When I imagined writing a blog post on my thirtieth birthday this was not what I had in mind. Even two months ago my idea was something fun or reflective in which I would mull over the 30 years of my brief existence and spout knowledge to you.
But as the time drew nearer, I put off drafting that post. A title popped in my head, and as I reflected more on the year, I understood that it was the best way of describing this last year.
It wasn’t what I wanted or expected, but the more I’ve thought about it—even stressed over it—I’ve realized that what I needed to write this year was something more than a collection of my own musings. Instead, I needed to share what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown this past year, even if it isn’t flattering.
So here we go.
My Identity as a Woman
Since I was very little (I think saying six is not an exaggeration) I’ve noticed that I approached the world differently from other women, and it bothered me. I’m not sure how to describe it, but part of it is the way my brain works is very different, and I seem to run by a different value set than most women do.
I can remember feeling guilty about this as a little girl. My personality and the way I enjoyed living wasn’t like what I saw in movies or books, or even in my friends. While I still connected with characters and other girls inside I felt very bad about not being like what I saw.
While I grew less guilty over time, it is something I felt even into adulthood—that I wasn’t exactly what a woman should be. That I was somehow wrong.
This year God really reconciled my internal world and my physical world. This didn’t happen through a change in the physical or in my personality. It happened in the way I saw myself. I began to see myself with his vision of me and who he created me to be. I understood that the parts of my personality and internal workings that aren’t like other women aren’t a mistake. I recognized that he made me who I was for a reason and that all the details I kept getting hung up on were not specifically male or female at all, simply the human reflection of who he is.
While I had grown accustomed to being different with age, this year God helped me snuff out the lie that I was made wrong and would always be misfitting. Even though the lie was quieter these last few years, I can mark the point where the feeling went away. I received the truth of my identity from Christ and I have felt so infinitely free since. It’s hard to describe, but it was a very significant change, and I am thankful for that area of healing.
There are other ways in which God reconciled my personality this year. Besides the reconciliation of my sex/gender, I’ve struggled with the intensely bold side of my personality.
When I contracted Lyme five years ago, God used it to break down some of the arrogant and aggressive parts of my mindset (the parts that I know were not that great). I became a lot gentler of a person and more compassionate, but as my body has come back closer to original health my brain has healed and I could start being more of myself again. (It’s a bit hard to explain, but I think it’s partly related to the idea of physical trauma and what it can do to your personality).
At first, I was very afraid to be myself again. I could clearly see how I had used my strength of will and boldness in harmful ways in the past, and I wondered if I should accept that part of my personality again or suppress it. Very tenderly God began to show me how he made me that way, and how those traits were good. I understood that God used the Lyme as a wake-up call so I could live according to my personality, but in the
It was a process that began before my last birthday, but it really settled this year. I’m at a point where I can understand when I’m being a pill and when I should use that boldness. Though it will no doubt be a lifelong learning process I now am at a point where I’m not fighting the guilt about the way I am, or ignoring the times I can cause harm. I am by no means perfect, but since I am walking in daily relationship with God I have hope that I will grow in this area as life goes on.
If you are thinking that this last year was a huge year of psychological and spiritual healing the answer is yes.
I was ignored a lot as a kid. Or not accepted. At times I was made fun of. In a couple of cases, I call it bullying. As a result, I had trouble making friends and my outlook on people changed.
In earlier years I would befriend someone new to a group because no one really talked with them. Later people would realize that the person was actually pretty cool, draw them into their group and I didn’t get to hang out with them again. For whatever reason, I was never invited into those groups.
There was one particular instance when I was a teenager when I made a decision to no longer be the first to reach out for friendships. A girl in our youth group mentioned how she felt like people didn’t like her because of her eyes (they were shaped a little differently), and immediately she was drawn into the group of friends. What hurt was not that they accepted her, but that I had been there so much longer and no one had ever tried to reach out to me, though I was there and tried to be a part of those groups.
At that moment I decided not to open myself to friendships until another person had invited me. I was too sick of being abandoned and ignored. During
This year I spent the first several months (five months) in extreme isolation because of Lyme’s disease, co-infections, and parasites. I was a wreck, but as soon as I was able to go out again in June I began to socialize again.
In September I had a deeply healing experience at my church. We had a young adult gathering and a time of prayer, and I asked for healing about not feeling like I belonged. To my amazement I had so many people come to me and encourage me. I knew that they genuinely cared, and for the first time in seventeen years I was able to fully receive the love and friendship that people extended towards me.
I’ve had several friends, but always held back just enough because of the hurt I experienced. It was such a habit I realize that there were times I was not even aware of it. Since that time I’ve been able to extend friendship to others. I’m still healing, (and trying to figure out how healthy friendship still looks like as an introvert), but the freedom I have now is remarkable. I actually trust people now to be my friend. It was something I just couldn’t do before.
Being alone for so long at the start of the year I became aware of how many imaginary conversations I had in my head. In these
I talk to God throughout my day (it’s a habit now) and sometimes I pray out loud
Now, I want to make a note. I think that it is important to know, believe, and discuss what is right and wrong. We need to be able to analyze a situation and say what we think morally about a situation. That is discernment.
But the most important part of this is that I am sorry. Sorry for the dumb
I am sorry, by the way, if I did judge you. If I have. If I will. I’m not perfect and I’m still growing.
I’m trying to let Christ’s light shine in me, but I got to let some things die to shine all the brighter. I have to ignore my screaming pride that suspects others will judge me in return if I admit I struggle in this area. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Christ knows my heart and I work with him to make it better.
Chipping Away at Pride
If there was anything to say about this last year it would be that it was the year that pride began to crack. Even though so much was shattered during the first four years of Lyme, this year was the year God began to crack the deeper places.
There are still places that need work:
- My want to be not necessarily liked by people but at least respected.
- My desire for notoriety.
- My need for Christ to weed out the sinful habits in me, rather than by my own strength.
- My acceptance that my work in the world might be quiet, simple, small, and very unnoticed, but that it matters everything to God.
- My pursuit of creativity would be with a desire to honor God, rather than an act of vanity.
- My management of emotions and judgements, particularly in conversations with others.
I never expected a year ago to write a post like this, but I am so glad I am. The amount of freedom and strength I have experienced through God this year exceeded my imagination. There were some things in my life I believed would always be there. I had no clue my life could be richer, and I could be as free as I am today.
I am so thankful for you all and the time you have taken to read this. I’m praying others might find hope and encouragement as well.