BA Expat

Changing or improving your life doesn’t have to be a long, frustrating, drawn-out process. I’m always in search of the smallest changes that yield the biggest returns, and below is my collection of quick tips that can make your life easier, more fulfilling, or just less of a pain in the ass.

Try one or two of these and tell me how great they worked.

Sleeping at the desk

Zack’s Not-So-Secret List of Simple Ways to Increase Happiness, Productivity, or General Awesomeness

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Restoring Hope

I just spent the last five days in San Diego with my best friend growing up. She moved away from Denver 7 years ago, and to be honest, we barely kept in touch. It just happened that we struck up a conversation a few months ago and I decided that it would be best for me to get away for a few days during break. Not that I don’t love going home and wouldn’t love seeing my family and friends, but I needed to go somewhere, anywhere, that wouldn’t remind me of what I’ve been trying so desperately to forget.

Anyways, I got off the plane and met up with her. We gave each other kind of an awkward hug, asked the basic questions “How’ve you been? What are you up to?” Conversation flowed naturally, when we hit all the “big” topics. We really got to talking and come to find out, we’ve been facing all the same struggles for the past few years now. She had almost the same thing happen with her ex-boyfriend, she’s struggled with drinking/partying, and all sorts of other things that I struggle with too. Even though we hadn’t really seen each or really gotten a chance to talk in almost 7 years, it was like we hadn’t missed a day. She was the same best friend from seven years ago that she is today. Crazy, right?

I’m not a big believer in destiny or fate or any of that nonsense, but I find it so amazing that God put her back into my life right here, right now. Right when I needed someone who didn’t know all the details of my past, and who wouldn’t judge me, or try to put some kind of personal input in, I got her. We only talked about our ex boyfriends for about 5 minutes, but she told that I shouldn’t worry about it, because it’s just a waste of time. The way she said it, and the way she believed in it, was really compelling. She told me that even though we had been together for all of about 24 hours when we had this conversation, that she knows I’m a strong, successful, beautiful person and I’ll find that beauty again in something else. It’s gonna be hard, but she said that I’m showing more strength than I think that I am. I don’t know, it was just really…encouraging.

I got to wake up every day for the last 5 days and stand on the beach and drink my chai tea latte. Every day. She made some comment about how people don’t really come to the beach as much when they live here because it’s always there, and people, including herself, have taken that for granted.

I know it’s going to be tough to go back to school today, knowing all that waits for me there, all the memories and pain, but for some reason, it doesn’t seem as daunting. I feel like I’m really successful there. I don’t  want to take my college  years for granted. It’s the “best years of my life”, right? Who wants to spend that upset and depressed and toiling over some stupid boy who made a few bad decisions. He’s going to have to live with those, not me. I got out of that for a reason. Now, I see more brightness in the sun. I see more hope in the future. Yeah sure, what has happened to me sucks. I lost a lot of the good qualities I once had and a lot of the bubbly personality I used to carry. But, time passes and people change. And although things are different now, I’m not blaming anyone for wasting my time except for me. The rest of my college career is going to be awesome, because I just decided it is.

If Only God Knew…

I was laying in bed last night struggling with my thoughts. It seemed to convict me that I thought obeying God is hard. Because, let’s be honest, it is. It’s the hardest thing to do. At least for me, it’s a daily struggle to remember to take up my cross and remember to follow God all day. If I speak out, I’ll get criticized by my friends. If I don’t speak out, I get drowned by guilt of having let God down. I always feel like whatever I do just isn’t enough. Not just for God. I mean for everyone. I can’t be enough. I obviously wasn’t for my ex. I’m not enough for my family, there’s so much more I could do. I’m not enough for my friends. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve given all that I can, and when I feel like I’m finally helping other people, or improving my own life, I get knocked down. If only God knew how freaking hard it is to follow him.

If God wanted us to follow him so earnestly, steadfastly, and purely, why are there so many obstacles between us and Him? It’s like I have to push through every day as a struggle just to maintain my sanity, and by the end of it, I realize that I wasn’t nearly “Christian” as I should have been. I mean, isn’t that what we’re called to be? First, we’re converted (or perhaps raised in a Christian church and with a Christian family). Anyway, there’s that moment where we first just “get it”. It all makes sense and we’re filled with this emotional and spiritual high that we think will never dissolve. I remember mine. I was at a church lockout in the fifth grade. For the first time, I really fully understood what Christianity meant. And for the first time, I felt like I really accepted Christ for myself. Not for my family. Not for my friends. Just for me. I became known as “that girl who wears the WWJD bracelet” and quickly became a social outcast.

Affected by the pressures of society, I sought out to fit it. I became friends with three girls in middle school and I thought I had found it all. Ultimately, these friendships tore me apart. There was no love or caring for each other. My faith had all but disappeared by that point. I went on church retreats, and was instantly re-energized what that same spiritual high, and thought I had it all figured out. I figured, God knows exactly what I’m going through, and if he really knew how I was feeling, He would know how much I missed Him and just expected Him to take over again. But it’s not that easy, is it? Just to say “Oh hey God, I’m in a rough spot, mind throwing me down some favor?” I was ignorant to the idea that God was waiting for to truly give myself to Him. Don’t worry, I still haven’t figured out how to do that.

I guess that where I’m finding myself today. Still struggling with the idea of understanding how God works. Can He really know everything? And if He truly does, which I believe He does, why isn’t He taking these pains and struggles away from me? I pray every day for God to take them away. He ultimately knows my heart, even better than I ever could. But it’s not like I’m holding onto this pain and heartbreak to keep it away from God. I think that I honestly want him to take it away from me. I pray every single day. Yet it’s still here. God, are you hearing me? What else is there for me to do? If You are made perfect in my weakness, am I to be eternally weak so that You are made eternally perfect?

Finding God Again

Here I sit, feeling like I’m two weeks sober from my ex. Sounds weird putting it that way. But in all reality, I’ve just lost the desire to know what he’s doing, where he’ll be, what he’s up to. It’s gone. I just don’t care. In that though, I think that I’ve lost a lot of my dependence on God. I’ve been to several church services where the pastor will discuss how often times we tend to worship God when we need him, but then when we get back on our feet, presumably after A LOT of help from Him, we tend to revert back to “not needing” Him and thus pushing Him aside.

I feel like a terrible person saying it, but that’s where I’m at. I’ve taken on such a “I don’t care” mentality with so many things lately that I found myself laying in bed last night about to read my devotional and have quiet time, when I just said to myself that I could push it off until tomorrow. After all, I had a great day with low emotional turmoil and didn’t really feel that I needed to have quiet time. I woke up this morning with so much guilt, like I had let God down…which I had. Needless to say, I wrestled with a lot of my old thoughts today.

My faith is so up and down that it’s hard to know where I really stand.  Some days I feel like I can feel God walking with me in every single step that I take, that He’s constantly there to guide me and to help me and to help me move forward successfully. Other days, I feel like I’m completely on my own. I doubt God. There was a point today where I almost convinced myself that God couldn’t possibly completely forgive me and fully love me because of all the stupid things that I’ve done and said, and how many times that I’ve completely betrayed Him. Funny thing about God that I’ve learned is, though, that whenever I tend to have these doubts, I’ll run into someone who i just *needed* to see in that moment.

For one, I almost always run into my bible study leader when I’m in a weak moment. She’s probably so sick of hearing about all my crap, but honestly I think she saved my life. She’s hands down the best person that I know. I draw so much strength from her, it’s ridiculous. Just seeing her reminds me of how awesome God’s love is and how far He has gotten and how He’s put so many awesome people in my life that have gotten me so far.

But sometimes, I’ll see someone who I would particularly not like to see. I dated this guy for a few weeks after my ex, and I’ll see him every now and then. I’m appreciative of him because he helped me realize that I’m not ready to jump into a relationship. Truthfully, I wanted to just start dating someone right away like my ex did. I wanted to “get back at him”. I definitely had a lot of fun with this guy, but it just wasn’t right and I knew it. It makes me so thankful. Although I haven’t made entirely good decisions since then, I’m learning to not have regrets, because things are finally turning out right. And I whole heartedly believe that I would not be where I am if not for the mistakes I made, the stupid things I’ve said, making an ass out of myself in front of my ex, etc etc.

It’s still a learning process. I want to find God in everything I do. It’s hard because I feel like I need a personality change. Had you known me a year ago, I was much more optimistic, looking for the best in people, never worried about being deceived or losing trust. Now, I find myself on edge with almost everyone. I don’t feel like I can fully trust anyone. One of my professors (who I also had last semester) told me in her office that I have a “sad” look about me and should could never figure out why. These are the things that I’m hoping to change. But first it’s got to be an internal change. I realize that I still need God, even when times are good. It’s just a much different transition from constantly asking for help to constantly praising Him for how much He’s done for me. I’m going to keep chasing, and hopefully I can get things turned around.

Continuing Progress

I reactivated my facebook yesterday. It’s so refreshing to just delete it and get away from all that crap for a week or so. I find it interesting how easily it can consume all my time and attention. Not only that, but when I’m on facebook, or have been in the past, I have to fight the urge to check on some of those people’s (my ex and his girlfriend) pages to see what they’ve been up to.

Well, I just got through all my updating and checking all my emails and everything on facebook and twitter. When I logged off, I remembered that I hadn’t blogged in a while so I came to this page. When I got here, I realized that I had absolutely no temptation while on facebook to look to see what he’s been up to. It just never even crossed my mind until just now. Something, huh? Not only did I not have to fight a temptation constantly, I didn’t even have a temptation. I’m starting to like this new train of thought. I definitely hope it keeps up.

I’ve spent the last five days in Louisiana and I head back up to school tomorrow. It’s been a refreshing break to get away from school and my friends for a few days. When I get back to school, I’m going to start my resolution to make an effort to not see my ex. Hopefully that will get rid of some of the anxiety. I think I have a pretty good grasp on when I see him most often and where he tends to go, so I’m going to try to go to different places. If he’s not going to help me out by avoiding me, then I’m definitely going to make the effort. I hope that helps.

Other than that, my good mood has really kept up. I find myself happier a lot more. Those little hypothetical conversations in my head have almost completely stopped. To tell you the truth, I still think about him at least once every day, but I’ll just tell myself to stop, and I will. It really is as easy as all that. I still have my struggles, I still have my doubts, but I’m continuing to pray. I’ve never been a prayer warrior, but I’m not ready to give up on prayer just yet.

So, for this week, I give it to God. I whole heartedly ask that this mood stays in a positive trend and that I continue to make progress on mending my heart and healing my soul.

Game Changer

I’ve got to say, I feel like today has been a RADICAL change for my mood, behavior, actions, everything. I’m not entirely sure why though.

First of all, I deleted my facebook which has helped tremendously. I’ll probably reactivate it again in a few days once everything gets back to normal again schoolwise and stresswise. It’s like if that temptation is completely eliminated from my mind, then the reminders of him are eliminated, and those stupid little hypothetical conversations are completely gone too.

Also, last night I made an adamant point about praising God during my quiet time. I thanked him for getting me this far, and it really has been a blessing to me how much he’s gotten me through.

I did see both my ex and his girlfriend today (which I haven’t see her in several weeks). I still got the shakes pretty bad, and I don’t know any other way to control that other than to just let it take its course and then move on. Hopefully with time, that will get less and less.

I did one other thing last night/ this morning that I want to just keep to myself for awhile, but I promise you it was so helpful and such a blessing to me and I think that taking that action will solidify my upward progression into a healthier lifestyle, both physically and mentally, and will give me the strength and motivation to move on with my life.

I’m in such a good mood today. I feel like for the first time in a while, I’m smiling for no reason. I’ve seen people that I don’t usually see today, and I’ve gotten to reconnect with some other people that I haven’t talked to in a while. I’m going to Louisiana tomorrow to spend some time with my family and go to my cousin’s wedding. In all, I think that I’m going to start making more of an effort to see the good things in life, and not dwell on all the bad things that have happened. There’s so much to look forward to.

The weather is beautiful. I’m high spirited. I feel a small sense of god’s purpose in my life. I’m starting a new trend of happiness today that I sincerely hope sticks. So, today and this week, I ask that you keep me accountable. I’m sure that I’ll have days and blogposts that are constant complaints, and when I do, could  you just remind me of today and of this post? For a day of complaints and weaknesses, I just need to reminded of how awesome God is and how he brought me so far, and is taking care of me every step of the way. With those reminders, maybe my negative attitude won’t dictate my actions and that I’ll be more of the bright, happy, bubbly person that I once was. That’s all I want.

I just want to be me again.

Chasing Faith

Today was so hard. I don’t know why I’m struggling so much, now. It’s been almost eight months and I’m still heartbroken. I started buying stupid heartbreak songs again that I feel like I can connect to. It’s like we broke up yesterday. This constant sadness and worry that I’m going to see him on campus is starting to get really old. I just want it all to go away. Thankfully, I’m going out of town this weekend which will really help. Especially since the Broncos are playing the Packers this weekend (I’m from Denver, he’s from Green Bay) and it would just be too painful to even think about the game. It’s just now hitting that it’s over.

It’s really over.

He’s been dating his girlfriend for over six months now. He moved on. Why has that been so hard for me to grasp? I don’t want to be that crazy ex-girlfriend that can’t let go of her past. I’m not looking for anyone to date right now, and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I should be working harder on making myself available to date again. Or maybe I’m just not ready.

I still pray for those four things: strength, guidance, courage, and righteousness. But I have to admit, I rarely do it every day. I just don’t know if prayer is really enough. I don’t want to sound like a terrible Christian, but I just don’t know if my faith is really enough to help me get through this. I’m working on it, or at least trying to. A commenter suggested that I spend my day praising God for what he’s done in my life instead of constantly asking for those things. So, I’m going to try to start that. It’s like a complete 180 from what I’ve been doing but it takes time.

I’ve noticed that my commitment and priorities have changed a lot since school started back up. I rarely make time for me to just read the bible or my books that I got over summer. I try to read “My Utmost for His Highest” every night before I go to bed, but sometimes I’m just “too tired” or I’ll just plain forget, and I won’t go back and read it either. It’s like faith without faith, if that makes sense. It’s such a struggle. I know in the back of my head that God is really enough for me and that if I could just fully give him all my worries and struggles that he would be able to take them away from me. If i only I knew how to do that. I’ve gotten all the advice I can handle, but I haven’t been able to find the strength to fully utilize them. Honestly, I don’t have that faith. I know that I could pray for God to take them away, and he would…for a day. Then the next day, I’ll have the same struggles and I don’t think that he would really take them away from me for two days in a row. It’s selfish and stupid, but I want to believe that I should be able to do this all on my own, without anyone else’s help. I know I’m going to be okay. I’ve seen the “light at the end of the tunnel” before a couple months ago when I got to a really good spot over the summer. But, I wasn’t seeing him at all, I wasn’t thinking about him. Rarely was I contemplating the temptation of talking to him. It’s a new environment for me. I’m back on campus and every inch of it is crawling with a reminder of our past together.

I want something new. I want to be made new. And I want the faith to believe that that can really happen.