Thursday, June 18, 2009

"God is this all there is?"

So I've started to realize this thing about life.

Everything I want out of it isn't real.

I don't want real life. I just want this wonderful, beautiful, colorful, romanticized version of life that is impossible.

I blame Disney. Not really, because that'd be lame and wouldn't really work. But wouldn't it be awesome if you could shift the blame that quickly and have it be true?

I always want someone else's life. Someone else's style, talent, personality, body, face, anything and everything. Just so long as it isn't mine. It isn't even that I want it to be perfect and happy neccessarily. It could be rather tragic, and I'd be okay with it I think, just so long as it was one of those types of things that was tragically beautiful. It could be broken and screwed up, so long as it was in one of those perfectly, poetically broken ways.
But instead I have my life. My style, talent, personality, body, face, all of that. It's not tragic or perfect. It There's nothing poetic or romantic about it. It's just me going through motions every day trying to get through to the next day for no particular reason other than it's just what I do.

No goals, no motivation, no direction. I just sit on a couch drowning myself in books. Tune out my surroundings with music. Overstimulating myself with picture after picture. All these beautiful words, notes, images. I just want to absorb them and have them become a part of me. Maybe if I did I would have something to show. But instead they just stay outside staring back at me in almost a taunting way as if to say "look at what someone else has. you can't have it. you will never have anything so rich as this."

I think I resent that quite a bit.

My life is blank. I don't enjoy that much.

Monday, November 3, 2008

All I need

So it's been a long time since I last wrote, but that's okay.

College is going very well. I absolutely love it here and have made so many amazing friends and have developed such beautiful, God centered relationships it literally brings tears to my eyes to talk about how blessed I am by the people here. They are simply amazing, beautiful, encouraging, Godly people. My classes are challenging, and I'm trying my hardest to keep up as best as I can with them.

I love my life here, and am definitely the happiest I have been in years. Even with all of that though, I am still definitely being challenged. I'm being stretched and pulled in all sorts of directions: to trust, to believe, to love, to be patient, to have faith, to persevere, to be still and know that He is in control.

Lots of new developments have come into play in my life since I've gotten here; things from this new chapter of my life, and story lines from the previous ones seeping through. Being the type of person I am, I don't deal with anything as it comes, instead I just bottle it up and try to hide it in the back of my head. Consequently all of these stored emotions have been bursting out in waves, and it's all I can do to keep smiling at my friends and participating in class. Life has a tendency to all be so very overwhelming and I don't know what to do, how to handle it, how to process it. So I just keep bottling it up and pushing it back as much as I can.

These past two weeks though that hasn't been working out so well and I've been having a very hard time. I laid in my bed last night staring blankly at my open bible, wishing some scripture would just jump out and give me an answer to this dull ache I've found to be constantly hovering over my heart. I tossed the pages back and forth skimming randomly, trying to find some verse that spoke about stress, anxiety, hurt, trust, faith. Nothing jumped out at me and I was feeling very frustrated. I started praying asking God to take away the aches, the confusion. I continued to just pray, asking God for things. Give me this, give me that, take away this, fix that, make me happy. Me me me me me. Give give give give. Make ME happy. Make ME fixed. Make ME whole. And it hit me. Why do I just whine so much? Why do I always go to God when I'm hurt? When I feel lost and confused? Why do I always complain to him about what's going wrong instead of thanking Him for all that is good and right in my life? Because let me tell you, there is ALOT for me to be thankful for, and yet I rarely ever actually thank Him. I'll praise Him, but usually only when He's recently done something for me.

...Really? How selfish can I be?

Right there and then I got up and turned on praise music and just sang. I stood in the middle of my dorm room and just sang praise and thanks and that burden was lifted.

What on earth took me so long to do that? God has given me so much in my life! He has blessed me so much and has taken care of me continuously, no matter how many times I screw up, He loves me at all times, and He is constantly giving. Yet that's never good enough for me. I feel one little prick of pain and I come whining to him, begging for the healing to my pain and the reason behind it. I think that if I were to praise God and thank Him for all that is good in my life, I wouldn't be able to feel the most excruciating pain. Because lets face it. I'm 17, I'm in a private college which my parents pay for, my parents are still married, were both very loving and supportive my entire childhood, and I have never been left wanting for anything in my life. God has been so good to me. My life is beautiful and it is blessed by Him and I am so incredibly amazed by God's grace to me. Even with the many different pains I have had in my life, they pale in comparison to the joys He has given me. I just need to focus on that.

All I Need, by Shawn McDonald

As I sit here and think
About all that You've done
About how You gave me Your one and only Son
And I'm trying to fathom
All that You are, but so far, Lord
You're so beyond me
I fall down in reverence
And I fall down in fear
And I'm asking You, Lord, won't You please draw near
Won't You open my eyes
So that I can see
The way that You are working in me
All I need is Your love
To come and fill this heart of mine
My heart is a desert that has gone dry
And I need Your love to carry me by, by, by, by, by
To carry me by, by, by, by, by
To carry me by
And I lay down my life
And I put it before You
All that I am is in your hands
And I’m not gonna question why you’re so faithful
Why that You give me the blessings that You have
Let the glory be known, let the glory be shown
To lift You up unto the throne
You are my God, You are my King
To You I give, I give You everything

Saturday, September 6, 2008

...I'm a big girl now?

On August 29th I woke up at 4 in the morning, wide awake. I hadn't been able to fall asleep until approximately 1:30 AM. I had butterflies in my stomach, my legs were restless and my mind was racing.

I was leaving for college in 4 hours.

Yes, that's right. College. 4 hours. Me, Eliza Ray Jarvis. I was actually going to college.

After a very long, draining, difficult summer, I was finally on my way to start a new chapter--heck, a whole new plot--in my life. Since May I had been waiting for this day anxiously, counting down the days and preparing. I was excited for a few reasons. I was going to start working on doing what I feel I'm called to do, I was going to be taught invaluable lessons by professors, friends, RAs, and God. I was going to meet knew people, make new friends. And one of the scariest, yet most exhilirating things:

I was starting fresh.

It's not that I wouldn't be able to learn things in Rochester. It's not that I don't love my friends and family there, and it's most definitely not that God isn't there. That's not why I was leaving, that's not why I needed this new start. At home I felt as if my past had me bound and gagged. I couldn't break free from it. If I started, I had so many chains wrapped around my feet that I could never walk very far away from it. It was frustrating, to say the very least. Because I really and truly do want to change, I want to break free of that part of my life because it is exactly what I called it. My past.

And so I arrived at my college campus. I met my roommates (who are simply wonderful), I met my RA (again, simply wonderful) and I met amazing friends within the first day. I am so unbelievably thankful I am here, and I am so, so happy. Yet there was still one thing I didn't count on.

My past? It's still there. It's still a part of me. It's almost as if it's sitting on the sidelines, shouting at me, reminding me of why I can't do this, why I shouldn't, why I'm worthless and a failure. When I realized this, I was pretty bummed about it. I knew I would still have to work hard at getting over problems from my past, but I thought it would be so much easier than this. Looking at my friends, they make it seem as though they have it all worked out, it's all effortless.

Then last night I was coloring with three of my friends (yes, college students color. ...Even on a friday night, hahaha) when a friend came excitedly out of another friends dorm, telling us that we had to listen to something amazing. So the three of us dropped what we were doing and walked down to the dorm room. Sitting there were to boys that I had met previously but really didn't know anything about other than their faces and their names. One was sitting at a keyboard, the other on a chair holding his electric guitar. The piano player began to explain how he came to Houghton to grow closer to God, to move away from his past...and basically just started speaking MY story...but in his translation. Yet there was a key difference. He spoke about how he knew only God could change things, how he couldn't do anything...I on the other hand, wanted to do it all by myself. How? By simply pushing it out of my memory.

Yeah, smart, I know.

After the little opening explanation, they began to play a song they had just written a few minutes before...and it was simply beautiful. Tears were welling up in my eyes as I listened to the heartfelt lyrics about letting go, and handing everything over to God. I looked around the dorm we had all squished into, and to my surprise, everyone was having the same reaction. That's when I realized that I'm not the only one who has things they need to let go of. Each one of us has a wound that needs to be healed, or something we need to hand over to God. It was such a powerful moment for me to realize that I wasn't alone in the struggle I was facing. Not only did I have these amazing people...I have an even more amazing God. And with Him, I can leave those things of my past behind me. I can walk away.

The lyrics:

I come before You now, With no words to say.
Nothing left to speak. Just bringing me
I’m pouring out my heart. I’m emptying myself
Make me a vessel, Ready to be used by you.

Come and fill me up with your Holy Spirit
I want to be used by you
I give my life into Your hands.

My life has been a wreck. I’ve been selfish and self-serving
But I ask You to take this mess. Though I am undeserving make me new Lord.
I am pouring out my heart. I’m emptying myself
I want to be used by You

Come and fill me up with your Holy Spirit
I want to be used by You
I give my life into your hands
Come and fill my life with your grace and mercy
Cleanse be from my sin
I give my life into your hands

I come before the cross. To lay down my burdens
Dying to myself, living for Your name.
I’m taking up my cross. I sacrifice myself
I want to live a life bringing glory to your name

Come and fill me up with your Holy Spirit
I want to be used by You
I give my life into your hands
Come and fill my life with your grace and mercy
Cleanse me from my sin
I give my life into Your hands

-By Jordan Barnum

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I am still running.

I would be lying blatantly to you if I told you I've been doing well these past few months.

I've been putting myself first, and God last. I came to a point where I seriously questioned why I was still fighting and pushing forward. What the point of it was, if it would really make a difference, if I really wanted to even bother.

As I was telling a friend this they told me that I needed to decide. I can't keep wobbling back and forth. I need to make the choice every single day. I need to realize what it is in life that I'm here for, what it is in life that I want, what that risks, what that takes away, what that gives me, etc. At first I struggled with that, because I really still am not sure what I'm really here for or what I want out of life. But I understood what the basic premise of it. So I decided to keep on stumbling around, in hopes that I would eventually figure it out.

I was babysitting for my sister recently after that talk and suddenly for no apparent reason as I was in the kitchen getting some snacks for the kids I literally collapsed into tears. They were all happily oblivious as they watched Scooby Doo (sorry Katie!) in the living room, as their aunt--who was supposed to be taking care of them--was curled up in a ball in front of the refrigerator bawling for no reason. Nora eventually grew impatient and came to see what on earth was taking me so long to get her yogurt. When she saw me her face immediately changed from irritated to sympathetic. "What's wrong?" I laughed, sniffed, and said "I don't know princess. I just don't know." She sat down by my feet and placed her hand on my ankle and tried to comfort me. I felt ridiculous and childish, and hated that my niece saw me like that. I hated that I couldn't keep a solid grip on myself in front of the kids. I wanted desperately to be the strong, happy, fun aunt. Not the aunt who breaks down periodically for no real apparent reason.

That situation really just kind of summed up how I've been feeling internally for so long. I've felt too weak to hold myself up. I've wanted to cry so many times and yet surprisingly hardly have. I've been weak, tired, sad, and lonely. And I just continually asked myself what was I doing it for? What was I continuing with all of these struggles in my life for? I realize now that it's a horribly selfish question, but at the time it was one that I couldn't get out of my head.

A few days after all of that, I was going through some photos from Peru and Thailand.

"Do it for them." I heard it in my heart with every picture of the villagers and children that I looked through. Then I came to a picture of my niece and myself. "Do it for her." My entire heart just ached, like it does now. Tears were stinging my eyes, like they are now. It literally pains me that I've been this selfish. That I actually have questioned God's purpose for putting me here.

I'm so happy to say that I'm no longer questioning it.

I'm simply doing it.

I'm doing it for them:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Such games of tug o' war.

I've been thinking about posting for a while, but I never can find the words to say. Or the subject to talk about.

Life has been full of up and downs. Mainly being that my grandfather passed away on June 1st. It was very hard, but in all honesty it was a blessing for him. He was very ill. Still, that didn't make his passing any easier.

Lately I've just found myself in the middle of such a struggle between my heart and my head. My heart will ache for something desperately, but I'll talk myself out of it. I'll know one thing in my head, but my heart screams something else. It's draining, to say the least.

And so that's been the extent of my focus this past month, trying to decide what to listen to. Which side is real, which is fake. Which is right, which is wrong...What I really want. What do I really want? I know that none of this should be consuming my time, I should be devoting it to other things...God, family....and yet, in spite of knowing that, I still can't get myself to focus on what I know I should. So I'm stuck in a series of melancholy, foggy days.

So that's really all I have to write, unfortunately it's not anything particularely inspiring, uplifting, or even just interesting. I just figured I'd let you know I am in fact alive.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Glancing in the rear view mirror.

I was going through some journals and I found something I wrote a little under a year ago...It's not great, but it just hit me in the gut. I still feel so much the same as I did the very moment I wrote this, even with how much I've grown and changed.

I peeked out between my fingers as I spun making sure I was going fast enough. Closing them tight I spun faster feeling my dress twirl out around me. Maybe if I spun fast enough it would change. My orange walls would go back to being white, my blond hair would go back to being brown, I would shrink a few inches and the gap between my two front teeth would come back. If was lucky maybe my scars would disappear and I would feel safe again. Faster and faster; my feet started to burn from spinning on the floor for so long. Mustering up my strength I stopped suddenly and tore my hands away from my eyes.

My walls were still orange. Nothing in me had shrunk, disappeared or reappeared. I was still 16, still lost, still confused, still hurt, and still desperate for something.

Something safe, secure, and familiar.

I closed my eyes tight and shook my head violently hoping for a different result.

Everything remained as it was before.

Nothing could change it, no games or wishes.

My world, crashed.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Do more than survive...Let's live like we're alive.

God has been trying to get something across to me lately, I've realized. I'm very excited about this, but also very terrified. Let me explain.

I am a very opinionated person. I am very loud, outspoken, blunt, sarcastic, and stubborn.

Yet the question of who I am is one that I have never been able to truly answer. If I ever did manage to produce an answer, it was someone else's me. Somebody else's Eliza Ray. Or at least, the Eliza Ray Jarvis I thought they wanted.

I have always based my identity on who I am closest with at the moment. Who I believe they want to see, to know, to be with. As you can imagine, this has caused me a lot of heart ache and confusion. People don't stick with you, they're not constant, they're not unchanging. Trying to warp yourself to fit perfectly with them is impossible, for multiple reasons. Basically, it's just an awful idea to ever try to do. Because when it's time for that person to leave your life (not to be pessimistic, but let's face it, every relationship has that point), your whole foundation is going to be utterly shattered. You'll be heartbroken, lost, confused, and in unimaginable pain.

Or at least I was.

I've made that mistake over 4 times in my life. I changed who I was for who I was closest to, all the while claiming that I was very much my own person, and I would never change for anyone...Looking back, I think that was just my way of trying to convince myself that I didn't change myself for whoever walked by, when in all actuality I did. Every time those friendships came to an end - no matter what the cause behind it may have been - I was left feeling very much insecure, hurt, confused and lost. Until the next person came along that I started to grow close to.

After a certain point, I had had enough of it. I grew extremely bitter, cynical, and untrusting of others. I decided that the only person who would define me, would be myself. I convinced myself that I didn't want or need anyone other than myself. And I was totally set on this.

I'm sure you can see how ridiculous that is, and just how horrible of a decision that is. Because I wasn't just excluding people, although I thought I was, I was also excluding God. I said no one was going to define me but me...And that meant everyone.

Now, as most human beings are, I was toxic. And locking myself up inside of myself just led to a continuous poisoning of my heart, soul, and mind. I got extremely caught up in various self destructive behaviors, and was spiriling down a very dark and lonely place. But I knew who I was. I knew who and what defined me. Or at least I thought I did. Thanks to God's grace, and really and truly ONLY His grace, I finally realized what I was doing and how I had to get out of that vicious cycle. So I started trying to dig and scrape myself out. Note that I said I was trying to do it. Soon, I gave up on that. I knew I couldn't do that, and that I needed help. So who did I go back to? Other humans. Again. I went back to that same cycle of identifying myself off of other people. I didn't even realize it. I went running to them with my fears, insecurities, anger, everything. And still I felt so lost, so confused, so utterly faceless.

And then suddenly God came and grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the grave I had dug for myself.

Still though, I was unsure, untrusting, and unwilling. I'd grown quite used to my little hole.
But God kept making a point of speaking to me. It reminds me of that feeling you get when your parents keep pressing an issue, and you just desperately want them to drop it and forget it. God kept on popping up everywhere, pressing the issue. But I didn't get annoyed, like I would normally. I got kind of paranoid, and scared, while putting up the farce that I was totally accepting it.

My friend John wrote me a message, and was speaking about how we have to die to ourselves to be alive in Christ. At the opening of Aquire The Fire the message was about diving down as deep as we possibly could go in "God's water", which is what we were made for. Not just swimming in the shallow end, where we could jump in and out as we pleased. But diving in, drowning, in God. Allowing God to bring us to life again, in HIM. The worship was all about surrendering, so we could become who we are in Christ.

Everything lately seems to be revolving around letting go of who I am, dying to myself, surrendering all I have, and becoming who God would have me be. Become who I am in Him. Because that is truly who I am. I'm not just some seventeen year old girl. I am God's daughter. Seriously. I am God's daughter.

That is who I am. He sees me as I am, too. This whole image of "me" just doesn't matter. So I am no longer pretending to accept it. I am still terrified. But I'm not going to just pretend that I'm accepting it. I am accepting it.

I'm trying my hardest to swim to the very bottom. To surrender all of myself, every last aspect. That is what I am made to do.

Because otherwise...I'm no one.