When I made the decision to take a complete step back from social media and blogging for the month of August, I was a mess. I was frustrated, I was beaten down, and I was overwhelmed. I needed time away. I needed to get away from my biggest distractions so I could fully focus on myself and what I wanted. I was getting too caught up in all things Internet that I lost the biggest parts of me. I was putting so much energy into perfecting my online persona that my actual, real-life persona had fallen by the wayside.
What stepping away did was clear out the noise that filtered through my brain on a constant, daily basis. Ashley talked about it some in her post when she took a social media sabbatical and it’s so true. You don’t know how true until you do step away and realize how much of your world had been consumed by all those little conversations. When I didn’t have Twitter or my blog to run to every time I had a problem, or even every time something good happened in my life, it became up to me to solve my problems. I had to be my own cheerleader. And I began to realize how much I was depending on Twitter and my blog to validate myself. I stopped looking within to find answers and, as a result, forgot how capable and strong I can be.
August was a rough month for me. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to remain vague on the what but hopefully soon I can sort out my emotions enough to talk about it. But it was a hard month to get through. Definitely my darkest month in a very long time and I still feel like a dark cloud of gloominess, hovering above and infecting everyone I come into contact with. I don’t want to be a dark cloud and I fully believe that we create our own happiness, but sometimes? Sometimes, it’s okay to be sad. I don’t give myself time to be sad, always rushing into a happier emotion so as not to deal with what’s sitting right in front of my face. I guess I figure if I let myself be sad, it would be hard to find my way out.
I let myself be sad in August. I waged a full-on pity party for one. I had big, releasing, ugly cries into my pillow at least once a week – which is major for me. I journaled out all my thoughts. For once, I let my emotions take over my life. I have been so focused on being strong and tough, not letting anything actually touch my heart, that I became stoic and detached from my emotions. I lost the ability to let anyone in, to wear my heart on my sleeve, to trust.
And it wasn’t until I actually let myself crawl into my own brain and lay there for a while that I discovered how much I was covering up because of my fears. Fear of failure. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of what other people would think of me. Fear of my own safety. Fear of love and community.
It was when I took away all my distractions that I actually began to seek out what I wanted out of my life. I discovered passions I had long since buried, paths I had forgotten about because they weren’t measuring up to what I thought I wanted. I began to question things I was doing, finding out they weren’t in line with what I wanted and needed. My future had looked so fuzzy and gray but that was because it was a future I didn’t really want. It was a future I had decided upon because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re in your mid-twenties. And it was safe and easy and simple.
But that’s not the future God desires from me. It’s not the future I desire from myself.
I’m still not fully myself. But I think that’s the point. I don’t want to be that girl anymore. That girl who was content to lead a small life, a girl embroiled in fear and doubt, a girl who let the little things trip her up and overwhelm her. God is turning me completely inside out. He is taking everything I thought I believed about myself and my life, all the carefully constructed plans I had made, and He is demolishing them. He is bringing about new passions and paths, new goals and dreams.
I didn’t fill up my time away with new distractions. Instead, I gave myself the gift of rest. I took more naps. I laid on the couch for hours and simply read (I finished 12 books in August. Woo!). I wrote less, but journaled when I felt the itch to write. I let myself be emotional. I wanted to simply be. Not busy. Not rushing around. Not checking off to-do lists. But enjoying the solitude and silence and my own company. It was exactly what I needed.
August isn’t going to be a month I will forget. I didn’t take a fun trip or do anything out of the ordinary. And it was a month filled with inner turmoil, knots in my stomach, and panic attacks. It was a hard month and for the majority of it, life looked bleak and hopeless. But it was also the month where I finally slowed down enough to live through my sadness, to fully process each emotion that ran over me, and to finally take those baby steps to changing my world.
The truth of the matter is, change has happened in my heart. Without the barrage of conversations and opinions flitting through my brain from Twitter and Facebook and blogging, I was finally able to hear God’s voice. I was able to tune out what the rest of the world thinks and get tuned in to what God expects out of me. I fully believe He sent me through the gauntlet that was August to bring me to this place. He had to break me down, destroy my hope, so I could finally stop looking down and look up and seek Him. Find Him. Cry out for Him. Need Him.
I spent a lot of August in a daze. I want to feel more fulfilled on a daily basis, more at peace with who I am. And I finally feel like I’m on the path to getting there. I’m on my way to becoming the woman God has called me to be. And through all this, I’m discovering just exactly what God wants from me and how He wants to use me.
Following Jesus is not for the timid or weak in mind. I think that’s what the world believes but that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Following Jesus is a crazy messy adventure. It’s about stepping out in faith, listening to His voice, and believing He’s got my back. It’s about letting go of needing to be accepted because following Jesus means you won’t be. But at the end of the day, I have my eyes on the One who took countless beatings, had nails pounded into his body, and carried a cross meant for me… all to say, “You are forgiven. You are loved. You are mine.”
August? August was about my redemptive return to Jesus. It was about knowing how deeply Jesus loves messy, frustrating, screwed-up, ridiculous, silly and shy little Stephany. And while I didn’t expect my return to blogging post to get so “religious”, this is what you get. This is me. This is how God is changing me. And it all started by turning off the distractions and listening to that voice that has been calling me home for months and months and months.