for eighty people.

I had already painted the cards, I just had to letter around five more of them. And I wanted to scream, and I wanted to cry. Don’t you see me, trying my hardest? Don’t you see me, doing my best? I don’t get to go to work and read or watch videos all day. I don’t get to take breaks just to make cards sometimes because my grades, my finals, are important to me. I don’t get to change my schedule at command–between work and school, my schedule is full and dominated by other people. My classes and my job and my homework all require my full attention.

I didn’t say any of that. But her words, her tone, the way the sentences came together, it all still stings a little. It makes me sad. Because here I am, trying my hardest. And my hardest was not good enough for her. And I’m actively dedicating the free time I have to the student ministry. But the student ministry does not even bother to tell me of a pastor change. It all stings a little.

And I wish I could honestly say that I turned to God and prayed and realized that I’m not here to please all of these people. That I’m just here to do His work. I didn’t. I mean, I know all that. But I didn’t remember it in the moment. I just cried a little and kept doing my homework. Looked at the cards I had made. I still have them. (If anyone wants a fun Christmas card from a stranger let me know, I have stamps, envelopes, and a surplus of them.)

And ya know, I don’t know why any of this is happening. I don’t know why I constantly feel left out or let down or like a lost puppy that these people just have to deal with. I don’t. But I do know this. Every time something like this happens, I’m growing in my faith. I can feel God using it to push me higher. Because, okay, maybe I didn’t immediately pray this time. Maybe I just cried. And maybe it still stings a little. But I’m not letting this series of events, these things, define me. I’m not pushing myself to be better for these people. I’m just meditating. And knowing that it’s okay, because God knows I’m doing my best. And if He knows that, it doesn’t matter if anyone else does.

Ruining Christmas

First, I apologize. I’m very stressed because tests and papers and so much to do. This will not be a good post to read, there will be many grammar mistakes, but that’s my life. I feel dead inside.

I think, that at one point, everyone will feel like they’ve ruined Christmas. And this Christmas, for (probably only the first time) it was me that ruined Christmas.

Not like the whole thing. Go back to Cyber Monday-ing, shopping, and listening to Christmas music. And I promise, this isn’t a sad story.

My mom was planning on getting me an X-Box for Christmas. She’s a cool mom. The problem is, I don’t play video games. I did in Louisiana, but mostly because some of my friends did. They wanted to play video games. I don’t dislike playing them. That’s what we did, so that’s what I told my parents. My parents thought I loved it. They were gonna get me an X-Box.

But it’s not that I loved the games. I sucked at them. I’m terrible at all video games. So bad there were rules that nobody could kill me. I just enjoyed the time I spent with my friends. We laughed. We joked. We played scary video games at 3 in the morning. It was the camaraderie that pulled me in, and I think my parents mistook my excitement for friendship with excitement for games.

Obviously if I know I was getting one, my mom has changed her mind. But she sounded sad. Disappointed. It was clear she had put a lot of effort into this. And I felt like I had ruined Christmas. And sure, even if she says I didn’t, and I know I didn’t really, I know when I open my present on Christmas there will still be a twinge of sadness on her part, and guilt on mine.

I’m writing this because I’ve learned a lot this semester. About who I am and what being truly lonely is like. I’ve always had friends. But something about moving back home, to a small school, has made it hard for me to make friends. Maybe it’s because I don’t stay on campus, maybe because I’m not involved. Whatever it is, I’m alone, truly alone, for the first time in my life. And it’s weird, and I’m weird. I’m a mix of all of my friends and more. I’m a mix of their words, their habits, their interests, and then some extra that is all me. It’s fun. It’s cool. And being lonely sucks, but it’s been kind of good.

And that extra, that extra little bit that is just me, well. That bit isn’t ruining Christmas. That bit is just making an appearance for probably the first time in a long time. And that little extra is happy.

“When Does a Hill Become a Mountain?”

Ahh yes. Titling a blog post a Nick Miller quote.

But this question. I’ve been thinking about it. Mostly because one of my best friends sent me a big list of Nick Miller quotes this morning. Anyways.

We tell people not to make mountains out of molehills, but when does the hill actually become a mountain? When do we admit that it might be hard? I know the expression just means to not make a big deal out of something that is actually nothing. I’m not questioning that. Just, when do we let ourselves feel? When do we accept the gravity of the situation?

I transferred schools, from my dream school to one that I do like, love actually, but was never my dream. And I’m okay with what happened, ya know? I’ve had six months to become okay with it. But I never let myself feel sad. And now, sad is a lot of what I feel. Not regret. Not upset. Just sad. I miss it. A little bit every day, but especially on game days (I was raised on football, it’s one of the most important parts of my life).

So when do I admit that this “hill” was actually a mountain all along?

I think I finally have. And I think accepting what a big deal it was to me is finally what will let me heal. That, and time.

Let yourself feel. Let yourself feel all the feelings. Don’t think they’re extreme. Don’t think it’s excessive. Just feel. Grow and heal and feel.

Kiddos. And a Servant’s Heart

I think, if you look at my life, it would be fair to say I like kids. Like might actually be an understatement. I tutor high schoolers for work, and at church I volunteer in the student ministry and in children’s church. So I think I might like kids.

Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’m actually good at any of this. I mean, I haven’t been fired. The kids I tutor say hello and seem excited to work with me (and my coworkers). The kids at church like to say hello and talk to me. The students text me and seem to enjoy coming to group.

But am I good?

Do I do good enough?

Am I liked?

Recently I realized my questions were all wrong. It was really layed on my heart that maybe I would be much happier if I reconsidered why I do all these things.

Do I like tutoring?

Do I like hanging out with fifth graders?

Do I like meeting with students week in and week out and teaching them about God when they’re at a confusing time in life?

Yes. Yes I do. I love the kids faces when they realize they can do a problem on their own now. I love the babies at church who tell me all about their injuries and then scream Bible verses at me to prove they memorized them. I love the students who make me cry in prayer.

Friend, I hope you enjoy what you do. I hope you have a servant’s heart, where you see it’s about the things you do and not getting famous doing them. I hope you remember, even when praises don’t come, that the work you do is praise-worthy. And if you don’t, please ask yourself: is it just my perspective? If it’s not, move. Because if your perspective is right and you still aren’t satisfied, I feel like you’re being called to move into something new. But maybe, just maybe, all that’s wrong is that your servant’s hear needs some tuning.

Talent. And Also I Can’t Feel My Knee

I have a fake yeti cup. It works just as well and it was only $10. If you’ve never seen one, they have an awesome lid with a hole just big enough for a straw.

Today I spilled roughly a fourth of my coffee (>7 ounces) on my shirt and my sleeve from that teeny tiny hole while I was just walking, not even trying to drink. Talk about some talent, y’all.

So that’s how Monday started. And now, five flights of stairs later, I can’t feel my knee. I had surgery six years ago and now, like a true teenage grandma, I have mild arthritis. Except it doesn’t hurt right now. No. I just can’t feel that part of my body.

Also I missed a week of writing.

If you’re wondering what point I could possibly be making, it’s that I’m clearly a mess. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But last night at Life Group (I help lead the student ministry at church, and I lead the girl’s life group), my heart was overflowing. In prayer, the girls were thanking God for me and my co-leader being positive examples and coming in to work with them week in and week out. I cried like a baby. These girls reminded me that it doesn’t matter how messy I am. God uses us all, despite the mess. God actually uses the mess to His advantage!

I don’t know what mess you’re in. I don’t know where you are in life. But hang on, friend, because you and your mess serve a purpose. How awesome is that.

Adventures and Exhaustion and Writing

I’m not a writer. Perhaps you’ve noticed that, if you read my posts regularly. I don’t do this well, or often enough to get better. I graduated high school and that was about it for me and creative writing. I started this blog because I always felt like, when I was writing in my journal, that I should really be writing to an audience. I think that was God whispering something to me, and it took me about two and a half years to act on it. Late, as always.

Anyways, I’m writing today because I think I should write more often, and NaNoWriMo gives me (kind of) an excuse to do it. You’re supposed to write a book. I hate rules, so I’m just gonna try to write a blog post a day. Today’s actually hasn’t started yet, but I’ll get there. I just had to do some housekeeping (if only I actually did that and my room wasn’t trash right now). Explain that I’m doing this to get better. Explain why I started my blog. Who knows. Now on to the main event.

Y’all, I’m tired. Exhausted. I have had at least two tests a week for the pasts two or three weeks, and this week, and next week, and I work, and every day I die a little inside. It’s whatever. I’m just struggle-busin to stay awake in class. To stay awake at home and talk to my family. Wednesdays feel like Fridays and Thursdays and Fridays just feel excessive. But it’s fine. Hopefully I’ll graduate college with a job lined up, hopefully I’ll be able to get scholarships, hopefully I’ll be able to live a normal life.

And in all of this exhaustion, I’m struggling to “fit God in”. But really that’s just not how it works. We don’t simply “fit Him in”, we live life with Him. How awesome is that. For so long, and even now in this busy time, I believed that I needed a certain amount of uninterrupted time with God. And yeah, I probably do need that. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about walking and living with Him all the time. About doing homework but doing it with God.

Does that make sense? Probably not. But the same way I can text my best friend like eighty million times a day (this is not an exaggeration), I can reach out to God the same way. I can talk to Him and do other things without them being an interruption. Instead, I’m just doing them with Him. Life is an adventure, and I need to live this adventure with God instead of trying to put Him in a cute little corner.

I’d love to write more about this, but the building I’m sitting in is shaking and I think I need to go. See ya tomorrow, sweet friend.

Brown Thing

This is the story of brown thing. Brown thing is my mom’s favorite blanket, a quilt made my my great-grandmother and her sisters.

My granny told us not to use brown thing, that it was for decoration only. Obviously we didn’t listen, and just like she told us it would, brown thing ripped and tore, and I’m now in the long process of patching up brown thing with old t-shirts and my poor sewing skills.

And isn’t that kind of how our relationship with God works? We take His sweet grace and we rip it, and ourselves, to shreds. We have holes so big they could be jumped through, because we fall into sin’s trap. We think our grace is too speckled to possibly cover us, that there’s no way God could love, let alone save, us now. We’ve certainly just messed up all of our chances.

Praise the Lord that He doesn’t think the same way our broken little minds do.

God takes us, full of holes, ripped into pieces with all the stuffing falling out, and He so lovingly and gloriously stitches us back up to be as good as new, all because of the sweet grace Jesus provided on the cross. There’s no mismatched fabric or uneven stitching when He’s through with us. We will never run through His grace because He is always so patiently waiting to fix it.

He’s patiently waiting to fix us.

All we have to do is ask. And that’s the best news of all. When we’ve stretched ourselves too thin, when we’re at the end of ourselves, God is calling to us to just let Him fix us.

So, friend, will you?