A New Beginning

These past few weeks have been a fight. I have grappled with my self-confidence -- small and lacking, as it is -- to build it up. I want to be able to look at all that I can do and be proud of it, even just aware of it.

For so much of my life, I have felt incapable and useless, not because I am but because I told myself that. I held myself to an unrealistic, perfectionist standard, but I'm going to change that.

After a lot of mediation, I've realized that talking down to myself and viewing myself in a negative light shows a lack of faith and appreciation toward God. He is the One that has blessed me with good health, a sharp mind, nimble hands, and a creativity to use them in many different art forms. By doubting any of that ability, I am doubting Him. By holding myself to an impossible standard, I am also viewing my judgment of myself as better than God. After all, if He is willing to accept me because of my love and faith in Him, why can't I accept myself?

It's time to start again.

I praise you because in an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
I know this very well.
— Psalm 139:14
Positivity: How To Pick Oneself Up (Or At Least How I Did)

Positivity is always easier said than done. It's easy to say things will get better but not to believe it and definitely not to act on that notion. But just because something doesn't come easy doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort.

In fact, one might even argue that the best, most spectacular moments in life that one wants to savor and never forget come from struggle. The Bible addresses endurance, especially in these times, and it definitely helps me to get my mind, heart, and attitude back on track so that I can "get up" during the low moments in my life (Prov. 24:16).

After meditation on recent reminders about how necessary endurance is, I've been working on returning to a positive attitude, as it is paramount to endurance and what I've been lacking. Without joy, I've been resigned to put up with setbacks and circumstances. With positivity and rejoicing, though, I will continue to be determined to stand my ground, come what may.

The righteous one may fall even seven times, and he will certainly get up; but the wicked ones will be made to stumble by calamity.
— Proverbs 24:16

Thus I've been viewing changes as great things instead of letting them knock me down. We're moving to a new congregation soon, and I'm so excited to spend time getting to know new and old friends, work with a different type of ministry, and take better care of myself with more and improved rest. We've been extremely busy with our volunteer construction work, and while it is definitely tiring to spend my free time and energy on these things, they undoubtedly make my life all the more fulfilling and happy.

While work will always be a stress, I'm reminding myself every day that this is not the life Jehovah wanted for me or anyone. These things of daily life (work, school, etc.) really don't matter nearly as much as I sometimes feel like they do because the truth is that the end of all of this suffering and, more importantly, the vindication of God's sovereignty is near. As long as I keep that in mind and lead my life with His Kingdom and purpose as my priority, I know He will take care of me so that I "may get a firm hold on the real life" (1 Tim. 6:19).

The Life and Death of a Career in Calligraphy

How do you let go of a dream? Of a goal? Of a mere idea?

What if you've started on the path toward that dream?

You know that you're not giving up or quitting because you've failed or screwed up. You're leaving it because things have changed. Your circumstances are different, and it is now impossible. It is not your fault. It is now out of your hands.

How do you convince yourself of that? How do you tell yourself that you weren't a fool to try in the first place? How do you forgive yourself and move forward?

I certainly don't know.

No matter how you slice it, I love words. That means both crafting their ideas and meanings but also their lovely appearances.

As such, it's not a surprise that I majored in Writing in college. I wanted so badly to pursue a career in it, but I eventually came to the conclusion that it was not the right path for me.

After a lot of deviations, each unrelated to the last -- wedding photography, electrical engineering, adult education -- I continued to feel lost. I have a mind that wants, no, craves, no, needs to be busy. It eats me from the inside out to the point of depression if I don't occupy it.

The start of married life has been an adjustment, as it should be. My life is no longer mine, but now also that of my husband. He is my love, and I call him such.

But he is not my brain.

I remain an individual with thoughts and feelings still my own, and I love so much that he wants to know them. I've never felt like mine mattered much to anyone, but he loves me and shares everything that he can with me and asks that I do the same. It's really not much, and I do my best to return it, but I admit: I am not a forthcoming person. Thankfully, he is so understanding and knows how to coax what's inside of me out.

Thus, when I shared my desire to work, to help with our expenses, to feel useful again, after leaving my job leading up to the wedding, he was happy and supportive. He had been saying for some time that I should do something with calligraphy, especially after using it for some details in our wedding.

I'd been hesitant for months. Photography was wonderful, but I have such dismal esteem in myself and thus my work that I didn't just lack the drive to promote it but literally was unable. How can you ask someone to hire you if you yourself don't even feel like you can stand behind your work? So that had ended swiftly. And I feared the same would happen with calligraphy.

But my husband is so encouraging and gave me the push I needed to believe more in myself and what I can do with my own hands and abilities. So I made the jump.

I started a website. I designed and ordered business cards. I invested in my calligraphy education. And I began to seriously apply myself to practicing calligraphy regularly. When I made the leap and committed to promoting myself on social media, though, the doubt crept back in. I had no clients. I had no work. I had just me and my subpar abilities to scribble and doodle. Not giving in to that niggling voice in the back of my mind required a fight that I could no longer win.

Everything came to a screeching halt.

I told myself it was just a break. Social media was draining me so I just needed to take some time away from it. But it quickly became time away from my desk and my tools. I felt lost and useless.

Then, my husband's company was in need of a secretary and helper so I stepped up to the plate. I could do what I wanted: I could work and help provide financially. I could be useful.

And I soon became swamped with work, both paper and physical. I answered phone calls. I digitized invoices. I created new organizational systems. I took over bill pay. I gave myself more and more. As an easily stressed person, I struggled and still do. "But I'd had nothing better to do anyway," I tell myself, as the last of my free time disappears along with any possibility of a career in calligraphy.

Is anything really impossible? Or do we simply give up? Are we all really just a bunch of quitters?

Am I just a quitter?