December 13, 2017

zone of proximal spiritual development

i've been on a hiatus from social media.
well, i've been on several hiatuses over the last few years.
it's a reminder to me of the irony that right when humans need the support of others the most, many of us instinctively cut off all contact with the source of that support.

that's what i usually do. that's what i did. and it feels quite lonely.

as i transitioned into the month of december, i wasn't really feeling any holiday cheer. not even my annual 25 days of red and green could combat the level of depression and anxiety regularly crashing like waves.

i didn't understand, though, why i felt so depressed and anxious...
until i started thinking about all the major life changes that had recently occurred.
maybe you've heard of the holmes-rahe stress inventory?
there are several versions... here's one. here's another:

well, my score tallied to imply that i had an 80% chance of having a major health breakdown in the next 2 years.

ha. ha.

well, my mental state was definitely in agreement.

in grad school, they taught us that to prevent "burnout" (mental exhaustion, breakdown, etc) we needed to participate in regular self-care.
turns out, most of us are really bad at actually implementing self-care into our daily lives.
myself included.

to the dismay of many, self-care is not always luxurious or beautiful (this article is fabulous).
"true self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from" -brianna wiest

huh... a life i don't regularly escape from?
that was a novel idea.

the ratio for time i was escaping from my life and time i was living my life felt like 9:1, so obviously something needed to change. but i was still confused why i felt so depressed, since the majority of my recent major life changes were positive!
  • i was inducted into phi alpha honor society {the national honors society for social work}. ...the one and only time i've ever qualified for an honors society.
  • i graduated from rutgers university with a master's of social work degree.
  • the morning after graduation, my parents helped me drive a moving van full of my furniture and clothes across the country. jersey to denver took less than 3 days. before i knew it, i'd officially left the home that took blood, sweat, and a lot of tears to build for myself.
  • i traveled between utah and colorado a couple of times for weddings and family events. i even made it to the oregon coast for a family reunion.
  • i moved into an apartment where i found myself living alone for the very first time in my life.
    • pro: i live less than 10 mins away from my sister and her family
      ("become favorite aunt" mission initiated)
    • pro and con: i made all my own design choices.
    • con: i regularly state that "nothing cares if I come home at night."
      i know, i need a pet... but i work crazy hours that aren't conducive to keeping a living animal alive.

  • i got my very first full-time, real-life, adulting, career-path job: a therapist for adults in crisis.
  • i passed the colorado state licensure test and officially became a licensed social worker.
  • i helped out when the newest member of the family arrived.

  • and most recently, i turned 30 years old.
    ...i'm still single, though, and that's not the cultural norm.

all that and more happened in the last 7 months.

i always believed i was a lover of change!

i guess when too many things are changing, it starts feeling like the ground beneath my feet decided to disappear.

my familiar symptoms of depression became too obvious to deny.
and i had very few local supports in place.

that, in itself, felt too familiar for comfort.

in retrospect, it's not surprising that i seemed to slowly fall to pieces.
per usual, a "perfect storm" of circumstances triggered a simultaneous explosion of all the emotions i had not allowed myself to fully experience for months with all the dramatic changes i'd undergone.

oh, you know... i had the normal excuses.
there had not been enough time.
i needed to be adulting.
i was also scared to know exactly how i felt.
and i was determined to be strong!

i assumed a person of my age could do all of this with grace on their own.
so i was going to figure things out on my own.

but i'd forgotten a very important lesson i learned long ago---
this saying:
"God doesn't give you more than you can handle" a boldfaced lie!

driving in my car recently, a Christian song i know quite well came up randomly on the local radio station - matthew west's "strong enough"

you must, you must think i'm strong
to give me what i'm going through.
well, forgive me, forgive me if i'm wrong
but this looks like more than I can do...
on my own.
i know i'm not strong enough to be
everything that i'm supposed to be
i give up, i'm not strong enough
hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now i'm asking you to be
strong enough, strong enough
for the both of us
yeah well, maybe... maybe that's the point
to reach the point of giving up
'cause when i'm finally, finally at rock bottom
well, that's when i start looking up
and reaching out
'cause i'm broken down to nothing
but i'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God and You are strong when i am weak
i can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
and i don't have to be... strong enough

God doesn't give us more than we can handle?
like hell He doesn't!
the whole point is that He does!!!!
God gives us more than we can handle, but only to the point that we make it through if we rely more heavily on Him.

how else would we learn
and spiritually grow?

as i listened to the lyrics of that song, i nodded my head, eyes to the sky.
i let my Heavenly Parents know i had received their message loud and clear.

this reminded me of being in my undergrad education classes and learning about a concept called "zone of proximal development."

zone of proximal development (or zpd) refers to "an area of learning that occurs when a person is assisted by a teacher or peer with a skill set higher than that of the subject."

as a teacher-in-training, the zpd was described as the "sweet spot" at which lesson content was to be aimed.

as a student, the stubbornly independent among us {*raising my hand} resist this prime growth opportunity, preferring instead to figure things out with trial and error. or just finding something else to do by themselves, thereby getting stuck.

as a therapist, i am an objective observer for clients in crisis, providing guidance but making it clear that i don't have their answers. i'm on the sidelines helping them notice negative patterns.

the ironic thing is that the same guidance i give my clients is often exactly the guidance i need to be following in my personal life.

and more often than not, this ironic tug-of-war {"i should! ...but i'm not"} plays out in a spiritual sense.
i know i'm not strong enough to handle so many big changes on my own!
but i also feel a strong urge to resist help or guidance in any form {"i can manage this by myself!"}.

i am that stubborn child insisting that i don't need help
while creating a huge, unnecessary mess
as i attempt to prove i can do it all on my own.

or... maybe behind my stubborn resistance is a fear of anyone seeing the less-than-perfect pieces of myself shattered on the ground.

{that would be called "vulnerability"}

i even find myself projecting these fears of judgment onto a perfect, omnipotent being i cannot comprehend.

why would i pull away from heavenly guidance?

well, my current reasons are simply continuations of those expressed in

the bottom line:

i stopped wanting guidance.
i began to fear it.
i tried shutting out all the opinions, expectations, and messages around me,
including - or especially - the spiritual ones.

when spiritual self-care had always kept me grounded in the chaos,
and i was on shaky ground with my spiritual foundation,
what would prevent everything from falling to pieces?

right. nothing.
so, what's a girl to do?

well, i was inspired by the #lighttheworld campaign my church continued this year.

this week, i've committed to myself to begin the slow process of rebuilding my spiritual self-care.
this can only happen with guidance.
They never led me astray...
i turned away from Them out of fear and a stubborn, prideful belief that i knew better.
i am again learning to trust in Their unfailing love, because the only thing that really matters is nurturing my relationship with Them.

my belief in a higher power's help and guidance changes nothing about the facts of my circumstances. i am constantly given more than i can handle.

what it does change is my perspective; shifting from victim, who "always" fails to succeed, into a person who thrives with help from those around and above.

softening and opening up my heart to that heavenly help allows for
the weight of my load to be lightened,
strength and courage to help me stretch further than i ever thought i could,
and the security of knowing that i don't need to have all the answers. ever.
i only need to "know the knower"

the knower has inspired me to start writing again.
writing has always been an important way i process the life lessons gained from difficult experiences.
i'm going to blog more about the lessons i learn (or relearn) in this beautiful mess i call my life.

in my zone of proximal spiritual development, when i trust my higher power, i am capable of mastering skills much too difficult for me to learn on my own.

it is a continual state of mercies.

March 31, 2017

my irishness

even before i reached double-digits, i understood february was my own personal "hell month."

last year, with the death of my grandma and the domino effect that followed, hell month melted into a chaotic hell year rollercoaster.

the devastation i experienced went deeper than the loss of her life.
it went so much deeper.

you see, my grandma and i had a strained relationship.

my grandma and me

...i suppose i harbored too many hurts, and they ran too deep.

frankly, i didn't want to deal with the depth of those wounds, as it would've taken painful cauterizing to get them fully healed.

so, i did what i do too often when faced with fear:
i avoided.
denial... always a good idea, right?

for one of my classes, i had to do research on my family tree -
i have irish roots on both sides of my family tree
{which is why i lucked out with my irish-red hair}
so i did some reading in the irish-american section of my "ethnicity and family therapy" textbook. these were the parts that stung (pgs 595-598):

  • while having a tremendous flair for bravado, [the irish] inwardly assume that anything that goes wrong is the result of their sins.
  • they are good-humored, charming, hospitable, and gregarious, but often avoid intimacy.
  • although always joking, they seem to struggle continuously against loneliness, depression, and silence, believing intensely that life will break your heart one day.
  • their history is full of rebels and fighters.
  • they often feel profound shame about, and responsibility for, what goes wrong, yet they characteristically deny or project blame outwards.
  • [their] way with words has always been their greatest natural resource, yet, paradoxically, they are often unable to express their inner emotions.

well then.
just point out all my character flaws, why don't you...

thank goodness for therapy - it works wonders.
and with all the things i was learning in my masters of social work program, i was experiencing a lot of personal growth.

i had just started to learn how to face my fears and brave the venture into painful places just as my grandma prepared to leave this earth.
with the loss of her life, i felt the added loss of any chance i had to repair our complicated and fragile relationship - at least in this life.

...i also felt huge amounts of guilt over never finding the time to interview my grandma about some unhealthy relationship patterns that persisted through several generations like we had agreed. with the social work skills i was learning, i wanted to record important details about her past and key relationships she'd had throughout her life.

and ... i hadn't even said a real goodbye to her!
i just thought we had so much more time.
then she was gone.

my grandmother's death and funeral forced many of my old wounds and hidden fears to resurface. feelings of inadequacy and loneliness were overwhelming!

kind of like picking at a torn piece of thread, once i allowed myself to feel the slightest bit of sadness, pain from unresolved issues instantly unraveled into my conscious mind.

the wound was far from healing, though, as i heard my siblings and cousins constantly stating:
"grandma made each one of her grandkids feel like they were her favorite."

my already breaking heart would singe as i thought:
"but that wasn't my experience!"

i was sad, hurt, and angry that i didn't have the relationship with my grandma that everyone else seemed to have!
i was bitter that i no longer had a chance.

the unique thing about becoming a therapist is the necessity of working through my own complex emotions in order to understand how to help others work through theirs.

as i grappled with my floods of emotion, i came to a realization that - for at least the adult years of my life - i was the one preventing a closer relationship with my grandma. contrary to my belief, it was not the other way around.

i am a fierce redhead with irish roots, and i can be a porcupine - preventing love from sinking into my heart.
i carried with me a long-harbored grudge of hurt as a barrier around my heart and refused to allow entrance to this woman who was willing to offer all the love and support she knew how to give...

did my grandma love me?
yes, i am sure she did.

did she know i loved her?
yes, i am sure she did.

these acknowledgements weren't the same as feeling like i was a favorite grandchild.

but i was the one who couldn't forgive.
and i was the one who couldn't love herself.

my visit to utah for my grandma's funeral was the gateway leading to deep wounds that i may discuss another time.

however, as i thought about my irish stubbornness throughout this past month, i wanted to share this experience with others.
the irish are far from being the only people with emotional complexity - i believe the whole of mankind fits into that category.

i want it to be a social norm to walk inside our personal stories and own it.
i've done enough standing on the outside, hustling for my worthiness.

and, if we own our stories, we may even find that the "negatives" can also be positives!

one example:
another quote from the textbook i referenced above --
"[the irish have] a remarkable adaptive ability to transform pain through humor, a fierce rebellious spirit, and the courage to survive."

i am a mixture of positives and negatives - but it's that mixture that makes me the beautiful, imperfect, courageous individual i am.

March 3, 2017

slow. down.

the last time i posted was one year ago.
march 2nd.

right after that...
my only living grandmother was suddenly dead.
i'd thought there was still so much time.

that's time, for you.
the jerk!
i am in constant battle with time.
and, especially this year, it has been fleeting.

after my grandma died, i flew home to utah for the funeral --

  • during my spring break
  • in the middle of the semester
  • staying in a home that is no longer my home
  • seeing places and faces that felt like salt rubbed into a wound
  • experiencing complicated, deeply rooted emotions
  • grappling with unresolved, painful core beliefs

that trip was difficult for more reasons than i can explain right now.

my therapist told me, "utah is not like vegas for you; what happens there doesn't stay there."
so i packed up and brought home all those emotions from my visit to jersey.

and then,
the rest of the semester was a struggle.
a very, very real struggle.

and then,
back to utah --

  • to help a sister pack up her family and move out of state
  • to help my mom with volunteers for a city-wide fair
  • to help another sister prepare for and recover from surgery
  • to help all my family members clean and organize their lives *and spaces*

two whole months out west.
i barely saw anyone but family.
it was good, though.
to be busy and feel needed.

and then,
back to jersey.
and then,
i needed a vacation from social media politics.

and then,
my new internship began.
and then,
i started my final year in grad school.

and then,
the heavy content in each of my courses felt overwhelming.

and then,
it was october.
and then,
i flew to utah.
and then,
my baby brother got married.

and then,
daylight savings hit me like a ton of bricks.

and then,
the election.
and ...i. just. can't. even.
and then,
i lost hope in humanity.

and then,
it was thanksgiving.
i was not feeling very grateful.

and then,
i turned 29 years old.
a year away from the big, dreaded 3-0.
...and i'm still single.

and then,
i found the courage to tell a girl, for whom i've had feelings my entire time in jersey, that i love her.
that i wanted to date her.
that i was serious.
that i wanted her to really think about it.
because i would've given anything to be with her.

and then,
it was finals.
and finals kicked. my. trash.

i'm really hazy on the details and chronology of the presentations, final papers, complete lack of sleep, last-minute hospital sleep-test, and all. the. things.
i have no. freaking. clue. how everything got done.

and then,
with not a wink of sleep and a huge ordeal, i left jersey...

  • 30 minutes before leaving for the airport, i packed my suitcase
  • 35 minutes before the 6:10am takeoff, i got to the airport
  • i checked my *very late* luggage, despite the beeping warning sounds
  • i magically cut through the stand-still security line
  • somehow was not the last passenger on-board, with 5 minutes to spare

and then,
family time.

seeing old friends and missing others.
shopping. shopping. and more shopping!
singing and giving presents and eating *all. the. things.*

and then,
off to colorado.
more family time.
niece and nephew have my heart.
lots and lots of time with the babes.
and even more sister time!

and then,
the holidays were over.

and then,
my new internship began.

and then,
the girl i love told me she didn't want to date me.

and then,
my final semester of grad school started.

and then,
my country allowed the inauguration of a racist, sexist, insufferable man for president.

and then,
the countdown to commencement became official.
countless graduation to-do's made me want to run away screaming.

and then,
along came february.
evil. hell. month.
.....even though it's deceiving with a lovey holiday.

and then,
out of nowhere,
march came marching in.

in 72 days, i will graduate.
in 73 days, i will move away from jersey.

my denial is quickly fading as i am forced to acknowledge the tidal wave of change rushing my way.

it's as if i can almost feel the actual sands of time slipping away.
can everything just slow. down.!?

i can't keep up!

this is one of the reasons i have decided to resuscitate my blog.

this is where i come to remember important things i've learned, difficulties i've gone through, and changes i've made.
now, i am ready to share my authentic self with the world.

time refuses to slow down.
i guess this life is supposed to be a wild ride.

i would love it if you joined me!

March 2, 2016

an authentic life

i've written draft after draft of this post for over a month, worried it would be too controversial, too self-revealing, too difficult...

the thing is, to my very core, i consider myself to be an eternal optimist.
i thrive on hope. it inspires the belief that anything is possible.

i also believe i'm a pretty genuine person.

there are times, though, when it's difficult for me to be honest about the not-so-optimistic experiences in my life. when i share feelings of hopelessness and helplessness with others, they must be wrapped up nicely with a pretty bow.
when i share them, my experiences must say:

"look! see? this trial was hard but it taught me all this..."

and it's not that i'm trying to be inauthentic ...
however, my willingness to let others see my pain happens only once i've gotten through it. i want to show i'm capable, rather than allow others to think i'm weak in the midst of emotional battle. ....what if the only reason someone originally thought i was strong was because they don't know about my pain until after it's over?

but today i'm choosing to be honest and vulnerable.
there's no bow tying up the pain and confusion right now.

brené brown is my hero

i've been in a funk for a while, now.

if you read my previous post, you know that i truly enjoyed my trip home for Christmas break. it provided the most wonderful time with family. my incredible family is why the trip was wonderful.

my trip home reminded me, though, why i applied for graduate programs outside of utah in the first place.

it's no secret. ...i'm an "old maid" in utah standards.
but i'm fine being labeled an old maid.
what's difficult is how seemingly everyone - and their dogs - are all checking off the checkmarks i wrote about in this post.

it wasn't a specific person or thing that started my funk.
it was the overall impression that everyone's got their lives more "together" than i do.

most of my peers are done with school and have real adult jobs.
married couples have babies they coo at and cuddle.
young, happy families were everywhere i went.
{{i know, i know ... what else did i expect??}}
i think maybe the hardest sight to see were the cute, old grandmas and grandpas taking loving care of each other and holding wrinkled hands.

please know that i am quite happy with my life.
i've had a lot of adventures and accomplished many things.
i've overcome a lot of hardships.
i've spent years working to improve myself.
and still i keep finding:
life can be extremely empty without someone special to share it with.

but, i absolutely do not presume that getting married solves all problems.
no, no.
i am very aware of the problems it can bring -
growing pains, i think they call it?
i am also aware of the fact that marriage is not easy.
it's not perfect.
no life ever is.

there is something to be said for having your one "person" by your side.
and the fulfillment of being their one "person."
you become each other's "bae" {in today's speak: before anyone else}.

i believe sharing your life with a special someone fills an important role in the human soul. i don't believe life was meant to be lived alone.

know i'm not alone.

i am extremely grateful for the wonderful family and friends who support me, encourage me, celebrate my highs, and commiserate my lows.
in utah, i loved seeing old friends and chatting for hours and feeling so much joy in connecting with those i cherish. i'm incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life!

i don't mean to diminish their importance.

i think everyone knows significant others fall into an entirely separate category.

and so, in utah, when i saw tender sights -- like a wrinkled man gently placing a hand on the small of his elderly wife's back -- tears threatened to fall, accompanying a painfully familiar feeling :
heartache fighting with soul-ache.

my heart aching to have a companion to love in this life.
my soul aching to return back to my Heavenly Father.

no, this heart-and-soul-ache is not a new sensation for me.
yet, it did get much worse in the past two months -
so i began calling it a funk.

but that's not what ignited the fire in my heart this week.

as you know, i believe in the gospel taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. this belief defines my entire being and is part of every aspect of my life.

so when i saw this article, sparks flew and hurt seared my heart:

i watched the video clip of elder bednar, a general authority of my church.
i listened to his words.
hoping for a message of love...

but then i cried.

elder bednar's comments came just a few weeks after elder oaks, another general authority in my church, addressed the gay mormon suicide crisis with flippant disregard for the lives implicated and the anguish leading them to such dire circumstances.

and he had the audacity to use the term "sexual preference."

let's just be clear about one thing:
i promise you, i would prefer not to be attracted to women.
i didn't ask for this!
and once i was aware of my attractions, i begged God to take them away;
being attracted to women makes everything in my life more complicated.

as i have mentioned before, i was oblivious to my attraction to women.
oblivious until one day in 2014 when the final straw broke the metaphorical camel's back.
i was left looking at a mountain of evidence.
my paradigm shattered, i retrospectively viewed memories in a new light.
suddenly i understood the feelings i had experienced in the past toward certain females were - unbeknownst to me - feelings of romantic attraction.

i, the self-proclaimed "feelings expert," found myself ignorant of such basic human feelings! i was truly flabbergasted.
when i realized i had always been attracted to girls, my anger was sparked and it all pointed toward God.

the following quote from jonathan sandberg's b.y.u. devotional makes me feel better about getting angry with God:
as a client once told me, “i used to feel guilty for getting mad at God. then i realized He can handle it.”

thankfully God can handle my anger, because in that moment during fall 2014, and again on tuesday when i heard elder bednar's words, i got really angry.

i was angry that...
  • such a thing as homosexuality does exists
  • i hadn't known what these feelings meant until now
  • i have a knowledge of my divine identity as His daughter - because it just makes everything hurt worse
  • there were - and still are - no answers to my questions
  • the ideal i had planned for all my life was blown to smithereens
  • never having a significant other was a valid option
  • as long and hard as i prayed for Him to change me, this new self-knowledge is here to stay...
                                    ...because these feelings have been here all along.

though my relationship with God has greatly improved since fall 2014, the comments from elder bednar and elder oaks brought back all that anger and pain.

i found myself questioning where and how i'm supposed to fit into this plan of happiness i've been taught all my life.

some well-meaning church members tell me that if i remain faithful in this life {never marry a woman}, i will be rewarded with a husband in the next life.

but.... what if i don't want a husband in the next life??

i absolutely do not agree with elder bednar's comments.

i do not believe my attractions will suddenly change when i graduate this earth life. we're taught in my religion that gender is innate. well, it is my sincere belief that sexuality is, too.

this is not something like depression or high blood pressure or addiction or disability. those have nothing to do with the very root of who a person is.

and yet, especially with rhetoric used by general authorities, members continue to believe and make comments about choosing not to be attracted or choosing not to have a relationship with someone of the same sex.

please, imagine if you were told that your eternal happiness depended on you never getting married or having a family, even if you fell in love with someone.

contrary to what some may think, this idea is not centered around physical intimacy. this is about condemning basic biology.
it's different than simply never finding the right person throughout your life. instead, it's saying that even if you did find your significant other, you will lose all hope of a joyful eternity if you give into the sin of that love.

regardless of your opinion on same-sex marriage, please try to understand what it might be like. please empathize with the pain so many in {and outside of} the church live with on a daily basis.

for me, the mere suggestion that i might be sentenced to a life without a spouse fills me with more hopelessness than words can describe.
i am a loving person.
do i not deserve to have someone love me back?
...then the thoughts get even worse as they spiral downward:
  • what is the purpose of life without love?
  • i can't bear a life so awful, i can't go on.
  • this doesn't change after i die, so my eternal fate is just as dismal.
  • if it's just as dismal in death, i am doomed to a fate worse than death.
i believe this is the very definition of "stuck."

luckily, i am in a social work program where i constantly learn and apply skills to cope with cognitive dissonance. i also received intensive outpatient therapy during that fall of 2014. these experiences have taught me how to be more willing to reach out for support.

i know, even though i continue to wonder what the point of all this is, that life is still worth living.

not everyone is as fortunate.

one of my favorite people {who just happens to be my aunt} recently shared on her facebook timeline the following post from tyler glenn, a gay mormon.
Tyler Glenn
Dear Queer Kids... I'm talking to you right now. I guess I'm always talking to you, because I care about you. But right now I'm specifically talking to you.
all of us queer kids need to be proud of who we are. I need you to stay alive, please. It's important. The last few months I've felt like I did when kids picked on me in high school. Disenfranchised. Shunned. Floating out in space.
I want you to know I've been turning that feeling into art. Ive been channeling it into music.
You CAN turn ugly pain into beauty and art. YOU have that ability.
Please know I know you, even if I don't personally. Please stay alive to see how amazing life can be. It really can be wonderful.
After every breakthrough in my life so far, I keep thinking "ok, this is what happiness looks and feels like"... "Finally!".
And then I'm always amazed to find out that the true happiness I thought I'd finally achieved was only the beginning, only the tip of the iceberg, only a small taste.
True happiness exists, and it doesn't come all at once. Please live to see and feel true happiness.
Please make it through the unbearable darkness to see the light. Even if it's only a faint light, please know that light grows. It fades and then it grows and then at times it may feel like it's gone out completely. I want you to know that it comes back.
So I'll say it again:
all of us queer kids need to be proud of who we are. I need you to stay alive, please. It's important.
oh, how i needed this message!!!
i cried when i read them.

aren't we all just doing the best we can?
the more vulnerable and authentic we are with each other,
the more we can learn and grow!

so, when leaders in my church share messages that leave some feeling hopeless, unloved, and hurting, i cannot accept that God is ok with that.

to tell someone they aren't who they are is absurd.
to say that there is no substantial correlation between the suicides of so many queer young people within the church and its policies or comments from its leaders is called denial.

i believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. i can respect and sustain the leaders of the church and also be aware of their human imperfections. i believe these men, called of God, are now skewing Christ's message of love. there have already been disastrous results.

sometimes i imagine this is what's going on upstairs: may think this blasphemous; i find it perfectly apropos.

and so my heart breaks for the youth and young adults - especially my gay brothers and sisters in the gospel - who are not as lucky as i am. those who are not as equipped to fight such catastrophic thoughts and feelings that strike at the very core of one's existence.

if i'm barely holding it together at times, i can only imagine the unending desperation they must experience!
no wonder there's a suicide crisis within the church!

God is a God of love.
our Heavenly Father loves each one of His children.
i have felt God's love for me over and over again.
i fight for my life because i believe God loves me - all of me.

He made me this way. and God doesn't make mistakes.
but people do.

i am a daughter of God who tries so hard to do good things.
i try to love and serve and help and lift others.
my heart is good and i have such great intentions.

i can't blame the people who are initially prejudiced against homosexuals, i know what those biases are because i used to think that way, too!
....until i found out i was one!

there is no excuse, though, if we do not try to learn and move past our bigotry.
i often feel as though some members are waiting with bated breath, crowded around me and watching closely to see if i'll "fail" {marry a woman}.

but our religion teaches us to refrain from judging others.
we need more messages of love and hope.

besides, trust me:
any gay member of the church has enough negativity
going on in their heart and mind.
you can't possibly state a criticism they haven't
already heard inside their own head.

thankfully, i'm overwhelmed by the many friends and family who are extremely accepting of who i am and shower me with unconditional love.
it doesn't take all the hurt away, but it definitely helps to remind me that life is worth living.

here's some encouragement, no matter what your life experiences, that helps me feel better:
{if you don't already know who brené brown is, please please please find out}

and, finally, i was told by one of the most intelligent people i've ever met that when someone says something that hurts you, it says more about them than it does about you., i still don't have any answers to this conundrum.
i'm still hurting and my anger comes and goes in waves.
amidst all the pain and confusion of the world, though,
there's only one thing that matters. the beatles knew it, too.
all you need is love.