Routines Are a Comfort Zone.

Routines Are a Comfort Zone.

I eat eggs every morning at 8:30am. I used to hate breakfast, but I’ve found that if I put aside some time to get ready in the morning, a routine can and will start to form. My day starts with eggs because without it, my morning would be a mess. I eat my eggs, get changed and then I drive to work. Having a routine in the morning makes me feel like I know exactly what is going to happen—there’s no room for the unknown. And it’s that fact that makes routines such a comfort zone.

We all have a comfort zone or two in our lives, for me it is having a routine; when I have a routine, I feel more confident in my day and in myself. If other aspects of my life go awry, I can feel secure in my daily routine. Comfort zones in and of themselves aren’t a bad thing. It’s when we let them become such a huge crutch in life that we cannot live without it.

If I stopped eating eggs every day, I would still survive, my days would be a little more hectic, I’d assume, but I could still make it through the day. I am not dependent on my eggs in the morning, but they help me to feel more confident in what will happen in my day. It’s something I can count on happening—it’s dependable. Plus, I mean eggs are really good, so why wouldn’t I want to make them every morning??

My day seems to go a lot smoother when I stick to a routine. The days I wake up late, because I hit snooze too many times, I’m less organized and I don’t feel like my day is all together.

There is a certain cohesiveness that happens when you’ve got a pattern that you can sink into.

I say sink into purposefully because that, at least for me, is literally what happens. I fall into a cycle, a pattern, a routine. It’s not rigid or hard, it just happens. This is what can also make comfort zones so dangerous—they happen so easily. Sometimes you don’t even know it happens. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself stuck in a habitual cycle that can be hard to break. Again, I’m not saying eating eggs every morning is going to turn into this, but being so high strung about having a routine could possibly turn into a destructive comfort zone.

There are three things that I think need to happen for a comfort zone to be and stay healthy.

  1. You need to be aware of it. If you are always conscious of your comfort zone, then you will never have to worry about it getting out of your hands. Being conscious of it means knowing it’s there and what you need to do to keep it in place.
  2. You need to know your limits. Setting boundary lines for yourself is an extremely healthy thing to do and it can create a good way to determine what your limits are. Take my routine for example. If I am planning every second of my day, that is going overboard. But setting lines on my routine, saying I’m only going to plan a few big things of my day, it creates a healthier routine and comfort zone for myself.
  3. You need to keep yourself accountable. Whether that means asking someone to keep an eye out for you becoming complacent or apathetic towards things. Or if that means every week looking back and seeing where you did well and where you fell short regarding your comfort zone. Keeping yourself accountable is a very wise and strong thing to do.

Comfort zones can be a tricky thing, but regardless, they can be helpful in life. I know having a routine has been super beneficial for me in life. If your comfort zone is having a routine like me or whether it’s something a little different, it’s helpful to take some time to inspect where you are at with it and go forth healthily in it. As for me, I’m going to keep eating my eggs in the morning, because at the end of the day, it makes me a better person.

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God and Sports.

My family has always been one to love sports. We’ve got people into hockey, baseball; others into basketball, football. No matter what the sport is, everyone in my clan enjoys it. While sports may seem a little far-fetched for me to write about—since I don’t play any except disc golf (which for the record, is the best thing since sliced bread)—I feel the need to make a sports analogy for one reason: people get it. Nearly everyone you encounter will understand sports in some way or another. If you don’t agree, let’s go over a simple checklist to make sure you will understand my analogy.

  1. Do you know what a team is?
  2. Do you know what a coach is?
  3. Do you have knowledge of basic sporty moves such as passing, defense, offense, blocking, ?

You got all of that? Good, great, perfect; you’ll understand this analogy better than anyone else.

God is hard to understand sometimes. Amiright? He’s mysterious in His ways and doesn’t always make things clear to us—which is kind of cool if you think about it. It’s not that we have to spend a ton of time trying to uncover the mystery, but it’s the fact that He can keep parts of Himself unknown and yet He still captivate us. Nonetheless, God isn’t always the easiest to make tangible.

Someone recently gave me a sports analogy that made God tangible and changed my mindset, so I want to expand on it a bit.

Think about a sports team for a sec. Imagine yourself as one of the players. Now think about your coach. There’s this rule in sports that coaches must stay behind the lines—off the field. However, there is one exception to this rule: when a player gets injured. The only time your coach can come onto the field to assist you in any way is if you get injured. I think a lot of times, this is how we view God. He’s the big man calling all the shots and throwing us into the game we call life. We believe that He knows what He is doing and His plays will be the right call. But if the defense is stronger than we are and we get knocked down and hurt, then and only then will God come to our side. What is wrong with this view is that God leaves our side. After we break from the timeout or from the huddle, our coach leaves our side. The great and amazing thing about God is that He never leaves our side. God is with you in the hard times; He is will you in the good times.

God isn’t the coach, he’s the team captain. He’s still calling the shots, but he is also on the field. He’s passing us the ball, He’s blocking people from us, He’s running alongside us, helping us score, giving us an assist. He doesn’t just say what is going to happen and then walk away hoping it all plays out right, like a coach would. He’s getting in the mess of things with you, going into the triumphs of winning, and into the devastation of a loss. He’s taking a knee when you get injured, and he’s cheering you on as a you run towards the winning point. It’s not easy to think this way because sometimes we lose sight of where God is. He doesn’t feel right next to us all the time. He doesn’t seem to be on our side. I know there are plenty of times when I felt like God had abandoned me, especially when my battle with alcohol got worse and worse. When things were stripped from me, people were changing, events happened in life. It felt like God was a million miles away.

But it’s when God feels immensely far away that He’s working the hardest.

I mean take David, from 1 Samuel, for a minute. After David strikes down Goliath, Abner introduces David to King Saul. David becomes good friends with Jonathan, and you think great! This is going to be a start of something awesome! And then Abner, the army commander, follows through with Saul’s orders and fights against David. Now we’ve got this weird thing going on where David and Jonathan are close but Saul wants David dead. Abner just happens to be fighting for the wrong team and David feels like God is far away at times. Yet, by the time we get to 2 Samuel chapter 22, we get David’s song of praise. In verse 3 we hear David refer to God as his “rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.” Hmmm, shield. Defense. Sports teams. And now we’re back to my analogy.

Just like David we can feel far away from God at times. I think that is just a normal thing that happens with being a Christian. There are waxes and wanes of God’s presence. But we cannot forget those times where, overall, God is our shield. He’s our protector, the one going before us tackling some dudes so we can run the ball forward. We wouldn’t have that access or hope if God was merely on the sidelines just staring at us. He wants to be in the game. He wants to walk with us. It’s not that He simply can and does. It’s that he desires to—another thing that makes God pretty cool.

No matter where you are at in life, it’s always better to have God be a player in your game, not simply the coach. Because the only way your coach is coming to your side, is if you get injured. Wouldn’t you love to have someone what will be there regardless of your physical state in the game? Well it’s possible—It’s God. And he wants to get in the game. So why don’t you let him?

Speak Truth into Your Life.

Speak Truth into Your Life.

Sometimes doubts and lies cloud my thoughts.

“Sometimes” recently has been every day. For a few months now, people have been encouraging me to speak truth into my life. It seemed like a very arbitrary thing and I wasn’t convinced it would even work. I put off giving it an effort for a long time. But then I noticed that these doubts and lies in my mind were causing me to be overly anxious. I was getting more anxiety attacks than I normally do, and I was confused—I’m on medications that are supposed to prevent these, why does it keep happening? It was then that someone revealed to me something that answered all my questions: Spiritual Warfare.

There is victory in Christ, and we are affirmed of this especially now as Easter just happened. However, we still live in a fallen and broken world and that gives Satan the opportunity to get us where we are most vulnerable. For me that is in my mind with lies and doubts that he seeds in deep. He can wound you deep in your sins and in your struggles.

For me, it takes a literal reminder of the truth. After hearing from countless people that I need to tell myself the truth, I remember having a phone call with a friend where I had an “aha” moment. A week later, Satan didn’t want me to have victory over him, so he crowded my minds with more doubts and lies and I had a very hard time with my anxiety. That’s when I decided to make a truth book.

I have one of those little pocket-sized notebooks and I filled 40 pages with truths that I need to remind myself of in those times where I am doubting and am swallowed up in lies. The truths are in fact true and even though some of them are simple, when I repeat them to myself, it does have power. While my truths may be different than the ones you may need to tell yourself, and speak into your life, I want to share with you what my 40 are.

I am loved.
I am not alone.
I am a child of God.
I am forgiven.
I am freed.
I have no reason to fear.
I am cherished.
I am treasured.
I am covered by His grace.
I am not bound to my sin.
I am held in his perfect peace.
I am not a slave to my addictions.
I am never abandoned.
I am not a mistake.
I am never too far gone.
I am not my past.
I am not a burden.
I am not what others have done to me.
I am redeemed.
I am alive.
I am restored.
I am not my anxiety.
I am not my depression.
I am not condemned.
I am covered by His blood.
I have hope.
I have joy.
I cannot be separated from His love.
I am healed.
I always have a way out.
I have God on my side.
I will survive.
I am part of His kingdom.
I am adored.
I can abide in Him.
I can be used as a vessel.
I am important.
I have one life to give to Him.
I am protected.
I am found in Him.

I carry this little notebook in my purse with me, so wherever I go the truth is always with me. There is scripture basis for the truth with makes it a powerful and effective tool in this spiritual warfare. May it be an encouragement to you that you don’t have to live in those doubts and fears.

What truths do you need to tell yourself?

 

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In the past month, I’ve been called many things: victim, coward, unhappy, patient, client, friend, a work in progress, hurt, a lost cause, boozy, strong willed, stubborn. Regardless of what label or category I get placed in, I’m Emma Welling and this is what my life has been in the past month.

February 28th, 2017. At 11pm, I found myself with a knife in hand talking to a campus police officer on the phone. “Emma, can you put the knife down, please?”. I had made about a dozen cuts on my stomach by the time the officer got ahold of me. “We’re dispatching the local police to your location, just hold tight, okay?”

At 11:30pm, two Ottawa County Sheriff Deputies knocked on the door. They patted me down and asked me what was going on. “I didn’t want to live anymore” They told me if I cooperated and let them take me to the hospital, then they wouldn’t have to cuff me. I obliged and Deputy Tim escorted me to the back of his police car. He apologized that due to protocol I wasn’t allowed to sit up front—he kept repeating that I wasn’t in trouble and nothing was going on my record, but I did have to sit in the back.

At midnight, March 1st, I was admitted to Holland hospital. Once they escorted me to a room, I met with a doctor and a social worker. It was at that point that I revealed the main reason why I tried to end my life: “I was raped 3 days ago,” I mentioned how a friend and I had been drinking, this friend convinced me to drive us to some guys apartment; there were other people already there. Some guy I didn’t know brought me into a bedroom, locked the door, and wouldn’t take my simple “No” as an answer. He used me and hurt me, and my supposed friends in the other room didn’t do anything to stop it. That mixed with failing all my classes in college left me feeling so empty and alone.

I spent nine restless hours in a room at Holland Hospital, while security stood guard outside my door since I was on suicide watch. At 9am, a few paramedics, lifted me onto a stretcher and wheeled me into an ambulance—I was off to the psych unit at Pine Rest. On the ride over, a very kind paramedic named Ryan talked to me about the events that brought me up to this point. He told me his heart hurt to hear that I was raped, that his wife works with people who have been through things like that, so he knows just how rough it can be. He encouraged me and told me no matter what it’s not my fault and that I should seek justice someday—if not for me then for the other girls that person could end up hurting too.

Around 12:30pm, I was officially in my assigned unit at Pine Rest and admitted as a patient. I was given a tour—albeit short—and was told how the schedule would look. Starting at 8am until 9pm, there would be either a meal or some sort of group therapy meeting every hour. I was told I had to go to at least four meetings. I went to most of the sessions simply because there was nothing else to do in the unit except sleep.

I met some really cool people who were going through extremely tough things like myself. It felt good to open up and talk to people who really get it and who have a unique quality of empathy. I made great friendships in the unit and they’re ongoing support and comradery helped my stay there be even more beneficial.

Once leaving the unit, I decided that being in college wasn’t the best choice. My case manager worked with me to help get a medical withdrawal. As of now, I’m no longer a student in college. While our society tells us that college is the only avenue, I believe I will truly be able to find myself in these months that I am taking off from school. While I hope to keep myself busy, I also desire to truly figure out the path that I need to be on in life.

I write all of this down today for one main reason. It’s not for your sympathy or your attention. It’s not even for me to learn to be vulnerable, because I already learned how to do that well in the unit. No, I’m choosing to write all of this because it makes me a human. Sometimes when I read others writing, I can’t always relate on a personal level with the one who penned it. I may connect with what they wrote about, but feeling like you know the person is a whole different level. I want to achieve that here because I want my writing to come out as if you asked me out for coffee and these were my responses to a topic or situation.
I have a lot on my heart that I want to write about in the future on this site; however, it will only make sense and have the power to connect with you if you understand where life has brought me up to this point. My story is an integral part of my writing and more than anything, I want that conveyed.

So, this is me; this is where life has brought me in the past month; and this is what I will tap into going forth from here.

I Moved…Again.

I Moved…Again.

It took me two months, but I’ve found my place. This transition into college was not extremely easy for me. I came in with confidence but found it slowly dwindling as I dealt with a living situation I was not prepared for: sharing a small space. I found that with one part of my life struggling—my living arrangement—all the other parts of my life started to struggle too, like my grades, attendance, and studying.

I found it hard to find a place that I could call my own; I felt like I had no personal space in the dorms. I tried finding a place somewhere else on campus: the library, a sitting area in an academic building, the arboretum. However, I always came up short. There was no place for me to claim as mine and that was the worst for me at night.

I would get so anxious and worked up about having to go back to my dorm at night. It felt like a prison to me. A small, cramped space that I have to share with a person who I don’t know very well; where we lock the door and for our safety have to stay in all night. While to some people, this might sound easy to deal with, for me it literally felt like prison. I didn’t feel safe at night because I didn’t have a sense of home. I tried bringing in more stuff from home: I hung up more posters, brought more of my guitar gear, but still I felt empty and like I was living in someone else’s space.

For the longest time, the dorm room didn’t even feel like mine. The way my roommate and I initially set the room up had my desk tucked in between all of her stuff and my bed on top of hers. I felt like a stranger in a room that was supposed to be half mine. I felt her stuff caving in on me. I didn’t bring a ton to college because I live 20 minutes away. I brought the essentials and a few things that would make me happy, like my music gear, but other than that I came from a very minimalistic approach. The person I was living with was the complete opposite. She’s from out of state and so brought a ton of stuff because she doesn’t get the opportunity to go home as often as I can. It all seemed fine and well until I sat in the dorm room one day and it just made me cry. I didn’t have my space, my side, or my sense of home.

I made the first step to changing that day. I decided to change the layout of our furniture. I realized I needed my dedicated side. I needed to split the room evenly and have my space. Luckily my roommate was fine with this change and we positioned everything on opposite sides of this cramped room. It did fix things for a while, but I had forgotten that just because the room layout changed doesn’t mean she has any less stuff. At times I would find myself—selfishly—thinking, why can’t she just get rid of this stuff? It’s an inconvenience to me. I can testify that this wasn’t me at some of my best. It made me a really angry and calloused person. I just wasn’t used to living with someone else surrounded me.

Growing up, I had the lucky privilege of having the largest bedroom in the house. There’s something freeing about having space to walk around; having space to make everything you have, have a home. I was extremely blessed that when both of my brothers moved away, I got the whole lower level of the house to myself. I made one of their bedrooms my music room and the other a study/office space. I liked being alone, having my space where I could decompress and relax. So coming to college and having to sacrifice that was extremely hard for me, and it really affected my life in every aspect.

I’m so grateful for GVSU’s willingness to help its students. I explained my discontent to my RA. She listened and was there to help. One night when I was extremely down—anxious and depressed—my friends urged me to talk to the RA on-duty and so I reached out to them. They were so sweet and accommodating. They felt led to call the Living Center Director, and I spent quite a while talking to her, too. She decided it would be best if she put a rush in for a room change for me. She put a rush in based on my mental health. Now this point, I could write a whole separate blog post about. I’m so extremely blessed that GV is a university that is all about inclusion, outreach, and support. I think God placed me here specifically so that I could get to a place where I was mentally sound.

I went through the whole moving process within a week—something that is sometimes unheard of. After talking with the LCD of another living area on campus, I decided living in an apartment would be exactly what I needed. While the bedroom wouldn’t be as huge as mine at home (and let’s face it, when will I ever have a room that size again?!), it would guarantee that I’d had a room where I could close a door and call the space mine. It wouldn’t be shared and it wouldn’t possess stuff that wasn’t mine. After finding an opening, I got my keys on Friday and moved in that evening.

I’m here to say I feel so much better now. Mentally I feel like I’m ready to take on college. After two months, I’ve found my groove and I’ve found my space. It’s crazy how a little personal space can affect your life in a huge way. I’m thankful for all the people who have supported me, who have made this process smooth, and the friends who have stuck by my side during this. I may be on the complete opposite side of campus, but I feel alive. God showed himself to me so much through this change and it was a great way for me to learn to trust him more and more. I’m ready to see where the rest of this semester and year will take me—it took me moving twice, but I’m in a good place now!