Day 24: Practice

How did it go? 

Another week, another “Therapy Friday.” For the first time in a few weeks, I didn’t leave wiping away tears. (I’ve noticed I still struggle to make eye contact with my therapist though. Is this normal?) Whatever clicked yesterday (or when I was in California) seems to have stayed.

I feel more confident in my abilities. I have a better idea of what I want. I feel more empowered, more capable, to change my current environment.

I feel a little more at peace with myself.

I’ve also started reading my Bible differently.

What did I learn?

It’s interesting what you can learn from the unlikeliest of places. The Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast reads Harry Potter “as if it is a sacred text.” (Note: as if. It does not treat the novels as a Bible.) The hosts discuss one chapter a week through a specific theme, and they use sacred reading practices to analyze pieces of the text.

Regardless of how you may feel about using sacred reading to read Harry Potter, the podcast has actually taught me new reading practices for reading my Bible. My favorite reading practice they use is lectio divina.

The practice is adjusted for reading the novels—the hosts choose a short passage, discuss what is literally occurring in that moment of the text, discuss what the text could mean allegorically, discuss what that particular passage reminds them of, and then discuss what the passage calls them to do.

Reading my Bible in this way has made me feel closer to God. It has made me feel that certain passages are speaking to me, that I can find meaning in places I didn’t think I could before.

I’ve decided to work through the book of James and start from the beginning. While I am not very far along (since I just started), I’ve already noticed a difference in the way I approach my Bible reading time. I credit this reading to helping me maintain some positivity, even when I don’t know if I can.

Most of all, I’ve learned when we don’t know how we can push on, God will be there to help us to our feet.

Days 20 & 21: Small Faith

How did it go?

Yesterday marked Day 20 in my 30-day positivity challenge, which means I am almost “done.” My goal, though, is to not be done with positivity just because the challenge itself is over. I was (and still am) hoping the challenge could transform, or help transform, the way I think and process through my anxiety and depression. I can feel the change that just trying to think positively has brought on, and that has made a difference in my overall outlook.

Having said that, I am combining Day 20 and Day 21 for a few reasons. The first is because yesterday was an emotional day that I needed to process. I had a friend visit me at my dad’s last night and we were all up until midnight, chatting. Between the emotions and the late night, I was tuckered out. The second reason is because today is yet another day of travel. This time, I’m heading back to the East Coast (“home”). While I have layovers, I won’t make it home until past midnight, and, even though I’ll sleep on the flights, I’ll be exhausted. Plus, let’s face it, I can only do so much positive reframing of flying before I’m lying to myself. (I hate flying. It gives me a ton of anxiety. I think it’s a control thing.)

Like I said, I can feel even a small change come over me when I work to reframe my thoughts into positivity. It’s somewhere between a fog and a physical feeling of being lighter. It just provides me a better way to go about my day: my tears come to a halt (though maybe not abruptly), my heart rate (sort of) slows down, I can breathe a little easier. Maybe the biggest change in feeling, though, is the feeling like my brain has changed.

Everything we think releases chemicals in our brain, and focusing on negativity can quickly drain our brain of its life force. In fact, negative thinking literally programs our brains to receive negative chemicals, making you more likely to be negative. In other words, it can turn into a constant cycle.

No matter what happens, I don’t want to be in that cycle.

What did I learn?

As usual, I need to reprogram myself to speak with God and listen to Him consistently each day. I haven’t quite figured it out yet, but I think that acknowledging that it’s a need is the first step.

Part of positivity is “keeping your head up.” That is, believe in the best possible outcome. It’s amazing what simple belief can do.

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. – Matthew 17:20 (NKJV)

How powerful, right!? Just a tiny bit of faith can move mountains! I am determined to have that faith. But it’s something I can only achieve if I meet with God each day.

I want to also say this: note that Jesus did not say “and it will move immediately.” He only said it would move. In that word (or, really, the lack of a word), I am reminded that everything will happen in God’s timing. The mountain will move, even if it doesn’t happen immediately. Heck, it will move, even if it seems so incremental we can’t even see it. But our faith will move it because He is on our side.

What do you need believing for right now? What mountain do you need your mustard seed sized faith to move? I encourage you to plant that small seed of faith and see what fruit grows.

Day 19: It Isn’t Over Yet

How did it go?

I went to my first Oakland Athletics game in (roughly) 5 years with my dad today, and, though I got a little sunburned, I was not disappointed.

We were playing the Minnesota Twins, and they had a good lead. Before the second inning had even begun, we were down 3 – 0. At the 3rd inning, we scored 2 runs, and by the end of the 8th inning it was a tied game: 5 – 5.

The game ended in the 12th inning with an Athletics walkoff home run. The final score was 6 – 5.

At the top of the 11th inning, my dad suggested we get going. We had been in the sun since we got there, we were burned, and it appeared the game may not end in our favor. “But it’s not over yet!” I told him, on the edge of my seat, hands clasped together, waiting.

He chuckled and told me, “alright, let’s give it one more, how’s that?”

Of course, we were glad we stayed. We saw that winning home run, got to watch the team rush the field, got to clap with the rest of the fans.

We got to see the end because we chose to just give it a little bit longer. We got to see the end because we decided it would be worth it.

What did I learn?

We have to stay faithful.

If we give in because of what we cannot see, we will miss the miracles God has in store for us. If we trust only the scoreboard of us against the enemy and forget about the capabilities we have, we will give in too soon, and we won’t be available for whatever comes next.

The Athletics could have given up. A baseball game is “supposed” to only be 9 innings. At the bottom of the 9th, the team could have decided this is pointless; we won’t be able to score; let’s stop doing our best. But they didn’t. They knew they had fans who had come to see them, who were cheering for them. Because they didn’t give up in outfield, they continued to perform at bat, and they eventually won.

If we feel defeated and we allow that defeat to take root, we will stop trying (outfield). If we stop trying, stop listening to God and communicating with Him daily (at bat), we will be unable to win any battle brought against us.

And know there are always others cheering for you. God, for one. But others, too. Strangers who are going through something similar and who also hope for freedom or answers. Family and friends who want to see you do more than just survive. Those people are not going to go home, no matter how late the innings go. Because they want what you do: hope, freedom, miracles.

As my dad used to joke with me, “it ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings.”

Don’t let the scoreboard determine your fate. Don’t stop fighting for what you believe. Don’t give up on the dreams God has given you. It isn’t over until God decides it is.

Are you looking at the scoreboard thinking you won’t win? What battle are you fighting that God wants you to win? What miracle are you waiting on?

Remember: it only takes one really good hit for that ball to fly through the air and the stands and be a home run.

So let God guide your hit and you’ll hit it out of the park.

Day 17: When We Aren’t Looking

How did it go?

Has something ever happened that made you feel God is leading you in a certain direction? Maybe you’ve prayed about something for a while, and nothing seems to be happening, then all of a sudden, when you’re not thinking about it, something happens.

That was me today. (Kind of.)

Today was one of those days where this cool, positive thing happened, and it made the rest of my day easier. Because that’s what I focused on.

Another positive thing? My Week One recap of this positivity challenge was published on Odyssey Online two days ago! I am pretty proud of how it turned out, so that definitely gave me some positive vibes.

Other than that, in all honesty, today was relatively boring. But I did learn something.

What did I learn?

God works most especially when we aren’t focused on and begging for a specific outcome.

I stopped looking for this thing. I continued to pray, but I spoke positivity over it. I stopped talking about it to others. I even stopped trying to not be so frustrated that it wasn’t where I was.

Then it happened.

Nothing is done or finalized, but I do feel He is guiding me in the direction He needs me to be right now.

He wants us to relax, find peace with Him, before we can move forward.

Maybe some days I need boring in order to find calmness, contentment, and to be able to move forward.