Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hi, My Name is Cristyn...

"'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." ~ Jeremiah 29:11

I reflect on this day quite a bit, it is one of those infamous days in my life that I will never forget... or at least this day 12 years ago.  January 10, 2001 was the day I finally gave up my fight.  And let me just say my closest and dearest friend at the time, Anorexia, was none to happy about it.  I was tired and sick of fighting to look like something or someone I was not supposed to be.  A million different things run through my head on this day as it rolls around each year, mostly I'm just in awe of how far I've come and where God has brought me.  

I don't expect that many people will get why I recognize this day or why I even remember it, but for me it's a day of celebration.  I chose to finally let go of that which had so easily entangled me for so long.  I had chosen to follow God in ALL He has for me instead of just a little.  

I was 19 years old, scared out of my mind, but trusting that I needed help.  After much discussion with my therapist, psychiatrist, and parents I opted to admit myself to an inpatient program for eating disorders without question.  My parents got word that there was an opening in a program in the DFW area, and soon thereafter we were off to the hospital.  I was now an adult so I'd be admitting myself, but my parents could stay with me up until I entered the psych unit.  I cannot remember the last time I cried that much.  I also cannot remember being so aware of my hunger.  Later that evening I found out my sister came up to the hospital in hopes of seeing me before I entered the program, but it was too late, she'd have to wait 72 hours to see me.  I remember thinking in that moment how blessed I was to have my sister.  I'd spent so much time hating her... PRAISE God there was no long lasting damage due to the poor choices I made and the hatred I had shown my precious sister.  

My first night at the hospital was terrifying and a bit like an out of body experience.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night with a headache and after getting Tylenol from the nurses, I soon found myself getting sick.  Looking back it was probably due to the anxiety and amount of tears I cried.  But the fact that it even happened scared me even more and I realized in that moment that it was now or never.  I was either going to kick this now or I'd find myself battling it in the midst of pursuing a romantic relationship and/or after I became a mom someday.  I watched how painful this disease was not just to myself, but to my family and friends at the time as they struggled to understand why I suffered so much.  Under no circumstances would I be able to carry on these bad habits, plus be a wife and mother.  

After 5 1/2 weeks of treatment, the fear of a potentially deadly heart condition, and the love and support of family I walked out of the program determined that I would never go down that path again.  And I haven't, but I'd be lying if I said there are not moments or days where it can be a battle.  I know my weaknesses and I know when I have to fight to overcome them sometimes.  

These days you'll find me working, or as I like to refer to it as "serving," as a counselor (LPC-Intern to be exact) and I love it!  I can look back on that day 12 years ago and see that God was using it to prepare me for such a task, a duty, as this.  Sometimes people comment on how hard my job must be and how draining it must be to listen to others and their problems, and it can be hard... if I let it.  But more than that, I would define it as rewarding.  God prepared me for a job such as this and I shall serve Him with all I have.  If at any point in time He tells me that I'm done, I've fulfilled that which He has asked of me, then I will faithfully and humbly walk away.  But as long as people trust me and are willing to open up their lives to me, then I'll be here.

"We live by faith, not by sight." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: A Year of Rebuilding

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." ~ Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV)

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." ~ Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

2012 felt very much like a rebuilding year.  Having just barely entered my 30s at the end of 2011, this year found me rediscovering so many things about my hopes, my dreams, myself, and most importantly... my God.  By the end of it all, I was laughing as I found myself begging God for things not to change.  Sometimes I wonder if God even knows what to do with me... one moment I ask for one thing and the next when that thing comes to pass, I find myself at His feet begging for things to go back the way they were.  I'm so grateful His love never changes, that His love never fails.  

Believe it or not, the beginning of 2012 found me extremely discouraged by the career path I had chosen, wondering what in the world I was even thinking in the first place.  A few months into 2012 I began the process of looking for a job out of state, wanting so much to escape what I thought I couldn't in Dallas unless I left.  Low and behold, God had a different plan.  Six months into 2012 and I had given up hope in regards to trying to get out of Dallas.  I threw up my hands and told God, "whatever."  Meaning, whatever you want to do, doesn't matter to me because clearly my opinion does not matter... what-freakin'-ever!  Oh I was beyond mad, but I was done trying so hard.  I had decided that I was destined to remain in a support role (career wise) and continue to do counseling work on the side until March 2016 (when my intern license is set to expire).  If I did not obtain my hours by that date in March 2016, then I was done.  I had decided that it wasn't worth the headache, heartache, and frustration to start over.  Probably the best decision I have ever made... to give up (so to speak).  Little did I know (as always) that God was up to something pretty amazing. 

I remember having conversations with my counseling supervisor over the job search and how things were going.  I had told her that I had essentially stopped.  I felt like so much focus was going into trying to find a full-time counseling job that it was ultimately distracting me from focusing on the work I needed to be doing with my clients in private practice.  I also told her that part of me felt like if I just give up and stop worrying about it so much that maybe, just maybe something would fall into my lap.  I look back on that conversation now and I envision God looking at me, shaking His head and saying, "If only she would just trust me, trust my plan.  I got this under control, I don't need her help."  Although I envision that he probably does that quite a bit with me.

As I pursued other endeavors, and continued to over commit myself (something I'm a pro at) I stumbled into an "Ah ha" moment.  I had begun the process of pursuing a volunteer commitment with my best friend and in the midst of it I realized I was absolutely crazy... or would be if I pursued it.  After much prayer and wise counsel, I decided to step down and not continue to pursue the venture with her.  Fearful that I would let her down, I explained that it would not be wise for me to take on such a big commitment and potentially wear myself out to the point that I couldn't serve to the best of my ability.  I've been extremely blessed to have a best friend who is incredibly gracious, understanding, and loving... I'm not sure what life would be like without her.  All that to say, within 24 hours of me stepping down from that potential commitment, a door was opened and I was offered a full-time counseling job.  Not just any position, but a position in a hospital that I was quite familiar with.  The same place that I completed my student internship at 2 years ago and have been doing PRN work for the last year and a half.  If only someone else could have been there when I received that job offer, I was taken off guard and excited to the point of tears.  I love those God moments that are so special they often times only make sense to you (and God of course). 

So here I am, one full day under my belt of leading the Intermediate group at Sundance Behavioral Health Center in Ft. Worth, and living in a new place that's all my own once again.  As I look back on this past year I see that God knew I longed for new beginnings, for change that didn't include memories of my past... something that was all mine.  I look back and realize that 12 months ago, I wasn't ready, my heart wasn't ready.  It took another wrestling match with God, time for me to be my stubborn self before I realized that God is God and I am not.  He's got this life of mine under control, all I have to do is sit back and breathe.  I don't expect that I've fully grasped this yet, but I hope beyond all hope that as I continue to wait for other dreams to come to pass I will not be as stubborn as I have been with this most recent one.  I also don't expect that this is the end of this dream, but merely the beginning.  I look forward to see what God is going to do with me. 

Lately I've realized there is an inordinate amount of compliments/observations regarding my smile.  I've realized that is often times the first thing that people notice about me, and I've wondered why that is.  But then I realize it is the Lord that gives me reason to smile.  For the work He has done and continues to do in my life... why wouldn't I smile and why wouldn't it be beautiful?  After all, it is all for the glory of my King!