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Emotional Health

Winter Blues

January 14, 2017

By: Juliandra Durkin

Anyone else feeling it this year? Waking up to grey skies everyday and cold, rainy, or snowy weather that keeps you cooped up, maybe you get a little bit moody and down like me? I love to hike springtime, summer, and fall, but during the winter my motivation to get out in the woods… well it sounds dreary and cold instead of invigorating and fun. Through the winter months it is not uncommon to get a bit down or depressed, but we wanted to share a few healthy habits to combat the winter blues!

Eat a Balanced Diet

Our diets affect us more than we know. If we eat high sugar and high fat meals through the Holiday season, we can come down and crash after. Sugar can actually cause anxiety and depression. This winter, make sure you eat plenty of high nutrient foods like fruits, veggies, and berries, good proteins, and healthy fats. The combination will keep your body sustained, instead of the sugar spikes that, in my case, took my body for a ride through all those Holiday parties just a few weeks ago.

Exercise

Despite the snow and cold, it is still important to move! Whatever gets you motivated be it lifting weights at the gym, ice skating for the first time, a walk through the neighborhood, or even a cold, rainy hike. Call up a girlfriend or two and make it social if you are really not feeling motivated. However you get moving, know that exercise increases endorphins in your body, which inherently make you feel brighter!

Wear Bright Colors

Research shows that colors affect our moods as much as anything. Different colors evoke emotions ranging from calm to excited. Boost your mood by simply pairing typically dark winter tones with a bright cardigan or scarf. Try it and see how it effects you and others throughout your day!

Volunteer

Are there any causes at your church, campus, or town that peak your interest that you can give your time to? I think part of the Winter Blues in my case is feeling isolated at my house instead of social in the community. Volunteering is a great way to connect with other just a few hours a week. What a fulfilling way to get through the winter and even build new friendships that could carry on to the future!

However you get through the Winter Blues, know it is a seasonal hardship and we’re almost through it! Halfway there my friends!

 

Photo Cred: Alisa Anton

Juliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

My Mirror vs God’s Truth

August 24, 2016

“You’re so stupid.” “I guess I look okay.” “Why did I eat all of that? No wonder I’m fat.” “I should have worked out harder.” “I’m such an idiot for forgetting that!” “No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be on time.”

Talk, talk talk. Negative self talk. You know what I’m talking about?

Sometimes it’s so subtle we don’t even realize we’re doing it. The negative thoughts pop up in the moment sounding accusatory and mean. And Satan thrives on our negative self-talk because it tears others and our own selves down instead of building up.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Really, I don’t know why we are so negative and hard on ourselves as women and daughters of the King, not when we have the written truth of the Word at our fingertips! But I’ve felt convicted of this negative self talk and harsh way of communicating with myself when it comes to daily life, my looks, and my work.

It’s like a constant qualification of how I am doing throughout the day. And it’s an amazing tool of the Enemy to get us so ingrained in negative talk and accusations about ourselves, lying and going against God’s very word.

But then I heard the soothing truth straight from the Holy Spirit this one day when I was getting ready for work. I looked at myself in the mirror one last time- Earings, check. Makeup, check. Cute shoes, check check. But instead of saying “Thanks, God, for all the blessings you’ve given me this morning,” I actually said out loud: “My face looks fat, but I guess I look okay otherwise.” So quickly I heard a gentle rebuttal, “No. You’re beautiful.”

My heart grew quiet knowing Who spoke and I realized that I need to be in the Word more when it comes to my words and language, especially in regard to my own self talk. How can I truly be uplifting and encouraging to others if I’m not even that way with myself?

After all, it’s not my mirror that speaks, it’s God’s word.

A quick look at all the good things God says about His children I learned that God calls me His daughter (2 Corinthians 6:18), redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), chosen and holy (1 Peter 2:9), a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and so many amazing words of truth my head should be spinning with joy!

But with one subtle dart from the enemy I allow myself to give in and call myself an idiot, stupid, that I’ll never change, and even disqualify being fearfully and wonderfully made by simply saying I look “okay.”

NO! God called us good and very good at the beginning of time in Genesis. Very good. God’s words not mine. I don’t feel very good most days. I feel worn out and depressed. But as God convicts me of my self-talk, ultimately it’s His word against mine. Haha! Who’s right? Certainly not me.

Ladies, we need to be aware of building each other up and it can start with ourselves.

What truth are you allowing into your mind and soul? The word says to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Are we obeying Christ in guarding our hearts from the enemy by speaking truth, encouragement, and life?

If we allow negative thoughts, name-calling, and bullying within ourselves to take root in our hearts and minds, God isn’t honored. The truth is we are His chosen daughters and we should allow grace and mercy within our self-talk for our own souls to be lifted up and soar with life!

So ladies, let’s be wary of the enemies schemes, our negative self talk, and the image of God we represent to our friends, family, and those who don’t know the truth.

I challenge you this week to combat the negative talk with three positive names that God calls you, each and every time you are tempted to give into the accusations and lies Satan wants to pull you down with. We can fight this battle with the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

Below is a list of names that God calls His people. So when you are tempted, or if you hear a friend giving into negative self-talk, take a deep breath and refer to this list. Fight the lies with the truth and let’s reclaim our identity as women, building each other up!

Wonderfully Made – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” Psalm 139:14.

Beautiful – Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for he is your Lord” Psalm 45:11.

A TempleDon’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

ChosenBut even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him…” Galations 1:15.

Holy and God’s Special PossessionBut you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9.

BlamelessFor he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” Ephesians 1:4.

Apple of His Eye Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 17:8.

What is your favorite name from God?

Photo Cred: David Marcu

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

When You Invite God Into Your Breakup

July 5, 2016

By: Danielle Kingsley

I recently dated a great guy for a few months. He had all the key qualities and character traits I’ve ever wanted in a godly man, and on top of that, he was all kinds of handsome. On paper, we were perfect for each other. We had so much in common, we made each other laugh, we served together, and we challenged one another. I thought I’d finally met God’s match for me, but I was wrong. After a few months it was apparent that we were not meant for each other despite trying to make it work, and ultimately he said goodbye.

Dating relationships begin and end every day. Most of us have gone through our share of heartbreak. It’s hard to say goodbye to the hope of a future with someone. It hurts our hearts to see a relationship end when we didn’t want it to. Heartache can be brutal.

When we invite God into our breakups, we can see the gift of failed dating relationships. Here are three things God has taught me through this breakup.


1. End with grace, not bitterness.

Saying goodbye with grace gives more closure than any Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson anthem can ever give. You don’t need to resent the person you were dating just because it ended. You cared enough about him to enter into a relationship, so care enough about him to exit the relationship in a way that glorifies God. You don’t need to be bitter to move on. Be thankful for the good times you two shared, learn what you need to learn, let your heart heal, and move on to God’s best for you.

2. Checklists aren’t everything.

Like most girls I know, I too have a “Husband Checklist.” Let me tell you, checklists aren’t everything! The man I was dating checked off every quality on my list, but he wasn’t meant for me. I want to be surprised, and allow God to orchestrate my love story with a man who possesses qualities I never knew I wanted in a husband. Don’t you?

3. Thank Him for your breakup.

This is a tough one, but I believe it’s vital for growing and healing during this time. God doesn’t waste heartbreak. He is working all things together for your good, so trust in God’s plan and rejoice in this season he has you in. One day, you and I will both look back at this breakup and have nothing but thanks to give to God because he saved us for His very best!

 

Photo Cred: Danielle Kingsley

about the authorDanielle Kingsley, a Southern California native, served as a missionary and worship leader for ten years at a growing church planted by her family in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2007, Danielle moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she was provided the opportunity to be the original vocalist to record the now popular worship song, Your Great Name. In 2013, she released her first EP Falling, that generated two #1 singles on International Christian radio.

Since the recent loss of her father to a brief battle with cancer, Danielle has been sharing her story about finding hope through loss and the peace that is found in Jesus at a variety of conferences across the United States. She is writing her first children’s book and devotional, and is currently on tour with Secret Keeper Girls. Check out her blog at www.DanielleKingsley.com. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter @DKingsleyMusic

7 Best Resources for Eating Disorder Recovery

June 23, 2016

By Allie Marie Smith

If you’re like me and have struggled with food and body image issues, you realize that it’s a journey. Sometimes we take two steps toward freedom only to take one step back. The important thing is that we don’t lose hope in our recovery and that we press forward toward greater freedom, health and wholeness. Since I have personally taken quite a few steps back in my journey in recent years due to a health crisis, I’ve done a whole lot of exploring for resources to help me on my journey. I hope these will also encourage you the way they have me. Love and blessings on your HEAL (Healthy Eating & Abundant Living) Journey!

HEAL: Healthy Eating and Abundant Living
So I’m obviously a little biased towards this resource, but Judy Halliday (my co-author) and I have received a lot of positive feedback on this six-week Bible-study resource. Through this resource, explore healthy eating, and discover your true identity in Christ. You can grab a copy on our website or via Amazon or other online bookstores.

Mind Body Musings Podcast by Maddy Moon
I just recently discovered this podcast and have been binge-listening. In this podcast, host Maddy Moon will provide you with applicable lifestyle advice to get back on track with your intuition. Body image insight, self-care rituals, nutrition, eating disorder recovery, and fitness will be covered in detail by various guests, all whom share a positive outlook on the importance of bio-individuality. This podcast is hosted by a former fitness model and physique competitor who shares her experiences and stories in the industry, and reveals why dieting, training and over-obsessing is not how anyone should spend their life. This podcast will help you break free from the dogmatic chains of health and dieting so you can live an intuitive lifestyle, free from restrictions.

Health and Eating Disorder Recovery Coaching
It’s never a bad idea to invest in the right kind of health coach. I personally have seen the value in this investment for myself. The best kind of health coach will teach you to honor and listen to your body, rather than to restrict, or count calories or macros. For an eating disorder recovery coach, I personally recommend Travis Stewart of Revision Recovery. Travis Stewart brings his expertise in eating disorders, combined with compassion and creativity, to help clients experience lasting change and freedom. I also recommend a six-month coaching program with Paige Schmidt of Healthy Hits the Spot. She will help you rediscover your inherent ability to listen to your body’s true wants and needs. You will receive six months of one-on-one coaching with her, complete with phone and email support, access to a vibrant community of women who share your journey, and personalized goals that are hand-tailored to your own growth.

Recovery Record Mobile App
Recovery Record is the smart companion for managing your journey to recovery from eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. This app is also intended for people with general eating, weight and shape concerns. Use for self-help or link with your treatment team’s Recovery Record Clinician App to stay connected, co-manage recovery and achieve your goals.
– Celebrate wins with rewards
– Personalize your journey
– Connect with your treatment team
– For every stage and type of eating disorder
– Based on CBT and self-monitoring research

FINDINGbalance
FINDINGbalance’s goal is to provide practical resources to help people live healthier, more balanced lives, FREE from eating and body image issues, and they like the challenge of developing programs and services that offer balanced care with a standard of excellence, all rooted in Biblically sound principles and truth.

Intuitive Eating
Intuitive Eating has become the go-to book on rebuilding a healthy body image and making peace with food. We’ve all been there―angry with ourselves for overeating, for our lack of willpower, for failing at yet another diet. But the problem is not us; it’s that dieting, with its emphasis on rules and regulations, has stopped us from listening to our bodies. Written by two prominent nutritionists, Intuitive Eating will teach you:
• How to reject diet mentality forever
• How our three Eating Personalities define our eating difficulties
• How to find satisfaction in your eating
• How to feel your feelings without using food
• And more!

Body Beautiful iPhone App
I had the privilege of developing this app with my Dad! Body Beautiful is the app for true beauty and confidence. Body Beautiful helps you cultivate a positive self-image and encourage true beauty with inspirational quotes, media articles, videos and tools. Share your favorite Body Beautiful quotes, articles, and videos via Facebook, Twitter, and email. Take and share the “Body Beautiful Pledge” to respect and honor your body. Stamp a photo of yourself or a friend with an inspiring phrase or quote to remind them of their true beauty, and share via Facebook, Twitter or email.

What other resources have been an encouragement to you on your journey?

about the authorAllie is the Founder and Executive Director of Wonderfully Made. She is the co-author of both Bible studies in the Wonderfully Made series: Healthy Eating and Abundant Living, and Becoming Who You Are in Christ. She is also the developer of the Body Beautiful iPhone app which promotes true beauty and positive body image. She lives in North Santa Barbara County with her husband Paul where she loves adventuring and surfing up and down California’s golden coast. You can find her blogging at The Kindred Sisterhood.

Learning to Own My Story

May 27, 2016

By: Lauren Goderwis

“What happened?”

Hearing that question sends my stomach through the floor. Every. Single. Time.

It yanks me back to the shame and embarrassment, the confusion and darkness, that I walked through not too long ago. It punches me with the pain, the hurt, the hopelessness, and the loneliness I thought I’d never escape.

I freeze.

“It’s a long story.”

Why is it so hard to tell the truth? To just tell the story…

“I hurt myself.”

A few years ago, I was in a dark place. I was hurting. I was numb. Life had lost its colors. Everything felt gray and lifeless.

I was struggling with an eating disorder. I was intentionally hurting myself to try and numb the feelings of frustration, anger, pain, and worthlessness that had become my constant companions. I was depressed. I had kept it all secret. I tried to convince myself (and everyone else) that I was fine. That nothing was wrong. I hadn’t been hospitalized. I wasn’t underweight. I didn’t have any near death experiences. And more than anything, I was a Christian. I thought that I was supposed to be okay. I didn’t think that I could claim to be following Jesus if I was struggling like I was. So I did everything I could to hide the truth because I was afraid of what recovery would require. And I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.

You’re only as sick as your secrets. And the longer you keep your secrets secret, the sicker you become. I eventually reached a point where hiding wasn’t possible anymore. My secrets started to leak. People were noticing that something wasn’t right and they began to ask the questions I had been afraid to hear for so long.

I had two options: I could lie and keep running from the truth OR I could surrender and let people in to help.

Brené Brown once said,

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.

My body is littered with scars. Physical, visible scars. Each one of them tells a story. Stories of pain, loneliness, frustration, shame, and emptiness can be seen etched into my skin.

These scars tell another story. One story. A story of hope and redemption. A story of healing. A story of something broken being made beautiful. MY story.

When people ask about my scars, I shrink. The answer demands vulnerability and vulnerability is scary. It’s choosing to let people see who I really am, rather than trying to convince them of something I wish I was. Vulnerability is telling the truth when the truth is too hard, too painful, or too embarrassing to tell. It’s choosing to show up and be seen rather than run and hide.

Every time I tell my story, I show people the raw places of my heart. The places I so often see as ugly and painful and undesirable. It makes me feel weak and exposed. Naked. Sick.

BUT every time I work past the initial feelings of shame and embarrassment and allow people to see the story behind the scars, something incredible happens….. People see strength rather than weakness. Healing rather than brokenness. Hope rather than despair. And ultimately, life rather than death.

In telling my story, my weaknesses become my strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is beginning to make a whole lot more sense.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God tells us that His power is made complete in our weaknesses. That when we let people see our failures and our flaws and our struggles, we actually get to experience God’s power in the process. His healing, redemptive, life-giving power. Who doesn’t want that?

I’m still learning to own my story. It’s not easy. It’s awkward. But I’m finding that when I tell people the truth behind my scars, I experience a little bit more freedom and healing each time.

I want to share my story. I want people to know that there’s hope. That healing and recovery are possible. That death and darkness don’t have to win.

Ultimately, I want people to see that victory is found only in Jesus.

Have you told your story? Why or why not?

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

about the authorLauren is an adventure-seeker at heart. Taking risks excites her and she loves a challenge. Currently a student at Northern Kentucky University, she will graduate in December 2016 with a degree in Secondary Biology Education. Lauren is passionate about teaching others what it means to be physically and spiritually healthy. In her free time, you can usually find her running, playing in the woods, or laughing with friends.

The Beauty of Repentance

March 10, 2016

By: Juliandra Durkin

What does Christ’s death on the cross really mean for us? If we grew up in the church, then we know the story…

Jesus grew up in Nazareth and at the Lord’s timing was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. At that point, God the Father sent a dove and spoke from the Heaven’s to say, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” It was then that Jesus left for the desert for 40 days to fast and was tempted by Satan three times. Jesus resisted immaculately. After the desert days, the Son of God began His Father’s ministry to people. For three- four years He healed, served, helped, encouraged, called out, spoke up, listened, redeemed, and changed the earth in such a tangible way, that people are still talking about it today.

But as was prophesied, Jesus had to die. For us. People. For men, women, boys, girls, and the redemption of all creation that reeks of sin from the first human disobedience to God’s rule in Genesis. God demands perfection and humans alone cannot fill that gaping chasm to get to His life. Someone had to die.

So, in all of His humility, power, and love, Jesus allowed Judas to betray him. He allowed Pilate to accuse Him. He allowed soldiers to crucify Him. And He allowed sin to conquer Him in death.

But not for long.

Which is the best part and even as I write I feel a smile.

Because He Defeated It All.

The pain. The misery. The cutting. The apathy. The depression. The divorce. The abuse. The slavery. The addiction. The greed. The racism. The gossip. The hatred that Satan attacks and oppresses people with… Jesus defeated for us! And He continues to defeat and fight for us today!

The story is beautiful because it allows us freedom to change. To smile. To dance. To give. And to love Him.

The beauty of repenting our sins, however big or small they might be in the world’s eyes, means that the woman of God has power through Jesus’ story to live FREE.

It is a beauty from blood kind of story, like a deep red rose. There is so much significance, love, and beauty in a red rose. And the beauty from blood makes me want to reach up to Heaven for more; which God is oh so willing to give!

So see the beauty in repentance and know you can have freedom in Christ. Because He already died for it.

 

about the authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Besides writing, she spends her free time exercising or out in nature. Give her a beach or a mountain; sunrise or sunset, she loves it all, especially walking her dogs in the woods! A graduate of Westmont College, Juliandra was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring Spain, parts of the Middle East, and Mexico. These experiences gave her a heart for culture and travel and she hopes to get more stamps in the passport soon!

Redefining Failure

January 9, 2016

By: Abigail Driscoll

Shame. Guilt. Worthlessness. Inadequacy.

These are feelings many of us are all too familiar with, especially when it comes to failure.

Maybe you applied for a job you really wanted and after interviewing, the company decided to move on with a different candidate.

Maybe you started a new business and it just didn’t take off.

Maybe you set a goal and found it impossible to reach.

Maybe you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with someone, but you just couldn’t make it work.

You failed. 

And with that failure comes all of those negative and harmful feelings of shame and worthlessness. Your mind starts telling you about all the reasons why you will never be enough, you will never get it right, and maybe you were stupid to think you could do it in the first place. In our culture, failure is such a negative thing. These feelings have the potential to cripple us and keep us from getting back up and trying again. Our failures can determine how we choose to identify ourselves, and they most certainly have the power to tell us that we are less than wonderfully made.

But what if failure doesn’t truly mean you’ve failed? What if we changed the very definition of the word by changing the conversations we have in our head and with each other? What if we choose to transform the word from a negative to a positive one? Because the truth is, we will all fail. It’s a part of life. Although it can be difficult, and there is always room for grief in the process, I am convinced that failing doesn’t have to be such a negative experience. In fact, we can turn these incidences into very positive realities.

Here are some ways to start rethinking and redefining failure:

Failing is a chance to get creative. Try a different way!

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” This man, who contributed to our world in such huge ways, had 1,093 patents by the time he died. But many of his inventions failed miserably. When inventing the light bulb for example, he made about 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before finally coming up with the product he envisioned, the product almost every household and business in the world now relies on for productivity and livelihood. What if we followed Mr. Edison’s example in the way he viewed failure? Let’s be honest: making messes can be an adventure! It keeps life exciting, requiring us to reevaluate, rethink, stay inspired, and work smarter. So next time you fail at something you wanted to accomplish, remind yourself that you are one step closer to finding what does work… and try again!

Remember that failure is an opportunity to rise, learn, grow, and become better people. 

Think of a time in the past when you’ve failed at something. I bet that after some time has passed, you’re now able to see the silver lining that came from the situation. The shame that obstructed your vision has cleared up and you are able to see much more easily than you could at the time the ways in which your ‘failure’ ended up being a good thing. You can see how that relationship would not have allowed you to grow and be joyful if you had stayed in it. Or how there was a more perfect job waiting for you just six months later, which you wouldn’t have gotten if you hadn’t failed the interview process for the one you originally wanted. Or how when you failed that exam it taught you how to work harder and prioritize better. Think about the ways you have grown as a person as you have fallen down and gotten back up. As our friend Brene Brown says, “There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise.”

Remember that your failures have no weight on your worth. 

My friend, one thing is certain: your failures do not define you. All of the times you have messed up, screwed up, fell down, gotten rejected, or didn’t finish something you started have zero bearing on who you are and who you want to be in the future. The truth is, you are a human being and you are going to mess up.

But you are okay.

You are beautiful.

And your story is a good one.

Your value has been forever secured by the hand of God. No matter your failings, your worth will never change from the time you were first knit together, before this earth ever even laid eyes on you. Take heart in knowing that from Him, not from your successes or failures, comes your entire identity as a flawed, yet perfect, human being. You are free to fail, to fall, to rise again… and through it all, you are loved the same.

So go ahead, keep failing! And then keep getting back up. Get stronger, braver, freer, and more creative. And tell those feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy that they’re no longer welcome in your definition of failure.

 

Photo Cred: Chelsea Steller

 

about-the-authorAbigail is a writer based in Cincinnati, OH with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and experience in mental health and sales. She is the founder of Freestate (www.shopfreestate.com), a resource that makes it easier for consumers to shop ethically. You can say hi on her blog, www.ritesofasylum.com, or on social media at @abigaildriscoll.

The Busy Badge

September 11, 2015

By Juliandra Durkin

Recently, I was struck with an unintentional break from the busyness of my non-stop life the past few weeks, when I started feeling sick and run down with a cold. I had been pushing myself with vigor for exciting, new volunteer and work activities and I think that getting sick was my body’s way of saying, “Enough!”

It is not without reason that the Bible says to take a Sabbath, or a day of rest. A day to recoup and regroup, to spend time with friends and family, and ultimately to commune with God- our bodies, minds, and spirits need rest. I realize this, yet again, after shutting down; rest is a part of staying healthy. Even our culture celebrates this idea of taking a break with the recent Labor Day that just passed, but a day off is not the norm.

So, why all the busyness?

Why the constant emails, work, and driving around like a crazy person some days to fit in “everything” we have to get done? Why are we so busy we don’t know how to rest unless our bodies physically shut down on us? And why do we wear this busyness like a badge of honor that says, “I am accomplishing something important with my life” or maybe it’s the comparison game of “I am more popular and needed because I am so much busier than you”?

At least in my circle, this seems to be the case, and when I think about my life from high school to post college, not much has changed in the sense of feelings that, “If I’m not doing something, I’m not important.”

To be honest, I struggled with this idea for months this year. God really had to work this out in my life, when I didn’t have a “career” job and I felt behind all my friends, who I saw on Facebook accomplishing great things at work, or continuing their education after college. For months, I couldn’t be validated by what I was doing but instead learned from God Himself that I am valuable no matter what I do or accomplish. The fact that He made me is why I am valuable, and no amount of “doing things” will change how He sees me.

So, when blowing my nose, wiping away drippy eyes, and going through boxes of tissues like water, I began thinking once more of busyness. This time, I included my friends and to how I lived before and during college. I noticed that this Busy Badge isn’t something that I struggle with solely. The Busy Badge isn’t localized to an age group or cities like New York “The City that Never Sleeps”. The Busy Badge is a phenomenon that has caught up our generation of men and women everywhere and I wonder why? Is it wanting to be busy because we are lonely? Or maybe, it is desiring success so we work ourselves to the bone till we have it?

It seems we value speed and efficiency, doing more, and one upping our friends with the stories we tell of just how busy we are. It is as if we have to prove to ourselves and to others that we are Superwomen! That we can do it all, on our own, without resting because we don’t have time to rest. That we can handle stress and be more productive than the other people around us.

I also know, as I have a few friends who are married and are new mommy’s, that the busyness of a family makes them feel needed and important. That no one else can complete this task but herself.

Careers, studying, being with friends and family, running around, volunteering, chores, having fun, church activities, eating (often in the car or on the run), exercising, sleeping, checking emails and social media on our phones, and for some young women I know, kids and husbands thrown into the mix, is a lot to juggle! And I’m sure that with my recent brain crash, where the 1,200 tabs that I felt running in my mind at once as I tried to keep it all straight, shut down, I’m not the only girl out there to feel this struggle between time and my to-do list, fighting against each other, in a battle that lands me on the couch sick.

So, during my forced Sabbath week, I realize that rest needs to be built into my schedule, time, and way of life, if I truly want a healthy and God honoring life. And busyness is probably a cover up and code for things like loneliness, fear, and validation for who I am by what I am doing.

That said, how do we create time, when there truly are important tasks to be done throughout the day?

The simplest, yet sometimes hardest thing to do is to say, “No!”

Learning to say “no” to some things, to have better time management and take care of your personal self with proper food, sleep, exercise, and time with God in order to move throughout the day in peace, is so important. And it is something that I am working on within myself.

Saying “no” to friends, volunteer work, social media, Netflix, etc. means saying, “yes” to other important things for my friends, family, and myself. I want to be there for my family and friends. I want to be present in the moment with my best foot forward at work, not feeling wiped out. The people who are important to me, myself, and God deserve me at my best, not running around sporting a self-proclaimed Busy Badge for all to see.

So, let’s put down our Busy Badges and learn to rest. Let’s rethink what rest really is from mundane and lazy, to healthy and wise. Let’s build that into our lives despite all the other really great things that we can be doing with our time. And let’s learn to say “no.” These are encouragements I’d urge you to consider for yourselves, dear women.

Take it from the sick girl on the couch, resting by your own accord, instead of by your body’s making you stop from the busyness is so much simpler and better way of life. After all, even God laid down His work and rested on the 7th day at the dawn of creation.

 

about-the-authorJuliandra Durkin is the manager for Wonderfully Made’s blog Know Your Value. She also writes at Written Jewels, a personal blog with stories and reflections on life. Juliandra has a love of nature and exercise- walking her dogs in the woods and recently training for triathlons. Give her a beach or a mountain, sunrise or sunset, she loves it all! A graduate of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, Juliandra has degrees in Spanish Language and Communication Studies, where she was able to attend three study abroad programs exploring the culture in Spain, the Middle East, and Mexico. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her family and volunteers at her local church working with the youth.

When Appearances Lie

August 20, 2015

By Allie Marie Smith

This is a photo of me at eighteen on my senior trip to Hawaii. It was taken just a week before I was hospitalized for severe depression because I wanted to end my life. Our week in Hawaii was decorated with tanning, partying and hooking up with guys. We rode scooters in short shorts and tank tops through Waikiki, sailed alongside dolphins on a catamaran, attended a luau and consumed a generous amount of alcohol. It sounds dreamy to a lot of girls, but the reality is it was empty. I was coming apart at the seams and my smile masked my internal pain.

We are afraid to appear less than perfect and our brokenness can drive us to isolate, sometimes to dangerous degrees.

While I was a a teenager nearly fifteen years before Instagram came on the scene, I would obsess over the bulletin board of photos in my room. I would strategically place photos of me with friends alongside inspirational quotes; all photos of gleaming smiles that would attempt to convince me that bliss and perfection was within my reach. I remember especially obsessing over my bulletin board right before friends came over, at the same time giving myself a pep talk on how to behave. “Fake it till you make it,” I heard them say. Today’s Instagram accounts are yesterday’s bulletin boards.

My story isn’t an isolated issue. A complex matter, mental illness is real and prevalent. Each year in the U.S., approximately two million adolescents attempt suicide. Up to 20 percent of girls aged 10-19 are experiencing episodes of major depression and in 2005 alone, about one-tenth of all teenage girls tried to end their lives. Women — especially young women— are struggling with struggling.
There is immense pressure to appear to have it all together.

I post this because I wonder if your appearances lie. Is your Instagram all smiles, but your heart all in pieces? If you’re hurting, struggling and know that there is hope even for you. You are not alone. You are irreplaceable and this world is more beautiful with you in it. Don’t isolate. Don’t run. Cry out to God and ask him to heal your heart, mend your wounds put your trust and faith in Jesus who makes beauty out of broken things. Seek help, confide in someone you love and please let us know how we can pray for you.

“I Know You” Means More Than “I Love You”

August 13, 2015

by: Alyssa Spang

Sometimes I’m lonely. On lonely days, I can say with absolute certainty that I crave one thing: to be known.

One day my mother told me, “you are consistent.” This simple statement meant more to me than “I love you” ever had. Worlds more. She saw me; she acknowledged my consistency. For that moment, I felt known.

I don’t want to be told “I love you” because the chances are that I won’t understand what is meant by that sentence. It’s too general and overused. I would ask for specifics. What is meant by “I love you”?

Really, I want to be seen. For me, to be seen, or deeply known, is what other people may define as being loved.

I’m a reader. I like to crawl inside the nitty-gritty of characters’ stories and make intense eye contact. Sometimes, I’m disappointed that the intimacy I find in literature feels so much more powerful than any number of conversations that may occur during the week. There are two reasons for that feeling:

  1. It’s much easier to understand what fictional characters are thinking, as they usually tell me directly.
  2. A fictional character is the construction of a distant author’s careful words, so the intimacy I feel is an emotional reaction to the character, that I created in my own mind.

It’s terrifying to be truly intimate in person because there is always that chance that I may accidentally misinterpret what that other person means. I may also misrepresent who I am. I’ve done this zillions of times. But, potential communication difficulties do not make intimacy a lost cause; in fact, intimacy is worth fighting tooth and nail for.

See, I crave intimacy. I want to be seen and known like people see and know fictional characters. I want to be known beyond my successes and failures and through my successes and failures. I want whoever claims to know me to acknowledge that people are complex. I want my contradictory traits to be recognized. Maybe you want similar things- it’s okay to want to be known.
It all comes back to the All-knowing God. Let me explain.

I would truly despair if indisputable evidence that God does not exist were to emerge.

So far, the only Person who has succeeded in knowing you and me perfectly—our good and bad traits—is God. Without God, even in a crowded room, I would feel desperately alone.

But the real kicker for this idea of intimacy is not that I am deeply known by the perfect God. That’s just the shallow end of a very deep ocean.

Without God teaching me what it means to know, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue of how to live in community with others. In fact, community would be a lost cause.

Without God, I wouldn’t only be lonely and desperate to be known, but I would be desperate to know how to love and know others.

Without God, I would crave intimacy I had never experienced and I wouldn’t know where to find it.

Without God’s selfless example of knowing, I would only know my own selfish heart. I’ll let that sink in: it’s an ugly idea.

The answer to loneliness is not an endless refrain of “I love you’s.” No, the answer lies in the simple practice of learning from God how to know, how to understand individual complexities, and how to acknowledge flaws without glorifying them. Then go and know. Let’s try our best to learn about other people.

Yes, it’s true that I don’t want to be told “I love you”. Instead, I simply want to be “known full well.”

What do the words “I love you” actually mean?

about-the-authorAlyssa Spang teaches English at Grace Prep High School in Pennsylvania. When she’s not hanging out with literary-minded high school students, she’s probably sitting at a coffee shop or wandering through the woods. Aside from her Creator, there are few things she loves more than freshly fallen snow. Her short story “Let me Tell You about Mount Vesuvius” was published in the collaborative novel Frozen by Fire. She hopes continue writing in the future.