Leaning Into Healing

The last week has been a tough one for me, both emotionally and spiritually, and despite coming across as calm on the surface, I've felt anything but.  On top of some current and looming life changes which are both exciting and terrifying, I have found myself thinking more deeply on a few different topics, namely the idea of family and my own personal experiences with both my biological and spiritual families.  And it has been challenging to wade through all of the newly-discovered yet unresolved feelings I've encountered.  In the middle of all of this, I happened upon this post and just about lost it.  The line that really hit me was:

"Healing parts of your heart that you’ve once put to the side—whether to survive, to be strong, to avoid pain or take care of others—may be the most powerful act of faith that God is calling you to make today."

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Ugh, yes.  Feelings put aside to survive, to be strong, to care for others?  Check, check, and check.  I haven't talked about it too much, but I definitely have some wounds from my childhood, as I am sure that most of us do, and while I believe that I have worked through a number of them over the years through introspection and counseling, the truth is that there are always more layers.  I've been candid in the past about my struggle with depression and self-injury as a teen (the latter of which whose urges I still deal with as an adult), but it wasn't until more recently that I started to really connect the dots between some of the feelings I'm currently walking through and situations from my childhood; things like role-reversal and co-dependence, having to be independent and self-sufficient at a young age, and even being verbally disowned.  They have all left big, gaping emotional wounds, some of which I realize I've only just begun to work through as an adult, which were left untouched for years because I simply couldn't deal with them as a child who was living in survival mode.

Now that I am meeting those feelings head on as an adult, I'm disgusted to admit that I've felt a sense of shame, like I shouldn't feel sad or angry or disappointed in what I've had to live through... which simply isn't right.  I believe I've been under the false and very detrimental impression that I should be beyond feelings of or bouts with depression, because "I love Jesus and He loves me and so how could or why would I be depressed?"  Even just typing that out makes me want to throw up, because I flat out do not believe that.  Becoming a Christian doesn't erase problems — past, present, or future — and it sure as hell doesn't make the crap situations from childhood go away because "now I have Jesus."  Is He able to give me strength to help get through the hard stuff?  Absolutely.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be easier or less traumatizing.  What believing in Jesus does do, however, is provide a more sure and steady foundation, a greater sense of hope, and Someone to walk alongside through the pain, especially pain from the past.  This I know and believe with all of my heart.

I sense my Father beckoning me into a season of major healing, starting right here and right now.  I feel Him tugging on my heart, drawing me deeper into those dark, hard places; the ones that make me cry and cringe and curse.  But the beauty in this is not only that He can handle it, but He knows it all already.  He has shown me that, in spite of myself and the many years I denied His existence, He was there, and He wants work with me through those things that have not only broken my heart, but His, too.  So I am choosing to lean into my healing, one step at a time, no matter how difficult, because I know that Jesus is right by my side every step of the way.  

Also, a little PSA: depression is not a dirty word, and should never be treated as such in the Christian community (or any community, for that matter).  As a result of living in a broken world, we have all unfortunately walked through hard things and will undoubtedly encounter more, and while we may have Jesus, that doesn't mean we should ignore or suffocate our feelings.  If you are sad, feel it.  If you are angry, feel it.  If you are disappointed, disillusioned, or depressed, feel it.  Talk to your loved ones, and definitely talk to the Father.  But don't disregard those feelings or buy into the lie that you're not allowed to feel them.  Remember that our God is a good Father who is able and desires to walk with us through all things, especially the hard things, and that you have it in you to make it through because you are fiercely loved.

Lastly, if you think that you might be clinically depressed, check out the PHQ-9 Depression Health Questionnaire, and please consult a physician and/or trusted loved one if necessary.

NYC Part 2: What To Do

Now that we've gone over some of the amazing places you need to eat at in NYC: Part 1, I want to share with you some of the things you can and should do when visiting New York City.  I had almost five days in the city when I visited, and while there was definitely a solid list of things I wanted to do, I wanted, even more, to just enjoy the city for what it had to offer.  I wanted to wander, explore, and  stumble upon anything that was already happening, and I can honestly say now that I did just that.  I mean, I ended up being a part of a random photo shoot in Bryant Park when I was waiting for my friend to meet me!  So my first piece of advice would be to just let New York City happen to you, because that's the best way to experience one of the best cities in the world...

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NYC Part 1: What to Eat

Last month I had the chance to spend almost five days in one of my absolute favorite places: New York City.  I stayed with my sweet friend Ainsley and her husband, Justin, and I had the best time.  What I loved most about this trip was that I hung with them about half the time I was there and then ventured solo for the other half, which was really fun to do in what is literally the biggest city in the US.  It's going to take a few posts to share all the things I want to, so let's start with one of the best things: the food.  I've tried my best to arrange this list by neighborhood, and I very obviously did not stick to my usual gluten- and dairy-free diet because vacation, so no judgement, k?  Okay, let's get started!

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To My 15 Year Old Self

Back in February I wrote a post about choosing to love myself, and while it was pretty challenging to get all of my feelings into words, it was such a cathartic process: admitting that I've been my own worst enemy and publicly declaring "no more."  It continues to be a daily battle  consciously choosing to ignore the lies and instead accept, love, and take care of the vessel I'm in  and yet it has also being a huge learning experience, because as I've been reflecting on the past 15+ years of bashing my body, I've realized something pretty significant: I missed out on a lot of what life had to offer because I was so consumed with my personally-perceived imperfections.


This struggle was probably at its worst when I was fifteen years old.  As a sophomore in high school, I was pretty much your average teen, including that I was consumed with my physical appearance and what people thought of me.  As a result, I had low self-esteem, and — because of some things at home and a strong belief that I couldn't express my emotions — I briefly struggled with depression that eventually led to a short season of self-injury, which ultimately brought me into counseling by sixteen.  

For the last few months, I have been thinking if I were able to go back and chat with that insecure, precious girl — what I would say to myself in that season of life: what words would I use? how would I approach her? would there be things I'd tell her to do or not do? would I just give her a big hug and let her in on the fact that things were going to be okay?  Here is what I believe, if given the chance, I would share with my fifteen-year-old self:


Sweet girl, there are so many things to say yet not enough time, so let me start with this: you are so beautiful.  In spite of how you feel or what you think other's might think or say about you or your body, you are so beautiful.  You might not be a size zero, but you've got muscles that keep you moving and fighting like the badass you are.  You might not have the perfect fill-in-the-blank, but you are more unique than you could imagine.  You might not be the girl that all the guys want, but don't sweat it, because and I'ma be honest here  they're pretty much all a waste of your time and emotions, and you've got way to much ahead of you to be concerned with them, especially right now (learn to say "boy bye").  And hey, you look good regardless of whether or not there's a guy next to you anyway.  But above all else, your beauty far extends beyond what you look like.  You are strong and compassionate and kind and weird in the best way.  You fight for others, always believing in them because you see their infinite value.  You are in tune with your emotions, which is a true gift, and I want to give you the permission to express them in healthy ways.  You do not need to bottle them up for fear of no longer being considered "bubbly" and "joyful," and despite the isolation you may feel, you are not alone; you can absolutely talk with those you love and trust about the pain and the confusion you are experiencing.  Please don't buy into the lie that only way you can relieve the emotional pain is through scratching, burning, or cutting yourself.   But hey, even if you do those things, the grace is reaaal.  And here is a bit of where you're headed:

You will learn to own all of who you are, including the weird quirks that you've always secretly loved.  You will come to a place of accepting and loving your body no matter your jean size, because you'll know that — girl — you look gooood.  You will smile that crooked smile and tear up every dance floor, not giving a rip with people think, because you've realized how awesome it is to fully be yourself and live in love.  You will figure out how to process and express your emotions in healthier ways, owning your feelings instead of apologizing for them, and understanding your resulting gift of empathy.  And even though you may bear some physical scars, they will be a daily reminder of how far you've come - how far God has taken you - and how much farther you're destined to go.

So precious girl, remember that you are beautiful, unique, and so loved, and that no matter what comes your way, you are strong enough to face it.  And remember that love always wins.

 Your twenty-seven year old self (who is still a mess, but owning it)