This is a place of ME. This is a place where I will let the walls down and be honest. Joys and stories or tears and heartbreaks, they will all be here. Devotionals to poems, my heart is open to you. I will love well. I will love you and honor you by allowing you into my brokenness and the truth that God has reviled to me. This is a place of Me.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Autoethnographic Explorations of Intrapersonal Communications (FINAL PAPER)

There and Back Again:
A Young Girl’s Tale by Sarah Grundy


PROLOGUE: Once upon a time…there was a young girl. She loved her parents, brothers, friends, and though she started out shy she loved nearly everyone she came in contact with. From the moment that pieces of her identity began to form when she met her little brother to the day that her value and self-worth were shaken into place, this is her story. I invite you into a few of the moments that created her basic identities, fears, hopes, and dreams. I hope that you are able to relate to pieces of her story, find hope, and know that whatever you are facing today you are not alone.


EPISODE 1: The Little Blue Bunny (1993)

I was almost 2 years old, a little blonde girl who loved Barney, football and wild flowers. I adored my parents and they adored me. One day, my aunt and uncle took me to the hospital to meet my new little brother. I remember carrying a little blue bunny to give to the baby. I understood generally what a brother was, but I thought it would be like getting another baby doll.
I remember standing on my tippy toes, gripping the little blue bunny, and peeking into a clear box that held this small human. People say that a parent’s whole world changes when they are overwhelmed with love for this new little life. I felt something similar to that for the little blue bundle that was my brother. I don’t remember what I thought (I probably didn’t have the language skills to put words to it), but I fully remember the emotions I felt as an almost 2-year-old. My heart swelled with what I can now put words to as unconditional love and protectiveness for that little blue bundle.
Growing older we would fight like cats and dogs, but the second that anyone was mean to him, he was hurt, and even when my parents tried to discipline him I would step in and fight for him. One blog describes the role of the older sibling as the “defender and mentor for the younger child.” (Mrs. Sleepysparrow, 2016 https://sleepysparrow.com/whats-the-role-of-the-older-sibling/) Somehow I grasped that role at a very young age. This is the earliest memory I have. It was the moment where I first understood something about purpose. In this instant, meaning was made. Meaning of my identity, my understanding of self and other grew, and assigning importance to that little blue bundle. (“Meaning Making” Week 2 Slide 8) I know those are big words and thoughts for such a small girl, but somehow I understood I was no longer just “Sarah”, but from here on out I was big sister, vice mom, and Sissy.
Little did I know that he would only be the first of 3 little blue bundles to capture my heart. The identity of “Big Sister” created that day in the hospital shaped me throughout my life in a way that only a few other things have. When I asked my second brother Stephen what my identity as “Big Sister” has looked like this is what he said, “You have managed to develop a unique balance of compassion, openness, along with sage experience-based wisdom, and bad ass “mom” that can still keep people in line.” (Moldenhaueer, 2018) My adaptation of self, self-concept, personality, and personal values started to be shaped in this early years and grew into the description by brother described (though I think he left out all the crazy, not so great, sister moments in his answer). It all started with the impact those 3 little boys had as they captured my heart. To this day every time I look at that little blue bunny I am filled with the same love and protectiveness that I felt that day in the hospital when I met my first little brother.


EPISODE 2: The Doll House (1998)
When I was a little girl, about 7 years old, I desperately wanted a doll house. My friend Joanna had a big beautiful wooden doll house that I tried not to be jealous of every time I went to her house. My family couldn’t afford even a small simple doll house, so I was saving up my birthday money. I cherished every penny as it got me closer to a beautiful doll house like Joanna’s. One day sitting in church dressed up and desperately trying to sit still and pretend to understand what the pastor was talking about, something caught my attention. The pastor was telling a story. A story of someone in need and he asked for an offering so that we could help them. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but I know it was to help someone who needed it more than I did. My little heart started to beat faster, my palms began to sweat, and I knew that this is where I should put my money. Nothing else mattered as much as helping people that needed it, not even my doll house. I took out all the money I had in my little pink purse and put it in the gold and red-velvet offering plate as it went past. That afternoon driving home from church I watched all the houses flash past and knew I did the right thing. I understood that the doll house I wanted was even further out of reach and that made me sad, but I also knew I would give up a million doll houses if it meant I could help someone who needed it. I was content. Tiger Woods said, “They [his parents] taught me to give of myself, my time, talent, and most of all my love.” “This shows that you can have super involved parents who still foster the child’s own growth…” (Dweck p.194) This moment of contentment in a young girl was a reflection of the heart God gave her but also the desire to help others that was a result of intentional parenting by my Mom and Dad. Sitting there in church, they didn’t force me to give away all my money, but all of the small lessons they had taught lead up to me making that choice for myself. As simple as it may seem, this was a big step toward developing a growth-mindset. I was able to deviate from my fixed plan in order to love someone else when they needed it.
That night as my brothers and I were playing outside I saw something AMAZING. It happened to be the week of the big trash pick-up day that happens a couple times a year, and in one of the piles at the top of our cul-de-sac was a pink and white treasure waiting for me: A beautiful doll house. I ran inside heart racing once again, and my dad helped me carry it to our house and give it a good scrub in the shower.
The moment I saw that doll house sitting there waiting for me on the same day that I listened to the voice inside of me that told me to help others regardless of my own wants, I felt like it was God saying, “Trust me, I will always take care of you.” Little did I know that that image of the white and pink doll house poking out of the trash pile would represent such a deeply needed promise from God. This image would carry me through eviction notices on our door growing up, bankruptcy for our family when I was in high school, and the struggle after David and I got married causing us to move 8 times in 4 years before finding a place we could call home. In moments of feeling worthless, less than, and undeserving, I don’t always know if I believed the words of that promise. Even in the moments of doubt, God always gently reminded me that He will always take care of me. I can trust Him. Whether it’s something as simple as a doll house, or as big as signing the papers buying our first home, He cares.



EPISODE 3 Cutting, Disorders, and Suicide (2005-2009)

As I ventured into my high school years I found myself part of many different worlds. I was a competitive gymnast for a local high school, a drama kid who kept the show running but never landed the lead role, I competed in the national homeschool speech and debate league, and found myself a part of the “popular crowd” though I tended to navigate towards those outside of our group. I was the nerd at gymnastics, the jock at speech competitions, and all around the good kid who enjoyed pushing the boundaries. The one thing that connected all of these worlds for me seemed to be that I was the one who people could turn to when life was falling apart.
As teenagers everything can feel like it’s the end of the world: that boy doesn’t like me, I got a bad grade, I don’t have cool clothes, etc. That being said, there are also things that many teenagers walk through that can deeply wound, confuse, and disconnect. I walked alongside friends going through many different things: Parents going through a divorce, parents with unrealistic expectations, sexual abuse, coming out as gay, bankruptcy, losing loved ones, and the list goes on and on. As we all walked through our own struggles, we each found coping mechanisms. Self-harm was at the top of the list for the majority of my friends. As I walked through the long nights and bouts of self-hatred I found myself spinning out of control and falling into an eating disorder as I tried to hold it all together. Any given night I would be up texting with 2-5 people about what they were thinking, feeling, and what they wanted to do (cutting, burning, pulling out hair, punching themselves, suicide). I would sit for hours in fear of what would happen if I didn’t respond. I would have constant Imagined Interactions of this friend falling apart and accidentally cutting a little too deep, or that friend saying, “fuck it” and driving off a cliff. More than once I called the cops to go pick up a friend before they attempted suicide. These images and scenarios I carried with me kept me motivated to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion. During Imagined Interactions the emotion can be almost as real, if not as real as it would be in real life. (Week 4, Slide 8). So, in essence I was reliving these horrific and traumatic things that I felt responsible for.
I was already a people pleaser and giver with the desire for everyone around me to feel loved. However, in this season I took it another step and put the outcome of every situation with on my own shoulders. I lived in fear that something would happen, and I would know I had not done EVERYTHING I could to love that person enough to keep them from hurting themselves. Talk about pressure and unrealistic expectations, and yet this is the state of mind I lived in most of my teenage years. I know now that much of what I did created a co-dependency and was as enabling as it was helpful. But what started with wanting to love with the best of intentions quickly began to say as much about me and my need to be needed as it did about my friends struggles.
My self-worth soon became wrapped up in how many people trusted me to solve their problems, who needed my advice, and how deep they would let me into their lives. If I wasn’t helping someone else I was depressed. I felt worthless and alone. I would tell myself that everyone else was hurting too much with their own stuff to worry about mine. And in some ways I still think I was right, but I also know that often my pride never gave them a chance to step into MY brokenness. In my pain and pride I built up walls to keep out loneliness. I put on a mask of strength so as not to burden anyone else and created a story in my head that “I am only worth something if I am doing something for others”. This type of self-talk created dysfunction and a distorted view of myself and the reality I lived in. It seemed to me (reality or not I still don’t know) that every time I turned around someone I had supported on a deeply personal level would move on and disappear. This would leave me alone, friendless, and looking for the next “project” to fill the void. At one point I held tight to the idea that God gave me to each guy I dated in their hardest season of life so that I could love and support them through it (talk about pride!), but once they were in a better place and no longer needed me they would move on. I have been fighting the idea that I am only valuable if I’m useful ever since.


EPISODE 4: The Earthquake (2017)
Growing up as the oldest of four kids, in a co-dependent homeschool community, and in a low income family, I quickly learned how to help people. I was the Vice Mom, Go To Person if someone needed support, and Provider in many ways. There are so many beautiful things about loving people well, knowing how to help them and actually make a difference. However, the older I got the more unhealthy this became. I would give and give until one day I felt my worth was all wrapped up in what I could do for other people. The line between myself and others was burred so deep that I lost sight of where I ended, and others begin. I slowly realized that this was a problem, but it wasn’t until I was 22 and married that I decided to do something about it. I began going to counseling, attended a weekend designed to peel back the layers to reveal who you were created to be, and I joined a group of women healing from the pain of life and running after Jesus. Little by little I began to pull back the layers of people pleasing and finding my value in what I could do for others. I began to rearrange unhealthy relationships that kept me stuck in destructive patterns. I would repeat over and over things like, “I am enough just as I am. I am loved for just being me. I am worthy of being fully known,” trying to use positive self-talk to move these new truths from my head to my heart. But something still wasn’t sticking. My husband is amazing and loves me well, but somehow in the depths of my heart I believed that if I wasn’t able to do enough for him, he wouldn’t stick around. If I worked hard and kept him happy he would stick around because it was convenient, but nothing more. My head knew this wasn’t true, but my heart still couldn’t quite believe that he loved ME.
Last fall, we went on a humanitarian work trip to Mexico. We were helping with construction for a retreat center. David and I were working on a project together and having a great time, but the 3rd night I got REALLY sick. I was up all night unable to keep any liquids down. Finally, early the next afternoon I was able to keep some water and Dramamine down, but I was far too weak to do anything except sleep. I remember the guilt I felt lying in bed listening to the sounds of construction right outside my window. I felt completely useless. I dozed in and out of sleep until I awoke to what I thought was David shaking the bed to wake me up. It took me only a few more seconds to realize that more than just the bed was shaking. It was an earthquake. I remembered from a conversation the night before that the thing to do was to get out of the house. I stumbled out of bed with the floor waving under me. I was so dizzy, nauseous, and drowsy that I could hardly stand and fell into the door frame. I had to make it down a flight of winding stairs before I could make it outside to safety. I remember running down the stairs, unable to see straight watching the stairs moving and praying that God would make my feet and the stairs match just for a moment. I stumbled to the bottom of the stairs into the arms of our host and my husband. They came back for me. We all made it outside and I just sat shaking in David’s arms as the ground moved, trees bent, and the house rocked back and forth. As things began to still, the realization dawned. When I was at my absolute worst… smelly, sick, and unable to help anyone else… my husband ran back into a potentially crumbling building for me. Hundreds of lives were lost that day, and he risked his coming back in the house; not because I had earned it or was useful in that moment, but because he saw my value even at my worst.
I can’t say that I don’t still tie my worth and usefulness together. I think this will be a life long journey, but something shifted in me that day so now I can trust that my husband will be there no matter what, even when I am completely useless. This new level of trust has brought peace and understanding as I apply the same concept to how my family sees me, my boss, but most importantly… how God sees me. He chose to create me, and He loves his creation. He has chosen me to do some amazing things for Him, but His love and my worth are not based on how well I do things; His love is unconditional. Living out of this place of trust changes my everyday life and allows me to live out of a place of joy. It just took years of counseling and the epiphany of a 7.1 earthquake to show me that.
I know that this was a moment where my worldview shifted, beliefs took root, and from that moment on I was different. Psychology Today quotes Maya Angelou’s thoughts on what an epiphany is, she says, "It's the occurrence when the mind, the body, the heart, and the soul focus together and see an old thing in a new way." (Angelous, 2011, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/epiphany/201101/how-do-you-we-i-define-epiphany-exactly). This perfectly describes my experience. I still struggle with believing that I am loved for just being me, but this earth-shaking moment gives me something to hold onto, and every day I get closer to fully owning who I am outside of what I can do for others. Slowly, with the help of other people, positive self-talk, and holding on to God’s Truths, I’m rediscovering where I end, and others begin.


EPILOGUE:

This young woman’s story is far from over. She daily tries to love people well through grace and truth, while learning that she is not the end all be all for the world. While there are many walls still around her heart, her love for people is no less. Families in Afghanistan, kids in the foster care system, and really any child she comes in contact with captures her heart daily. She continues group counseling and is slowly but surely learning where she ends and others begin. She is currently working with an amazing team of staff and volunteers who spend each weekend teaching kids the lessons that took her years to learn. Her deepest desire is to love God and love people to the best of her ability. Her mission statement found through counseling is: With God I co-create a world of safety, intimacy, and freedom by maintaining strength, authenticity and playfulness.

No matter where life takes her next, she will strive to live In Mission.

Stay tuned for the next adventure…


Journal #10

PROMPT: For your final journal of the semester, you need to write between 100 and 300 words on the top three things you want to carry forward with you that you learned in this class this semester. This journal is shorter than usual - and this is on purpose. The point here is to really boil down three things to carry forward in your life as you move on from this space of weekly self-reflection and journaling.

If I don’t intentionally structure this, I know I will go on and on and on. So here we go!

1. Simply being more aware of my Intrapersonal Communication. There are many things in this class that I want to apply to my life, but if I don’t know what’s going on inside I won’t be able to effectively apply them. My hope is to notice in the moment how I’m communicating with myself and others, but also to make intentional time for internal reflection.

2. Continue to push into a growth-mindset. One of the most liberating things I am taking away from this class is the KNOWLEDGE, not just the HOPE, that I can grow and change for the better. Whether it’s learning a new language, being more kind to myself, or building lasting relationships, I now KNOW that I can grow. This somehow takes the pressure off, removes fear of failure, and helps me let go of trying so hard.

3. Parenting. We don’t have kids yet, but I hope that by the time we do, that I will have worked on myself enough so that I can help shape them into the best version of themselves. I know that I will fail as a parent on a daily basis, but my hope is that my response to that failure (because of what I have learned in this class) gives the kids the understanding that perfection isn’t an option, only growth.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Journal #9

PROMPT: Your journal for this week will take some of the material from last week and apply it to the material from Mindset. Guy Winch listed 7 Common Psychological Injuries we sustain in life in his Talk at Google:
• Failure
• Rejection
• Guilt
• Loneliness
• Brooding and Rumination
• Loss and Trauma
• Bouts of Low-Self Esteem
For this journal, reflect on the following prompt:
Which injuries from the list above have you sustained in the last few weeks or months? How did you heal/administer first aid? If you didn’t, in the future, how can you? How might approaching your psychological injuries with a growth mindset help you heal?

In the last couple months, I experienced several of these in a situation with someone in my life. I saw tension in the relationship but thought that there was still a team mindset trying to solve problems together even when we disagreed. But I misjudged the relationship and the other person was hurt and angry. Out of that came many harsh words about my character, intelligence, and worth. Through this I experienced rejection, guilt, loneliness, and low-self-esteem. I felt rejection when I was told that this person didn’t think they could ever get past things enough to be around me. I experienced guilt because, as with every situation, there were things I could have done differently. While I wasn’t being intentionally hurtful, I know that I can be very direct and stubborn sometimes and I felt guilt looking back on that. The loneliness came because the relationship that I thought was there was lost. The respect and trust I had in them was broken. Not only that, but this person is a person of influence in our social circle and I felt like I might get pushed out completely. The low-self-esteem followed the painful conversation. It took me a couple weeks to be able to weed out the messages that had more to be said about that person than myself and be able to take an honest look at the things that were said that I needed to work on.

While I have been able to honestly own and come to terms with the things I need to work on in myself, the healing process is not fully complete. My “first-aid” over the past few weeks has consisted of verbally processing with my husband, spending time trying to separate the truth from the lies, and trying to figure out what I can learn from it. I tried to give myself time to truly feel whatever emotions I was feeling, which is not something I’m used to doing. Through the counseling and self-work I have been doing over the past few years, I have learned that in order to truly move through psychological damage and learn from it is to take time to honestly feel it first. By taking the time to feel it, I was able to shorten the time feeling the psychological injuries. I was able to move though the guilt, loneliness, and low-self esteem much faster than I have been able to in the past. That being said, I’m still working on moving though the feeling of rejection. Because of the specific circumstances I have to learn to rebuild a relationship with this person. I am struggling to do so because of the personal nature of the rejection. They were able to blow off steam and get all of their energy towards me out, and now they are acting as if everything is fine. Where I am stuck is trying to engage with this person, even as an acquaintance, without being cold and completely shutting them out. Logically I’m trying to apply the growth mindset not only to myself (looking at what can be learned from this situation), but to this person as well. If I am able to process though the pain surrounding our relationship, honestly look at myself, and move through it they might be able to as well. That being said, I am also determined to maintain healthy boundaries (at least for a time) because of the emotionally abusive nature of the recent encounter.

All that to say, this situation is one where I was deeply hurt, and am trying to process through it. The fact that I have to have some form of a relationship with this person has forced me into more of a growth mindset than I would have had if we didn’t have to interact. I know there is a lot to learn about myself through this process. I have already learned a lot and will continue pushing into what pieces I can own and work on, and what pieces are not true and I need to let go of.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Journal #8

Prompt: For your journal this week, you will be looking at the “Grow your Mindset” prompts at the end of chapter 6. Pick one of the prompts from page 171-172 and answer it providing 2-3 links to the material we’ve been covering from Gardner (Multiple Intelligence's), Winch (Emotional First Aid), and any of our earlier material from class. Growth Mindset Question: After Rejection, do you feel judged, bitter, and vengeful? Or do you feel hurt, but hopeful of forgiving, learning and moving on? Think of the worst rejection you ever had. Get in touch with all the feelings and see of you can view it from a growth mindset. What did you learn from it? Did it teach you something about what you want and what you don’t want in your life? Did it teach you some positive things about your relationships? Can you forgive the person and with them well? Can you let go of the bitterness? (Mindset, 174-175)


We all experience rejection at some point in our lives. My earliest moments of rejection are early on when “friends” didn’t want me to join in, or the girls in elementary school would laugh at me behind my back, but rejection has followed me through life and continues to be something I face daily. I guess this is because I’m human. Try as I might to be fully accepting and loving, I know I have caused the pain of rejection in more than one person’s life. In moments of rejection I can often feel hurt and bitter, but after time and processing out loud I can often get to a place of forgiveness and hope for a better future. It has taken me a long time to learn that this doesn’t mean I have to be best friends or even continue a relationship with the person who rejected me, but that I can come to a place of understanding and forgiveness. One of the first times that I had to truly process deep rejection was because of…. Yep, a boy.


At 18 I was fresh out of high school and attending cosmetology school. I had reconnected with a guy that I knew when I was younger. He was fun, kind, loved Jesus, and cared deeply for his friends and family. The more we talked the more I liked him. Eventually we started to officially date. As our relationship grew I tried to learn how to balance friends, family, work, school, and my new boyfriend. As an introvert he preferred to be at home or out just the two of us, while I was used to being around lots of people all the time. However, due to my demanding schedule I quickly came to enjoy the peace that came from less people and more quiet time. His family was going through an unimaginably hard time and I was a homeschooler (though not as sheltered as most) who was experiencing the drastically different world of cosmetology school as well as dealing with some expensive and never-ending health problems. He and I walked through hell together. When our relationship ended I was heartbroken. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that my (little r)eality crashed into a million pieces.


The night we broke up the picture of the future that I had in my head was ripped away. All of the imagined interactions that I had played over and over in my head of a wedding, family, and forever disappeared. The decision to end our relationship was a semi-mutual decision but was spurred on by a growing relationship with one of his female co-workers. She was a cute, fun, introvert who captured his heart in ways that I couldn’t. A couple months after our relationship ended, theirs began.


The rejection felt when they started dating was deeper than I care to remember. Bitter, worthless, and full of shame are just a few of the words to describe how I showed up in those months. They say time heals all wounds, and to some extent this has proved true for me. I allowed myself time to just be hurt and angry, but eventually I started to rebuild. I tried to reconnect with friends and family, and look for the lessons to be learned through the rejection. I found how much I missed my extroverted side, learned how strong I am, and started searching for my worth in Jesus rather than other humans. This was a time of growth that I will forever be grateful for. When he and I ran into each other a couple years later, him married to the girl from work and me to my husband David, I came to the realization that we really weren’t right for each other. God had other partners planned for each of us that would complement and pull out the people we were each designed to be.


At times, I find myself praying for him, his kids, and wife. I truly hope that they are in a great place and loving each other through this crazy thing called life. Though our marriage isn’t perfect, because that’s impossible, David sees me, supports me, and loves me in ways I didn’t think were possible and I know he feels the same way about me. God has called me to a crazy roller-coaster of a life and I wouldn’t want to go on with anyone else. I will forever be grateful for that sting of rejection because it gave me the opportunity to rebuild my self-worth, identity, and led me to the man I am lucky enough to call my husband.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Journal #7

Prompt:For your journal this week, I’d like you to (AGAIN) look back over your “epiphanies” journal from last week and pick ONE to write an evocative autoethnographic account of. This one must be different than the one you wrote in week 6. Remember to take the reader into the experience of the epiphany, and offer analysis/links to at least 2 concepts from our course in the narrative. This is meant to give you a another chance to attempt writing something using autoethnography that you can use later in your final paper!

When I was a little girl, about 7 years old, I desperately wanted a doll house. My friend Joanna had a big beautiful wooden doll house that I tried not to be jealous of every time I went to her house. My family couldn’t afford even a small simple dollhouse, so I was saving up my birthday money. I cherished every penny as it got me closer to a beautiful dollhouse like Joanna had. One day sitting in church dressed up and desperately trying to sit still and pretend to understand what the pastor was talking about, something caught my attention. The pastor was telling a story. A story of someone in need and asking for an offering. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but I know it was to help someone who needed it more than I did. My little heart started to beat faster, my palms began to sweat, and I knew that this is where I should put my money. Nothing else mattered as much as helping people that needed it, not even my doll house. I took out all the money I had in my little pink purse and put it in the gold and red-velvet offering plate as it went past. That afternoon driving home from church I watched all the houses flash past and knew I did the right thing. I understood that the doll house I wanted was even further out of reach and that made me sad, but I also knew I would give up a million doll houses if it meant I could help someone who needed it. I was content.

That night as my brothers and I were playing outside I saw something AMAZING. It happened to be the week of the big trash pick-up day that happens a couple times a year, and in one of the piles at the top of our cul-de-sac was a pink and white treasure waiting for me: A beautiful doll house. I ran inside heart racing once again, and my dad helped me carry it to our house and give it a good scrub down in the shower.

The moment I saw that doll house sitting there waiting for me on the same day that I listened to the voice inside of me that told me to help others, I felt like it was God saying, “Trust me, I will always take care of you.” Little did I know that that image of the white and pink doll house poking out of the trash pile would represent such a deeply needed promise from God. This image would carry me through eviction notices on our door growing up, bankruptcy for our family when I was in high school, and the struggle after David and I got married causing us to move 8 times in 4 years before finding a place we could call home. In moments of feeling worthless, less than, and undeserving, I don’t always know if I believed the words of that promise. Even in the moments of doubt, God always gently reminded me that He will always take care of me. I can trust Him. Weather it’s something as simple as a doll house, or as big as signing the papers buying our first home, He cares.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Journal #6

Prompt:For your journal this week, I’d like you to look back over your “epiphanies” journal from last week and pick ONE to write an evocative autoethnographic account of. Remember to take the reader into the experience of the epiphany, and offer analysis/links to at least 2 concepts from our course in the narrative. This is meant to give you a chance to attempt writing something using autoethnography that you can use later in your final paper!

Growing up as the oldest of four kids, in the homeschool community, and in a low income family, I quickly learned how to help people. I was the Vice Mom, Go To Person if someone needed support, and provider in many ways. There are so many beautiful things about loving people well and knowing how to help them and actually make a difference. However, the older I got the more unhealthy this became. I would give and give until one day I felt like my worth was all wrapped up in what I could do for other people. The line between myself and others was burred so much that I lost sight of where I ended and others begin. I slowly realized that this was a problem, but it wasn’t until I was 22 and married that I decided to do something about it. I began going to counseling, attended a weekend designed to peel back the layers to reveal who you were created to be, and I joined a group of women healing from the curve balls of life and running after Jesus. Little by little I began to pull back the layers of people pleasing, finding my value in what I could do for others, and began to rearrange unhealthy relationships that kept me in an unhealthy pattern. I would repeat over and over things like, “I am enough just as I am. I am loved for just being me. I am worthy of being fully known,” trying to move these new truths from my head to my heart. But something still wasn’t sticking. My husband is amazing and loves me well, but somehow in the depths of my heart I believed that if I wasn’t able to do enough for him, he wouldn’t stick around. If I worked hard and kept him happy he would stick around because it was convenient, but nothing more. My head knew this wasn’t true, but my heart still couldn’t quite believe that he loved ME.

Last fall, we went on a humanitarian work trip to Mexico. We were helping with construction for a retreat center. David and I were working on a project together and having a great time, but the 3rd night I got REALLY sick. I was up all night unable to keep any liquids down. Finally, early the next afternoon I was able to keep some water and Dramamine down, but I was far too weak to do anything except sleep. I remember the guilt I felt lying in bed listening to the sounds of construction right outside my window. Thanks to the Dramamine and water, I was able to sleep. I awoke to what I thought was David shaking the bed to wake me up. It took me only a few more seconds to realize that more than just the bed was shaking. It was an earthquake. I remembered from a conversation the night before that the thing to do was to get out of the house. I stumbled out of bed with the floor waving under me so dizzy, nauseous, and drowsy that I could hardly stand and fell into the door frame. I had to make it down a flight of winding stairs before I could make it outside to safety. I remember running down the stairs, unable to see straight watching the stairs moving and praying that God would make my feet and the stairs match just for a moment. I stumbled to the bottom of the stairs into the arms of our host and my husband. They came back for me. We all made it outside and I just sat shaking in David’s arms as the ground moved, trees bent, and the house rocked back and forth. As things began to still, the realization dawned. When I was at my absolute worst… smelly, sick, and unable to help anyone else… my husband ran back into a potentially crumbling building for me. He risked his life coming back in the house, not because I had earned it or was useful in that moment, but because he saw my value even at my worst.

I can’t say that I don’t still tie my worth and usefulness together. I think this will be a life long journey, but something shifted in me that day so now I can trust that my husband will be there no matter what, even when I am completely useless. This new level of trust has brought peace and understanding as I apply the same concept to how my family sees me, my boss, but most importantly… how God sees me. He chose to create me, and he loves his creation. He has chosen me to do some amazing things for Him, but His love and my worth are not based on how well I do things; His love is unconditional. Living out of this place of trust changes my everyday life and allows me to live out of a place of joy. It just took a 7.1 earthquake to show me that.

I know that this was a moment where my worldview shifted, beliefs took root, and from that moment on I was different. I still struggle with believing that I am loved for just being me, but this earth-shaking moment gives me something to hold onto, and every day I get closer to fully owning who I am outside of what I can do for others. Slowly, with the help of other people, self-talk, and holding on to God’s Truths, I’m rediscovering where I end, and others begin.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Journal #5

Prompt:
Begin to think about epiphanies you’ve had in your life that you might want to examine and analyze further as we move forward in this class. You might want to look back at the “experiences” journal from week 3 to get the ball rolling.
For this journal, come up with a list of possible epiphanies to examine, and offer a blurb/description for each one.

As I have processed my life and the moments of illumination and change, they didn’t fall from the sky and change life in a moment, they were born out of much personal reflection and intentional growth. Each of these moments required action on my part in a moment, or over a long period of time. Maybe that’s all an epiphany really is. There are moments in life that we forever look back on realizing that they changed our view point, beliefs, or how we see ourselves and the world. What really matters is how our lives change after these moments happen. On either side of this realization there is an action: how we got there and what we do after the moment. As I examine moments in my life that changed something, I want to focus on the before and after of the epiphany.

When I was a little girl, probably about 7 years old, I desperately wanted a doll house. My family couldn’t afford one, so I was saving up my birthday money. One day we were sitting in church and the pastor asked for offering. I don’t remember exactly what it was for, but I know it was to help someone. I felt in my heart that this is where I should put my money. Nothing else mattered as much as helping people that needed it. I took out all the money I had with me and put it in the offering plate as it went past. That afternoon going home from church I knew I did the right thing. I understood that the doll house I wanted was even further out of reach and that made me sad, but I also knew I would give up a million doll houses if it meant I could help someone else. That night as my brothers and I were playing outside I saw something AMAZING. It was the week of the big trash pick-up day that happens a couple times a year, and in one of the piles at the top of our cul-de-sac was a beautiful doll house. I ran inside so excited, and my dad helped me carry it to our house and get it all cleaned up. The moment I saw that doll house sitting there waiting for me on the same day that I listened to the voice inside of me that told me to help others, I felt like it was God saying, “I will always take care of you.” Little did I know that that image of the doll house with the promise would carry me through eviction notices on our door growing up, bankruptcy for our family when I was in high school, and the struggle after David and I got married causing us to move 8 times in 4 years before finding a place we could call home. I don’t always know if I believed those words, but even in those moments, God always gently reminded me that He will always take care of me. Weather it’s something as simple as a doll house, or as big as signing the papers buying our first home, He cares.

That little girl who gave away her money when she wanted a doll house she desperately wanted in order to help people grew up, and that desire to help got stronger. The older I got the more unhealthy this became. I would give and give until one day I felt like my worth was all wrapped up in what I could do for other people. I slowly realized that this was a problem, but it wasn’t until I was 22 and married that I decided to do something about it. I began going to counseling, attended a weekend designed to peel back the layers to reveal who you were created to be, and joined a group of women healing from the curve balls of life and running after Jesus. Little by little I began to pull back the layers of people pleasing, finding my value in what I could do for others, and began to rearrange unhealthy relationships that kept me in an unhealthy pattern. I would repeat over and over things like, “I am enough just as I am. I am loved for just being me. I am worthy of being fully known,” trying to move these new truths from my head to my heart. But something still wasn’t sticking. My husband is amazing and loves me well, but somehow in the depths of my heart I believed that if I wasn’t able to do enough for him, he wouldn’t stick around. If I worked hard and kept him happy he would stick around because it was convenient, but nothing more. My head knew this wasn’t true, but my heart still couldn’t quite believe that he loved ME.

Last fall, we went on a humanitarian work trip to Mexico. We were helping with construction for a retreat center. David and I were working on a project together and having a great time, but the 3rd night I got REALLY sick. I was up all night unable to keep any liquids down. Finally, early the next afternoon I was able to keep some water and Dramamine down, but I was far too weak to do anything except sleep. I remember the guilt I felt lying in bed listening to the sounds of construction right outside my window. Thanks to the Dramamine and water, I was able to sleep. I awoke to what I thought was David shaking the bed to wake me up. It took me only a few more seconds to realize that more than just the bed was shaking. It was an earthquake. I remembered from a conversation the night before that the thing to do was to get out of the house. I stumbled out of bed with the floor waving under me so dizzy, nauseous, and drowsy that I could hardly stand and fell into the door frame. I had to make it down a flight of winding stairs before I could make it outside to safety. I remember running down the stairs, unable to see straight watching the stairs moving and praying that God would make my feet and the stairs match just for a moment. I stumbled to the bottom of the stairs into the arms of our host and my husband. They came back for me. We all made it outside and I just sat shaking in David’s arms as the ground moved, trees bent, and the house rocked back and forth. As things began to still, the realization dawned. When I was at my absolute worst… smelly, sick, and unable to help anyone else… my husband ran back into a potentially crumbling building for me. He risked his life coming back in the house, not because I had earned it or was useful in that moment, but because he saw my value even at my worst.
I can’t say that I don’t still tie my worth and usefulness together. I think this will be a life long journey, but something shifted in me that day so now I can trust that my husband will be there no matter what, even when I am completely useless. This new level of trust has brought peace and understanding as I apply the same concept to how my family sees me, my boss, but most importantly… how God sees me. He chose to create me, and he loves his creation. He has chosen me to do some amazing things for Him, but His love and my worth are not based on how well I do things; His love is unconditional. Living out of this place of trust changes my everyday life and allows me to live out of a place of joy. It just took a 7.1 earthquake to show me that.

Looking back on both of these epiphanies, I know that these were moments where my worldview shifted, beliefs took root, and from that moment on I was different. I still struggle with believing that God will always take care of me, and that I am loved for just being me, but these moments give me something to hold onto, and every day I get closer to fully owning these truths. They may not be little moments that changed everything, but they are moments that brought the pieces together to shift my perspective for the better.