i know exactly how you're feeling, so i won't start with a generic "how are you?" or anything of the like. you could say i know how you are better than anyone else...
you're probably not keen on the jokes right now but i'm here with some really good news.
i completely remember how you're feeling. what you're doing, what you're listening to, what you're thinking, and what you're feeling. and i'd still say, a year later, that's justified. get it out. whatever. lucky you, not having to go to your internship or to school tomorrow. i'm still convinced that was God's timing. you're really bad at hiding your emotions and even though inside you're really okay, more embarrassed than anything, it probably wouldn't be very fun if everyone was wondering why your eyes were so puffy.
you might not be totally open to hearing this now, but you're going to figure it out sooner or later. of course, i wish you had received this sooner, maybe two years ago, and could have prevented a lot of the pain, but just know everything you're going through is not in vain.
the truth is, as you'll soon realize, you never knew God. and if we're being really honest, you never really cared to know Him. sure, you tried to live in such a way that would show your commitment to Him, blah blah blah. but you had every resource available [ie: the bible!] and you never used it. this year that's going to change.
of everything you're going to learn this year, coming to understand and realize what a powerful tool His Word is, how God uses it to penetrate hearts, to convict, to enlighten, and to heal, is by far the most valuable lesson of all. never forget that. finally reading the bible changes everything. absolutely everything.
the shame you feel is a lie of the devil. yes, you were deceived, betrayed, cheated, lied to, embarrassed, whatever, but dwelling on that only places the baton in the devil's hand. throw it on the ground. run far far away. but know he's pretty quick. and will probably meet you at check points to shout at you more thoughts of unworthiness and failure and pain, but keep training, keep pressing on, just keep running, and soon you will outpace him, and his shouts will become whispers, and his whispers will become silence.
saying "no" to things is okay. you don't need to do everything. at a certain point it's no longer serving others, but not having faith in them. limit what you're going to take on, especially coz you're in for a long battle and one that you take more personally than you should, so just do what you love and pray that God will bless it. [spoiler alert: He does].
once you get that figured out though, and you get your sheesh together, you'll learn to say "yes" to everything. and not in an overbearing, you've-got-too-much-on-your-plate kind of everything, but a i'm-going-to-step-out-in-faith-here kind of everything.
they'll ask you to do mops [taking care of preschoolers], just say yes.
they'll ask you to lead a sunday school class full-time, just say yes.
they'll ask you to hang out with a beautiful autistic boy, just say yes.
none of these things will be on your radar, they won't even be on your heart, but having seen them through, know, they change your world. but be warned, you're about to fall madly in love.
your friend will invite you to australia. you'll quit a silly job and tell her it's not possible to make the money. she'll tell you to have faith. and in four months you'll end up with enough to go on the trip of a lifetime.
speaking of money, why do you care about it so much? ya, ya, of course it's important but it's not yours. you have the nicest closet around but isn't it a bit excessive? how about you try being more generous? how about actually tithing? disconnect yourself from what money can get you and let God show you how He can use it instead.
all of a sudden that definitely-interesting but shrugged-off-conversation with that guy over breakfast is going to become the most true and motivating thing in your life.
"if God told you to pack up and go to vietnam today to teach english, you would go."as you process everything and do the damaging, girly thing of analyzing everything, this conversation will play over and over again and again. it will be a huge source of pain for you, but a powerful lesson as you press on. you either go and be obedient. or you don't and disobey.
"hmm... nooo i would probably finish my degree first. i'm not just going to leave when i only have a year left."
"then that's disobedient. you either go - be obedient - or you don't and disobey."
moving forward, self, this is one thing you have to remember: stop talking about it. i understand that that is how you deal with things sometimes, and since it's done now, that's fine, but next time [which will hopefully never exist] just keep it to yourself. between you and God. and maybe minnie. that's all who needs to hear. and with that it will shrink in importance. it won't occupy such a huge spot in your mind nor yield such a huge scar.
but with all those suggestions, here's the really good news:
you will start to see your identity in God. is the picture ever complete? i'm going to guess no. it's a life-long portrait, always in process. the Painter keeps painting. keep looking to Him for who you are and not to others or your circumstances.
you will come to understand what this commitment means. giving your life to the Lord is not about not drinking or not smoking or not having sex. it's about going, it's about doing. everything in life, not just the socially accepted things you're rejecting, should point back to who He is. incline your heart to Him; seek His kingdom. in everything.
keep stepping out. if you don't step out, then you attempt to determine what's "possible" and that's not yours to decide. yes, it's going to be awkward and uncomfortable. yes, maybe it'll cost more money, or force you to give away things you actually use. but it also will leave you crying happy tears in grocery stores. and dancing down sidewalks. and randomly complimenting unsuspecting strangers at intersections. there is no better feeling then stepping out and knowing the Lord is using that moment to pour out and show off His goodness.
finally, this year is going to be awesome. yes, there will be storms [lots and lots of storms]. but you're also going to travel the world. do really well in school. get an awesome summer job. move to the city. have many adventures. try new things. meet new people. anticipate going to school abroad. friendships will flourish. you'll be overwhelmed by people's kindness and support. you'll be awakened to new desires and passions that don't allow you to sit still. you'll find new loves. your business will do grow. you'll buy a guitar. you'll learn to pray. you'll raise your hands and even dance around a bit. you'll be less caught up in the superficiality and be more about the actual heart of God.
people will see a change in you. you'll see a change in you. and you'll make a promise to never go back.
this is it now. all in, or not at all. obedient, or completely disobedient. saying "yes", stepping out, or rejecting it completely. heart inclined to Him. intentional. pouring it out. moving forward.
as this all unfolds, budget a bit more for gas money. put the hillsong aftermath cd on. drive those unfamiliar country roads. you'll find a lot of healing there.
it's going to be a crazy year. and no words can really prepare you for what's ahead. but be reminded to, "take heart, [for] He has overcome". and thankfully, a year later, i can look back on it all and tell you, that by His grace, you will too.