Ok, contrary to my dramatic title for this blog, (which I’ll address later) I had a really good weekend. I didn’t work Saturday because I had my first race and it was pretty awesome. My friend and I finished 4.2 miles in a little over an hour. It was hot, early and there were thousands of people but I loved every minute of it.
Running that race and completing it was probably one of my favorite moments in life. I know it was only 4.2 miles, but to complete that thing was a huge accomplishment for me. Running in general has been a huge accomplishment. It’s literally changed my life. I am healthier, a lot more confident and finally doing something just for me. So to my friend Kyesha, who suggested I sign up for this race and the half marathon in September…thank you! Running has done so much for me and you are a big part of that.
So, back to the title.
Sunday, my friend and I checked out an young adults group at the church we attend. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to visiting this group. I am terrible with meeting new people. It scares the crap out of me. I always feel awkward and I have a hard time keeping conversations going. In my head, I just knew that it would be awkward and uncomfortable just like every other church group we visited. I was ready to just stick by my friend and bail out.
I was completely wrong. The church group was amazing. I was slightly uncomfortable in the beginning but as we got going and started studying the theme of community, all the discomfort slowly seemed to diminish. I started to push myself to be more social, to try to make connections and not fall back into my, “I’m an introvert, I don’t do new people” thing. At the end of the study group, I’d met four or five new people, knew their names, agreed to go and actually went to lunch with them and… signed up to lead an ice breaker next week. I figured that if I can lead groups for 20 or so psychotic people on a weekly basis, than I can do a five minute ice breaker for a small bible study.
WTH?! Who is this weird person who is actually attempting to socialize like a human being and actually enjoying it? Where did she come from and where the heck has she been?!
This is when I realized, the person who is getting in the way of fellowship with others, building a strong community of christian friends and growing in my faith with others…it’s me.
I need to die to myself.
Dying to myself and yielding to God has always, ALWAYS been something that I struggle with on a daily basis. Heck, I’ve struggled with it most of my life, particularly my adult life. I have to admit, it’s been difficult viewing “dying to self” as a positive thing. For me, I like to control everything. Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty laid back, but when it comes to my life, I am a bit of a control freak. I like to do what I want, when I want to do it and how I want to do it, with very limited input from others. Dying to myself and yielding to God, means giving up control and frankly, I’m not a fan. I love God, but as hard as it is to admit, I love myself more. I need to die to that mentality, and it’s not an easy task.
Yielding also means trusting…and I struggle with trust. Not just trusting others, but trusting God. I’ve walked this walk since I was eight, and yet trust is something I struggle with. I really need to fix that. I am constantly working on it, but its getting old and this trust issue crap needs to die.
Dying to myself, when I do finally let go and do it, actually turns out pretty well. For example, if I would have stuck to my “shy, not going to talk to anyone, hang back and watch personality“, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to engage with that group. Yes I was super uncomfortable and scared at first, but it passed. I was able to function and engage in great conversation about Christianity, something I have been STARVING for and begging God for with others here in AZ. I was able to recognize a place where I could actually start building that community I’ve wanted. I started to see the beginnings of the things I asked God for, and I was thrilled. Sure, it wasn’t on my time line (it NEVER is) but it’s happening.
During our group, our bible study leader mentioned that community takes a long time to build. I think when I first came back to AZ, I expected to build community with others right away. When I think back to my California community, it took me nearly 3 years to get as close to those guys as I did. And for them, I know it was like pulling teeth. As for my friends here in AZ, it took a year or two with some of them; the only odd ball being one of my best friends. We somehow clicked right away despite my social awkwardness. So, looking at all this…minus my best friend…my expectations were clearly out of touch with reality.
I realize dying to yourself isn’t always related to Christianity. If I hadn’t died to my laziness, I wouldn’t have seriously picked up running and I wouldn’t be as happy or healthy as I am now. If I hadn’t died to my unhappiness, I would still be at my awful job at the state wasting away, hating life and trying not to open a vein in my office. If I hadn’t died to my pride and lack of self worth, I would never know the power of confrontation and forgiveness. If I hadn’t died to my fear, I would have never left Georgia. There are so many benefits to “dying” but when I am trapped in my fear of letting go of what’s familiar, I seem to forget them.
I see my faith, my walk as something that is always growing and always a work in progress. I am human, and I fail on a daily basis, but I am actively fighting to kill the things in me that hold me back and keep me from being the person I invision myself to be in Christ. There are days where I literally scream “WHY DON”T YOU JUST DIE??!!“, to my fear, my trust issues and my pride. I want to get to the point that I just willingly yield to Him and those things just fall away. I want to get to the point where my first choice is to always go to Him. I want to get to the point where I love him more than myself.
I’ll end this with this poem I found that describes where I want to be as I am out of words and need to go study: