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

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

wedding

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.

In Memory of Katie

Monday night, I got news that my friend Katie had passed away on Sunday. Katie and I were close friends through junior high and high school. We met once or twice to catch up after highschool and college, but it had been a year or so since we last talked. Below, I’m just going to share a lot of memories and stories. Maybe in another post I’ll write about my feelings but right now it’s just time to remember Katie and the impact she had on my life.

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Every 4 years, my highschool band goes on an out-of-state trip. Lucky for us, this trip landed on our senior year. We went to Disneyland and Universal Studios in California. I remember Katie and I went through the House of Horrors together, and one of the funniest moments was when we both  were scared by the employee at the bottom of the stairs who was just standing there to warn us about the steps. This was in 2011 and Facebook Groups were a big deal, and so Katie and I decided to create a facebook group and the title was so oddly specific like: “I yelled at the employee at the bottom of the stairs at HOH in Universal Studios.” I think we were the only members of the group.

One day she invited me to a Jonas Brother concert and i was hesitant, but it was free and Katie was my friend. So I decided to go. I was not a fan of the Jonas brothers walking into the concert venue. The Jonas brothers were more than my little teenage girl heart could take. When the concert was over,  I’m pretty sure I wanted to marry all of them.  A two hour concert that night wasn’t enough JB for us, we jammed to their music on the car ride home. And I spent that night listening to their songs on Youtube.  And we spent the next few weeks/months talking about them. Katie’s passion for bands, movies, music, art was infectious. She’s the sole reason why I went through a Jonas Brother phase.

Speaking of phases, with adolescence comes phases of crippling self-doubt and loneliness. That was a tad bit dramatic, but its true. I remember having moments, days, weeks even when I just felt like no one liked me, that I didn’t have friends, or that I didn’t belong anywhere. On multiple occasions, I remember Katie being the person who brought me out of those dark phases, just by smiling and saying hello. On band trips, there were a lot of times where everyone was just standing around waiting or we would be going to a mall to eat, and everyone would group off with their friends. I knew I could always count on Katie to not run off and leave me. Or to include me in a circle of friends that she was talking to. i never felt judged by katie, I always had this sense of acceptance when I was around her. That I could be whoever I wanted and she’d still love me. Her faithfulness was such a light in my life.

It’s hard to think of a time in highschool where she wasn’t there. Band, band trips to Corpus, band trips to San Antonio for State and BOA, Anti-homecoming, Prom, the Snowpocalypse Texas had a few years ago when we went ‘sledding’ and made cookies afterwards, the trip to sixflags, your harry potter themed birthday party, bowling, my 18th birthday party, New Year’s eve where we played Apples to Apples for 3 hours on the floor by the front door. I’ve never lost someone who I’ve shared so many memories with.

We got together last year for frozen yogurt at the same shopping center where we took our group prom photos. I remember thinking about how everything had changed so much since Highschool. We’d gone to different colleges, met new friends, studied different things, yet, there we were siting on that bench eating Fro-yo like nothing had changed at all. It was not awkward, or forced, it was just authentic friendship. Laughing, talking, venting, dreaming. That’s how I knew i had a true friend. For that I am incredibly grateful. Thank you for your faithfulness, for sharing what you were passionate about with me, for always being down to do anything, for being an open ear, and a great source of joy in my life. I miss you already. but, i know I’ll see you again. 12250083_10153251410263317_5605255206383773078_n

 

 

 

 

Real Talk: People aren’t Projects

When I think back to my time at Howard Payne, I remember the people most of all. Sure, I heard a lot of sermons, a lot of lectures, did a lot of reading/researching/studying. But when I look back, I remember the people: friends, roommates, best friends, professors. I’ve never felt so loved in my life. The friends I had loved me in my happiest and in my darkest moments.  They were “God with clothes on.” Not meaning they were perfect, but they loved me in my mess, despite my mess, and encouraged me consistently. Were there rough times? Yes. Tough conversations? Yes. Did I get along with everyone all the time? No. But that’s community for you. There’s nothing worse than faking it, pretending everything is cool when things aren’t.

As I reflect back, I think about how cheated I would feel if my friends only befriended me so I would become more like them. Like, what if I was this rebel child gone astray, and they treated me like their project and they had this agenda of “fixing me” when they befriended me. That would totally cheapen every nice thing they did for me. Of course, none of that is true.But its so convicting because I’m guilty of treating people like projects. Oh, you drink a lot? Let me fix you by “loving you.” Oh, you gossip? let me love you enough so you’ll stop. Gross right?
Not to mention, you can finish a project when you’re done with it. Right? People aren’t a science experiments you can display at a fair, or a C+ book report that you’re trying to turn into an A- report. Let’s ditch the agenda based relationships. And Let us never deem a person “ready” or “unready” to be loved.

Jesus had every morale high ground to stand on, but He didn’t get on a high horse. And who are we to get on ours? When we interact with the world, with non-christians and Christians, who are we to stand on pedestals? Who are we to ride Manny the Horse of Morality around and pick people to treat as projects? People are not projects. We can’t fix people. we can’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves, if we could, we wouldn’t have needed a Savior.

I’ve been in John lately, and I noticed something about Jesus and the miracles He performed. He never said “Okay, I’ll heal you, but first you have to clean up your act. I hear your thoughts, I know how jealous you get. So, try and be less angry and jealous. Then I’ll heal ya. Deal?” Nope. He sees the leper, the woman at the well, the thousands of hungry listeners, and loves them where they are at. He meets them where they are. Interestingly enough, afterwards, each person is so moved that they run and tell people about what Jesus did!  Jesus loved people in their present condition, but He didn’t leave them there. God loves you so much right now. He doesn’t hate “past” you. He doesn’t just tolerate you. He isn’t going to love the “future version” of you anymore than He loves you right now. He loves you. Period. The end.

And there’s nothing we’ve done to deserve His love. In John, there’s a story of a man who was paralyzed and waiting by a pool to get healed. He waited 38 years! Then, Jesus came and saw Him and healed him.  We love because He first loved us. We’ve all fallen short. Every last one of us. Man, if none of what I’ve said has made any sense, please read Ephesians 2:1-10. That’s basically what I’m trying to say. And these things too

1) People aren’t projects. They are works in progress just like you and me.

2) to love like Christ loves, is to love people where they are at. Not a “future version” of them. God loves us in our mess. So, we should love others in theirs.

3) relationships are powerful. the most important relationship we can have is one with God. Our vertical relationship with God effects our horizontal relationship people. (know God, Know love.)

okay that’s all.

thanks for reading. now go read ephesians 2:1-10, and John! because both are so good!