Fighting the good

I don’t mean to boast, but I have been making progress in most areas of my life over the past few months. My physical, mental, social/relationship, career, spiritual lives have grown through the obstacles and trials the past few years brought – think eating disorder recovery, calling off my wedding two weeks before the big day, moving back in with my parents, and being laid off…  I am excited to begin sharing more about the obstacles I have encountered and the steps I’ve taken to overcome them in upcoming posts – so stay tuned!

Though I’m not “perky” and jumping for joy everyday there has been a large shift in my overall mood. I feel like things are finally starting to fall into place and when I look back to how I used to be – very lethargic, anti-social, hopeless – I find it hard to recognize the “old me.” I take this as a good sign, that I am growing into a more mature and knowledgeable person.

However, as I am making progress and sharing my story with others (particularly how God has renewed my spirit), I’ve begun experiencing what some would call “spiritual warfare.” Spiritual warfar” isn’t a phrase I grew up hearing. Red-faced devils, flames, and tortured souls immediately come to mind and I think to myself, “well, I’m not experiencing THAT!”

Battledfocused.org describes spiritual warfare as “is the cosmic war of good versus evil: its battles are fought daily between God and Satan; between the Christian Church and the world system ruled by our spiritual enemy.”

“The enemy could be the temptation to sin or could manifest itself in the person who tells you to reject Christ.” – Fr. Robert J. Carr

Before I began going through a “spiritual renewal” process I assumed that since I was surrounded in a solid Christian community that everything would be “light and fluffy.” I expected less “bad” things would happen and life would get easier because I my end goal was to be doing the “good”. However, I have found that this is when things become harder. When I wake up tired I am tempted to skip church, when I try to find time to pray I am presented with more invitations and activities to fill my time.

That’s what the devil does… He tricks us, coming into our lives in the sneakiest way possible, especially when we pull away from sin. Feelings of jealously/greed/envy over others become stronger. As I gain healthy weight I experience negative self-criticism wanting me to restrict and/or purge. Issues that I thought were resolved with my ex-boyfriend have escalated to the point where others have needed to step in.

I don’t think that these incidences are ironic by any means. Some days I feel like I am being lured back into my “old self/life.” A positive is that I feel like I have been able to recognize almost instantly this shift, where in the past I probably wouldn’t have noticed it for months at a time. Giving a name (“spiritual warfare”/the Devil) , though it may seem harsh at times, to my feelings of inadequacy and temptations to sin has really helped me stop and pray them away before the situation I am in escalates.

Sometimes repeating the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel is all I can do to comfort myself. The Devil is strong, but prayer is stronger.

Prayer

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Day twenty five:

Well, the final day of this challenge is here with the all important question:

How do you want to be remembered in life?

A positive influencer

I want to inspire others, particularly women to be strong both mentally and physically.

Not to settle for anything or anyone. Ever!

I want to be seen as a holy person, a role model for people younger and older than me.

To encourage others not to give up or quit when times get tough.

When times do inevitable get tough, people will think of me and say to themselves, “because she did it, I can do it!” and they will stay motivated.

inspire

Can you relate to any of these things?

Onwards & Upwards…

Day twenty four: advice

What piece of advice would you give to five year old you? Sixteen year old you? Twenty-one year old you? Right now?

advice 2

Five year old me:

Keep playing. Never stop learning. It’s okay to be shy, but don’t let it stop you from making new friends and trying new activities

Sixteen year old me:

Stop comparing yourself to others. You are not “fat” – don’t be so hard on yourself. Research and visit as many colleges as you can – start soon. Don’t worry so much about what other people think

Twenty-one year old me:

(See above and add…) Don’t settle – on a job, boy, etc. Stand up for yourself and be firm in your beliefs. DON’T GIVE UP. Trust in God’s plan and everything will work out.

Right now me:

Trust the process and enjoy the “now.”

advice

Onwards & Upwards…

Day twenty three: in a year

Let’s jump forward a year. What would you like to have achieved in the past year?

Piggybacking off of my previous post, below are areas of my life outlined in the seven dimensions of wellness that I want to have achieved (or be close to achieving) in a year:

Social – Reconnect with friends that I’ve grown apart from, hangout with people I’ve met through my young adults group outside of our normal meet up times, and host more gatherings (my social anxiety has got my heart rate up just typing this)!

Emotional – Not take out my emotions/bad days on other people, more yoga/meditation, write and communicate my feelings with others, and see a counselor as needed.

Spiritual – Deepen my prayer life, attend church weekly, and stay active with my new women’s group.

Environmental – Stop getting plastic bags from the store (I am pretty good about bringing in my cloth bags, but could do better), start an herb garden, and refurbish older items around the house or from thrift stores vs/ buying brand new.

Occupational –  I want to continue to grow into my new position at work and take on more responsibilities.

Intellectual – Read more books, become more fluent in Spanish, and complete a crossword puzzle without cheating…

Physical – I want to  have more self-confidence with my changing body as I continue gaining a healthy amount of weight. Build more muscle mass and cardiac endurance

 

orange

Onwards & Upwards…

Day twenty two: areas of life

 

It’s a little bit weird that this 25 day challenge is coming to an end. But I guess it makes sense that I am being asked tougher questions!

What area of your life, right now, makes you feel the best? Which area makes you feel the worst? Why?

Best:

After being jobless, and for the most part directionless, for the past five months I feel like I am finally on track career-wise. I started my new job two weeks ago.  I’m still transitioning to the new routine and adjusting to having to focus at certain times. So far everything is going great and I have no complaints. I’m looking forward to the next few months and seeing what life has in store for me!

Worst:

Body image. I’m struggling with my old clothes fitting tighter, stop my eating when I’m full, and not comparing myself to others. I have “better” days than others, but adjusting to a new schedule does make me anxious. All I seem to do is eat and work out and think about eating and working out…

habit

Onwards & Upwards…

Day twenty one: money

Pretend money is no object. What would you do?

 

As I transition to a new job and living situation, I want a  fresh start – a physical fresh start. I have had so many of my things (office decor, clothes, shoes, etc.) since college (7 years ago) and some even when I was in high school… It can be hard to sort through sentimental belongings and deciding what to donate and hard to come across things that remind me of a less than happy time.

Several times I’ve noticed myself thinking, “I wish I could just snap my fingers and have a new everything, a clean slate”. But of course that takes money that I don’t necessarily have to spend on extras. Even a cleaning service where someone comes in and cleans out my room at my parent’s house would be a blessing! I would gain so much peace of mind.

money

Onwards & Upwards…

Day twenty: more

What do you wish you did more of?

Reading. I used to read ALL of the time, but sadly I have fallen away from that habit lately. I attribute this change to many factors. Starting a new job last week has a lot to do with it. I am a lot more tired when I get home from work and often have less mental resources to read. If I do read, it’s before bed and I fall asleep after only making it through a few pages. I have also been more active in evening/social activities – church groups, spending time with my boyfriend – which lead less time for reading. Once I get more into a new routine, balancing work and my social life, I look forward to being able to read more!

book 1

book 2

Onwards & Upwards…

Day nineteen: excite

Now this is a fun questions:

What excites you?

New (or new to me) things – clothes, shoes, etc.

Thinking about the future – with my boyfriend, job, and family

Upcoming trips & Traveling – Boston (July), Seattle (August), and NYC (September)

exciting
Onwards & Upwards…

Day eighteen: giving

What do you love to do for, or give to others (not an object – something from you personally)?

I LOVE surprising people! In a good way, of course. One of my “love languages” is acts of service. I feel like I am best able to show others how much I care about them by doing thing for them/helping out with out being asked. It is giving of my time – something that is becoming more precious these days… Some common examples how I like to share my love are:

  • Unloading and reloading the dishwasher
  • Taking out the trash
  • Picking up something at the store from someone else’s grocery list
  • Picking up the tab – treating someone
  • Making personalized cards or crafts

small things

How do you show your love?

Onwards & Upwards…

Day seventeen: change the world

You may have noticed that I have been absent the past couple of days. It’s all been for a good reason. After almost exactly 5 months of being unemployed I started a new job! It’s a great opportunity and I feel very blessed. However, that means adjusting to a new routine and not having as much time to do what I used to do. Now that things are starting to slow down, I plan of focusing on the personal growth exercise I started a few weeks ago.

If you could make one change in the world, what would it be?

I would make people less selfish. I believe people’s selfishness create a lot of problems. Our society is so “me, me, me.” We get into traffic accidents because of our impatience. We have a desire to be first, even if it means putting others down or at risk for future harm. We always want to be right and find it so challenging to admit when we are wrong.

When we are selfish we often dismiss the dignity of other human beings – choosing to spend $5 on our morning latte vs. putting that amount of money in a charity.  We binge-watch TV instead of spending one hour of our week or month volunteering. We leave a mess for others to clean up because we are too lazy or just do not care.

No, this is not me saying that I am a saint, or completely selfless person. There are many areas in my life where I need to stop focusing on myself and put others first. I am guilty of all of the examples I listed above. Sometimes I don’t think that we are even aware of our selfishness at times, they become so routine.

This question definitely makes me reflect more on the areas of my life that I need to improve. Small improvements can make a big impact. I truly believe that leading by example can change a lot more than we realize.

world 3

world 2

world

Onwards & Upwards…