The Height of Anxiety.

Sunday, I had a panic attack.

Every past failure rose up from the grave – and met me when I was most vulnerable – to drag me back down. I am familiar with not getting it right, or making unpopular decisions and being unreliable. But there is a brand new level of hurt experienced when you let your own self down. quotes, blog, anxiety, healing

I was running on empty. Most people see the gas light and immediately hurry to resolve the issue. Not me. I will keep driving–insisting that I can go much farther than mechanically possible. Sometimes, I am annoyingly successful. The person who always seems to slide through the cracks of undesirable situations. At others, I am the broken down car on the side of the road with a T-shirt hanging out the window.

Painfully and publicly aware that I do not have anywhere else to go.

Mistakes force patience down your throat. They invade personal spaces with their uncanny ability to break up your oblivious peace. I thought I could handle all these responsibilities, but the truth is the more I juggle the higher the chances are of me dropping things. Now, I have to stand still and face what went wrong. Now, I have to go back to the beginning when I should have been more disciplined from the start.

The first time I failed a class I was shocked and angry. Shocked, because I thought I did just enough to get by. Angry, because I could have done better, and my laziness reaped a negative result. But I went back and retook that class and the next time I more than passed the course. Eventually, I earned my Associates Degree.

Maybe I thought the next level of college would be a breeze. Maybe I just took on too much and did not understand what was required of me. Or maybe, I am not smart enough or young enough to do what is necessary. When you believe this type of negative narrative you will be hard pressed to succeed at anything. Self-created pressure keeps so many of us from aiming higher and pushing harder when the inevitable difficulties appear.

Sunday, I let my anxiety take the driver’s seat. But if I am honest, fear and the belief that I am undeserving have long been passengers in my now disabled car. I fought earnestly at level one to get to what I knew was mine. Late night papers and canceled plans were the norm of my existence. I have sacrificed fun to pay for school books, gave up countless nights of sleep to get it all done.

And I will not my anxiety get the best of me, not while level 2 is still left to be won.

 


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Boundless Beauty. (300 words)

I hate to be the bearer of bad news in my own expectations or the facilitator of less than my absolute best when I am actively pursuing my dreams. I want to grow tired of the lies I sell myself and follow my heart as it leads me to truth. But it takes so much more than hopes and good thoughts to inspire lasting and effectual change.

Sometimes, you have to break down completely before you will ever follow through.

I am not infallible. Every day I wake up just like you with a choice to do better or to stay statically still. I could go on and on about the times I wasted or the balls I let drop while the world around me refused to stop–but none of that will matter unless I choose to make a difference now, for me.

When you are not emotionally connected to your actions, you will continue to fail without any regard to who you are taking down with you. You will emote and feel things deeply but forget that it is not all about your problems. It is about finding a path in the middle towards achieving and maintaining peace. Peace that can not exist if we are constantly fighting.

I do not want to hear “suck it up” when the truth in love inspires us to speak words of healing over people who are truly suffering. There are a thousand ways we can say the same thing without wounding sensitive spirits with our harsh expressions.

Some days this is harder for us to do–but the most beautiful things have a way of happening in spite of you.

beauty, life, expectations, hope, love, blog


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– Jen Cosby

When Home is Not Home. (350 words)

Parents are the first homes for their children. We exist to welcome and nurture them–as the protectors of their souls. This is not a perfect job, nor one where you can take off when you are exhausted. We were chosen. Given an opportunity to pour purpose and breathe life onto their innocent, blank slates.

Slates that are always, always influenced by their surroundings.

Parents/mentors/extended family have an important responsibility to guide children away from hardship–but to stand firmly by their side when pain is inevitable. We are NOT meant to wound these innocent spirits with self-righteous ideas of who we THINK they should be. Especially, when their idea of who they are conflicts with what we were taught to believe.

If home is not SAFE, children will learn to outsource their needs. They will run–into the arms of others who may give them false information and take advantage of their hearts. They will lie and tell you what you want to hear when they think you cannot handle their truths. They will form guards against any connections to you.

I am reminded of children who “come out” to conservative parents. And parents who then attack the very thing they were meant to protect. There are parents who refuse to listen when their child is screaming for their attention. And parents who later blame themselves for the consequences.

I am reminded of myself. When I was younger I did everything I could to get away from home. I felt invalidated and broken. So much so, I delayed my potential for nearly a decade before I discovered that I was worth so much more.

Now I know that I am my home.

Sometimes, parents fail and we are left to keep our home safe. This is okay. Things like this happen to people everyday. We fall off our paths and run in a million different directions. We chase after things we do not need and leave our homes open without any security. We make mistakes then drag ourselves back in the game.

But with or without them you will find your way.

home, worry, hope, blog


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– Jen Cosby

Change in Gravity.

Last night I dreamed that I was getting married and nothing felt right. I was wearing the wrong dress and the wrong shoes–I did not recognize the people around me. My father, instead of standing with me behind the scenes–was in the crowd and took his time getting to his place. The pastor even called the wedding a funeral.

But worst of all: I was marrying the wrong guy.

I knew him, but we were friends a long time ago in high school. I have no idea how he appeared in my dreams–but it was obvious that we were not in sync. We missed each other’s cues and I kept looking around expecting someone else to show up instead.

In short, I knew he was not the one for me.

change in gravity_blog_jencosby_relationships

 

Today,  I feel the weight of my actions and wonder if I can reconcile them to my beliefs. I feel like a victim who does not know they have been harmed. It is as if I am a prisoner who does not see the open, waiting door. It should be easy to move when you live for excuses, but I have taken intentional steps away from the disease of harmful decisions and repetitious cycles of apathy.

I thought I was past “triggering out” and using my previous abuse as an excuse to wield unforgiveness as if I have never done anything wrong. When I personally make mistakes, I want understanding–I need the person I hurt to see the pain behind my mask of pride. But sometimes, we have to be broken beyond what we think we can take.

It is only after we are shattered that we are open to being saved.

In my weakness, I can admit my truth. I can tell you that I have issues. I have mommy issues and daddy issues and issues with authority. I have issues with accepting people who say that they love me. I have a hard time believing sorry when the behavior does not change. I have a hard time reconciling with people who chose to walk away.

My dream reminded me that I am not perfect. It reminded me that I can want something so badly, that I am blinded to the danger staring me in the face.

I pray my reality does not reflect the same mistake.

Even the Righteous Need Breaks.

I wonder what happens to beautiful souls who lose their courage to the bitter realities of life. A part of me knows decisions are made that subtract from happiness and cause undesirable consequences–but another part of me cannot begin to analyze the cost. Instead, I look out of my window at clouds that promise oncoming cold and heavy, relentless rain. Because even nature releases its burden before it starts all over again.

The cycle of life reminds us of how precious time is while we attempt to live out our plans and work towards individual designs. We are planners and organizers. Dreamers who spend hours thinking of ways to get the very best of everything. Yet sometimes, we intentionally procrastinate against the necessary hard work required of us. Turning our backs on the truth of who we are.

jencosby_blog_inspiration_lessonsThere are times of testing that give way to amazing moments that we could have never achieved without grace. In these difficult moments we forget what is important and get defensive when our ideal is lost. When I personally measured my commitment to others I found I could have done more when my friends were hurting. Instead, I chose to bury my head in the sand and act as if nothing was happening. I ignored those public posts and dismissed their agonizing cries for attention–assuming that a person who needed help would just come out and ask for it. But it is difficult to anticipate help when you are ashamed of your actions.

For the better part of a year I ran from every single one of my callings. I dug in deep with isolation and spent quality time in my own self-imposed rejection. At the time, I felt wounded by so many things that I became accustomed to and accepting of pain. It became a daily habit for me to wake up and go through the day like a zombie–oblivious to the hurt I was feeling. Eventually, that hurt became a part of the way I communicated. I lashed out and broke confidence with people who wanted more for and from me. Now, I realize I could do nothing for them unless I wanted more for myself.IMG_2204

Now that I want more I need to take consistent steps in the right direction. It means I cannot run from difficult conversations or fill silence with resentment and apathy. My calling requires me to be active in the pursuit of my emotional, physical and mental health. When I am wrong, I must admit it and walk down the path towards reconciliation and forgiveness. Likewise, if someone hurts me (accidentally or not) it is up to me to be honest about my feelings.

What they choose to do with my truth is NOT my responsibility.

 

The Coincidence of Obedience.

Words will always pour out of a writer’s heart as long as the right door is opened.

I went back to my home church in the month of April.  After many excuses and in spite of my infamous stubbornness, there were multiple occurrences that led me to believe that now was the right time. For one, I ran into a church member and friend at the city-wide Spelling Bee in which our children were participating. The day of the 1st test, I was stuck in what seemed like an unnatural amount of traffic and I thought to myself, “There’s a reason this is happening right now.” We finally make it to the library where the Spelling Bee is held and right after we check in a little girl runs up screaming my daughter’s name. I turn around to see four faces I have not seen in over a year.

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It is important to note: I do not believe in coincidence. Every moment in life we have the opportunity to make decisions, but each cross road we ultimately come to is intentional. At times, I did not like where I was headed and made the choice to correct my course. Sometimes, I would choose to keep going on a path I hated, towards a sad and lonely ending. Still, in either direction there was a voice–one that rang louder or quieter depending on my choice. The 2nd occurrence happened on my way back home from visiting my family in Virginia. I could hear a thought in my mind saying, “It’s time to go back to your church.” Not only did I hear this thought, but I also knew and felt the exact time to go. It was also around this time that one of my pastors reached out and asked me directly when I would be coming to see my family.

The answer was very soon.

Regardless of how I left or the emptiness I once felt, it was time to return to the place I knew I belonged. Ironically, walking into those doors again felt familiar and comforting rather than intimidating or wrong. I was reminded of the kindness of these people whom I had known for a number of years. Now, I could see with clear eyes how I should have stayed and asked for help. Help, that I did not feel I deserved at the time. I also remembered the hurt that burned in my chest when I left and no one seemed to notice. I realize now just how hard it is to reach someone who does not want to be reached.

Especially since the person who needed to be reached, was me.

It is my hope that my future decisions will bring me closer to rather than pushing others away. Life is already difficult enough without me being the perpetrator in my own narrative. I choose to be brave and strong–to allow people to love me through my mess and to see me fully. I choose to speak my truth and walk forward knowing that I am doing my best. And the best, is yet to come. authentic_life_lessons_truth

You Cannot Rush Freedom (400 words)

Most of us exist for tiny moments of excitement–forever looking for the next thrill to write home about. I wish life was always this simple and we did not have to think about problems or troubles or figure out 5-year plans. But the truth is, an honest life is one of requirement. Everyday we must come to terms with the fact that our lives are not completely our own. We are responsible for other people–in the most benign to the most extreme of ways.

And nothing wakes one up faster than realizing that another person is counting on you.

I imagine taking this type of ownership to its highest peak. Because without sacrifice, we are incapable of offering anyone anything. Sometimes, the hardest part of my day is facing this blatant reminder in the form of an unrelenting alarm clock. It screams, “Wake Up!” when all I really want to do is sleep. The act of hitting snooze in this instance is probably one of the most selfish things.

When I was a child, I relied upon my parents to prepare me for every future event. From school and extracurricular activities to family special occasions; I was helpless without them. At times I found myself helpless as a result of them. Now that I am an adult, I remember the way I would rationalize their dysfunction on my life. I did not see drunkenness and disorder; it was unpredictable fun. My mother was not financially irresponsible and careless, she was spontaneous and carefree.

This is the lens I used to guard my innocence when what I really needed was protecting.

I dreamed of leaving my destructive nest and living a life of order and structure. I remember trying to fly on my own for the first time and it was then I learned that you cannot rush freedom. I thought maybe flapping my wings and kicking up dust would guarantee that no one could ever reach me. But the higher I flew, the more I lost sight of my calling and destiny. It took coming back down and sitting in the reality of all the hurt I experienced that finally gave me the courage to let it all go.

I could have chosen to cling to my past and perpetuate the cycle of pain, transferring the guilt I felt onto my offspring. I could have continued to run from my responsibilities. But I know I must live a life of intention.

And God intended for me to be free.