The Assignment

In one of my classes – Teaching the Faith – we have to write about our personal faith journey, the moment we knew our faith started, and how it has grown. So I thought I would share it with all of you too. My faith is a very important part of my life, and I would love to take this opportunity to share this with the world.


Similarly to the author of Building Faith One Child at a Time, I have always been a Lutheran and was baptized as an infant. Especially with growing up as a pastor’s daughter, it is hard to recall a specific moment that my faith started. Thinking back in more detail, I suppose that the first time I really identified my faith as mine was after my family moved from La Crescent, MN to Green Bay, WI.

This was a really difficult transition for me and I did not handle it in a recommended way. My family had moved a few times before, but at an age where I still felt comfortable reaching out to new friends. This was a primarily challenging area in my new life in Green Bay. My parents made the decision to send me to the LCMS High School in Green Bay, which I was excited to be a part of. I dealt with a hard time making friends, being bullied by people I trusted too quickly. The bullying, in addition to the move itself, led me into a period of depression and heightened anxiety. I began self-harming.

I eventually stopped self-harming when I opened up to a friend at church who also had scars and stories to tell. She was later hospitalized for her self-harm and bipolar disorder, we sadly lost touch. Since I was involved in a lot of sports, I went to great lengths to hide my scars. Eventually I slowed my self-harm and was able to stop. This was primarily due to increased involvement in music at my school. I developed a close bond with my music teacher and with another girl in my class.

My favorite part about being involved in the music scene at my school was the incorporation of God’s Word into nearly all of our pieces and concerts. I felt a true connection to my Savior through the means of music. It was an obvious way of praise for me.

Unfortunately, later in my high school career I did begin to self-harm again – and worse than ever before. I became much less involved in all areas of school and even quit my job because of it. It seemed like there was no right answer to how to recover. I eventually turned to Pandora and was listening to sad, sappy love songs every night as I sunk into depression. You Are More by Tenth Avenue North popped up. I bawled my eyes out. I knew this was God speaking to me. Once again, He pulled me back in with the power of music once again.

While I have always identified as a Christian, and more specifically a Lutheran, nothing has been more impactful on my faith than music. To boil it down, my faith started to be mine in that choir classroom in Green Bay. It wavered, and fell dramatically as I struggled with depression and anxiety. As I have gone through college, it has been on a steady path up. I have never felt more spiritually rich than I do now. This amazes me because I am not actively involved in any music right now. The most Christian music I encounter is from a few CDs Trevor and I have in our car and by attending church. Still, this is enough to keep me focused on nurturing my faith.


I hope my story can be a source of hope for those of you struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-harm. God’s love amazes me. He saved me when I was at below my worst. He’s still saving me now.

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Stress

Life is hard.

It seems like lately that is all I can think about. It scares me thinking about next year, and that’s all I do lately-imagine the future. Next year I’ll be married (which I cannot wait for). I will be taking 21 credits fall semester. I will have to be working a lot to pay rent. I will have insurance to pay for. There are so many expenses ahead. The thought of them all makes me feel so small and scared.

I have never been one to handle stress particularly well, and sometimes it has ended poorly. I have been working on improving my stress management, but today has been particularly hard. Trevor and I still do not know where we’re living next year. I have a presentation tomorrow that I have been working on all day. There is so much going on right now. So much to have to do.

How can I do it all? Is it even possible? Why do I bother trying anymore? Will anyone care if I stop caring about everything? I’m on the verge of going backwards through all of my progress. My only motivation is to not have visible scars on my wedding day. I think that’s the only thing keeping me sane right now actually.

I got a tattoo the summer after my senior year of high school. My parents weren’t (and still aren’t) too fond of it, but it’s one of the few things that keeps my head on straight in some of these situations. My tattoo is “Romans 12:12.” The verse reads,

Rejoice in hope. Be patient in tribulation. Be constant in prayer.

I mumble it to myself in these hard and stressful times. I may really suck at being patient, but I can always pray. I thank God (not enough) for the ability to talk to Him and that He listens to me. He’s here for me when no one else is; when I feel completely alone in my stress.

God is so good.

Time

I am the queen of overcommitment. I hate saying “no” to things and love being involved. I do not enjoy being bored or sitting around and having nothing to do, why else would I run two blogs? 😉

However, sometimes this backfires on me. This past year I was working two part time jobs, attending school full time, and planning a wedding. I realized how negatively it was impacting my relationships with friends and my fiance, how it disrupted my mood, and how I was having a rough time with sleep, time management, and stress. I stopped working one of my jobs, the one that was causing the most stress, even though I was getting a lot of good experience from it. I knew I needed to have something removed so I could have time to breath.

My wedding planning has luckily not been a huge place of stress. Don’t get me wrong, I do get frustrated over stuff often, you can ask Trevor. But it is not nearly as negatively stressful as I would have anticipated. I will admit that I am excited for the planning to be over though. We’re under the four month mark!

Stress is not a bad thing. You need stress. The key component though, is how you handle stress. I am working at becoming better at stress management, but I also know it is important for me to leave wiggle room. If I push myself too far, old habits could pop up and set me back farther. Thankfully I have been able to stay on track and notice “red flags” as they pop up and take care of them soon rather than later.

More importantly, I have been leaving time for me. I have time for myself to do things. Lately, that has meant time to read my Bible more, to read other books for fun, to work on my Doctor Who puzzle (which I finally finished), to watch Netflix, to spend time with my fiance and not be stressed. It has been wonderful to have this time where I am not constantly dwelling on what needs to get done. I am more appreciative of time in general now.

More

In these first few posts of my brand-spankin-new blog, I hope all of you learn more about me. I yearn for you to all feel a personal connection with me, regardless of if you know me or not. (I really like the word yearn-by the way).

One aspect of my personality that can be both positive and negative is how I want to be the best me that there can possibly be. In many cases, this means I push myself. I see the potential possibilities of a situation and I want to fulfill them all! How awesome for my employers, right? They’re sure getting the most for their money when I’m scheduled. In my work life, school life, family life, and every single other area-I want to push myself farther. That is the positive side.

Success has always been something I have tried to grasp in every situation. But regardless of what others consider “successful,” I have almost always seen a circumstance of wanting to achieve more. Even when everyone around me has told me I have attained success-I think about the areas I could have done better in and been even more successful. While you may consider this to be another positive side of this many-faceted coin, I suggest that it can in fact be negative, as it was for me. I became obsessed with the idea that I was never going to be as successful as I could possibly be. I would never meet my idea of “perfect.”

This was another thing that led to me self-harming and was a key aspect of my discussions with my counselor.

I have learned that it is important to push myself to work hard at everything I do, but realize that I am only human and that means I will  make mistakes. I will never be perfect. But regardless of my unending imperfection, Christ loves me anyway.

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I don’t know about you, but that is amazing to me. He loves me even though I am a sinner who will never be good enough by His standards. It simply blows my mind. I do not think there is any better way to see how blessed I am than that He has loved me and died for me.