The Old Has Gone

 

On rare occasion I get into the type of mood that can only be described as the “Perfect Storm.” I am overly caffeinated and faced with a large chunk of time to myself (which is why this is so rare) , when suddenly it’s like all the clutter around me becomes unbearable.

All at once, instead of seeing specks of dirt, I see mountains of grime and skin cells and coffee rings. The crumbs on the floor come to life and speak to me, taunting me for eating pretzels in bed again. The laundry I haven’t put away turns into accusing shouts that I am the worst person in the world because I own FAR too many clothes and wear none of them.

The piles around me begin to close in and the room spins and traps me in my own personal nightmare (not to be dramatic).

95% of my life I live in the land of piles.

Piles in my bathroom. Piles in my car. Piles in my classroom.

Piles are THE BEST because you can make things look neat and organized, but truthfully under the stack is an old kleenex, a magazine for 2007, last year’s tax return and 30 days worth of junk mail. Piles are the perfect tricksters to make people think you have things under control.

Every 2-3 months, my roommate will gently move my beautiful piles into my room, forcing me to confront the issue.

Tonight, in that mood, I decided it was time to get rid of everything and anything I didn’t need anymore.  This was project 1 of many, as I simultaneously texted Max that I wanted to open a new credit card and then rearrange the furniture in my room. He is trained to recognize and talk me down whilst in these moods, so he lovingly told me I needed to focus on one thing at a time. So I went after the piles with a fiery vengeance.

I started shredding mail that was lying around, filling up garbage bags of trinkets and broken phone chargers and sticky notes.

It felt so good to get the clutter out- the stuff I just didn’t need that was taking up so much space.

Then I went into my closet and stared at a pile that has been bothering me for awhile.

On the top shelf of my closet sat eight colorful journals, pages filled with the documentation of my life up until about a year ago.

I haven’t journaled much this year; maybe a few pages, and ironically, the last 12 months have been the healthiest, most life-giving, blessed, beautiful redeeming months of my life, yet I couldn’t bring myself to open the pages and begin to write.

They are the stories I have waited my whole life to tell- full of love and growth and laughter and grace- but I didn’t tell them.

This year was the result of surrendering my life to God and submitting to His plan for me. This year was beautiful. But I didn’t write.

This year, I couldn’t bring myself to journal because I didn’t want to remember where I had been.

Those old journals are pages filled with self-doubt, cycles of sin, destructive relationships, life crippling  anxiety, body image issues and wrong decisions.

Part of me thought that opening those pages again would somehow erase the work God has done in my life the past year. I feel SO totally different than the person I used to be, that even the same process of journaling was too close of an association.

So I kept them hidden.

Seeing them up there would many times trigger a physical anxious response in me.

Opening them meant re-visiting a me I wish I never was.

They have been a pile haunting me for awhile.

Those journals represent darkness, but that’s no longer where I am.

I am walking in the light.

Tonight I decided it was time to let them go.

I stretched up to the top shelf of my closet and I lowered the heavy pile of floral journals.

I thumbed through a few pages and immediately regretted it as I flashed back to situations and memories I wanted to forget. I put them next to each other and I began to reflect on who I am now and from where He has brought me.

He brought me from brokenness and restored my heart.

He showered every dark situation from my life with his beautiful, bright light and forgave me and changed me and made me whole.

He gave me a new standard for living, a new understanding of His word and His law, and transformed a heart hardened by fear into one overflowing with His love.

Back then, I wanted instant change  and relief from my struggles, but instead the past  year I  have begun to understand the slow, steady,  painful process of sanctification.

I’m not sure why I kept those journals. I guess I never even considered the idea of getting rid of them. It was my past and I am stuck looking at it and being reminded of it- the punishment fits the crime.

But I am not who I once was. I struggle still and I have hard days. I battle insecurity, but no longer do I live in bondage and fear. Visiting those pages was like reading the words of a stranger. I do not need to keep those memories as proof of God’s redeeming work in me.

The proof of His redemptive work is in every breath I breathe.

I will sing of His glorious transforming power until the day I die, but I don’t have to live  in the past anymore. I don’t have to punish myself with flashbacks in order to measure my growth.

I loaded up the bags of trash to take out to the dumpster. Typically one for pomp and circumstance, I usually would want some dramatic ceremony to celebrate being free from the past and this giant step in moving forward.

But God’s work in me was not flashy. It wasn’t always pretty. It usually didn’t feel like a celebration. It worked into the top layers of my heart until it penetrated the innermost parts of my soul.

I took a deep breath and I flung the bag of journals into the dumpster.

And I walked away.

Thank you Jesus for setting me free.  I’m never going back.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new. 

Jenna

 

 

 

**Also, if you are in a junkyard and happen to find a bag of flowery looking journals, please either burn them in a bonfire or turn the plots of the journals into a made for TV movie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Your Patience Instead of Losing It

I know some really patient people. I have a hard time understanding their kind. You beautiful, foreign creatures. You fascinate me with your superpowers.

Just about anything can and will annoy me. I am impatient, easily irritated and the littlest things can send me into a frenzy. (Don’t I sound lovely?)

I don’t like the way “thought” is spelled.

Annoying.

This tag is itching me.

Irritating.

This person is driving 3 miles under the speed limit.

Rage and fury.

It doesn’t take much to make me lose my patience and become annoyed. (By the grace of God alone (okay and obscene amounts of coffee), I thrive as an elementary school teacher).

IMG_3530.jpg

If I am not intentional about my reactions, annoyance and impatience would suck the joy out of my life. It is one of those nagging little emotions that can be triggered by the smallest thing, yet snowball into a huge release of emotions. (Road rage, anyone?)

I love people. However, one of the least favorite lessons I have learned in my life is that I am unable to control them, therefore, believe it or not, on occasion, people annoy me.

If I allowed everything that could potentially drive me nuts to actually drive me nuts, I would waste my life irritated and in a state of constant annoyance. I wish being patient and understanding came naturally to me, but it doesn’t so instead I intentionally have worked on being patient, especially with other people.

Here are some of those ways:

1. Benefit of the Doubt 

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is a game-changer when it comes to dealing with people. I used to always think the worst in situations- my coffee tastes weird so Jill at Starbucks must have not even put an ounce of effort into it.

She probably just dumped in the ingredients without even looking. She probably saw me and wanted to make my day horrible by ruining my coffee.

Naturally, I tend to jump to worst-case scenarios, but when you give someone the benefit of the doubt, suddenly the situation doesn’t seem so bad. If my coffee was totally gross and I paid $4.00 for it, I am going to bring it back to Jill, but the difference would be my attitude.

If I taste my coffee and it’s gross, instead of assuming Jill hates me and wants me to die a slow, caffeinated death of misery, I can choose to think she really tried to make this a good cup of coffee, but something must have been wrong with the machine. Someone forgot to clean out the espresso pull, and that’s why grounds are in my drink.

Who cares if it’s true.

2. Think of what COULD be happening behind the story

Something I have done lately to take the edge off impatience is create stories for why people are behaving the way they are. Maybe this is childish, or naive, but I have found this takes the judgmental edge off me very quickly.

For example, I was grocery shopping awhile and an elderly man was taking forever looking at the bananas.

I mean, FOREVER. I treat grocery shopping like an olympic event timed for speed, so I cannot be bothered with this type of disturbance.

As I watched him move slowly towards the bananas, I felt myself begin to get annoyed.

But then I thought…

What if his wife recently passed away and this is the first time he has had to grocery shop by himself. What could he be feeling right now? Imagine what he is going through.

People have stories that we will never know. Maybe the person that cut you off just got horrible news about a family member in the hospital. There could be an emergency creating a situation where you are on hold for 35 minutes.

People still do annoying things without good reasons. But isn’t it worth it to feel empathy for other humans just in case? We never know what people are going through.

3. Remember all the annoying things you do

I refuse to shut the lids on things all the way. I think it’s pointless. I just set the lid of the peanut butter on it and don’t screw it tightly. It still closes and keeps it fresh, but limits the work I have to do next time I grab the jar.

Believe it or not, some people find it annoying when they pick up a jar by its lid (which they shouldn’t do anyways) and it falls to the ground open.

My roommate has to hear me baby talk my nephew via FaceTime every night at 8:30 while he plays in the bathtub.

I shake my legs so violently while watching movies, that the entire couch trembles and all my friends feel like they are in an earthquake simulator.

I am an annoying human being and I want people to extend grace to me. Therefore let’s extend grace to others by showing them patience and love.

IMG_3406.JPG

I break most things I tough. #staffroom

4. Keep it in perspective

In the scheme of things, is this worth it? Your show got recorded over. Will this really matter in a month? If you got a phone call that changed your life tomorrow, that totally rocked your world, would your mind even come close to being upset about the button that fell off your favorite sweater when your sister was wearing it? Is not making this green light worth this level of anger?

Putting things in perspective is the quickest way to come back down from the high horse of annoyance. What really matters? Focus on that.

5. Take care of yourself physically and spiritually

When I am rested, well-fed and have spent time with the Lord, I am SO much more likely to overflow grace and patience.

When I let the Lord fill me up with HIS grace and love, only then can I extend supernatural amounts of grace and love to other people. Even the difficult ones.

When I am starved spiritually, I find it impossible to be the person Jesus calls me to be. We are sinful and naturally selfish, so my first instincts are to become angry and impatient.

It will be awhile before I consider myself a patient person, however with these tips, I am at least able to fake it until it comes naturally (or supernaturally) 😉

 

Blessings not chins,

Jenna