You get what you give

The clocks went forward last night, which means that right now, at 7:04 pm on the 30th of March 2014, it’s still broad day light and my heart feels so content. I adore spring, I adore this time of year, because it’s when the world starts to grow again; it’s when I start to grow again. Winter is all about the shedding of painful memories and broken dreams, but spring is for new life.

I turn 24 in just under two weeks.
A lot has happened since my last birthday and I already know this one will be the best I’ve had in a long time. I have plans; real life plans to look forward to, and some of the best people in the world to share my excitement with. I’ve come to realise in recent months that I neither want or need lots of friends, just a few brilliant ones who I know I can count on.

Two weeks ago I put my foot down with someone and removed them from my life. It hurt terribly to think I’d lost a friend when I don’t have all that many, but when I accepted that this person was only bringing me down I realised that it was the best thing I could’ve done. I’ve realised how strong I am too, to have walked away from it knowing that it wasn’t doing me any good. Up until a few days ago I kept thinking it over, kept feeling anger and resentment towards the person, but on Thursday I got incredibly upset and a good friend told me to stop torturing myself with my thoughts; it was the best advice I’ve been given. Not only because it means I’ve had an amazing, chilled out weekend, finding myself smiling at the realisation of how far I’ve come, but also because I’m in a position to be able to do that now. In November if someone had told me this I wouldn’t have been capable of controlling my thoughts.

Slowly, yet surely, I’m falling in love with who I am, both on the outside and the inside. I’m one of few women who is able to love their exterior and not worry what people think. I work out and, honestly, sometimes worry that I’m doing this for the benefit of others, but also know I don’t detest or want to change any part of my body. I do a lot of yoga, which relaxes the mind and tones the body, and since the evenings are getting brighter I want to get back into running again.

I’ve learnt a lot of brilliant personality traits from my friends and I’ve become a more empathetic, courageous, confident person. I probably still complain too much but I have a far more positive outlook on life than I used to and would like to think that I’ll be able to nip that one in the bud soon. It’s safe to say that I like who I am, and can’t wait to see who I become.

This time last year I was a shell of who I am now, but today I found myself driving to Tesco with the stereo turned up belting out the words to You Get What You Give like an absolute fool, knowing that everyone driving past could see me yet not caring at all.

So friends, give the song a listen and remember:

“When the night is falling,
and you cannot find the light, 
If you feel your dream is dying,
Hold tight…”

x

 

 

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Attack of the Christian.

Yesterday I posted this status on Facebook:

The amount of married Christian couples who’ve deleted me off facebook in recent months says a lot for the Church I used to go to and for the faith I used to be a part of that claims to love everyone.

And after having done so received this message (I’ve edited a few things to allow the sender to retain anonymity):

Just heard what you posted about being deleted off Facebook by us. Just want to put somethings straight. [My husband] was deleted by you. He didn’t delete you. Secondly, the reason why I deleted you was because I was fed up reading your posts about how crap Christians were and how our beliefs offended you. Also you slagged off [a certain area of the public sector] . I happen to work for them and if [what they do] is not your bag I’m very sorry. I was offended by what you wrote. I see you didn’t put on Facebook about us welcoming you into our house every week and sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. You didn’t happen to mention that we have prayed for you and continue to pray for you even though you aren’t with us. If you had a problem you should have spoken to us but you didn’t give me the chance to explain. I’m sorry you feel hurt but we also are hurt. God bless you with whatever you are doing and all the best for your future

To be quite frank I find the whole interaction completely hilarious, so I’m going to break it down.

Just heard what you posted about being deleted off Facebook by us.

Really? Your ego is so large that you think, months after it’s happened, my status was only related to you and that there aren’t people in my life who were ten times more important to me who’ve deleted me? Girl, get over yourself. Also, “just heard”? So it’s quite clear someone told her about it, which says a lot about these people too (I’m currently approaching people to find out who it was as I have a good idea).

[My husband] was deleted by you. He didn’t delete you.

That’s pretty funny. Why would I have been upset about it originally and then posted this status if I had deleted him? Or maybe I did it by accident (because I have zero recollection) but as I stated to this lovely woman in my response, I would’ve had no reason to delete either her or her husband from Facebook. The only time I delete someone is when I feel we’re not really friends because the friendship has faded away and I never see them any more and was never close with them in the beginning, and so don’t believe they need to be on my Facebook that is generally pretty private.

Secondly, the reason why I deleted you was because I was fed up reading your posts about how crap Christians were and how our beliefs offended you.

This is probably my favourite part of the whole thing because I constantly see Christians posting Bible verses and worship lyrics and rubbish about being pro-life on my news feed and I ignore it, but when I say how I disagree with Christiantiy and that it’s a bit screwed up sometimes they think “Well, I should delete her!” What?! What happened to loving people and allowing them to have their own opinions, what happened to turning the other cheek? What happened to admitting that there are a lot of Christians in the world who are total dicks? I’ve had so many Christians be really kind to me in recent months. They’ve discussed with me or sympathised with me over the bad treatment I’ve received in the Church, so it’s sad that the ones who take such negative actions seem so prominent.

Also you slagged off [a certain area of the public sector] . I happen to work for them and if [what they do] is not your bag I’m very sorry. I was offended by what you wrote.

I loved this part and I have only one response:
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The worst part was that I actually fully support the company she works for in what they do but realise that they regularly have numerous failings and had pointed one of them out and said they really need to step up their game, so I told her I didn’t really know what she was getting at here. But am I supposed to cater my Facebook posts to the social and political beliefs of everyone in my friends? What on earth would be the point in that? At the end of the day if you’re constantly offended by people not agreeing with you you’re going to get burned. Too many Christians have this weird idea that you all have to sit quietly and not argue over anything, but I think if you remember correctly Jesus flipped over some tables one time when he saw some shit was going down in the temple, so it’s pretty important not to be a wilting flower. This is also like me refusing to be friends with someone who doesn’t like the catering establishment I work for; incredibly petty and a wee bit insane.

I see you didn’t put on Facebook about us welcoming you into our house every week and sharing our deepest thoughts and feelings. You didn’t happen to mention that we have prayed for you and continue to pray for you even though you aren’t with us. 

This bit annoys the absolute shit out of me. I’m a generally pretty socially awkward person so social situations can be really tough for me. I went to this group every week and only a couple of people spoke directly to me, and this woman thinks that sharing her “deepest thoughts and feelings” is something I should have felt privileged of? Fuck me, I do that all the time on this blog, you’re not special. And that is such a guilt trip sentence. She’s also sneakily made this paragraph make me feel like every one in the group feels the same way towards me; I do not feel the same way about everyone in the group. And pointing out that they still pray for me when I don’t even hold the same faith or values as the any more? That’s really nice but am I supposed to feel bad about it? I don’t believe prayer works so why would I feel bad that you still include me? Especially when you send me cheeky messages like this, clearly feeling a lot of bitterness towards me? Your prayers mean nothing to me. A few others have told me they’re praying for me, a few other lovely people who really do care, and I appreciate that they care and that they pray because they mean well. YOU do not. YOU are trying to gain Jesus brownie points. Get over yourself.

She also has no idea how happy I was to be a part of the group for the first few months because I was so incredibly lonely and it was my only escape from going to work in my crappy job and being alone, but I guess that’s irrelevant to her now.

If you had a problem you should have spoken to us but you didn’t give me the chance to explain. I’m sorry you feel hurt but we also are hurt.

Good for you. Well done. I feel terrible. *intense sarcasm intended*
It was quite clear from the moment I realised she had deleted me that she had issues with me, and it’s all come out in this message. Does she really think that I would’ve felt comfortable approaching her? When I barely knew her or her husband? When I had clearly never been completely at ease in social situations with the rest of the group? If she was the one deleting me when I had no problems with her should she not have contacted me?

God bless you with whatever you are doing and all the best for your future.

I literally said to her, “Don’t tell me ‘god bless’ when what you really mean is ‘fuck you’.” She’s just trying to make her incredibly cheeky message seem somewhat nice, as if she’s a “good Christian” when she’s actually been a total dick, and I don’t fall for that kind of shit. She doesn’t care about me in the slightest and this message proves that.

I had no intentions of going back to the Church that I used to go to, or any Church for that matter, but this woman alone has claimed her territory and she can have it, because if this is Christianity then I don’t want to be involved in it, honey.

x

Life as I know it.

I’ve wanted to write for a while but every time I sat down to do so my heart wasn’t in it. But, finally, I’m ready.

Since admitting to the world that I was walking away from the Church I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier or more free in my whole life. I’ve been doing yoga and meditation, I haven’t worried about not being married, I’ve been loving college. I feel like I spent so long believing that any strength I had was in God rather than myself that I forgot how strong I am, and I almost put myself down for not being as strong as him. I was constantly trusting in some higher being to help me do things but, now that I’m free from all of that and have seen just how strong I am, I’ve been able to conquer so many of my fears and I’m consistently happy for the first time in my life.

I’ve thought a lot about religion in general. It’s easier to look at all religions when I’m not a part of one, and it baffles me how similar they are, how they all have an agenda. I think there’s something out there guiding us, I believe that the universe makes things go the way they do and that everything happens for a reason, but I don’t know if it’s something like a god. I think the part that annoys me the most is knowing that I’ll now become a project for some people; they’ll start praying for me but will continue to barely say a word to me and, even when they do, there will always be some sort of intention behind it. I’ve accepted my decision not to be a Christian any more, I just hope that everyone around me can.

I think I stuck to Christianity for so long because it was the easy thing for me to do. I was too scared to walk away from it because it was my comfort zone, I didn’t have a clue what to do without it. But now I’m learning and figuring out life without God and it isn’t all roses but it’s certainly going a lot better than I thought it would. I love all the friends I’ve gained in the past few months, they mean the world to me and they’re far more genuine than a lot of the people I knew before.

Last summer I helped with a kids club in County Cavan and I loved it and was so certain I’d be back again this summer, but I no longer believe what they preach. Before I started college I planned to finish this year and then head to Canada for the foreseeable future, but I’ve just applied for another year in college and might do another year after that if things go well. It’s crazy how inconsistent humans are but that’s why life is so beautiful, nothing stays the same, everything changes and we grow and we open ourselves up to new experiences and walk away from old ones, and if we’re happy that’s all that matters.

x

Walking away from the Church

I have spent most of my life calling myself a Christian. When I was 19 I fully committed to God and made the decision to follow Him, whatever that meant.

But life changes, circumstances change, we grow up, nothing stays the same; and I have come to the conclusion that, for the foreseeable future at least, I don’t want to call myself a Christian. I don’t want to go to Church. I don’t want to be define by my beliefs.

Recent events have made me realise that I don’t think any god is in control of my life, or the life of anyone else. I believe that there’s something in the universe that makes our lives work out the way they do but I don’t think it’s anything so strict or rigid that there’s a book about it.

Some of you will worry about me; you’ll think the Devil has got me, you’ll pray for me. But I’m okay, I’m really okay, we’re all okay. I’m figuring life out and I’m figuring out how to be happy, and that’s something I was never able to do before. Something I was never able to do when I was part of the Church, while I was trying so hard to find God. I’ve found my own strength, and being able to own that is so freeing. To know that I can conquer all the things I’m afraid of is so unbelievably freeing. 

Life was dark for a while. On the days I couldn’t get out of bed it was so dark. But the sun is brightening up the sky and I can see the beauty in things again and I don’t need a god to help me do that. It’s just me and the people I love. I have some great people in my life and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for being around the past few months, as I’ve gone through all this insanity.

But for now I’m just figuring out me, I’m figuring out how I want to live; and I’m really okay.

The end of 2013 and the jar.

So I’m finally here. I’ve finally reached it. It is currently 9:31 pm on December 31st 2013 and I’ve made it through the year.

As I look back over the past twelve months I find very few that weren’t hard, very few that didn’t find me struggling to get out of bed most days, that didn’t find me unable to sleep. I have discovered that the people who I thought cared really don’t, that the community I tried so hard to be a part of wasn’t really as welcoming as I’d hoped, and that happiness isn’t something we can expect.

But in the midst of all this sadness, of all this fear, of all this anxiety, I have found my strength.

I have found that good friends are out there, you just have to get through all the crap ones to reach them.
I have found that if I want to do something all I need is the motivation to keep wanting it.
I have found that being honest with myself about who I am is the most freeing thing I’ve ever done.
I have found that endurance teaches us life lessons.
I have found that choosing to stick to my guns and not follow the crowd is terrifying but also brilliantly rewarding.

Over the past twelve months I’ve had a little jar that I’ve put notes in every time something good has happened. In approximately 48 minutes I get to open it and read them all for the first time… When I do that I’ll put some of my favourites in this post for you. I hope that they can be an encouragement to you.

Time doesn’t stop for anyone, but tonight many people will go out and celebrate its passage. Life keeps on moving and the only way to really get through it is by taking it one day at a time. So I say just throw caution to the wind, figure out what you want to do, who you want to be, and live it, live that life. Tomorrow we’ll all wake up (some of us feeling less chipper than others) and, once again, it will be the 1st of January and we’ll still be the same people. Change is up to you; a different number at the end of the date won’t make any difference, and once you find your strength you’ll know it’s here to stay.

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Introversion and being introverted.

I’m an introvert. Once I told someone this and they said, “Oh no, don’t worry, you’re not” as if I’d just made a negative comment about myself. Being introverted means you gain your energy from being alone, you’re more likely to be sensitive and emotional, are probably more of a thinker and feeler, and may be more creative than your extroverted pals. Contrary to popular belief being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy (though I am incredibly shy when I’m with people who I don’t know so well) and it also doesn’t mean you’re a recluse. Being introverted is not a bad thing.

At the minute my job requires me to be an extrovert; I don’t know if my employers have realised yet but I’m not very good at this and cannot wait to leave at the end of the month. However, leaving my job does mean I’ll have a lot more free time on my hands and, until I really thought about it, I was a bit worried about this. I have a lot of friends who are very busy all of the time; they have so many things going on in their lives and are constantly rushed off their feet. For the longest time I have thought that to have a good life you need to have a busy life, you need to always be out doing things, you need to have tonnes of friends and always be with people but I have finally come to the conclusion that this is not true.

I’m not saying that I’m going to stop making effort to spend time with people or working on making progress in becoming more involved with my Church, but it does mean I’m a little happier at the thought of not always being with people. You see, my job has squashed my creativity somewhat. It tires me out and leaves me with very little time to work on all the creative things that I love to do, that come so naturally to me as an introvert. So to have free time to focus on these things again is wonderful and such a blessing.

In September I will hopefully be starting a full-time course at college to study professional cookery. This course is Monday-Friday, 9-5, and while my cooking will be an individual effort (which I am really looking forward to) I will spend my days being with people all the time. Right now I have two months ahead of me with only two weeks taken up by helping at kid’s clubs; this is such a gift and I’d be stupid to waste it. I’ll be able to use this time to work on all of my own creative projects, focusing on the things I love.

Most of all I look forward to all the time I’ll be able to spend with Jesus, just like last summer. I look forward to being able to isolate myself from the world every so often to just focus on Him because that is what I need more than anything. Life has been crazy for the past few years so now is the time to commit everything to Him before it gets crazy again.

So, to my fellow introverts, don’t be afraid of your introversion. We’re an important part of this world and should embrace what we have to offer.

x

Accidental Idol Worship

At the minute I’m reading through 1 and 2 Chronicles and it’s wild. There’s all these mad battles happening all the time and it tells you about the different kings of Israel throughout the years. Some of these kings were good and honourable, they focused on God and encouraged the people of Israel to whole heartedly worship Him. However, many of them, like Solomon, David’s son, spent their whole lives worshipping idols. The book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon; it’s his thoughts on what is basically idol worship, how it’s empty and meaningless and will leave you feeling alone and broken. It’s quite clear that after a life time of numerous wives and extravagant living, Solomon wasn’t a happy guy.

I used to think I was immune from idol worship. I told myself that I put God first, that idol worship was for people like the Israelites who worshipped golden calves in the desert, that I’m not that interested in celebrity, and that I didn’t have enough money to worship that. I didn’t realise that spending so much time thinking about my dreams, my plans for my future career, my want to be a wife and a mother, and my fear of not having enough friends was idol worship in its purest form. I didn’t just want these things, I focused on them, worried about them, let them consume me (I say this in past tense but only today have I realised all of this; it’s something I’ve only just started working on and will be working on, with Jesus, for a long time).

It’s easy to pretend to ourselves that we’re putting God first because as long as we read our Bible and pray daily then that’s putting Him first, right? But being a Christian is so much more than these things. If I’m letting my fears consume me, if I’m letting them kill my creativity, stop me from caring about playing guitar and writing and cooking (the things I adore), if they make me begin to wonder why God can’t fill the emptiness that I feel because of them, then I have gone too far. If all these things I want become about me getting what I want, rather than using those possible situations to bless the people around me then I’ve gone too far, because being a friend or a wife or a mother are not things people do for themselves.

It’s easy to look at the lives of people around us and be jealous, to wonder “why do they have that and I don’t?” But at the end of the day it isn’t about having what other people have, it’s about having what I need to have, about having what God needs me to have so He can use me, so I can serve Him. I am where I am, in life and in the world, for a reason, and I should stop looking at the things I don’t have and focus on what I do. It doesn’t mean I’ll be here forever, change is inevitable, but there’s a lot of good in my current situation and I’m so blessed to have what I do.

I have a good friend who I regularly chat to about life and one day, when I was stressing out about a lot of things, she told me, “You just need to let yourself be happy.”

It’s so easy to get bogged down by the sad things in life, the things we don’t have, but to focus on the comforts, the things that make us smile, is so important because life could be so much worse.

To put it simply, I don’t want to end up like Solomon. I don’t want to spend my life putting effort into the things I want and, when I’m old and grey, look back at how meaningless it all was. I want to unashamedly chase after Christ and, in His time, find all the wonderful things He has for me, whatever they may be.

x