CAN’T ADULT. SEND HELP.

SOS. As an almost 24 year old who’s been living on her own in Nashville for nearly 2 years, I can say with complete certainty that I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.

You know what adulting feels like? It feels like running out of gas in the middle of a busy intersection, right next to a gas station (NO but like this legitimately happened to me about a month ago). For those few moments that felt like hours, I had absolutely NO control over my situation. I was coasting at 2 mph through a busy intersection (thank you Lord that it was somewhat downhill or I would have been SCREWED), people honking and throwing their hands up at me, power steering gone (fun fact: this happens when you run out of gas…), praying I could get out of the way enough to avoid an accident, and frantically dialing my mom’s number for help.

Isn’t this what adulting feels like though? Getting thrown into a situation you were neither prepared for nor expecting, with absolutely no control, and frantically trying to navigate through it without the slightest clue of what will happen? Adulting is one of those things that no one can ever truly prepare you for. I mean sure you know you are going to have bills to pay, have to work a big girl job to afford those bills, and navigate life in a new way, but you never truly know what you’re walking into until you’re face deep in it.

Since moving to Nashville, I have had a lot of emotional and mental breakdowns centered around my inability to “adult” well. I mean, I still miss my alarm some days, put off cleaning my clothes and/or sheets for weeks (this is a serious problem someone help me overcome this), forget to run errands, or maybe even run out of gas in the middle of the road. My message Bible app gave me a verse of the day a few days ago that I absolutely LOVED.

James 4:7-10 says, “So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

My favorite part of this verse is “hit bottom, and cry your eyes out.” A lot of the time adulting feels like hitting rock bottom. But it often takes hitting rock bottom for us to be reminded that God IS the rock on the bottom holding us up when everything else isn’t working. It’s amazing how meeting God from a broken place can create a life changing perspective shift. Not all lessons have to be learned the hard way, but for me personally, it’s through the struggle that I am humbled and reminded of who I am in Christ and where I get my sustenance from. If nothing else, it forces me to turn back to God and be present to him in a way that I had been missing before.. And isn’t that the whole point? To enter back into a relationship with God?

I talked to y’all a couple weeks ago about learning to be still. Obviously in the chaos of trying to adult, I still haven’t mastered this. But every time I slow down enough during the week to stop striving and let myself be loved by God, the fears and worries about not having my crap together fade away. The peace that washes over me is enough to move me into the next week, even when I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. When we slow down and “get down on our knees before the Master” he gives us the strength to get back up on our feet.

For me, adulting has been like a giant metaphor for my brokenness as a sinful human. A constant reminder that I can’t do it alone, I will never have all the answers, and that God’s grace is a powerful gift that I should never take for granted.

So I leave you with this… you CAN’T adult on your own, but if you seek your strength and sustenance from the Master of the universe, there is NOTHING you cannot do. We will never get it right 100% of the time, but the beauty of God’s grace is that we do not have to. Make time for Him in the chaos of the daily struggle. Perhaps you’ll find that it turns your chaos into order.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you”

Mads

Learning to Be Still

Where my fellow over-thinkers at?? I am quite literally ALWAYS living in my head to some degree… replaying that conversation from yesterday (or from 3 years ago and still cringing at my response), thinking about my next meal (let’s be honest, this is probably the most frequent), dreaming about my ideal future life, etc. While spending a lot of time in your head is not necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to a dangerous slippery slope of emotional distress and unhealthy fixation. Let me elaborate…

As an emotional, identity-seeking, individualistic enneagram type 4, I have mastered the art of overthinking. I am driven by my emotions.. A “feeler” rather than a “thinker,” who spends a lot of time internally processing through all of my emotions to make sense of why I feel the way I do. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the enneagram, us 4s tend to “default” to sadness, determined to feel through all the negative emotions to get a better understanding of our identity and to better be able to relate to others. I am not only driven by my emotions, but by my strong desire for deep relationships with people. Because of this, I can put a lot of weight on my interactions with people and form unhealthy attachments to people. Through these interactions I end up placing expectations on myself as well as the people I’m interacting with and amplify my own need for approval in the process.

I recently came across a verse that hit me harder than the struggle bus. Galatians 1:10 says this, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

YIKES.

Okay woah woah woah.. I mean it’s not a sin for me to want to connect with people so don’t try to tell me I’m not a servant of Christ.. Jeez Paul. Isn’t it funny how quickly we can jump on the defensive when we know we’ve been called out? After taking my pride out of the equation, I thought about this verse. It’s true that community and relationships with others are AMAZING things that come from God himself, and should be sought out; however, the danger is when those relationships become more important to you than your relationship with God.

IDOLS.

In his song Clear the Stage (go check this song out it’s amazing!), Jimmy Needham describes idols as anything that you want with all your heart, anything you give all your love, anything you put before your God, and anything you can’t stop thinking of. Take a minute to identify what you spend the most time thinking about… is it your significant other (or desire for one)? Your job? Food? Past or future? For me it’s all of the above, and rarely do I choose to clear out any space for God.

The other day I had an emotional breakdown out of NOWHERE. I’m talking puffy cheeks, tears.. The whole shebang. Now as I mentioned before.. I’m a feeler. I’m used to having strong emotions and dealing with them, but this time I was caught off guard. Apparently a lot of feelings had been circulating in my mind without my knowledge (or permission) and they all got triggered as I left a coffee shop where I had been doing homework. I got on the phone with Payton a couple hours later and the word vomit and tears came flooding out before I knew what was happening. I won’t hash out everything that caused those feelings, because you would be here a while.. But let’s just say that it was well rooted in relationships and experiences that I spend a LOT of time thinking about. I had been putting so much of my energy toward overthinking every aspect of these experiences and interactions with people that I drove myself to insanity without even realizing it.

The pastor at the church I go to has been talking a lot about attachments. He says that you know you are attached to something by looking at how much energy you put toward it. I realized that I have been putting all of my energy (and therefore forming attachments) to people, experiences, and expectations rather than God. I’ve allowed those things to occupy all of my head and heart space when I should have been letting God in to still my constantly running mind. I’ve constantly heard the words “be still,” but never known how to actually apply this. Every time I try to sit still in silence, I either get bored, fall asleep, or my mind starts wandering which defeats the purpose. I have not come anywhere near mastering this.. But lately I’ve been trying to learn how to be still. Instead of letting my mind focus on all my fears or fantasies, I’ve been learning to put my energy toward simply being. Clearing the stage of all the things that distract me from merely being in God’s presence. God is always present, but I am often not aware of this until I choose to be present to Him. Being still and shutting off the overthinking is hard for me, and it probably always will be. But the peace that comes when I allow God to steady my anxious heart makes it worth it.

So my question for you is this… What do you put all of your energy towards? What is keeping you from being in God’s presence? Perhaps self-awareness is the first step toward freedom.

Sending a hug!

Mads

Letting Go of Expectation

Where are my fellow struggle bussers at? I mean seriously.. I basically drive the thing every day. But lately I’ve been pondering a question.. is it possible to be driving the struggle bus and run over by said bus simultaneously? Somehow I’ve managed to find a way to master this. Let me back up and give you some context.

1.5 years ago I moved away from my small city vibes life in East Tennessee and moved to honkey tonk central in Nashville, Tennessee. I came here pursuing my graduate degree in occupational therapy (Yay OT!), completely full of excitement in embracing my independence and moving alone to a popular southern city that doubled as a hub for people my age.

OMGoodness I’m gonna meet so many cool people, be best friends with all my classmates, find an amazing church to get plugged into and a small group to go with it, maybe I’ll get a dog, I’m definitely going to meet my future husband……” Literally from the second I got my acceptance letter to Belmont’s OT program, these thoughts danced in my mind and graced the ears of anyone who was willing to listen to me ramble on about it.

EXPECTATION.

Before I even got to Nashville, I had created a world of expectation of what my life would look like. I also have a nasty habit of playing things up in my imagination.. thinking up this ideal version of life, relationships, etc. This only set me up for a brutal jab to the gut when reality came crashing through.

For 1.5 years now I have dreaded going to school every day because I’m not close to my classmates, have tried and failed to get plugged into various churches and small groups, have struggled to connect with people, and have not met my soulmate (not that I know of anyways). Every single expectation I placed on myself slowly slipped further and further away with every day that passed (with the exception of getting a dog.. cause I totally adopted a puppy. In the middle of midterms if that tells you anything about how well I handle stress haha). I spent 1.5 years shaking my fist at God.. “Why would you bring me here, God? I was SO sure about feeling called to Nashville. I have been putting myself out there, stepping out of my comfort zone and pursuing godly things, but here I am with nothing to show for it. How can this be part of your plan for my life that you promised would be good?”

For 1.5 years I was missing what was right in front of me the whole time. One day, very recently, I had my eyes opened to the fact that I am a RADICALLY different human than I was 1.5 years ago. I have embraced my brokenness in a way I never have before… I have been unafraid to show vulnerability and intentionality with people I barely know because I desire a new depth in relationships that I was never forced to seek out in my past… I have embraced my independence and gone places by myself, tried churches by myself, joined small groups by myself… I have had to learn to be responsible for myself, my bills, my dog, my decisions. The list goes on and on. I suddenly realized that I had been looking for tangible blessings to be given to me. Although things like a Christian community and a husband are strong desires of my heart and desires that are good and come from God, He never promised me these things. I just expected Him to hand them over to me because I wanted them. Reality check. That’s not how it works. I opened my eyes to the fact that just because I can’t see something unfolding in front of me, doesn’t mean that something is not unfolding within me. Not all blessings are tangible. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reminds us not to spend our time focusing on the tangible things of this world because in the end, they are transient. God, and his intangible, unseen blessings are eternal.

I have been striving to reach these expectations that.. get this… I PLACED ON MYSELF. Have you actually ever stopped to think about why you have the expectations you have for yourself? More often than not they stem from our own social comparison and fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, envy, etc. All of those feelings are REAL. I’m not here to tell you that you’re not allowed to feel those things. But be careful how you respond to those feelings. If we keep running over ourselves with the struggle bus, we stay hyper-focused on our own failure at living up to the unrealistic expectations we placed on ourselves and become blind to God’s goodness in the midst of it. We get stuck in a never ending downward spiral of unhealthy defense mechanisms and withdrawal from God. It’s time for a change in perspective. We are going to screw up.. that’s what it means to be human. But that’s the beauty of grace and redemption. God isn’t surprised when we screw up, nor is He disappointed. He just wants us to let Him love us through the struggle. My friends, He sees us in the midst of our deepest struggles and He is constantly at work.. if we would just have the eyes to see it.

What would it look like if we could 1) extend grace to ourselves when we mess up rather than beating ourselves up and feeding our fear and 2) surrender our fear and expectations and fully embrace the journey that God has us on RIGHT NOW.

I’d be lying if I told you I knew the answer to these questions cause I’m still figuring it out.. and it’s a DAILY struggle. But I’m trying to do a few things. 1) Stop running over myself with the dang bus cause that’s not helping anything… and tire marks don’t do anything for your outfit. 2) Give myself grace that I am driving the struggle bus every day and stop expecting myself to have it all together, because God doesn’t expect that of me. 3) Surrender the fears, expectation, and negativity to God when they creep their way into my mind. 4) Stop stiff arming God and actually let His love break down my walls and wreck my life.

My advice to you is this.. Let God love you. Let God pursue you. Wouldn’t it be a joyous life we could live if we could stop controlling ourselves by expectation and instead simply live loved exactly where we are?

Sending you a big, warm hug. See ya on the struggle bus!

Mads