Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Feelings Are Not My Reality.

I have social anxiety.

There. I said it.

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Right?


Because it really only starts the conversation. Do I have social anxiety? I don't know. Maybe I don't. People with REAL anxiety might look at my symptoms and scoff at me. So maybe I'll just admit that I have mild social anxiety. I mean, I can look at the world around me and see others who have severe social anxiety. So maybe they're the only ones who can say it.

So maybe I have mild social anxiety.

But I don't answer phone calls from people I don't know. I don't make phone calls. I'd rather ask someone else to do it for me because in order to make a phone call, I need to have a good cry and find myself with no other options... like writing an email or sending a text message. I have more control over written mediums. I can read it over a dozen times and ask someone else's opinion about how I phrased it.

I was in charge of an event once. But I made a mistake and other people noticed. So I found an excuse to leave my own event so I could talk about it with someone safe. They agreed that my mistake wasn't intentional, so all I had to do was remember to do it differently next time, go back to the event and keep going.

I had a good cry first.

Did I tell you I'm really good at smiling?

I can wipe my red eyes, take a few deep breaths and keep going. All the while my mind is abuzz. It's like I can't turn it off. Yes. Remember to do it differently next time. Move on. But what about my job? What if people don't trust me after this? Will my mistake hurt my credibility? I don't always make mistakes, but what if this one turns out to be a really big deal?

BUT I'M HUMAN. We're all human.

But that doesn't mean people always give me grace.

But I would have given them grace...

But they might not give it to me.

There was someone else listening when I got called on my mistake. How will this affect them? What are they thinking right now? Maybe they sympathize with me.

Or not. Especially if this one little thing ruins the rest of the event. Stains it. Taints it.

But that's not rational. It'll probably be fine. I just need to stop obsessing. Spiraling. No one else is probably thinking about it. But I would be thinking about it. If I were in their place. I would feel so bad for the host. I would feel awkward. Do they feel awkward? I really hope they don't feel awkward.

When someone starts talking to me, I have a tendency to listen with one ear. I take in what they're saying, all the while coming up with a response or reaction. What is the most appropriate, wise thing to do? If I get this right. Everything will go well. I can totally handle a social event if everything goes well.

I'm not completely agoraphobic. I can go out in public. I do it all the time.

But I'd rather be at home.

The people at home have to love me whether I'm perfect or not.

God loves me whether I'm perfect or not.

Ok, Emily... think about this. GOD LOVES YOU. It will be okay. Adapt. Things didn't get off on the right foot, but if you just adapt, it'll be all right. Laugh it off. Learn. It'll be fine.

There we go. God loves you.

God loves you.


Can you hear the music? That's a nice song.

Look, they're laughing. They seem to be having a good time. It'll be fine.

Reality check. God loves you.

Deep breath. You'll wake up in the morning, and everything will be fine. There will be more days. And people's opinions aren't formed in a moment, they're made over a series of moments. Just breathe.


Reality check. My feelings are NOT my reality.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

God should have broken up with me years ago.

Perhaps you are nothing like me - or maybe you're my double. But it seems to me that humankind as a whole thinks and behaves in extremes.

Lately, I've been feeling far from God - for a whole myriad of reasons I won't get into. But much of it has to do with my own shortcomings. If you are like me, you pull back when you come up short. You distance yourself. As if, after being covered in God's grace you could still smudge him somehow with your dirt. He is a holy God, after all. And what does righteousness have to do with unrighteousness? (yes I know that verse comes from the marriage passage [2 Cor 6], but I'm trying to make a point here)

That however, is only one extreme.

The other, is in order to feel close to God, despite our failures, we lean on the love and grace of the gospel so much, that conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ Phil 1:27 looses all meaning. It becomes a gospel that is no longer transformative.

And since we don't live by a gospel of mere works, and we can't change scripture so that we ourselves don't have to change - then where are we left?

I wrestle with this all the time.

Because you see - God's grace blows my mind.

No really, it does.

I grew up as a pastor's kid and felt the pressure to be perfect - to set an example 1 Tim 3 - very heavily. It was easier to keep up a veil of perfection than really engage the gospel as something that transforms you. Because in order to be transformed, you have to start off as something else. And that's a tough one when you said a prayer at 4 years old.

I didn't do drugs. I didn't drink. I didn't sleep around. My life was pretty put together.

Even from an conservative standpoint, my life looks good. I don't even dance (shout out to the baptist heritage... well, actually, I have northern baptist roots). But that's more lack of talent.

Still... I've lied. I've stolen. I've said unkind things and disrespected my parents. My thoughts aren't always that great. I've insisted on my own way and acted ungraciously.

That's quite a few commandments right there.

On the one hand, it is by grace I have been saved through faith in Christ, and not because of anything I've done to earn it. I don't have any reason to boast Eph 2.

But I'm also a new creation. Dead to my old life and saved into a new purpose. Sometimes I really wish God would bend his plans to my own agenda (I really like my agenda). But if God is as perfect as I believe him to be... then... well... I have to surrender.

I have to stop backing away from him because of my own doubts and fears.

Regardless of how messy I am - he paid an awfully be price to be in relationship with me - so basically, all my excuses are out the window.

I need to draw near to him.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you James 4:8

And whether I'm equipped or not to participate in his plans, He is my strength Isaiah 41:10

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to stop pulling away. Forgetting what lies behind - my past, my expectations, my comfort - I press on towards a new life in Christ. One where I know my needs will be met, my joy will be full, my purpose clear and I will be loved completely.

I just need to stop expecting that because life is a little uncomfortable, God has abandoned me. Or perhaps I've failed him and therefore he has abandoned me. Because in reality, his grace is all I need. It is when I am weak, that I am strong.  His power is made perfect in weakness 2 Cor 12.

God chose the weak and the lowly so that the whole world would know just what an incredible, miraculous, loving creator holds the world in his hands.