change, pain, and some other things 23 taught me

change, pain, and some other things 23 taught me

I used to believe that no one every really changed.

I guess I didn’t understand Jesus then. I didn’t understand the way He can come into a life, overhaul it, start at the roots, and heal every single broken part.

He changes everything.

Last night someone called out positive change in me, and it felt good because I knew it was true. I knew he was right-that I have grown in my leadership skills and in the way I lead myself. It felt weird and strange to accept the compliment and basically say, “Thank you. I know. Thank you for seeing it too.”

God has overhauled me this year. Year 23. (Year 24 actually, but I was 23 so it just makes more sense to call it year 23.) I was numb for part of it. I chased things at 22 that would make me numb, and it worked. It worked for a long time. I didn’t even realize numbness was what I was chasing. I thought I was just having fun.

For the LONGEST time I didn’t realize I was numb.

Then one day I thought about how long it had been since I had cried. I thought about how long it had been since I experienced life in a visceral way. Since I’d experienced strong emotions of any kind. I was talking about feelings and I was feeling for other people and being kind and being empathetic. But I forgot to feel for me.

I began to retrace my steps. I began searching for the source of the shutdown.

God met me when I started asking Him to. He revealed to me that one of my biggest issues is running from my feelings. (I’m basically Chandler Bing except not as funny, k?) I’d rather make a joke than face my pain, and I’m perfectly comfortable doing that.

I took the enneagram, and I found that I was a type 7. Social. Life of the party. Go, go, go! Runs from pain by finding the silver lining. Struggles with anxiety and depression. Prone to burn out. Overstimulated. Scattered.

I was blown away. Because I thought happy-go-lucky people like me couldn’t also have that flip side. I didn’t think people would believe or understand the pain I felt because it didn’t make sense with my personality. For the first time, I realized I could be both. Heavy and light. Darkness and bright. For years I’d run away from being labeled an extrovert because I wanted to be viewed as someone who has depth, and isn’t a moody introvert deeper than a flashy extrovert? (And okay, I FOR SURE have my moody introverted times, too.)

The enneagram was important. It revealed so much to me and led me to a deeper awareness of who God made me to be, and why He made me this way. It pointed out my weak spots and my strong spots. I flipping love the enneagram. I wasn’t even going to get into it in this post, but I can’t talk about the last year without talking about the enneagram.

I’ve been getting more and more in touch with my emotions. I’ve been writing poetry for the first time in a long time, and it’s been really fun. I’ve been reading Psalms and sending them up to God in my prayers.

I’m still not the kind of person who will cry at the drop of a hat, but I’m becoming the kind of person who allows herself to feel. And it’s good. And I’m excited. Pain is hard and stretching, but it’s part of what makes us human. It’s part of what connects us and makes us authentic.

So if you need me to come cry with you, hit me up. Even if the tears don’t come for me, I’ll hand you tissues and I won’t run away.

The picture above is authentic Carrie. She is happy and free a lot of the time. She will try any food, any adventure, anything that promises an adrenaline rush, and she will be the first to say yes. She’s usually smiling and laughing because it comes naturally to her. But she’s also learning to be still, to not need to be stimulated ALL THE TIME, to dig deeper, to face things instead of hide them away, and she’s learning who she is and how to share that.

Okay, she’s going to stop talking in the third person now.

 

Xoxo,

Carrie Sue

A Life Update and a New Goal

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a “life update” blog, but here goes. Honestly, not sure if I’ve ever written a purely “life update” blog. I guess there’s a first time for everything.

In June, I spent a few weeks in Portugal and Spain. Highlights? Driving down the Portuguese coast from Lisbon to Lagos. It was one of the most beautiful drives, with plenty of stops along the way for me to frolic a little too dangerously close to the edges of cliffs (at least, my travel companions thought I was getting too close). Another highlight was the FOOD in Spain. So. Much. Good. Food. Portuguese food wasn’t great, but they did have good pastries (pastel de nata 4 lyfe!) and 2! Euro! Bottles! Of! Wine!

Since I’ve been home, things have been busy, but more or less happy. There are always painful days with the good days. I’ve come to realize how much my life is high highs and low lows (where my Enneagram type 7’s at). This means even when I’m at my happiest and healthiest, a really terrible day can hit out of nowhere. But, like I said, overall, things are good right now, and I am good right now.

I’ve been spending time with family, I’ve been involved at The Living Room, I’ve prepared for some upcoming transitions in my life. Things have felt fast-paced, but I’m trying to slow down and not pack my schedule quite as full so I can leave room for spontaneity.

Clearly I haven’t been blogging lately. But I have been writing some. I am working on two different books but I’m not sure if either of them is something I want to pursue. One of them I started back in early 2017, and I’ve been wanting to finish it for a long time but just have not put in much writing time in 2018.

When people ask me if I’m writing, I’m embarrassed. Because I’m not writing enough. I see myself as a writer. I have seen myself as a writer for a long time. But writers write. Writing is the one thing that I’ve consistently wanted to do. So why don’t I act like it?

I have made a goal to write fiction for at least an hour every day of August. It’s not a big goal, but I know it will be a challenge. I work full time, and I’ll be doing a tiny bit of traveling for a wedding at the end of the month. But there will ALWAYS be stuff. If I wait until my life is slow and empty to start writing, I’ll never start. Ideally this 1 hour goal will stretch to writing 1,000 – 2,000 words a day in September. I’m not even sure exactly how many words I write in an hour, so I guess I’ll try to figure that out this month. I do know that once I get in the zone and just go for it, without stopping to edit anything, I can pound out a lot in a short time.

I also want to read at least one chapter of a book a day in August. I’m tricking myself with this one, because I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life that I’ve picked up a book and read only one chapter. It’s just the act of picking up a book and starting to read, rather than opening my MacBook and watching Netflix. Some recent reads I’ve enjoyed are Little Fires Everywhere and Beautiful Ruins. I’m currently reading Stephen King’s The Shining, which is interesting, but not all that scary yet, and I’m over halfway through. Hopefully the scare factor turns up a few notches in the last 300 pages.

What else is going on?

I’ve become consumed by the Enneagram. I love it. I’m obsessed with it. It has revealed so much to me about why I make the decisions I do. It reveals who you are at your worst, but also who you are at your best. I’ll probably write a blog post about it soon, because it’s been life-changing for me and has made me much more self aware.

Okay, that’s it for now! Feel free to message me and ask if I’m writing this month. You can be my accountability partners! Deal? Deal.

Okay byeeeeeeee.

Carrie Sue

My Identity

(Note: Most of this was written in early summer, back around the time of my graduation, but I never published it.)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about my identity. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a true identity crisis. Because I’m  rooted in my faith, “follower of Jesus” is my biggest identifier and something I can cling to even when I have no idea what or who else I am. I hope that’s the way other people see me, too.

For most of my life, I’ve been an adventurer-an explorer. I have always been a reader. I’ve been a cook and a baker. I’ve been an ice cream scooper and a barista. A student. A daughter. A friend. A nerd. An artist. A wanderer. I was a film buff. A coffee drinker. I tried my hand at being a hipster. Then I was hip for awhile. I even took a brief foray into being a hippy. Sometimes I think I’m becoming more of a hippy every day without even trying.

These are all identifiers. Jobs I’ve had, ways I see myself, ways other people see me…

I’ve been a student since I was 5 years old, when I entered 1st grade. Over the past 16-17 years, I’ve gone back to school every single autumn, and rejoiced every May.

For the past 4 years, I’ve had another identifier: English Major.

Since May 7, I’m no longer an English Major.

THAT IS CRAZY.

And it scares me.

For a long time, that’s been my go-to identifier. I use “I’m an English major” as an excuse, at times.

As an English major, people assume I will correct their grammar errors. (I won’t. On the inside? Yes. On the outside, no. Rest easy.) Another fun part of being an English major is everyone automatically assuming I’m going to be a teacher.

I tell them, no, I want to write. I want to publish novels. And they give me what I call the “English-major-pity-smile.” Most of you have probably given me that smile at one time or another, but that’s okay. To me, it became a joke. Every time I explained my desire to be a writer, I was being serious. I know it’s a big dream, but after four years, I’m still serious. After four years, I still believe we’re called to big dreams!

In Mere Christianity, my man C.S. Lewis wrote one of my all time favorite passages. It begins,

“Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.”

When I give up all the terms and identifiers to Him, I have the freedom to pursue Him fully. When I stop pursuing other things and focus on Him, the rest of my life seems to fall into place. If I stop worrying about how other people see me, or whether I am successful in the world’s eyes, I can shift my focus to Him.

A few months ago, I was meeting with a couple friends at Panera Bread, and someone asked the question, “How do you think God sees you?” That’s a hard question to answer at a moment’s notice, but it is also the identifier I care about most.

He loves me. He loved me before I loved Him.

He sees the good things about me. He sees that I am merciful. He sees that I am discerning. He sees that I am good at teaching and leading. He sees that I am a communicator. He sees that I work hard to maintain my relationships.

He loves me, not because of what I’m becoming, but because of who I am.

Even if you try to hide things from God, He knows. To me, that gives me license to be completely open and authentic with Him! He sees that I sometimes don’t allow myself to be real because I am afraid of being hurt. He sees that sometimes I tell people I’m so busy, but I’m really wasting valuable time. He sees that I sometimes go past boundaries I’ve set for myself.

And He loves me.

Because I know I’m loved by Him, I don’t have to become depressed over not being a student anymore. Because I have a beautiful community surrounding me, where I am given opportunities to use the gifts God’s given me… losing a part of my identity isn’t so bad. I don’t have to be afraid about the future, about stepping out into the real world, like so many of my classmates are.

I may not be a student or an English Major anymore, but I am still loved by God. That’s a constant, no matter what else I choose to be… no matter what other labels people give to me. Moving on from college after just four years is a reason to be joyful, because I’m moving toward something.

C.S. Lewis goes on to say,

“Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day, and death of your whole body. In the end, submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

I admit that passage is confusing. It’s paradoxical. It doesn’t make sense. Looking for someone else shouldn’t bring you to the center of yourself.

But hey, Jesus doesn’t always make sense. It doesn’t make sense that we have more freedom when we submit to Him. It doesn’t make sense that I find myself when I seek Him with everything in me. Grace doesn’t make sense. Self-sacrifice doesn’t make sense.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ, for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.

Colossians 2:9-10

There is no place I want to find my identity other than the heart of Jesus.

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Thanks for reading,

Carrie

More Peace

More Peace

Last year was a lesson in grace for me.

So many times my patience was tested in ways it rarely had been before. Honestly, I think I actually learned how to show grace in a way I’d never had to push myself to do. In that way, I became more like Jesus. I learned that even if I am right, I don’t always have to make sure other people know that. I learned that I am called to treat people with kindness even when they don’t deserve it, and I learned that often the people I’m meant to show grace to are the people I’d most like to push off a cliff.

Yes, I’m sure the next time I need to be the bigger person, it’ll still be hard. I might need to learn about grace all over again. But, I am proud of the way I acted in 2016. I am proud of the way I was able to learn to love others in the same way Jesus loves them-an unearned, undeserved love.

What has God been showing me this year?

Well, we’re one month in, so of course He’s been teaching me something new.

One: peace.

Peace in a world that is anything but peaceful. I’m learning to trust in Him and find Peace, even when I don’t feel it. Even when I’d never feel it on my own.

The other day, during a time of worship, (the Holy Spirit nudged) a friend, and he spoke the words “peace and trust” over me. It was very much one of those words that could relate to many situations or anyone, but I had to laugh because peace was exactly what I was crying out to the Lord for in that moment. Tears streamed down my face (and I felt ridiculous, but I let them fall).

As we finished the song, I felt the Lord speaking to me: As your TRUST grows, peace will come. In that moment, I realized I hadn’t been asking for enough. I was asking for peace, but peace and trust go hand in hand.

The more I trust Him, the more I am filled with His peace. The more I trust Him, the more I refuse to give up.

Two: more.

This word has been floating around in my head the past few days. The other night I was free-writing in my journal and it seemed like it was all I could think of. More. More peace more trust more peace more trust more grace more love more understanding more wisdom more forgiveness more of You, God. That’s what I want this year to hold.

That’s what I know this year will hold.

No matter where I am by January 1, 2018, even if it’s somewhere I never thought I’d be (and it usually is), I want to look back and say that I gained more of Him. I want to look back and say my trust has grown in leaps and bounds. I want to be walking in a deeper and more perfect peace than I thought possible.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. (Colossians 3:15)

 

xoxo,

Carrie

It’s All Process

I haven’t been writing lately. Not really.

It’s hard and scary for me to even admit that here because through all life’s seasons and phases, I have always identified as a writer.

It’s not that I don’t write anything… I write letters and often I spaz out on my keyboard for 10 or 15 minutes before sending a rant off to a close friend. But I haven’t been writing. I haven’t been journaling and I haven’t been producing much fiction either.

I haven’t been writing because of all the excuses.

I can shoot off a list if you ask. It starts with “busy” and ends with “relationships” or “work” or any number of things.

None of those excuses are legitimate.

You make time for what is important to you. I have the same 24 hours in my days as my favorite writers, or the scientist who discovers a cure, or the teenager who creates an app that changes everything. I have the same 24 hours in my day as the people I see enacting the most change in the world – the people touching the most lives.

I choose what I do in each of those 24 hours. I choose what I do in each of those 1,440 minutes. In each of those 86,400 seconds.

I choose.

When I don’t take time to sit down with my journal, even for 10 minutes at the end of the day, I’m failing to value myself and my well-being. To me, those 10 minutes are the most calming part of the day. A chance for reflection, a chance to tell God what I’m struggling with, and a chance to understand myself. Those 10 or 20 or 120 minutes can take me from confused and distraught to completely at peace.

I have become a verbal processor recently, out of pure necessity. I’ve always processed through my emotions and thoughts via writing. But I’m becoming a verbal processor because I have started robbing myself of those times of written processing. I’m becoming a verbal processor, and I’m bad at it.

The only option, the only way to sort through my thoughts, is to start writing them down again.

Last night I went for a late night run, letting the chilly fall air fill my lungs, then I crawled into bed with my journal and a few pieces of fancy dark chocolate my parents bought me in Germany. I turned on my diffuser and the soothing scent of lavender soon filled the air (essential oils plug because they will change your life).

I am invigorated by the run and by the pen in my hand, and I feel alive.

Which is strange. Because lately I’ve been feeling pretty much dead in the evenings.

Which is strange. Because I’m a night person.

I’m a night person. But now, sitting down with my journal and giving myself permission to just write – until midnight if I want to, until 1 or 2 if I can keep my eyes open – feels luxurious. It is thrilling… almost naughty, like if someone walked into the room I’d feel embarrassed and slip my journal under my pillow in a flash.

It is simultaneously foreign and familiar. It feels like driving a few hours out of my way to reconnect with a friend I’ve known for a decade or two. It feels like sitting on a stool at the island in my mom’s kitchen after being away for a few weeks, the familiar smells of fresh fruit pies or roast chicken or whole wheat bread wafting throughout the house. It feels like the moment, driving home late at night, when that song from high school comes on shuffle and brings back memories you thought you’d lost.

It is stepping off the Paris metro for the first time, early on Easter morning, with no idea where the day will take you. What you’ll see, what you’ll hear, what you’ll smell… just knowing whatever it is, it will be wonderful.

I am exercising a muscle that used to be my strongest one – tough and defined. I’m tearing through layers of scar tissue that have been growing over my heart and soul. It feels good, and it hurts.

I am writing.

Writing is emotion. I love it, but I always feel like maybe with each stroke of my pen, I’m willfully reaching into my chest and prodding around until I find my heart, then proceeding to dig it out, set it on the table in front of me, and poke it until it’s bleeding and gasping for air. So many nights I’ve ripped myself apart and put myself back together with each turn of the page.

As I recount the last few weeks, I laugh and share little anecdotes from daily life, moments when I was happy and laughing and care-free, and I also write down mistakes I’ve made – times when I hurt people and times when I was hurt, and all the doubts that dwell inside me. I am bringing myself back to life. I am reintroducing me to the parts of myself that have been lying dormant, hibernating for the summer. (I gave myself the summer, you see. I graduated, and I let myself take some time away – away from writing, away from reading. I needed a break, but it was supposed to be a short one.)

Summer is over.

And I am a writer.

And a writer is only a writer if she chooses to write. A writer must write before anything else. A writer must write or drown.

Don’t let me leave again.

As much as the pages feel alive, they are inanimate. They have no power here. The only one who can keep the pen in my hand is me.

Don’t let me leave again.

Know yourself. Learn what makes you tick. And when you do figure it out, prioritize it. I’ve known since middle school that I need to journal to process. I’ve known since high school that I receive more revelation through writing than anything else. It’s easy to forget that, when journaling takes time, and I’m tired. I journaled almost daily all through my college years, but sometime this spring I started journaling less and less until I wasn’t anymore.

There’s beauty in the process, whatever the process is to you. Take your time. Be patient with yourself. Learn yourself. Recognize that what works for everyone around you probably won’t work for you. Instead of beating yourself up about it, do it your way. Tap into your passions. Find out what “your way” is. Realize that sometimes your way might change.

I don’t want to be cheesy and say there’s more beauty in the journey than in the destination. The destination has generally been my favorite part of every journey. But as long as we’re here, as long as we’re on earth, all of this – life – is the process. It’s all about getting somewhere, and as long as we’re alive, we won’t arrive. There will always be something more to see, to do, to challenge, to discover.

It’s all process. We may as well enjoy it.

What I’m Listening to This Week: