Birthday, Emotions, growing pains, Rantings

Happy 26th Birthday to me

I’ve been meaning to write this particular blog for many days now. Dot. Dot. Dot. But it’s really no wonder that little, old, procrastinating me has gotten around to it just now. Sigh. Nevertheless, all that truly matters is that I’m finally here. Never mind the fact that I spent over 35 minutes trying to remember what my login and password were for my blog! Hardy har har :p It’s funny how many things you forget when you’re gone for 18 months.

Anyway, back to what I actually want to write about.

I wrote out a mental rough draft of this entry on the 17th of April, the day before my 26th Birthday. I was SMS-ing with my oldest friend, Rosie Posie, and as I thought about her, I wondered, when was the last time Rosie and I celebrated my birthday together? As I quickly flipped through past Birthdays, I realized that the last time Rosie was physically present on my birthday was April 18, 2005. Eight years ago. Eight whole years. Wow.

Let me tell you a little about my 18th Birthday.

Normally, 18th birthdays tend to be a sort of milestone for people, right? They are anxiously anticipated and happily welcomed with a big Hoorah! Not the case for me. I distinctly remember my 18th birthday as something I had been dreading for months. I certainly didn’t view it as a milestone, I saw it as a big, fat reminder that time was ticking, I was growing up and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

Turning 18 meant being an adult, being responsible for your decisions and most importantly, deciding where you wanted to take your life. Turning 18, to me, was the equivalent of being handed me the helm of my ship when all I could think was, I am SO not ready for this! I have no idea where to navigate this to!

From where I stood, all I could see was that everyone around me seemed to be heading down a sure path. My friends all seemed to know what their next step would be. They all had plans they were executing. Their futures seemed concrete. And deep down inside I think I envied them. I wanted the security that came from knowing what was around the next bend because I felt like I was walking blind. I had recently watched my best laid out plans slowly fall apart and as I stared out into my future all I could see was a void of structure and an overstock of uncertainty.

I remember coming home from school and crying myself to sleep. When I woke up Rosie was in my living room, there was a big cake on the dining table and she was signing something about a happy birthday… in spanish or english, I can’t remember.

I often hear that life is just one big circle. We have up’s, we have down’s and history has a way of repeating itself. I feel there must be some truth to that because as I talked with Rosie I though about how many similarities there were between this birthday and the one I’d had eight years ago.

The rest of the world still seems to have life figured out.

I’m still trying to figure out where my life is heading.

The future is still uncertain.

Times are still hard.

My circumstances are still trying my faith.

My best laid out plans are still falling apart.

and there are still nights when I cry myself to sleep.

But that’s not all. What I didn’t know the day I turned 18 is that in reality, everything I feared would turn out okay! Actually, better than Okay! The future I was staring into was, in reality, not void of anything. The future that awaited me was awe-inspiring. I just didn’t know it at that point.

I would go on to experience a wonderful gap year in Mexico. I would meet people that would forever change my life. I would love more than I’d ever loved before. I would be loved. I would fall in love for the first time. I would travel the world. I would end up studying in a little university town half a world away. I would learn another language. I would fall in love with another culture, people and country. I would meet soul mates in disguise as best friends. I would experience heartache and trials and difficulties but I would get over them! I would learn to love children and family and home. I would hear God’s voice calling me to serve him. I would embark on a 18 month long mission in England. I would learn to love imperfections. I would breathe deeply. I would be joyous. And I would begin to find out who I really am, and who I want to be.

So this year, as I stared out into the vast unknown that continues to be my life, I did not fear because I now know He has plans for me better than I have for myself. I know all will be well. I have learned to not fear the helm because there is no need to! In reality, I’m not called to steer on my own and better yet,  I’m not the captain of my soul, He is. Through trial and error… lots of error, I’ve realized that so long as I have ears to hear, He will lead me where I need to go. And last, but certainly not least, I think (I sometimes still forget!) I finally get that I don’t need to know what’s around every bend because this knowledge does not, in fact, give real security. Rather, knowing that wherever you go, He will be by your side, is what does.

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

– M. Louise Haskins

The Big Picture

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Emotions, Random Moments, Rantings, Self improvement, Spiritual

Character

“Difficulties show men what they are. In case of any difficulty remember that God has pitted you against a rough antagonist that you may be a conqueror, and this cannot be without toil.”

~ Epictetus (Greek philosopher)

I’ve always believed that when God puts an obstacle in front of us, be it a temptation, a difficult decision, or a trial, he does it because he knows we are capable of overcoming and being victorious. As the loving father he is, he would never put us up against something we are not prepared or equipped to overcome.

I think he often uses these trials to push us, not so that he can see where our limits stand, but so that we can see how much we are actually capable of handling.

I’ve also always thought that when trying times abide in our lives, it’s because he is trying to make us stronger. And well, he usually needs to make us stronger because he knows we will need to draw upon that strength in the future. I don’t know, but maybe trials are his way of preparing us for what’s to come.

I think it’s the same principle as when we build muscle in our bodies. First it’s painful because in order to build up our muscle mass, we must first tear apart the very fibers and tissues holding it together. We all know the phrase… no pain, no gain.

But when God is trying you and pushing you in pretty much every aspect, it sorta makes you wonder what he’s trying to prepare you for. Why the sudden spike in the building of spiritual muscle? Makes you wonder what sort of trials are to come. At least in my case.

Yesterday was a pretty tough day. And for a good part of the day I was so ready to throw in the towel. I kept wondering why my life could never just be simple. I felt angry that I was being pushed so hard. I didn’t want to be pushed anymore. I wanted someone to cut me a break. At that moment, I wasn’t interested in finding out how much I could take before I finally caved.

Then as I sat on a bench, in the middle of Mexico city, with tears running down my cheeks and my head in my hands… the most random thought popped into my head. It was a name. Helen Keller.

And then I thought that all good stories, especially life stories, always have a good plot, an abundance of opposition and plenty of ups and downs. That’s what makes them interesting, after all. They keep us hooked, waiting to see what happens next. And I guess that’s what makes them worth repeating, retelling and passing them down… that’s what makes them memorable.

My dad once told me that it’s easy to love those that deserve to be loved, the people who inspire love in us, the kind that deserve it, that welcome it and that return it. But what do we learn from that? When God commanded us to Love one another, I’m sure he had in mind that we love everyone, but especially those that don’t make us loving them any easy. Loving those that don;t inspire love in us, that’s the real test.

I think it’s the same with being the person you want to be. It’s easy to be that person when life is light shade of pink. The real question is, can you still be the person you want to be, the person you know you can be, when life isn’t going the way you would like it to go? Can you still smile? And keep the faith? And be patient? And put your shoulder to the wheel?

I think it’s during these times that our true character come forth. But it’s also in times like these when we decide what character we want to have. And it’s at time like these when we can start developing that character, in case we realize we haven’t already.

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet.
Only through experience of trial and suffering
can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired,
and success achieved.

~ Helen Keller

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Emotions, Rantings

The problem with reacting

I remember when I was 18 and getting ready to move out on my own for the very first time my dad sat me down and played out a very interesting analogy for me. He told me about the training US soldiers have before going out on the field. He compared me to a soldier, and my new surroundings to the war in Iraq. Yes, the analogy was a bit extreme, but it definitely drove home the point he was trying to make. I’ll never forget his words;

“Its a war out there Kitzia and you cannot afford to ever put your guard down. You’ve received the best training. You have the best armor-the armor of god. But just like any soldier, the time comes when you must make use of all you’ve been taught, step onto the battle field, and put yourself under the ultimate test. You won’t always know where the enemy is hiding, but be sure… he is there. Prepare yourself for every situation. Run every possible scenario through your head so he can never use the element of surprise against you. Make those important decisions on who you will be and how you will act today, right now, so that if you ever find yourself in a vulnerable situation, you know what you stand for and you know how to carry yourself like a true daughter of God. Remember that you cannot do this alone. Stay with your group. Be among those who have your back, who have the same mission as you- to return with honor. And always be aware of your surroundings. Always. And if you ever find yourself in a situation you know you are not equipped for… do not be afraid to run. Always have an exit plan and know where you can run to for safety. I hope you don’t have to do too much running, but in case you do, be sure and stay fit :P”

Three weeks ago I found myself in a situation I did not see coming. And now, as I sit here thinking about the actions I took, and where those actions have taken me, I realize I did not act the best way I could have. I definitely could have handled that situation better, but I didn’t. My brain went into total standby mode and all the things I knew… all the training I had been given, completely went out the window. Whats worse is that the reach of my actions don’t just stop with me, they extend to someone else- someone who doesn’t deserve to be hurt by my foolish actions.

I’ve always been taught to prepare myself for all sorts of situations and to know how I will act before the situation arises, precisely so that I would not be put in a situation where I would have to make an important decision on the spot. But I never prepared myself for something like this, it never even really crossed my mind, and I was taken so completely off guard… I did not really think, I just reacted.

And that’s the problem with reactions. They’re things we do in response to an outside force or event. These are actions taken in the moment. They are not premeditated, thought out, or carefully analyzed. They are decision taken in a split second. More often than not, you are not given much time to think about what it is you are doing and it is not until after the moment has passed and the dust has settled, that you realize- had you been given time to really think about what you were doing, you would not have acted in the same manner.

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Emotions, Rantings

no escaping the past

Now I’m lying on the table with everything I said (and everything I did).

“It will all catch up eventually”.

Well, it caught up and honestly, the weight of my decisions were impossible to hold.

Keep that in mind- the way that it felt- when the most I could do was to just blame myself.

So, would you like to forget?

(Yes).

I’m so tired of remembering more then I’d like to forget.

Well, drop everything and start all over again.

[adaptation of Photograph]

There is no running away from life’s failed lessons. You can try leaving everything behind. You can try starting over again. But it will be useless. You’ll never achieve what you’re aiming for until you face the consequences of your actions. Until you man up and face the inner demons haunting your thoughts. Making you doubt and question yourself. Not until you open up your personal can of worms and clean out the skeletons in your closet. Otherwise, you only end up carrying excess weight as you drift from one place to another. Emotional excess baggage. The kind no one knows about. The kind no one can offer to help you carry because they cant see it. You wont let them. You do such a good job at keeping it hidden, away from any caring person’s sight. You push it down, you push it away, you pretend its not there. Still, no matter how many times you pack your bags and stuff your life in a suitcase, or go off into the sunset in search of a new beginning, you wont find it. Not entirely. Eventually, we all have to stop running and pay for our broken dishes. There’s no escaping it. Whether the bill comes immediately or days or months or years down the road, it always comes. I promise.

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