love & [reflection]

Ya’ll.

It’s about to be 2019.

Like a year away from 2020.

Whoa.

Years ago, a couple of best friends showed me the importance of reflecting at the end of seasons, and I haven’t looked back. It’s one of the coolest things! And man, has this year been a year.

I have probably cried more times this year than I have in my life. (Well, maybe not when I was a cute little infant baby.) But this year, I had to acknowledge depression and anxiety, look them in the face, and say “you’re not going to swallow me whole”. And decided to go to counseling. Which is still a strange thing to say out loud.

But gosh, this year I’ve also experienced some of the deepest joy in the formation of friendships and servanthood. I’ve learned how to celebrate friends, and TRULY celebrate them. Like burst at the seams with excitement of how much they are killing the game of life, even when I don’t feel like I’m doing the same. I’ve had some of the best conversations, filled with honesty and truth and encouragement and straight up vitality. And I think I’ve loved people really well this year. I showed up when I could and when I didn’t feel like it and when it meant the most. And I’ve told people that I love why I love them. And why they are important.

This year sucked in a lot of ways, but when I count up all the sweet things, I see fortune instead disfavor.

At the end of the day, life is hard and surprise! – it only gets harder. BUT here’s a charge:

Keep showing up and keep loving people, always. “What’s done in love is well done” is one of my favorite quotes because it holds true.

Keep your favorite human beings close to your heart, and take care of yourself so that you can be the best version of yourself – not just for you, but for the people around you.

Most importantly, keep trusting God. He hasn’t forgotten you, He’s always always making moves – especially when it doesn’t feel like it.

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don’t trust the highlight reel

A couple of months ago, I ran into someone I knew from college during one of my toughest weeks. I had worked five 12 hour shifts in the past 8 days with a wedding in between and a service trip I had to fly into late because I couldn’t get the day off… She saw me and said, “Jerri! How are you? You look like you are thriving!” I was caught off guard, at first thinking what exactly is her definition of ‘thriving’? I thought maybe if we were closer or in the same group of friends, she would know how very confused I felt in this season of life. But instead, she went onto say, “Your social media stories seem like you’re having so much fun! You’re a nurse living it up and looks like you love your job, you’re traveling to all these cool places, and your family videos! You just look like you are living your best life.”

A wedding reception wasn’t the best place for a talk about depression, so I just smiled and said thanks, and agreed that my vacation was a really, fun time.

And it was! But that doesn’t make my life perfect. There are people who actually look at my life and call it “goals”, which I hate. I’m really blessed to have the means to travel and to have people to do that with, but what people may not know is sometimes I would plan trips just to have something to look forward to. I was struggling so hard with work, my depleting social life, and ministry that I felt like I needed something to get me through the month. By the end of every trip, I would fall back into the same feelings of sadness. The escape and novelty of being in a new place and almost having a different life for a bit would soon fade once I came back to reality.

Being a night shift nurse has taken a toll on my body. There are days where I don’t feel like myself and can’t hold conversations without wanting to close my eyes. Sometimes my legs feel like they will give out if I try to leave my bed and I’m so exhausted I skip meals. Having to sleep when the sun is out is bizarre. Using earplugs, room darkening curtains, and eye masks during the day feels just like it sounds – sad. Getting to see friends feels like waiting for the next solar eclipse! Most people are free after 5 PM and on weekends, which is exactly when I work. And when I’m free, it’s in the middle of the day, when everyone else is at work; so a lot of time is spent at home or by myself. And my home life has its ups and its downs. Some days are filled with dancing and laughter, but other days consumed by heated arguments and hurtful words.

Every 1-2 months, I get into a bad headspace where my thoughts race and I feel so lost, asking God “what do you want from me?” At one point, I became so sad and contemplated whether or not my life was really worth it. It didn’t feel like it was and I felt so desperate. Having issues at home, running on 4 hours or less of sleep, and not getting to be with people was wearing on my soul. The things that kept my head above water most were thinking about the people who loved me, and remaining hopeful about the plan God has for my life.

What I want to say is that I’ve conquered this and have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. But that’s not true, it’s quite the work in progress. So right now, I’m really working on being thankful. Because I don’t have a bad life, I just have bad days. There are a lot of good things about my life, but the enemy knows that and will do whatever it takes to seep in and make you think otherwise.

What I will say is be honest. It is so much easier for people to be genuine and honest with themselves when you are too. If you’re not doing well, if you need a friend or some community, seek that out and ask for help. My Young Life community has been the biggest blessing. I’m not sure what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing life with people that encourage me, pray with me, and cry with me, while simultaneously making me laugh and making their houses my homes. And getting to serve, love, and give to the most fun high school kids alongside them is so rewarding.

If you have a friend who looks like they’re enjoying life on social media, don’t assume they are. Ask them. I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago and a woman spoke about how hurt she was when in the midst of her tumultuous divorce, a friend of hers said she had no idea and didn’t ask because she seemed okay on Instagram. Don’t let that become your only connection with people you care about. Check on your humans. We often only share the good stuff, but there’s always something more real under all of that.

– Jerri

blessed

So I wrote this thing about a month ago, when the reality of being unemployed truthfully settled in and my emotions surrounding that were at an all time high. Although now, I am employed. I actually start orientation tomorrow, so life came at me fast. But our generation has a tendency to only show the peachy, positive, bright side of life on social media. Too often, we only celebrate our successes, but don’t embrace our failures. I wanted to delete what I wrote, because I thought it was too whiny, too spiteful, and now, too irrelevant. However, I’m hoping to speak to people like me, who find it hard to rejoice when others are doing really well or seemingly better. For people who want to be or do something somewhere else, but don’t know what that “else” is.

 

My spirits have been up and down. I know the job search is difficult. I was warned it’d be a long process, and potentially a discouraging one, but that I would need to remain encouraged and persistent. I know that most of everyone has been through this stage. Some unemployment periods longer than others, but many people have had the sheer joy of doing 30-45 minute long applications, never hearing back for weeks, and then finally getting an email that just says something along the lines of “we decided to pursue another candidate”.

I know in a few months time, I’ll look back and scoff at how worried I was. I’ll get something eventually, and have a new list of concerns that don’t include being unemployed. But right now, I’m really not in the mood for people to tell me my time is coming, to be patient, and to enjoy this time. Because I am doing all of those things. I feel good most days. I have plenty of time to workout, I can make my own meals, and I get to read books for fun in my spare time. Money is tight, but I’ve been getting by with the help of really loving parents. I’ve been able to refresh and keep up so many good friendships, and have been able to invest more time into church and ministry. But when you apply for 5-10 jobs a day, for weeks and weeks at a time, it feels like it’s own job. I’m tired of talking myself up in these copy pasted cover letters when those words can’t sum me up in person. The more jobs I get rejected from, the less I want to apply. And the more time I spend in bed. And the more baked goods I eat. And the sadder I feel.

As graduation was approaching in the spring, I started to make efforts to change my attitude about certain things. In March, I made the decision to a.) Not compare my journey to others’, and b.) Celebrate my friends who are getting jobs even when I’m still looking.

And it has been really difficult. I deleted all of my social media for a month this summer, hoping to avoid those God-awful “I’m pleased to announce” posts. Those have always rubbed me the wrong way. Seriously, it’s great that you got exactly what you wanted at this world-renowned organization that loves you so much. YAY let all of Facebook join hands and praise your success. Like seriously, did you do that to inform your friends and family that you’re doing well, or did you do it out of vain? I don’t plan on doing that whenever I get a job. And now, I have friends who are close to me getting interviews for the same exact jobs I applied for. It’s nearly impossible for me not to constantly debate in my head whether or not I did something wrong or that I’m just simply not good enough. I’m just kinda over this whole thing.

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I’m trying not be down about it, and I’m trying not to compare myself to others. I’ve been doing pretty well about remaining optimistic. But today is particularly hard. And I kinda just want to cry and watch This Is Us.

You would think by now that I finally found the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a job now! I can finally pay for my car without help, I can stop getting samples of makeup from Sephora and just get the real thing, and actually get more than just a drink when I’m out to eat. But it’s funny how we can be when God gives what we’ve been asking for. I’ve been waiting to be out of this awkward post-grad stage, and now that I’m on my way out, I’m kinda asking God to rethink His decisions and take back what He’s given me. A friend of mine said “I have to remind myself that everything I used to pray for is what I have now. Too often, we beg God for things, and once He delivers, we say it’s too much.” And that spoke to me because that’s where I’m at.

I realized my motivation in not posting about my new job wasn’t genuine. I didn’t do it because I wasn’t proud, and because it wasn’t my dream job. If I had got hired at one of the best hospitals in my area, there would’ve been no hesitation in broadcasting that. Because that’s what we want people to see. But that didn’t happen. I’m working at a hospital I didn’t anticipate, on a floor and with a population I didn’t expect. And that is okay.

I’ve been reminded to always celebrate those doing well around you. There’s something so special and humbling about sharing excitement with your achieving friends. Their victory becomes your victory.

I’ve been reminded that the timing may not be what we expect, and the blessing may not be what we think, but we’re still blessed. God doesn’t play favorites; He has our best interest always and has purpose and reason behind everything.

I’m anxious about working and getting a taste of the real world for sure, but I’m also really excited to start a new journey. It’s going to be challenging, and my perpetual state of exhaustion will only be heightened. Thankfully, I’m surrounded by fantastic human beings who are all in with me, willing to meet me where I’m at, and share in my victory.

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just do it

I was talking to someone the other day who felt like she was stuck in a spot. She shared how she has longed to move on & be the foster mom she’s always wanted to be, but feels like she has issues to work through first. Issues that have been in place for years, but haven’t been resolved because of work and negligence of counseling. I asked her if she felt like these problems had to be fixed right now in order for her to achieve motherhood, and she said she doesn’t know if it’s really holding her up, or if it’s just an excuse.

We think that because we are not as loving as we could be, as selfless as we could be, as adventurous as we could be, that we can’t do great things right now. We are perfectionists, and want to show up in tip-top shape, looking our best, but God does the coolest things when we are the most out of shape. He wants to meet us right where we are, in the grit and rubble of our lives, and show us how He can take something that is broken, and remake it into something that is beautiful. You don’t need to be all fixed up and wrapped with big red bow to be useful. Sometimes, we have to be really screwed up in order to recognize our need. I think that is incredible.

I struggle with this a lot. There are some goals I want to achieve that I won’t say out loud because I don’t want to fully commit, or I’m scared it won’t come to fruition. There are so many opportunities that I turn down or run away from because I don’t think I’m a good enough person to go for them. I think there’s a lot of work to be done and I never think that I’m ready to take on certain tasks that come my way. But having these weaknesses and doubts are a chance to see what grace is all about. Some of the greatest growth and blessings come through not knowing what the hell you’re getting yourself into. Not being ready. Being broken.

Embrace the fact that you may not be your best self. You think you’re unlikely; well you’re not. God has used some of the most amateur, unlikely people to take on his most marvelous deeds.

june 11th

It seriously breaks my heart that there are people in this world who don’t know people care about them. They do not think one person cares for them enough to make them stay on this earth.

There are people who think their life is so un-worth it, so meaningless, so devalued. They think their life has no purpose. and that it’s not work experiencing or persevering through. And so they take their own lives, not fully realizing the impact their absence will have on the lives of people. On their mothers, nieces, brothers, teachers. And even in strangers like me.

And what doesn’t help how these people view themselves is the wicked world we live in. A world that’s full of sin, corruption, and deceit.

It’s gut-wrenching, really. And every time it happens, I can’t help but think what if I just got the chance to talk to those people. Just to have a conversation with them. Sometimes, that’s all people need; for someone to look them in the eyes, to listen to then attentively, showing them that they are valued. That they matter.

And through that, to show them the unsurpassable love that God has for them. Although they may not see It or feel It. To share with them that It comes through the fact they see the sun rise, or that they make it home safely. To show them that’s It displayed all over creation, in the vast greenness of nature, and the crashing wades of water. To show them that It even makes appearances in the little things, like a smile, a hug, or a conversation.

It breaks my heart to know there are people out there that do not know the favor and admiration God has for them. They don’t know how pursuitful He is of our hearts. They don’t know how quickly he’d move mountains just to have us.

If they could’ve just had that conversation, just maybe.

R.I.P. Kalief Browder

this love

This morning, it was hard for me to read the Word. I wanted to so deeply feel something as I read the truth spoken by God in Genesis, but I just couldn’t. The possibility of not passing this semester crossed my mind. The thought of missing a deadline for my job distracted me. The lack of time spent in the gym this week put me on a guilt trip. So I closed my journal and Bible, and played my Pandora radio. The song “This Love” by Housefires played, and completely broke my walls. Towards the end of that song, my Bible app notified me of the verse of the day, 2 Corinthians 3:17 — “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” God knew just what to say.

As the weight of the world hones in on me, as I’m swayed to believe I’m not good enough, I can rest in these truths portrayed in that song:

“This love, is an everyday kind of love. Every morning, I’m in it

This love, is an everyday kind of love. Every evening, I’m in it

This love doesn’t leave me alone; it never forgets its own

This love won’t leave me because my past is bad

This love lifts me up above the waves; I don’t need to be overwhelmed.

It raises me upon a rock so my feet can finally stand on ground.

This love is every moment, of everyday, always.

This love makes it so that you can finally be free.”