The Last Couple Weeks…

Last night after a 12- hour shift I pulled into our apartment complex, parked the car, took the elevator up to our floor and walked into our home.

“How was it?”

That was all it took. The tears just flowed. And flowed some more.

DJ jumped up from the couch and just held me.

The end of my first week of in-hospital nursing came to a close. With it came feelings of incompetence like none I have ever experienced. Those feelings of inadequacy slowly chipped away at my confidence, as though carving out pieces of my soul. After three shifts, I was broken.

I knew this was coming, mentally. I have heard it from countless other new nurses before. I won’t let that happen, I lied to myself.

Yes, this past week was perhaps one of the most emotionally draining of my life. I knew orientation would be a challenge- but I truly don’t know how I’m going to finish everything by the deadline of April 19th. We have countless skills we have to perform in-hospital, but when caring for patients, it’s hard enough to find a bathroom break, let alone demonstrate how to set up a chest tube, how to clean a tracheostomy, how to insert an NG tube, how to change a CVC dressing, set up a lumbar drain, etc.

On top of that is the physical exhaustion- the 4:30 wake up calls, the intense modules to complete on my “day off”, the desire to keep a home running for DJ and I to live in, including keeping groceries stocked and the laundry done.

But perhaps one of the most challenging aspects right now stems from the deep love I have for the people I am caring for. All that above, it’s hard to do, but oh man, it is so worth it when I can care for someone so intimately and make a difference in their lives. But out of this love I have for caring for my patients comes a desire to be freaking good at caring for them. And I’m not. I have no idea what I’m doing right now, and I am beyond frustrated with myself. One of our educators told us multiple times that we have to be forgiving with ourselves. Now I totally understand what she meant.

I forget to chart so many things. I lay awake panicking because I can’t remember if I did A, B, AND C, or if I only did A and B. I drive to work nauseas because I’m so terrified.

But it’s normal, they say.

Do I regret this choice or decision? No.

Do I wonder if I have what it takes? Yes.

Do I have to remind myself multiple times a day that God has a specific plan for me here? Yes.

Is this the first chapter of my story that has a beautiful ending where I can confidently say that I am a good nurse? I really hope so.

Ya’ll know that I’m pretty candid around here. Yes, I LOVE to make the world’s-worst jokes, and I LOVE to laugh-but I will let you know when it’s been tough tough tough. When things get stressful, I tend to go into hermit mode and cut myself off from the world. But in this past couple weeks I have worked up a serious appetite to blog. I feel like it always helps me put things back into perspective. When you can write about a situation, it gives it a tangibility and control at your finger tips. You decide what is highlighted, and ultimately you decide the perspective you have and the learning you gain from the experience. That’s what writing does for me, and it’s cathartic and healing in an essence of its own.

And although this week was so hard, I know that it will get better. I am in a learning season, and sometimes learning is one of the most trying obstacles we can face in life. Why? Because learning requires a stretch of our will, minds, energy, patience, and that is usually uncomfortable. But the awesome truth about the trials of learning is the accompaniment of growth. Lessons aren’t learned in complacency, but rather in tribulation. As is growth. So for that growth I am thankful, I need this stage to help me blossom. I need it to refine me and my character. I need it to meet new friends, lead people to Jesus, and carry out a purpose for which I have been called. One day this stage will allow me to encourage others that walk through it too.

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(Romans 5:3) Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And in the mean time, I refuse to solely survive. I want to live, I want to thrive. I want to learn as much as I can and not let every negative, exhausting, emotionally draining situation define me or my perspective.

I also don’t write this for pity or anything- it’s simply to have a baseline for myself moving forward so I can see that growth that takes place! I know things will get better, and I hate to be negative, but it’s also important for me to be candid about these things for my own reflection! 

Hope I didn’t give anyone an extra case of the Monday blues! 🙈

Sooo, without further adieu. I would love to share some highlights of our week…

I am officially running the Big Sur Marathon!!! I haven’t officially announced it here because I didn’t know if my work schedule would allow it. To be honest, I haven’t trained much, so it may be a bit rough. If anything, I will see some spectacular views! I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to get a great time or even finish it if my body says, “heck nah”, so we will see. I did complete an 18-miler with two minor breaks on Friday while studying on the treadmill, so that’s not too bad! This weekend I don’t work Saturday, so I might go for a 22-miler while I study! Anywho…. here are my nature-y pics from other runs during the week!

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DJ and I still haven’t seen each other much during the week. Baseball season is gearing up, so he has been at work till about 10/11 pm every evening including many weekend nights. However, Saturday March 25th, he had a lunch break (where he could actually leave the office). We met at Bill’s because where else?! He ordered the french toast croissant and I ordered the greek omelette again because I’m addicted. We missed ya, Mom and Gordie! (If you missed our awesome weekend and the full review of Bill’s Cafe, check it out here).

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For dinner these past couple weeks, I have done crockpot ribs and a combination of Hello Fresh/Blue Apron, and salads. Blue Apron > Hello Fresh by a LANDSLIDE. I used Hello Fresh because we had a promo giftcard. It was promo no-no. I mean the stuff wasn’t horrible, but it was not Blue Apron. Blue Apron makes me feel like this in the kitchen…

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NOTHING ELSE DOES THAT! 

Oh, and here are the ribs. Made with none other than the SJ Giants BBQ sauce 😉 #REPRESENT

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This meal below was easily one of my favorite Blue Apron meals of all time!!! It was a mozzarella pizza with fresh oregano, spinach, and green bell peppers. YUM. The dough was perfection too.

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Traditionally, spring has been my least favorite season. But these California blooms are poppin’!

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BEST part of the day right here. Circa 5 am. Time with Jesus, coffee, Ezekiel bread/yogurt/strawberries.

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Oh hey look it’s a nurse! Don’t let the uniform fool you. My only recommendation for anything currently is to eat chocolate and take a Tylenol.

***Unless you have liver issues. Do not take more than 4g in a 24 hour period.***

Have to protect my butt now that I have a thing called a license.

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I’ve tried to change the scenery of my study areas and resorted to hanging out in our apartment’s community area. It’s so cute, I don’t know why I haven’t done this more in the past. And I’m lovin’ those pillows.

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On one of my days “off” (there is ALWAYS something to study and do or a class to attend on our days “off”, hence the quotations), I returned a ton of the business casual clothes I didn’t end up wearing for our two big business cas. weeks of orientation. I decided to take a quick stroll around Santana Row just to be outside for a bit. So many amazing memories here. There’s this memory and this memory and this memory……. It made me happy and nostalgic all at the same time.

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Thursday night we had our church group. This is the first time I have been able to make one since the group started up three weeks ago. DJ actually was able to request to leave early and led the group for the evening. Such a stud. My good friend Danielle (from that insane hike), made Lamingtons- a traditional Australian dessert. Holy Maloly they were so good. I can’t even explain. All good things come from Australia.

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She also made Vegemite/Veggie/Bacon and cheese scrolls- Which are seriously manna from heaven, and all people need to try these before they die. Danielle is also one of the greatest bakers ever, and I think Jesus blessed me a little extra with her as a friend.

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Last night was the first date night DJ and I had since my last post (at the Socialight on March 24th). I came home from work around 8 pm emotionally exhausted and hangry as mentioned above. ***I also have to make a side note that DJ cleaned the whole house, did dishes and laundry on his first day off in a couple weeks. He is amazing.***

Anyways, there was a very specific meal I was craving- and that was Lazy Dog’s Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna over Cauliflower mashed potatoes in a curry coconut cream sauce. Luckily, DJ hadn’t ate a huge dinner so we headed over to Main Street for a late one. (Also what better place to go post 12-hour work day than Lazy Dog?)

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This was the highlight of my week. Just spending these precious, small moments with DJ. (He doesn’t like me taking his picture, so I sneak them and then post them on the internet while he’s not looking 😉 ). And then he’ll read this and I’ll get a lecture. It’s like clockwork.

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And forever, the PEET’s mug will host our Sunday mornings.

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So, today was PALM SUNDAY!!!! I needed my church family badly. They encouraged me greatly. Also, in this worship service today, I felt so wrapped in love. There is a specific reason for this… it’s amazing the way God works.

Going back a few years… the day after my dad passed away in high school, I went to church. I felt like going through the “normal” motions was just how I coped. I remember the first song that played in our worship service was “Hosanna”. I couldn’t choke out the words but my heart was singing them. It was laden with emotion and has been for me ever sense. It’s weird though, it doesn’t bring with it feelings of immense sadness and loss necessarily. It brings back the reminder that the Lord is my comfort in my darkest moments. Our church that DJ and I attend now has their own worship music from C3 Church’s elevation worship- they rarely play more “mainstream” worship that most churches know. However, this morning, while I was feeling downcast and perhaps more stressed than I have in my life, the worship team started playing this song. It just brought me such comfort- reminding me that God is my place of rest, my Prince of Peace. I felt like Jesus was reminding me that He will be with me through all of this.

DJ had to work today, but was back home for dinner (officially an anomaly).

For dinner tonight I had some leftover Seared Sesame Ahi tuna from leftover’s last night in my salad with tons of avocado and white cheddar puff pastries from Blue Apron. DJ wanted his leftover ribs.

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I spent the rest of today studying and basically trying to get organized (contrary to what the picture might say).

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The work week starts again bright and early at 5:00 am (which now feels like sleeping in compared to my hospital days). I have modules and classroom work the beginning of the week and 12-hour shifts starting Thursday.

I am so very sad that blogging has been put on the big ole’ back burner. Once orientation is over the load should lighten up a bit. I send ya’ll so much love.

xo <3

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The Work Grind- One Week Strong!

Hey ya’ll!!! I just got back from work, ate a gargantuan salad, and am sitting down to unwind for the evening. Today is my day off working out- so rather than working out I am using this time to whip up a blog post! My mind is just buzzz buzz buzzzzing! Rather than jump into the studying and work I need to do tonight, I want to take a moment to reflect and write to calmmmm down.

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We left off last time after my first day. Ohhhh my lanta, I cannot get over how much information I have been struck with in a single week. This orientation period is going to be non-stop. By the end of the next three weeks, I will be checked off on competencies I learned through nursing school as well as new ones they have assigned us (like dealing with lumbar drains and neuro. specific interventions). I can hardly wrap my brain around it! 😜

My first thought when I saw what skills we would be doing was Wow, how cool. And my second thought was, Wait…. I have to actually do that now... needless to say, the terror began setting in! I haven’t performed these skills in nearly a year (due to the length of time it took me to get approved for my exam), and some of them I didn’t even have a ton of practice with in the clinical setting. On top of that we have hours of orientation training modules outside of our hospital hours, exams to study for as part of our competency testing, and hospital training for the general on-boarding of staff. Basically- I’m just sayin’ it’s gonna be a non-stop train until about May when my initial orientation competency check is done. I may have next to zero free time, especially starting next week, but that’s okay. It’s so worth it and I’m ecstatic to finally be doing what I love. And I am relishing in the review and learning process. I learned more this past week than I probably learned in half a semester of nursing school. It’s nuts! It feels amazing to be a “student” again… but this time I’m not paying to learn, I’m being paid to learn! How neat!

Part of the reason I love blogging is I can look back and see what I was feeling and thinking at a certain point in time and see the progress since. Right now I am feeling totally incompetent, eager, excited, and exhausted- but also exhaustively blessed. The entire staff is eager to help us learn, and I can’t wait to see what skills I will be capable of in just a couple months from now. Every individual I have met has been honest-to-gosh superb. Like I said in my last post, the culture created by the hospital is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

So a typical day from Monday- Friday sort of looked like this:

5:00-6:00 am: Get ready, have breakfast (yummy deliciousness of Ezekiel bread/yogurt/reduced sugar craisins/strawberries & coffee)

6:00 am: Leave the apartment and beat the traffic (with my business casual clothing that I now own). Ha! In NoCal, if you leave the house at 7 going north, you are guaranteed at least an hour of traffic if you are going anywhere over twenty minutes away. I figure by leaving the house at 6 am, I can get to my destination without traffic and be more productive during the waiting period. (I just sat in the parking lot or at Peet’s coffee to get stuff done!)

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6:10-8:00am: At the beginning of the week before we had any assignments due I was able to do some blogging, order bridesmaid dresses for my best friends’ weddings (HOLLA!), and get other random stuff done. By the end of the week I was cramming for different exams/reviewing our wealth of information/trying to keep up!

8:00-5:00 pm: Work work work work work!

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The first day the director looked at us all and said point blank, “This will be the hardest year of your life.”

While initially I thought, Hmm, not sure you can top sophomore year of nursing school… ,

I then thought…

BRING IT!

Our first week (and the first part of this week) was all the “logistical” house-keeping information, taking “baseline” exams to see where we stand, orienting the units, and going through different skills and lectures. It has been intense, but I wake up excited to get started every single day- even though it’s sorta a challenge getting out of bed. I just think of my coffee- the most powerful motivator in all the land.

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For lunch most days, I pack a No Cow bar, an apple, some grapes, carrots, a couple handfuls of boom-chicka pop, hummus, and almonds. A couple of the days where we had a cafeteria I stopped in and made a massive salad with grape leaves, roasted red peppers, hummus, and all the veggies. YUM!

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Let’s take a quick tick and just chat. So first week, right? I had too many embarrassing moments it was CRAY! For instance, I somehow had gum stuck to my jacket on my way into the hospital for the first time. Luckily, someone stopped me and let me know (thank goodness for kind people). I also just said some silly things that make me hot in the face when I reflect upon them, dropped an absurd number of miscellaneous items (including my sanity). To sum it up- I was a hot mess. It’s fine though- my coworkers are all so sweet, and I’m pretty sure everyone’s heads were spinning too fast for anyone to notice! Also, my sister calmed me down on the days I was feeling wayyy in over my head! Hermana to the rescue.

Oh, and the 8am- 5pm is just for orientation and classroom training. When I start my shifts I will be 7am to 7pm! (Then halfway through it flips and I will go to night shifts!).

5:00-6:00pm: Sit in traffic, wanting to pull out my hair.

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6:00-6:10: Eat something- I am ravenous when I get home after the long day. I usually have something light like eggs & hummus or spoonfuls of PB2 with carrots or PROTES chips.

6:10-7:10pm: Workout. Trust me, most days I have wanted to do nothing but come home and plop on the couch. But the minute I get outside and start to run or do an Insanity workout I have a sudden renewed energy to get me through the rest of the evening! It also gives me that rush of adrenaline to lift my spirits after fighting the traffic and ease the road rage.

I also love this time to snap some photos. Entering into this new time of life, I am determined to find the beauty in EVERY single day. When I was in nursing school I had this mentality of just doing what I needed to in order to get by. My phrase was always, “I just have to keep my head above water”. Going into this next stage, which will be comparable in the stress/busyness arena, I want to make sure I find the beauty and appreciate that beauty that surrounds me even when I feel like things are just hard! I quite literally have to stop and smell the roses 😉  I have a feeling my patients will be that piece of beauty for me many days <3

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7:10-8:00 pm: Shower then dinner!!! Since DJ and I have been married, dinner time has been the one part of the day that we give each other our undivided attention. With his new job, he doesn’t get home from anywhere around 8 to 10pm. I eat dinner on my own while usually playing Grey’s Anatomy or KUWTK to keep me company while I down my food (woah- that sounds so pathetic, but I promise it’s not so bad!). Last week I was on my loaded sweet potato kick (yes, still obsessed), and this week I have craved giant salads with tons of veggies, chipotle black bean burgers, hummus, and balsamic vinegar dressing!

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Also- I used to have a recipe posted for this, but I’m not sure where it ran off to. I’m gonna hunt it down soon!

Back to the dinner thing… I’m realizing we have officially passed that threshold into a new stage of life with us both trying to build our careers. Our ebb and flow of the day is changing drastically, all for good reasons, it’s just going to take getting used to. It naturally makes the time we have together all that more treasured. I’m also infinitely thankful for this past year and a half we have had to create endless precious memories and make sure our marriage is on super solid ground before this craziness ensued.

Some days he waits until he gets home (yes that late!) to eat dinner. I try to make sure there is something in the fridge for him. Last week it was salmon, farro, and veggies. This week is crockpot ginger peach chicken with rice, and later this week I am making crockpot ribs! I prepped it all Sunday so that it was good to go for the rest of the week-I don’t have tons of time when I get home in the evenings, so crock pot meals will be our best friends for a bit! I also placed about half of the crockpot meal into labeled freezer bags and for future times that DJ might get home before me, so he can just throw one in the microwave.

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8-9pm: Work on misc. tasks that need to be done and work orientation training online.

9 to 10pm: Finish cleaning up the house so it’s tidy, make some overnight oats for DJ to have in the morning. He has been on an OO kick since the Daniel Fast! It’s hilarious to me that something we discovered during a “fast” has become one of his favorite breakfast foods. He also said I need to post my overnight oats recipe, so I may just have to do that!

After that, I get everything together for work, eat an ice cream cone (my mint chocolate chip phase has gone back to cookie dough), and plop into bed to read HP hoping to fall asleep before 10:20. DJ usually comes home right as I’m getting into bed, so I make sure to give him a hug before I hit the hay. I think we maybe saw each other for a total of twenty minutes from Monday to Friday last week- and that’s being generous!

BUTTTTTT……….

FRIYAY DATE NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Oook, I may be getting ahead of myself. We both were POOPED come Friday. I seriously could not peel myself off the couch. So we decided to make Friyay Date night into Saturyay date night.

We tried out this restaurant in Campbell called The Socialight. It was one of the most unique menus I have ever seen (slightly reminded me of options that would be on Orchard City Kitchen’s Menu).

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I was obsessed with the inner decor. I told DJ if I ever owned a restaurant this is what it would look like. One side was lined with wine coolers, and the other side was a sports bar feel with hanging globe lights down the center. It was the perfect mix of class, elegance, casual, and chic!

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Like I said, the menu was fascinatingly eclectic! DJ and I tried as an appetizer their salmon sashimi with avocado and wakami salad served with shrimp chips (my mom used to make these chips at home when we were younger, so this flashed me back to my childhood!).

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DJ ordered their fried chicken and raved about how tasty it was.

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I ordered their vegetarian Indian Paneer with caulfilower confite and yogurt glaze. It wasn’t bad, but I was a bit disappointed. And the service was epically slow- (we were warned about that on YELP!).


Sunday we went to church.


 After, I meal-prepped and worked all day on orientation assignments. The hardest thing I think about this new job is the feeling of having to say “no” to so much else outside of it. I am undeniably a people pleaser, so when I have to say no I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong, or selfish. I won’t be able to volunteer as much at church as I used to be, and I’m not able to hangout with friends like I used to either. I guess my biggest fear is that people won’t understand- that they will resent me for it. But my mom reminded me that this is God’s calling on my life, and there is nothing selfish in pursuing that. I’ll still be serving, just in a different way. All I want to be able to do is give my everything to this year, learn as much as possible, and take advantage of this residency as much as I can. I want to be the best nurse I can possibly be. I want to be able to give my patient the best care possible, and that is going to come at a sacrifice in this present era of my growth. I don’t mind the sacrifice, I just hope I don’t lose others in the process. Mom L reminded me that those that are truly friends will be supportive and there at the end of it all. It’s true too, I just have to realize change inevitably does bring change in other areas. 

Ok, jumping off my soap box!

Below is a picture of my drive into work today. This was my little piece of beauty. There was water surrounding me on all sides as I drove across the bridge.

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ALSO- quick highlight- the lecturer made a pun that I just can’t keep to myself. The best part is I don’t think he even realized it….. but while referring to a colleague, he said, “She’s a cardiac nurse at heart”. BAHAHHAHAHA.

I really want to open up some conversation with you guys- I miss having time to read all the blogs and keep up. I’m gonna try to find a way to fit it all in because goodness gracious I miss it too much! But for now let me just get some feedback…

  • Anyone else navigating a new stage of life?
  • What has been the highlight of your day/week?

Real quick: HAPPY BIRTHDAY (on the 27th) to my rockstar of a mom (Mom J)! I LOVE YOU! 🎉😘 

ALSO- I’m so thankful for this community if I don’t say it enough 💕

xo <3

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Doubt.

This post is a bit different than my usuals, but I feel something on my heart that I want to share. I am about to get vulnerable with you all, but I am learning more and more that sometimes the most freedom in life can come from a place of vulnerability. I also want to make the disclaimer that no matter what you believe, what religion you are, where you are from, I do not disregard you- I’d love to hear your thoughts. I additionally truly hold firmly to loving everyone, no.matter.what.

The keyboard in front of me daunts me. I have so much going on in my head that it intimidates me. I am afraid that my simple words will not do justice to the joy that now consumes me. This past season of my life has been one of growth that compares to none other. Before I begin attempting to articulate in my own human capacity, I pray that the hand of the Lord guides and directs these words to speak to what He wants to say. This is my current story, my current testimony, and it has been seven years in the making, and continuing…

Let’s back up. I was raised in the church and surrounded by mostly believers. I accepted Jesus as my Lord at a young age and was living zealously for Him for most of my life.

But at a certain point there was something I was lacking- an essential element: Faith.

The first time I recall experiencing my first wave of doubt about Christianity and what I believed was my sophomore year of high school. I have a skeptical mind, and I like proof. Then proof behind the proof. I like the “whys” and the “hows” behind every single little thing. But sometimes this yearning for proof can leave little room for faith and a lot of room for doubt. This phase of doubt, however, was short-lived- I talked with people I trusted and respected about these questions and felt settled and at ease with the answers they had given me. For now, at this time, I was satisfied. I believed.

Shortly after wrestling those first doubts, my dad passed away. The first words I barely choked out when I was told of his passing were, “I just need God.” My mom handed me a Bible and I just held it. Not absorbing the words, but just holding it. Surprisingly, this moment further corroborated God’s existence to me. In that desperate of a moment, how could God be what I reached for, almost instinctively, if He wasn’t there?

I didn’t struggle with any additional doubts until I went to college, a Christian university nonetheless. This is not at all a reflection of the University itself, but of my personal circumstances. Slowly, and I can pinpoint just a couple instances, I had become so jaded toward the Church. By the Church I mean by the very people of God. I became resentful. I resented the people that were supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ. I resented the atmosphere of a worship service. I resented basically anything that had to do with Christ. If I were to see what I am writing right now I probably would have rolled my eyes and stopped the minute I knew it dealt with Christianity. Everything and anything that once touched me as perfect and awe-inspiring began to morph into something superficial, hypocritical, and false. I am not blaming others for this- I myself stopped pursuing God. I put too much stock in my experience of religion rather than focusing on my relationship with Christ. People fail, Christ never does.

Here is the crazy part. During this time others probably perceived me as the quintessential “Christian girl” for the most part- fitting the outward mold of “that type” to a “T”. I knew how to talk the talk. I told people I would pray for them, but rarely ever did. I encouraged people that “God had a plan”. I said the right things; I had been trained well. I slept walk through the motions, I did religion, and I did it well. That is not to sound cocky, and I am not bragging. Quite the opposite actually. I became the very facade that I so severely resented in others.

This place of resentment allowed the doubts to creep in stronger than ever. As I promised to pray for others, as I said the “right things”, as I worshipped in Church, in the back of my mind I thought, If there is a God, If He is even real, If I even truly believe this over and over again.

The Ifs consumed me, my mind, my everyday. That is a very uncomfortable place to be; it terrified me to my core.

I have heard all the arguments for Christianity- and let me tell you, they are strong. Lest we not forget at the root of any belief is an element of faith- even those who choose to believe nothing exists. My mother encouraged us to explore other religions because she was so sure of our beliefs. I took a class in high school looking in depth to each major world religion (and other streams of existential thought) back to Zoroastrianism. I was given historical, logical, natural, scientific data even pointing to a Creator and Jesus being Lord. This is not to mention my own personal experiences that supported the evidence. I found myself multiple times throughout life thinking, This practically proves it, how can anyone deny this evidence? Yet I did, in the face of the best of it.

It was not about a lack of evidence, but a lack of faith.

My heart fiercely wrestled the “ifs”. I was so engrossed in the uncertainty. These were some serious doubts as I mentioned above. I wondered if we were truly just animals with nowhere we were going, only destined to live our lives for a few years on a wasting planet. I pondered upon these doubts in my mind; only consuming a small part of my thinking at a time, but soon becoming monsters that overcame me. I realized, if none of it was true, if Jesus was not the One true God and if there is no such thing as “God”, then what the heck was I doing with my life?

I would have no identity. No hope. No purpose. No future. No promise. No life. I would have nothing. I would be nothing. And just because I desired for this to not be the case, it became a possibility before my eyes, before my soul.

I begged. I begged God on my knees for removal of that doubt. I begged the Lord to take it from me and allow me to believe with unwavering belief I used to have. I begged for days. I begged for months. I begged in utter desperation for over a year.

But then I begged less. Instead, I busied myself with my studies, with my responsibilities, my job. I prayed less. I sought out God’s Word less. I’ll deal with it another day, became my everyday. I was on the spiritual “tomorrow diet”. I was putting the most fundamental aspect of life on hold for anything fleeting. I worshipped anything but the One whom deserves our worship: my to-do list, my responsibilities, my day-to-day superficial desires, myself

Silence. Doubt.

The further I distanced myself the more doubt because a part of me, and apathy manifested as a result. I told hardly anyone of these doubts I was facing, but I did tell my husband. He was beyond encouraging. He responded to everything perfectly. These doubts of mine didn’t scare him or cause him to even blink- He knew that God would be faithful. But still, the questions made themselves at home in the back of my mind, and the uncertainty caused my heart to ache with a chronic pain that I had become so familiar with. At this point, after living with these doubts for nearly two years, they didn’t shock me or shake me like they used to. I had grown numb, apathetic, and lifeless in my soul. I told my husband that I was fearful of moving somewhere that I was wrongly convinced hardly anyone had a relationship with Christ. I was fearful that I would be further pulled into the depths of these doubts and completely turn away from whatever speck of faith I was haphazardly clinging to, if any at all.

The time for our move came this past summer. We packed up and began our road trip toward the place that would become our new home. Every second of that trip was filled with awesome memories that I will treasure forever, however, two specific stops stand out to me. The first was the Grand Canyon- seeing that majesty, the beauty, the awe-inspiring tapestry- it stirred something within me. Driving up Highway One and Big Sur had the same impact. I began to have that thirst again, I wanted to rejoice God in my soul for whom He is, I wanted to believe it in my soul, and not just have a longing for Him to exist; I wanted a longing for Him. The doubt was still there, but I had a rekindled urgency to face it.

The second Sunday that we were here my husband announced that we were going to Church. I agreed verbally, maybe even with a faux excitement, but I put up slight protest in my heart. I didn’t want to put on a show. I didn’t want to be surrounded by hypocrisy. I didn’t want to be the hypocrite.

The first Church service we attended shook me. I remember leaving thinking how can they worship like this if it isn’t all real? God was working on me, but I had no idea the monumental changes that were about to occur.

We began attending groups within the church- Bible study groups, hiking groups, community service groups, etc. I clearly began to see the way these individuals live. It is not a superficial knowledge that drives them. It is not a duty or obligation. It is a relationship. These people are in deep, undeniable relationships with Christ. They have zero judgment toward others. They are not brain-washed. They are intelligent, wise, and beautiful individuals who know the real thing when they see it. They aren’t “Bible thumpers” with their heads in the clouds. They are some of the most authentic individuals I have ever met. They do not claim perfection, and they only boast in Christ. The seed of resentment began to disappear from my heart. From these relationships I was motivated to repair relationships from the past, and dig out the root of bitterness that had entangled me so deeply. I began to crave the fellowship of other believers. I began to desire that freedom that comes with worship. The doubt began to wither away.

Sunday after Sunday we went back to this Church. Each time, my heart was softened. Each time I opened my Bible I grew more and more enamored with Him. I began praying again, thanking God. I thanked him for his faithfulness, for his future faithfulness too; I knew that He was going to be faithful, even if the doubts were still there, He was greater than them.

During a particular worship service, I found myself overwhelmed in the best way. I felt surrounded by the Holy Spirit in a way that is nearly indescribable. This moment literally took my breath away. In the middle of worship that still, small voice in my heart that I had not heard for so long said, I’m here, I’ve got you. It was not my emotions speaking- This was undeniably something greater.

Whatever doubt had been there was replaced. It was replaced with a fire, love, passion, desire, yearning, and an assurance of the One True Living God.

I know many would say that this was perhaps an emotional connection to the desires I had- grabbing onto the first illumination of something to believe in. But it was not that. For every second of doubt I had, it was as though a confidence now overwhelmed my soul, washing away those uncertainties. And ever since then, He has continued to confirm again and again His presence in my life. I just had to seek Him. He has always been there.

Romans 8:38-39 declares, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

Nothing can separate us when we are in Christ. Nothing. Not our doubts, not our fears, not even ourselves.

He never left me. He was with me through every single step of this painful process. He did answer my prayer, in His time, better than I could have ever pictured. I don’t know why He didn’t help resolve these doubts earlier. This is not a stance on Calvinism vs. Arminianism, but I do think He was waiting for me to seek after Him fervently, to give up the resentful, hateful seed that had been planted so deeply into my heart. And if I ever face this again throughout my walk, I know I can face it with the assurance of knowing Christ will see me through. I also will not stop in my pursuit of objective truth- I just have a confidence now that it will point back to Christ. After all, He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Moreover, I know despite my flawed human imperfection, His timing is perfect. My heart is set ablaze as I enter this new stage of life, a stage where I am more available to do whatever He calls me to than ever. I have confidence far surpassing what I had even early in my walk before the doubts set in. I have a fire and passion to share this love with others. I realize the selfish life I have been living for so long and have a desire to truly turn away from it. Everything that seemed so important of this world seems so foolish now. I have a thirst for more. I have a thirst for something real.

From this time I have also taken away this: Doubt is okay, it’s natural. Doubt is not something to be ashamed of, in fact it can be so good. It is a season, that most, if not all, people do face. God uses all seasons to sharpen us, to mold us, and to grow us. It’s nearly a cousin of faith, but tackling our doubt deepens our faith. He doesn’t want blind followers. He wants us to pursue Him and praise Him with a confidence and assurance.

Isaiah 41: 10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my right hand.”

So to any brothers or sisters struggling through the tangles of doubt, I just want to whisper this piece of truth from my heart to yours..

He’s got you. He is real. He loves you more than you can imagine. He is with you, and He will be victorious over this season.