Come on Irene.

1 Sep

There’s a storm coming… you know it’s on it’s way, and you’re in it’s path. What do you do? How do you prepare? How do you face the storm knowing you’ll never be the same in it’s wake?

I’m in Stony Point, New York at YAV orientation, and I’m about to face a storm. It’s coming, I know it is, I’ve been waiting for it.. and I don’t know what to do. All of my anxieties, fears, and mixed emotions about the upcoming year have followed me here. They got on a plane to New York and met me here.

Fear. Sorrow. Love. Excitement. Joy. Peace. Uncertainty. Insecurity. Anxiety. Worry…. They overcame me.

The first day I woke up sick.. my throat was hurting, I felt horrible. I had a fever, my body ached and I was tired. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I started taking vitamin C to fight off this potential virus or infection. Vitamin C consumption was my job. It didn’t help. I was feeling worse. So I went to the doctor and he gave me antibiotics.

This is a terrible time to get sick.

Not only did all my mixed emotions meet me here, but a group of these amazing, beautifully spirited people  met me here as well.  There was potential for a lot of love and support and healing for me in these people… but I was contagious, I couldn’t be around them. It hurt to not be able to be fully present.

Meanwhile the storm makes it’s way up the coastline…

Days went on, and the antibiotics did nothing. I still felt terrible.. and the only thing that seemed to fix it was constantly taking Ibuprofen. Simply numbing the pain, but not fixing the cause.

I went into one of the many helpful, life altering seminars I’ve been in this week, feeling as I had the past few days. We were taking the Meyer’s Briggs test to find out, “What made us tick?” But a particular exercise we did will be one of those things that I will always remember.

We were told to write down major worries that were on our hearts on three separate index cards,  This was easy for me except for the fact that I had to sort through what seemed thousands of worries to narrow them down to three. I ended up with (in no particular order)….

1. I’m worried of losing my job (financial security) and also losing my skills as a designer this year. (job security). As you can tell with this first worry, I had stacked it up with multiple layers of worries, each with their own depth.

2. I’m worried about keeping up with friends and family.
I’m scared that I’m going to lose touch with some friends, and that I’m not going to have the time I want to keep in touch with my family.

3. I’m worried about being alone.
This fear is not just for the YAV year, I’m just scared that I’m some how going to end up alone.

So as you can see, these fears are intense and deep.. and very personal. and I felt just fine writing them down on these index cards, I figured we were going to tear them up or something cliche like that. No one else would be able to see them, and I would deal with them myself.

Nope. That’s not how this went. The speaker said to get into small groups of 5. Oh no.. That meant I probably had to share my fears, and my worries…. This made me sick to my stomach, but if I only had to share them, I guess I could make it.

The speaker continued: I want you to each take turns sharing your worries with your group, and then I want three in the group to each pick one of your fears and personify it. They would be the voice for that fear. One person left over in the group would be the “God voice”. When it was your turn your fears were divvied up and you would have to withstand the voices. The speaker had a timer, and for a minute, the three people with your worries would yell at you everything that you were scared of, and portray your worries as truth. The one “God voice” would speak the Truth to you, and attempt to overpower the voices of your fears. This person was the only one that could touch you, and they could get right in your ear.

WOW. I was in a group with 2 people that I had barely just met, one that I had known for 4 days, and one good friend that I’ve known for a few years.

This activity scared me to death.

The activity started, and I had to yell at someone I barely knew that they weren’t worth anything. That they would not succeed in their year. and they would make no friends. I had to tell them that they would make everyone around them angry and therefore be isolated. The words were bitter and stung as they left my mouth. I could barely breathe. As I looked at the person I was assaulting with terrible lies, they were emotional and clinging to the “God voice” next to them. I watched as near strangers held on to each other for support.

It came down to me, and I had to share my worries. It was difficult to even say them out loud. My roommate for New Orleans was my God voice. I had known her for 4 days. The minute began. I heard the worry voices. People yelling:

This year will do nothing for your design career.

You will not be able to find a job in the design world.

You will lose all important relationships.

You will be isolated and a stranger when you return home.

You will be alone.

No one wants you.

Who would want to spend a life with you?

It’s harsh isn’t it? But for some reason those voices didn’t sting, they didn’t pierce me in any way. I had my roommate with her arm around me, shielding out these voices with

You are beautiful.

You are loved.

You are never alone.

Do not be afraid.

It’s interesting how we can easily be that harsh on ourselves. The thoughts we have in our heads, and the lies we tell ourselves every day are just as bad if not worse.  I couldn’t tell other people the same thing I tell myself all the time.  Once the words hit the air, they sounded ridiculous. I’d been that harsh on myself but it is ridiculous. These voices in my head had made me physically sick.

I saw strangers holding each other up, and speaking the truth of Christ into each others lives. In the midst of violent gusts of insults and lies, God’s voice was received and believed. It was beautiful. It was a picture of how it would be if we were to ignore the voices of doubt in our heads and embrace the words God speaks to us constantly.

I began to feel a little better. Not just that some of my mixed emotions were silenced, but physically I felt a little better.

The storm is still headed this way.

This week has been a lot to take in, a lot of emotions, a lot of thoughts, a lot of information… just a lot. I began to get confused, having thoughts I didn’t recognize. These many emotions that followed me here have been swirling around me, fogging my mind and the Truth that I say I hold at the center of my being. But I know there is a calm in the middle. There is a place where I can meet God in the center of all the mess swirling around me, and I can be at peace. He is continually speaking Truth in the eye of the storm. I just have to meet him there, and not get lost in the swirling mess.

I had all these feelings that I let consume me. They made me feel physically sick. I was holding on to them and getting lost spinning around the calm where God was standing ready to speak truth into my life.

I know the storm of this year is heading right towards me. My life will never be the same, I will be forever changed.. it’s ok if I’m afraid, but I’m not going to let the swirling mess overtake me and cause me to forget who I am. I will hold strong and meet God in the center of it all.

Come on Irene, bring it on. I’m ready now.


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