5 days under a rock (my life without facebook)

Last Tuesday, I started my 2nd break from Facebook. I’ve been on Facebook almost daily for 11 years, aside from a few weeks off last year. I wrote a blog last time I took a break, and decided to blog again about this break as well because It hasn’t even been a week but its crazy how just a week off reveals so much about why I love/hate facebook.

Desire to Share: I think one of the perks of Facebook is that you do have a platform to share a lot about your life. Stories, experiences, pictures, videos.  At the click of a button you can let everyone on your friends list know that you’re mad at the guy who cut you off in traffic, or that you really enjoyed the Incredibles 2 movie. You can also share your thoughts, feelings, frustrations, opinions, etc with people almost immediately. It’s very gratifying; have a thought>share it on Facebook> have people instantly validate your thought. I think that is one of the reasons its so addicting. We are always thinking, living, having experiences and so why not share them with the world? It’s that cherry on top, not only do I get to go and see my favorite band in the front row, but I also get to tell hundreds of people about it!! What did people do before social media? Just live their lives??? what?

 

The Performance: As a story teller and writer myself, I used facebook as a platform to share my story as I experienced it. I’ve gone through a lot of growth and change and loved getting to share it with others as an encouragement to them. However, I’ve recently hit a stage in my life where change is coming and I don’t know the next chapter, and I’m stuck staring at a blank white page with nothing to share. Then, you are reading the newsfeed and getting lost in all the stories of other peoples lives and you’re looking at your life and their life and wondering what the heck? Why am I not getting my dream job? dream husband? and dream ranch in the hills of Montana? Oh dear friend, remember your friends are only sharing their highlights. Just like you tend to only share yours. Not every family is perfect, not every event is “a blast”, not every friend group gets along all the time. You are not the only one. You are not the only one. You are not the only one who feels lonely, or disappointed or like they don’t have anything figured out.  I try to be as authentic as possible on social media. However, I still catch myself only sharing the highlights, because well, that’s what people do and its sad.

3.  Connection: As soon as I had a friend change my password for Facebook, I felt a twinge of disorientation and almost loneliness. Like, all my friends were accessible at all times on facebook and now I have to like call them, or text them or meet with them in person. WHAT. IS. THIS. MADNESS. I found that though it takes more effort to meet with people this way, it means a million times more. A person is not words on a screen, or a picture on a page. They are more than the words they can type or the like button that they click. They have a laugh, a smile, a face they make when they can’t hold the tears back anymore. We are made to connect. Can Facebook be a tool to connect? sure. but don’t forget to call, to meet in person, to do things together.

I need to take frequent breaks to remind myself of this: You are not the number of likes you receive (your stories, thoughts and opinions matter not because someone validated them, but because they are yours) , someone’s status update is not an accurate depiction of their life and neither is yours so stop comparing,  you can connect with people in person and it means SO MUCH MORE than commenting on their status.

-Marlie

 

(6 days till Albania!!!!!)

 

 

 

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Johnny and the Quest for The Perfect Tools

Meet Johnny Man.
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Johnny Man lives in a very small town nestled in the woods of Scandinavia. In this small town,  the sole purpose in life is to build a chair. When Johnny was a baby, many thought about Johnny Man and what kind of chair he was going to build. Would it be big?? Would it be wooden, or metal, or bright green? Johnny grew and grew and once he hit age 6 it was time to begin his quest for building a chair. He had lots of ideas and lots of plans. He was surrounded with other children who were writing, learning and reading about building chairs.  Through his rigorous chair design school, he finally had designed the perfect one.

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Johnny man had his plan drawn out and he was ready to go fulfill his life purpose!
First thing first, Johnny needed some tools.

Johnny loved tools.  Almost too much.

Like He really loved tools.

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An important part of the chair building process is choosing the right tools. And there were a lot to choose from in the town.

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Johnny tried all sorts of tools.

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As he was trying the tools, he began to wonder which one was the right tool. Even though any of them could have worked fine, Johnny spent a majority of his life going through tool after tool trying to see if it was perfect for building a chair.  People told him, “Look Johnny, you can build a chair with any tool!! There’s no wrong tool!”

Johnny disagreed. There had to be the RIGHT one. Every time he tried to use a tool, he discovered a flaw. The screwdriver involved too much twisting, the hammer required too much strength and the wrench accidentally pinched him.  Over the years, he became more obsessed with finding the right tool, so much so that his plan to build a chair became a distant memory.

One night, Johnny was tossing and turning in bed. He was in his late 60’s now. He woke up at 3am and had an epiphany. It was time to make that chair.

He got really excited and ran to the living room.  This was going to be great, he thought. He spent a few minutes arranging the tools and then he was done! His chair was perfect!

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“Now, I can finally sit down and relax and enjoy all my hard work,” he said. As he sat, a sharp pain ripped through his whole body. He tried to lean back, but the screwdriver toppled over almost immediately.  This was not he imagined a chair to be like.  A bruised bottom and an even more bruised ego, he went for a walk to clear his mind.

It was apparent to him now: the tools were not meant to be a chair.  They were intended to build a chair, but not BE THE CHAIR. Ashamed of himself, he realized he had failed to do the one thing everyone in his town did. He got so distracted by finding the right tool, he forgot to build a chair.

Though, Johnny had wasted most of his life, he figured since he was still alive he still had time to build that chair. He went back to the tool shed and grabbed a whole bunch of tools. He used all the tools (imperfect and loud and hard and twisty) and made a chair. It was a lot different from the one he designed when he was a young boy. But, it was a chair nonetheless.

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The End.

 


 

Meet Marlie.

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She lives in a city where everyone’s soul purpose is to find a job and a spouse. She also is a Christian, so her relationship with God is pretty important to her. In fact, her true purpose in life is to know God and make God known.

When she was born, many people wondered  what she would do with her life, who she would marry, etc. Many prayed over her, for her health and well being. Some even prayed that she would come to know and worship the One True God.

Marlie grew up in school, learning how to write, read and do math.  She learned that God loved her unconditionally and had a great plan for her. She learned what she was good at and what she was not good at. She began to dream about who she would marry, how many pets she would own and her beautiful dreamy husband.

Marlie loves people,  she loves to talk with them, and make them laugh. She also really cares about if they like her or not. She often makes decisions about what to do based on how it would make someone else feel, usually neglecting her own feelings for the ’cause of being liked.’

Marlie was a certified and tested idealist. Her cup was not half empty or half full, it was overflowing with optimism. A lot of her teenage years was spent figuring out who she was, what she was good at and who she fit in with. Her college years were spent finding the right major  and the right friends. After college, she found a world open and waiting for her. Only it wasn’t open or waiting. Now was the time to find the perfect job and the perfect husband.

Years passed and passed. Floating from career to career, from living situation to living situation and dating relationship to dating relationship, she couldn’t find the right one.  Sure the job started out nice, but then it got hard so she left. The relationship started out great, but then the ‘butterflies’ faded and she was done. Her original purpose to know God and make God known was a distant memory as she headed into her 30’s, single and unemployed.  Nothing had made her happy like she wanted. No career had made her feel fulfilled, no man made her feel special. For the first time, the cup was half empty.

One night, she looked on her bookshelf and found a book. She blew the dust off the cover. It was a book she hadn’t touched since she was a young girl. The words flowed from the page into her heart.  She was loved, cherished, chosen for a purpose, and a Daughter of the King.  Tears began to fall, and she began to speak.
“God, I have wasted a lot of my life making gods out of men, my career and finding people’s approval. I know I’m not dead yet, so it’s still not too late to know You and to do your will. Help me use future career as a tool to serve you, not a way to find fulfillment. Help me find my identity in you and not in any relationship with a guy.”

She didn’t know what the rest of her life held, but she knew she could rest in the comfort of knowing God loved her and had a plan for her.

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Quiet time is hard

The Silence is uncomfortable
i fidget, I shift
Because sitting still is unbearable
Doing nothing, saying nothing.
I Feel exposed, naked.
Shame, fear, desperation soon follow.
What do I bring to the table?
Absolutely nothing but my mess.
Like the house guest who trashes the place,
Why haven’t you asked me to leave yet?
I have nothing to offer except selfishness, pride
and the attitude that somehow I contributed to my salvation
“Of course God loves me, I am a lovable person.”
But deep down, I know the truth.
I’ve heard my own thoughts, much like nails on a chalkboard,
they burn my own ears.
You’ve heard them all, you know every disturbing, hateful and ugly thought
Yet. You love me.
A day full of greatness does not earn any bonus points, nor does a day full of failures deduct points from  the “God’s love for me” score. That score was settled long before I was born. You loved me before I took my first breath and will love me 1,000,00 years beyond my death.
I say this to myself and I desperately want it to sink in.  However, there’s no silver bullet, magic phrase, or life changing conference that will put an end to all this doubt. What’s the point of faith if there’s no doubt? So each day I pray, Lord reveal your love towards me and allow me to reflect your love to those around me.


 

That’s from my journal a few weeks ago. It’s so hard to sit still before God, I feel like I have to be doing something, saying something, or having some emotional response to Him. I want so badly to just be able to rest in His love for me, but that takes a lot of trust. Trust that He loves me even though I bring nothing to the table. It makes me think about my cat. I’m happy to just spend time with her. She doesn’t fetch, offer any ounce of protection, she doesn’t do much except spend time with me and that’s all I want. I want her to sit with me, and sleep with me and follow me around the house. I love her to pieces and I greet her joyfully everytime I see her. It’s hard for me to grasp that God delights in me spending time with Him like I enjoy spending time with my cat. Which is why I think quiet times are so hard. Instead of viewing it as Father, Daughter time, I view it as an ex convict meeting with a probation officer.  The good news is God’s love for me and for us is not based on whether or not we can grasp it. I was talking to a friend yesterday, and we came to a good conclusion that if we could understand everything about God then we wouldn’t worship Him. My kiddos in preschool class don’t know everything about the world, and they mess up a lot, and they say mean things and spit and hit and are rude to those around them. But, I still love them and care for them. All in all, it’s going to be a journey. Like in any relationship, I’ll grow to learn more about God and how He cares for me as I get older. Looking back over the year, He has done so much! I am excited to grow more, to learn more and hopefully to rest better in His presence.

 

Real Talk: Life feels like a performance

Life feels like a performance.

A performance for others, God and myself.

Each day passes, I lay in bed at night and rate myself on my ‘performance.’ I kick myself for any mistakes, and praise myself for the good moments.

When I pray I often pray for God to help me love people better, to be more patient, kind, loving. To be a light. While those are good things, I wonder if deep down, I just want Him to help me perform better.

It feels safe on this  stage. 4 feet, and a few rows between me and the audience. I can pretend to be the marlie I want to portray. Just make a lot of jokes, say all the right spiritual things, and don’t feel TOO much.  That’s my role. And the audience is full too:  God’s in the front, with a clipboard and glasses down on his nose as He writes notes about my show. My friends, acquaintances and strangers all fill in the rows behind him. But off to stage left, is the worst critic of all. Marlie. In between sets, she’s always telling me my mistakes, how I could have done better, how I messed up a line. She tells me that people are going to leave, and never come back. And good riddance, the show was awful anyways. She tells me I was a waste of their time and money.

I know my selfishness, my anxiety, and my desire for approval are a wicked combination that always make me feel like I’m performing for others. First off, “no one thinks about you as much as you do.” That’s a humbling quote. You mean, when I”m done interacting with someone, they are not analyzing everything I said? nope. They’re probably analyzing everything they just said. I’m learning to step off the stage with others. And really connect with other people.
But with God, gosh that’s hard. I can’t see Him, so I’m always quick to assume the worst: He’s judging me, He’s not happy with me, I didn’t do something right so He’s disappointed. those thoughts make me want to act better, do more, and try harder. It’s a vicious cycle. It takes trust to rest in Him, it takes humility to realize I can not and could not ever live this life alone, it takes a lot of prayer and meditation to consider the real truth of the Gospel and that God does care about me, just like an earthly father cares deeply about his children.

This performance thing has been on my heart for awhile now and it’s something God is slowly chipping away at, and I am thankful for close friends who show me that I’m worth it: mess and all. Bringing it into the light helps, and as always, I write in hopes that someone else might feel less alone. I don’t have the answers but I do feel this way and hopefully that helps someone out there feel less like a crazy person.

Real Talk: Confessions

Confession: I have serious digestion problems.

Confession: I have depression and anxiety.

I don’t remember when I started struggling with either of them, but both became very serious in November when I started attending a group at my church. It was a recovery group for women who had experienced sexual abuse.

Confession: I was sexually abused in my childhood and it’s something I never dealt with until now.

Reasons I avoided it and lies I believed: It wasn’t rape, so why did it matter? It was probably my fault anyways. No one would believe me if I told them.

Going to the group every monday night was admitting to myself that what happened to me was abuse and that I had to get healing from it. As the dam of denial began to broke, all the emotions that I was holding flooded through my soul: fear, despair, disgust, rage, apathy, to name a few. This not only affected my emotions but my body as well. I had panic attacks on the daily, and had serious digestive issues. Like I said, I’ve had mild anxiety and mild digestive issues since I was in high school. But this was life altering, and definitely interfering with my daily life.

Guess which issue I went to the doctor for first? That’s right, my stomach issues.  I knew no one would judge my faith, or tell me to pray more if I told them I was taking stomach medicine. I briefly mentioned the anxiety during the check up and my doctor said she’d love to meet with me to talk about the anxiety. I kind of shrugged it off and went about my life excited to have some IBS medicine for my stomach that could normalize everything below my belly button.

The medicine worked beautifully, I had no idea why I had waited for so long to get some help. I kept thinking my symptoms weren’t THAT bad, or that maybe it’ll just fix itself on its own but thankfully I got over myself and asked for help. My doctor wanted a follow up meeting with to make sure the IBS medicine was working and so I went in there thinking “i’ll tell em the medicine is great and then walk out and go about my life.” But since it was January, they decided I was due for a check up. They took my blood, they did a lady test, and then asked me about my anxiety. My doctor is a Christian so I told her about the stress I was experiencing due to processing all the memories. And she empathized and said let’s get you on something that’ll help you through this time. (Side note: I had thought a lot about taking medication before this, and had talked with a lot of women, my community group, my mom, my friends from college, my counselor, and really wrestled with this) And I decided that If I was going to take care of my stomach, I needed to take care of my brain too.  10 mg of Lexapro, every morning until January 2018. 

The first two weeks were scary. I felt like I was carrying this dark little secret around and no one could know or they’d say I wasn’t a Christian. The imagined judgement I felt from people was worse then the initial side effects. As the side effects subsided, so did the imagined judgement. No one actually told me that I needed to “have more faith” or that I was the cause of anxiety and depression. I told myself those things.  I told myself that I didn’t trust God, that I needed to have more faith and pray more and read more of the Bible and memorize scripture. However, as I attempted these things my anxiety robbed me of any joy in Christ. I over thought every word I prayed and every word I wrote down in my journal.  My depression told me it didn’t matter and that God never really cared anyways so neither should I. Depression and Anxiety were the reins, and the Enemy was steering me all the way to destruction.

As I processed the memories from my childhood in the group, I replaced the lies I believed with truth, God began to open my eyes so that I could  begin to understand and grasp that I am lovable, I can trust others and God, I am worthy of God’s affection, I began to experience healing and freedom.

As the medicine began to really start working, I realized a lot of nervous tics I had that I didn’t know were anxiety related started to fade. I stopped obsessing over my breathing (I’d lay in bed at night and convince myself that I wasn’t really breathing), I stopped rubbing my fingers together and shaking my legs when I sat. The panic attacks stopped. The feeling of overwhelming dread faded. I could focus on one or two things at a time. I could focus and really pray, I could really journal, I could really meditate on truth in God’s word without wondering if I was doing something that was upsetting God.

Right now I’m sitting here wondering did God use anti-depressants to help me get closer to Him? It sounds so weird. I feel like the church makes it black & white, you trust God or you don’t. You have faith, or you don’t. I still have this little voice in my head that says “Wow you’re on medication, you really don’t trust God.” It takes a few seconds during the day to take a pill. But, the rest of the day I got to trust God and know He’s sovereign. If I can trust God and take medicine to make my stomach feel better, then I can trust God and take anti-depressants to help my brain feel better. And you know what, after a month or so on the antidepressants, I no longer needed to take the IBS medicine for my stomach because my digestive issues are gone!

I’m 3 months in and have been so lucky to a) found a medcine/dosage that worked on the first try. b) to be surrounded by such supportive and loving people. c) to have had an amazing job to work at during all this crazy stress (my boss brings her dogs to school every day and I get to love on them during my break. how amazing is that?)

I had a much different blog in mind when I opened this document, but I think what came out is good. I hope it helps you feel less alone, maybe it helps you understand mental health issues more. Maybe it’ll start good conversations about getting help. I’m open to any questions or comments. Please know that this is simply my story and experience so far. It might not look like yours, and it probably wont. Medicine affects everyone differently, so don’t let someone elses negative or positive experience effect your decision. Let that be between you, your doctor, your family and close friends.

Until next time, thanks for reading my friend.

-Marlie

My story (pt 1)

 

The biggest lie I believed about the Gospel was that I didn’t need it. I would never admit that to you, because as a church kid I knew Jesus was the answer (to every question in bible class and in life.) But my life didn’t really reflect that. I was raised in a Christian home, I went to sunday school, church camps, VBS, Awana, played in a christian basketball league, youth group, bible studies, service projects. You name it, I was there. i was baptized when I was 9, went down the aisle at “decision night” at every camp. Rededicating, rededicating, rededicating. This time I’ll do better, I’ll be better, I’ll love more. This time I won’t screw things up. Jesus was the answer, but I didn’t grasp yet that I was the problem. I continued a cycle of experiencing emotional camp highs, and the lows of reality, my own imperfection and how exhausting legalism is. I was trapped on my treadmill and I was going nowhere.

I knew the Gospel was for sinners but I, much like the Pharisees, assumed the only sinners were the immoral people: the murderers, prostitutes, alcoholics, drug addicts. I felt entitled, proud of my morale life, and stuck my nose up at people who “couldn’t pull it together.”

The Lord used a number of trials in my life to knock me off my pedestal. I lost two friends to suicide, one when I was 11 and another when I was 13. These were earth shattering losses. Stomach in knots, crying until your eyes hurt, and many sleepless nights. I wanted a place to lay my weary head and heart, and there was no soft place to lay down in the house of legalism and religion. Just more rules, to-do’s, and a lot of “dont question God or get angry at him.” I began to leave my Sunday only religion, and begin to actually pray and talk to God at night when I couldn’t sleep. And in the mornings when I didn’t want to go to school. I listened to a lot of music, journaled some, and cried a lot. God was there through all the doubts, the questions, the anger, the frustration.

In college, I experienced another significant loss when my parents separated and divorced after 25 years of marriage. All I ever knew, all my stability and hope was in my family. I was in the middle of my college career and didn’t have any time to process the loss of my family unit. But I was surrounded by an amazing support system of friends and professors nonetheless. I spent my last semester abroad in London and had a life changing experience seeing London, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Once all the classes were done,  I walked across a stage with a funny hat and a harry potter gown on, and some words were said and then I was suddenly done with college. I hugged a lot of people that day and haven’t seen many since that hot day in May 2015.

I was plucked from my current life and was placed back in my mom’s house in Northeast dallas. I had no job, no friends in the area, no money, no church home. Ground zero guys, and I hated it. I had dreams ya know, and it had been a few weeks since I graduated college and none of them had come true so OBVIOUSLY my life was over (sarcasm). My darkest moments were that summer. I doubted myself and I doubted God. they say the good thing about hitting rock bottom is that the only way you can go is up.  And as soon as I’d given up all hope, I looked up and saw a rope.

To be continued…will marlie ever find friends? does Marlie decide to travel back to London the next year to meet Chris pine? Will marlie hug all the cats in the world? all these answers and more next time on THIS HERE BLOG THING.

 

 

 

 

Weddings&Funerals

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About a month ago I attended a wedding.  Two of my good friends were getting married. While picking out what to wear, I had unknowingly put together an outfit that was all black. “Marlie, you’re not going to a funeral,” I laughed. No, this was a time to celebrate. I found a grey sweater instead of a black one and headed out the door. That became a common theme throughout the day, you see, I’ve been to 7 funerals. I’ve done it:  Wear black, drive to the church, grab  tissues, stay strong, but end up crying in the bathroom, stand for the family, sit down, stare at the casket as the pastor says words you’re not listening to because  you know they can’t take the pain away, heart aching, stomach churning, get in your car and drive back home. It was such a relief to be going to a new church, in nice clothes and it not be for a funeral. On the drive over there, I was full of excitement, I entered the church and heard laughter instead of sobs, and  there were  smiles instead of solemn faces.

Instead of a casket, there was a beautiful couple standing on stage to stare at. Did I cry at the wedding? Yup, I sure did. Because they played the song from Beauty and the Beast during the wedding and that was not even fair. You can’t play  a beautiful song at beautiful events and expect me to keep my composure. All this to say, I’m thankful for the truth in Ecclesiastes. That there is a time for everything. A time for wedding and a time for funerals. A time for laughter, a time for mourning. A reason for every season under the sun.