Perfect Imperfection

16 September 2012

So for those of you who do not know the story behind the above picture, here's a quick recap for ya:
I went hiking with some girls from my floor last year and a handful of guys from our brother floor. We went to Perry Farms and we were going along fine, but as only I can do, I managed to cut open my leg. I don't know exactly what happened or where I cut it because I just kinda looked down and was like "Oh hey! My leg is bleeding!" My RA then proceeded to tell me to go find the other RA who had the First Aid kit. After bandaging myself up, getting through with our hiking trip, and going to Walmart for guaze, ointment, and an ACE bandage, I cleaned it up and realized that it was a fairly straight and smooth cut. It is roughly a foot or so in length.

So this is an old picture and not a new one, but you can imagine that it left a nice scar up my left calf.
The scar has slowly faded in some spots, but for the most part is still highly visible.
I have been told by people in my immediate family and some other people that I am close with that because of this scar I am now imperfect and that I need to find a guy who likes imperfections.
Talk about a blow to your self-esteem right there.
I took that hard and for a while tried to cover it up whenever possible to avoid the stares and questions.
This went on for a short while until I realized that it didn't matter what people thought.
It is still hard though for me to realize that the right guy won't care if I have a scar running the length of my calf.
It's still something that I am kinda self-conscious about even though I have no reason to be.
It was an accident and something unavoidable.
Yet due to comments by other people I feel like it is something that detracts from my outward appearance.
It shouldn't make an impact, but it inadvertently does.
It is a physical blemish that cannot be erased.
It is a mark on my skin that has a story behind it.
It is a stigma that gets looks and unnecessary comments.
It is not what most would call beautiful yet it is a part of me.

 This is just one of many scars that I have physically, which is only part of a long list that includes inward scars.
Some of these have been accidental and due to things that were not in any way my fault.
Some of these were self-inflicted, as much as I hate to admit it.
I have more scars than a lot of people, but not nearly as many as some.
The causes for them vary all the way across the spectrum.
I have scars that I actually have no clue where they came from.
I have scars that I can tell you exactly what I was feeling, where I was, who I was with, and what time of day it was when it happened.
I have scars on my feet, ankles, legs, and knees from various sports, activities, and stupid stunts i've done.
I have scars on my arms and hands from the same things.
I have scars that are not noticeable unless I point them out, but then I have ones like the one on my leg that are blatantly obvious.
I also have scars on my hand and wrist that, although sort of obvious, I purposely try to hide and not draw attention to.
Why do I try not to draw attention to these scars?
I try to avoid drawing attention to them because they were not caused in any way by an accident.
They are there due to acts that were done on purpose.
They are physical signs of pain, hurt, and rejection I was feeling.
They are signs of weakness that I couldn't hold in anymore but didn't know how else to express.
They are marks that show my moments of succumbing to temptation.
These scars cannot be erased either.
They are permanent marks that are evidence of my weak, human state.
They are evidence of times that I gave up hope.
They are signs of utter despair and depression.

There is also another side that they display.
They show where God has brought me from.
They show me, as well as others, what I have overcome and survived.
They are signs of strength, courage, and determination.
They are reminders to myself that even in weakness I am strong through Jesus.
Though the world may judge me because of them, God loves me despite them.
Although many tears flowed when they were caused and many since then, there is joy because I am no longer caught by the lies that told me to cause them in the first place.
Though there is still pain in my life, I no longer have any desire to express it this way.
They are signs that I have hope in my Lord Jesus Christ.

I could go on and on with a list of scars that I have inwardly.
Brought upon by heartache, pain, sorrow, hurt, lies, anger, bitterness, broken promises, rejection, confusion, and so much, much more.
These scars cut deep and they resonate within me.
They are being healed by the Great Healer.
However, there are times when those scars bring back memories and emotions that physically upset me.
They tear me apart inside at times.
One comment or remark, a song, a quote, a magazine article, or a post on Tumblr.
These have all caused those memories and emotions to surface.
I am falling apart inside because of them, but I give them to God.
He is working to help me get past them and to heal them.
There are good things that can come from them, even if it may not seem so.

Though society, including friends and family, may view all of my scars as imperfections, God doesn't.
I feel like God was most likely just sad when He saw what was causing the scars.
I feel like that deeply hurt Him.
Yet He sees them not as imperfections detracting from my beauty, but rather as merely marks of my past that show how far He has brought me.
He sees me as beautiful in Him regardless of the scars.
Whether outward or inward, accidental or on purpose.
They are not imperfections in the eyes of the Father.
God looks at the heart not at the physical body or outward appearance.
So my scars are not anything to be ashamed of as long as I have asked for help and for forgiveness for those that were caused intentionally.
God has already healed me on numerous levels and He is working continuously.
I may not be blemish free and I will never be perfect.
But I am perfectly imperfect through His love and I have no problem with that.
I rejoice in my victory through God!

Send Me

13 September 2012

Summer just got over about a month ago, or a little shorter than that for some of us.
You would think that I should be focusing on today.
Yet I am spending time figuring out what I am going to do next summer.
I think I already have it figured out, which may seem kinda crazy to some of you out there.
But I do not think it is crazy.
Rather I think that it is a good thing that I feel lead to what I am doing next summer this far in advance.
I can more adequately prepare and make sure I am spiritually ready for it.
It releases the stress of trying to figure out what I will be doing in April.
I can relax and just spend time with God getting myself ready to face whatever challenges may come my way.

For those of you who may be curious as to what I am planning on doing this coming summer, I will give a quick overview.
I am planning on staying here in Illinois and doing missions work with my church.
This can, and most likely will, include various aspects of ministry.
From office and administrative, to kids and students ministries.
If I can figure out some instrument stuff, then quite possibly some music stuff will be in there as well.
The specifics are yet to necessarily be nailed down, but they will be the closer the summer gets.
Now some of you may be asking why I would want to spend my summer doing this.
Simply put...I feel like God wants me to.
It isn't anything complicated that requires a ten page answer.
I just simply feel called to do it.
To some this may seem odd, yet to some it may seem like a tremendous opportunity.
I see it as another step in my journey with God.
He has a plan for this coming summer and I have no clue what it is, but I am extremely excited to find out!
I could not ask for a better opportunity.
God has opened a door for me and I feel blessed to be able to walk through it.
I feel that although I feel called to partake in this opportunity, I am going to be faced with many people who are greatly opposed to the idea of my staying here and doing this.
I have an idea of who some of these people are.
At first I do not think that they will necessarily approve, but I think that eventually they will be okay with it.
I just do not want to back out of this because of what people think, because ultimately it is God who will grant the ultimate approval for this opportunity.
If I feel like God has called me to do this, then I am going to do it.
It may upset some people or even make some people blow me off because they don't understand.
But I'm not supposed to be pleasing people, but rather God.
I may feel sad that people may feel negative feelings toward this, but I feel like if it is in God's will I will feel at peace about this decision that I have made.
I am just going to be continuously praying that God will provide whatever is necessary.
I am also praying that He will give me confidence in this decision as I move forward in the application process.
I am trusting that this is where He wants me to be and that everything will work out for His purpose.
I am confident in His plan and am willing to follow where ever He may lead.

What If It's A Father I Need

A lot of you may now what this week was, but many may not.
This week was Suicide Awareness Week.
TWLOHA, or better known as To Write Love On Her Arms, has been spreading work of Suicide Awareness all week and they do so all throughout the year as well.
TWLOHA's goal is to have people write the word 'love' on their wrists in whatever language(s) they want.
This spreads the word because often people will ask why it is written on your wrist.
You then are given the chance to talk with someone about TWLOHA and suicide awareness.
This is something I take part in whenever possible.
I have a direct reason to based on friends and family who have committed suicide and then my own past.
This will probably be shocking to many of you, maybe not so much some or at least a few of you who may read this, but I myself came close to calling it quits.
Freshmen year of high school I was so stressed and overworked and I didn't know how to handle things or if people even cared at all, so I didn't think anyone would miss me if I ended it all.
Thankfully I had an awesome best friend at the time who helped me out.
He reminded me that even if no once else would have cared that I was gone, he would.
Just knowing that made the thought of ending it all seem pointless.
Had it not been for him who knows where I would be, let alone if I would even be here.
So a HUGE thank you goes out to Stephen and everything he helped me through that year!!

Now for more news.
We had chapel this morning here at my university.
Our chaplain had a student share her testimony as part of the service.
Sadly I could relate to quite a few parts of her story and it actually got me thinking about my past.
She mentioned that she has learned how to trust God as her Father even though her earthly fathers failed her.
It got me thinking and I realized that I still have not accepted that God really, truly is the only Father I need.
And He is my Heavenly Father.
My earthly father may have failed me many of times, but He will not.
It is hard to accept that fact and believe it when I do not know what it's like to have a father I can trust.
A father that I can believe in and trust my life with.
I'm trying to come to terms with this, but it isn't as easy as everyone likes to make it seem.
It is hard to let go of the past and the pain & hurt that comes with it.
He wants me to fully let go of that hurt, that pain, and that anger so that I can fully trust Him.
I just don't know how to go about doing so.
I don't feel like I can just let go of something like that.
It's a part of my past that has made me who I am today and He wants me to let go of it.
I know that if I let go of it then I can truly find my identity in Him and the healing that only He can bring.
I just wish I knew how best to go about it.
I've tried to let it go before but every time I try something comes along and brings it up again.
It seems like it is this chip in my shoulder that I can't get rid of even though I want to.
God wants me to give it all to him and to call Him my Father.
I just need to teach myself how best to go about doing that.
I am trying, however, and will continue to do so until I figure it out.

Here's The Thing About Ders...

05 September 2012

Ok, so a lot of you that read my posts are also friends with me on Facebook.
Therefore you have seen various posts on there from me from the past weeks.
Many of these posts have been based in frustration about a lot of things that are going on.
Most of you, however, do not know what has been going on.
So here goes a basic recap of what has been going on these past weeks.

Three weeks ago I had my last day of full time work on Olivet's campus for the summer
That very same day I found out something that has completely changed everything.
My mom called to inform me that the judge had awarded full custody of my two younger sisters to our 'father'.
After four years of fighting against this, the worst happened.
Everything we had done to prevent this and it was all for nothing.
Or at least so it seems.
Our world came shattering down around us fast and hard.
Suddenly there were a million things that were starting to fall apart because of this ruling.
Financial issues regarding living situations, schooling, food, etc. were suddenly ten times worse than they were just hours before the letter arrived at the house.
We didn't have a clue how we were going to take care of everything.
We didn't know where money was going to come from or where we would be in a very short time.
We went from having things fairly well figured out for the near future to not knowing what was going to happen in the next couple of hours.
Emotions were (and continue) to run rampant.
Frustration, anger, sadness, fear, confusion, and so on and so forth.

Suddenly we had a million and one questions that needed answers, a lot of which we did not know.
What is the appeals process?
When can the appeals process be started?
How do we go about filing the appeal?
How long will the appeal process take?
When do the two girls move in with their father?
What will visitation schedule be for their mom?
What will happen in regards to finances?
What, if any, part of this will affect Shelbi and her schooling?
How do we pay for school?
How do we pay for rent for our house?
Etc, etc, etc...
The questions go on and on and they get more detailed and even harder to answer.
My mother and I have been working on answering these questions for the past few weeks.
It has been stressful and more times than not extremely frustrating.
Life is once again being completely controlled by lawyers, judges, and courts.
It is hard to sit back and watch them become the dictators of everything that can and cannot be done.
After years of it however, it is nothing new but it still is not something that is necessarily positive.

This all happened, with a lot more detail and emotion than I have shared but may share at some point, and I did not have any idea what I was going to do to make it through.
I was being faced with the very real possibility of not being able to stay here in Illinois at ONU.
It scared me and I did not know what I was going to do.
I did not want to leave and had more than a few break downs that first week.
One of those just so happened to be at my pastor's house.
(That was right after I had one in my apartment, which happened to include my lanyard flying across the room.)
I had a few more that first week, one of which resulted in my blowing off a good friend completely unintentionally.
Thankfully God has blessed me with friends who are understanding and are there for me even in my worst moments.
I ended up getting a job shortly after I found this all out.
I started that job the first week of classes.
Talk about stressing myself out and overworking myself.
So many things being thrown at me and a million things to learn and remember.
I'm still trying to get my feet firmly planted and a schedule set so I don't lose my mind.
Although I am pretty sure I lost it last week in amidst the craziness.
I keep being told of more things I need to do for classes, such as my multicultural hours for my Education class.
I have no idea how I am going to fit it in, but I hope I figure it out soon.
I am starting to enjoy work but at the same time I am not sure if I can keep the hours that I have right now.
I feel like there is a possibility that I might need a few less in order to fulfill my requirements for classes.

Well it has been a long few weeks.
God has been here through it all and I see Him in many different ways in the various situations.
But the devil has also been playing his cards throughout this whole situation the past few weeks.
He is constantly throwing in new things to tear me down and cause me to stumble.
Yet every step of the way I can see God working through it all.
It may not seem like it at the time but it is all working out the way that He sees fit.
At this point I am still at ONU and funds have been provided for me to stay for the year.
I don't know if that means I will be here next year.
I don't know what that means for the future at all.
I am currently in the process of possibly changing my major, so I don't even know what i'm going to be majoring in yet and that is kind of frustrating and makes it all hard.
But I am trusting God that will lead me in the direction that He wants me to go.
I do not know where that direction leads but I plan on following it where it takes me.
As long as it is in His will then it will not matter where it goes, but rather the things He has for me to do for His kingdom.
Even through the hardship, I know His way will prevail.

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