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: 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…

Day sixteen: favorites

What is your favorite book/movie/song? Why?

Ooooh! This is a fun question, but SO hard to narrow it down to one for each category. What entertainment I’m drawn to typically depends on my mood. However, these gems have stayed consistent throughout most of my life:

Book: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Movie: A Little Princess

movie

Song: “Hey Jude” by the Beatles

What are some of your favorites?

Onwards & Upwards…

Day fifteen: memories

Imagine you’re in your 90s. What memories would you like to have? What stories do you want to tell?

I want my life to be filled with memories of travel, laughter, and love.

Of family gatherings and holidays.

Times when I triumphed over hardship and came out stronger.

How I inspired people and makes a difference.

I want to tell of how I met my husband and our wedding day.

Welcoming our children and grandchildren into the world.

Memories

Memories 3

Memories 2

What memories and stories do you want to share someday?

Follow along with my 25 question personal growth exercise!

Onwards & Upwards…

Day thirteen: admirable qualities

What qualities do you admire in others?

This question reminds me a lot of question #5: “Think of a person you truly admire. What qualities do you like about that person?” so I am going to piggy-back off my previous answer as they are very similar.

kindness

 patience

humor 

perseverance

faith

Admire

admire 3

admire 2

What qualities do you admire in others?

Onwards & Upwards…

Day eleven: regrets

If life stopped today, what would you regret not doing?

Wow, these questions just keep getting deeper and deeper! In short, I regret not being more assertive. I regret not saying “no.” For not standing up for myself in potentially harmful situations because I was worried what others would think of me. My self-esteem has always been pretty low and at times has inhibited me from reaching my full potential (professionally, socially, spiritually, etc.).

I do believe that self-esteem and assertiveness go hand-in-hand. As I become more aware of instances where I did NOT have the confidence, leading me to make poor choices, I feel like I have to “fight” harder not to slip into my old ways. As much work as it is, look forward to becoming more assertive and hopefully having less regrets.

And sometimes, just sometimes, I regret not going to grad school right after I received my undergraduate degree.

regret2

regret1

What do you regret NOT doing? 

Onwards & Upwards…