Night Driving

Stories of Faith in the Dark Synchroblog

This is part of a synchroblog Addie Zierman put together for her new book which comes out today.

Night-Driving-Synchroblog

It was darkest in my early 20s.

It wasn’t dark because I lost sight of my faith in college or because I had no moral compass. I actually went to church regularly while in school. I also attended a campus Bible study. UT wasn’t a godless place. I was never challenged directly while in college.

Going to church didn’t make me feel better. I often felt something was missing. I wanted to connect with people but being the introvert I am it was difficult. My first year of college I met a ton of people. I forced myself out of my shell and those relationships I developed from the start satisfied my hunger. I went against everything which was in my personality when it came to meeting people. I was outgoing and I met many friends I still have to this day. However, as college went on I got back in my routine of not being outgoing and it wasn’t until my anxiety was raging I realized this was a problem.

When I was at my darkest point I didn’t have anyone around me I could talk to about what I was going through. The loneliness and despair this brought me was terrible. I remember one Sunday morning going to church and wanting so desperately to feel better. I felt like it was a trip to the doctor’s office. I wanted an injection or a prescription to give me relief. I remember the exact pew I sat on that morning but I couldn’t tell you one song we sang or what the pastor spoke about. I sat alone and felt sorry for myself. There was nothing wrong with the church and nothing wrong with the people in it. I had isolated myself. I went to church to get something out of it. I went to feel better about the decisions I made on Friday and Saturday night. Most of the time it did make me feel better. However, when I was at rock bottom and needing help I didn’t have anyone to talk with there. I was alone and afraid. It’s hard to think about this moment much less write about it. I don’t remember all the details well because it is a dark place and I couldn’t see everything when I was in the middle of it. I didn’t anticipate the loneliness being as strong as it was.

The scariest part about being in the darkness of faith is there is not an easy way out. I’m not a very stubborn person but there are times when I can act hard-headed. I don’t like changing my ways. At times when things are the darkest in my faith I realize I need to change but something prevents me. I know a solid relationship with others who I can walk with in faith is what I desperately need but it’s not something which can happen overnight. It needs to be nurtured and cared for over time.

The most comforting part is time keeps moving on. No matter what is going on in my life the minutes, hours, and days continue to roll forward. When anxiety bothers me the most this always encourages me. It can be stressful but when something is heavy on my mind it always brings me peace to know at the end of the day I will lay down my head on a pillow and several hours later the sun will come up and another day will arrive. When your deep in despair and nothing seems to matter this brings hope. It’s not something which brings hope in the middle of your struggle but rather when you look back you see it. It slowly builds upon itself day after day

I forget sometimes my relationship with God is a journey. I want to believe it is constantly going in a steady line upwards but in reality it is all over the place. There are ups and downs. There are times when it’s not in a good place and I’m learning to be thankful for those times because it is in those moments I grow. If you are in one of those moments now reach out to someone and tell them. Chances are they have been there before and can help. I wish I would have reached out to others instead of fighting alone when things were darkest for me.

The Art of Work

I have been lazy in my writing this past week. I knew with the busy week I had at work it was going to be hard to focus on writing. I should have written anyway. Part of the reason I know that is because of the book I just finished.

TheArtofWork_hirez

I have read Jeff Goins’ blog for a while now and it has always been one of my favorites. I have also read all of his books so I was excited he was writing another one. I can say with certainty this is the best one he has written.

As I sit down to write on this Sunday afternoon I’m reminded why I want to do this. I feel called to write. I love writing but even on the days I don’t love it, I still do it and need to do it. Sometimes we think what we are called to do comes easy for us. Typically it is not, and this book unpacks that thought.

Every calling is marked by a season of insignificance, a period when nothing seems to make sense.” – Jeff Goins

If you have ever tried to do anything which caused even the slightest bit of inward wondering of what in the world you were doing this speaks to you. It was so important for me to hear this message at this stage in my life. I love to write but there are times when I don’t want to, especially on here. I feel like nobody cares what I have to say, so why put it out there? When I read those words above in the book it jumped off the page. Jeff spent time doing the same things I’m doing and he has seen now how it makes sense.

While reading the book I took pages and pages of notes and highlighted and underlined as much as I could. I know this will be a book I will go back and reference for encouragement and direction many times. The bad news is this book cannot be purchased until March 24th. You may wonder why I’m writing about this book now if it can’t be bought until another month. Well, that brings me to the good news. Right now Jeff is allowing this book to be received for free. All you have to do is pay for shipping. It’s like reverse Amazon Prime. Along with paying for shipping you get to receive a digital copy of the book immediately and access to many more things. You can read about them and get the book at ArtofWorkBook.com.

I can’t recommend this book enough. It will not only motivate you to do more but help you make sense of what you are called to do.

It Is Not About Me

I recently read a great book by Jeff Goins titled, Wrecked. It really spoke to me and I wish I could have read it when I was in college.

There was a segment in the book which strays slightly from the main topic but it impacted me more than anything else I read.

Jeff writes about a girl named Lynne and how she had an epiphany after an unfortunate set of events led to her unemployment.

She thought to herself, “If I could do absolutely anything and didn’t have to worry about money, what would I do? (134) ”

This is not the first time I have heard this thought but for some reason this time it has really stuck with me. Probably because of the season of my life I am currently in, but I have had this question on my mind a great deal lately.

When you have bills, responsibilities, and everything else going on you really don’t want to think about this. Honestly it can be depressing. Not a lot of people wake up on Monday morning and go to work doing what they love to do. It is quite despondent to look at life this way but it is reality.

One part of the book which I have wrestled with is I have never been to a third world country and seen firsthand the despair and poverty people live in. As Jeff writes in the book these experiences can “wreck” us and makes us realize what is truly important.

I really wanted to travel abroad when I was in school and I didn’t. Although I really loved the book I could not help but feel a since of regret while reading it.

However, when I read this in the last chapter of the book I felt a great sense of encouragement:

What it means to be wrecked – what it really means – is that you do the hard thing. You step into discomfort. When you bought that plane ticket or moved overseas or took that first trip to the inner city, you were fearful, anxious of the unknown. What wrecked you was the decision to move through that uneasiness and embrace what you didn’t know. It was an act of courage – doing the right thing, regardless of how you felt. And this is how life is. It’s the same lesson learned over and over again: Life is not about you. (154) ”

Unselfishness is a lesson for me which is hard to grasp. I hate when I act selfish but sometimes I can’t help myself. However, when I look back on my favorite experiences and most impactful moments, almost all of them involved me stepping out of my comfort zone or being unselfish.

What I am learning through this season in life is that it is not about me. Yes, I still have desires to work my dream job, own my dream house, etc.

Those desires will not have a negative impact on me. I am choosing to be unselfish and choosing to commit myself fully to the present. I am choosing to remember daily it is not about me.

What is the Worst Type of Complacency?

– But there’s no options here. I told you that.
– So leave.
– I could leave.
– Then leave.
– But it would be better to stay here, and have things be different.

This excerpt is from a book I just read by Dave Eggers, A Hologram for the King. It is a great book and I absolutely could not put it down.

The main character is in a foreign country and is speaking to a cab driver he has befriended. The cab driver’s response to a prompting of moving and getting out of a bad situation has really resonated with me.

Often times I find myself feeling this exact same way. I am the complete opposite of a hypochondriac. If it were not for the prodding of others I would never go to the doctor. I am not sure why I am this way because I am not afraid of needles or any other specific medical remedy I simply do not like going to the doctor. When I have been sick in the past I have wished things would simply get better without actually doing anything about it. I’m not naïve enough to believe that works but I still felt that way.

On a much bigger scale I have found myself in situations that were really bad. We all end up in these situations from time to time even if we did nothing wrong to get into them. I longed so deeply for my circumstances to change. Unfortunately, wishing a problem will go away does not help at all. Looking back I wished I would have spent more time figuring out what I should do about a problem instead of dwelling in my problem.

The worst type of complacency is knowing you need to change something about the circumstance you find yourself in and choosing not to do anything about it.

I struggle with being complacent. I know it is why this line in the book spoke to me so deeply. I want to get better at it because I don’t want to settle for anything and I don’t want to wither in bad situations.

The Number One Topic I Enjoy Reading

I have been reading a lot lately. Not only books but blogs and news articles as well. My interests in reading are all over the place. I enjoy reading about sports, business, spiritual growth, personal development, autobiographies, and any fiction. Basically I enjoy everything but romance novels.

As I was looking back at similarities to some of the best books I have read I realized there was a common theme in these books that I enjoyed. I love reading about people’s struggles and failures.

I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy reading about this so much but I believe it has a lot to do with the fact that it helps me realize I can overcome my imperfections and still achieve great things. I also enjoy reading them because I want to share with others my failures and mistakes.

The majority of books that I read would be categorized as “spiritual growth.” In most of these books the author will share about difficulties they have struggled with and how they overcame them. I just finished reading Overwhelmed by Perry Noble. He spoke candidly about the struggles he had personally dealt with facing stress and anxiety. As a reader, you can tell when the author is genuine. Reading that book and realizing how deep Perry’s struggles were with anxiety and depression and how he was able to overcome them was very moving.

I enjoy the transparency that comes with a very personal blog post or chapter in a book. This post from Carlos Whitaker about his adopted son on Mother’s Day really spoke to me. Most of the blogs I read and the books I enjoy the most have this theme tied into them. It’s not that I pretend to have it all together but I struggle with talking about my shortcomings even with close friends and family. It makes me very uncomfortable. The more I have read the more I know that I need to share more. Not only to get it off my chest but in order to let others know that they are not alone in whatever they are struggling with.

The Circle (Vintage)

The Circle has made me rethink the way I use social media. Dave Eggers book is about a twenty something named Mae who gets her dream job. She gets an opportunity at a technology company called The Circle which is very similar to Google. The company’s main goal is to make all information known and to “complete the circle.” The company encourages employees to take advantage of everything that is going on at the campus which allows little time for life outside the company.

What starts out as something great quickly changes as Mae begins to feel the pressure of working at a place that wants to eradicate privacy. Mae realizes she cannot live life outside of work and comes face to face with the dangers of everything being known.

This book is so relevant because we live in an age where more information is available than ever before. We are able to search for anything we want on the internet and if something is put on the internet it never goes away. Although social media sites, like Facebook, are great. There are times when we need to step back and wonder how far is too far?

It has been well documented the kind of information that Facebook keeps up with which is quite frightening to be honest. Here is a great read on the subject. The Circle does an amazing job of presenting this information and detailing the negative impact it can have on society. While reading the book I kept thinking about Google and Facebook and although I enjoy using both I wonder what their long term goals are and where the companies will be at in ten or twenty years.

There are certain parts of the book that I did not enjoy. Most notably the intimate scenes Mae has with certain men. It seemed unnecessary and the author goes into great detail about the sexual relations of the characters. There is also a great deal of cussing in the book that did not really bother me but it did seem forced at times.

Overall I believe that this book is important because of the impact it has on the way you process technology. Having access to all types of information is great but how far is too far? I believe that is a question that we need to ask ourselves. It is amazing to be able to Skype with someone who is on another continent but do we really need to be under constant surveillance? I love my iPhone but we need to come to the realization that anyone with a smart phone can record anything at a given time. Also, how much of our privacy has to be infringed upon before people truly start taking notice?