Monday, April 25, 2011

A Wake-Up Call

It was one of those moments that I remember every once in a while and it still gives me a knot in my stomach.

It was about 1997 and I was driving home from the community college I was attending in Jacksonville, Florida when I turned onto a busy highway. Next thing I knew, a truck with a very angry man driving was motioning for me to put my window down. He proceeded to yell at me as his wife sat in the passenger seat, avoiding eye contact.
"Wake your a@$ up! You ran me off the road back there!!!" I apologized profusely (as he continued to berate me), rolled my window up and cried all the way home, part embarrassed, part shocked.

I had no idea I'd cut him off.

I am a careful driver, never aggressive. I've never intentionally cut someone off or run them off the road! Had my wind been wandering?? Had he been in my blind spot?? Had I glanced at the on-coming traffic and just not seen him??

I look back at my life almost three years ago and how God started shining His light into my darkest places.

Before that, I spent a lot (A LOT) of time obsessing about what people thought about me. I mentally re-played past conversations and rehearsed future conversations. I ran possible future scenarios through my mind (which some may call "worry"). When things got tough, I absorbed myself in fixing my friends' problems, entertainment, fiction writing or anything else I could to not face what was really bothering me. I was great at running away from reality. I kissed a lot of boys but never had a boyfriend. Why? To stay in control and keep everyone at a distance. I played the part of the "nice girl" but was screaming on the inside.

When my friends and I took a psychology class in high school and heard about "repressing" memories and emotions, we actually joked about how much we did it. "Oooo, I'll definitely be repressing THAT one!" Ha, ha, haa....a-hem. Not funny.

I didn't really know myself. I wasn't confronting my emotions. I went through life following protocol and trying not to upset anyone. And I wondered why my stomach was always in knots and why my hands and feet were outrageously sweaty all the time.

Three years ago, I started a very slow waking-up process. What should have been a cut and dry miscarriage turned into a spiritual crisis and a major turning point in my life. Unexplainable fear and anxiety became a way of life. I didn't feel like myself anymore. At first it was because I felt anxious and fearful. Eventually, even once the anxiety had passed and I felt better, I just felt like I was on sensory overload, or like I was extra-sensitive to EVERYthing. I couldn't turn my mind off and looked for the spiritual in every moment of every day. Getting over my fear and anxiety became my obsession. It was all I thought about.

God was taking up residence in every part of my life. He was leaving no stone unturned. No more repression, no more denial. Changing my mind . Facing the truth.

There were times that I wished I could have turned it off. Can't I go one day without a spiritual revelation?? Can I just go to Target or take a shower without feeling like God is trying to teach me something??

I'd say something like, "I just want to feel like my old self again," and I'd be reminded that I didn't really WANT to ever go back to feeling like my old self. My old self believed lies. My old self was a people-pleaser. My old self obsessed and had "theories" and was an opinionated, insecure jerk sometimes.

One of my major turning points was realizing that by obsessing over how to overcome fear and anxiety, I was still focusing on fear and anxiety. So I started focusing on joy, peace, freedom and happiness instead. I obsessively focused on the grace, goodness and kindness of God. Instead of reading scripture about persecution, trials and fear, I read stories of redemption, power and healing. I started focusing more on gratitude.

And suddenly, I started feeling better, too. I was sweaty less and my stomach steadied. Amazing.

Looking back, I probably was lost in my own thoughts that day as I pulled into traffic and cut that guy off. I really did need to WAKE UP.

Being awake means feeling more, making more mistakes and reprioritizing your life even if it makes some people unhappy. It also means living in the moment. And I wouldn't trade that for anything.


Sean, Natalie, Ashlyn, & Emma said...

LOVED this post and loved your honesty too!!
-Natalie D.

proudgrits11 said...

thank you!!! It seems that no one reads my stuff but i imagine some read and just don;t comment. either way thank you!!