Warning-long blog.. since I am good at those! ;)
Well I know it has been a little over a month since I last blog, and I finally feel ready to come back to blogging. After my last post, I realized there was a lot more going on inside me then I really even knew. I was using this blog as a means to just vent or post funny things, recipes, etc. When I realized just how much writing can open the soul to so much more, things started to pour out at an unimaginable rate. Besides dealing with my new marriage I had all these unresolved issues flowing out of me and I was completely overwhelmed. Every second of my day was consumed with a different thought and I honestly didn't even know where to begin with myself. Writing my previous blog really helped me to realize where I needed to begin. I needed to look at myself and see what it was I needed to work on. If your inside is not healed and healthy, nothing else can follow.
Problem was I had NO idea how to go about this. I wanted to start seeing a therapist and I realized I did work on the issue of being raped back when it happened. It was all the after effects that came with it I had not yet worked on. I had a weird thought process when it comes to all of this and I don't know how to explain it so I am not going to try to because it has worked for me and that's all that counts. I have an amazing support system and after some friends of mine read my blog, they wanted to meet up with me and talk with me and pray for me. I thought this was so nice since I had never had this before. In talking with these girls they opened my eyes to a lot of things. They really made me focus on going to God first with my problems and seeing where that took me before going to a therapist. They weren't telling me not to, they just wanted me to see if going to God would make a difference or not.
I also realized at that moment, I did not have a personal relationship with God that I thought I did. I was raised that you go to church every Sunday and Wednesday. Going to church=relationship with God. I was never taught that you need to hear from God personally, or have a one on one relationship. It was just more of a one entity, you go to church you automatically get God. No wonder it was so easy for me to walk away from Him in hard times. He was just this imaginary person to me, almost non existent for that matter. I had no idea what it was like to crave Him, to want to please Him, to feel His overwhelming love, to know unconditional love. So walking away didn't seem like such a big deal. Who was I upsetting? Just my parents, and they would get over it. So how could I ever miss something I never had? Well it's like searching for a spouse, you feel like something is missing from your life even though you haven't found it. I was missing a piece of my soul I didn't even know I had.
Once I made the realization church did NOT=relationship with God, my wheels starting spinning. My friends talked about the moments they had when they began their relationship with God, and I confirmed to myself that I had never had that. I started to think maybe this was that missing piece I have always been looking for. Then I started to think, ok well I don't have a relationship with Him, now how the heck do I get one? I mean do you just sit there and go oh hey God what's up? It is not quite that simple. I think God knows the right moment that you will be most apt to hearing Him and receiving that relationship. My friends also gave me a bunch of helpful tips in helping with my thinking about body image and self. You don't realize how much tv, internet, and friends influence you.
They challenged me to cut out 1 or 2 shows I watch that are full of drama and see if it makes a difference in my thinking. For example, Real Housewives of anywhere. I thought oh no this is so silly! That doesn't influence me! So I tried to cut it out.. it was difficult. I couldn't believe how much my mind was addicted to watching that drama. I just told myself well it's not happening to me so it's ok to watch it, it's not hurting me! When in all actuality it really was. With this new perspective I began to watch the show and start pointing out how it was effecting me. Seeing all the money, expensive homes, expensive trips, fake hair, fake bodies, fake makeup, fake everything, I realized I was envious of all those things. None of those things seemed to truly make these people happy so why did I want it? All it did was tell me I wasn't good enough according to social standards. And even the standards on this show which were ridiculous weren't even enough. So how could I ever live up to that? They live to have drama, not to be with family and be thankful for what they have. It was amazing the revelation I had after 1 show. I was in shock and understood what the girls meant now. And I decided any shows that I feel negatively influence me in some way shape or form, I was dropping. This is for myself personally, and I realize some shows affect me differently so I am not saying shows anyone else watches is bad or anything, it is how it effects YOU. And that show effects me greatly.
I also realized as harmless as America's Next Top Model seems, it really had a negative impact on me. I would watch it thinking I am not skinny enough, and I wish I was pretty enough to be a model, that will never happen! I wanted to look how the girls looked during photo shoots at all times and it ended up making me feel down on myself. So I also have cut that out. Now when I turn on a show, I ask myself how it will affect me. If it isn't going to affect me negatively and I feel it isn't a bad influence then I will watch it. For example, The Biggest Loser. I know there is drama but that doesn't affect me since it's not about who has better shoes or hair extensions. It motivates me to want to lose weight and be healthy, and I understand I am not 400 lbs so I will not lose 20+ lbs in one week!
And sadly, the Kardashian crazyness has also been deleted out of my life. Especially after all this wedding crap! It has been 3 weeks, and the first two I found quite difficult to not watch the shows. I wanted to sooo bad!! But I told my husband and had to break the news to my mom (we always watched housewives together) that I was no longer going to be able to watch those shows. And my mom didn't like it much at first but she supports me and understands why I was choosing to do so. That way they could help me say no and hold me accountable. It was hard to flip through channels and see that it was on, or repeats that I have missed were on. I cut out a few other programs as well. Sadly most of my Bravo shows I loved are now gone. Top Chef and Bethany Ever After and a few others may be all I can watch now!
I was proud of my self control and it has been 3 weeks since I cut out shows and that craving to watch them has started to subside. As they say, it takes 3 weeks to break a habit! I sit here now and think about how much crap I was watching and how much of an influence it was and am blown away by the results of cutting the shows. I no longer care if Kim K is doing well or if she is already engaged again or blah blah. I realize how calm my life and thoughts are without being revved up by constant drama on tv. I no longer feel the need to look in the mirror 900x a day. Might be down to 600x now! Hey I am working on it! Takes time!! I no longer feel the need to constantly have to look perfect or always have make up on even if I just go to the grocery store. I haven't had a haircut in 2.5 months and I am not going as crazy as I normally would be by now.
I know I have gained weight and although I am frustrated about it, I am not hating myself and thinking I am a cow every single day. I am learning to accept that I am still pretty even if I have gained some weight, and I need to be happy with myself heavier before I can be happy smaller. If I don't I will always think I need to be smaller to be pretty. Thinking back when I was smaller and how much I criticized myself that it wasn't good enough, makes me sad. I realize I should have been happy then and I actually was in great shape! This is a slow process but I see that things are changing with my mindset and it makes me happy. I am still the same size, just a little curvier. I also don't laugh when my husband tells me I am beautiful. I would only believe him about 1 out of every 4 or 5 times when he said it. Now I am realizing he sees the inner beauty and my outer beauty, he isn't just talking about how my hair looks. And when I do my hair or wear something he likes, he compliments that and doesn't say you are only beautiful because your hair is curled today. I am hearing him differently. Before all I would hear was you look pretty today=oh I am only pretty when my hair is curled. Now I see he is just pointing out that he always thinks I am beautiful no matter what, but he noticed I did something different and he likes the occasional change in hair or wardrobe, but that's not what makes me beautiful. Even House Hunters can be negative at times. Especially the million dollar shows. You start wanting that instead of being happy with what you have now. It is odd how shows you think are pointless, may have some way of influencing you. You really have to analyze everything you watch.
I have also noticed I don't look at other women as much as I used to. I used to constantly stare at others and compare myself. Now I think I notice about 10-15% less. Or I notice and say she is pretty. Not I wish I looked like that. I am starting to try to see the inner and outer beauty of people. Because let's face it, there are a lot of pretty people out there, but that doesn't mean they are beautiful on the inside! This is all from taking out tv shows that are all about looks and status and drama! Look at the shows you watch and really examine the effect they have on you. Is it affecting you negatively? Even a small amount? Try cutting it out for a few weeks and see what happens. You may be blown away with the differences!
They also challenged me to think about what I see on the internet and the friends I surround myself with. I really didn't think this would do much but it has also made a difference. I un-liked any celebrity I felt could be a negative influence. (ex. Kardashian's, Housewives people, etc.) I un-liked any pages that I felt could be a negative influence. (ex. Housewives, model shows, people.com, etc.) I also decided to go through my friends page and delete people who I never talk to, people who are constantly drinking or partying, people from my past that do not need to be in my life anymore (old bar buddies, guys I have liked or dated once or twice, ex's friends & family, guys that could cause me to lust), and people who are constantly negative. You know those people who post a woe me status every single time. You read those and they bring you down whether you think so or not. I just decided to cut all the crap out of my facebook. And I have found I am not constantly on facebook looking at everyone's drama or see the latest breakup or who is doing what. I have started to really not care as much. I need to focus more on what's going on in my life, not in others. I have also tried not to post negative posts. Those only do more harm then good. And now I realize how much other people's post influence me, so mine can also influence others and I don't want to be a negative influence to them either. And not being consumed by so many tv shows or being online also frees up more time to do other things! Like my new addiction Pinterest! Which I am trying not to post things that are negative to myself!
I know these things may seem silly to some of you. They did to me at first and I didn't really think any change would occur out of cutting some things out, but it's been only 3 weeks and I see tons of changes already! I know it will take a lot of time to change my thinking process and the image I have of myself. But I feel as though I am very much on my way to having a healthy mindset again! So I challenge you, what "crap" do you need to cut out? Try it for 3 weeks and see if it makes a difference! Ok back to my month away.
So after this evening with my friends and receiving TONS of great advice and helpful information, I felt good about being able to make some much needed changes and was excited to see what would happen when I did. I was leaving 2 days later to go on a Fall Retreat for the teens I volunteer with at my church. I was super excited to spend the weekend with my girls I lead and other students and leaders. They say it is like 6 months of small groups in one weekend with how close you become. Only problem was, the only way I could was to be on food crew. Which wasn't exactly what I wanted but I figured if God really wanted me to go, he would find a way for me to, and he did. So I decided I would suck it up and maybe learn something from food crew. I was going to be with the teens and to grow closer to them, this wasn't about me. I could have chosen to stay in the food crew cabin and actually get some sleep, but then I would spend almost no time with the girls. So I decided to stay in the girls cabin knowing I would only get 3-4 hours of sleep. (It was totally worth it.) I had a super crazy schedule with being in the kitchen by 6 or 6:30 and when I did get a break between meals I was at the sessions with everyone. Needless to say I was quite exhausted when I came home!
During the whole time I was on food crew I just kept saying I love the teens, I love the teens, I love the teens! I was there to serve. They brought in a speaker name EJ Swanson. This guy was amazing. He was straight to the point in your face real. And that's what these teens needed. And little did I know it's what I needed. I did not go into the weekend expecting to receive anything out of this process except to become closer to the people there. You know how they say once you stop focusing on yourself, God focuses on you. Well that is exactly what happened with me. I was so en-wrapped with serving and not worrying about myself that this retreat was exactly what I needed. I feel like since my focus was finally off of myself God could work on me full force since I wasn't expecting it. The first evening was quite intense and it got my wheels turning and started to open my heart. And now that I had the thought of having a personal relationship with God in my mind, I was really thinking about how to let Him in.
The next morning, the second session was also quite intense. They had us do interactive things and journal some personal answers. The whole weekend series was based on God is greater than... and every session was something different. Like God is greater than our circumstance, than we know, our sin, etc. After journaling I started realizing how much went wrong in my life when I walked away from God. I was blown away and could see that I could not handle life alone anymore, no matter how hard I tried. I was starting to admit I needed Him. Something it took me years to understand. My wheels were really going now. The next session they showed this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI7Cl42UDWQ&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL24F3F67B3F18A22F This hit me like a train ran through me. It was like everything I was feeling was perfectly said. So many things happened after I watched that. It all happened so fast. I realized I was loving him from afar with not having a personal relationship. I realized I truly could not live without Him anymore. I needed Him. And I really had to get deep with myself if I wanted to have a relationship. I asked myself why? Why don't I have a relationship with Him? And my answer: I'm scared. Scared of what? I was scared of losing myself. I was scared of what He would do with me if I gave Him all of me. Was I ready for that? I was scared of giving up the past 24 years of what I had been. I was scared it wouldn't make any difference if I did have a personal relationship. I was scared I didn't deserve it. Then I started to realize that after everything I had gone through, God was still there. He never left me. He was standing there with open arms to me saying I want a relationship with you. I WILL love you unconditionally no matter what. After everything I did. After walking away from Him and hurting him so much, he forgave me. And he was crying out to love me. No one else in this world would do that. Not after all I had done. And the realization of his overwhelming love shook me to the core.
Why on earth was I scared of this? How could I be scared of someone loving me? I realized he would never reject me. He wasn't like every other person around me. He wouldn't walk away or delete me off his list. I understood what unconditional love was for the first time in my life. And I realized He could heal me. He was greater than my past and could wipe my slate clean. He could make me a completely brand new person. I now knew this is what I wanted. I wanted a relationship with Him and now I wasn't scared. I wanted to let Him in to heal the deepest depths of my heart. I wanted that unconditional love, and I wanted Him to know my life is for Him. I told Him I am ready, I open my heart to you, fill my soul, let it overflow. And this may sound cheesy, but in that moment it was like this overwhelming tingling sensation filled my body from head to toe. It was the single most powerful thing I have ever felt in my entire life. I was nearly sobbing at this point, and it was all I could do to not fall on my knees. I was so overcome and felt like a giant weight had been lifted off of me. I felt pure joy.
I now realized I was a brand new person. I was no longer that old person and all those things that happened to me, they are gone. And I don't need to associate myself with the things that happened to me in the past. They were not who I was. They were things that happened that brought me to this place in my life. I didn't have to let it define me anymore. I now could be who I always wanted. And that was the most peaceful thing I have known. I no longer feel like a piece of me is missing. I feel like a piece of me I never knew I had was found and that was the missing piece I have been searching for my whole life. I was so giddy and happy and couldn't stop smiling. Even though I was exhausted, I didn't care. And I couldn't quite put my finger on it till I got back home. But I had realized that I felt this way before. When was it? When I fell in love with Antonio, I felt this way. So it occurred to me, I fell in love with God that weekend. That weekend changed my life when I so desperately needed it. And I know God led me there so he could show me how great he is.
And on top of all that, students were coming to me to ask for advice and looking up to me as a leader. I could have flown to the moon. I knew this is where I was meant to be. I knew this is what I was meant to do. Watching how God moved in that weekend with almost 175 students was the most powerful thing I have ever witnessed. To see the difference from the first night to the last day brought tears to my eyes. The first night maybe 25% of the students raised their hands during worship. The last session before we left, at least 95% of the hands were raised. It was breath taking. I watched so many students break in front of my eyes and saw God heal them. I can't even begin to share the amazing power that was felt over that weekend. It was one I will never forget. Truly life changing for so many besides myself.
So after that weekend I had A LOT of things to process. I had a lot of new things flowing through me and I needed some time to sort through them and to implement these new changes. So the blog was the least of my worries, and I knew when I came back I really wanted to share the things God has been doing in my life. But I still felt that wasn't complete yet. So I wanted to continue growing and come back when it felt right.
We had a guest speaker a few weeks ago and he was from the Biggest Loser season 2. He is now a motivational speaker about his weight loss and how God helped him through it all. It was fun to watch him, and he said something that literally smacked me in the face. He said my misery is now my ministry. It was literally like a lightbulb went off in my head. That was it. That was me. My misery is now my ministry too. I felt like all the pieces to my life fell together. Anything I was still questioning or wondering why it happened to me now made sense. All I went through has brought me to this point in my life. To this point of working with these teens. I now had a purpose. And I had NEVER felt like I had a purpose before. I realized this is why He made me. I went through all those things, so I could disciple to teens and others about my past, about my misery, about my story, and be able to help others not go down the path I did. I feel like my life has meaning to it now, and any anger I had toward the past was now gone. I would never be here if it weren't for that. And if my story can help 1 person, then my purpose has been fulfilled. I understand my past, and I know God has so many good things in store for me now. I am a new person and I am healed of all those things in my past. I have been put in the right place that I am supposed to be at.
So I took some time to process that as well. So needless to say the past month has been a whirlwind of emotions, life change, and intense healing. I know this will be an ongoing process and something I will be working on daily. But my life has dramatically changed. Lyndsey Perez is now the woman and person I have always wanted to be and will continue to strive to be the best wife, daughter, leader, & friend I can be. Every day is a new day and I am learning so much. It almost feels like I have a new set of eyes and a new heart. It is awesome. I am living proof of what God can do in someone's life who has been hurt so much and been completely broken. He is greater than anything I could have ever imagined. He is the true love of my life, and of all time.
My question for you-
Do you have a personal relationship with God? If you don't why not?