A Whole New World

Hey everyone, sorry I missed last week’s post. Last week was immensely jammed with stuff for me, from spending five hours at a friend’s house semi-spontaneously and ordering Chinese food to early school registration and construction, to an awesome day at Water World (Denver’s water park) with a cold and fighting to sleep through soreness, exhaustion, and a cold, to senior photos with a slight sunburn and a cold, to a small group meeting to a one on one meeting and school shopping to church and youth group on Sunday, which brings me to here, two days out from senior year, though when this is posted and read, it will be tomorrow. So I start school on Tuesday. Tomorrow, or today (Monday), I have to go back to choose senior photos I like, and also go into school to get my schedule change before I officially start the next day. Contrary to what the title sounds like, I won’t be talking about the Grammy-winning (or is it Oscar-winning?) song from Aladdin. This post is largely meant to clear my head of everything that has been stuffed in it recently, and my outlook on the past year of my life and where I see my life heading from here. The stuff from my head is ultra personal, but like I’ve said before, I have to clear my head some way. I won’t be super specific, but even still, it’s personal to me. Anyway, here we go.

I’ll spend a paragraph or two just reflecting on how my life has been impacted in the last year, because this past year, especially on reflection, has been probably the most important year of my life to date. When I say important it’s kind of weird because naturally every year is important or else I wouldn’t be here, but I’ve changed more in the last year than I think any other year. You’ll see what I mean hopefully. A year ago was just before I started my junior year, and I was very happy at the time. I had my wisdom teeth freshly pulled, I’d spent somewhere around five weeks in California, I’d made a ton of friends (seemingly), and I was excited for the year to start. I don’t think I would have guessed what would happen to me that year, but lets see. I became fully involved in theatre, I was taking a few AP classes, I’d started going to the school FCA at the prompting of a friend, which was a really odd conversation, but that is a different story. October was a stand out month for me that year (2013) because it was my first small stage musical and the first show of the year, I started following The Walking Dead and watching it every Sunday night, and I changed churches and joined that youth group. Like I’ve said in other posts, so I don’t need to explain it thoroughly here, 2013 was a really rough year for me, but also one of the best. I rode rock bottom for a lot of my first semester for a few reasons, but I also had some key elements show their face in that time that have dramatically shaped me into who I am today. Anyway, I went on a Fall Retreat in November which was awesome, and I’ll make this whole “past year” thing pretty short here. Some of my relationships were run through a wringer, and others were made and bolstered. That being said, my school year went alright. I had a lot of difficulty with my math courses, and kind of all my courses but I managed to bring them all back and even better. My second semester grades were some of my best, now that the year is over and changes can be made or have already been made. I think that is generally a reflection of how my mental health has changed. It was strained a lot, but it got better. I had a lot of difficulty with personal relationships that really affect my relationships with those people even now. I found my best friend, I found my really awesome youth group, and I found a lot of things that I’ve wrote about in other posts. I spent a lot of my junior year very, very angry and very, very alone, or feeling that way. It stopped me from getting trouper in my school theatre, and it wrecked a lot of relationships. That is one thing I am hesitant about going into this year, which is all those people who have issues with me that now I know have issues with me, but never told me they did. Like I said in my honesty post, it felt like betrayal. But I see that a lot of that actually stemmed from me, and was perpetuated by them. I allowed myself to wallow in misery, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep it all covered up. Garbage and bathrooms smell, and even though they can mask the smell, air fresheners can’t hide all of it, if that makes sense. My happy face was see-through I guess.

What was most important about the last year though was God. Today I am not fixed, but I am not broken any more. I don’t really think that anyone is every truly “fixed” in the sense that they have no more problems, but still. My friends and I have joked about following God and what God does when you don’t go his way, how he kinda points (or shoves) you in the right direction. It’s been a year long-ish process, but God has done some miraculous work in me and my character. I was never really a stereotypical “bad guy”, but I wasn’t exactly picture perfect either. Like I didn’t swear very often, I dressed appropriately, I was a normal “good guy”, but that was still without God for a lot of the way. I was moving in the right direction, but I wasn’t there yet. I have since have a lot of interaction with Christians and the church and my youth group, and I’ve pursued it fervently. I would say it has paid off. I still have my moments and I still mess up, but I don’t feel broken any more. I feel like I have some worth and value. I am imperfect and still far from where God wants me to be, but I have seen myself changed. I pray more than I ever have before. I have started relying more and more on God. I’ve taken more and more responsibility and involvement in the church. I finally put worship music on my “iPod” (I use Grooveshark for my playlist since I don’t have an actual iPod and play it through my phone. I like it because I get to pick individual songs I want, rather than internet radio from like Pandora, and Spotify doesn’t work well for me), not only for the good music, but because I was starting to get more from the lyrics. Just the other day I was getting very frustrated with my brother, and I said silent prayers to myself to not rage at him. I still did, but I held a lot more back than usual, which is progress for me. I was frustrated with a game the other night, and I found myself going to worship music rather than my usual music to console me. I’ve read more of the Bible than ever in my life before, and I want to read more! I started wearing my really old cross around my neck again. All of this is not a testament to me, but to God in me. I came from Godless and broken and dark to complete and light and having God with me. I’ve had experiences with God that have shown me there is a God in general. People say you can’t see him, and that may be true of the eyes, but I can see him with my heart and feel him with my heart. I felt him at Dare2Share in March, I felt him in Mexico (probably more than anywhere else), and I have felt him in a dream. More than that I have seen his works. People seem to expect God to work instantly for their cause and to make astounding displays of power. I am going to link this to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which is kinda awesome to me.

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and he gives me courage.” -Gandalf the Grey

I find in that some of the nature of God. God has already defeated Satan and darkness, the battle rages on though, until the time Jesus comes back. That quote though relates to God in that he doesn’t always need to do “amazing” things by the world’s standard to work and to show himself. He doesn’t need to send blinding lights and big booming voices in the sky. He works in his people’s small acts of kindness and compassion and love. I am still learning to appreciate his love for me, but from a year ago, I have walked a mile. I am so much more in touch with God and his love, and while I may not be as “amazed” as some people are, I think it’s only a matter of time. I continue to walk towards Him, and I can’t wait to see what happens from there.

That is why I am in a whole new world going into my senior year. I am so different as a person now, and maybe it isn’t AS apparent in my behavior, but I hope I can speak for all my friends and I know I speak for myself when I say I’ve come a long way and look forward to the rest of the way. I am very hopeful for this year, and quite excited to see where God leads me, because having felt God and his joy, it’s almost like a drug. It’s wonderful, and I am, for the most part, feeling very joyful.

That being said, I have a ton on my mind, and as I was telling my friend earlier, I feel like I’m about to pop from things I want or need to say to someone, and my prayer will be that I have the courage to take the opportunity to talk to the respective people about what I need to say to them, or if I don’t know, that God will show me who I can/need to talk to. Anyway, I won’t mention names of people when they arise, but my guess is that some readers will be able to know who I am talking about for any number of reasons, just by the situations I am about to describe.

One of the biggest things on my mind is where to go to college, because I feel pulled in a bunch of different directions about where to go. I really want to go coastal for location and some good schools out there, and also I can get away from my family which is something I feel I should do. On the other hand, I want to stay in Colorado because it’ll be a lot cheaper, I’m almost guaranteed entrance into CSU with a 33 on my ACT, and most importantly for me is that I don’t want to leave my church family just yet, if at all. Staying in Colorado has a lot of benefits, but what makes me not want to stay in Colorado is I want to see the rest of the country and get farther away from my family. Colleges in other states raises the challenge of cost, travel, loss of my friends, and potential bad things in the area, like earthquake or hurricane or something. I trust God will tell me where to go, because I can’t decide for myself at this juncture.

Another thing on my mind is just “senior stuff”. I will eventually have to apply for scholarships and a graduation party and end of the year stuff and all that stuff that comes with being a senior. It isn’t huge, but its there.

Probably the biggest thing on my mind right now is just being honest with people. I haven’t been dishonest with people, but I’ve been withholding information about different people/situations that I’ve been too scared to share. I really value honesty, but I am always fearful about being honest because of how people will receive it, because I often come off very strongly when I’m honest. If I start telling you something, you will hear everything about it, and then I just feel vulnerable and like I overloaded the person, and that will somehow scare them off. I describe myself as “mushy” because I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I make my emotions known more often than not, and I feel like I have to tell people how I feel about them and it just makes me feel sappy and embarrassed afterwards. Particularly when I do it digitally and I can go back and check the record of what I said and they said, I always look at it shamefully, like “Why did I say that? That is over the top and they don’t care about how you feel THAT much.” All of that makes it really hard for me to be honest with people, even though I really, really want to be. There are two people in particular who I desperately want to talk to them, but feel I’d be stepping over a line and make things awkward, which I do fairly often unfortunately. I just wish everyone could be honest like that so I wouldn’t feel like such a stranger for doing it.

Another thing that surfaces fairly often is shame of who I am. It comes and goes, but there are certain things in my life that I’ve been made fun of for doing, and it hurts to hide those parts of me. For example, though I am pretty vocal about my support for it, I really like country music, and a lot of people don’t. When I bring it up, a lot of people will just go “Ew, I hate country, it sucks” and things of that likeness. Sometimes I feel ashamed of liking it. Other things include theatre sometimes, the number of stuffed animals I have, how when I was a kid I liked unicorns and Barbies, not liking a lot of sports, and video games. I’ve been teased for every single one of those things, and they are a part of me, so I often don’t talk about them because I feel ashamed of that.

All of those last few paragraphs are pushing on my mind and making it want to pop daily, and I’m quite lost on how to deal with it. Like I said, I suppose, I have to just talk to people who are concerned with it, and gather the courage to do that and not be afraid. I am fairly certain that some of the people I need to talk to will read this as well. *sigh* I’ll do my best.

That is all I really have for this post, so thanks for reading! Let me know what you think, or if you’d like to hear a post on something, let me know! Even still, I am grateful to God for blessing me with all I have, even the struggles. I’ll end with some nice little quotes. There are plenty more, but I like these ones.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” -Helen Keller

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -Khalil Gibran

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