A Season of Growth

sunrise over mountains
Image credit: Unsplash.com

Once again it’s been a while. Over 3 months, actually. Getting good with updating and actually putting thoughts to computer genuinely takes a lot more motivation than I’d like to admit and is something I’d still like to grow in, if I’m to be more serious about my blog, haha. That’s a 15-year-long goal and counting now though.

I am not into dramas anymore (or at least, not in the way I was 3 months ago). God was (is) gracious. I can’t pinpoint the exact time I started feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders again, but I think it’s probably after Christmas, when we went for our Church retreat.

It really was a restful retreat for me. A time of healing, a time of growth, a time where I could put everything else out of my mind and focus on Jesus. Christmas seems to have that healing effect on me, and I thank God for the Body of Christ who is always there to help guide and convict.

It was during the retreat that I realised I was able to smile again like I used to, that I no longer felt the heaviness on my heart and that I felt I was free again. If I think about it, it’s also during that time that I was able to reconnect to God.

Just personally, here’s what I believe may have happened:

  • I was freed from the attacks
After being let go from my job, I immediately used it as an opportunity to dive deeper (and back) into God’s Word. I had more time on my hands, more time in the morning, more time to dedicate to ministry, and naturally Satan doesn’t like that. So he attacked. I felt weak – both physically and spiritually – and unable to concentrate on reading and devo’s for quite some time. Thank God the attacks ended, I believe through His protection, and through the prayers of my brothers and sisters. Thank you all <3

  • I grew
Growing pains hurt. But they’re necessary. I do believe God was working in me at the time – mentally. I need to constantly check myself because I’m sure I have a pride issue. I’m sure I had a desire to be cared for when I felt like I was pouring out so much in ministry. My heart was not in the right place, and I needed to grow from that. Don’t get me wrong, I loved serving and I loved seeing God work and I was honoured to be used, but I needed to grow more before He could use me more. He needed to put me back in my place to ensure I was working for His glory and honour and not my own. At the end of the day, I shouldn’t expect people to treat me with more love than they were willing to give, just because I felt like I’d shown them love, which leads me nicely to my next point…

  • I realised I’m just not that important – and that’s important
It’s easy for my mind to go places that it shouldn’t, to warp and twist people’s words or take negative things personally when they aren’t personal. Just because I was going through stuff, doesn’t mean others weren’t as well – they aren’t intentionally trying to hurt me. In fact, they were already caring for me in the best way that they were able to – I just needed to be able to see that. I may be the centre of my world, but other people don’t see me that way, and that’s both a relief and a reminder that I really shouldn’t take myself too seriously.

  • But I am still loved
I experienced so much love when I went on the retreat. And that… was enough.

It was upon further reflection a couple of weeks later that I realised it was probably a time of growth for me. I do believe God was disciplining me and in His sovereignty, He used those attacks and that time to bring to light further sin in my heart that I had either been hiding or did not know I had, to work in me, to equip and prepare me for whatever else He has planned. Either way, just being worked in is an honour. It hurts like hell while going through it, but especially per Hebrews 12:6, 11 (ESV):

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

I am a blessed child of God indeed. <3

I’m into dramas right now.

autumn mist
Image credit: Unsplash

I’m going through a hard time for no good reason. I can’t pinpoint why, and I can’t say for sure when it started. I have a few guesses though:

  1. A result of major burn out
    Even after — by God’s grace — I was let go from my job with severance in late August, I hadn’t had a break. I was already severely burnt out from my job and thank God that I had almost 2 weeks to rest before getting married (very small religious ceremony, we are having a wedding vow renewal ceremony and reception in late Feb), and due to no longer having a job I was able to travel up north to be with my new husband and spend time with him there.

    But I still didn’t have a break because church needs increased, I had to seriously start planning more for our wedding in Feb, when I went to visit Jacky in NorCal we were apt hunting, then moving, then buying furniture, then putting the apartment together. It’s finally done now, but the burn out is already strong, and recovery is slow.

  2. A subtle but persistent spiritual attack
    Typically the onset of depressing feelings alerts me to demonic activity around me. And of course, why not? I had been entrusted with increasing serving responsibilities with youth and worship team and was also working hard to welcome newcomers. I’ve also been there before (depression), and it’s easier to relapse.

    The one-off off day isn’t anything to be afraid of, but when the heaviness in my heart persists and the lies of “nobody loves me, nobody cares” don’t stop swirling in my mind it’s obvious something is wrong. Logically I know this. In my heart and in my brain I know this. But it’s like an outside force is trying to drag me down and I have to fight so hard not to internalise these thoughts. This is especially true when I go out and interact with my friends and church family who, often through no fault of their own, say or do things that hurt me deeply and end up reinforcing this lie, and, if I had somehow managed to move forward a couple of paces in this battle, these things just knock me straight back to where I started — or sometimes even a few steps further into darkness. It’s exhausting. I’m so tired. I hate being overly sensitive. I just about have the strength to fight my demons to stay afloat right now. I can’t face other people outside of this.

    I’ve been going out to meet with my wedding coordinator (who’s been a life-saver in all things related to our wedding planning) and some vendors. Outside of this, maybe a conversation here and there with UK friends over the phone but I’m otherwise too drained to leave the house or even read anyone else’s messages let alone respond to them.

    I haven’t been able to face my church family at all this week. I’m struggling with finding the strength to go to fellowship tomorrow. I want to go; I should go, but I don’t know if I have the strength to go. I don’t know if someone will make another off-handed snide remark or snarky joke that regularly I’d laugh along but right now can’t handle again. I’m scared. It’s sad.

  3. The weather
    One of the reasons I wanted to move away from UK was probably a degree of seasonal depression. Rain outside and dark days tend to get me down. It got better in LA — we don’t have many seasons outside of sunny and sunny with the occasional cloud — but it rained a lot in NorCal. That said, I wasn’t as bad in NorCal and LA has been very sunny recently, so I’m not sure this is as big a culprit. Maybe I’m just missing my hubby and the NorCal apartment space that is ours. Having him around to remind me of his infinite love (and a reminder of Christ’s love for me) made things much more bearable.

  4. Lack of exercise
    This one might be a bit more chicken and egg. I don’t think my depressive state is related to lack of exercising, but I have noticed a marginal improvement on my mental state after exercising (I just did a little now and finally have strength to write something here, which I’ve been meaning to do for a long time). But I need enough mental strength to push myself to do the exercise in the first place.

Either way, it’s been hard. So, I’m into dramas right now. They help me to escape. It’s not the healthiest, but it’s making it easier.

My goal is to escape into God’s Word and prayer. These two things have been lacking recently and that’s probably why I’m on the losing side of this battle right now. I was moved to pray hard yesterday against demonic attacks and for God’s protection and today I am feeling the strength of prayers (also from others, as I am sure there are at least 3 others praying for me). I thank God for them.

I’m trying to do more reading these days, but it takes a lot more effort than just sitting in front of a screen and escaping reality through entertainment and feeling the rush of happy endorphins or relieving stressful tears through empathy. Please pray for me, it’ll come slowly. Please don’t rush me, I can’t handle that right now. My mental state is weak. There’s not much more than I can bear these days. Please be patient — God’s not finished with me yet.

On the bright side, I discovered Viki’sLearn Mode” in dramas and have actually been able to learn some Korean through it. I purchased an annual subscription because they have a 30% off sale (ends 2nd Jan, 2020) and since I have watched The Tale of Nokdu for the 6th time in a row (up to ep. 8 at least) I can now confidently have a basic conversation with you in Joseon Korean heh heh. Kidding. But not really kidding. I’m trying to watch some modern day dramas so I can actually learn some usable Korean now.

Thanks for reading, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to reply to you recently. Please keep praying for me.

Soooo… Who’s not surprised I haven’t posted in 8 months?

Super Bloom LA 2019

*raises hand*

Doesn’t this always happen? I don’t even know what I’m still paying hosting for haha. But I guess it’s history; it’s a part of me that I’ve had since I was 12yrs old, when my friend Katie recommended we start a blog together and subsequently lured me into the world of digital diaries with cute layouts and html.

I don’t update often, but I can’t imagine not having my little corner of the internet here.

So, where to begin! Over the past 8 months I have:
– become engaged (!!!)
– suffered from major burnout (probably still suffering this)
– almost got kidnapped on my way home from the airport (this happened late on Sunday night/Monday morning. I’m still processing this.)

All of the above deserve posts of their own, which I will aim to do in the coming weeks. Either way, it feels good to be writing again. Perhaps part of my burnout is due to not being able to process well from lack of writing. Talking about things helps a lot.

Oh, on other news I also finished MasterLife at Church! Honestly I have mixed feelings about it. Will aim to write something about that too. I should probably start signing off with my actual name too.

Blessings,
Crystina
P.S. Featured image is that of the LA super bloom this year! Our youth group took a trip out in March. I’m no photographer, but I was really happy with how that photo turned out – it was definitely one of my favourites.

Week 2 Recap

Hm I seem to enjoy writing the most on Mondays, after I get home from dance class half-dead. Interesting… Not sure what that says about me but yay. Post!

This week I:

Exercised 2x. Okay, last week really kicked my butt. My body couldn’t take it. I slept like 12hrs on Saturday. I think going from 0 exercise to 4x/week was a bit too much of a shock to my system. Also, Simon Says is actually killer (killer, killer, killer… no, but seriously).

Yireh tends to cut our lesson a little short but I’m kinda glad she does because 30mins in, my body is shaking, I can’t breathe or guzzle water fast enough and kinda just want to curl up at the back of the room in the foetal position and not move for an hour. 45min in, my stamina is depleted and I resign myself to keeping my limbs as close to my body as possible and doing the minimum required turn to make it still look like I’m somewhat moving.

I have a new-found respect for NCT 127. I also hate them for making the dance look so easy.

(For some reason I decided to watch the dance vid again just now, I dunno why, maybe I like torture? But my body is hurting just looking at what we have to learn next week. I think I might cry.)

Ate at least 5 vegetarian meals! This wasn’t really a new year’s resolution although I joked about it with Jacky a few weeks ago. However, in general I like eating vegetables and I’m not sure my body always agrees with meat, so I guess this was a way of trying to eat clean…er…

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