Friday, November 8, 2013

Choosing an Attitude of Gratitude

Okay, there's been a lot going on. I'm going to just throw out an apology to anyone who has been confused about this "treatment" I speak of or who was left in the dark completely. I'll go ahead and apologize again because I'm not going to explain everything in this blog either. I've actually prayed about all of this. How much do we allow others in? How many do we allow in?

Anyway, so I've decided that though I believe vulnerability and authenticity is super important - I still believe there is a balance to be struck. After all, aren't our most cherished relationships the ones that we have with a handful of people who we deeply know and who we allow to deeply know us? If I shared everything to everyone I would be taking away the beauty of those unique relationships and I don't think I prefer that.

I still believe in authenticity though - so for those who don't know I have been in a treatment program for the past month. This process has been...hard. I wish there were better descriptive words! Sometimes words just can't describe certain situations. Even if there were, many would probably only reach a certain level of understanding; and even for others who have experienced something similar, there are still unique cases and reactions and stresses. If there's one thing I can describe though it's how God has been the head of my treatment team for this entire process. I chose from the beginning to do whatever it took to get better. There were days that I didn't feel that way. There were days that I wanted to quit. There were days that I felt completely numb. But at the beginning and end of each day - I chose gratitude. Gratitude that I was able to take this time to seek treatment. Gratitude that I had a team of people working to help me get better. Gratitude that I was placed in an environment of genuine love and support. Gratitude for friends and family who really stepped up to encourage me during this time.

You would think that a believer would feel most grateful in seasons of blessings, but I often tend to be most grateful in seasons of hardship. The trials of this life remind me of the sovereignty of God, and cause me to fully and completely rely on Him for every ounce of power and strength.

For a long time I battled with where my faith fit into all of this. I had heard everything from "pray harder" to "you must not have a genuine heart of repentance" to "it's just a season and it will pass." All I could think was GOD, if you are the Ultimate Healer - why will you not bring healing? I couldn't see how me being sick could help at all. I realized over the past four weeks why God chose not to bring miraculous healing. He could have, sure, but as a loving Father He chose not to. He chose not to because in His loving kindness, the Lord has given us free will to make decisions. He doesn't control our every move and He doesn't make every decision for us. So yes, there are times where there are major consequences to certain decisions we make. Yet He is still a loving Father - and He journeys with us as we battle through those consequences. I was really sick, but by God's grace I was given the strength and power to make it through each day of treatment. I learned to love the process, as the process brought me even more deeply in love with the Lord. I learned so much about myself, about acceptance, about self-compassion, about grace and love and joy. I feel like I can live life for the first time in four years - and life is so much sweeter when you've gone so long not tasting it's fullness.

Sooo then of course here I am falling into my broken pattern of trying to plan my next steps. When I'm done here - what am I going to do? Where does God want me? Do I look for a job? Consider seminary? How can I take this all into my hands again?

Then I fell down.

Then I got back up.

Then I got on my knees.

And surrendered.

I had promised everyone that I would focus on recovery for at least four weeks. I went back on that and allowed my worries and anxiety get the best of me. See the thing is - when we mess up (which is often) it's OKAY. We are not perfect y'all. We're believers and we follow a perfect God, but we are not perfect. We all (hopefully) know this, but I'm realizing it's something I constantly have to remind myself. As a perfectionist I can often bring perfectionism, rigidity, and lack of forgiveness into my faith - and well, that's just counter-Gospel. I don't know if you've noticed but extreme perfectionism can lead to destruction. Striving for perfection within yourself, within your relationships, within your faith - it just never ends well.

Anyway, so I decided okay - I will pray about my next steps and look around a little bit but I will NOT allow this to take priority and I will NOT allow myself to worry about this. A few days later I talked to my treatment team and they told me that I would be discharged the following Friday (this was Wednesday I believe). I remember so many days thinking "how can I rush this process?" "When will this be over?" "I can't take this. I'm better! See...see??" Then I get the news of my discharge and I'm immediately rushed with all this nervousness and fear "What if I'm not better?" "No, I'm not ready! I'm not strong enough!" "Are you sure? Are you really really sure?"

I got home later that day, a little on edge but encouraged after talking to someone who assured me that a healthy amount of fear can take you a long way. So that night, I got an e-mail from a job that I had applied to. Fast forward through a bad night, a day of tears, a car accident, and Halloween....and it's the morning of the interview! I drove to Great Wall China Adoption, an international adoption agency headquartered in Austin and felt totally calm about everything. After all, an interview works both ways and I didn't know for sure if I wanted to work at this company. First of all, the company is in the beautiful hills of South Austin. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had never been to the 360 area much growing up...seriously, it's crazy beautiful. The mansions along the hillside, Town Lake to your right with the hills on your left, and the downtown skyline in the distance...yeah, it's pretty sweet.

Okay this is getting too detailed. BASICALLY, the company and job are absolutely perfect. It's a gorgeous area, beautiful office with marble floors and a wall-size mural of the Great Wall. An international non-profit with 15 offices worldwide, the top adoption agency in the country, and a brilliant and fun team of people. I immediately clicked with the Marketing team and Mrs. Snow Wu, the CEO and a powerhouse Chinese woman. Everything just felt so right. Intuition is just such a wonderful thing. It's like faith - you can't see it but you can feel it, and it's so much stronger than logic or reason. On Sunday, I had the most perfect day in Austin. North Austin and South-Central Austin are like two entirely different worlds. I was always anti-Austin because of growing up in Round Rock (North) but my goodness, treatment has been in the hills of Austin and I can SO understand now why everyone says it's the best place in the world to live...because well, it is. There is just so much to do, everyone is chill and awesome, and the Greenbelt, Barton Springs, Town Lake, Zilker, it's just an outdoor enthusiast's paradise.

So the night before my last day of treatment I got a phone call from Mrs. Snow Wu offering me the Marketing & Promotions Specialist position with Great Wall China Adoption. I got the phone call on my drive back home and literally cried the entire ride. It's just unbelievable. This time last year I felt God calling me to Hong Kong and I thought it was super random and faced a good amount of opposition for it. Even my time in Indiana at Fellowship Missions aligned so much with this job description. Then the series of events that allowed me for the first time to prioritize recovery, realizing that no matter what job or relationship I had I could never live a real life in the state that I was in. Now, I am healthy and so excited to settle in South Austin and pour into people in the workplace and the outside community - and it's only because I'm in recovery that I am confident I can now truly do that.

I appreciate anyone who read all of this! I pray that you all will choose to have an attitude of gratitude. Even when your situations don't seem to call for that. Or you don't necessarily feel thankful for what is going on. You can choose your attitude, which is far above your circumstances and your feelings, and deep rooted in your soul. When you choose gratitude - I promise that God will provide you with strength to get through every situation and hardship, wisdom and guidance to do His will, and the blessing of a life that is just so full and joyous and wonderful!

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