Fearless 

“What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

She handed me the keys. 

“Wait, what?” I exclaimed, confused. 

“You’re driving,” my instructor said.

And with that I stuck the keys in the ignition and was off. I had driven before— in circles around empty parking lots. But driving on the road for the first time is always a bit uncomfortable. It took a little bit of time to get used to the new car, and I imagined my first lesson to be rather abrasive. However, driving so far has been going incredibly well. For some reason, I’m not afraid to drive. 

I wasn’t afraid to drive the first time I sat in a car because my dad was right next to me. I knew that he wouldn’t let me do anything stupid or crash into any walls. 

And I wasn’t afraid to drive on the street today with my instructor, because I knew she had a second set of brakes and would simply grab my wheel if I was about to hit a curb. We explored various different neighborhoods, a busy shopping plaza, and some major streets before I asked if I could drive to my church where I take dance classes. I wanted to know I could drive there safely with my dad after the lesson. Doing that however would involve crossing a giant intersection that you wouldn’t typically cross on your first lesson. 

“Sure!” She said. She guided me through the left turn and I surprisingly stayed in my lane and didn’t kill anyone. 

At another left turn on the way back, my instructor told me, “You’re crazy.”

“What do you mean?” I said, laughing.

“Most people don’t even want to leave their neighborhoods on their first lesson. And you wanted to drive to church!” 

“I don’t know. I’m typically a pretty anxious person.”

“You can be anxious and still be a good driver. It keeps you safe and alert. It’s the fear that messes people up and keeps them from doing things.”

I let that sink in.

“But you, you’re fearless. I like you,” she concluded. 

Fearless. 

I spend so much time fearing for the future. I spend so much time contemplating what I’m going to do with my life. What is so different about being in a car and taking the wheel? Why am I not afraid? 

I remember my dad holding my bike  when I was 5 years old, so afraid that he was going to let go. And he did! And I was riding on my own—for like 3 seconds— until I freaked out and started to veer off. But he was still right there, close enough to steady me back in place. 

That is who our God is. Even in the moments he feels the most distant, he is still there. He will never let us down, ever. I’ve learned that sometimes a good father has to throw his beloved daughter out in the open, so she can explore the world and have the chance to succeed, while still staying close enough to catch her when the world ends up being cruller than it seems. 

I told my driving instructor, “I trust you.” I trusted her through every turn and lane change. I don’t know why she trusted me with the steering wheel, but she does know that the only way I will ever learn to drive is by driving. When I drive with my dad, I trust him the same way. In church they always ask the congregation, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The answer for me is I would live ever so freely. For the first time, I would focus on doing things right rather than everything I’m doing wrong. Because if my instructor thought I was ready for the road, then I must be ready for the road. If God thinks I’m ready for whatever battles he’s giving me, I must be ready. So I’m just going to drive and see where these roads take me, trusting that if I end up somewhere I’m not supposed to God will show me the way. 

The Bible says “do not fear” exactly 365 times, once for each day. God calls us to be fearless. If we live without fear, we live without restraints.  

So what would you do if you weren’t afraid? 

Dear God, 

Today I want to live without fear. The only way I can do that is if I keep my eyes on you. If I wasn’t afraid, I would dance again. I would study relentlessly. I would try new things, and be much more resilient through challenges. 

So today, I need you to help me trust you with everything. That is the only way I will ever be free. 💜

Trying to Please Everyone 

There is beauty here, even though I don’t belong. I am torn, restless, as I ponder through the million emotions inside my head, trying to decide whether I have a reason to dance again, or what people will think if I switch churches. In the midst of feeling that everyone wants me to be in a million different places, I stumbled upon this verse on Caitlyn Zick’s blog: 

Rather than trying to please everyone, it is much more important to “sink yourself into who you are and the work you have been given.” In others words, follow your heart. Follow the will that God has placed on your heart. 

In regards to dance, I feel as though I have a million reasons to quit. I’m afraid to to start because I remember what it felt like to leave class so empty. I’m afraid of committing to something that I won’t have time for. I’m afraid of doing something as stupid as missing my best friend’s graduation for rehearsal again. 

But on the flip side, I love dance. My Econ teacher lets me push all the desks in his classroom and do turns the entire period now that we do nothing in class. I dance at home all the time. I love stretching. I yearn to learn more about this artform, to become better, and to develop my character through pirouettes and switch leaps. 

Make a careful exploration of who you are… 

My whole self is screaming at me to not give dance another shot, as it might hurt me again. But who am I? I’m not a quitter. I’m not defined by how well I dance. It isn’t about being the best dancer in the world, but the best dancer and person I can be. Because, like I’ve said a million times on this blog, God will use you as you are, and that includes everything you love. 

And in order to be the best person I can be, I have to take care of myself. I have to listen to what my body needs. If my soul is searching for more of Jesus, exploring a new church is okay. If my soul is yearning to dance again, maybe I am supposed to dance again. It doesn’t matter what people will think of me if I choose to dance again or choose to seek after Jesus in a new place. After all, I live for an audience of one. 

Sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that my relationship with God is between me and God, and nobody else. Everyone will have their own opinions about why I’m doing whatever I’m doing. If I am feeling overwhelmed, that is a red flag. I must then re-check my motives. Who am I living for? Who am I dancing for? Myself? My friends? Or am I going to dance for Him, the one who set my feet to dancing in the first place? 

Aside from dancing, the list of things to do is always endless. This summer I want to dance, but I also want to get CPR certified (which probably won’t work out as the classes are full) and need to do some hardcore ACT and SAT studying along with AP summer homework and work on getting my driver’s license. Oh, and did I mention start my college apps? 

So, Lea, why are you doing all this stuff?

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life… 

I think that part of the verse looks different for everyone. For me, all the things I “have” to do make my life so great, as long as I am doing them for His glory. 

The truth is we need to keep going after God’s call for our life, no matter what others may think so one day he can tell us, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” And if we do, like in that song from Moana, there’s just no telling how far you’ll go.

I don’t belong in the place I’m in right now. I feel God’s nudge on my heart. He’s the line at the end of the sea that’s calling me to the unknown, wanting me to search for him in unfamiliar churches and places, in my studies and anxieties and maybe even dance. And maybe I didn’t find him in dance when I used to try too, but maybe that’s because I looked to dance for personal gratification rather than seeking Him through it. I’m afraid that starting again will cause me to compare myself constantly to the extremely flexible people on Instagram who always seem to have it all together. 

Don’t compare yourself to others. 

So this verse I’ve found has come to me like a friendly slap in the face, reminding me to not become overly concerned with what people think. Pleasing God does not mean pleasing everyone else, including other Christians. 

Dear God, 

Help me to not be so concerned about pleasing everyone. Help me to remember that pleasing you is enough. 

10 Bible Verses I Cling To For Dear Life 

Happy Friday! Today I’m going to share with you 10 bible verses I love so incredibly much. 💜

1.


Every day I remind myself this. It is hard to believe at times, but God says it’s true so it must be. One of my favorite leaders shared this with me when I was bawling tears in church my freshman year, and I’ve been obsessed with this ever since. If you believe in God, then you believe he made you amazing because you trust his works. It shouldn’t be any more complicated than that 🙂

2.

This verse really hits me hard sometimes as I am such a nerd and love school. I have to remind myself that my wisdom comes from God when I succeed in school, and that even if I fail a million tests he is never going to let me down. Working hard is great, but he holds success in store for anyone who freely chases after Him. Our intelligence is purely a reflection of how amazing he is.

3. 

This verse is a reminder that it’s okay to not understand everything about God. In fact, I am glad I don’t understand everything about God. A God that surpasses human cognitive comprehension is one worth putting my faith in. If I could understand God, then he wouldn’t be as cool.

4.


This verse is the one I go to when I feel like I’m at my end. It encourages me to keep going and to stay confident in God, and in what He is doing in and through me.

5.

My dad actually shared this verse with me. Some of the translations replace “but time and chance happen to them all” with “but those who persevere to the end.” I love both. In the end, it doesn’t matter how smart or strong you are because life is brutal and happens to everyone. Those who keep going and don’t give up will make it.

6. My favorite translation of this verse is, “The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all of these difficulties.” This is a huge reminder to me that every difficulty we face has a reward, and in the end the reward is heaven.

7. 

This verse explains itself. Everything happens for a reason. When I look back at my past, this verse is so evident it is freakishly insane.

8.Healing is an arduous process. We are healing from something. Sometimes I don’t even think it’s possible to completely heal. But we aren’t supposed to heal ourselves. Jesus already paid it all for us, and had bandaged all of our wounds. I love that.

9. 

I love the entirety of Psalm 18. God will never give you a dream and then not equip you for the battle. Through every trial I’ve been through, God has placed the most perfect mentors in my life, and sometimes even the perfect strangers, to guide me through.

10. Psalm 139 is literally goals. There is a song I used to listen to every morning by Sarah Reeves. I should honestly still listen to it every day, because that verse should still be my daily prayer.

Every day I am hoping that my motives are correct. Before I commit to doing anything, I need to make sure I am doing it for he right reasons. In the translation that Sarah sings, she says, “Search me o God and know my heart. Try me, and know my anxieties. And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in your way, everlasting.” The see if there is any wicked way in me part gets to me. Am I trying to do all of these things for selfish reasons? Please, God, if I am, do not let me proceed any further.

But I love that God knows my anxieties. I find that image very comforting, and very hopeful.

So these are some verses that I cling to for dear life. I have found that confronting negative thoughts on the spot with scripture is so important, because then you don’t give those thoughts time to completely ruin your day.

Let me know your favorite bible verses below. 🙂

Why Having Eczema is a Blessing in Disguise

Today I had a setback in my eczema. After taking my last calculus test, my friends and I had a much needed girl’s sleepover night consisting of cards against humanity, massages, swimming, and love. It turns out that when I got out of the shower after swimming I used a cream that I have been suspecting being sensitive to, and my skin totally flared up. But my friends were amazing. I also started crying in the morning which surprisingly really helped to assuage the itching, and then started crying even harder after my friends helped me moisturize my body. The night before they helped me make a salad because I’m allergic to everything and can’t eat pizza, and in the morning they helped me make a smoothie. My friend Alyssa would check everything to make sure it was safe for me to eat, and the rest of them did everything they could to keep me from scratching. I was slightly mad at myself for crying, but they found it honorable that I would cry in front of them. They had no pity, just love and understanding, as they have all been through their own struggles. 


It is easy to question why you have to go through something beyond your control, or hate it and think of it with extreme bitterness and resentment. Before I started understanding my triggers, I used to sit in front of a mirror and scratch myself until I bled, crying because I was so itchy and had no idea what to do with myself. And there is nothing wrong with crying, but there is a lot wrong with hating yourself. I used to think I would never get better and would have to live with it for the rest of my life. There was a lot of false hope in the journey, like a $700 cream called Eucrisa that helped but wasn’t powerful enough to keep my skin healthy during AP exams. Don’t get me wrong, I am a complete nerd and love learning about the chemistry of new drugs and totally support them. But for eczema, knowing what triggers it for you is so important as it is different for everyone. Eucrisa is a great cream for times like now when you accidentally mess up and have a setback. But if you don’t believe you are strong enough to get better, you never will. 

On the flip side, my eczema is a part of me. It forces me to take care of myself. If I never had it, my friends wouldn’t have been able to show me love through it. It has brought me so much closer to my friends, and has allowed me to connect better with so many people at the hospital. It challenges me every day to wake up and live knowing that I am strong, smart, and beautiful. I have the choice every day to treat it like a burden or an accessory. It is a blessing to know that when something is wrong with me internally that it will show up on my skin, challenging me to be healthier, stronger, and more genuine. I am lucky. I am lucky to get to make amazing smoothie bowls every day. I am lucky to know that I will get my skin regiment down someday, while right now I am still learning. I am lucky because it could be so much worse. I am lucky to have it rather than someone else, as I would never wish this upon anyone. 

And although it is a part of me, it doesn’t define me. It didn’t hinder me from biking 20 miles to and from school with my econ teacher. I’m not going to let it stop me from any of my dreams. In fact, having eczema has influenced my dreams. I think drugs are so fascinating and maybe will create my own eczema cream or cure one day. It hasn’t stopped me from succeeding in AP chemistry, though there were times the stress of the class did not go well with my eczema. I hope to major in biochemistry with emphasis in pharmacology or something. If I go to med school one day, hopefully my experiences will all pay off. After all, I think eczema had made me more humble and empathetic. And knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I know eczema is not who I am. It is just another hurdle in life I must go through. In heaven I will have clear skin, because pain and suffering will no longer exist when we finally make it. 

I look at my skin right now. For a flare up, it is nowhere near as red as it was before. I smile when I look in the mirror. Because smiling boosts endorphins. Because I am so blessed to be me after all. 

Trading Something You Like For Something You Love: My Story

I went on a journey to find what I love to do, thinking that my self-worth came from my talent and performance level. I began this search by learning to play the piano when I was 5. I loved it so much. When I was 10, my piano teacher went to college and I fell in love with my new teacher. Her energy and kindness enhanced my life, and she made me feel so confident and special. Although I never practiced, she saw something in me. She saw my maturity and ability to play with emotion. When I did practice, she saw the cleanliness and cohesiveness in my playing. She would tell me that she couldn’t teach my energy, and saw me becoming a professional pianist one day.

But I didn’t see myself that way. Whenever I played a song, it never sounded right to me. Competitions became abrasive until I confidence in me remained. I hated being unable to deviate from the sheet music. So, I started trying new things. I started dance when I was 12. I think I liked the idea of dance more than I liked dance itself. 12-year-old Lea was so self-conscious with her wire glasses and awkward arms, and ballet helped fix my posture. But being stuck in ballet 1 from the start was honestly extremely frustrating as I had no idea where dance would get me in life.

So 8th grade came. I was 13 then, and I decided to start figure skating. I had always loved the way skating made me feel after all. My parents saw that I was starting to lean less and less towards piano and were worried that I would quit and regret it for the rest of my life. So my dad sent my teacher an email, and my teacher responded saying that I was too old to get anywhere with dance, that my only hope was playing the piano.

I was so infuriated. Everyone warned me that I would regret quitting piano because almost everyone quits regrets it. 70 years from now I’m going to look back and everything skating has brought me through, and I won’t regret quitting piano. Instead, I’ll say 2 words. Worth it. So with that, I quit. To me, I had just trashed all of my talent. But little did I know that I had just traded something I liked for something that I would love.

Figure skating. My memories of figure skating consist of beautiful moments full of me falling and getting up again, learning what it truly means to be passionate about something. The rush of the ice is something I greatly miss today. From the clean, crisp sound of landing an axel to spinning so fast that you can’t see anything, skating really enhanced my life. Desperate to prove my piano teacher wrong, I became obsessed with a regiment of stretching and got extremely bendy in a few months time. In 6 months, I was skating at the level most people wouldn’t get to in years. I had 3 amazing friends that I always skated with, and we competed together and told each other everything.

IMG_0694




Then, that summer, I had to test for 4 levels at once. I totally broke down in tears during my Freestyle 4 test. I made my test proctor feel horrible and after the test and she made me repeat the words, “I don’t suck” a few times before passing me. After that, I realized that skating, although amazing, was not going to fill the void in my heart or give me a purpose by any means.

Then I started going to youth group. I hated it at first. Everyone here seems so fake. But I kept going because I had been wanting a place where I could freely ask my questions about God forever. That was the first time I realized that my self-worth came from God. Finally understanding what my life should be about, I got baptized the day after my 14th birthday.


I ended up quitting skating because I wanted to go to Mexicali, and that was the easiest way to pay for my trip. When I got back from the trip I realized that I didn’t need skating in my life anymore. I would take everything I’ve learned about going all in and being insanely passionate about something and apply it to my faith. After making that decision, crazy things started happening to me all the time. In essence, I traded skating for God, something I thought I loved for something I was ecstatic about.

I couldn’t go without physical activity though, so I continued to dance. The day before my algebra 2 final my parents told me not to go to rehearsal, but I went anyways and fractured my foot on a switch leap. I totally failed that final despite studying every day for 2 months, and I had never felt so hindered in my life. But that was the first time I had ever felt peace in my life. No one expected me to do anything because I couldn’t do anything. However, the support I got from everyone blew me away. My dance studio is inside my church, and I woke up on the day of my final with so many people texting me that they were praying. I called my teachers expecting the worst as I couldn’t dance in the recital, but they responded with an unfathomable compassion.

 

before fracturing my foot
I was scared to dance for awhile, but eventually, despite my doctor’s orders to not dance for 6 months, I started again. But all of a sudden I was leaving dance feeling so empty for no reason. When my best friends would take me home, we would just complain about everything we couldn’t do. There were days that it was super fun and I was super close to my dance friends. But then recital happened and I was bawling tears afterward over a misunderstanding because my parents didn’t congratulate me. It was the best recital I had, don’t get me wrong. But instead of celebrating like I had envisioned, I was outside thinking that my parents were still pissed at me for quitting piano and would never be proud of me, with one of my teachers telling me, I went through the exact same thing you did. And the most important thing is not what your parents think of you, but what you think of yourself. It ended up being fine, but it still hurt a lot.

 


So still feeling the weight of piano on my shoulders, I wrote my piano teacher this long message, keeping things as positive as possible. It had been 3 years since I quit. She responded with such love and support that I felt like I could finally pursue whatever I wanted with no more false motives. (I may post something about forgiveness)!

This year, after consulting many of my mentors, I chose to take a year off of dance and youth group to focus on school. As long as you have a place where God is filling you up, and it looks like the hospital is filling you up more than youth group anyways, you don’t need to do everything they told me. I wrote about my experience with that here. I traded dance and youth group, things I liked, for AP chemistry, a class that taught me so much more than dance and youth group would’ve ever taught me combined. This I find weird because school is a worldly thing, and school grows my faith so much.

So here we are towards the end of my junior year. Next year I will have time to have a life again and will need to decide whether I want to go back to certain things or try new things. When I look back, I never hated piano. I just hated myself, and how I played. I loved skating and I was good at it but was insecure about it anyways. Not dancing this year has brought me closer to God, because dance was the last thing I was holding onto as a clutch and putting before him. I think we tend to be insecure about the things we are best at. This is why we must always seek God first because he knows us best.

This is just a piece of my journey. But what I’ve learned from all of this is that God will never make you give up something you like if he doesn’t have something greater and more amazing in store. =)

 

The Perfect Church

I want to address the issue of finding the perfect church and share what I’ve been going through on my journey trying to find the right church for me. I think that as important as it is to find a church full of healthy relationships where God fills you up and speaks to you, it is easy to get caught up in trying to find the “perfect” church. And I think that is dangerous. With unrealistic expectations, it is impossible to be content anywhere. I also feel like I need to write about this because I feel a sense of stigma when people talk about switching churches or visiting new churches, calling it “church hopping.”

I love visiting new churches. It’s always so reaffirming to see how all of my friends worship God in their different environments. I went to Mexico with the church all the Christian club students at my school go to, and I went to Hume lake with them. So I’m known there, and although I don’t go there regularly I am always welcome and loved there. Being known in my home church, Fremont, and the church I’m currently exploring, Jesus Culture, is amazing. It’s crazy to know that if I were to roll into any one of those churches at any time, I will belong. There was no way I could attend Fremont regularly because it was so far from my house. But the leaders still invested in me. At Hume lake, they prayed that I would find the right church for me. A few months after Hume Lake, me and my best friend, Josephine, rolled into Jesus Culture on a random whim. We both left in tears. 

I thought it would be interesting to visit their high school group so I crashed it. They had these students from Bethel visiting the youth group on a mission trip because we needed Jesus. They were giving random people in the room prophetic words.  This one bethel student singled out a guy asking him, “Do you write music by any chance?”

And he replied, “Um, yeah. I actually submitted a song 2 weeks ago.”

And then the bethel student proceeded to speak life into him as a musician, encouraging him to pursue the amazing gift God had given him. Mind blown.

And then I got singled out. This is what was said:


I started crying.

Afterwards, I met so many people who were so encouraging, so kind, I felt like I had finally found a place in which everyone was just as passionate as me. And I’ve only been to JC 4 times, but it never fails to disappoint. I leave so revitalized, so full.

But today I went back to my home church. And my goodness, I’ve missed it. I got to see people that I haven’t seen in so long, people that I’ve been praying for, and all my mentors who are always praying for me. I got to see someone that I have been praying relentlessly for doing so much better and it made me so happy. I got to hug my favorite twins and my beloved prayer partner Barbs. So now I’m torn. I love both churches. How am I supposed to figure out which one is the perfect church for me? Am I supposed to give my home church a chance again or move on?

“You don’t need to figure anything out,” Michele replied, “God will figure it out for you.”

I don’t know where God is going to take me. So far, he seems to be casually bringing me to random places on spontaneous whims in which the most amazing things happen to me. To me, the perfect church is one in which I leave every week in extreme awe of God. It’s a church that I know everyone in, where I can inspire others with my experiences as well as be inspired by everyone else’s. It’s a church in which everyone sings extremely loud, where the person sitting next to you is instantly your new friend. My perfect church is one where people see straight through my smile when I’m hurting, a place where God sees me and finds me every single time.

But my hope is that I would not become overly critical of different kinds of churches because we need conservative churches and not conservative churches. We need small churches and big churches, Presbyterian churches, and Evangelical churches. In the end, we are chasing after Jesus, not a denomination of faith or the interior design of a building. We are learning to trust fully in him, and we need to help each other. We need to be supportive of one another when experiencing roadblocks in our faith because growing in our faith sometimes requires finding the right church. And finding the right church usually requires change. So we must encourage one another to step out of our comfort zones in whatever church God may be calling us to in which we are too afraid to embrace.

 

Anyways, there is no perfect church. Churches are run by imperfect humans, and we fall short in trying to love everyone and meet everyone’s needs. I think it’s important to know that wherever we go, God will always find us. In reality, there is only one church. No matter what church we go to, Christians should build one another up. Our true home is in heaven, in God’s arms. To anyone who has ever felt misplaced by the church, you are not alone. You do belong. You do not belong in this earthly mess, but you do belong to Him.

So maybe running after the perfect church is the wrong mindset. I think we are supposed to run after Jesus, and he will lead us to the church he needs us to be at. So we keep praying and praying, accepting that God often tends to lead us in really uncomfortable places. Please be praying that I will listen carefully to God over the next few weeks and will be able to discern for sure exactly which church God needs me to be. =)

What Isn’t Ours to Carry 

By your spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, the resurrected king is resurrecting me…”

I wonder how much of what weighs me down isn’t mine to carry. 

Easter was 2 weeks ago. That was the day of the great exchange, where Jesus took our sins upon himself and in return instilled in us his righteousness. Now, if we believe that he is alive we also believe that we are alive. And if he is alive, we should be living our lives like he is alive. We should live knowing that we are loved and enough. We should live like we’re set free.

Then why is it that we still carry so much bondage with us? He has forgotten our past, so why do we still feel guilty? It’s like there are demons trapped inside our heads wanting to keep us stuck in our ruts of sin and negativity. There are voices in our heads telling us that we are failures, that we have to be stunning and amazing in order to be worth something when we are already worth so much simply as ourselves. Jesus paid an unimaginable price for us on the cross, making our beauty indescribable. There is no room here for guilt and shame. It doesn’t matter how hard you work because the biggest challenge is letting down your pride and realizing that your hard work will never amount to the amazing things God has in store for you. 

He promises peace and prosperity. We don’t need to conquer our fears, because he already did. We have every reason to live with our heads here high, even when walking through floods and fires. He’s going to give us the tools we need to get through this. Our joy should look something like this: 

 

Or this:


Yet we often forget and lose sight of where we’re going. We still feel broken and empty, because we are human. Our bondage and fears consume us, and we take our eyes off of God. When we try to do it all by ourselves, we look like this: 


So what do you need to lay down today? 

Dear God,

I want to believe that my intelligence comes from you. I want to believe that I can ace these AP exams and finals by myself, with my own hard work. But I am learning that on my own my intelligence cannot sustain itself, and if I am ever going to get anywhere in life I need to rely solely on you. 

So for the millionth time, I am laying down my future. I am laying down my past failures and scars. They are not mine to carry. As the next few weeks become hectic, help me to know that my performance on these tests are not mine to carry either. When I look in the mirror, help me to not see who I am and what I’ve done, but who you are and everything you’ve done for me. 

💜


The Reason Why I Smile: Part 2 

Today I got my braces off.

This is me. No makeup, no filters. I have a real smile. It’s not perfect. My gums need some work, and they weren’t able to fix my overbite completely because I am missing a tooth in the front and trying to bring my overbite any further would mess up the sides. But I really don’t care.

This is the girl who got an F on her last AP Chem test. But she walks into that class early in the morning before class starts to get help, smiling because she knows she is going to learn something and leave that room a little less confused. She manages to pick herself up and start over again no matter how frustrating it gets.

This is the girl who dances at school and does ballet in the hallways. She enjoys texting people inspiration and petting fluffy dogs. She sings worship songs really loud, and is honestly always really loud. She loves giving people hugs and doing the crab with arms.

She loves volunteering at the hospital. She’d probably rather volunteer than go to prom, and since her parents won’t let her go to prom that is probably what she is going to do. There will always be patients to talk to and errands to run there coupled with laughter and inspiration. Some of the nurses don’t get why I’m so happy to be there all the time, but it seriously makes my day so much better.

She is scarred. I was reading my diary from 7th grade and I couldn’t believe how hard middle school was for me. I can’t really believe that I really struggled that much and felt so hopeless so young. But I wouldn’t be who I am today if I never went through that. Those scars are just another reason to smile because God has brought me through so much.

But she is genuine. She pours pieces of herself into everyone she meets, an open book with nothing to hide. And she is beautiful.

I found a picture of something my Algebra teacher from 7th grade wrote in my makeshift yearbook. She always reminded me that I wasn’t alone, and I loved her so much. 

I guess my smile has always been a part of me. Reading my old diaries makes me realize that I’ve always been an anxious kid with extreme test anxiety and maybe a low-key panic disorder. I was so depressed back then, but God was just beginning to create something amazing out of me. I wasn’t supposed to pass algebra, but I made it to calculus through tears, mercy and grace.  When I smile, I don’t realize it. I don’t ever notice how much God has been working in me from the beginning either.
God, whether I’m broken or not I will always smile. My smile will forever be a reflection of you. 

Questions 

Today I was at the dollar store to buy a poster board for a group project, and a guy passing me smiled this huge smile, and then told me that I had a beautiful smile. And I find that weird, because smiling hurts my cheeks but I just can’t seem to contain it, but I try to because I’m not happy and am genuinely afraid of making eye contact with people, as if they can see through my soul and all of the shattered pieces. 

But am I broken? I don’t know. It definitely seems like it sometimes. I can’t seem to do anything right, and I’m sick of trying. I feel misplaced everywhere, because I am not normal, and I don’t belong anywhere or with anyone. I feel sad that I don’t completely fit in, though I love everyone. My days have been so off lately, and I’ve just been so unsatisfied with every aspect of my life. What is missing? 

Nothing should be missing. My life may not be Instagram worthy, but I have pretty amazing experiences that are so unique to me. Then why do I feel so empty? Is it because I’m selfish and am working so hard for nothing? Is it because the biggest challenge is not my devotion and effort, but believing in God? Because we are not supposed to shake the chains of our sins on our own. We’ll never win that way. 

So what am I doing wrong? Shouldn’t I be fulfilled living this life full of crazy God moments and people? Because I’m not. Is Satan attacking me because I’m doing this right? Probably. Is it worth it to live the good life if Satan is going to attack you all the time if you do? 

Why am I not allowed to go to prom? Is it because my parents think I’m a terrible person? Or maybe they just don’t want me to feel beautiful. Or they think it’s stupid that prom will make me feel beautiful, because it won’t. Why don’t I feel beautiful? Because I have eczema, because I’ve never liked myself. Maybe they don’t want me to go because they don’t want me to be normal. They want me to be that stupid girl with wire glasses who can’t do anything, when that is not who I am. Maybe inward beauty doesn’t exist in me, because I am a feckless mess. Why am I a feckless mess when I have so much to be grateful for? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I honor a word my parents say? 
Why do I cry so much? Maybe God has a better plan. Am I smart enough? I don’t get anything in school right now. Why do I have eczema? Because God had used it so much. God has used all of my experiences, but that doesn’t make them hurt any less. Who am I? Because I don’t know this girl. The girl I know isn’t broken. She is clumsy but capable, beautiful but incomplete.

Dear God,

You raise the broken to life. You mend them. But I never feel mended, ever. I know I have a purpose; but it hurts a lot. Give me the strength to keep going. Make me humble enough to stop thinking I’ve earned what I have, when I didn’t. Answer my questions God, let me wrestle with you. 

Consigning My Life

Perhaps this is what it feels like to have peace. It’s not understanding anything, but knowing that’s okay. It’s trying to do the impossible, but having all the resources to succeed. It’s fighting like crazy to understand, and slowly starting to understand each day. It’s learning to breathe, and hear me when I say learning. It’s being imperfect, and working hard to not be perfect, but to grow. 

Peace is not understanding God, but consigning your life to him anyways knowing that what he has in store is better for you. It is choosing to follow him even though it’s going to hurt probably a lot. It is knowing that all growth takes risk and accepting that you will undergo hardship, because those hardships will be worth it in the end. It is knowing that you don’t belong here in these worldly affairs, that earthly capablilites are quite amazing but eternal capablilites are even better. It is accepting that your amazing body is flawed, and those flaws make you beautiful. 

Today, I’m so grateful for encouraging texts, dog pictures, and people who remind me that I’m never alone. Ever since I’ve consigned my life to God, I’ve wrestled with his abstruseness and he’s molded me a lot. But today as the anxiety is real and there is so much to do, I know that because I’ve given my life over to Him, I have nothing to worry. He’s in control, and I’m sitting in the shotgun of his car. I put him there because I trust him. There is peace in that. So therefore I will not try to push him out of the driver’s seat and drive myself, because then of course I will never experience peace.