Be Ready. That was my theme for 2016. It felt like a whisper, but it was clear. I secretly hoped it meant that 2016 would be a year with massive blessing. After years of investing into self-awareness, emotional intelligence, therapy, and leadership training I thought maybe I’d meet a man—or even my husband. After the most successful year of my photography business in 2015 I hoped it meant to be ready for an even more lucrative year. It was like I had been preparing faithfully to climb Mt. Everest, and I was ready for it. Ready to conquer, and ready for blessing.
In reality, 2016 was one of the hardest years of my adult life. I was not ready for that.
In the first few months of the year I suffered a string of physical injuries. I began to slowly recognize that I had a habit of ignoring pain’s warning signs in my body—and if I didn’t change I’d end up incredibly hurt one day.
My chest felt tight a lot. I’d wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air. I decided it must just be the position I was sleeping in. It was like the smoke alarm kept going off in my house, but I didn’t want to deal with it so I just kept turning it off and going back to sleep. Until finally a few months later I woke up to a house engulfed in flames.
By mid-May my health started shutting down—from adrenal fatigue to autoimmune diseases and debilitating anxiety attacks. My life seemed to come to a standstill. There were days I could hardly get out of bed due to pain and exhaustion. And the anxiety whispered to me threats that often kept me grounded out of fear to my apartment.
Within months I felt like a stranger to myself. I was a young, fit, healthy, woman— but the body I currently inhabited was alien. Many nights as I drifted to sleep I wondered if this was my new normal—to be sick all the time, exhausted and burnt out.
And work was slow. Jobs were barely trickling in—and even if I’d had a full schedule, I was so ill I wouldn’t have been able to work.
I was weak and desperate. Desperate for God to show up — in my life, my physical health, my business, and relationships.
The super woman cape I’d proudly worn for so long—the one that says I have it together all the time and can take care of myself—was crushing me.
I lived as though I was a super human who didn’t get hurt, didn’t need breaks, and didn’t need others. I was the hero—didn’t God and the world know that? I didn’t want to live this way anymore, and my body was making it a point to show me that even if I wanted to, it wouldn’t let me.
I had to let go. Let go of control, pride, my image, and ask for support from others. It felt like a death.
So I let go.
It seemed simple, but was difficult for me. I asked for help, and let others help me. One day I let my friend go grocery shopping for me. I told a close circle of people in my life that I needed prayer and protection as I was fearful of more anxiety attacks. A friend offered to research doctors in my area, and read a book on overcoming anxiety with me. I let her do this, and it was monumental.
It became clear that I wasn’t eating enough of the right foods. I had low blood sugar and low blood pressure. My body was running on fumes, and it I hadn’t been giving it the proper fuel. I threw myself head first into meal prepping, making sure I had healthy and hearty snacks with me in case my blood sugar dropped.
It felt like I was running off a cliff that would lead to my imminent death—but instead I found life.
I was met with an abundance of love, compassion, grace, and support. It took a lot of time. As with any change and transition it was not overnight. It’s been 10 months of relearning how to live, set healthy boundaries, learning to listen to my body’s warning signals, learning to ask for help—taking a few steps forward, and falling down and getting back up constantly.
Over the months, my body slowly began to heal. And though work was slow, God provided for my needs. As healing began to take place in my physical body, God began to invite me into deeper, more spiritual healing. For years I had subconsciously accepted a lot of fear and lies as truth, and those lies were dictating my life. I often had thoughts like:
If I don’t take care of me, no one will—not even God.
When it comes down to it, I’m not safe—anywhere.
I have to be perfect to be worthy of and earn love.
I don’t have what it takes to be the person I want to be or do things I want to do, or have the relationships I long to have.
Other people are my responsibility—their safety, wholeness, breakthroughs, future.
They were quiet, yet clear and in the drivers seat of my life. Until this unraveling last year I had no idea how much control I gave to fear and stress.
Unpacking those statements was humbling. But one of the first steps to healing is acknowledging the darkness and replacing it with light.
When I began to listen to God and my body I found they’re speaking—all the time. And I’m learning to listen. My life has slowed down a lot in this last year—I never knew how much time it took to sleep enough, eat three meals a day, and do self-care. It has felt like a full-time job! I’m learning that just because I can doesn’t mean I should or have to.
My idea of be ready turned out to be very different from what I expected. There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and fish. He blessed and broke the food—and it multiplied to feed all the people. The miracle came after the breaking. I wonder if to be ready for breakthroughs, miracles, and healing in our lives, we need to be willing to be broken.
photo c/o Tutti del Monte
And now it’s 2017. A dawn of a new day. I avoided praying for a phrase for the year because I was scared of what it might be. But on January 1st I reluctantly sat in my bed and began to ask God. Once again, in the quiet He whispered—it’s time. Afraid of what I’d heard and what it would require of me—I waited. Perhaps I heard wrong. Perhaps there’s another phrase like this year you hit the jackpot! But there wasn’t—quietly the voice repeated…it’s time:
to let myself be seen
to burn the mask of perfection and having it altogether
to need others
to let go of fear—of failure, rejection, the future, the unknown
to embrace the truth I boldly proclaim to others that I am seen, loved, accepted, known, remembered by God
to accept that all that I long for—security, love, acceptance, forgiveness, depth, purpose, influence, community—I already have.
to let go of control
I’d like to think I have an inkling of what this could mean, but if I learned anything last year it was to hold it loosely, and be open.
What in your life is it time for? What are you waiting for—when really the soft clear whisper says that now is the time?
You want out of debt—stop waiting.
You want a relationship—first learn to love yourself.
You’re hurt by someone you love—be the first to extend forgiveness.
You want purpose—get in touch with the story that is pulsing through your veins that is dying to get out—and start telling it—whether over coffee, or to a group of friends in your home, on a youtube channel, or to thousands of people from a stage.
The avoiding, the fear, denial isn’t serving you or others. I speak this as someone on the journey with you. Together let’s move. It’s time.