Wow. I can’t believe tomorrow is already January 1, 2016!
Wasn’t it just yesterday I was in a pit of despair, desperate for any ounce of freedom or hope?
I can’t believe it’s been a year.
But is has. It’s been about a year since I decided change needed to happen in my life. It was one of those moments where the turn in the rollercoaster of my life went a different route than I expected… and a very difficult route. December 2014 ended with gaping hole in my soul as wounds from self abuse left my soul and sense of self raw and painful (check out my post, Struggling with Self Hatred Pt. 1, to learn more). Because the pain became so overwhelming, I knew something needed to change. Yes, I would probably heal, or start to, but the moment I messed up again, even an ounce, I would rip those wounds wide open again and start the whole cycle all over. I didn’t want to stay in this cycle the rest of my life. 17 years was already too long.
So… I decided to make 2015 a year of healing to change these habits, and man, did God not disappoint!
Starting in Jan 2, of all days (God did NOT wait AND He had me face, for the first time in 10 years, the BIGGEST (well, actually she is tiny) giant from my past: my first stepmom), all the way through until… well probably the rest of my life, God has done some pretty awesome things this year. I am blown away by His goodness and faithfulness. He loved the fact I wanted to change and turned to Him for help, well, because honestly He was the ONLY One who could actual bring true healing and hope into my life.
The biggest healing that has been taking effect this year and beyond, is GRACE: grace towards myself and allowing grace from others into my life, especially grace from God. So much damage from my past has left me bound in a fortress I didn’t even really know was there until a couple months ago. Some people got too close, noticed something wasn’t right, voiced their concern, and a few weeks later I figured it out. Totally an awesome lightbulb moment. Slowly God is teaching me how to release my hold on the iron clad gates of my heart and let others love me, since I am still convinced deep down no one could ever do so. (Even as I write this, unbelief in such truth has me shaking my head)
Before that big revelation a couple months ago that has rocked my world, I learned other lessons about myself and my past which God has been using 1. for His glory and 2. to open doors to even more healing and softening of my self/soul.
Because I have a feeling some of these will resonate with you and hopefully will encourage you, I have listed examples of what I went through this year that God has used to continue shaping and molding me into a woman of God (some are just changes in general that occurred):
1. I began spending quality time with God in the morning AND eating breakfast, which was a HUGE feat for me. Because of this I actually began to lose a few pounds as well having endurance for the day. (This needs to become a habit again. Gah.)
2. My grandpa passed away. Peace surrounded this departure as I know God gives and He takes away and that everything has it’s season. My Grandpa’s life was a huge testimony, especially in how he treated my Grandma and loved her. Standard set… Good luck future husband. 😉
3. I got tested for allergies! Finally a confirmation that my reactions weren’t “all in my head” during my years growing up. I am legitimately allergic to cashews. And basically every tree and weed pollen out there, hence my horrible allergies to springtime, various raw fruits and veggies, soy, and other nuts…
4. I began wearing contacts instead of glasses (except when I was lazy). This gave me more confidence, though I still felt uncomfortable as I felt exposed. There’s a sense of security that comes from having those dark rims around your eyes. It’s almost like I felt people couldn’t see into my soul and see how messed up I was inside when I wore them.
5. My car got stolen. Man, I remember that day so vividly. And that feeling! Whew… My response surprised even me! I cried a little, but I was able to be calm that night and the next day (though I only got 2 hours of sleep that night). I just knew God was going to provide. Of course, sure enough, I got my car back within 24hours AND He provided the finances to cover the damage that was caused (he crashed it). What a difference in my reaction from the previous October where the event of my car breaking down opened my eyes towards my self-hatred.
6. I finally began to have money in my savings account (which is a BIG deal for me). I felt invincible.
7. I began wearing eye make up daily-ish. Another huge step towards having grace over myself. I still remained self conscious about this as I felt silly wearing it.
8. I went to my pediatrician to get my medical records to figure out when I was originally diagnosed with ADD. When I got the papers I found out WAY more about my past and what happened to me than I thought I would. I became more furious and hurt at my dad and my first stepmom. I didn’t understand how they could have been more concerned about their finances than my life. Memories flooded back as well of the pain each day brought as I felt lost and alone with no help anywhere. I also reached out to my teachers from that year when my life was at it’s worst. They both mentioned how they had tried helping but weren’t able to because of the Principle or my parents cutting them off.
9. I got ahold of a psychiatrist and a counselor and began seeing both. I started taking medication for my ADD during this time as well. My counselor also encouraged me to start living life like I have Aspergers, in the sense that I should go through my day without caring what others think of me, being confident in who I am: 99% of the time they will like me. It was SO HARD at first as this was a completely different approach to life than I had been living since I was… Probably 5 years old. But amazingly enough, when I have this perspective, it really works! I began seeing how my presence isn’t actually a burden. People usually (just because we all have our days here and there) want me there. Blew my mind. Totally different than what I was told growing up.
10. I started wearing face makeup as well. God began working on my heart and giving me grace to be at peace with the idea that it is OKAY to look nice(r). The right guy will love me for me, not just what I look like. It is OKAY to take care of myself, because I am worth it. (Still hard for me to write though. Maybe soon it won’t be…)
11. I went from two jobs to one, which didn’t go as smoothly as I expected. I ended up losing my entire savings in only a couple of months. The last six months of this year have been hell as well as God began allowing some of my poor choices throughout the year to teach me valuable lessons, mostly about His character and how I cannot do life alone.
12. For the first time in 19 years, June 6th (the day my mom died) was redeemed!! Of all the years… Thank you Brian and MacKenzie! I think God knew this year would be special and He was saving this blessing for then.
13. God provided a second job for me! I absolutely love it!
14. I had an amazing talk with one of my former stepsisters which helped me process my past and validate what really happened. Through her blessing and conversation I began to have courage to start writing this book idea I’ve had for a while, and I’ve actually started writing some of it!
15. God took something I desired away from me so that I would begin to understand what it means to delight myself in Him and find my my true desires through Him (still a work in progress). Not my favorite lesson AT ALL. I still daily have to remember to surrender as my plans don’t come near the awesomeness as God’s.
16. Because of the stress of trying to fix my life on my own and partially reverting back to self-abuse because of disappointment for making mistakes, I began to lose a LOT of hair because of the lack of food I ate. I was short on cash so in order to try and save money and fix my situation, I only ate maybe a meal a day. Two if I was feeling brave. I also refused to ask for help. I guess it’s right when they say pride goes before a fall…
17. I began going to this class that forced me to confront a dark secret I have held onto for years: struggles with pornographic photos and fantasizing as well as apparently a love addiction. This by far was the biggest growth and stress on my year as it has been held secret more than half my life (yes, that is possible) and I now was forced to talk about it… with strangers. I almost didn’t put this down as it is a very tender topic still for me, but I also didn’t want to hide it since shame has ruled over me too long. The church needs to start opening up to these struggles in women as it has been held hush hush for too long while we suffer silently. I know I have been called to share my story, but I never had the courage until recently to start telling all of it.
18. I finally opened up to my counselor about everything. This is the first time I have ever fully opened up to anyone and it was pretty much the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. I can’t wait to meet with him in January so I can continue learning how to live a life that honors God.
19. I quit Starbucks and now work at a cafe I’ve always wanted to work at… and I LOVE it! I’m slowly beginning to thrive there.
20. I got my braces off 6 months early! This gave me even more confidence though having braces never really phased me much.
21. I quit the class I mentioned above because of various reasons that were legitimate and now am having to FIGHT for a healthy future. Any prayers you have for me will be so appreciated. I have an accountability partner, family, my counselor, and a mentor, but any prayer will make a difference as well.
22. Because of these changes the last few months, I learned a very valuable lesson about myself: I am TERRIFIED of any form of intimacy. I knew I was for any physical intimacy, but I never realized how much I am emotionally until God opened my eyes to it one day. Anytime someone gets close I don’t know how to handle it. A fortress appears and I cannot fully connect with them. Humor becomes my escape. Every interaction with others is surface level. It hurts too much and is too scary to fully love anyone or to let them love me; I don’t know how to handle it.
23. I sold my car and paid off my credit card debt!!!!
24. God is beginning to soften my heart towards others. I feel like a small flower, too scared of the rain, beginning to let myself get watered with God’s grace. It’s a terrifying and weird process, but I’m slowly feeling myself bloom and grow under God’s anointing and tender gardening hands.
25. And last but not least, today, the last day of the year, God taught me my last lesson that will push me into a pretty powerful next year. I AM NEEDED. There is a gift inside of me that needs to come alive. You see, ever since I was filled with the Spirit back in 2006, I have had prophetic words for others. I always feel like God is knocking on my heart trying to convey a message to others, I have just allowed fear and insecurity (and lack of time with God) to keep me from hearing Him… And stepping out and sharing when I do. God opened my eyes to my selfishness. I was challenged to form a habit that will keep my focus of church not on myself but others (thank you Carl Lentz) and as I processed it today I realized what my habit should be: sharing God’s Word. I am keeping so many people from healing, hope, insight, encouragement, words of affirmation, etc, etc. by allowing fear to keep me clammed up. NO MORE. 2016 will see a new Salena.
2015, you were HARD, but a very good year. I grew so much in so many ways and I cannot wait for what 2016 will hold. When this time comes around in 365 days, we’ll have another awesome recap that will shine glory to God for all that He has done. I can’t wait.
My theme for this past year was Healing.
My theme for next year is… Endurance.
I want to learn how to persevere and to not give up until the work (especially healing) God as begun in my life is completed. I want to run the race of faith and not grow weary and faint. I want to keep my eyes focused on the Author and Finisher of our faith so I can show others how to do so as well. I was told once that I was seen as a rescue boat out in the sea. I am there to show others the way to land and to pick up out of the water those who have had their boats capsized. I can’t wait for 2016 to reveal more of this gifting God has in store for me.
What are your plans for 2016? Do you have a theme as well? If not, I totally encourage you to pray about it and come up with one. It’ll change you in so many awesome ways.
Happy New Year to you!
Woman of Purity~