Being Too Much of a Giving Tree

My mind has been on love today; the absence of it, the potential heartbreak in it, the yearning for it.

Today, I told everyone that I was quitting in the Kid’s Ministry at church, and as that was difficult enough (anyone who knows me knows how much I love those kids), it was the conversation that followed that has had me thinking all day. Among several reasons for leaving, I did not necessarily think my recent heartbreak had anything to do with my decision, but that was what came up in conversation. When the other teacher in our classroom, whom I have grown to truly love and admire, asked what my reasons were, I gave her my speech I’d rehearsed in my head for weeks before, but at the end of it, she stopped me to ask, “does it also have something to do with a recent breakup?”

I said yes. I didn’t think it did prior to that moment, but I immediately started crying as I explained the toll it has taken on me. I don’t miss him a bit; I’m just left with a lot of problems I never had before because of how I was treated. In reality, I just need to go to church with my family, not worrying about extra responsibilities at the moment, and work on myself. I never liked that expression too much before, but I understand the importance of it now. It gets harder and harder to be a good person for other people if you cannot also be a good person for yourself.

Being a little selfish is not necessarily…well, selfish. When we take care of ourselves, we grow. When we grow, we can help others do the same. It’s a cycle with all equally necessary parts. I’ve become drained. I gave all I could possibly give, and now I need a little time to get something back. I have nothing left to give, and I never want to run out again.



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Thoughts On Loneliness

Let’s talk about loneliness. It sucks.

I mean, it really sucks. Humans were created to interact with one another, to form relationships of all kinds with one another. When that’s hard to find, it can easily take a toll on the emotional and overall mental health of a person. We crave human interaction like nothing else, whether we can easily admit it or not.

And yes, this is coming from one of the most shy, introverted people on the planet. There’s a huge difference between being alone to recharge and enjoying the solitude of your own thoughts, and just flat out being lonely because you don’t have another choice than to be alone. Even the most introverted people require some interaction and long-lasting bonds with people. I’m going to be one-hundred percent honest here (remember, no-judge zone) in saying that I would most likely not be alive, or at least I’d have much less reason to want to be, if it weren’t for the relationships I do have, particularly the ones with my mom and sister. They are not my reason for living, but they give me reason to live. That’s partly what people do for one another: add another layer of interest and substance and reason in each others’ lives. 

That being said, people thrive off of having several types of relationships in their lives at once: romantic, friendship, familial, casual, etc. I’m not going to sit here and complain about how I have none of those, because, like I mentioned, I do and I wouldn’t trade any of them for the world, but I just don’t have a whole lot of them by our society’s standards. Especially in the world of college students I am in right now, friends are supposed to be…everything. I “should” be going to parties and going to IHOP at 4 a.m. with my exclusive group of 5-10 friends every night. We “should” be spending every moment together, laughing all the time and trying to make everyone else jealous of how much fun we have together. That’s great and all, but I’ve never been the type to make friends easily, so I have very little experience with that kind of lifestyle.

I’ve done a lot of self-searching to figure out why most people I meet seem to take an interest in me at first, but get bored very quickly and move on (no pity party here, I’m getting to a point), as it happens with almost every person I meet. I still can’t find an answer, as I try to pick apart my every flaw and wonder “which one is so bad that it makes everyone want to leave?” But there was once a quote I heard a couple years ago that pops in my head every time I think that way: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches” (Dita Von Teese). So, no matter what I do to change who I am, there will always be people who don’t like me, or just simply don’t have an interest in being my friend/more-than-a-friend/anything. And that’s okay.

As a society, we put so much pressure on relationships and friendships and all kinds of relationships, that we feel too embarrassed to ever admit that we are lonely, and we do everything in our power to prevent that impending feeling of I-will-never-find-anyone. Hence the “I’m bored, who wants to hang out?” Facebook posts and gushing about how much we love our friends on Instagram when we could just say it to their faces and all the Snapchat stories that make us seem so popular and busy all the time. We call anyone we exchange glances with to be a close friend, because in reality, we all fear loneliness. We fear facing it ourselves, and we fear letting other people know “hey, I actually don’t have many friends” or “oh, I don’t have any plans or even potential plans tonight.”

There is nothing wrong with being lonely. There is nothing wrong with not having a lot of friends or boyfriends or whoever. I will tell you right now, I am incredibly lonely. I literally got a cat to curb my loneliness, and if that doesn’t paint a picture for you, I don’t know what else will. I cling to people because I don’t know when they will leave. I fall in love easily because I think, “just maybe this time.” I had, what I had hoped was a chance with somebody who checked all the boxes for me, a really interesting and funny guy, but I clearly ruined it because now he only answers my messages once in a blue moon out of sympathy. That one kills me. There are the old friends who let me go when I decided I didn’t want to drink and go to parties every night, and I still think about that a lot. There are the family members who I tried to keep in contact with, but don’t put in any effort in return. Etc., etc., etc., but so what? I am lonely, but it’s not the worst thing in the world. I am not lonely 24/7, because I have pets that need me to survive, family that loves me, and two friends that I don’t get to see often enough but have been with me for eight years so far.

I am lonely, but I am not alone.

Being lonely is a part of human nature, but no one is truly alone. There’s always at least one person who has your back, despite those who come and go. Even if that is somehow the case, there’s always God. He’s surely not going anywhere if you let Him in. And some people are only meant to be a part of your life for a certain amount of time; maybe you needed to learn something from them, or they from you. Loneliness is a passing feeling, a fear of being rejected for not being the most popular person you can be, but being truly alone should never be a worry because it isn’t going to happen.

Do I wish I had more close friends, or that I could see mine more often? Yes. Do I wish that super nice guy would suddenly message me confessing his love for me? Well, heck yeah. Do I wish I was closer with more family members? Of course. But here’s the thing: friends, boyfriends, family, etc. relationships mean nothing if they are not the right ones. At the end of the day, I am not alone. Just lonely for now.

Being Genuine

Through observations as an outsider, discussions with people I am close to, and a whole lot of thinking, I’ve come to a conclusion: too many Christians are obsessed with self-image. Whether this is because we want to share the love and word of God so much that maybe we try too hard to be “a good Christian,” or because it simply makes us look better, I can’t tell you. It all depends on the person, because in all honesty (I’ve proclaimed this as a judge-free zone, so deal with it) I’m a little bit of both.

As humans, we are inherently ego-centric. We can’t help but think of ourselves first. We can put ourselves last in action, but not always in thought. So, it’s in human nature to want others to think highly of us. If you’re a believer, you also want God to think highly of you. Therefore, we tend to create our own self-image that we think will simultaneously impress others, God, and even ourselves the most. Thus, The Christian Self is born.

What I mean by The Christian Self is that there’s a time when we act like our true selves, and a time to play up the Christian version of ourselves, rather than just simply being ourselves with a love for and dedication to God.

Whether this is done more for a “I want to share the gospel and I feel like I have to put on a persona to do so effectively” kind of reason, or the “I’m trying to make myself look better” reason I described, then I can tell you right now: stop. It’s okay to be yourself. God makes individuals, not preaching robots. 

I repeat, be yourself. 

I have found that when I don’t use what I call Bible Talk (bible-based words and phrases that literally no one has used in a normal setting since the Bible was written, except Christians who feel like we have to in order to sound more Christian), non-believers respond a whole lot better to what I have to say.

Being a genuine Christian is much more effective than giving non-believers a reason to put us into a stereotyped category of hypocrites and robots.

As I have said before, I am not in any way bashing Christians, because 1) I am one, and 2) I’m guilty of both of these things. I speak from both experience and observation. I feel that the best way to share the gospel is to simply be yourself. Be genuine. God made us all individually and beautifully; every character trait was given to us for one reason or another. The world flourishes through individuality because we are all given our own skill set to offer the world. I was not made to be a preacher on a stage, but I have always been drawn to two skills: writing and one-on-one speaking. I know I wasn’t made to be the outgoing preacher to hundreds or thousands of people, but I do know that I was made to be a preacher in my own way that is just as important.

Just as you are. I don’t mean to get all motivational speaker on you, but learn to explore your talents because God gave them to you to use them. He didn’t give you talent for you to ignore it and say “no thanks, I want something else” because you can be effective in ways that others cannot. And that is the beauty of individuality.

So, there’s no need in putting on a show and acting like you have it together all the time and that you’re Super Christian, because at the end of the day, we’re still humans just trying to do our best, for God and with God. You don’t have to try so hard in the areas that don’t even matter. Let yourself become the best version of you that you can be because that’s what the world needs and what God wants.