An Opportunity to Get Altered

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Thanks to a generous donation from someone at church, I’m finally in a position to host my very first giveaway, the Alter Me Contest!!

*cheers* *confetti*

Unlike some giveaways, this giveaway is not based on a rafflecopter, but is based on need and merit. I”m giving you a chance to tell me exactly why you feel you should win a free copy of Altered before the Altar, or why someone you love should be given a free copy.

To enter, simply post why you feel like you should receive a copy of Altered before the Altar. You can talk about changes you want to make to your relationships or spiritual life or anything else you feel reflects how winning a copy of Altered before the Altar will alter you for the better. You can enter on behalf of someone you know who would benefit from the book as well, but be sure to have their first and last name as well as their mailing address should you win a copy for them.

I’ve always wanted to host a giveaway, and I’m so excited to see the responses to this one!

Here are the rules:

To win a physical copy of the book, you must live in the United States. I can send a kindle copy as a gift to readers in Canada, England, etc.

Each winner must be at least 13 years of age.

Each entry must be shared on social media with the hashtag #AlterMe2014 or #Alteredbeforethealtar. Please tag me as well so I can see your entry. Note: whatever social media you choose should be able to be viewed others–I cannot see or accept entries from protected or locked accounts.

You can

post to my Author Facebook page

tweet me @2blu2btru

tag me on Instagram @mz_zeyzey2

Post on my Goodreads author page

and/or comment on this post or at http://www.alteredbeforethealtar.com.

If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on the above social media.

Contest will run from 12/5/14 to 12/12/14 at 5:00pm EST.

The “Right” to be Depressed?

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I usually don’t comment on controversy or controversial issues in a “large” forum. If you ask me my opinion, I’ll tell you, but I don’t volunteer it, especially if I have no dog in the fight. Through the past year or so, some pretty high profile people have committed suicide or admitted to suffering from depression and I’ve said nothing. I’ve seen the posts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere in which people say things like “All that money and still not happy? SMH” or “that person is so selfish to do that” and etcetera. I’ve seen people use it as an opportunity to air their personal views on whether or not someone is going to Hell for committing suicide, and even whether someone has the “right” to suffer from depression, and I haven’t said anything.

To be honest, I feel a little silly saying something now. My limited experience with depression a long time ago doesn’t feel relevant when someone has taken their life. Over the years, I’ve minimized my experience with it and rendered it unimportant, a footnote. I never had to take any medication, so it wasn’t that bad. I was just a little sad, understandable in the circumstances. My experience wasn’t sad enough, long enough or dramatic enough for me to consider myself to be able to talk about it. It was just a few silly feelings a really long time ago. But then I think “how many people are having these ‘silly little feelings’ and sweeping them under the rug when they really need help?” and I can no longer remain silent on this issue.

Depression has about as much to do with your socioeconomic status as happiness–which is to say absolutely nothing. Depression can be caused by chemical imbalance, life circumstances, certain personality disorders, childhood traumas, or any number of things that have nothing to do with the person you are when you are affected by depression. Depression is not a badge of honor for those who are poor or who aren’t famous. Depression is NOT a “right.” It doesn’t take into consideration social constructs like white male privilege or social stereotypes such as “black people don’t suffer from depression.” Depression is NOT a choice but a disease, an affliction.

My experience with depression was mostly circumstantial. I was at a low point in life where tests and trials just kept hitting me from all sides. I had a lot of classic symptoms, but at the time, I didn’t realize it. I suffered from insomnia. I didn’t want to go anywhere. My body ached for no physical reason. I was withdrawn. Even when I did make myself go out, I was isolated and experiencing everything from a distance. I gave myself many stern lectures to “get it together” that didn’t make a difference.

Things reached a head when I was walking along an overpass one day and thought about “falling” into the traffic below (you can read about that experience on my Copywrite1985 site in the Untitled Section under “Living on the Edge”). In that moment, not being around to deal with the tangle and the mess just seemed easier. I can’t speak for those who have committed suicide, but for me, in that moment, the constant buzzing in my head stopped. That was the clearest thought I’d had in a long time. I didn’t really have to do anything; all I had to do was let go, let gravity do all the dirty work. Then all of the hard things will be over. I’d never had that eery feeling before and I haven’t had it since.

The fact that I am still here and am not depressed has very little to do with me. I made the decision not to jump or “fall,” sure, but that was because as overwhelming as what I was going through felt, I knew there was a light at the end of that tunnel. As idealistic and patronizing as it sounds, I clung to God and He pulled me out. I know for some, they also need medication and intensive therapy, and I see no restriction or commandment against that for a Christian or anyone else. If changing your diet and exercising helps, do that. If seeing a therapist works, do that. If it’s not illegal or immoral and it works, do that.

Worrying about what other people will think can play into depression. It did for me. It can deepen the disconnect, prevent people from seeking help, and serve to isolate people from the resources that could help them. Thinking that you are supposed to be above depression because you’re famous, rich, a certain ethnicity, a certain religion, or anything else is a false notion. Minimizing depression and saying your just sad doesn’t make it go away. But I also know that getting over the worries of how people perceive you and how they will perceive you admitting to depression isn’t as easy as it sounds. Eight years later and I’m still struggling through this post.

The point, then, is to bring back some sensitivity to this area. If you haven’t lived through it, you can’t  speak to the effects depression can have and what it can influence people to do. Even if you have experienced it, it doesn’t mean that you can speak for or about everyone who has suffered with it. Sometimes as people we have to learn to keep our mouths off of other people’s situations unless it’s to pray earnestly for that situation. Someone’s illness is not fodder for us to gather likes for pithy commentary or deep thoughts, nor is it to further our personal agendas. It’s not for us to “be God” and pronounce judgments or make decrees as to who has the right to suffer. If anything, it’s a call to arms against an illness, a disease–not a person.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Leave yours in the comments section.

God bless.

XOXO

Erica

Rejoicing & Mourning

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It’s been a busy week for me in the “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn” life. One of my critique partners terminated her contract with her publisher and decided to self-publish her book after it had been released for a day. She found a cover designer and re-released her book very quickly. I’m so proud of how she handled the situation and acted so promptly to get it turned around. My other critique partner got an agent AND sold her book to Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense through their Killer Voices competition. Three books have been bought through the competition in two days! We’ve all been celebrating these writers and their achievements. The last piece of my writing circle, my beta reader, has been on vacation all week long relaxing in the sun with her love and his family. All around me, there are wonderful things happening.

In my soon to be published book for single women, I have what I’m calling an “in the meantime” section on being happy for others while dealing with discontentment. The bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn, but what does that really mean? How can you be happy for someone when you aren’t happy with where you are in life? How can you mourn with someone when things are going great in your life? Why is this important?

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of experience in this area. I’ve survived many waves of engagements, weddings, and baby showers. I’ve seen several friends lose their mothers, fathers, or close family and friends. I’ve seen friends receive “the call” in publishing as well as many receiving rejections or getting burned by publishing deals that have gone bad. None of these things happened in a vacuum when NOTHING was going on in my life. I had to decide to be there for them while going through my own things.

The call to rejoice or mourn with others wasn’t written to punish us, to rub salt in wounds, or to make us feel superior to anyone else. It was to teach us empathy and to get outside of ourselves. In order to celebrate with others, I have to put aside my disappointments, which I was supposed to roll onto the Lord anyway. When you mourn with people, you begin to be grateful for what you have and stop coveting or being greedy to obtain. Both of these are things that WE need. It also shows us our hearts. When we are truly close to people, we want the best for them and we want to be there for them when things aren’t the best.

Two pieces of advice I give in the book is to truly get to know the people you fellowship with and to pray for others in positions you would like to be in one day. Getting to know people outside of their social media or the image they project, getting to see the hard work and dedication that they put into achieving will help you to be happy for them when they finally achieve their goals. It’s called investment. If you believe someone got a promotion they aren’t qualified for, instead of being upset, pray that they can acquire the skills to do the job. These two principles really shifted my perspective on getting engaged and getting married. I was able to get beyond what I wanted and truly see others. I was able to get the focus off of myself and my selfish wants and use my life to impact others.

You’ll have to wait for the book to get the other eight points. 😀

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this week. I’ve been swamped at work because people are out, a tropical storm is threatening, all the work is hitting my desk at once, and the side hustle has picked up. Things are getting to be hurry up and wait with the book (got the cover artist–hurry up!; book is out with people to beta read–waiting!). My critique partners are kicking butt. Harlequin online community friends ALL seemed to have a book out this week (and my wallet is screaming at me to stop. Buying. Books). I am struggling to get words on the page. There aren’t enough hours in the day and at the same time there are too many hours in the working day. It’s been a week, people! But I’m so happy that I got to celebrate with my sweet friends, to focus on something other than this dragging, sagging, “I could have sworn it was Tuesday twice this week” week.

So stop being a wet blanket, a hater, a backbiter, complainer, covetous or envious fuddy duddy, or an arrogant, conceited, condescending showoff and take on someone else’s joys and hurts. Let’s grow together.

XOXO,

Erica

Freestyle Friday: No Comparison

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Freestyle Friday, and today felt like a great day to do one. The sun is shining (and hot), I’m off work, and I just received word on a contest entry (and it was a rejection/pass/other words for no thank you).I was going to wait until later in the day to check my email, but I’m glad I got it out of the way. Now that I know what’s going on there, I can go on with my day off. I follow the message thread for the contest and have seen the yays and nays rolling in all morning. I posted my first page on my writing blog here and invited others to do the same and share the links. I didn’t get any feedback in my email and wanted to get some on my page, and I figured others would like to do the same.

One thing I’m making sure not to do, though, is go into reading pages and giving feedback with a mind to compare. Competition brings out the desire to compare like nothing else. Every time I watch Four Weddings I notice how the other brides size each  other up and tear each other’s weddings down. I can’t imagine having anyone at my wedding whose main objective was to critique my every choice and make themselves feel better or worse based on the wedding I throw. But back to this writing competition.

I know how raw and open a rejection leaves me feeling (I’m three for three in the rejections game now). The last thing I want to do is read what others have written and start comparing. There’s no future in it. Either I’ll think mine is better and wonder why they got picked and I didn’t or I’ll think I could never write something that measured up. None of those are constructive. We each have our own voice. Editors pick and choose stories based on several factors, some of which have nothing to do with the quality of your writing. Maybe your story doesn’t fit their line or they have something very similar coming out soon. Maybe they would love it if they had more than the first page.

I’m also trying to keep my growing cache of rejections in perspective. I’m not use to being unsuccessful, especially when it comes to writing. It’s hard not to take rejections personally–I mean, I wrote it; that’s kind of personal. I know that the rejections don’t necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with my writing, but it does call into question my abilities to write for this publisher, to write in this genre, to be successful in this market. Yes, friends, the doubt crows are circling.

The rest of my life is as uneventful as my inactivity on this blog suggests. My five year anniversary at the day job is this Sunday. My relationship is pretty much the same and in the same place. I’m still planning to self-publish my Christian non-fiction book for teenage and young adult women. I talked to a graphic designer about designing a cover and formatting the book for me. I’m still looking into a proofreader for the project. I’ve been editing through the book and am amazed all over again at the things God wrote through me in this book. Prayerfully, soon I will be able to do a title and cover reveal for you guys and set a release date. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in the writing of this book. It’s almost here!!

Freestyle (I Wish It Was) Friday: The Wordless Edition

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Posts here have been severely lacking. I would love to say it was because I’ve been putting a colossal amount of words into my Works in Progress (WIPs), particularly my Christian relationship book that I’ve been working on forever, but that’s not really the case. Sigh. I’ve been reading through what I have, though, and figuring out where the holes are that I need to fill in within the chapters I’ve yet to finish. I know what I have to finish. That’s progress.

I sent off the revised first four or five chapters of Pleasure’s Payne to my critique partners to some positive feedback. I’ve loved this story for years, so I was pleased that others love it as well. Now I just have to finish the story. Yet another sigh.

On to non-writing related things? Well, not much to report there. Mr. Perfect and I went to lunch and dinner on Sunday with friends. I enjoyed having girl time to go shopping and play with makeup while Mr. Perfect and my friend’s husband watched the game. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out and done girly things like that. It was so much fun. I came home with a new dress, necklace, makeup and a little poorer.

I’ve been feeling a need to pull away from social media. I think it would help to refocus my energy on getting some of the stories I’ve been working on out into the world, along with freeing up my time to do a few other things I wanted to do. I still have a bunch of posts I need to do here and on my other sites, though–reviews, etc. I’m going to schedule those tonight and spend the next two weeks or so fasting from social media (starting tomorrow–gulp!) You will still be able to email me; I have to check my email (I’m waiting on thing. Exciting things. Things I can’t tell you about). Drop me a line at mz [dot] zeyzey2 [at] gmail [dot] com. But I will not be on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (though you will see my blog posts posting to those sites during that time as they post automatically).

I can’t wait to come back recharged with so much more to say about my word of the year (submission), news on my WIPs that is better than “I ain’t wrote nothin’,” and some clarity on some things that I need clarity on. Maybe some other things–we’ll see.

What are you needing to pull away from lately? What are you doing with your time?

Hunger Pains: Insights on Esau & His Birthright

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The legacy of Esau has always intrigued me. While his father and brother are highlighted in the “golden chapter” on faith, Hebrews 11, Esau is listed with the fornicators and is called “profane” (or “godless” depending on your translation). When he went to his father for his blessing, he didn’t receive it. Even though he sought it, he couldn’t take back his choice (or found no repentance). I wondered for a long time why Esau was called godless, why his godlessness was linked with fornication. How are these things linked?

It’s easy to say “I just can’t understand why Esau would give up his birthright for a meal. I would never do that.” But the longer I studied this scripture, the more I realized that I, and maybe you, have done this more than once. What God showed me in Esau’s story is the effect of hunger on us. Esau isn’t the only “hungry” person I found in my study. I realized that a lot of us are trading our birthrights to satisfy temporary hungers and it convicted me enough to write this post.

In our lives, we can be “hungry” for many things. Some women are hungry for a husband. Some are hungry for professional advancement. Some are hungry for children. Some are hungry for material gain. Not all of the things we want are bad; it’s when our hunger for them leads us away from God that they become a problem.

In Esau’s case, he was physically hungry. He had been out in the field and came in so hungry he was faint and weak. He insists that he’s on the point of death he is so hungry. He tells Jacob that his birthright wouldn’t be any good to him if he were dead, and he carelessly gives it away for food. After he eats, he gets up and goes on his way, not realizing what he has given up.

I wonder why Esau didn’t come in sooner and address his hunger. Why did he let himself get so hungry he’s sure he’ll die if he doesn’t have food. Yet we let things become such an urgent need for us that they become all we can focus on. We convince ourselves that we will die for want of them. For example, when I started writing my book, I really wanted to get married. I focused so much on getting married that I would throw up wedding plans and marriage guides. If anything had marriage in its title, it had my attention. I was willing to listen to just about anyone’s philosophy on love and marriage. I was hungry for it. There’s a term for being so hungry that you lose your ability to function as yourself, hangry. I’ve felt that several times over. Esau was convinced he was at death’s door. It’s my opinion that he wasn’t really at the point of death– if he were, he wouldn’t have eaten and then been able to go on his way as if he weren’t dying minutes ago–but I know that phantom feeling that you’re just going to die if you don’t have something you want because I’ve lived with it. Here’s the thing, though–I’m still here! I didn’t die because I didn’t get married. You won’t die if you don’t get whatever, either. Unless it is a medical necessity that you have it, you’ll be just fine.

Esau also went to the wrong person. Esau and Jacob struggled with each other in their mother’s womb. Their differences further separated them. Jacob was more concerned with what he could get out of his brother than helping him. Sometimes when we are hungry, we go to the wrong person to fulfill our needs. The women we talk to about wanting a husband don’t have husbands; the people we complain about our jobs with are unemployed or underemployed. We look to men to fill us and we wonder why we are still hungry.

Esau didn’t understand the discrepancy between what he was receiving and what he was giving away. The birthright of the firstborn entitled him to an inheritance of property and other benefits that were worth far more than a meal. Esau also lost his blessing from Isaac when Jacob impersonated him. What he received in return was so minimal in comparison. Several times in the New Testament, the Bible identifies Christians as heirs (Romans 8:17; Titus 3:7; Gal. 3:29; 4:7). We are in line to inherit the promises of God. But we often give that birthright away in favor of temporary fulfillment. The wages of sin is death and separation from God. So when we give in to temptation and fornicate, commit adultery, lie, steal, gossip, etc., we are exchanging our inheritance for death. These people have no place in God’s kingdom and no part of His inheritance.

We have to stop going from temporary satisfaction to temporary satisfaction that are moving us further and further away from God and aren’t even fulfilling us. Christ tells the woman at the well that whoever drinks water from the well will thirst again, but whoever drinks the water He will give them will never thirst again. That’s true fulfillment and satisfaction. The difference with being hungry for a relationship with God is that our hunger will be satisfied. The bible says “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”

There are other things that I got out of this study, but you’ll have to buy my book when it comes out to read about them. 😉 I’m so excited about the last little areas of the book coming together. It’s a lot more in-depth than I could have imagined when I started writing it.

Submission and Surrender

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I haven’t done an update in a while on my submission goal for the year. I’ve been reflecting on this lately and have a few things I would like to share. So, ahem…

I’ve been locked in a power struggle with myself for a few weeks now. I sent in Delivering Justice for the second time three weeks ago today, and I’ve been trying not to think about it. I’ve done a much better job this time. My email refresh button has gotten a lot more rest this time around. It’s not that I’m not worried about what is going on with it, but that I have come to accept that at this moment, its fate is in someone else’s hands. I can’t do anything more for it. I can’t send her my latest revisions or make her publish it; my part is over for the moment.

This is so much easier to realize in writing submissions than in spiritual submission. Recently someone close to me has been having a difficult time with life. REALLY difficult. I’m the cheerleader, the encourager, the person who sees it as my personal mission to pull everyone out of the doldrums kicking and screaming if I have to. I never really feel like I get anywhere with this individual, though. I feel like they listen to what I have to say but don’t believe it has any real bearing on what they are going through. I can quote scripture, speak from my own experience, or repeat every motivational quote I can think of, but I just can’t be them, and therefore I have no clue what the right thing to do or say is to make them feel better.

This week when things got difficult, they asked to be left alone for a few days. I wasn’t feeling this plan. Worries abounded in my head. But this seems like a sign of depression. But what if they do this or that? But the thing is, we all reach a point where we need to pull away at some time or another. Even Jesus left his disciples and the multitudes to pray and be with God by Himself. The truth is, nothing that I do ever seems to be enough because I’m not the one responsible for this person’s happiness. It doesn’t matter who it is in my life that needs me; I can’t fulfill all of their needs.

In Galatians, we are told to bear one another’s burdens, yes, but ultimately we are admonished to roll our cares onto Christ. I had to turn this person’s confusion, discontent and unhappiness with their current situation over to God. It was way too big for me. I couldn’t handle it. I’m not supposed to handle it.

A big part of submission is trust. When you hand someone something precious, and you don’t let go until you’re sure they have a good grip on it, that they aren’t going to drop it. I have to trust that God has a good grip on this person. Perhaps my constant interference has been disrupting what God is trying to show them. Maybe my “help” has been more of a hindrance. So lately I’ve been working on surrendering. I’m learning to trust God with those things that are too big for me to handle. I’m learning to trust the second part of the process. Once I give something to Him, it’s out of my hands.

This is something I’m trying to keep at the forefront of all my relationships and interactions with people. When I marry one day, even as I submit to my husband, there will still be things he can’t handle or be responsible for, things I need to take to God and submit to Him about. There will be times when my support and encouragement isn’t enough, when my husband needs to submit that area to God. People aren’t responsible for our happiness or contentment, and we shouldn’t hold them responsible for our discontentment or dissatisfaction. All of those Psalms where David directs his petitions to God and tells God that He alone can accomplish what David is seeking after Him to do should have clued me in to this, but sometimes it just has to be personal.

Praying for everyone struggling with depression, discontent, dissatisfaction, or decisions they need to make to move out of those places.

XOXO,

Erica

Lost Things

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A Serious Season bestI have more fingernail/toenail clippers and tweezers than any one person should ever have. There’s a perfectly good explanation for this. Every time I would misplace a pair, I would look for them everywhere. I searched every plausible place for them and couldn’t find them. When I got tired of looking for them, I would buy another pair. This happened over and over again. It was like an epidemic with me.

While doing some much needed spring cleaning, I’ve come across many things I thought were gone for good, like all these pairs of clippers and tweezers. Isn’t it amazing how that happens? Sometimes when you stop looking for something, you find it. Yet finding all of those lost things convicted me.

In Luke chapter 15, Christ shares three parables about lost things. He tells us how they became lost, how people reacted to their being lost, how people found them, and how they reacted to finding them. Jesus spoke these parables when the scribes and Pharisees criticized him for receiving sinners, so it can be concluded that the lost He is illustrating here are lost sinners.

Brother Drummer did a wonderful set of lessons on these parables showing the uniqueness of each parable’s message as well as their similarities. The main things that stand out in my reading of the scripture are that none of these things know that they are lost; someone is looking diligently for them, and; when they are found, people are called together to rejoice over finding them.

In contrast, I had stopped looking for my clippers long ago and replaced them. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across them again, but I didn’t rejoice and I certainly didn’t call anyone to rejoice with me. This would be fine if it only pertained to clippers and such, but it doesn’t. As I gathered all of them into a pile, I thought about all of the lost people that I pass every day and never try to bring to Christ. I thought about all the people I’ve stopped seeing at church who I never went looking for. I thought about how little enthusiasm I am wont to show when people have been away and return.

It seems that I have an attitude problem. Even more troubling, I have a focus problem. Sometimes I get so focused on me, myself and I, what I’m going through, what I need to do, that I forget that seeking and saving the lost is important. More importantly, I forget that I’m not looking for something that can be replaced; I’m looking for people, individuals that are important enough to God that he sent me to look for them.

Perhaps reading this you realize that you’re like me. Maybe you haven’t been as enthusiastic about finding the lost as you could be. Perhaps there are some people you stopped seeing at church that you haven’t reached out to. Maybe you have a group that you keep up with and pray for but you’ve stopped looking for others to bring to salvation. If this convicts you in any way, go to the Father. Repent. Start changing your attitude toward seeking and saving the lost.

The truth is, those clippers and tweezers were never going to cry out to me to let me know where they were. They didn’t know that they were lost, and I didn’t care enough to continue looking beyond what was convenient for me. When I’ve lost something of greater importance, I refused to stop looking until I found it. It’s time to bring that attitude to the areas that God says are important. That’s my conviction, anyway.

XOXO,

Erica

This is part of an ongoing series of post pertaining to getting serious about who we are in Christ. You can go to www.aseriousseason.com to learn more about my pledge to make this time in my life The Season for Getting Serious. The graphic was created for me by Jada Prather.

When You Give an Erica a Cookie

 

Gah!

I’ve been having a torturous time trying to get my health and fitness back on track. It’s like someone has shown a beacon on me and put the word out that I’m working on this area. Free sweets and snacks have been falling from the sky! Free sundaes and donuts and pizza at my complex in the last three weeks. Free cookies, cupcakes, donuts, and paczki’s at my job. In several of those scenarios, merely avoiding the break room or office isn’t enough; people have brought the treats to my desk for me. Really?!

What’s also not helping is the fact that I’m facing some stressful situations in which cookies, cakes and pies would be welcome comforts. My rent for the new lease term is up $45 A MONTH–that’s nearly $600 for the year! I no longer have my discount for my phone, so my phone bill is up $38 a month. My car insurance term ends soon and I’ll be getting my new payment schedule, which could show increased or decreased payments. My student loans come out of forbearance and the first payment is due in May. I cannot forbear them any longer. I’m looking at an extra $300/month minimum when I have about $150 for gas and groceries every check as is. So if I don’t eat or drive, I’ll still fall short on bills.

Not to mention that joining a gym or buying healthier/fresher foods is expensive. So is buying essential beauty products, doing my hair, and having clean underwear.

Do you see why a cookie sounds like a good idea right now???

Between the rejection on Delivering Justice, the random bill increases, trying to improve my health and put more effort into how I look, being buried under a stack of book reviews and trying to clean/downsize my apartment, I’m a little overwhelmed by life. But I have realized a few things.

The first is that I feel the same without the cookies, cakes, pies, and huge bowls of pasta as I do with them, emotionally. Eating all that comfort food isn’t as comforting as it promises to be. Rejection and falling short hurts, but I can’t fill in the void rejection leaves behind with fatty, sugary, carb-loaded food. Neither can I use it as a reward to celebrate an achievement. At some point, I’m going to have to feel whatever it is I am trying so hard not to feel. Then I’m going to have to deal with those feelings in a way that actually addresses them. INEBIGTDIA.*

Another is that pronouncements of faith are going to be met with tests of that faith. There’s no way around it. That testing shows you whether or not you are committed to the belief you’ve expressed or the cause you’ve decided to take up. It’s not that I wasn’t aware that I should expect opposition when trying to achieve something but that every now and then we need to be reminded that acts of faith require sustained faith, not one time faith; sustained action and follow through, not one big push until you come up against a roadblock.

I have no clue how any of this is going to work out. My finances are a mess, my health is a mess, my writing has been rejected, my relationship isn’t going the way I thought it would, etc. No sector of my life is untouched by doubt. But I committed myself to being submitted to God, to going wherever He leads. Now is not the time to run around and try and fix anything. It may sound crazy, but I’m not going to do anything until I know what God would have me to do. I’m going to keep living, keep saying no to temptation, and keep asking God to help me and show me. I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to remain under the will of God. This is exactly where I need to be.

What is God Doing?!

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I come from two large families–literally and figuratively. People tend to be short and on the heavy side on both sides of the family. No matter how skinny and fit they start out, most end up overweight. When I was younger, I was fit. I ran all the time and walked or biked everywhere.  I wasn’t in any organized sports and I wasn’t biking or running to maintain my weight; it was something I enjoyed doing. The fact I stayed in shape because of these activities was a bonus I didn’t even acknowledge.

Even though I wasn’t too concerned about my weight, I was always threatened with getting fat. It grew especially bad after I went to college. Every time I would eat anything in front of certain family members, they would joke that if I ate that I would “become one of the butt sisters.” They would point out that I was putting on weight and I needed to do something. They would pat my stomach or make comments on my body parts. It grew to be a constant battle to be around family because of the harsh criticisms. For perspective, at the time this was at its peak, I was 115-120 pound at 4’11: curvy, but not fat by any estimation.

Backing up in this story, I had low self-esteem for most of my life, mostly centered around my looks. All I had was a nice figure, long hair, and pretty eyes. I didn’t dwell on my perceived lack of looks because I was a genius, a literary prodigy. But in 2006, when the criticism reached its zenith, I was sitting out a year of college because of inadequate financial aid, living in a different state, working two and three jobs, and feeling so far off course no map could tell me how to get back on track. The very last thing I needed was to have my remaining virtues criticized.

It had taken me a while to find self-esteem, and everyone was knocking it down. I saw the weight gain as inevitable looking at both sides of my family and family history. I was fighting against the tide. I wasn’t intentionally letting myself go; it was biology. I could do my best and maintain what I could, but it was out of my hands.

But I had hope that one day, who I was would be enough for someone besides my immediate family. One day I would marry someone who loved me for who I was as a person, not just a physical body. I would be accepted, and we would grow better together in all areas, including this one. Someone would accept me where I was and be willing to start building from there.

My greatest fear was that my family would be right, that I wouldn’t get married because I talked too much and weighed too to be an attractive prospect. No one would be sold on me enough to marry me. I couldn’t be who I was and get married. My outside would be a bigger impediment than my inside was an attraction, and I would always fall short. I fell short with financial aid, writing, and all the things I had been good at; why would something I knew I wasn’t good at be any different?

People like to say God has a sense of humor when they find themselves in situations that they’ve actively avoided or with people they’ve actively avoided, like when people say your mate is a mirror and mean the other person helps them see things in themselves they weren’t able to see before. I believe that God makes us face things we don’t want to face for our growth and good. For me, one of those things is my how I look and the way I treat my body. I’m in a position where the thing I don’t want to deal with is the one thing holding me back from where I want to go, and I have no idea how to move forward.

Maybe I’m supposed to realize I’m worth more than my looks and walk away from demands that I fit into a certain mold physically. Maybe I’m supposed to learn to take better care of myself and still not accept a conditional acceptance from anyone. Or maybe I’m being nudged to conquer this because it’s holding me back in other areas in which God is trying to move me forward. I confess I have no idea what God is doing or why this has come to a head. But I know I’m going to give this my best shot–not to please others, or even myself, but to see what it is God is trying to show me.

XOXO,

Erica