Real Life: grace, twinkle lights, depression, & me.

real life- grace, twinkle lights, depression, & me..jpg

 

If you met me today, you’d be meeting a pretty normal girl. I like coffee, and cozy sweaters, and reading, and smiling, and driving, and Chick-fil-A.

 

And I really, really love Jesus.

 

If we had a conversation, we might talk about how I like your hair, where we’re each from, or what our day-to-day lives look like. I might ask you if you like coffee or tea better, what makes you feel alive, what your favorite ridiculous bad jokes are, or how I could be praying for you.

 

Sometimes I think we only let the world see one side of us, and today, I’m here to say that it’s okay to be a lot of things. It’s so important to be you, every ounce of the you that God designed you to be.

I don’t want to walk around pretending to be this angel-esque, church girl icon. Because you know what? It’s unrealistic to expect ourselves to be this pseudo-holy shell of people that look good from afar. We need to be changed from the inside out, yet this doesn’t mean pretending to be perfect, or always happy, or that we know more about God than we actually do.

 

Real-life, day-to-day Christianity is messy, because we’re living in this messed-up world, getting dust on our shoes and trying to figure out how to really live as these resurrected souls for the first time. And that’s okay. It’s normal.

 

Can I be honest here for a minute? Sometimes, when it’s late at night, I get in bed, ready to read God’s Word and pray…and I’m so exhausted that I whisper a quick prayer and tell myself I’ll do it tomorrow. Sometimes it’s late Saturday night when I’m practicing playing music for the following morning’s worship service, because I didn’t make the time during the week. Sometimes I feel really dry, when God seems quiet, and the daily grind is just wearying me.

 

You’ve probably figured it out by now – I don’t have my life all together. If you’ve been reading for any length of time, I’m sure you’re well aware. And then I see comments on my tweets and blog posts that say things like, “Oh Amanda, you’re so inspiring, and you’ve encouraged me so much.” And those comments mean the world to me – but every time I get one, I have to ask myself, “Am I showing the real me?

 

Because life is hard. School, and work, and relationships, and balance are really hard and sometimes someone says “You’re doing great” and as much as you want to believe it, it’s almost as though you don’t think you deserve to. At least, that’s where I’ve been so many times.

 

We need to be real – because in our vulnerability, in exposing the inner us, and showing the world our weaknesses and normality, we can point people to Christ. Why? Because they aren’t so caught up with how amazingly perfect we are, and Christ’s power in us can be amplified.

 

2 Corinthians 12:9

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.

 

I think this is such a huge lie of the Devil, at least for a lot of us – “You have to be perfect to be used by God.” No, no, no. I’ve believed that lie too many times, and I want you to know that it’s NOT true. When we’re so self-focused, so fixated on being the perfect Christian, we’re making our faith about US. And it can never be about how great we are – it’s about how great God is.

 

As soon as we let Satan lead us to believe that our lives are about us and how perfect we need to be, we become so distracted from becoming the vessels that God want us to be, that life often becomes about attaining the identity about who we believe we should be.

 

Real life stories are gritty, and messy, and hard. A lot of times there are tears, heartache, sorrow.

 

But when we look to see how God has worked in our stories, hope enters. Daylight floods onto the scene, even when the days are long, painful, exhausting – but even just a sliver of daylight makes the darkness run.

 

I’m learning not to be afraid of telling my story. I tell people that writing is a part of me, but not because I want to put words on a page. I explain that I’ve struggled with depression, and that I’ve learned to trust the God who holds my life. I talk about my longtime battle with perfectionism and accepting grace, and getting to know the Jesus that shattered my expectations and gave me the love my soul longed for.

 

And I talk about other things too. About my affinity for twinkle lights and Myers-Briggs, Twitter and Spotify. For reading books and texting my friends late at night, for coffee and good conversations with interesting people. For giving advice and asking for it. For having long, drawn-out conversations about relationships and what love should ideally look like. For funny memes and waffle fries and prayer times with my friends.

 

So here’s to trying something new, to being real. Embracing all of the things that make us us. Being open about our struggles and looking to God for our strength, because He’s what this life is about, anyway.

 

Here’s to telling fear that he won’t win – that accepting grace isn’t something to run from, but to run to, and that perfectionism is an ugly, unwelcome master that doesn’t have to have power over us.

 

Here’s to walking in the new identity that Christ has given us – this newness in Him – and not trying to bring back the old people we used to be, but the redeemed (yet messy) people we now are.

 

Here’s to telling our stories, the big parts and the little parts – and here’s a little piece of mine.

 

My story starts with a perfectionistic mess of a life –

 

and the grace that found me.

 

It’s about walking through shame and depression and pain

 

and learning to trust the God who’s true in the midst of the mess.

 

It’s about a girl who loves twinkle lights, and coffee, and poetry –

 

and one who desperately wants to know and love Jesus more every day.

 

It’s about longing for happiness

 

and finding satisfaction in the joy of knowing Jesus.

 

This story is about getting to love Jesus, to know His grace, and share that with the world, through all the different things that make me who I am.

 

Don’t be afraid to tell your story – and I’d really love to hear it.

 

aj 2

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32 Replies to “Real Life: grace, twinkle lights, depression, & me.”

  1. Thank you so much for this. I think sometimes we only show one of two sides. We’ll show the happy side or the struggling side. You really drove home that we need to be both. We need to talk about the little things and the big things, because the little things matter too, even if the big things impact us more.

    (Also I love twinkle lights too, my friend <3)

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing a little of your heart, Amanda! ❤ Ah, it's so important to have REAL relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ … live our messy, redeemed lives alongside each other … growing closer to Jesus together! To know we're not alone is huge.

    I struggle with anxiety/some depression and am really longing for a group of fellow believers my own age right now to do life with. But through all the trials and struggles, I'm finding joy and a closer walk with the Lord, too. His mercies are new every morning! Each day is a new day, full of possibilities – rich with the opportunity to step into God's plan for our lives. And that is a beautiful thing.

    Oh, and I love Chick-fil-A, too! *grins*

    Like

    1. Shantelle! It’s so great to hear from you, sweet friend! 🙂 I totally understand that struggle — I’ve been there many times, and I am there. It’s often such a struggle to find people locally to do life with, especially when the voices in our heads are so loud sometimes. Totally get that. But keep on pressing into Jesus and what He has for your life — He’s so faithful, especially when things are difficult. ❤

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  3. This is such an awesome, inspiring post! I have always felt that you were being real, because you are never afraid to say that you aren’t perfect. I can relate with everything you post, and I love the fact that you focus on christ, perfect or not! You are such an amazing blogger, and an amazing person! Thank you so much for being real and encouraging to so many girls!
    And I ❤ chick-fil-a!! 😉

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  4. I was so excited to see you posted again, because your posts are always down to the point and genuine. They’re real. Thanks for this post! I really think it’s easy, especially with social media, to only show the good happening in our lives. Or to pretend like our lives are perfect, rather than being true and honest, showing who we really are.

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  5. I am pretty self explanatory in a few words. I’m mentally ill and developmentally ill ( not too developmental ill though.) I have a hard time reading the Bible and tend to feel like I’m not good enough for God at times but none of us are perfect . It’s kinda a battle of focus .

    Like

  6. Wowza. I think God is trying to solidify this point in my head or something… XD This Sunday at Bible Study, some of the discussions questions required us to tell part of “our story.” I’m not comfortable with doing that, but I did it anyway, and ended up crying in front of people I hardly know (sooo embarassing). I don’t cry often, and never in front of others, so it was very uncomfortable. However, everyone was so sweet and kind and kept telling me it’s okay to be vulnerable, and it’s okay to be hurting. One of them said that God can and will use my story, no matter how broken and hard and painful, to serve His purpose.

    But it’s still hard. I don’t like sharing about the pain. Yet at the same time, I’m so proud of how far God has brought me because of that pain.

    But wow. Thank you so much for this post. ❤

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    1. Ivy, thank you for sharing that with me! Telling your story definitely takes time & getting comfortable with — but something that’s helped me a lot is knowing this: when we share our stories, all the pain and the mess and everything else, we let the redemption of Christ show through. Our stories, when we let God work in and through us, turn into beautiful vessels of His glory and grace — and they start to become about HIM, more than about us. So take heart! ❤ He wants to use you, so good for you for listening to His voice in sharing your story, hard as it is. Thank you for your encouragement!

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  7. I love how vulnerable and honest and just /real/ you are. Don’t ever hide you’re real self, friend ❤ It inspires others to be their real selves as well!

    Like

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