This post is a bunch of word vomit and will probably have many grammatical errors so bear with me. I recently got my first and more than likely my only tattoo. Getting a tattoo was never an option at my house. My parents don’t care for them and it was just understood that we would not be getting any. I’m normally not a tattoo fan either. I can appreciate the artistry and the attention to detail. If you want to cover yourself in tattoos, I’m not here to judge. More power to you if you can stand the pain and afford it.
I almost got one on my 18th birthday, but I chickened out. I didn’t think about it for a few years, but recently I’ve been toying with idea more and more. I wanted to get “Phil 4:6” on my left and I finally bit the bullet and did it. This verse means so much to me and has been the voice of reason and guiding light for me in recent years. If you aren’t familiar with Philippians 4:6, it reads “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”
I’ve spoken about my anxiety before and some trying times I’ve faced in recent years. I still take anxiety medication. I still struggle. I still work on myself every day. I hate that I have this issue, but I’ve accepted it and pray it’s something I will eventually outgrow and that I won’t be on medication my whole life. I’m not ashamed of it, but I’m not proud of it either. No one wants to be different and thought of in a negative light, but it’s my reality.
For a while, my main source of anxiety was school. In high school, I worked my butt off so I could get into college. I took honors classes, spent Friday nights in doing homework and studying all while working, doing extracurricular activities, and attempting to have a social life. I was a member of the National Honor Society, a North Carolina Scholar, and was voted into the Hall of Fame at my high school for academics. I graduated 22nd out of almost 300. On Awards Day, I received almost $1500 in local sponsored scholarships. Awards Day in 2009 was honestly the last time that I actually felt proud of myself. I worked hard and was rewarded for that. I was headed to Meredith College with my major decided and a determined to succeed attitude.
College was like high school on steroids. It was a whole new world and a little bit of extra studying was not going to cut it. My anxiety got worse. I made it through freshman year with decent grades, but definitely not the grades I was used to. I knew I did my best and was adjusting and while I wasn’t pleased, I dealt with it. I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for 18 credit hours of reading intense courses my first semester of sophomore year. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I wasn’t sleeping. If I wasn’t in class, reading, or studying, I was worrying myself sick trying to figure out how I was going to do it all and get good grades. A few weeks into the semester, I broke. I knew I couldn’t do it. I was doing too much. I made an appointment to see a counselor on campus and spent the entire session crying because I was disappointed in myself. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to get all the things I wanted accomplished. I ended up dropping a class and things got better. Then I made an appointment with a doctor to talk about medication. After talking with my doctor and looking into some other options, we went with medication. It took some time to work, but eventually it did and things were much better. I stumbled across Philippians 4:6 while reading my Bible and devotion and it spoke to me. God’s always right on time! He put that verse in my life when I needed it most. I immediately memorized it. I also wrote it on a label and taped it to my computer so I would see it every day. I would literally repeat it to myself several times throughout the day and I still do.
I hoped that after I graduated, I could come off my medicine because the main cause of my anxiety, school, wouldn’t exist anymore. WRONG. Job hunting has got to be one of the worst things in life. I started applying for jobs in December before graduating in May. I applied for anything and everything all over the US. I was open to moving for the right position. The world was wide open. All I got was rejection after rejection after rejection. I graduated with no job lined up and no prospects. What about me was so awful that no one would hire me? I had an education and some work experience, why would no one take a chance and hire a recent college grad? It was beyond frustrating. Working hard, starting the hunt early, and having an open mind didn’t help. I finally found a part-time job and took it. Part-time was better than no job and it had potential to turn into full time. The summer after graduation, I had the dosage of my medication increased because I just wasn’t in a good place.
I started working and eventually became full time. At first, I loved it. I was working and learning a lot. After a while, the newness wore off and I became really unhappy. I wasn’t making much money and was still very reliant on my parents for money. A position I didn’t expect to be in after graduation. I thought I could finally give them a break. They made sacrifices to pay for my school and you know everything else for my entire life so I was looking forward to being able to support myself. Having to ask my parents for money to pay my rent really sucked. I was spending a lot of time alone both at work and at home which gave me a lot of time to sit and get inside my head. I would spend hours thinking about everything I didn’t like about myself and how big of a failure I was. By this point I had stopped taking my medicine because I decided I didn’t need it anymore, another good idea of mine. My doctor told me to never just stop taking it. If I wanted to come off it, we would need to wean me off. Being unhappy and stopping my medicine cold turkey was not a good combination. I got in my head worse and got myself in a deep, dark hole. On top of my work issues, I was having issues at my apartment complex so I wasn’t even comfortable in my own home. I had a particularly bad day and really thought about ending it all. I was so unhappy and thought there was no way out. I wrote letters to my family members and spent the day in tears. After work, I drove to my apartment, picked up Windsor, and headed home. I knew if I stayed in Raleigh by myself, I would do something that I would later regret so I went home. My parents were surprised to see me and when I went inside and explained things to them they said I could quit. I knew I couldn’t though. I knew they were already supporting me so much and that quitting with no other job lined up, would leave me 100% reliant on them financially. My dad looked at me and said, “You don’t have to live like that. You can quit. We’ll figure it out.” He will never know what a difference those words made. I knew it wouldn’t be easy in anyway mental or financial, but knowing that he was ok with it made it better. I turned in my 2 week notice the next day and headed to Charleston for a bachelorette weekend. A weekend with my girlfriends was just what I needed. I then spent the next 3 months unemployed.
Up to this point, my life hadn’t been anything like I’d planned. I prayed, I worked, I gave everything and came up short. I would be easy to get mad at God and be angry that things weren’t going my way. Instead, I finally opened the Bible I received for college graduation and dove right in. I was raised in church and faith has always been a part of my life. I’ve prayed every day for as long as I can remember. I would read my Bible from time to time, but I was never a devoted every day reader like I am now. I knew there was a reason for God giving me these trials and I was determined to come out on the other side. I dug into my Bible and my faith really grew. I was reading and learning so much. I learned to let go and give it all to God. All. Of. It. Finally. I put 100% of my faith and trust in him. I prayed for guidance and forgiveness. I prayed for strength to wait it out and let God lead the way for my life. I prayed for him to take the burden off of me because I couldn’t carry it by myself anymore. I repeated Philippians 4:6 to myself more than ever. This verse literally saved my life and became the foundation for me to try to get myself together and press on.
I finally found a job, but it was only part-time. Again, part-time is better than no job and it was at a really awesome company. I happily accepted and got back to work. Things got better. I had a job. I had a reason to get up every day. It felt nice. I was getting a pay check which helped. I was hoping the job would turn into full time at some point
I’m still in the same job, part-time. I’m still financially dependent on my parents. I still don’t like that. I still want to be completely independent. I’m looking for full time and applying. Hopefully a door will open soon. All these years later and Philippians 4:6 is still guiding my path. I still repeat it every day. It makes me thankful for all I have. It gives me hope that there at better things to come. I know my problems don’t even compare to the serious issues that others face on a day to day basis. I have way more than so many and more than I deserve. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned so much about myself and grown so much in my faith. I am a stronger and better person and Christian than I’ve ever been. I’ve got a ways to go, but I’ve come so far. I still have my bad days, but I’m so thankful they are rare.
What I am proud of myself for is growing in my faith and doing it all by myself. I know a lot of people turn to their pastor or church family in hard times. I don’t attend church regularly so I didn’t necessarily have that resource and y’all know I like to be by myself (#introvertprobs). I sought God out all on my own. I’ve learned so much from reading my Bible and doing devotions. It’s my nightly ritual and a time I look forward to every day. I also think doing it alone helped me to be completely honest with myself. You can’t lie to yourself! No matter how my life turns out or how many more hard times I have to go through, I will be forever grateful for this period of my life. My relationship with Christ would not be as strong as it is if I hadn’t had this stage.
This my story. This is my life. It’s not all sunshine and pretty lipsticks. I didn’t write this long drawn out post for sympathy, pity, praise or anything else. I wrote this for me. I’ve been keeping so much of this bottled up inside for so many years and it feels so good to let it all out. I wrote this extremely long post to explain this little tattoo. Now whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed and anxious, I can look down at my wrist and up to Heaven and know that it will all be ok. I will be ok. I don’t need to worry because God is there for me. At the end of the day, regardless of my job, the amount of money in my bank account, etc. I have a God that eases my burdens and loves me as I am and that’s really all I need.
Again, I’m sure this is full of grammatical errors and run on sentences, but I just wrote what was on my mind. By the time I was done, it was too late and I was too emotionally drained to go back read it again to check for errors. If you actually read all of this, bless you
P.S. I’m not expert on the subject, but if you have anxiety or struggles and want someone to talk to or advice, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check this out.