Social Media: The Desire to be Known

 

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Me Instagrammin’ in New York City c. 2015

Like many millennials, I am addicted to social media. Last night at my young adult Friday night Bible study, my friends joked about my addiction to Instagram. But, y’all, it’s a real thing. According to the American Association of Addiction Medicine, addiction is, “Characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

According to the American Association of Addiction Medicine, addiction is, “Characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”

Last year I was blocked from instagram for commenting and posting too much. Yes, apparently that can happen. I had to a long, 24 fours without instagram, and I started having withdrawal. I was angry, searching for all possible ways to get on the app. I was freaking out worrying that I was somehow missing out on everything. My friends may have laughed at me, but it was a big deal.

Facebook has only bee around for about a decade, being launched officially in 2004. Therefore, studies on addiction to social media and how it affects the brain are an emerging science. It’s only been 10 years, and, yet, social media (particularly Facbeook) have helped lead to Revolutions, weddings, crimes, break ups, you name it! Why are we so addicted?

Without going into the specifics of addiction, chemicals, brain function, and research, I’d like to sum it up here:

We desire connection.

We desire to be known.

From the Beginning

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Rublev’s Trinity

One of the most famous paintings in the world is Rublev’s Trinity. It shows God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit sitting at a table together. God Himself lives in a constant state of community. Created in His image, it makes sense, then, that humans desire community, too.

Social media allows us to be in this community. All. The. Time. With two clicks you can see everything your friends and family are doing (and some people share literally everything they are doing), find encouragement, share prayer requests, get news, ext. It can be a really great thing that helps us fulfill this need for community.

However, like all good things, social media can be distorted. Bullying, affairs, sexting, illegal gun sales, and even human trafficking all occur on social media. Therefore, it’s critical to remember that what you do behind your computer screen has real world affects.

It’s critical to remember that what you do behind a computer screen affects the real world.

Cultivate Community

As you’re using social media to foster community, ask yourself, “Will what I’m about to post cultivate community or destroy it?” Are my words kind? Are they encouraging? Is this truthful? Community is built upon respect and truth. Therefore, if what you’re about to say or share is not truthful or kind, do not post it. It will destroy the community that your social media accounts allow you to create.

Let’s be community builders and kingdom restorers,

Krista ❤

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/krista.gay.5
Instagram: kristaann_vt

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When You Are Rejected By Christians

Man rejected

 

Rejection hurts. There is no way around it. No matter how much mental “Christianese” post-rejection pep talk you may give yourself, at the end of the day, if you’re honest, it still hurts. In a way, rejection in life is to be expected. No matter how hard you try, you will not be offered every position for which you apply, be picked first in every game, liked by every person you meet, nor will you be noticed by every person you find attractive. We experience rejection daily at different degrees. I expect these daily rejections. I can handle them. However, I’ve realized that, at least for me, the most difficult rejections to face are the rejections that come at the hands and lips of other Christians.

Christian Rejection

For this post, “Christian rejection” occurs when you feel rejected by Christians or by your own Christian faith community. What constitutes rejection will look different for every individual; perhaps it’s not being invited to the Bible study or prayer breakfast, not asked to say the benediction, or your child wasn’t invited to the after church play group. Either way, you know the kind of rejection I’m talking about. It hurts. In my own life, I have found this rejection more hurtful than other rejections because 1) The rejection is usually (not always) intentional. You were left out on purpose, for some reason unbeknownst to you. 2) Christians are supposed to be the most welcoming people, period. So, to not be welcomed by these welcoming people leaves you wondering “What’s wrong with ME?”

My Story

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My first day of Sunday School c. 1997

Let me share a little about me, and my experiences with this kind of rejection, first:

Although I am from what those “in” Christian circles deem a “broken family” (I was born to teen parents and raised by my grandparents) I grew up in church. I grew up going to a King James Version (KJV) only church. But, it was full of good people: people who worked hard, tried their best to do good, and were always, always there for you when you needed someone. I attend a Christian summer camp every summer. Fox news was the ONLY news allowed in our house. So, to most, I fit the “conservative Christian” mold. However, I also went to a very, very liberal public school, dated, and had no form of media censorship…behaviors some would call heathen.

I followed my high school boyfriend to a Christian college in the south. I was presented with different forms of Christianity, slammed with some tough trials, and confronted with questions about faith and God I could not answer.Here, I walked away from my faith (secretly) for a year, only to come back to my faith after attending a conservative home church group with a friend. A church more conservative than my Vermont church. Once again, I fell in love with the good people there, people who genuinely tried to do good and who I felt truly love me.

Although I was in a conservative church circle once again, I couldn’t shake off the liberal leanings I had picked up, ironically, at my southern Christian college. Through classes on gender studies, race, and poverty, I became politically moderate.

All of this to say, I became an “outsider” in many ways. I was from a broken home, yet attended a KJV only church, support welfare policies, and voted strait ticket Republican. I didn’t “fit” anywhere. As a child, I wasn’t invited to some play groups because I may be “a bad influence,” and in Arkansas I stopped being invited to some things after my liberal friends found out I went to a KJV only church (I was labeled a “fundie”), and some of my more conservative friends labeled me a “liberal”. I was rejected from things. (DISCLAIMER: These rejections were far and few between. And if I haven’t talked to you personally about this, you’re not involved). All of these thoughts came to light because I was deleted off of the Facebook and Photostream of some of my friends today. I do not believe I was deleted due to any of my posts or political leanings, but for some reason, it brought up the memories of Christian rejection. I realized, if you’ve been in church long enough, you’ve probably experienced it, and I wanted to share my thoughts.

First Things First

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Clashing Colors

Before I go any further, I must address these three, SUPER IMPORTANT things:

  1. You are not supposed to get along with everyone.
  2. You are NEVER responsible for the actions of others.
  3. Is is a relationship you actually want to save?

As point numero uno said, you’re not supposed to get along with everyone. Respect everyone? Yes. Love everyone? Yes. Want to invite everyone to your sleepovers? Nope. Nada. I think of people like colors. Take a look at the models in the picture above. Those colors are great, just not together. Why? They have different “personalities.” Could they work together to make a big art piece look fantastic? Sure. Should they hang out together in those outfits? Nope. I’m an ENFJ. There are other people, just due to our dislikes and likes and mannerisms, that I don’t spend more time with than I have to. That’s okay.
So, first ask yourself: was I not invited to X simply because our personalities don’t match? And then, take a hard, honest look. If the answer is “yes,” no matter how much you want to be that person’s BFF, it’s okay. Rejection still hurts, though.

Now numero dos. Despite what you may have been told, you a never responsible for how another person acts. I think it’s a shame that we now place blame on other’s for our actions. You can annoy me all you want, but if I punch you, that is my choice. (This mentality leads directly into rape culture…but that’s a topic for another post). Therefore, no matter how liberal or conservative your Facebook post was, if someone deleted you, they chose to do that. Don’t begin the victim mentality of “what did I do wrong?” Hold that thought, though, as I transition into my main points.

Numero tres: do you actually care about this relationship. We have all had what Aristotle calls “relationships of utility.” That is, relationships we are in simply because they benefit us. The pretty girl you hang out with to get guys to notice you, the super smart kid you always invite over to get homework help, the popular kid you feel cool to be seen with. If you were rejected by the Christian version of one of these, ask yourself if confronting them about the rejection is worth it, because the relationship may not be worth saving.

Do You Need to Apologize?

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If you have been rejected or not invited to an event, and you realize the people did not fit the above three categories, you must ask yourself what could have caused this rejection. It is okay, and healthy, to examine yourself and the context of the rejection/deleting ext. Did you say something hurtful? Did you do something to knowingly offend them? If they answer is yes, then you must apologize. As Paul said, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

This is super important. Just as the other person is responsible for their actions, so are you responsible for yours. Living at peace with one another means saying you’re sorry and admitting fault when you done messed up, even if that means swallowing your pride in the process.

Conflict Is Healthy

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Conflict Can Be Healthy

When handled in an appropriate and mature way, conflict is a healthy part of a relationship. We are all different, and thus we should expect differences of opinions and beliefs. Having disagreements is okay. Becoming abusive or disrespectful is not.

Therefore, if you feel you were rejected and are hurt, and it is safe to do so, talk to the person who you felt rejected you. Make sure when you go into this conversation there is not a single ounce of pride or bitterness in you. Be respectful and polite. In private (if safe) say to the person:

Step 1: Identify the event so there is no confusion. Example: “I saw you deleted me on Facebook” or “I noticed I was the only person you didn’t invite to the prayer meeting”.

Step 2: Say how it made YOU feel (USE I STATEMENTS!). Example: “This made me feel left out” or “This made me feel embarrassed”.

Step 3: Name goal of conversation. Example: I wanted to talk to you about that, and hear your reasoning for doing that.

Step 4: Do not guilt trip and thank them. Example: Thank you so much for explaining that to me, I know sharing feelings can be uncomfortable sometimes, but I am now glad we’re on the same page.

Example: Hey Sally, I saw you deleted me off of Facebook last week. I was hurt by this because I perceived it as you not wanting to talk to me anymore. Could you explain why you did this?

Sally: It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you any more in person, I just was no longer interested in the things you were posting and I didn’t want them showing up on my Facbeook.

Thanks for explaining that, Sally. That helps me understand better. I know this could be an uncomfortable conversation, so I appreciate you talking with me.

BOOM! Done.

*Okay, okay. Most conversations, if the person is honest, will be a tad more hurtful: “I don’t want you influencing my children with your conservative views” or “I feel embarrassed to be around someone from a broken home.” We live in a culture that likes to hide behind screens. Therefore, be thankful for any honesty you get! Therefore, you must also ask yourself before you begin these conversations if you really want to know the answer.

Conclusion

I hoped this post encouraged you, and let you know that we have all been rejected, and if you’re in church long enough, you will experience Christian rejection of some form. So, key points to remember:

  1. Everyone gets rejected sometimes.
  2. No matter what, you are never responsible for another’s actions.
  3. Although you are ALWAYS responsible for your own actions.
  4. Apologize quickly.
  5. Conflict can be healthy.
  6. If you feel rejected by someone that is a relationship you would like to maintain, you must talk to them about it.

 

Have you experienced rejection before? Christian rejection? How’d you handle it? I’d love to hear.

Much peace and many blessings,

Krista ❤

Rough Days

Rough Day

Let’s be honest: we’ve all had days where we feel like this sheep. Just all around, kick you when you’re down, let’s go to bed not so this day can be over, rough days. It’s Saturday, so perhaps you’re finally finding rest from a rough night, a rough day, or a rough week. Or maybe, you’ve sat down at your computer to find a break away from your already rough morning (sometimes Saturdays can be the worst!) So, I hope this post can encourage you.

Rough Days That Aren’t Our Fault

Sometimes rough days aren’t our fault. Take, for example, Mrs. T-Rex here trying to make this bed. It’s not her fault she has those short arms! Sometimes, our disabilities, our families and our circumstances can cause us to have rough days. Maybe the bus you needed to get on wasn’t wheelchair accessible so you were late for your appointment, maybe you can’t run fast and weren’t picked for the soccer team, or maybe you were discriminated against for your gender or race. This can kind of rough day can often feel like the worst, because it was not your fault, and there is nothing you can do to make sure that this won’t happen again. I am so sorry, precious reader, for the deep hurt you are feeling right now. You have a right to feel hurt. Some important things to remember:

  • It is important that you seek to quickly forgive and reconcile with the people or organizations that wronged you. Not forgiving can lead to bitterness, and bitterness just makes you miserable.
  • Seek legal help if necessary. If you have been discriminated in a way that breaks the law (such as the American with Disabilities Act) seek out the right authorities. Forgiving an individual does not mean that they do not deserve consequences.
  • Talk to the individual that wronged you. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. Make sure that you only talk to the individual if it is emotionally and physically safe to do so.

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Col. 3:13


Rough Days That Are Our Own Fault

As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes our rough days are our own fault: we say mean things, we make really bad decisions, we forget about important things. When we cause our own rough days, it is important to remember to do these steps:

  1. Be humble. Be willing to admit that we can be at fault for causing our problems. Recognize quickly when you are at fault.
  2. Immediately seek to apologize to those you have wronged (even if they do not know you have wronged them) and take steps to begin rebuilding trust. For example, if you stole $20, return that $20 and apologize.
  3. Ask God to forgive you. If you are a Christian, all of your sins have been forgiven, however, continuing to sin hurt your relationship with God. Also, although we can sin against each other, we ultimately are sinning against God. When David, the King of Israel, slept with a man’s wife and then killed him so he could marry her, remorseful he told God, “Against You and You only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). If you are not a Christian, you need to be made right with God, by asking Him to forgive you.
  4. Forgive  yourself. This can often be the most difficult thing to do.

God’s forgiveness is without condition. He will forgiven all of our wrongdoings if we simply ask and turn away from our sins. Likewise, our forgiveness should be the same.

“I have swept away your sins like a cloud. I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist. Oh, return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.” Isaiah 44:22


Remember How Much You Are Loved

Regardless of why you are having a rough day, remember, precious reader, how much you are loved, how much value you have. Anger is fleeting. Those who love you will forgive you. Although forgiveness is a process, and it can take months or years to have the relationship you had before. If others have wronged you, remember that there is no greater or a testament to God’s faith, and His work in your life, than to forgive someone that does not deserve your forgiveness, just as we do not deserve God’s forgiveness. Yet, He gives it abundantly. See each hardship as a reminder that Earth is not our home, and look forward to the day when pain and “rough days” are a faded, distant memory, when we are in the perfect place with God. Remember, that although God hates your sin, he will always delight in you, precious reader, His beloved creation.

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zeph. 3:17

You’re Worth It

  

  

“You’re worth it” has become one of my signature sayings over this past year. I saw this often with the many followers that share with me their struggles of self-worth and the heart-wrenching question of if they are worthy of being loved, or, if they are even loveable. So, precious reader, let me share a secret with you: every single person, from the homeless man sitting on the corner of Wall Street, to the wealthiest individuals in the world, struggle with wondering if they loveable, at least on some level. And the answer, no matter who you are, how far you have fallen, is that yes, YOU ARE WORTH IT.

Meaning

So, what does it mean, “You’re worth it”? It means this: you are worthy of being loved, you are worthy of being respected, and your voice is worth being heard. How do I know this? Because God says so. This is the entire message of the Bible and: God created us in love, and although we strayed from Him, God pursued us, because He wants a relationship with us. He persued and greatly used murderers (Moses, Paul and David), prostitutes (Rahab), the disabled (Moses had a speech impairment), and went out of his way to be with those that society called unworthy: the sick, the lame, children, women, the sexually immoral. Every person that the world has deemed unworthy, God has continually said have worth in Him.

Remember, dear borhters and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolsih in order ot shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 1 Cor. 1:26

So, who are some people our society claims are unworthy? The overweight, the physically unattractive, the mentally disabled, the handicapped, children without “traditional” families, the mentally ill, the recovering addict, the homeless, the list goes on and on and on. And what did Paul say? God chose those who are unworthy because He wants to do a great work in their life.

Nothing Can Separate

Additionally, although we have all strayed from God because of sin, nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from God’s love.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭38-39

Remember, that in addition to God loving you, he delights in you!

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you by His love, He will exult over you with loud singing. Zeph. 3:17

However, something does separate us from God, and that is our own sin. If you have never trusted in God, what’s stopping you? He loves you so much. He has called you. He has sought you. He created you, and He loves you purely. If you’re interested in doing this, watch this video:

Furthermore, if you are a Christian, remember, that “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9.
Therefore, if the PERFECT GOD OF THE UNIVERSE, says: 1) You are loved 2) You are worthy of my time 3) I will pursue you 4) I want to spend time with you 5) I will forgive you….then, by golly, YOU ARE WORTH IT! You’re worth being loved, fully loved. When you choose to believe anything else, you are calling the God of the universe a liar.

It’s Not a Sin to Love Yourself: The Problem with J.O.Y.


It’s not a sin to love yourself. For those of you who group up in church, I can hear your gasps through my computer screen. And, those of you who did awesome in AWANA, are PK’s and never missed a 5 Day Club, probably even started reciting KJV verses that explicitly say “self-love is bad”, but in King Jamesish, of course. But, before you slam down your laptop screen, grab your coffee and walk away from your computer, hear me out: There is a difference between pride and loving the person God created you to be. 


Pride

One of my least favorite things about the English language is that although we have many words, we do not have words with varying levels. For example, you love your spouse, your mom, coffee, the outdoors and America. However, when you say, “I love you, mom”, you mean something much different than when you say “I love you, babe” while cuddling, and something much, much different than announcing at your office meeting how much you love your pumpkin spice latte. Likewise, we need to have more names for the word “pride”. It is a good thing to take pride in your work and ensure that it is the best, it is a good thing to be proud of your family, but yet, pride is also so awful, that it’s one of the “Seven Deadly Sins”. Therefore, the emotion that we have (usually) when we tell our child we are proud of them, is much different than a “proud man”.

So, why is pride such a bad thing? Why is it considered one of the most difficult, and dangerous sins? Here’s why:

  • When we are truly proud, we believe we are the greatest. We are invincible. Nothing can bring us down and we surely do not need God.
  • Heck, not only do we not need God, we don’t need other people.
  • And, since we don’t need other people, we don’t need to be concerned about their well being. It’s all about ME, because I’m super freaking awesome and invincible. Bow down and worship me now, minions!

    He’s not buying the whole “bow down and worship me” thing. Guess he’s not voting for me for world leader.

In short, pride makes us believe that we do not need God, we do not need to seek or listen to correction, and we do not need others, nor do we need to be sensitive to their needs. No wonder the Bible, and wise people, warn so much against pride. In case your Bible is  a little dusty, a quick few verses about pride:

  • Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18
  • Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10
  • The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled). Isaiah 2:12

Think of a “proud person”: someone who thinks they are so great they don’t need help. Perhaps they have a serious problem or addiction and refuse to seek help. Perhaps they are so concerned about having the perfect car in the driveway, that they work crazy hours and neglect their family. Perhaps it’s a student who refuses to tutor others, in fear that they will loose the top seat in the class. In short: pride hurts relationships and makes us unable to see our need for God. This is why pride, or self-love as some translations call it, is bad. However, loving yourself is not bad, it’s Biblical.


Self-Love

Throughout the Bible, there is an overwhelming theme: to love people. The book of 1 John is filled with verses about the importance of loving others.

 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

We are told over, and over again to love one another. I mean, Jesus said it best. When asked what was the greatest commandment (rule to follow), he said that second only to loving God, we are to “Love your neighbor as yourself” Matt 22:49. Oh my goodness, that’s a big deal.

So, here’s the thing: neighbor, in the Bible, means everyone. Therefore, you are commanded to love every person in the world, and, every person in the world is commanded to love you. We’re human, we have flaws, we have personalities that we naturally fit with. I get that. Loving everyone does not mean being everyone’s best friend. I mean, seriously, can you imagine trying to have 7 billion people over for a sleep over? No thanks. Loving your neighbor means treating every person with dignity and respect, and recognizing that they are loved by the King of the Universe and created in His image.

Loving your neighbor means treating every person with dignity and respect, and recognizing that they are loved by the King of the Universe and created in His image.

Yet, we, as humans and especially are women, are so hard on ourselves. There is nothing wrong with recognizing areas for self-improvement, however, we are our own worst critics. Take 30 seconds and think of all the ways you have criticized yourself today:

  • I’m too fat/too skinny
  • I talk too much/not enough
  • My nails are too short
  • My hair is too short/long
  • I’m not smart/I’m too smart

And the list goes on and on and on. If we’re called to recognize the dignity and value in every other person, we need to recognize the dignity and value we have. We need to be thankful for the amazing talents God has given us, and we must recognize them first. If you’re reading this: you can read! You had the brain capacity to learn to read. Thank God for that, and celebrate your diligence (learning to read is difficult, if you don’t remember). Are you on your own computer? Thank God for giving you the physical and mental ability to work, and then being diligent in that. You, precious reader, have so much to offer this world. It is in no way sinful to recognize the abilities God has given you, to thank Him, and to use and celebrate them. It becomes sinful, and prideful, when we forget that God gave us all of our abilities.


The Problem with J.O.Y.

In an attempt to combat the sinful, destructive pride, some Christian came up with the idea of JOY: an acronym for Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Although this is well intended, and has respectable merit, it can also be very damaging. I have seen this. Yes, Jesus does say that we need to love God (the greatest commandment) and love others as ourselves (2nd greatest), and I am not a heretic. Sometimes, in order to serve God, and serve others, we need to make ourselves, and our well-being, a top priority. For example: I am a volunteer advocate at my local rape crisis center. In order to be the best advocate possible, the night before I go on call, I need to make sure I get a full night’s rest (this means not answering Instagram messages or staying up encouraging a friend). Additionally, if I have a super emotionally difficult case, I may need to take a break, and take time out of my day to go to counseling. This is not being selfish. Additionally, it is not a sin to recognize we need rest! This means taking time away from people. Self care is not selfish.

Self care is not selfish.

In fact, refusing to take care of yourself, can in fact, be prideful: you are refusing to admit that you are not superwoman and that you don’t need help. Think about the long talk you get when you get on airplane. Before you help the person next to you put on their oxygen mask, you need to put on your own. Likewise, we need to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves before we can take care of others.

In my own life, and experience with various ministries, I have seen people shamed for doing this. Once a mother, overwhelmed with the birth of her newborn twins, declined to help at the church nursery the next year. Various people in the church, including church leadership, talked about HER heart issue. They told her to “Pray for strength” and that she was being selfish by not helping at the nursery. Yes, God does provide strength. However, how could she minister to the children when she was falling asleep and emotionally drained? Additionally, why couldn’t other members in the church step up, thank her for her service, and volunteer to do nursery? Who is really the one with the pride issue there? Self help and self care are necessary.


In Closing

So, to quickly summarize:

Pushing Through the Concrete: Name Meaning


flower-tree-growing-concrete-pavement-101

Life is really tough sometimes. For everyone. It can be discouraging. We can often feel like we’re a small sapling trying to grow up through the cracks on the busiest city sidewalk. It’s brave to look at the sun and keep growing. It’s terrifying. It’s worth it.

Everyone’s concrete looks different. Maybe you’re the first Christian in your family, maybe you’re trying to break family patterns, maybe you’re overcoming an addiction or escaping an abusive relationship. Or, maybe you’ve had an amazing life, but you’re still struggling with loneliness or feel discouraged that your life isn’t moving in the direction you want.

The purpose of my blog posts is to encourage readers. I want to talk about the difficult things we as people, women and Christians face; the things that can be uncomfortable to talk about. I want to provide hope. Hope to keep growing, even when surrounded by concrete.

If you have any topics you’d like me to address, always feel free to contact me.

Remember: You are worthy of being LOVED, you have VALUE, you are WORTH IT!

xoxo Krista xoxo

Why Lonely Hurts


Separation 

It can often be the most terrifying moment in a babysitter’s life: the moment mommy leaves. No matter how many hugs and kisses and mommy gives, no matter how many times she reassures her little one, “I will be back soon”, no matter how quietly she tries to sneak out the door. It. Still. Happens. Even the most veteran babysitters may still find their eyes widening in terror as the little human being entrusted to their care begins to scrunch his nose, shut his eyes, and release from his lungs the most bone-chilling scream humanity has ever heard, “I WANT MY MOMMY!” This cry can go on for minutes, until the skilled babysitter quickly distracts the little human with Tonka trucks or TV (both good options), or, I have personally seen this continue for hours. The babysitter feels helpless, and the most awkward kind of helpless: she is thankful the child loves his mother enough to miss her, but is willing to do almost any manipulative tactic to get the crying to cease, and to get the child to forget about the mommy he so loves. In my short life, I have babysat hundreds of children, and have experienced this event every time, albeit, on varying levels. I can’t help but think that this is what it must have been like for Adam, after he was separated from God. I can’t help but think that this is what it is like for all of us, no matter how big we are, to be separated from God. To be separated at all. Because isn’t that the WORST thing in the world? To be separated? To be alone? To be isolated? Perhaps the reason loneliness and separation hurt so much, is because humans weren’t intended to feel them. Loneliness was never part of how things were supposed to be. Perhaps we are all like the screaming toddler, and have just learned to mask the pain into a socially acceptable way. Although we may no longer be crying and throwing our Lincoln logs, and screaming for our mommy (let’s be real, how many of us would even be brave enough to use the term “mommy”, in fear of being looked at as a little kid?), we still feel the pain of the separation, and instead mask it with drugs, alcohol, cutting, depression, rebellion and a slew of other things.


The Worst Breakup…Ever

When I think about the Garden of Eden, I tend to think of something like the above picture, only brighter and bigger. Notice the lion chilling next to the lamb and not looking at him like a four course meal? Or, it’s summer time, so I personally like that Adam and Eve are naked and aren’t the least bit worried about bug bites or poison ivy (wouldn’t that be nice?). They must have had the best tans, too, and no tan lines!

Although we often compare the Garden of Eden to our present world by noticing what the Garden of Eden lacks (pain, suffering, fried chicken), we often forget WHO it lacks. God. To me, the absolute COOLEST and most overlooked part of the Garden of Eden is that God was physically there. Sure, God has appeared to people throughout the Bible in the form of a cloud, a burning bush and a burning flame, but GOD was actually IN THE GARDEN! What does He even look like? Not only did Adam and Eve get to look at God, but they interacted with Him.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, Adam and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, 
“Where are you?”
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked”
“Who told you that you were naked?” The LORD God asked. 
Genesis 3:8-11

I want to quickly point out three important parts from this conversation:

  • Adam and Eve heard God walking. Thus, they somehow knew the sound of God’s walk. How did they know the sound of God’s walk, and know it was him and no their pet Panda walking around? Obviously, God came and hung out with them frequently.
  • Adam and Eve were not afraid of God, they were afraid of being naked; they had to, essentially, make themselves look better before God (so they thought).
  • GOD SOUGHT OUT ADAM AND EVE! *This is a super important point, and worthy of it’s own blog post.

Anyways, we know the rest of the story. Adam and Eve get punished. I, personally, don’t believe these punishments were God making these things happen, but instead, saying what would happen. They were, in summary:

  • Hard, physical, manual labor/tough work
  • Physical pain during childbirth
  • Men now “rule” over women, and women seek to take their rule
  • Death
  • And, the point of today’s blog post, the most commonly overlooked punishment: physical separation from God

Why Lonely Hurts

So, this is where we find ourselves: separated. Alone. Feeling things we were never made to feel. Again: humans were never made to feel lonely. Not only were humans made to forever be with each other (so maybe Adam and Eve were extroverts?), they were made to be in constant fellowship with God. I cannot imagine how awful the first night out of the Garden must have been like. Imagine being Adam or Eve:

  • You’re feeling scared, FOR THE FIRST TIME. And you’re an adult.
  • You step on a rock and it hurts, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER.
  • You see an animal eat another animal for the first time ever, WHAT IS THIS?
  • You feel angry FOR THE FIRST TIME.
  • You want to go home, and you can’t. You’re cold, angry, terrified, and alone. And, you know what, it was probably raining. Because, could you really have THAT AWFUL of a day and it be sunny? Well, the first rainfall wasn’t until several generations later, so it was sunny. The weather couldn’t even match your mood. BAD. DAY.

And, this is where we are now: separated. We have all been there:

  • Being chosen last for the team in gym class
  • Having to eat alone in the cafeteria
  • Not having anyone to do something with Friday night
  • Not having a prom date
  • Watching all of your friends get married, and you’ve still never had a boyfriend
  • Being dumped after several years
  • Loosing a parent or a loved one

Lonely may look different, but we have all felt it. And, in these situations, how many of you cried out to God, and still felt lonely? Let’s be honest, we were expecting a lightning bolt, or a loud thunder voice, or even Jesus to magically appear like one of the Sunday school paintings:

I bet Jesus is a great hugger

And, if any of those things had happened, you would have stopped reading this a long time ago. And here’s the sad truth: we will always be lonely, in some extent, until we are reunited with God and Christ. Sure, our emotional and physical needs may be fulfilled, but our spiritual needs can never be completely fulfilled until our soul is reunited with the creator of our soul. 

So, you’re probably thinking, man Krista, this is depressing. And, part of you is hoping that I’m about to post something awesome, some link to a supplement made in Taiwan that you take twice a day and you will never feel lonely again. Well, sorry to disappoint, but you won’t find that here. But, what I can offer, is a little bit of hope, and a few practical suggestions.


Hope

Let’s be real: we’ve all wanted to have coffee with Jesus. What kind of coffee do you think he drinks? Personally, I’m guessing something organic, and something fair trade.

So badly I wish I could just sit down and talk to Jesus. Yeah, I know we’re taught in Sunday School that we can talk to God anywhere, anytime, about anything, but let’s be real: unless you’re having visions, your conversation with God isn’t the kind of conversation many of us desire. But, I do have hope in this: GOD PURSUES YOU RELENTLESSLY.

  • It was God that sought out Adam and Eve after they sinned. He did not just throw them out. He put into place the great redemption plan.
  • Have you read Exodus? The Israelites ran away from God over and over again, and He ran after them, over and over again.

And, King David said it beautifully in Psalm 23: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
    all the days of my life” (v. 6). If you’re looking for a fantastic blog post about God pursuing us, I highly recommend Jim Feiker’s blog post

  • Go to where you feel God’s presence. Personally, I have two spots:

Lake Willoughby, in Northern Vermont where my family has a camp.

My front yard. I have a stonewall where I can sit and look out over the mountains.

In addition to the hope that God pursues us and constantly seeks relationship with us, know this, sweet reader: YOU ARE WANTED. YOU ARE WORTHY OF BEING LOVED. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

There ARE people that want you, and love you. I know this can be tough in middle and high school, but try these things:

  • Seek out people with common interests
  • Consider having a mentor
  • Be friends with people outside of your immediate social circles

Additionally, if you believe you are struggling with depression, talk to your doctor. Depression is a real illness. Additionally, find someone to talk to:

  • A guidance counselor
  • A therapist/counselor
  • A mentor

Additionally, there are groups on social media outlets, such as Facebook, for people to just share what’s going on in their lives. I’m part of one. These groups can be “heavy” as many people are venting and talking through their problems, but can also be a tremendous source of support.

Additionally, you can always feel free to message me on my instagram. My username is the same as this wordpress: kristaann_vt . I’m always happy to listen.

Finally, if you ever think of harming yourself or another person, TELL SOMEONE! A counselor or a guidance counselors are a great start. Also, the Suicide Helpline is available 24/7 and can connect you with local resources: 1 (800) 273-8255

However, please, please, please remember, although it is sad: people are people. We are all broken. We all have our struggles. Although you are loved, people will let you down. Just because someone may disappoint you, does not mean that you are not loved or not wanted.


In Closing

Previous reader. Please remember: YOU. ARE. WANTED. YOU. ARE. LOVED. Feeling lonely is a reminder that this is now how it is supposed to be: we were never meant to be alone, to feel isolated. If you do feel lonely, there is nothing wrong with you.

  • Seek God. Remember the Creator of the stars and the oceans knows you by name and pursues you. No matter what you have done. No matter how far you have run. HE WANTS YOU. He wants you just the way you are. Even though Adam and Eve had sinned, even though they tried to hide, HE WENT AFTER THEM. And He’s pursuing you, too.
  • You are wanted. Even if you are rejected by your friends and family, you are wanted. Jesus was rejected by his entire town and his brothers. There are people that want you. Seek out like minded people.
  • Never be afraid to ask for help. You have have been lonely for an extended period of time, talk to a trusted adult, a counselor or a mature friend. If you ever have any thoughts of harming yourself or others, get help right away. Again, the phone number for the 24/7 suicide helpline is: 1 (800) 273-8255

Watch, and feel loved.

Much love and many blessings,

xoxo Krista xoxo