05 March 2017

Twenty Two

Everyone usually sings Taylor Swift's song when they turn 22. While I love to sing and dance to that song, the "go-against-the-crowd", "dare-to-be-different" version of me thinks of another song. (This song came out in 2011, TS's came out in 2012.. so it's the OG, just sayin.) It's hard to find if you've never heard it before, but when I was 16, my favorite high school band released a series of three singles after a few members left the band. One of the songs was called 'Hello Cold World.' The lyric that always caught my attention was in the first verse, "22 is, like, the worst idea that I have ever had. It's too much pain, it's too much freedom, what should I do with this?" 

22 sounded sooooo old to 16 year old me. 22 is how old my mom was when she had me. It's crazy to think that if I were her, 22 years ago, I'd be on the verge of having a baby. (Thank the Lord I know full well that I should not have a baby for a looonnnnnngggg time.) Funnily enough, now, 22 sounds soooo young to me. Because it is. And while it's true that I am happy free confused and lonely at the same time, it sort of feels like too much pain and too much freedom. 

Pain that has made a home in my heart for the past 6 months, freedom that has made a home in my heart since the day I started following Christ. If I didn't have this everlasting peace and joy from Jesus, I'm not sure how I would have made it to 22. It's been hell, to put it lightly. But because of Him, I've still got so much hope. Because He IS hope. The hope of glory. The hope for something greater beyond what we're limited to seeing in our current situations, especially if it's pain.

I had no idea the second half of being 21 would turn into what it did, but if I'm being honest, I'm so glad it's gone. And so glad I never have to be 21 ever again. I passed a dang kidney stone, y'all. 21 year old's are not supposed to pass kidney stones. Really no one should, but someone my age especially shouldn't. I learned from the resident tending to me at the Vanderbilt ER, that kidney stones occur when our body is deficient in something, or not producing enough of something. Which made sense to me, because for the 5, almost 6 days leading up to my trip to the hospital, I hadn't eaten a single thing. For almost a week straight. I couldn't seem to get anything down due to how much pain my heart was experiencing then. 

I've found nothing but new revelations of God's love and plans for me since then, and my relationship with Him has never felt more crucial or real, but the pain is still there. I'm just much more used to it being in my daily life now than I was back then.

I'd like to say I've found some resolution to permanently erase it, but I haven't yet. Sometimes I'll trick myself into thinking that I finally have, because days, even WEEKS will go by where I'm blissfully blind to hurt and can only see how much joy there is in all that I have to look forward to, but then something will trigger the pain that hasn't escaped me, and I'll feel sad again. But the truth is that it's okay to not be okay all the time. It's okay to give your heart the time that it needs until it's finally put back together again.

Something encouraging, are lyrics from another song by the same band, that say, "just let the pain remind you, heart's can heal." It's much easier said than done, but it's something to hold onto. Thank God for music. Music is there for you when people aren't. Music makes sense when the things around you don't. Music puts how you feel into words when you can't. 

In the beginning of my heartbreak, I asked God to place His people on my heart that were supposed to be in my life, in a significant way. Turns out, He had an ARMY of warrior women in mind. Most of them were already my really good friends, but all of the sudden, He started drawing parallel's to the hurt I was going through with theirs and they became the thing I cared about far more than my silly broken heart. I can't begin to properly depict how deep and wide the love I have for these ladies has grown, but it has. Some of them, it's laughable that we should be as good of friends as we are, because we're linked to the same guys of our pasts, in some sort of way, but my favorite thing about God is that He always gives you immeasurably more than you can ask for or imagine. Even in relationships with girls, where, after first meeting them, you never would have expected they'd one day become your best friends, one day become the people who will hold you up when you can't stand on your own. They're all angels, and they all know exactly who they are. 

A few months into my heart break, I asked God to send as many confirmations as it takes to reveal whether or not my heart is in the right place; ask and you shall receive, y'all. What's cool is that He always sends confirmations in threes (like the trinity). Whether it be a stranger coming up to me and saying something that was undeniably from God, in something I was reading in my bible or on a blog post or in a book, in a song, in the messages spoken at my church, or God's voice Himself during my time in the secret place with Him; He always sends them at the time I most need to hear from Him. And again, always in threes. He did all sorts of things to remind me that my heart has been in the right place through this whole process. He showed me how, in spite of my pain, I've chased after Him and what He has for me. Even if it means dying to my dreams, even if it means dying to wanting them to come true. 

In spite of all this pain, I am certain that every day, God is taking me to the place where He can show me all He has, where He can show me that He is all I need. At least 3 nights a week, my nights end in me on my knees, saying out loud, that if I have God and NOTHING else, I have everything. If I'm being honest, I'm speaking this over myself more than I'm confessing it to God, because He already knows that's the truth, but how easy it is for me to forget it myself. I recently started re-reading one of my favorite books, "The Wild Truth," written by Chris McCandless' sister (from Into the Wild, another favorite, if you wanted to know) and she recalls, even at such a young age, her brother telling her something that hit home for me (while he was referring to a family member that passed away, I like to read it as if he's referring to God;) "It's not about the THINGS he gave us, it's about the memories. You can't touch those with your hands. Everything you can touch with your hands is just STUFF." Crazy to think that even people are just as fading as "stuff" in our lives. 

The truth is that pain is a part of life. The truth is that God gives purpose to our pain, when we let Him use it to draw us closer to Him. The truth is that He wants to give us the desires of our heart, but more than that, He wants to be the desire of our heart. He's a good Father. He holds us, therefore He doesn't withhold from us. 

I'm sure 22 won't be "the worst idea I have ever had," but I'm certain it will be just as challenging as 21. The thing is, God remains the same, even when we don't. We get older, we forget things, we change our minds, we win sometimes and we lose sometimes. But God remains the same. He's constant, He's unwavering. He is love. He is peace. He is safety. He is joy. He's everlasting. He's the only thing I know that will keep me from totally falling apart when I walk through what feels like fire. 
The thing I'm certain of, though, is that years from now when I look back at 22, I'll be able to see all that God was doing, I'll be able to see where He was in the midst of the good bad and the ugly. Because He is always there.

All in all, this post wasn't meant to be depressing or negative, just meant to be real, to share where I'm at as a 22 year old. (so young!!!) I'm sure everything will be all right if I just keep dancing (like I'm 22 oo oo) and filling my "why?" with worship. He is so good, you guys.

That's it. If you made it to the end of this post, bless you. If you didn't, bless you.

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