Thursday, February 28, 2013

there IS a God above!!!!!!!!!!!!! (& other wonderful moments with a girl named Jess)

I've called Los Angeles my "home" for a year and a half now. Strange to be so far from home, but also feel at home at the same time. That first year was the hardest year of my life, I'm pretty sure...and in particular, those first six months.

 I've said it and written it hundreds of times before:

Chanelle and I moved here with no cars. No jobs. No friends. Just us and our faith. And it was really, really hard. And you know, it still is really hard but it's different. It's different because now I have a job. And a car. And a beautiful apartment, and an amazing church and that amazing church has given me amazing friends.

Jessica Hobbs is one of them. 

I don't really remember when Jess became one of my best friends. It just sort of...happened. One day she was a friend of a friend, met a few times at community group, and then next she was Jess. Crazy and hilarious and beautiful and sweet and Southern. 

And now she's moving back to Georgia for a few months and I know it's only for a little while, but it still makes me sad. The kind of sad you get when summer camp is over and you know you might see these people again, but for all those months in between it's gonna be hard not to miss them all the time. 

When I think of last summer and my newness here in LA, I think of times with friends laughing until we peed a little, nights talking and sometimes crying....days spent sitting in a car, eating fast food we really shouldn't be eating, talking about a stupid thing we did last weekend, or that guy who just DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO TEXT AND SUCKS AT IT AND DOES HE LIKE ME OR NOT? 

When I think of my life here in LA, I think of Sundays spent next to Jess and best friends, standing in a Hollywood high school auditorium, hands raised in worship, praising God. If I'm being a little honest, I think of snickering inappropriately during church, or getting Chipotle after, or waiting in line with Jess in the rain and freezing for an improv show.

I think of lying in the sand in Santa Monica, listening to music and eating tacos.
I think of our obsession with Gelson's as silly as that sounds. 
I think of watching Harry Potter and Parks and Recreation and laughing and crying and laughing again and crying a little more.

I think of these times as perfect. I think of these times and how they wouldn't be if they weren't with friends. 

Jess, I am going to miss you SO much in these next few months. Thank you. Thank you for your friendship, for your loving and nurturing spirit. Thank you for all the laughter you've given me ("Oh look at this parking spot....THERE IS A GOD ABOVE!!!!!!!!!") Thank you for your patience and your listening ear and your joy. I am so glad somehow, God brought us both across the country and somehow we'd end up in the same place and somehow we would be friends. 

So often we take friendships for granted and so often I don't treat my friends the way I know I should. But Lawdy Lawd, I am grateful for them. When we first moved here, Chanelle and I used to always say how one day we couldn't wait to have a group of friends. We said it flippantly, and laughing, and really probably feeling sorry for ourselves. I never realized God was straight up LISTENING. So hey, thanks God. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

hi my name is Nina meet my really needy friend, Anxiety

I have crippling anxiety and it's the opposite of fun. 

It's to the point where it is intrusive, slightly delusional, and it interrupts my daily life. I don't know where it comes from but I know I've had it my entire life. When I was little I used to be afraid of butterflies...BUTTERFLIES!!! What child is afraid of butterflies? A little, neurotic, OCD child named Nina. 

I know I am anxiety-ridden - a never ending mass of nerves and shakiness. Quite literally, I am always trembling. It's like I have too much inside of me and my body doesn't know what to do with it so I am just shaking all the time. 

I'm not saying all of this to make myself out to be some kind of freak. I'm writing this because I know I'm not alone. I know there are others who are neurotic and have anxiety and I know it is a daily struggle. 

I'm lying here in bed, my favorite candle burning (White Christmas) and All Sons & Daughters playing to soothe me. It is in this place that I am comforted and peaceful. The lyrics hit me as I stretch out under my covers:

  • I could just sit
  • I could just sit and wait for all your goodness
  • Hope to feel your presence
  • And I could just stay
  • I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel you
  • Hope to feel something again
  • And I could hold on
  • I could hold on to who I am and never let You change me from the inside
  • And I could be safe
  • I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
  • Never let these walls down
  • But you have called me higher
  • You have called me deeper
  • And I will go where you will lead me Lord

  • Yes!!! Yes, this is me God! I know it. How often am I stuck in traffic and the anxiety hits - I feel it bubbling up and I go into mind-lock and I start to panic and I feel it coming on, the panic attack, that stupid thing and I think in my head, "I wish I was home. I wish I was in Philadelphia with my family. Why am I so far? Why am I out here? What am I doing!?!?!"

  • And I listen to this song and it is so, SO true. I COULD just play it safe. I could just wait and wait and wait for all of God's goodness. But is that what God is calling me into? No. God never gives us anything we can't handle. It is so hard to remember this. It's hard to remember this when I'm freaking out or nervous or going into panic mode. 

  • And Lawd, I try. I try to not be so much I try to not feel so strongly or have so many emotions but it's hard because for some silly and wonderful reason, God made me just this way for a reason. Maybe it's to connect to others who feel what I feel; maybe it's because one day in the far future I'll have a daughter who has anxiety and I'll understand her. I don't know. I don't know why God makes us the way we are. But I do know God is with us right there. He's with me when I feel alone or scared or happy or content or angry or deliriously happy when I'm laughing with friends or dancing. 

  • I love, love, love these lyrics so much. We all come to LA for adventure, do we not? For some agenda, we move away from our families and friends and loved ones and we move to Los Angeles and we connect with one another, we live in this vibrant and weird city. I want to open my heart to why God has me here and I want to listen and I want to be continually changed. And I need to remember that God is always calling us higher, as much as I would love to be cozy all day under my covers, reading a book and sipping tea. Because after all, where's the adventure in that?

  • Monday, February 11, 2013

    the way you act matters.....SHOOT!!!!! but i'm the WORRSSTTT!

    The way you act matters. 

    The way you act matters. 

    This needs to be drilled into my head until it becomes second nature, until I really understand it. About 95% of my life is spent in the after moments of something where I think to myself, "Nina, why did you do that? Why did you say that? Why are you a freaking EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER OF A WOMAN?"

    The way I act matters. am I acting?

    I am not a big New Years' Resolution kind of gal. But something that has been floating around in my mind is to be less sassy. I admit it. I am a sassy lady. And not in the like, red-dress, cute, sexy sassy way girls on TV are sassy. More like the biting, cocky, can't for the life of me hide my true feelings, kind of sassy. It often leads to my inner Catholic guilt tearing me apart for most of the night until I text a friend later with something like, "Hey sorry I said that sentence like that hope you're not mad, I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and then they respond like, "Um...what?"

    But a few weeks ago as I sat in church here in Hollywood, my pastor said something that really resonated within me. He said, "The way you act matters." And I don't think he meant like, if you did "good deeds" or if you "act a certain way" you are a better person or God will love you more. Actually I know that's not what he meant. He meant in the way we act, what we say, how we treat people, where we invest our time - those things matter.

    And it's hard because if I were to look at how I act, I don't think I'd be very proud. Actually, I'm not proud. VULNERABILITY ON THE INTERNET. But it's true. Especially at work. I'm impatient, I'm cocky, I'm loud, I'm not sweet. I am convicted.

    Yet a few weeks ago at work I gave a tour to an incredibly sweet man who was on this 30th anniversary trip with his wife here in Los Angeles. I spent two hours with them, and then when they were about to leave we started talking. I casually mentioned how I met a girl randomly at my non-denominational Christian church who became one of my best friends and helped me get this job. (Giselle I love you you sweet dumpling!) He paused.

    "Church?" he asked.

    Oh no. There it was. The pit in my stomach. DANG IT! I thought. With that single, loaded question my brain suddenly went a thousand miles per minute. He thinks I'm a bigot. He thinks I'm judgemental, he thinks I'm a freak, he thinks I'm stupid he thinks I'm raci--

    "........Yup," I said, deciding WHATEVER, I am who I am, I love God! I love Jesus! Why should I hide that, why should THIS man come at me and be all like--

    "I left the radio and television industry to become a Pastor," he said.

    Then I paused. I didn't say anything.

    "You know," he continued, as I just stood there feeling like an idiot. "I thought maybe, you know, with you, because of a couple of things you said and the way you acted that, I don't were a Christian."
    At first I didn't really know what to say and then we started talking about God and what it means to follow God's plan for your life and how that can look different and it was the most amazing five minute conversation. Then they left, I wished them happy anniversary again, and that was that.

    But there was something there. When he told me he thought I was a Christian based off of how I was acting, I immediately thought SHOOOT! What did I say? How did I act? Was I sarcastic? Was I a jerk? Did I gossip? DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT.

    It was a wake up call because so often I do not act the way Christ lived His life. And isn't that the root of it all, the root of being a Christian? To live your life as close to the way Christ lived His? And WHY has Christianity and "acting" like a Christian taken on such a negative connotation over the years? Where, along the path, did Christians become these loud, obnoxious, hateful people who despise anyone who is different from them and lash out with nothing even close to love?

    And why was I so afraid when he said he thought I was one of them?

    Because yes. I am a Christian. But no that doesn't make me any of those things. And I don't ever want to live in a way that would be so far from the way Christ lived. Because while He walked this earth, Christ loved and loved  so deeply -- He loved more than I ever could. And that's what I want to strive to be. Someone who loves and shares this good news of a Savior who loves, literally, EVERYONE, not just the people who fit this cookie-cutter mold of what PEOPLE think is right. Jesus loves EVERYONE and that's freaking mind-blowing. 

    So I want to slow down in my day. When I go to lean on my car horn when someone is driving too slow, when my tongue is about to lash out a biting comment on how someone looks only to make myself feel better, when I feel that green jealousy burning up my throat - I want to slow down and stop and think, "The way I act matters. It matters. And I want my life to be a reflection of Christ. SO CALM THE EFF DOWN NINA!!!"

    We don't think we matter and in kind of a real sense, maybe we don't. But our lives impact other's -- the barista giving us our coffee, the neighbor pulling into the garage next to us, the coworker we actually can't stand -- at the risk of sounding very Lion King, we are all impacting each other. (Like we're the antelope then we become the grass then we eat the grass blah blah WASN'T SIMBA CUTE WHEN HE WAS IN THAT TEENAGER STAGE?)

    But do you know what I mean? Because that's my prayer right now. To love the way Christ loved and still does love. Because it matters.