Thursday, May 31, 2012

Late Night Ramblings About Loneliness, etc

Tonight, I`m struggling.

I`m not entirely sure why. I`ve had a decent day. Spent time with God this morning, went in to Toronto for a bit, came home, visited a friend, then had my dance recital, but in the midst of it all, that loneliness I`ve been so accustomed to began to set in again.

When I`m here in Hamilton, I often feel as though I`m on the outside looking in at the rest of the people I`m surrounded by doing life together, but I`m just...not included. Now, don`t get me wrong. I know that I am to an extent. I`m sure part of what I`m experiencing as loneliness is simply just me adjusting the yet another major transition in my life, but I`m also aware that the reality is that I honestly don`t have the same level of friendship with people here in Hamilton as I do in Nashville and California. I`m not known on such an intimate level, and I miss it.

I have the desire to know and be known. I have the desire to be in a community of believers that desires my presence instead of ignoring it. Tonight as I lay here in my bed pondering life, I can`t help but wonder when it will be my turn to be included, wanted, loved, and accepted for who I person...on a consistent basis.

I have this awful tendency to place more value on the relationships I have with other people than my relationship with God. As I wrote in my last blog, He is the only one who is always consistent, loving, safe, and secure. Since I wrote that blog, I really have been spending time seeking Him and trying to find my place in His heart. That is surely the most important thing I will ever do.

However, I would love to have a tangible person in my life. Someone who I can call friend who is able to do as it says in the Scriptures. "As iron sharpens iron, let one man sharpen another." I want a Christian friend who will love me so much they won't hesitate to call me out on things I shouldn't be doing or encourage me in hard times, or celebrate and rejoice with me when life is going well. I want our friendship to be reciprocal.

Maybe this blog sounds a bit like a pity party. That's not my intention. I suppose that this is me being real. I'm struggling with loneliness tonight. My emotions are all over the place and I'd rather shut down and block all of this out, but that would be allowing them to control me.

As Grandma Joyce says, "Feelings are fickle." To have emotions is a very natural, human thing. I would even go so far as to say it's a good thing to be able to experience emotions, but when they take over your life in any way, it's too much. I don't want to be a slave to my ever-changing emotions, but I do feel as though I need to acknowledge them because pretending they don't exist never gets me anywhere.

So, I'm feeling lonely.
Fact: I'm not alone. Not even here in person. I have people in my life here who care about me. They do the best they can with where they're at right now, and I will accept that. God is with me also. Always. God is always with me, therefore I am never alone...even in the loneliest seasons.

Random though that relates to this topic that just popped into my head...I think I've been expecting perfection from my relationships, not just from myself. I've been placing a standard on my friendships and if they don't meet that standard then they're not "real" friendships. Really, Alexis? Really? I've been limiting myself and cutting myself off from some people who really don't need to be cut off...because although they didn't meet my standard, these people genuinely want to be my friends.

Tonight, I'm setting aside my expectations. I'm setting aside my standards (not compromising them. They're still there...). I commit right now to opening up to the idea of imperfect friendships. I mean, after all my talk about authentic community, you'd think I'd already come to that conclusion, but apparently it took until to 2:30am this morning to realize that in authentic, real is not perfect.

Man. I feel like I'm all over the place tonight. That being said, good night world. I'll see you in the morning.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

His Heart is My Home.

I haven't posted on here feels like forever. I would apologize for the inconsistency, but I'm not writing this blog for anyone besides myself so I won't. :)

As I was reflecting on my last few posts just now, I'm realizing that I'm still contemplating the same things that I was when I wrote the posts. Community and home...except now I feel as though it's evolved a bit.

I'm in California right my friend Monique's house. It's been really great to be here because I feel like I'm learning so much simply by watching her interact with the people that God has placed in her life. Her community. I have honestly never experienced anything remotely similar to the kind of community and friendship that is so evident in this place.

The authenticity of their relationships is like a breath of fresh air. I would love to develop relationships like that. They don't hide who they are. They're just...real. They are the truest example I know of what it means to do life together. Even the church that they pastor...the congregation is full of some seriously messed up people, but they don't hide it. I'd rather be in a church where people are real about their flaws, addictions, issues, etc than be in a church where everyone hides behind a facade and pretends to be the perfect Christian.

I know that I've definitely been guilty of hiding my true self because I feel ashamed of my struggles. I feel ashamed that I'm not the perfect Christian, but really...who is? The only perfect human being that ever walked the face of this earth was Jesus Christ...and even He was tempted. I'm tired of the religious, stuck up, fake Christian. I'm tired of being that person.

Depending on the people I'm with, I feel as though I have to put on a different face with each group. With the "Church" people, I feel the need to be perfect. With another group of friends, I feel like I have to be super depressed and sick. The truth is...I don't live in either extreme. I'm not perfect, obviously...but at the same time I'm not completely hopeless. I feel like I live somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I lean further in one direction than the other, but I'm never on either extreme. I have the hope of the gospel, but if I'm going to be completely honest, I'm struggling with some things that I've been dealing with again very intensely for the past year or so. I'm tired of hiding where I'm at. I'm tired of living a life with multiple masks and with no one seeing who I really am.

At the same time, I know that I can't trust every single person and just pour out my burdens on each person I come in contact with. Not only is that not conducive to building healthy relationships, it's a very dysfunctional way of interacting with the outside world. Boundaries are in place for a reason, but I don't have to turn my boundaries into impenetrable fortresses either. Right now, I don't feel like I have many super safe people in real life who I can even begin to build that trust with. BUT...I need to remember that I do have people in Nashville and California who are more than willing to put in that time to build solid relationships with me. I've got big sisters who will hold me accountable, and I've got friends who will be there to laugh with me and rejoice with me and cry with me.

Now that I've seen a true life example of what authentic community looks like, I know what I'm aiming for. It's been really cool to see it in action.

Now onto the second topic of the night....home.

As I posted in my last blog, I've really been struggling with the thought of home. Trying to define home has been a great challenge for me, and I've struggled with setting an official definition of home for myself.

Today, I was talking to my friend, and she shared a revelation that she had a little while ago while thinking about the concept of home as well. It's just a simple sentence, but it packs such a punch. There's so much truth in five words.

His heart is my home.

If I'm walking with in His will...dwelling in constant communion with God, then I am home. If I want a home that is consistent, loving, safe, secure, and constant...the only place that I can be sure to find that is to find my place in His heart.

I've always been so focused on the physical location of home, or the things that I want in a home, or other earthly, temporal things that I desire but the truth of the matter is that anything that is not....God...will ultimately end. People may reject me. I may move away from a house...but God is omnipresent. He's never going anywhere. I can trust Him fully to provide the best home for me.

He knows my deepest longings, darkest secrets, faults, failures, hopes, and dreams. He loves me in spite of all the times I mess up, and He has a great plan and purpose for my life. In order for me to find my home, I need to seek His heart more than I ever have in my entire life.

God's Word says that He's able to provide abundantly more than I could ever ask, seek, or I think it's time that I start seeking Him to find my home. He'll provide me a better home than I could ever imagine.

As I embark on this lifelong journey of finding my home in His heart, I challenge you to join me. Spend some time seriously seeking His heart and finding where you fit. I promise you...He has a spot prepared just for you.
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