Digging Out the Hurt

So often times we go through life and we beat ourselves down putting “standards”, burdens, our past, our failure all on top of us and we bury the very person God designed us to be.

All of these things we are not suppose to even carry let alone have it bury us so down that we we lose all sight of hope. We begin to believe our shortfalls our what defines us, our failures are the only thing people see, and that life is pointless because no one sees you, hears you, understands you, or even loves you. So we turn to outside sources to fill the void, to make us feel something or even make us feel nothing. It can be anything, that gives us that feeling. We find it somewhere. It allows us not to feel invincible or hurt for a small window of time.

These are only temporary solutions that will not last. They will only bury us further and further down and it starts a cycle of needing that “high” because it feels that void. Some will lose their life fighting a battle against things they never were meant to battle let alone battle alone. This void we feel is found in God. , people often refer to it as “The God size hole in your heart” and how we fill it determine how we go through our life, day by day, step by step.

Hope, grace, and freedom can be found regardless how bad the situation or past may be.

Hope is found in God. Hope is the last thing we hold on to and the first twinkle we see in our road to healing. Hope is found everywhere. Hope can be found in a smile of a little kids face, or a cry of a baby. It can be a friend reaching out to you, or a mentor to tell you to hold on, it can be just someone finally getting you to see that hope isn’t lost, hope is just buried inside.

Grace is found when we surrender it ALL. It’s confessing every sin and every time you hear and feel the voice of God in conviction and you turn the other cheek. It allowing God into the areas of our life that we keep private in a dark closet in the basement, it’s allowing God in to everything he already knows but confessing it with our lips and on our knees in repentance.

Freedom is found after laying everything down at the foot of the cross. After putting EVERYTHING and surrendering EVERYTHING to God. It’s letting go of the control we think we have in our lives and giving the keys to God. It’s putting Gods hand back on your shoulder and allowing God to lead you. It’s the feeling of a heavy weight coming off your chest. It’s the first breathe of air after feeling trapped for so long.

Life isn’t about the temporary. It’s about the eternal. We either live a life trying to figure out which way to go or we live a life surrendered to God, prayerfully connected, confessing when we need to confess and staying in tuned to the frequency of God.

We all are buried to some extent. It just depends on how we try to unbury ourselves that determines the future God has in store.

Swallowing the Pill

Over the past few years, I’ve written about and have talked about the struggle with depression. This one is no different.

Some of you are aware that since about August I went into a really dark place with major depression. What some of you don’t know is I was diagnosed by my psychiatrist with not only major depression but also PTSD and panic disorder. The reason why I believe people should know is that this world is not okay.

Many of us disguise our depression, our anxious thoughts with a vice. Because we are taught in early age that we are not allowed to feel down, depressed, worried, to have a mind full of fear, that it’s okay to not know how to show and receive love and that’s it’s okay to not want to be a part of the world. We are shown by examples in media that suicide has to be a result of something major we are hiding, that depression is looked down on, that PTSD is something only war vets get, that mental hospitals are for the crazy people and that being “normal” is hiding who we really are.

Vices can be anything that makes us feel numb even just for a moment. It might be alcohol, drugs, food, porn, anger, literally anything can be formed as a vice. I can say I’ve never felt the high of the drugs but I’ve felt the alcohol pour through my veins. I’ve felt the food layer in pounds and the porn become mindless. Vices make us numb and quiet our voices and stresses but never confronts the problems.

The issue many of us face is we don’t see that our problems are not ours to bare. We get up trying to fight them and become worn out and beaten. We become exhausted, never wining, always giving up. What we need to do is to surrender and stop trying to fight them. We will NEVER win, we are not suppose to. God won already. God took your burdens to the cross through Jesus.

Jesus is our hope we should be fighting for. He is the only way for us to get the strength to fight the enemy because it is only through him we have won against him. Depression, anxiety, anything that makes us turn to vices and addiction needs to be given up to surrender. We cannot control those dark places in our minds, but He can. He has numbered every one of our days, every hair on our head. He is our redeemer, our hope , our fighter, our rescuer, our Father, our love, our everything. He knows every down fall, every breathe we take he has known and will know.

We cannot hide from him any thoughts he does not already know. I wanted to end my life earlier this year because I saw no hope. Hope was no where to be found. I lost meaning. I lost me. I saw no future, no friends, no love. As hard as it may be to say, I was scared of myself and this world. I just wanted it all to be over. Today, I still struggle, I’m not perfect nor healed. I’m on medication and in counseling. But if I never got to that places where I saw no hope, I wouldn’t of surrendered inside my car outside of a Starbucks with tears running down my face. I had to reach that point of brokenness so that he kind mend those pieces.

I’ve been through this path before. I’ve been through this struggle. But this time I know God is here to mend the broken pieces that he’s never been able to touch before because I never fully surrendered everything to him.

If you believe you might need help in any sort of manner. If you’re down, sad, suicidal, addicted to drugs and alcohol, anything there is hope. Hope is alive. You are not meant to walk this path by yourself. Seek help from others. There are more people out there who care for you and love you than you will ever know.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text “Home” to 741741



A Letter to my Poppop

Dear Poppop,

You are missed. As the 21st anniversary of your death is approaching it still feels like yesterday I lost you. I walked beside you as you fought a good fight to stay alive. I remember being beside you as you lay in your hospital bed. I remember the pain in your eyes yet your love and humor never ceased to make me smile.

I still remember the smell of cigarettes and leather with a hint of double mint gum on the rides to church. I remember sitting in the garage watching you doing what you love and never backing down from a challenge. I remember you falling asleep watching wrestling or NASCAR and we would try to change it and you would wake up and yell at us.

I’ve held onto 11 years of memories but I’ve held onto 21 years of hurt. The last words from you I remember are, “Tanya, give me one more hug because I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again”. In the moment I was quiet, I took it like a champ just like you’ve would’ve wanted, I was dying inside. A week later we got a phone call, you went home.

But I lost the man who loved me unconditionally, the man who couldn’t get mad at me regardless of how many times I messed up and acted up. I lost my best friend, my grandfather, I lost a piece of me.

God gave us a time together that will go down in history but I’m still struggling with my 11 year old self trying to get passed this hurt today. I’m not who I was 21 years ago. The root of my pain and is driven by the hurt I felt the day you took that last breath. I ran away from God. I pretended he didn’t exist for many years. I filled my void with alcohol, pornography, and men beginning at the age of 13. I lost all self worth and identity. I stopped believing in who you told me I was. I blamed myself for your death, “If I only prayed more, if I was there more, if I was a better granddaughter, if I loved more”

I didn’t know who I was anymore. I never found myself until I got a glimpse of the God you believed in, I met Jesus. I got to finally feel the love you had for me. I got to witness the man you tried to be for me. I want to say that from that moment I was a completely different person. But I wasn’t. My life changed drastically, roads I was going down rerouted to where God wanted me but it took years to dig through the sin and it’s still taking time fighting the enemy and my flesh to get back to who I was before you died. There’s still shame, guilt, and more I’m still digging up I have to work through. But with Jesus I can do all things, you taught me that, I was just too blind to see.

Thank you for loving me like your own daughter. Thank you for teaching me even though I was too blind to see. Love you Poppop. Until we meet again.

Your Granddaughter,

Tanya

The Breakdown

So last week, I had a breakdown. I hit my emotional quota and just let it all out at once. Now by nature, I’m not that emotional, I’m not a feeler, or so I think and try to convince myself. Now there are a few ways people let their stuff out,  there are some people who let out their frustrations and burdens and blast them all over their social media, now some are legit a cry for help but some are people who blast about stubbing their toe or how someone cut them off in traffic…we all know a few of those people. Some people break stuff, some people just go to their close friends or spouse or even counselor. But there are also people who bury it deep inside.

You see we think we are slick and we think we let things roll off our shoulders but some of us don’t, some of us just bury it deep inside. Some of us, especially myself, get to the point of hurt and frustration that we eventually just have to get it all out at once. But the problem isn’t the blow-up, the problem is the build-up.

I build up so much that I put on a mask so no one knows I’m hurting. No one knows ‘s just how broken I am. And I will run to where I am the most comfortable. I will run to food, I will run to laziness and procrastination, I will run to my past addiction of pornography, I will run to the darkness inside of me and hide and I will see no hope, no purpose, I will feel empty, unloved and unworthy. But all I am really doing in all of it is running away from God and telling him that his purpose for my life is not greater than the darkness that’s inside of me and his love does not measure up to the love that I feel emptied from and the darkness is brighter in me than the light he put inside of me. All of which we know are false.

God does have purpose for my life it is far greater than I can even imagine. God loves me so much he saved not just my life but my soul. He chose me to be in heaven with him for eternity. He chose me to live with the Holy Spirit inside of me. He chose me to spread the good news of the Gospel. He chose me to be a living testimony of the grace of God. He chose me even knowing every flaw, blemish or scar. He knows my ugliness and knows where I run, but he still chose me and he still loves me regardless of how many times I try to run away or tune him out.

He chooses you too, the enemy will try to convince you otherwise. He will try to convince you that God’s plan is not better than your plan. The enemy will try to convince you that it’s better to live in comfort and for self than it is to be comforted and live for God. The enemy will try to convince you to stray away from God. The enemy will try to convince you that no one likes you, wants you, loves you and you will look to the temporary for the fix only God can provide. The enemy doesn’t want to see you succeed, the enemy only wants to see you fail. And we have to combat the enemy with promises of God and the power of prayer. Prayer is our communication, our way of repentance and praise. Prayer is our means to surrender control.

No matter how many times I might get frustrated or feel certain ways. I have to remember to take it to my knees and the cross before I take anywhere else or let it build. I have to let God mend those broken pieces. Because if I don’t, I won’t be me. I will shallow, quick to the tongue, and I will run to my comfort.

Even if you got nothing out of this I want you to know God loves you. He redeemed you. He has purpose and will for your life. No matter how far away you feel from him, he is right there by your side. He will never leave you nor foresake you. He loves you as son or daughter. You are his even if you don’t know it yet.

 

 

 

Baltimore’s Hope

Baltimore, you hurt my soul. The one thing I have learned over these past few months is that it doesn’t cost a thing to make a difference in someone’s life. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone you are cheering for them. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone you believe in them. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone there is hope. It doesn’t cost a thing to tell someone about the love God has for them. It doesn’t cost a thing to pray for or with them. But we don’t.
 
We don’t go out in the inner city and tell those kids we are there for them. We don’t go out and tell those kids who had no choice in the situation they are in to tell them there is hope. We don’t go out and encourage them and show them the love God has for them. We don’t do it. Why?
 
We believe it’s someone else’s job. God appointed special people for it. But let me tell you, do you know how much Baltimore would be different if we put down our pride and took up our cross and followed him into where he cries out? If we laid down our lives to better those around us.
 
There are lost people everywhere, all around us. But my heart breaks for those kids in the city most of them are unaware what they are even going through. Their normal is our nightmare. Yet we expect their outcome to be the same as ours.
 
You have no idea what they go through. I haven’t even gotten past the surface and all I want to do is cry out to God and ask why. There is hope. We are the hope. We are the ones God called to love this city. Love cannot be poured out if it is not poured in. We can make a difference. You can make a difference.
 
I love my church because we have a ministry in East Baltimore. We have the light of Jesus shinning. But they can’t change the city by themselves. They can’t share the gospel with every kid in the city. But He doesn’t just call his church to his kids, he calls you and me to give hope and to show love to these kids. He calls all of us. If we all put the plow to the ground we can give hope and show love to these kids and start to show them a better a future just by taking time out of our schedule, embracing them and encouraging them. 

The Seed

2006. My first true freshman year of college. I was at High Point University. A university I never actually applied to because we couldn’t afford to pay the application fee. But I got the letter anyway.

Anyway, it was my first time being away from family. My first time I felt true “freedom”. I went into college as political science major, my dream at the time was to be lawyer. So since I knew I would stressed out, I decided to do the thing that would ease anxiety and stress, sing. I joined a group called University Singers at my college. We would sing at events and one time we event went to NYC to sing at a church. It was an unforgettable experience. I’ve never had experienced anything like that before.

In University Singers was this amazing young woman, Stephanie. There was something different about her. She was handicapped but she didn’t let it stop her. She shared her faith with me when I didn’t want to hear it. In my mind the only thing I could think about was “I wonder what I’m doing on Friday night? Whose having a party?” I didn’t care at the time what she was saying but my soul cared because it longed to be like hers. It envied her.

That year I was almost suspended from school because I was caught drinking and completely wasted throwing up in women’s bathroom in my dorm. And It wasn’t the first time. I talked my way out of the suspension and a large fine by getting community service and a minimal fine. But even through that Stephanie never gave up on me, I would tell her what I did and she didn’t care. She loved me through it. Something different.

My glimmer of light and hope shattered suddenly. Stephanie passed away unexpectedly. I can’t say it shattered my world because I was more focused on me and my fleshly desires. But it opened my eyes. The school did a dedication to her so the University Singers got up and sang a few of her favorite songs. I Can Only Imagine was one of them. This song resinated in my soul and every time I heard it, I cried. I had no real idea of what the song was about but my soul cried for it.

I transferred schools that year because I wanted to be “comfortable” next to friends. So I transferred schools to Lynchburg College. My flesh took over full fledge and hatred for Christianity began to stir up inside of me. I would debate it until my face was blue. I had all the answers. I would mock it. I would be mean to anyone who believed in it. I was an unpleasant person.

There were times I would listen to the songs we song at her dedication because it took to a place I couldn’t let go of. These songs were her light shinning through. They were hope. But I hid them from everyone. I didn’t want to be a “softy” or a hypocrite. So I only would put it on when I was completely stressed to the max.

6 years after the seed was planted, I found Jesus. That hope they sing about was found. My soul that holding on to those words was home. I felt alive for the first time.

Life happens but it’s what you take away that’s important. People come and people go. But there are people who you might only see for a very short moments that will end up changing your life forever.

Love like Jesus. Live with your faith in your sleeve. Never give up hope. And always listen to the spirit inside of you. We are chosen, sons and daughters of a living God. This world is not our home. Our father has a place for us in heaven…. I can only imagine.

Untapped Power

Prayer is an untapped source of power to so many. Many of us unknowingly put it off as just another task to do or we just need to check that religious box, “I prayed today”. But it’s so powerful and we shouldn’t neglect it. Why do we open our lips before we get on our knees? Why do we think we have it all figured out, when in reality we know only a small amount of anything?

Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” We can do NOTHING of the spirit without him, yet we think we can rule this world and this flesh without him. We think that if we don’t pray, it all will work itself out but it’s a wrong way to think.

Prayer is so powerful we shouldn’t neglect it. We need to cry out for our city, our neighborhoods, the lost, our nation. We should cry out to God about the darkness in this world because it is not okay. We should cry to God to surrender all of us because we need to be filled with all of Him. We can’t change the world by ourselves but with God anything is possible.

This world needs Jesus. This city of Baltimore is in desperate need of Jesus. We can’t expect mountains to move if we never get our knees.