Yesterday marked my one year anniversary of a huge anxiety attack that sent me home from college, which eventually lead to a year off, a new health diagnosis, and deeper growth than I could have ever imagined. Honestly, I wouldn’t have remembered the specific day, but my mom texted me yesterday and told me how proud of me she was. A lot has happened in one year, so here is my one year update.
When I reflect on my growth this year, the person I am now looks only vaguely familiar to the person I once was. I’ve grown, and I feel like I’ve conquered so much.
I took the picture at the top of this blog post earlier this week as an appreciation for the beautiful school I go to and the beautiful fall weather we’ve been experiencing for the past week. The Lord has truly blessed us with warm weather for longer than usual, and I’m so grateful. Anyways, when I look at this photo, I believe it represents the current state of my soul and well-being. To me, this photo represents peace. Over the past year, I’ve mostly learned what it looks like to live at peace with myself, others, and God.
The photo contains vivid colors–the bright blue sky, the vibrant green grass– but it still has a calmness (stillness, contentment) about it. Peace doesn’t have to bland or boring. When we live from a constant state of peace our lives actually become more vibrant.
Peace is given to us by the Lord. Man-made peace will only be a temporary feeling, which some try to achieve by numbing themselves to their feelings through various coping mechanisms. True peace, placed upon us from our heavenly father, extends into all aspects of life. We nurture this God-given peace by reading the Word, prayer, and godly community.
This past year, I’ve become confident in who I am, even though, it’s a pretty broken me most of the time. Previously, my identity rested in the things that I did. For example, I was a soccer player. However, because of my health, I am not an athlete anymore. I’ve come to realize that wasn’t my true identity. I got caught up in my status as a collegiate athlete that I couldn’t see who I am, and I am so much more than an athlete. I praise God for that.
I could bore you with a long list of specific things about myself, but I’ll spare you. The list would consist of personality traits, activities I like and don’t like, but not things I do and what I’m good or bad at. What I do, doesn’t define me (or you). Overall, I’ve realized I’m so much more than my list of accomplishments, the sum of others’ feelings towards me, or my personal opinions of myself. I am created by God for God.
I have grown more secure in who God says I am, while exploring what it really means to be me by discovering how I process information and feelings, how I react to different scenarios. Through learning about God’s character, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter what character qualities I lack because God makes up for them. He is greater. Reliance in His character bridges the gap.
If a perfect God created me in His image, I can be at peace with who I am. Everything about me is unique and people can choose to accept that or reject that. And if they choose to reject that, I think they might be missing out on learning about God through me. Maybe I don’t get along with everyone, but each person and their personality is unique and should be celebrated as reflection of God’s character.
When we can focus on contentment in Christ and who He made us to be, we can shift the focus from ourselves to other people. We can be the hands and feet of Christ because we aren’t caught up in ourselves. We aren’t “me” focused and more but “you” focused.
My challenge to you is to undeniably embrace who you are in Jesus Christ. When we do this we become overwhelmed by comfort in where we belong. We were made for so much more than this earth offers, and accepting who we are as individuals (feelings, character, not what we do) is the first step in experiencing peace in Jesus.
As I’ve often heard: We are human beings, not human doings.
Be present, experience fully, and feel deeply.