The 2 Important Life Lessons I Learned at Age 27 - Part 1
I’ve conquered my first few days as a 28 year old! On my actual birthday, I woke up from my slumber with the biggest smile on my face realizing what day it was. My husband greeted me with an attack of playful kisses, a birthday greeting, and a large hug. After offering to make me a cup of coffee, Gman left the room and I laid in our bed, scrolling through my texts and social media feeds as the birthday greetings started to pour in. Each message was different and entangled with different emojis, but read the same point, “Happy Birthday”. I smiled thankfully reading through them, feeling blessed to not only see another year of life, but another day.
27 was my growth year. I learned more about myself at age 27 than I have in other years. I realized how broken I was and how much baggage I was holding onto. I found how much more I could dive into my faith and how great God is to help me be free of my past. I discovered how much strength and courage I have and how to use them to overcome my fears and struggles. I continued to find my worth in the Lord, not in the world.
It wasn’t until this year I found out how to take care of myself, figure out who I wanted to be and how much I wanted to grow. I’ve developed myself and will continue to do so as the years go on. In order to do that, I’ve had to go through some challenging seasons, but I now see why I had to go through these things. See, I always pray for God to use me and to build me up as a strong woman of God. As I sit here and contemplate the last few months, the Lord has certainly answered my prayer. (Be careful what you pray for!)
Although these will always be reoccurring lessons in my life, here is part one of the 2 important life lessons I learned at age 27:
I am worthy of living.
Gman and I joined Celebrate Recovery last year so each of us could deal with the baggage of our lives in a healthy way. I dealt with co-dependency and self-defeating thought, particularly thoughts of suicide. I found that this was because I was carrying so much baggage over the years. I carried around baggage from different forms of abuse, manipulative relationships, and the feelings of shame and guilt from poor choices I made in the past. I felt unworthy and unredeemable. I’m sure good at letting others know how loved and chosen they are by Christ, but I couldn’t ever see it for myself. I grew timid, feeling small and worthless in such a vast world.
Most mornings after waking up, my mind constantly jumped from thought to thought of how I should end it all. I’d lay in bed not wanting to face the day. God really knew his cue to help pull me back to center. Just as my mind couldn’t bare the maddening spiral of thoughts, my husband Gedalya would walk in at perfect timing to greet me good morning and give me a kiss or a hug. His warmness and love helped me get out of bed and I’d try my best to face the day. I’d go open my Bible app on my phone and it was as if the word of the day was made perfectly for me and my struggle. I’d scroll through social media and a video or quote graphic would pop up on my screen, encouraging me to take control of my day because I was special. I knew God was there even when I felt so alone.
When I’d get the energy to go to work, I’d think about the different ways I could maneuver my car just enough to cause a self collision. That way, no one else would get hurt, just me. God was also so good in these moments because a song on the radio would turn on at the right timing and the lyrics would match up to overcoming a struggle in life, or I’d receive a call from a friend who just wanted to check in and wish me a good day before heading into work. These God-coincidences would help pull me back to reality.
Other times I struggled were on Sunday mornings. Gedalya would wake up early to help set-up at church and I would be at our apartment by myself. From the second I would wake up, the thoughts would spiral in my head. I would end up crying and struggled heavily throughout the morning until I’d force myself in the car to drive to church service. When I got to church, I would breathe a sigh of relief, because I’d feel safe. Every cheerful greeting and hug I’d receive from the people there would help pull me back to reality. The next Sunday, the cycle would start all over again. This was the pattern for many many weeks.
It was a tough season filled with many battles. I felt like if I shared my struggle, no one would care, not even my husband or my recovery group. I would speak on my struggle to a few friends I trusted that were outside of my recovery group. Expecting some form of support or a shoulder to cry on, they’d ignore what I’d say and move onto a different topic of conversation. This made me feel even more alone and secluded. I felt that if I couldn’t even talk to about what I was going through with friends I’d known for a while, it meant that what I was going through wasn’t important. And if the people I considered friends didn’t care, then why would anyone else? I would try to brush it off because I felt stupid for even saying I had an issue with suicidal thoughts. I ended up isolating myself, something that I shouldn’t have done because it just made me spiral even more out of control.
One night back in June, I woke up. The stillness of the bedroom was haunting. I laid in my bed under the covers when the thoughts started pouring in, how I could just go to the kitchen and grab an instrument to do it then. No one would know until hours later and it would be successful. Instead of succumbing to the thought, I cried and prayed for a couple hours until I fell asleep. God had instilled a spirit within me to never actually hurt myself, which I am so thankful for. I just couldn’t bare the thoughts anymore.
The next morning, I decided that enough was enough. I told my husband and sent out messages to my recovery group and sponsor for help. I spent the morning crying and finding healing with one of my recovery sisters. My phone poured in messages of love from many people in my recovery group. I’d be lying if I said I instantly felt better, because I didn’t. If anything, I had taken the first time to really acknowledge my struggle and deal with it. I was given the opportunity to connect with people that took the time to inspire me to find the healing that I needed.
A few days later, one of my best friends that lived in a different state texted me to inform me of her brother’s passing due to committing suicide. My heart ached as she and her family dealt with the pain of his loss. I was able to witness in conversation how the act of someone taking their own life affected their loved ones. It entirely changed my perspective on my issue, as if an alarm clock set off inside me. I made a decision that I would never allow my suicidal thoughts to over take me again.
I started to be more open with my struggle bit by bit, trying to shake off the embarrassment of what I was dealing with. It turns out I had some other people in my life who struggled with the same issues. Since then, I have formed bonds with these people and we encourage one another in our struggles. God continued to show up in many other forms on my roughest days. Whether it was a text from a support group sister, a smile and a “hello” from someone as I walk past them, or a random act of kindness from a friend, God looked out for me, allowing me to share my struggle with people who knew exactly what to say to bring me out of my darkness.
There were many moments at my job where I would carry my self-defeat through out my day and my mind would wander to suicidal thoughts. I’d sit in my cubical and pray for God to help me and he’d send someone to say the words I needed in the moment to remind me of my worth. I specifically remember one Saturday afternoon where I was having a difficult time concentrating at work. Just when I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through my day, I received a message through social media from a lady I hadn’t talked to in years. She reached out to share her story of how she recently found God again in her life, that I had inspired her in some way when she was in a dark place. She thanked me for “being a little light in a dark memory”. God never failed to remind me that I was loved by many and that I had a purpose. I just needed believe it for myself.
I recently got married to the love of my life on October 11th. Although the wedding night was the most beautiful night of my life, the day was the worst day of my life. Due to many circumstances that she found valid, my mother had taken the opportunity to yell at me, belittle me and try to convince my bridal party that I was a “brat”, dubbing me the worst daughter in the world. My relationship with my mother has been one I’ve struggled with for years and where most of my baggage of unworthiness and self-defeat comes from. As the situation escalated even further, my mother hit me. For the first time in my life, I stood up for myself and yelled at her not to hit me. She then started to chase me and threatened to kill me, screaming that as my mom she had the right to do so. Thanks to God, I had the right people with me at the right time to protect me. I’m forever indebted to these women because without them there, I don’t know what would’ve happened. My husband and I were then faced with the decision to turn my mother away from the wedding. 45 minutes before we said I do, my husband faced my mother and advised her she was not welcome. Right after the situation happened, I was so sick to my stomach. I remember sitting and thinking about all the times I ever wanted to kill myself and how my own mother didn’t even want me to live. Instead of allowing my mind to go to self-defeat, I decided that I wouldn’t let this ruin what was to be the best day of my life.
Days after the wedding, I struggled, traumatized by what had happened with my mother. To my surprise, as much as I was in pain, the situation somehow empowered me to take back control of my my thoughts and feelings. I realized that I was worthy of living no matter what anyone said or tried to make me feel. I realize that my mother was also a broken person, but an abusive one at that. I decided to break ties with her and wrote a letter explaining how I didn’t want any more communication with her in the future. I wasn’t going to let my past or the things people said/did to me define me anymore. Only God can do that; and if in his eyes he finds me worthy and redeemable, maybe I was.
I now had a couple choices: I could let the situation make me, allowing this to transform me into the stronger woman of God, or I could let the situation break me, allowing myself to spiral into a tornado of self-defeat and pity. Most importantly, was I going to continue trying to do this on my own and crumble, or was I finally going to let God take the wheel on my self defeat and overcome this journey with him by my side? The reality is I’ve always had this decision, it just seemed clearer at this time in my life.
Last Sunday, November 18th, I decided to spend the morning by myself at home while Gedalya went to church to help set-up. It was the first Sunday in a couple months that I spent by myself at home. What was once a day of the week filled with darkness was now a morning I thoroughly enjoyed. A few thoughts popped into my head, and I remember the moment I told myself, “No! You are worthy of living no matter what these thoughts say! God has a purpose for you today and it is your time to carry that out!”. Although it took a few tries, I decided to take the energy of self-defeat and use it towards something productive. I prayed while I cleaned the apartment and did a work-out at home. I listened to worship music and took the morning to remind myself who I was, a strong woman of God. I look back on that morning and realize how far I’ve come. I dub this as my official victory day.
When I wake up in the morning, I now battle my self-defeat using thoughts of praise and worship to the Lord who has given me a chance to live this beautiful life. By the grace of the Lord, I’ve been released from the bondage of feeling unworthy and I am so thankful that I get to breathe the air of this planet. I feel an abundance of praise for everything and everyone in my life. I’m so thankful for everything I have: I have a beautiful husband who loves me as I am and continues to love the darkness out of me. I have a beautiful band of soul sisters who I can turn to and pick me up when I am feeling down. I am surrounded by great family and friends who inspire me daily. I really am blessed.
My life is not perfect and trials will continue to lay ahead, but God has and will continue to pour his love onto my life with each passing day. I look to him as my safety net and he always saves me. He reminds me who I am: a daughter of the one true King, one who is worthy of living this life. I wake up from my slumber with purpose and a mission to do good in this world, no matter how big or small. I am a wonderful creation in Christ and my life has meaning, no matter what the world or the enemy tries to whisper in my ear.
For anyone struggling with self-defeat, I say this to you: There is a hope. I have a God who saved me and continues to do so. He has done and will continue to do miraculous things in my life in hopes of helping another soul who struggles with the same. He continues to seek after my heart so it is filled with his light and grace to pour onto others. And the truth is he can do that for anyone, No matter how unimportant you think you are, there is always one who who thinks the world of you, so much that he sent his son to die for you. He wants you to live a miraculous life to carry out a successful journey that he has specifically laid out for you. You are beautiful. You are a blessing. You are worthy of living this life.