Following Jesus is such a wild and crazy adventure. Whoever thinks being a Christian is boring, clearly doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
The past couple of months have been interesting for me. The Lord has revealed some new layers of broken areas of my heart that need healing. He’s so gentle and kind with our hearts, though.
I have so often found myself so frustrated after experiencing a mountain top season, only to find myself back in the valley. Gosh. This used to make me so upset. If only I could grip onto the mountain top a little longer … if only I could dig my heels in and hold on a little longer… but nonetheless – back to the valley I go.
I’m learning that my time spent on the mountain top actually makes me long for the valley. I used to think that happiness was up there on top of the mountain, but it’s not. The mountain top is a place of victory and rest AND much needed but we’re not meant to stay there forever on this side of eternity.
In 2011, the hardest year of my life, I was plagued with anxiety that literally almost killed me. It was the darkest and hardest season of my life. When I was released from that season, I remember longing for that intimacy with Jesus again. I never wanted to return to those dark days – but once it was over, in an odd way I missed it.
Once I got past the initial shock of ‘what the hell is happening to me!?!?’ and was forced to endure, I experienced a closeness with Jesus that I never experienced before . Anxiety is no joke. That season leveled me. It dropped me to the bottom of the bottom and I had to fully rely on Jesus day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.
Once I emerged from that season I started a ministry to help other women overcome anxiety and depression. After 3 years of battling it out for other women’s freedom, God asked me to release the ministry. I was heartbroken but I surrendered.
With the ministry (good works) out of the way and with a crushed heart, I realized there’s a difference between healing and coping. Although God was healing me, I had learned to cope. Anxiety no longer controlled my life – but it was still very present, just manageable.
God started to pull back more layers in my heart and showed me deep wounds. My need for affirmation and validation was crippling. He walked with me through a year of intense surrender and learning about contentment. In one year I experienced incredible grief and yet it was the happiest year I’ve lived thus far. It was like I discovered a whole new me – or more like the ‘me’ that has never been allowed to show herself.
I called that season #TheUndoing. It was where God stripped me down. He showed me so much disgusting stuff in my own heart and mind. He lavished me with love and grace and walked me through a season of releasing my dreams. During this season I realized that we are taught our whole lives how to act, how to think, how to be – and then one day your eyes open and see clearly. What if I don’t want to act, think, and be that way?! So, God had to undo a lot of wrong wiring.
Now this season –
A word from God while pumping gas, “You’re done with this. You’re moving on.” This meaning the constant lies of “you don’t belong”, “you don’t fit”. The Lord gave me a word that those were falling off of me. I was ecstatic for weeks.
I’m not gonna lie. For a second there – I thought I had arrived.
It was awesome to feel that way and yet at the same time terrifying because I know we NEVER arrive on this side of heaven.
And sure enough, I slid down that mountain top so dang fast and landed so hard in the valley that it knocked the air out of me and might have broken a few bones. I’m still not sure if I have internal bleeding or not. ;o)
So here I am. In the valley. Again. Except I don’t try to resist the valley anymore. I trust that God knows what He’s doing. He has proved Himself faithful so many times before and this time won’t be any different.
I’m calling this season #UndoingTheDoing. As in, undoing the need to ‘do’ all the time. Create, post, write, share, encourage, dream, do, do, do. Yeah. I’m stopping that. I’m undoing the need to do. Not for forever. Just for a bit.
I don’t hide the fact that I’m in recovery. I’m a recovering people pleaser. I’ve realized over the past few months that I have not been healed from people pleasing – I’ve just learned to cope.
As a victim of intense mental/emotional abuse as a child/young adult, a person gets REALLY jacked up, y’all. Either you know that from your own experience … or because you’ve met me and think I’m crazy. Sorry, not sorry. Mental/emotional abuse as a child and young adult planted seeds in me that buried roots so darn deep.
Look straight ahead. What you see is an accurate view of what’s in front of you. Now, keep looking straight but tilt your head to where your chin is pointing toward your shoulder. You’re now seeing the world through my lens. It’s all off. It’s skewed. It’s tilted.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t see the accurate view. Not yet. But I will.
It’s great for creativity. It’s great for writing. It’s great for capturing the world from a different angle – but at the end of the day, it leaves you wondering ‘what the heck is wrong with me?’
Growing up with co dependence issues taught me to be an extreme people pleaser. I was told how to feel, how to act, how to think, how to be. I was told I wasn’t good enough . I was called selfish. It was spoken over me that I believe the world owes me something. I was told I was a liar, I was told to shut up. I was called a whore. My mom tried to fight me. I would make my mom cry and it was the most devastating feeling.
I was accused for something and without any explanation at all, my dad slapped me in the face so hard it knocked me to the ground.
[Side note – God has reconciled my relationship with my parents and I love them dearly and am so grateful for his miraculous healing power in relationships]
So I learned to be who they wanted me to be. When I was with my parents I tried my hardest to be their ideal ‘April’. When I was with my friends – I was ‘me’. I lied about everything with my parents to please them and tell them what they wanted to hear. If I performed well, I felt loved. If I slipped into ‘me’ mode, I felt like the love was taken away.
I became a master of people pleasing and living a double life. The problem with living a fake life and a real life is that eventually you forget which is which.
From 4th grade until I was 23 years old, I pleased everyone around me so I could feel love. If I ever started to think about myself or care for myself, I would be so afraid that someone would discover I was selfish, so I cared for others instead and never gave attention to my own needs, thoughts, desires, or voice.
From age 20 – 23ish, I was a professing follower of Jesus and was learning about boundaries. I was putting boundaries into practice and getting good at it.
At age 26 my whole world came crashing down because of anxiety. General Anxiety Disorder took my feet out from under me and left me in a deep depression.
Here I am at 31, free from GAD, great with boundaries, but I feel like God is shining a spotlight on this people pleasing root. It’s deep y’all.
I look back at my whole life and I see anxiety. I never even knew what the heck anxiety was until I was 26 and it tried to murder me. But looking back, anxiety is fear – and I have been fearful my whole life. Specifically fearful of people not loving me.
Because of this fear, I have learned to be a really nice person. I have learned to go good things. I try my hardest not to step on toes. When I want to make good life decisions for myself that will better me, I feel like I’m wrong.
When people are mad, I feel like it’s my fault. When someone has clearly wronged me, I think of some way how it might be my fault so I can let them off the hook.
If conflict is happening in front of me (that has nothing to do with me), I get extremely uncomfortable. I am so stinkin’ naive sometimes. Because I was always called selfish and I know how bad that hurts, I refuse to call others selfish when they are straight up being selfish. People can butter me up with their words and drop me flat on my face with their actions – but because the words felt good, I totally miss the actions.
I’ve learned to doubt my thoughts and opinions and I get stuck when I’m trying to hold my ground – it’s as if I forget what my position was on the matter or that I don’t even care.
I don’t fit because I won’t let myself fit. I don’t belong because I don’t know how. I never feel good enough because I’m not perfect. I’m not looking with a straight view – I’m looking with a tilted view and I need God to do a chiropractic miracle up in here!
I remember one day having this melt down in front of one of my good friends and I was telling her that I just couldn’t handle the expectations of who I’m supposed to be and I just wanted to get away so I wasn’t under that ‘rule’ anymore.
She looked at me with a confused look and said, “April. Who is asking you to be that way?” I didn’t have an answer back then but tonight I have an answer.
No one at all.
So what’s up with all this clutter in my head?
Roots of deception from childhood trauma and a lack of identity.
Identity 101, again.
This round is gonna be good. I’m excited – ish.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, for those of you who actually read this stuff, I wanted to explain before I just disappear.
I’m stepping away from social media until January 2017. My pages will still be active but I won’t be there. I won’t write on my blog during this time, I’ll write privately.
I won’t be attending many social events. It’s not personal. I’m going to be very prayerful and specific about the events I do attend. So, if you message me and say ‘let’s get coffee’ and I decline, it’s just a season and I hope you’ll stick it out with me. Plus – I already know this is gonna be a MESSY season and I’m trying to protect you. You’re welcome. ;o)
I have to find myself, y’all. I need to find that April that got suppressed many years ago. God knows where she’s at and we’re on a journey to rescue her. I need to know what she likes. What she doesn’t like. I need to tell her that she’s loved and wanted and able. She needs to know its not her fault. She has a voice and it needs to be discovered. She’s breaking free, you guys!
In 2011 my feet were knocked out from under me, I was tossed into the fire and I had to sit in the uncomfortable pain that comes with lack of control. To finish off 2016, I’m voluntarily walking into the furnace. It’s going to suck – but I know that God is going to do something incredible. He never leads us where He isn’t willing to go Himself.
I’m running hard after Jesus over these next few months. I need to know what following Jesus looks like without the culture telling me what it looks like. I need to know what following Jesus looks like without an audience. No likes, comments, amens, etc. No affirmation.
If my fear is that people won’t love me, I need to be led into a lonely place where I can see that people not loving me, is okay. People not seeing me, is okay. People not cheering me on, is okay. People not agreeing, is okay.
Jesus is enough. I don’t want to go on idolizing what others think or really even caring what they think. I cannot serve two masters. Jesus is enough.
My doing is a manifestation of anxiety. It’s an outlet for me to feel good and that I’m contributing good to this world. I need to learn what life looks like when I’m not doing. I need to be still and silent.
God always reveals things to our hearts at just the right time. The things I’ve shared here are so obvious now … but I’ve never seen them before.
I can’t wait to see what God has in store.
Soooo… if you wanna keep in touch and just say hi – feel free to email me at email@example.com … I can’t guarantee I’m always going to answer. This is really a time of stripping away (again) but I always love hearing from people.
Although I won’t be meeting for many social events or one on one chit chats, if you find yourself in a place where you need one on one advice, I will still be open for business and am always happy to discuss one of my consulting packages with you. Just visit my website and fill out the bottom form and we can see if consulting would be a good fit for you.
Frequent the blog. Go get you some! There’s like 7 years of writing in this piece. Get your encouragement on! ;o)
Alright. I think that’s it. Prayers are always appreciated.
I’m out, friends. I’ll see ya in 2017.