“I hope that I’m always struggling, really. You develop when you’re struggling. When you’re struggling, you get stronger”. Andrew Garfield.
The past couple of weeks have been filled with many emotions as is life.
I’ll take you back to Memorial Day weekend. I went to bed on Friday night, feeling frustrated. I had so much school work and other errands to attend to and in addition, I felt like I needed a break from everyone and everything. On Saturday morning, I woke up at 4am, a bit too early, obviously bothered by these thoughts. Suddenly, the idea of turning off my phone for the entire weekend sounded so appealing to me and I thought about it for a while. Since it was a long weekend, this meant Saturday to Monday, the holiday. It seemed like a huge task, especially for a 21st century human. Then it seemed like someone told me "Shut down at 9am". I didn't know if that was my instinct or God talking to me.
Reluctantly, I paid attention to my clock, constantly looking up from the last blog post I was working on for that week. In the hours leading to 9am, I refreshed my emails and all social media accounts incessantly. It was about to be a long weekend without them. I thought I should let my family know so I placed a call and got back the "I'll call you later". I said "No, please call back before 9am" and got an okay in response. As I waited for the call back, my phone rang. I was oblivious to the fact that it was 9:13am. Game over! "Are you coming to the surprise bridal shower tonight?". "Errrr...". Some minutes later, I got a text. "Are you still coming biking with us?" "Errrr...".
By this time, I was in tears. How was I going to do this? Isolating myself from everything and everyone seemed like such a drastic measure but I knew it had to be done. I gave in. I was on Facetime with my friend for a few hours. He talked to me till I was smiling and laughing because he thought I was depressed. So did my family. But they didn't understand. I know myself and sensing that I was running low on my drive and energy, I immediately knew that it was time to step back in order to recharge. In a nutshell, I was burning out, not depressed. He asked me if I wrote about personal things on my blog to which I responded in the negative. But I told him that if I made it through this experience, I would write about it. That night, I attended the bridal shower and it was really awesome! I baked some chicken and at the shower, designed a dress with tissue - the bridal shower game I always saw pictures of but never did. Of course I went home feeling guilty.
The next day, someone came up to me after church service to tell me that I don't seem okay. It was showing. Stress and I are buddies, so it wasn't the stress that was showing. It was guilt - the guilt of of not obeying the Holy Spirit's guidance to shut down because I needed time away from everyone and everything and the guilt of my unfinished assignments, projects and papers all felt like dumbbells on my shoulder. The blame was all mine, not the family member who didn't call me back before 9am. I was the reluctant one, holding back because I was afraid of not having access to the world my technology opens me up to. I thought of all the instances something might come up that may need my help but you and I both know that the world never slows down in one person's absence. I knew all of this but still decided to disobey God's instruction.
On Memorial Day,
I woke up really early again. This time, I was ready to shut down. So while people were having barbecues, picnics and going to the beach, I turned my phone off with a smile. It was going to be off for just a day, not 3 days as planned but turning it off with a smile on my face made all the difference. I even tucked it into my desk drawer till 10pm. "Out of sight, out of mind", they say.
Within those hours, I cleaned, cracked open my windows because I had not let in natural light since the weather got warmer, turned on my TV because my TV remains permanently off except when I have guests, cooked and studied. I even found a new show to fall in love with – Pastors of LA. My initial reaction to the show was “What? Pastors too are on reality TV?” But as I cleaned and watched, I realized that Pastors have lives outside of the church. They too are faced with trials and struggles like the rest of us, even more because they stand for God. Seeing how the pastors on this show dealt with their troubles – infidelity, substance abuse by a family member, you name it – was really empowering. I got a bit carried away and watched a couple of episodes but I believe this was all part of the healing process.
I cannot really describe the feeling. The fresh smell of Febreeze enveloping my apartment coupled with natural light and the sound of my TV just made me feel refreshed. All of this put me in the right mood and soon, I was doing my homework. Unplugging may have seemed really hard at the beginning but I’m happy I had the courage to step away. I won’t be afraid to do more of that. Some minutes past 10pm, I turned on my phone then posted on Instagram to check on everyone's Memorial day. I was ready!
Fast-forward to this week.
On Wednesday morning, I decided to see one of my professors to turn in a project I was having difficulty uploading to the submission website. We were required to get into groups for the project but somehow, the group I signed up for were not aware that I had joined their group. So they worked on the project without me. A few weeks before, I had met with my professor and she gave me pardon, but I had to complete this design project alone. I was elated! Throughout my college career, I had longed to work on a design project independently. I did not quite like how group projects meant that you only knew information on the section of the report you were responsible for. I wanted to successfully work on a design project by myself and this? This was my chance. Oh the exciting part of this project was the video presentation we had to make. That's what I was unable to upload. So back to this Wednesday morning. My plan was to show my finished video to my professor in person. I had sent an email the previous day regarding this. As I was getting ready, I heard that familiar voice again. This time, the Holy Spirit was instructing me to ensure that I get to my professor’s office before 9am. Knowing how busy this particular professor is, I doubled up on my dressing up time. The clothes I stepped out in were very unlike me - jeans, a tshirt, a face cap and flats - but at that time, I didn't feel like wearing anything else. I got to her office well before 9 am but I could overhear some voices in her office and immediately knew she was in a meeting. So I waited. As the students walked out, I poked my head in to ask if she had a minute to which she responded “Sure! Thank you for stopping by”.
As she pressed the play button, I cringed. It was weird hearing myself speak so I bowed my head the entire time, letting her take in the content of the video as if I was not there. Her feedback? Let's just say my hours of research into the content and playing around with iMovie were extremely worth it. I was so elated! As soon as she was done watching the video and commending me, she stood up. "I have a meeting now so I have to run". "Thank yoouuuuu" I responded. I walked outside her office and before hibernating my laptop, I looked at the time.
It was 9:09am...
...When God Speaks...
If you have never heard God speak to you or if you have a hard time distinguishing His voice, pray for guidance. God redirects us when we lose our way, just like a GPS does.