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.

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Real Talk: Comparison sucks.

The more years I’m alive the more I am learning that I am not alone. I am not terminally unique in my thoughts, desires, or needs. Meaning, if a crazy thought passes my mind, I’m sure it has crossed others as well. There’s comfort in that. I want to talk about comparison. Everything in me is dying to make this “Catchy” and “interesting” so you’ll want to read it and then be impressed and then i don’t know what, but that’s a lot of pressure. So i’m just going to type and if you keep reading great, if you skim it awesome, if you stop after this sentence then go for it. So, here we go: comparison.

I can’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t compare myself to someone. Growing up, I compared myself to my brother. He’s funnier than I am, he’s stronger, he’s good at music.  In 5th-12th grade, I compared myself to the “popular girls.” They are prettier than me, they are smarter, the boys like them more than me. In college, I compared myself to my Christian friends: they read more of the Bible than I do, they love God more than me, they serve more than me. BUT this also goes both ways. When I was a kid, I felt better than my brother cause I did better in school and didn’t get in any trouble. In 5th-12th grade, I felt better than the popular girls because I was more “mature” than they were and was a nicer person. In college, I had a fair share of people to compare my actions with (not drinking, smoking or failing classes)  and give myself a nice pat on the back for being “holier” than them.

For all of my life, I have compared myself to others. I try to figure out where I fit in a group of people. Then by the time I “know” them, I’ve got us all ranked up base on my own opinions of people. This sends me in dangerous seasons of feeling way less than some people (popular girls, super spiritual people, leaders/authority figures) and desperately wanting their approval versus other seasons of my life where I feel way better than others which leads to pride and a crummy attitude. Several problems with this mentality: If I base my self worth on others, the people around me are always coming/going. How do I know where I stand? I might feel super confident and awesome around one group and then terribly shy and undeserving of attention in a different group. Then you have this distorted view of yourself like you get when you walk through a fun house with all those mirrors that make you look super fat or skinny.

I read this book on Self-Worth and one part really stuck out to me.

Wrong Belief: My Self worth is based on how I see myself in comparison to others and how others view me.
Right Belief: My self-worth is not based on how I see myself or how others see me, but on how God sees me, for I was created by Him in His image. Not only did Jesus pay the highest price for me by dying on the cross for my sins, but He also lives in me to fulfill His plan and purpose for me.”

Do you live your life comparing yourself to others? Does someone getting a job, a raise, engaged, a new house, or a baby, bother you? If it irks you a bit, you might be comparing yourself to them. I really struggle with this and singleness. It’s so easy to go down that road in my head when someone close to me gets a boyfriend.  “No ones asking you out Marlie. No guy has given you his number. No guy has seemed interested in you. and (this friend) has experienced all that. Therefore, you must not be as pretty, funny, awesome as (this friend.)”

The people in your life should not be used as measuring sticks to make you feel better or worse about yourself. That’s giving someone else the power to define your worth. A friend of mine said once “If someone offered $5 for the Mona Lisa, that doesn’t mean the Mona Lisa is worth $5. It means that person is an idiot.” You’re worth a lot more than the Mona Lisa, friend. And don’t let anyone try and tell you that you that you’re worth a few bucks.  Christ already decided how much you are worth. Nothing and no one can change that.

I wrote something a few months ago in my diary a few months ago and I want to share it with you to close up this here blog.

God made the Earth and everything in it, from beautiful daisies to cascading mountains, from a herd of wild mustangs to colony of ants. The earth is His and everything in it. Look at His creation and you’ll find design, purpose and beauty. I am part of His creation, therefore design, purpose and beauty all exist in me. He did not make any mistakes when He made me. I am intricately designed by my Father’s hand. He knows my past, present and future. I am still breathing therefore I have purpose here. Purpose in the mundane, purpose in the pain, purpose in the joy. None of it is wasted. But, beauty? Years of lies tell me I am the exception. There’s not beauty in Marlie, the enemy sneers. Sunsets are pretty, oceans are pretty and so are forests. But Marlie? She got the short end of the stick. For so long I believed that lie, and to an extend I still do. But today, i am taking small steps to believe that God didn’t screw up when He made me. I was not an afterthought, unwanted or just merely tolerated. Jesus died for me, and if I was still the one sheep who didn’t get her crap together, Jesus still would have come. Lord I believe, Help my unbelief.

 

 

 

Lord we believe, help our unbelief.

 

-Marlie

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

A crowded Mess

In preparation for Easter, I’ve been reading through the Gospel of Luke. Slowly. Reading a chapter a day. Reading the chapter over and over and over. Out loud and to myself. Certain things pop out, certain stories hit deep. One in particular struck a chord with me. Luke 8:43-48. Just 5 verses but it’s a powerful story.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him… We’ll come back to this in a second, but just put yourself in each person’s shoes, Jesus…the disciples…a person in the crowd. What do you hear? Are your feet getting stepped on? Imagine the heat, with all the bodies and then the hot temperatures. People pushing and shoving, standing up on tip toes trying to catch a glimpse of Jesus.

Let’s continue… And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately the bleeding stopped. 

When someone had a chronic illness like the bleeding, they were outcasts. She spent 12 years alone. Completely alone. Her only human interaction was with doctors who again and again just shook their head and said “sorry, we can’t fix this.” Let’s rewind 12 years of your life, for example,  I was eleven years old.  Now think over the last 12 years and take out every person, every social event, every positive interaction with a human being. This was what the woman’s life was like.  This woman had had zero positive interactions with humans for 12 whole years. Then she catches wind of a guy, people aren’t quite sure who he is, but he’s performing miracles.  And that’s exactly what she needed.  So she decides to go find Jesus, and notices a huge crowd. She was already well adjusted to being ignored in crowds,  accustomed to being pushed and shoved aside, she would surely be able to squeeze through the people unnoticed. She just had to touch him, maybe even just his cloak, and she could be healed.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

Got to love Peter. “Um Jesus, YOU’RE LITERALLY SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE. So of course people are going to touch you.” But no, Jesus knew the difference. He had been in crowds before. There’s a difference between an accidental bump into someone, and someone intentionally reaching out and touching you. Did he hear her thoughts? Did her heart cries of desperation scream louder than the noise of the crowd?  When Jesus said those words, did the crowd get quiet and start looking around? We don’t know why every person in the crowd was there, maybe they were just looking to see what the buzz was about. I’d say a majority of them weren’t suffering from a bleeding that wouldn’t stop, that had left them outcast, alone and without hope. So they just shuffled around Jesus, were content to be near Him. “I bumped into Jesus, but it wasn’t on purpose.” said someone in the crowd. No one owned up to touching Jesus until…

Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at His feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” 

I only tremble when I’m really frightened or really excited. I can imagine this woman was feeling both at the same time. Ecstatic that she had just been healed, but terrified even though she had been healed of her sickness, the emotional scars of being exiled still lingered What would they say? What would Jesus say? Her knees buckle and she falls near His feet. Did she look Him in the eyes or did she stare at the ground? The word “Daughter” soothed her lonely soul like aloe vera on a blistering sunburn. It had been years since she had been called any name, let alone, daughter.  As she stood there without family, Jesus  was sure to claim what was His, She was his daughter, a loved, cherished and precious human being. Her faith in Christ healed her. And she went in peace.

Questions:

  1. Is there a time in your life where you desperately reached out for Christ and He answered your cries?
  2. Is there a time in your life when you felt more like a person in the crowd in regards to your relationship with Christ, just shuffling around and accidentally bumping into HIm every now and then?

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.

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Coby from Dude Perfect

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 We live in an interesting world; fame doesn’t just belong to the people in Hollywood anymore. Anyone can become a viral sensation thanks to social media websites like Youtube and Facebook.  Watch any vlogger on Youtube and you’ll see a regular person with millions of views, comments and followers. We might scoff and think “Wow what a silly thing. Who cares about this guy just talking to a camera?” But, deep down, maybe there’s an aching in our heart to be seen, to be approved of and to be followed just like those guys on Youtube. For me, I wrestle with this “viral” thought a lot, especially as a blogger. I go through this thought process every time I  post something, I think perhaps this next blog post will go viral and THEN my writing career will take off, or more recently “surely once a few people read my book, it’ll get the recognition it deserves and spread all over the country.” I disguise these thoughts with “Oh, it’s all for God’s glory!” and “The more people who know Him the better.”  And maybe there’s some truth there, but I know deep down, there’s a part in me that really just wants the spotlight, the approval, the comments, the likes, the empty praise. Admitting all of this is hard. I feel gross. But, I know it’s human nature and I am not alone.  These are all big heart issues I’ve been dealing with and wrestling with for years now.  And I know I got to deal with them so I decided to ask my friend Coby Cotton (Member of Dude Perfect) some questions about managing internet fame as a Christian and all the craziness that comes with it.  

 Sidenote:  if you don’t know who Dude Perfect is, check out their channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/corycotton/featured 

I understand that DudePefect started out with just you guys in a backyard, challenging each other to a variety of trick shots. When the first video was posted and it went viral, what emotions/thoughts were you experiencing in those first few days, weeks? How has that changed to how you feel today?

As juniors at Texas A&M, we posted our first video in 2009. For some reason I still don’t fully understand, it caught the attention of Good Morning America and they called wanting to air it the following morning! I remember feeling both a genuine excitement and a sense of gratitude that God would allow what we created to be highlighted that way. The levels of recognition we’ve received for our videos since that day have risen and fallen, but I’m still equally grateful that God has chosen to use us, a simple group of friends making fun videos, in His way.

 

You’ve gotten to meet and hang out with a lot of famous people, you’ve gotten to do a lot of amazing things, you have a TV Show, a freaking cool new warehouse.  By the world’s standard, you’ve “made it.” You’ve got the fame, the fun, a dream job. Sometimes I falsely believe that I need stuff, experiences and people to make my life better. If I only could meet this person, go on this trip, have this awesome job, then I’d be happy. Any words of wisdom for me and the people out there who can relate to that?

Dude Perfect has afforded us some incredible opportunities that, earlier in my life, I could have only dreamt of. I never want to downplay the exciting pieces of this journey, but at the same time, each of these experiences come and go and their luster fades. It’s easy for me (and I think for all of us) to live for the next thing: the next tv show, the next concert, the next weekend, the next promotion, the next vacation. We put all of our hope in those things, and then, once each one comes and goes, we’re left chasing the next. If there’s one thing God has taught me over the last few years it’s this. Be faithful where I’ve placed you. Not where you hope to be one day or in a place you wish you could return to. Be faithful with where I’ve placed you today. Ben Stuart says it this way, “Excel at the revealed things.” We don’t know what God has for us next. I think it’s great to be honest with God and ask Him for what we desire. But in the midst of those honest requests, don’t lose sight of all that He has for you exactly where you are today.

How has your faith played a role in your Dude Perfect Journey?

Over the past year, God has been using a specific verse in my life to bring my focus to Him. Psalm 86:11 says, “Teach me Your way Lord, that I may rely on Your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name.”  I want my heart to be undivided in its devotion for Him. I don’t want to be distracted by this or that and miss out on what He has for me. In the midst of all the craziness of Dude Perfect, I fail in this all the time and allow myself to be pulled a hundred different directions. But my prayer remains the same, “give me an undivided heart” because I know that all that other stuff will let me down. I absolutely can rely on His faithfulness. He has guided me in the past and will continue to do so.

There’s tons of content creators out in the world, bloggers like me, and Youtubers like you guys. As you reached each milestone in your Youtube popularity (1,000 subscribers, 100,000, 1,000,000. Etc), did you feel any better about life? Any advice for content creators who are Christian and are waiting for that next milestone, hoping it will be what they need to feel satisfied?

This one’s easy: No. I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble or demotivate someone from seeking that next milestone, but just know that it won’t satisfy you the way you think it will. Think about it. Do you know anyone “at the top” who’s really satisfied with where they’re at in life? The richest and most famous people on the planet are some of the most unsatisfied people on earth. At the age of 30, Tom Brady famously stated in a 60 Minutes interview after having already won 3 Super Bowls and 2 Super Bowl MVPs “There’s gotta be more than this.” The answer that Tom, and all of us, are seeking will never be found in another Super Bowl ring or another raise. God offers us abundant life, both here on earth and forever with Him in Heaven. And contrary to popular belief, good people don’t go to heaven, forgiven people do. And forgiveness only comes through Jesus. Make your life about Jesus, not the next milestone, and suddenly you’ll be able to rightfully celebrate achieving those goals instead of riding the emotional rollercoaster of reaching them and finding them empty.

What do you do to stay grounded through all the recognition and attention? Some people think it’d be really cool to have that life of being recognized and having people come up to you and be a source of constant affirmation, but really, how is that life? What are the challenges? What do you lose when you’re in the spotlight?

Different people value different things. Some value money, some value power, some value fame or applause. It’s easy to think that with those things comes real happiness. But all of that stuff fades! You’re only as good as your last performance, your last game, your last paycheck. When all of that stuff fades away, you’re only as happy as the quality of the relationships in your life. You first need to make sure that you’ve trusted your life to Jesus, all other relationships are secondary to that one. But beyond that, you’ll never regret spending more time with the people closest to you. I’ve heard it said, “Everyone cheats. You either cheat your work to spend time with your family or you cheat your family to spend time at work.” We all know people who regret giving whole seasons of their lives to their work at the expense of their families and those closest to them. Being in the spotlight (either through entertainment or rising to a certain position in your workplace or through some other means) may seem desirable, but don’t let it cause you to neglect the relationships in your life that truly matter. In the end, all that really matters is loving God and loving people. My prayer for anyone reading this is that they would pray honestly to God, asking Jesus to change them, and then ask Him each day after that how to live in a way that would honor Him and bring them the most joy along the way.