Fear

This post is going to be quite different than what I usually write about. It’s not going to be about running, food, or places I’ve been. It’s going to be about God. I sincerely apoligize if parts of this seem vague or totally confusing, I have these things in my mind that are so clear to me, but are difficult to articulate. I’ll do the best I can to make sense, but honestly more than anything I’m writing this for myself. If anyone can benefit from my words than that would be amazing.

I’m a christian and it really seems like maybe this is something that should come up more often than it does. I’ve been a christian pretty much my entire life and yet it’s something I rarely talk about to most people. I couldn’t exactly tell you why that is, but I think partially it’s because for me it can be very personal, especially in this case. I normally don’t like to expose that much of myself to people, I really dislike people knowing anything about me that could make me feel vulnerable and this seems to be one of those things for me. Another thing I especially don’t like to talk about are the things that scare me – my fears. I don’t generally think there are many things that I’m genuinely afraid of, I’m afraid of drowning (but I can swim), I’m afraid of falling (I rock climb and fall all the time), and various things like that. In the grand scheme of things, fears like that are fairly innocuous. However, there was a fear that I had since early in my teens. It wasn’t a fear of anything physical, but really more of a spiritual/mental/emotional thing. I won’t bother mentioning what it was because I don’t think it would make sense to most people and I also don’t think it necessarily matters. What does matter, though, is that this fear was absolutely paralyzing to me. I don’t consider myself to be overly dramatic, but just the thought of this thing could send me into an immediate panic attack, it felt crushing and suffocating. The only thing I could do was try my best to distract myself from thinking of it. Like I said this started early in my teens, I think I was maybe 13 or 14. I didn’t talk to anyone about it until I was 17 and I finally told my parents because I felt like it was going to completely break me if I didn’t at least try to do something about it. Obviously my parents said what they could to comfort me and prayed for me, but it still haunted me for years.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you” Isiah 41:10-13

Now this wasn’t a constant things, it would wax and wane on how often it really  bothered me. For days at a time it would torment me and then for several weeks I might not even think about it. Some time when I was in college, I was 19 or 20 I think, I had talked to my mom about it and somewhere between my own prayer and hers, I felt like I was freed from that fear. It was amazing, for the first time in years I didn’t feel like I was going to break down at the simple thought of something.

Then sometime in the last couple of years, though, it began to come back. It was an insidious onset (the terms used to define a lot of the pathologies I’ve studied in school and a fitting term in this case). I couldn’t tell you when or how it started again, but it was back. Again I didn’t say anything about it to anyone for a long time. Some people cope with things through support from others, I prefer to deal with things on my own, even when I really can’t handle it by myself.

This summer I hadn’t been going to church because I was too lazy to find one in Flagstaff. I also hadn’t been reading my bible very consistently and by the end of the summer I was seriously struggling. Struggling with feeling lost, ashamed, and scared.  So when I got back home I was actually looking forward to being back in church. In the past couple of weeks the pastor’s sermons had really been speaking to me, things I know I was meant to hear. First there was a guest speaker/pastor who spoke about coming out of exhile, I’ve felt like I’ve been living outside of where I should be and I knew now that I was time to return to the path that God has placed me on. Then one of the things our pastor had talked about was knowing and believing that God isn’t angry at you and that we put guilt and shame on ourselves that God never intended for us to take upon ourselves. I had definitely been doing a lot of this for a long time. Like I said, I’ve basically been a christian my entire life but I feel like I’ve spent more time doing the wrong things, things that I knew I shouldn’t be doing, than time spent doing the right things. Because of that I’ve been feeling completely ashamed of who I’ve been, especially since I knew better. I was still struggling to accept that these words were really for me, though. I mean those things can apply to so many people, I thought maybe I just happened to be there and maybe God didn’t really care to speak to me specifially. Then the same day that pastor had talked about God not being angry at us I was reading a devotional that I had been going through. I had been reading a devotional by Joyce Meyer that I really liked and that night when I read it and it said the same thing the pastor had been saying, God isn’t angry with you! It was like God saying “Hey Clara, do I need to keep convincing you?” and I finally got it. I usually talk to my mom about most things, including God, and I felt like I should tell her about that experience, but for a week I didn’t. A couple of times I had thought about it, but just didn’t say anything because it seemed like an odd time or whatever it was.

The entire week and really for the last several weeks I had again been struggling with this intense fear again and just trying to cope in whatever way I could. This usually meant that I read that days devotional as fast as possible and praying for about 2 seconds before having to distract myself with facebook or twitter or something. Well last week I was in the car with my mom and sister driving home from church and we were talking about church and then I finally mentioned how things had matched up between what the pastor had preached on the last week and what I read in my devotional. Immediately after I said this my mom told me that there was a bible verse that she had read and felt like it was for me but just hadn’t told me yet. Of course this was bringing up this huge fear that I had and I started to panic. Of course my mom being the wonderful mom and woman of God that she is, continued to tell me about what God had shown her about it (for me) and prayed for me (along with my sister). By the way we were in a parking lot outside of Pizza Hut, so seriously things can happen anywhere. After that I finally felt released from this fear. This fear, this, awful torment that had a grip on my heart and mind for years felt like it had finally been shaken free. It came suddenly, but there were also steps that had to be taken to get to that point, things that God had strategically been putting together. Even when I had been thinking that maybe I was just going to be left with no hope, all along things had been falling into place to bring about that deliverance from fear.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” Ecclesiastes 3:11

That had such an impact on me, not only did God change things in my life but it had been laid out even when I didn’t know it. It wasn’t just an afterthought that suddenly came to be, it was something that had been orchestrated prior. I will never live a perfect life, but I know that the fear that plagued me for years isn’t a part of me anymore. I know that God has a plan for my life and I also know that at times I’m going to screw it up. God won’t abandon me though and I feel like I’m finally not afraid anymore. Again, I apolize if this was confusing and made no sense, but the only way I felt like I could write this was to just let it overflow out of me, and this is what it was.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13

This is where my tatto came from

This is where my tatto came from

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Flagstaff

I know I had a few posts about things I did while I was in Flagstaff this summer, but I still wanted to make a bit of a summary post. I should have written this about a month ago right after I got back from Flagstaff, but as usual I am way behind. I just looked through my last few posts and I have barely been putting anythig new up! So I apologize for that, I’ve had a lot of blog ideas but I have been totally slacking on actually writing things up.

So I was in Flagstaff, Arizona this summer for my second clinical internship. I was working in the inpatient therapy department at the Flagstaff Medical Center. The internship itself was such a great experience. I had done very limited acute care observation in undergrad so this was all really new to me, but I absolutely loved it. I’m still not sure what setting I want to work in after graduation, but acute care is at the top of my list so far. Everyone in the department was incredibily nice and I even stayed with the family of someone that worked in the outpatient department for the 10 weeks that I was there. They were honestly all such great people and Flagstaff in general seemed to be quite a friendly place.

When I told people that I was in Arizona for the summer most people automatically mentioned something about how hot it is there. Flagstaff is much different than the rest of the state in that respect though. Flagstaff sits at just under 7,000 feet in elevation and therefore stays quite mild over the summer. When I first got to town I think the temperatures were in the upper 80’s to mid 90’s and everyone was talking about how hot it was. The rest of the summer is was a more normal 75-85 degrees most days, which was amazing. It would also cool way down during the night and still be nice and cool in the morning, around 50 degrees most early mornings. Flagstaff also has a monsoon season in the summer and this summer it was no joke. It rained every day for almost 3 weeks straight! It didn’t usually last long and it would be beautiful most of the rest of the day, but it always seemed to rain right when I was getting off of work. It was a little inconvenient at times, but it was still nice to experience some different weather for the summer. After leaving Flagstaff I was not at all prepared for the extreme heat in Colorado and Iowa, I was totally used to the lower temps already.

Serious about the monsons

Serious about the monsoons

One of the favorite things in Flagstaff was the downtown. It was so nice, there were tons of shops and restaurants and a lot of unique and local places. Parking there was a pain but I was living close enough that I could ride my bike there easily. I could just go and wander around for a while and it was always so nice. I didn’t take advantage of things too many times but they always had events going on downtown as well. It was a great place to hang out on the weekends.

They had some great murals on a bunch of the buildings downtown. This is the side of Absolute Bikes (turns out I have a 2nd cousin who works there)

They had some great murals on a bunch of the buildings downtown. This is the side of Absolute Bikes (turns out I have a 2nd cousin who works there)

I loved this store

I loved this store

I already had a post about running in Flagstaff. The Flagstaff Urban Trail System was amazing and there were also a ton of other trails around town. I wish I would have spent a little more time exploring them. A great way to experience new trails and meet some new people was running with the Flagstaff Trail Divas. It was a great group of ladies that organize a run each week. Again lots of very nice people and it’s a good way to find new trails. It was a great group.

First time I ran with the group

First time I ran with the group

Flagstaff apparently has some pretty incredible mountain biking but since I had only taken my roadbike this summer I can’t comment much on that besides that I know the trails exist! The town is pretty friendly to bikers and has nice, wide bike lanes on several roads. Especially Lake Mary Road which is a great place to ride. Pretty much if you’re riding in Flagstaff you’re going to be doing some hill climbing but there are enough places that the grades are gentle enough the riding can still be pretty easy and fun.

Lake Mary Road

Lake Mary Road

Near the actual lake

Near the actual lake

Flagstaff also is supposed to have some really nice climbing. Sadly I didn’t go experience any “real” outdoor climbing, I know, I’m totally lame. My excuse was that I didn’t know anyone there to go with. Instead I climbed at a bouldering gym all summer, which I still really liled. There were two climbing gym in town, one that was more top roping and looked pretty nice, but I was going to be climbing alone so I was more into bouldering. So I got a membership for a couple of months at Beta Bouldering gym. It was an awesome gym and everyone there was always super nice. I really liked climbing there and had been trying to go 2-3 times per week. I think they did a good job of rating there climbs consistently and were always putting up new routes so I always had a few projects to work on.

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I was working mostly on V3's and V4's this summer

I was working mostly on V3’s and V4’s this summer

Flagstaff is also close to a lot of great national parks and whatnot. The Grand Canyon was 75 miles away. Sunset Crater was about 25 and Wupatki about 30 (I think, that’s a total guesstimate). Walnut Canyon was a another Native ruins site that was just outside of town. There are several Native reservations in the area and obviously that’s a big influence there. So it’s also really to be able to go check out the more ancient Native sites as well.

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

 

Sunset Crater (actually this was a different one, but the same area)

Sunset Crater (actually this was a different one, but the same area)

This is Sunset

This is Sunset

One of the sites at Wupatki

One of the sites at Wupatki

Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon (try to spot the ruins)

Overall in my opinion Flagstaff is an amazing place. People asked me if I would move there and I would definitely consider it. I really loved it there and the summer was amazing. I heard how much snow they get in the winter though and I’m not quite sure I could handle it. I guess I would just have to do a lot of snowboarding, which I think could maybe make the snow worth it. I’ll just have to wait and see where life takes me, maybe it will be back to Flagstaff one of these days!