I Have The Power To Choose

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When people talk about having courage and exploring the unknown, I immediately think of traveling or beginning a new phase in life. Today, I read this phrase and had a completely different thought; I’m not traveling or starting a new phase, but I have decided to take a different path than the one originally set for me and it is going to be a scary road.

I have been wrestling with my faith and what it means to believe for awhile. I grew up Christian, non-denominational Baptist to be exact, and I worked really hard at being perfect at it. As I got older, I realized this was just a facade for me. I played the part so well and on the outside, I was the part to a T. I went to church, participated in Bible studies, and attended church camp. I volunteered, prayed, and was extremely active in my youth group. I didn’t do things that were deemed bad such as smoke, drink, party, or cuss. I was one of the good ones.

What I learned was that you can’t be a perfect Christian. But you can feel like you are doing something wrong. In the past six years or so, I have worked so hard at doing what I have been taught to do in order to have a strong relationship with God. Be in continuous prayer. Have a quiet time every morning. Talk to God like a father or a friend. Be patient. Listen for what God has to tell you. Read your Bible. Memorize verses. Surround yourself with good Christian friends. Be honest. (That is not all they tell you, but those are the ones that stand out to me at the moment.)

I did these things day in and day out. As much as I tried to enjoy it; make it something I wanted to do and not something I had to do, I failed. It always seemed like so much work and effort with no results. I still felt empty. I listened, but never heard anything. I prayed, but never got answers. I studied, but never learned. I surrounded myself, but felt judged. All of it didn’t seem worth it to me. I became bitter, because I would hear stories and see others who seemed to be living the life and having the relationship I was supposed to have. Although I understand they might be putting on a facade too, it didn’t change the negativity that surrounded me.

A few months back, I decided to take a break from striving so hard to be successful in my religion and creating this relationship that seems to be nonexistent. I stopped reading my Bible, praying, going to church regularly; I started to dabble in activities that were frowned upon. I didn’t like everything and being “bad” isn’t really me, because of my morals and personality, but I found that I was so much happier not worrying so much about being perfect. That who I was and who I wanted to be didn’t have to be dictated by my religion. I could still be a good person and not be a Christian.

I realized that I did not have a problem with everything I had been taught. I believe there is a greater power/being (aka God) and I believe that he created the world and everything in it, but from my experiences I do not believe that he is striving for a relationship with me. From the research that I have done, I am taking a leap and calling myself a Deist. I don’t necessarily think that a label for what I believe is needed, but it helps to classify myself somewhere.

Making the decision to step out of what I was taught and have always known and to swim against the grain of most of the people in my life is extremely frightening for me. I have not told my family about my change of heart, but to be able to post it here and recognize my current beliefs is a big step!

As hesitant as I am to move forward, I want to bring on the unknown and test my courage!

❤ a girl

A Bout of Disappointment

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Over the past few months, I have been not doing and being what has been deemed typical of me. I have been striving to figure out how I want to define myself. I have been trying to experience things that would have been uncharacteristic of me in the past. I have been enlightened by what I have found.

One of the out-of-the-ordinary things that I did was start an unlikely friendship [I use this term very loosely, because I have no idea what we are] with this guy I met online. When I say it like that, it sounds like I was looking for something, but I wasn’t. It was extremely out-of-the-blue and when we first started talking, I had no idea he was even male.

We talked about everything and the more we talked, the more I realized we really got along. We were different, but that made it interesting. We were alike, but that made it familiar. Not only did we text, but we skyped too. As the days of talking for hours passed, I grew to really like him.

It is no secret I am unfamiliar with feelings like this. I read and watch people develop crushes, but to actually feel that myself for someone I had never actually met seemed stupid and ridiculous, but there I was. I wasn’t able to dismiss my feelings completely, because it all felt so genuine. He listened to me. He seemed interested. He smiled (God, do I love his smile!). He made me feel. There was no doubt in my mind that I was falling for him.

So, I had a thought. I took a leap. I fell back down.

Every so often I would hint that I wanted to meet him. I thought I was being very subtle, but that didn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. We had been talking for almost a month when I brought up that I wanted to visit him. One night I couldn’t sleep, so I planned it all out – by car and by plane. He seemed excited about the idea and told me to give him 48 hours to figure it out. Two days came and went with him saying nothing about it, so yesterday I asked whether he had figured it out and what I got was not what I was expecting… I wouldn’t be able to go, because his mom had planned a camping trip the weekend I hoped to come.

To say I wasn’t immensely disappointed would be an understatement. I knew it was a long-shot, but I had really let my imagination run wild and my hopes were up high. I had thought about all we would be able to do and talk about. I imagined getting to actually see his smile and feel what it was like to have his stare melt my insides. I imagined getting to have his arms around me in a tight embrace and actually hear the sound of his laugh. I imagined getting to actually smack his chest at the snarky comments he makes. I imagined getting to look into his eyes and experience their vivid color. All without a crappy internet connection altering it.

Of course when he told me this I acted casual about it. I told him it was no big deal that we would find a different time. But the thing is… he joined the military and only has a couple months until he ships out. Is it really wrong for me to want to meet him before he leaves? He isn’t going off to war or anything, but that is weeks upon weeks of not being able to see him. I plan to write letters – lots and lots – but part of me was hoping to have an experience or a picture of us together.

Don’t get me wrong, I am content with just talking to him. His words get to me every time, but I thought it wasn’t by accident that he didn’t have to leave for two months. But maybe it is too soon for me to meet him. I thought for sure I would be anxious about it, but I was more giddy and excited. As much as I had looked forward to that weekend, I am glad he gets to have that time with his mom, because I couldn’t even imagine what it is like to have your son embark on a journey such as this.

But letting the whole thing go has been more difficult than I thought it would be. Understanding that there is another weekend out there. Realizing that we’ve made it this far; some more months won’t kill us. Believing I am strong and knowing I will write some wonderful, funny, and heart-felt letters. Embracing the adventure that awaits.

With all that being said, I ask myself — Is it wrong for me to feel this way?

❤ a girl

Highways Can Lead You Anywhere

freedomLast night I had the opportunity to meet an author. I looked up directions to the venue and it was about an hour away. I was so nervous, because getting there involved all of these highways and a foreign place I had never been. I asked myself how badly I wanted to go, but it wasn’t everyday you get to listen to a successful author speak.

Did I mention I was going to this thing by myself?

I have always wanted to go to events like this and not feel obligated to find someone to go with me. Like if there was a speaker on campus I wanted to hear or a movie I wanted to see… I have always felt that going to something alone was a negative thing, but last night I took the plunge and I felt empowered.

So I plugged the address into my phone and set out for my destination. It started me on a familiar highway, but not soon after I was merging onto a huge toll road. I gripped the steering wheel, because I had no clue what lane to be in, but I decided to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

At the beginning of the journey there weren’t that many cars on the road and as I flew down the highway, I glanced up at all the adjoining highways over my head and all of the highways that merge from both sides. It hit me then that highways can lead you anywhere and everywhere you want to go. They are means to escape. It amazed me that if you wanted to just get lost and find somewhere you’ve never been, you could just get on a highway and go- take a right here, merge onto here, take this loop, exit here, take a left here, and BOOM a new destination you never thought to go where no one will find you.

As I was sitting in traffic on one highway, I looked at all the cars around me for miles and it blew my mind again that there are this many people around me that I don’t know; all with families, jobs, feelings, and trying to get somewhere just like me. In that one moment, sitting in traffic on a five lane highway, I felt so connected to the people around me.

Next time you feel alone, I encourage you to leave wherever you are around 5:30 and make your way to a crowded highway and take in all the other people in the same boat as you…

❤ a girl

Song Review: Anywhere With You

I’ll go anywhere, anywhere with you. – Jake Owen

First and foremost I want to say that this is dedicated to my friend B @reviewswithb. He dislikes country music a lot and was saying the other day that country music is lame, because it is just guys singing about losing their girl, working on their truck, and drinking beer. Me, being an avid lover of country music, argued that not all country music is like this; some of them are sweet love songs and others are just fun to sing to.

I became a fan of Jake Owen’s music during my junior year of high school when I first heard the song Barefoot Blue Jean Night. Since then there have been select others that I have really enjoyed or that have spoken to me, but this one just makes my heart flutter.

Just as long as I’m where you’re at
I’m gonna have a real good view

This is not a song about a guy whining about losing his girl, working on his truck, or drinking beer. It is a song about a guy who loves a girl. It is a song about a guy who thinks his girl is the most beautiful. It is a song about a guy who would go anywhere with his girl. It is a song about a guy who is completely happy and satisfied no matter what as long as he is with his girl.

I’ll bet there’s a two lane
Running right through the middle of a wide open desert to a ghost town
If you wanna just hide out

This song actually reminds me of a special someone. One of the first days I started talking to this someone ghost towns were mentioned. I had never been to one, but this person assured me they are interesting.

We could send a post card back
From a mountain top out in Idaho
Maybe get snowed in

I have this dream (or fantasy) of getting snowed in with the person I love. Although I don’t prefer the cold, I wouldn’t mind playing in it or being surrounded by it as long as I was with this person. I actually wrote this person a story about being snowed in. I can imagine fires, cuddling, hot chocolate, and board games.

Pick a spot on any old map
I travel light and my bags are packed

This special person and I discuss traveling together all the time. It sounds like one big adventure and I wish we could embark on it tomorrow, but sadly life always wiggles its way in. I have always thought it would be such a rush to throw a dart or point with my eyes closed at a map and then just go to that spot. Maybe someday that person and I can do that together.

Now I hope my friend, B, understands that not all country music has no meaning. This is a great song that I, and I am sure others, can relate to in some way. It is sweet, fun, and has a catchy beat. So I hope you enjoy listening to it. 😛

Being a Fraud…

honestyToday I was sitting in church with my parents and between all the nonchalant eye rolling and dreaming of someday, I realized that I was a fraud.

I sit there and freeze to death while I listen to some dude up on stage tell me that no matter what I can find refuge in Jesus. As I rolled my eyes for the thousandth time that morning, I asked myself what I was doing here when I obviously didn’t want to be here. When I was just dismissing in my head everything the preacher was saying.

But there was no reason to even ask myself that question, because I already knew the answer. I was there, because I am afraid of disappointing my parents. I am afraid of what they will think of me, if I told them that I don’t believe anymore. I am afraid they will see me like they see my brother. So I wake up every Sunday morning, attend church with them and then volunteer as well. I am worse than just being a fraud, I am a coward too.

I am honestly quite pathetic, because I don’t even feel comfortable in my own church, but I continue to go. I have gone there for about ten years, so it isn’t just my parents that I am afraid of. It is also my close friends, the leaders that taught me when I was younger, the kids that I helped teach when I had my own class, the other college-aged kids who I grew up with. I am afraid of all the whispering that will happen as they all discuss what happened to me and why I have strayed.

I desperately wish that I wasn’t a coward. I wish I could just step up and tell my parents that I don’t have a desire to go to church, that I don’t pray and haven’t since the beginning of the year, that I don’t think God cares about me or has an impact in my life, that Christian people make me feel uncomfortable, that I feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off of my shoulders since I stopped focusing on all the rules that religion brings, that I have more of an open mind, that I am happier.

Awhile back, like early spring, I told my mom that I wasn’t into it anymore and she labeled it “struggling with my faith”, but that is not what I call it, I call it being done and over it. I am not saying that all Christian people are bad by any means, but I just don’t want any part of it.

I just don’t know how to stand up to her and explain who I am now, because I know what will follow. She will go off on a tangent and get all emotional and then start beating herself up as a mother, because both of her kids have strayed away from what they were taught and I just don’t think I can handle that look on her face. What she doesn’t understand is that not all people who don’t believe are bad. They are just people like anyone else and it bothers me so much that her mind is so closed and that this is her mentality. I know there is nothing wrong with me, but I don’t think she will agree.

Confrontation is not my thing. And I have no problem standing up for myself when I feel it is extremely necessary, but when it comes to my parents or my best friends, I just become weak, because I care too much about what they think. And yes they should still love me no matter what, but I fear that they won’t and then I will be alone.

So there you have it; I am a fraud and a coward and I am too afraid to do anything about it.

❤ a girl