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When the World Lets You Down

The world can be a cruel place. Sometimes it is outright cruel, and sometimes it is quiet whispers that plant seeds of doubt. As a young woman, it can be especially cruel.

Media tells us how we are supposed to act and look like. Families place their expectations on us. And sometimes even at church, being a young woman gets skewed to the world’s standards. So when our world lets us down, we are often left on the ground, struggling to pick up the pieces of our shattered hearts.

Identity. Who we are or better put who we think we should be based on the standards of the world.

But as Christian women, we are called to a completely different identity then what the world tells us. And when the world lets us down, we have to remember this identity which surpasses everything else because the One who has given us this identity will never let us down.

Nearly every woman at some point has heard the quiet voice whispering that they are not good enough. It sows seeds of doubt that when left unchecked can be weeds that choke out who we are in Christ. So what do we do when we realize that once again this fallen world we live in has let us down?

The easy answer would be to remember who we are in Christ. We are heirs to His kingdom, and the King of this kingdom loves us and sees our value. We were made in His image.

But the world tends to let us down in ways that aren’t so easy to combat. That quiet whisper telling us we aren’t good enough isn’t always from the media or secular sources. Sometimes that whisper comes from family, friends, and even the church. It is the repeated messages growing up that imply if we can’t get a good Christian guy by a certain age, we are clearly doing something wrong. It is the misinterpretation of the Proverbs 31 women and the implication that a good Christian woman and wife will only stay home. It is the quiet messages that led us to doubting that calling to pursue something like science. It can be the quiet disappointment from extended family members or the whispered excuses of not knowing how to interact with us. It is all these things that do the most damage because these are all places that are supposed to be a source of cultivation of our identity in Christ.

These whispers of not being good enough coming from the people we most trust are often the most devastating. Our foundation of support seems to have cracks in them, and suddenly, it feels like everything is tilting. We crash to the floor and stare dazed at the ceiling. What do we do now?

The thing is that the floor isn’t the foundation of a house, and those people aren’t our foundation. It feels like we have been knocked down, but take heart, my dear sisters, for we have been dropped into the arms of our Lord. He looks at us broken and tired, and He sees someone He has created in His image. He sees someone who is beloved and is part of His family. And suddenly, in that moment those quiet whispers vanish and all we can hear is His gentle reminder of who we are.

So we stand with His help, and we walk away from that floor with Him at our side. When we chose to listen, His voice overwhelms those quiet whispers. We just have to remember to tune our ears to His voice.

At times, it may feel like we are so far from our identity in Christ that we can’t get back to that, but remember that He has picked us from the depths of our sin. There is no where to far for Him to pick us up and remind us who we are.

So when the world lets you down, remember that we will always land in the arms of the One who will never let us down.

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Expectations vs Reality

Do you ever feel like everyone expects you to hold it together and be perfect? That you aren’t allowed to have off days, and if you do, you have to hide that fact that you just want to fall apart. I certainly have, and the thing is this isn’t a new feeling. This is something that I’ve felt for nearly my whole life.

Hold it together even when you had a fight with a family member before stepping out the front door or leaving the car.

Hold it together when your best friend decides that she’s angry with you.

Hold it together when you have a bad day at school.

Hold it together at practice because you’re the coach’s daughter.

Hold it together at youth group because your parents are still together and your life can’t be that bad.

Hold it together because you have to be the anchor for your friends as they are struggling.

Hold it together because it’s just your dad who’s being deployed, not your husband like your mom.

Hold it together because you have to be perfect.

But the thing is, some days you want to cry, some days you want to scream, and some days you want someone to be there for you.

Instead, you suck it up even when you feel completely helpless.

You smile and say that you are fine.

You bury yourself into schoolwork or your job, trying to ignore the need to cry, scream, or break down.

You cry behind close doors where no one can see you or in the dark as you go to sleep.

You do all these things because people look at you and just see the “perfect” life you have. They see the private college you go to. They see the amazing family you have that loves and supports you. They see how smart you are and how well you do at school. They see your faith in God’s plan.

What they don’t see is how lonely that Christian private college can be. They don’t see the extended family that doesn’t always support you. They don’t see the late nights spent studying so that you can get those good grades. They don’t see the nights and days you spend struggling with God and coming to terms when He tells you no. They don’t always see the messy because you try so hard to hide it because they expect you to be perfect.

Now, I would never trade being there for my friends. I am so incredibly blessed to have some seriously amazing friends who I know will always be there for me. But sometimes, as you are walking through something with them, you feel so helpless because hundreds and thousands of miles are separating you from them and words just sound so hollow, but you have to hold it together because they need you to be their rescue line.

I am not perfect, and I never will be. I have struggles the same way that you do, and just because the outside looks perfect doesn’t mean the inside is. And sometimes that smile is forced and the whispered “I’m fine” doesn’t mean that. And at some point the perfect façade will be cracked and some of my messy will come through. When that happens just remember that the cover of a book can be deceiving and that human life is messy even with Jesus on my side.

End of a Chapter

One More Month.

One more month in my apartment. One more month at my job. One more month as a Lancer. One more month as a college student.

In one month’s time (almost exactly) I will be walking across a stage and turning a tassel. Where did the time go?

When people find out that I am about to graduate college, I get two questions:

  1. Are you excited/ready?
  2. What are you doing after graduation?

I hate these questions because while it’s just a measly thirty days to everyone else, it is a fifteen page paper and presentation, it is training the person who will be taking over my job, it is taking finals and finish projects, it is packing up my life once again into boxes, it is a boat load of stress. This is not just a month of me watching Netflix. This is probably the most important month of my life so far. I don’t have the time to even thinking about walking across that stage because I know I will lose focus.

And surprisingly, most of us college seniors don’t really know exactly what we are doing after graduation. Sure some know about grad schools, but I have friends who are still waiting to hear from where they applied to. Sure some might have jobs, but I am in a very long application process for my job. I mean, some people have their lives in order. My roommate is getting married a month after graduation, but some of us just don’t know yet. And the thing is that is completely okay because I know I have options.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that this is the end of the chapter, and like a good author, the ultimate Author of my life likes to leave the chapter with some cliffhangers. I know that the next chapter is being written by Him, but just like any good adventure book, you have to wait to turn the page.

So next time you see me, please don’t ask me those questions. I am experiencing a lesson in trust which means I won’t have answers for you because God hasn’t given them to me yet. And trust me, when I know what I am doing, my parents will have no problem shouting it from the rooftops, and you will know what I am doing after school.

In the meantime, I, the heroine of this story, must focus on the last few paragraphs of this chapter in order to come out successful in the next chapter. So, if you don’t mind, my sword is calling my name to deal with my current foe, my paper. I promise once I have cried, bled, sweated, fought, and conquered my remaining foes, I will be beyond excited to walk across that stage. So wait to ask me until a day or so before.

Our War Cry

I always like finding new music, especially in the Christian realm of music. Christian music has changed as I’ve grown up and more and more it is becoming about taking our faith and using it to change the world. Songs like Guilty by the Newboys and Priceless by for King & Country are examples of how there have been injustices in the world that as Christians we have taken a stand to change. Our generations, the millennials, are in a unique position. These songs and the ones that will follow become our war cry. We have become the generation that isn’t afraid to speak out against injustices that we see. It is up to us to bring a change.

War Cry by Social Club Misfits addresses this idea. If we as a generation come together, we can bring a change. We’ve fought against people’s judgements of us, and we have a chance to exceed their expectations for us. God has given us a chance to make a difference both at home and globally. He has given us a call, and it is up to answer us. The thing is if we all answer it, we can change the world.

We are the new generation that rises up to complete the mission that God has given us. Instead of just sitting back and letting the older generations tell us what we can be, we need to stand and start a revolution. It is time for us to take back our faith and come to life instead of just standing by. When we see injustices, it should stir up something in are heart. We need to be on our knees in pray, and we need to be ready to take that step of faith into the unknown.

As college kids, this is the time to make a difference. This is the time to seriously look at our lives and determine if where we are going is what God wants for us or if He has a better plan for us. This is the time to pray and seek out what our purpose is and where are place in God’s church is. It is time for us to stop just doing what we want and to turn our eyes to what God’s plan for us is.

It is not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. If we rise together, we can change the world in ways that no one thought was possible. It is in that moment when we stand as a generation that God’s work will be accomplished.

Rise up!

Building Up, Not Breaking Down

Today is International Women’s Day. It’s a day where the women of every culture come together to celebrate. We celebrate what we’ve done together and how we have advanced ourselves into fields such as science, technology, and engineering. We celebrate our sisters who put on a uniform and fight whether military or law enforcement. We celebrate the beauty and strength in being a women.

With the current political atmosphere in the United States, there is a lot of name calling going around and accusations between women. Phrases such as feminist or antifeminist are thrown around because people can’t seem to agree. But the fact remains that if we are women are to move forward in the way that those women who came before us did, we have to build each other up.

We have the power to change the world, but that won’t happen if we are fighting with each other. What I may see as beautiful may not be what my best friend sees, but when we realize our differences in opinions, we can become unified despite them.

It is when we embrace our difference that we realize that each of us is simply a piece in the puzzle. We don’t have to solve the whole problem ourselves.

Women should be banding together to empower each other in whatever situation they are in. For me, it’s reminding my fellow female lifeguards that we can perform the same rescue that our male counterparts can. For someone else, it may be reminding someone that it is okay for her to stay home because in that she is empowered.

I live in a very unique world, where the majority of the things I do are male dominated. For me to excel above my male counterparts is empowerment, but for my mom, she finds that she like to come alongside my friends and whisper words of encouragement and empowerment to them. We have two very different approaches, but neither one of them are wrong.

It is time as women to stand together and lift each other up. It is time to put aside gossip and hurtful remarks and instead pour into the lives of the women around us. It is time to form a sisterhood that can be even stronger than a political movement. Our value isn’t found in what the world tells us is right or wrong. It is time that we start to remind each other of the way our Father sees us instead of pointing out how someone doesn’t match “conventional” standards.

We are women, and that is something we will always have in common. This connection should transcend political views, conservation vs liberal views, feminist vs not. If we do not start valuing each other, how are we to change the world and get them to value us?

Jenga Blocks or Solid Rock

Do you ever have those days where you say or do something that you immediately regret?

I know I definitely have. In fact today was one of those days. I said something, and as soon as it came out, I wished that I could’ve taken it back. The problem is that I couldn’t. The damage had been done, and unfortunately, I had to and am still working to pick up the pieces. Anger and frustration with myself as well as embarrassment mixed together in a rather unpleasant feeling that made me want to bolt from the room. Not to mention it was the first time something like this had happened in this particular setting.

The worst part was that my words and actions completely shattered someone’s picture of who I was. I was no longer that person they thought I was all because I suddenly felt like I was drowning and just needed it all to stop.

I could blame it on too many hours at work, too much homework, too many things going on, not feeling good, but the reality was that several things had sent me spiraling and this particular situation simply sent me over the edge.

I’ve always been an overachiever and tend to put too much pressure on myself. I’ve always been a good student, and in somehow convinced myself that if I didn’t do well in school, not only would I disappoint myself but I would also let my parents done. The thing is that my parents don’t care whether I get an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ on an exam, but somehow it has been warped in my head to think that they do. What they do care about is how much effort I put into things and they aren’t afraid to call me out if they think I’m not putting in enough effort (which is a good thing, mom and dad). So this morning when I found out that I got B’s on two exams that I thought I did well on, I went into panic mode thinking I was going to let them down and they were going to be upset. I didn’t understand what had gone wrong for me to school the way I did. Cue the beginning of the spinning.

I also tend to overcommit and do more things that I have the energy and the time for. Some days I don’t even know how I balance it all, but somehow I manage going to school fulltime and working nearly 20 hours a week. The thing is at this point in the semester, it begins to catch up to me. I am exhausted, and the idea of working six hours today seemed overwhelming. Mentally, I was too tired to even try to stop the rapidly building panic with my grades.

End with the fact that my personal life seems to just be one crisis after another, and I’ve been trying to handle it all myself, you get an amazing recipe for disaster.

So what is the point of me even telling you about this?

The point is that there is one thing that could’ve kept me from spiraling. Something simple, but for someone as type A and controlling as I am, it is extremely hard.

Give up my control.

I’ve often described my life as the very end of a Jenga game. All the blocks are balanced on one block that is wobbly at best. Except every time the wobble wins, and the blocks that were so carefully balanced come tumbling down. My life is a lot like that; something causes that one block to wobble, and because I am human and imperfect, all my carefully balanced blocks come tumbling down in a rather spectacular fashion.

But the thing is there is a much better foundation out there then a single wobbly human Jenga block. God tells us over and over in the Bible that He is our foundation, our rock, our solid ground. Jesus tells the parable of the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house on the rock. The man who built his house on the sand ends up devastated when the house so beautifully constructed comes falling down when the floods come.

The thing is, we are often that while we wish we were the man who built the house on the rock, we are more often the man who built his house on the sand. When things come tumble down, we look up at the sky, shaking our fists and asking God why.

Like I said, I am very particular about things. I have my routines, and when something changes, I’m not always the first to adapt. So the idea of giving up control, even to God, who I know has my absolute best interest at heart, is terrifying. But the really hard part isn’t giving up my dreams or my aspiration, but rather the simple day to day things. It’s hard for me to see how God is working in the small things, and to give those things up to him seems like a big chance.

The thing is on the days when I consciously give up control to Him in the morning, I avoid saying or doing things that I later regret. On those days, I have more self-control and patience with people, and things that would normally bother me hardly make a difference. So if anything, today while it was horrible, it reminded me that I have to give up control and even better, I get to give up control.

God is never going to let me down, and His ways are always better then mine. When I give up control to Him and let Him led me, amazing things happen. Imagine if that happened every day of my life. I don’t know about you, but that sounds way better then the mess I made today.

Amazon Encounter

Dear Friends and Family
As you most likely know, I will be graduating in May with a Bachelor of Environmental Science. My two years as a Lancer have been some of the most challenge and amazing years so far. I’ve had several amazing opportunities through my school to better explore who I am, as well as what I want to do with my life after I graduate. I’ve been a part of the fastest growing and most prolific science club on campus, traveled to Costa Rica, and most importantly grown into the person I am meant to be. Even though I will be leaving campus in May after graduation, my journey as a Lancer will continue.
Last spring break, I had the opportunity to go to Costa Rica with my major. This was my first introduction to the idea of ecotourism. It gave me an opportunity to experience the country and the culture while positively impacting the country through tourism. I was immediately interested in the idea of using ecotourism to help promote sustainability and help the economy of a country by preserving what makes it unique instead of commercializing it.
Fast forward to this year, my senior year. I was presented with the opportunity in the fall to apply to be a part of a backpacking team with my school. My first thought was “Sweet. Backpacking and outdoors stuff. Right up my alley.” My second thought was “Oh my gosh, I get to go to the Amazon!” Not Amazon like the online shopping website, but the actual Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. This was a dream come true. The Amazon is the largest rainforest river basin in the world, and it is also one of the fastest disappearing forested regions of the world. And I have the opportunity to go backpacking through the very heart of it.
Hold the phone. I am going to graduate college and immediately cross the number one place I want to visit off my bucket list. It seemed too good to be true. Only it most definitely was true. I wish I could tell you more about the trip, but due to the sensitive nature of where we are going the only thing I can say is that I will be helping further His purpose.
So, from June 19-29, 2018, I will be backpacking through the heart of the Amazon with eight other Lancers. But in order to do so I need support to raise the money needed. If you are feeling led to support me, you can do online giving using the following link: tiny.cc/bethanycripeencounter.
Thank you in advance for supporting me in this adventure. I want to leave you with two quotes that sum up why I want to go on this trip.
“People can live 100 years without really living for a minute.”
“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.”