I love to read, as most people know. Whether from exhaustion or mental capacity, my attention span as of late has been null… so I’m not reading as much as I used to. I do, however, read plenty- plenty– of blog posts. They’re short, sweet, and usually helpful or memorable to me in some way. While this year I haven’t been as avid of a bookworm as years’ past, I read enough blog posts to equal a few novels. 🙂
My friend Kate asked us to write about what are most memorable blog posts were this year. There are many I could put here, but I’ll pick some and talk about why they meant something to me:
Faith and Faith-Related Things:
Church and the Single Girl-Lindsey Nobles: this isn’t a topic I particularly have ever talked about… but it’s always in the back of my mind. I don’t know if marriage and family are in my future, but Lindsey articulates so powerfully the feelings of being single in a community that is so family-oriented. It’s hard somedays. Really hard.
To the conference planner who doesn’t fight to find and include single voices — not so that they can talk about singleness per se but so that not all references and stories have to do with marriage and parenting…
I need you to know something.
It is hard to be single in the Church today.
We are made in the image of God and we are women-Nish Weiseth: the entire time I read this post I just wanted to keep screaming “hallelujah!” Her words are perfect here. I am new to Nish’s words (I have her book Speak but haven’t read it yet- gasp!) but she earned a follower with this post.
We are made in the image of God, and we are women.
But when I think of women, I don’t think of us cowering in the corner. I see resilience in the face of oppression. I see tenderness in the face of harshness. I see bravery in the face of cowardice.
I Bear Witness-Sarah Bessey: If I only could read one blog for the rest of my life (oh the horror!) I’m pretty certain Sarah’s would be it. I’m pretty sure at least 3 of her posts will make it onto this list. Her writing is lyrical and hits you right where it hurts– and I love it.
we are no longer wanderers but we are the ones who belong, with just as much a right to Love and to grace and to redemption as every one who draws breath from the breath of God.
You Are Enough- Shauna Niequist: Shauna’s another one of those writers whose writing has meant a great deal to me over the years, both in her books and blogging. This post came at the most perfect time, is just simply a great reminder for all of us: you are enough.
What makes you enough is your createdness. God made you. He made you, dreamed you up, spun you out of thin air. That makes you so much more than enough. That makes you a work of art–because you were created by a master.
You’re already so loved-Sarah Bessey: I told ya, Sarah rocked my world this year. Her book Out of Sorts is wrecking me, but it’s her blogs that have kept me going this year.
You’re already so loved, you aren’t earning a breath of love or tenderness more than what you already have just by breathing – just by existing, just by being here in the wonder. Your name is already written in the lines of the hands of the universe, you’re star-breath-of-dust and you are beloved, intimately, faithfully, wholly.
Mental health/anxiety posts:
Remember earlier when I said Sarah Bessey’s blog would be the one blog I read if I had to pick one? Well, I lied: I’d have to pick at least two, and Glennon’s would be the other one. She just gets me, y’all. She has done so much for so many people- me included. Her posts about mental illness helped me to not feel as crazy this year– something I am so immensely thankful for.
Help us manage our fire, yes, but don’t try to extinguish us. That fire that almost killed us is the same fire we’ll use to light up the world. And so we don’t want you to take what we’ve got, we just want help learning how to use what we’ve got for good.
Removing the Masks We Wear- TWLOHA: TWLOHA has been another immeasurably important resource to me in this mental health hell. I’m so grateful for all they do. This post was so hard for me to read- because it was so true for me.
We can choose to keep on being these hidden people, living in the shadows behind the costumes and scenery. Or we can embrace who we are – faults, illnesses, and all – and step boldly into the light.
Split Image-Kate Fagan (ESPN): This was a beautifully written, powerful, and immensely sad account of depression, suicide, and social media. What we post on social media is only a fraction of who we are sometimes– and it could mean life or death for those struggling with mental health.
Yes, people filter their photos to make them prettier. People are also often encouraged to put filters on their sadness, to brighten their reality so as not to “drag down” those around them. The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness.
Why I’m Depressed on Easter-Jasmine Hilland: this is a friend of mine from high school, and her words echo so much of my struggle. It’s always good to find people that can say “me, too”– even if you hate to see them fighting the same battle. Just because it’s Easter– or Christmas, or whatever special day/holiday– doesn’t mean we stop struggling for the day. Depression and anxiety is a 24/7 battle, and it doesn’t stop on the days we’d like it to.
But, as I am met this Easter season with the reality of the Cross and a God who not just overcame, but endured the Cross, I am lead to believe that our God is a God who is able to sit in our own darkness. Just as Jesus did not just skip over the Cross to get to the Resurrection, I do not think He expects us to just skip over the hard seasons in our lives to get the time of celebration. Instead, I see a God who is willing to endure very painful things with us.
The Challenge of Self-Care- Rage Against the Minivan: Kristen’s blog was one that I went back and read through the archives- her family’s story is so interesting, her writing sarcastic and funny, and her personality reminds me of mine. I wish I was in California to meet her and pick her brain for a day. This post was rather timely, as self-care has been something I wish to get better at. It’s hard.
So if a simple, one hour walk in the morning can change my mindset this much . . . can change my outlook and the trajectory of my day and such a dramatic way, why don’t I walk every day? Why in the world wouldn’t this be something that is at the top of my to-do list? Why wouldn’t I make it my number one priority?
When You Want to Find Hidden Graces in The Dark Spaces- A Holy Experience (Guest Post): This was a guest post on Ann’s blog, written by a local pastor here in Nashville, Scott Sauls. A friend of mine emailed me a link to this post, with a note letting me know she was praying for me. Tip: if you don’t have people that do things like that for you in your life, find them. (i’m so thankful for mine. So thankful). Anyway, this post found me right where I was, and I was so thankful it landed in my inbox when it did.
Maybe instead of labeling anxious and depressed people as “damaged goods,” we should learn from the Psalms and Jesus and Paul about the biblical theology of weakness.
For Those Who Wait in the Fog- Emily P. Freeman: Emily’s writing has always been some of my favorite- her book Grace for the Good Girl was so reminiscent of my walk in faith that I had to do a double take sometimes while reading it. This post came at such a perfect time– after student teaching ended, I’ve felt stuck in this cloud of uncertainty and fear. The unknown is so freaking terrifying. Emily’s words gave me hope that while the fog is here now, there’s a light– and clarity- at the end of it.
“I don’t have great answers yet, but I see shapes in the distant fog. And for that, I am thankful.”
All-Time Favorites of 2015:
Here’s What I Learned When My Life Didn’t Pan Out- Jenny Simmons (Storyline): So, Storyline’s blog writers lately have just been on my wavelength. i read this post by Jenny shortly after I quit student teaching. Literally the only dream I’d ever had was gone, and I was (still am) completely lost about what’s next. Jenny reminded me that I’m not the only one that’s been there, and that it’s OK to be lost.
Living without answers and a life plan became the season where I finally found faith in a God who was with me and for me despite my not knowing what came next. God felt especially near in those lonely moments and I slowly learned to trust that he knew how to re-purpose my plans. My prayers became centered around knowing God’s presence rather than getting God’s answers.
The Sanitized Stories We Tell- Sarah Bessey: I promise this is Sarah’s last appearance on this post (but I would love to give an honorable mention to her Advent series this year). This post made me stop right in my tracks. It forced me to think a lot about what I say– and what I don’t say. Vulnerability is not my strong suit, but it’s something I’ve wrestled with this year. Talking about my emotions is not my strong suit (I have a draft of a post on this subject, I just can’t write it yet). I just want to hide the ugly parts and move on, but my heart nor my brain allows that. Sarah writes about that more eloquently than I ever could.
If we don’t deal with our trauma, our trauma begins to deal with us. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel our feelings, they have a habit of peeking around the corners of our lives, breaking in at the most inopportune moments.
Permission to Grieve- Kaitlyn Bouchillon: I “met” Kaitlyn last year during She Reads Truth’s online Christmas party thingamabob. She then started a facebook group for young women who use She Reads Truth, and then I started participating in Five Minute Friday Party Snailmail, which she started. So while I’ve never met her in person, somehow our paths crossed– and I am immensely thankful for it. This post was a post in her 31 day series (the entire series is great) but it came right on the heels of me finally grappling with my decision to leave student teaching. I’d written on the subject myself just a day prior, and her post gave me such relief that it was an OK thing to grieve what doesn’t seem to be grievable. I felt less alone– and that was something I desperately needed then.
You don’t have to explain it all, you don’t have to have any answers, and you don’t have to hold it together. You have permission to grieve what has been and what feels a little bit lost, but you are not lost.
Weak- Grace for the Road: I’ve been reading Grace’s blog for awhile now. She has a way of writing that makes me cry most days. It’s just so honest and truthful. The last few posts of hers have been very relatable to me in this season; she wrecked me with this post, because I’ve spent so much of my life doing it all on my own, and watched it all fall to the ground. Thankfully He picks us up right we are and gives us the grace to find ourselves back in Him.
One night, as tears ran down my face, I texted one of those hand-squeezing friends and told her how I much I hate it when weaknesses smother you.
And she said this: Sometimes I wonder if God lets our emotions overtake us to remind us that we can’t control everything. I don’t love it.
I don’t love it either.
But the fact is … it’s better for that box to get opened and remind me why it’s important I not try to life on my own.
(her newest post Defeated really really hit home for me, too).
I Know Anxiety and I Know Jesus-Hannah Collins (Converge Magazine): I remember the day a friend posted this on Facebook. It was right before I finally wrote about my GAD struggle, when I finally came clean and let my friends know I was not okay- nor had I been in months. It came at quite literally the perfect time, for it gave me a catalyst to finally be willing to share my struggle– knowing fully that it was not a crisis of faith. If anything, this mental hell has helped me grow in faith- if only from prayerfully asking for God to get me through the night every night. Praying more isn’t a cure for mental illness– nor is treating people like their struggle is a weakness in their spirituality. It is mental battle, and one I fight with faith- and medication. Thank you Jesus for medication. 🙂
Would Jesus quote Scripture to those of us who battle anxiety? The Jesus I know would wrap me up tight, listen closely, and lean in.
I really don’t need another Bible verse. I need a hug.
I think about this post every day. Every. day. It had a bit of an impact, needless to say.
*wipes brow* that’s not even half the posts, y’all, but these were the ones that stuck out. I might write a post tomorrow about posts I wrote myself this year, but for now, I’m choosing sleep. Hope these posts help you as they’ve helped me! <3