2014 has whizzed by and we are already nearing the end of the first day of 2015. How have I spent the first day of a new year? On the internet, complaining about my chest hurting and wishing that I liked New Year better because in ten days the next Hug Louise Day will hit. But I’ve also spent the first day of 2015 thinking about 2014; thinking about how at the beginning of the year my life was falling apart. Thinking about how at the end of the year, I was in the best place I have ever been.

Back in February I wrote this:

My life is a mess and I need someone to talk too. I know I have friends that I can talk to, but I feel like a burden. You know? I’m a screw up, I am. I have f***ed up everything in my life and I don’t deserve to be here at all. Wasting oxygen, space, food, education. I don’t deserve any of it. I don’t deserve happiness. I don’t deserve my friends.

Boy am I glad I stuck it out. That was a very bad time for me…actually, all the months before July were bad months for me. I felt so alone, that nobody was there to listen. I was letting other things consume my identity, even though my identity is in Christ. But in February 2014, I didn’t believe that. I didn’t want to give in, to stop fighting…but I didn’t have the willpower. My brain just kept telling me ‘Louise, you’re not good enough’, ‘Louise, you’re a failure’. I felt like I was letting everyone down and I didn’t understand why people would love me. All I caused was pain and misery. Obviously, that wasn’t the truth. I wasn’t causing pain or misery and I wasn’t letting anybody down, that is just how I felt.

At the beginning of June I moved to my new house. A new start. But things were bad, very bad.

I’m in a bad place and I don’t know why. I’m having more and more I hate people days. My self-harm is pretty bad. But I don’t understand why. I’m in a new house, its summer, it’s almost my birthday…sh*t, it’s almost my birthday. The first birthday I have properly spent alone. I mean, I know I’m going to Robyn’s (sister) the day after but sh*t. That’s terrifying. I miss my sisters a lot at the moment. Like more than normal. Maybe it’s all the change. I don’t like change, change is scary. And usually my sisters would have been here. […] I’m not exactly on speaking terms with God at the moment, I haven’t picked my guitar up in 2 months. I haven’t felt this bad in so long, I was doing so well. At least I’m not crying at the moment. I seem to be unable to cry. Yet I can feel so f***ing angry. Always so angry. At myself, at life, at friends: at God. F***ing hell. My life is so f***ed up.

It goes on…life was pretty bad. Everyone had gone home for the summer and when I say everyone, I didn’t have friends. Not really. So I was more alone than ever, no-one was around to pick me up when they saw me look a little sad, or angry. My family wasn’t there for me…or at least it didn’t feel like it. I’m the oldest sister so I felt like I couldn’t burden my younger sisters with all the crap in my life. That’s understandable, right? The amount of ‘I miss mum’ days went up considerably, I cried myself to sleep so many times. It gets worse…

I can officially say that this week has been complete and utter shite. I am possibly in one of the worse states of mind I have ever been in and I don’t really understand why. I haven’t been sleeping or eating or talking to people. I’ve been hurting myself…f***ing hell, I’m f***ed up. The last couple of days have been the worst, I’ve really missed mum and dad hasn’t given two sh*ts about my birthday. I’m not surprised to be honest. And I know they’re trying to help but telling me to go to the doctors isn’t helping. Just the thought of stepping into a doctor’s surgery triggers an anxiety attack. I have a deep routed fear of doctors. […] And I’m still not on talking terms with God, I don’t know why. Molly had some words of knowledge for me today and it was simply the word ‘trust’. It makes sense because I don’t trust anyone at the moment, not even God. And that sucks. I have no one to talk to, I am back to being a broken teenager. My dad hates me, my mum is dead, my sisters are busy with their lives, and my friends have other friends who are more important. So who do I have? No one. That’s how I feel right now. As I cry as quietly as a I can because Mel’s asleep next door. I don’t have a single f***ing person who gives two sh*ts about me.

And that is all lies. There were people who gave two thoughts about me, people who love me, my dad doesn’t hate me, I’m just as important as my other friends friend’s. But in June 2014, I didn’t feel like that. I was reaching three months of not talking to God, of not playing guitar…I was in a very, very dark place. A place I never want to go back too and with the friends around me now, hopefully I never will. In July 2014, everything changed.

Student mission – haha, the thing I was ‘forcibly encouraged’ to go on. The thing that I really, really did not want to go on. The thing that terrified me the most out of everything. The thing that made my quite bad year turn around on its head. On this week I made more friends that I have ever made in the whole 19 years of life, on this week I was put in situations I would never have dreamt of being in. On this week, I began to talk to God again. So much happened on Mission Week, so, so much and I don’t think I can ever thank the person who ‘forcibly encouraged’ me enough. Seriously. God was with me a lot that week, the most I have ever felt Him. He took away my anger, I didn’t hate Dad anymore, I wasn’t angry at him. I wasn’t angry at life or me or at friends or God himself. I was at peace for the first time in a very, very long time. The God block that I had been experiencing broke down, it was amazing. For the first time I got people to pray for me, I cried openly in public, three of the youths that I worked with that week gave their lives to Christ. And that’s frigging amazing. Something that has really encouraged me from Mission week is the encouragement sheets that everybody got. I take it almost everywhere with me because when I get a little sad, it reminds me of how others view me.

  • So encouraging and caring, great with youth.
  • Thanks for stepping out in faith this week and serving God.
  • Loved getting to know you this week. A wonderful woman of God.
  • Your courage, stepping out of your comfort zone and being prepared for God to use you has been inspiring. God has great and wonderful things planed for you!
  • Louise your confidence about your abilities is lacking. You doubt yourself for no reason, you are more capable than you know yourself.
  • Louise, it’s been wonderful to get to know you this week. You have strong faith and a great personality.
  • It’s been lovely to get to know you this week. Stay strong through everything and remember God is with you.
  • Your willingness to do something that was a challenge to you was great. I pray you will continue that. God always supports you.
  • Louise your confidence has grown so much and I am so proud to see God flourish in you.
  • Thanks for doing youth and schools work so willingly and creatively!
  • Your guitar playing was amazing you are very talented! I hope to hear you’ve been worship leading more.
  • Love you Louise, been awesome sharing with you. Keep going. You are an amazing woman of strength.
  • Thank you for coming this week. You are an inspiration.

Let me just take a moment, some of those things still don’t ring true for me. They’re all so encouraging and positive. Considering some of the people who wrote these I only met that week…it’s amazing. God’s pretty cool!!

August was quite a quiet month in the life of Louise. I didn’t do a lot, everyone has left for the summer so there was nothing for me to do. I played guitar a bit, I went to church, and I went on the prom quite a bit…but nothing crazy. Then September comes around…and it goes crazy again. It got crazy in a good way, God was bugging me about life and all my friends started to return from the summer. The first time God bugged me was at an evening service at church. Everything in my life is pointing me to leadership…that’s the big realisation there. At first it was just worship leading, nope – He had to go one step further to Youth. You would think it would stop there but no. The hierarchy of leadership just kept growing…I was and still am terrified!! There’s no use fighting God, you never win.

As the end of September drew to a close, things seem to get a bit emotional. As freshers week approached, I had a massive ‘I miss mum’ moment. I’m allowed them, I just try not to have them. At the same time everything just seemed to be collapsing around me: friends, family, general emotions…there didn’t appear to be a light amongst all the darkness (apart from Jesus obviously). Now, I don’t cry. Don’t ask me why but I just don’t however there was a week where I cried a lot, genuine sad tears about everything. All the emotions I had been holding in just exploded like a volcano…it wasn’t a pretty sight, but the explosion needed to happen for things to get better and things appeared to do so.

The month of October approached and I was the happiest I have ever been. That’s saying something. October was also the month of the God buzz to go to CU for the first time…goodness me that was terrifying but bloody worth it! CU has been one of the most positive experiences of this year, I’ve made so many new friends, it’s a new situation and my faith has just grown. October was a month full of God. I wrote a blog post about a particular Sunday because I felt God was calling me to write the post, it was a blog all about Matthew 11: 25-30. You can check it out if you want…it’s called Giving Over Your Burdens. God kept bugging me over a period of about three days about the same things…things I really, really didn’t want to do. I did what God told me to do and the result…not the result that things had been pointing to for months. I went through a period of avoiding worship music, a period of not talking to Him. I had various people telling me telling things from ‘you’re brave’ to ‘maybe He’s testing you’ to ‘I told you so’. I didn’t particularly want to hear any of these things so I just shut people out, what I normally do – it’s really not healthy.

In the middle of October I got very angry. I haven’t been angry since Mission Week yet all of a sudden I want to punch people and my language is appalling; I want to throw my guitar against the wall. I just reread my journal entry from when I got extremely angry and I wasn’t pleasant. I spent almost a week hiding from the world so that no-one was on the receiving end of my anger. The problem is, when I’m angry – I’m angry. There is no mild anger or just annoyance, it’s all or nothing. The Sunday after I got this angry was interesting, I almost didn’t make it to church – I just couldn’t face it but I went. And boy was it a good thing to go.

To say church this evening was intense is a major understatement. Again. There seems to be something about Sunday evening and the Fruits of the Spirit. Let’s say, I fully broke down and got Holy Spirit shakes. Everything sort of became clear at once. Everything and anything was pouring out and I still don’t know what He was doing but something was happening. I’ve been a right cow as well today. Church this morning was intense as well. It was about that bloody passage I was given last week (Matt 11:22-30) and two friends just turned to look at me. I may have shed some tears. Then this afternoon I was a right cow to them. (I’m not going to explain). And then we move on to this evening. Where do I begin? As soon as I walked into church, I felt drained. Don’t know why. Then I started to cry, during a song which is never good. But it was after communion that it really started. So much pain and anger and sadness. So much hatred. I even had to have a level 5 stress tea. That’s how bad it was.

Slowly but surely my anger dwindled away, I didn’t want to throw my guitar against a wall and I listened to worship music again. It was in this time that I really started to consider Aber as home, somewhere that I felt safe and loved. Somewhere I wanted to stay forever. It’s annoying knowing I’m not in control, God’s in control and for the first time since becoming a Christian I handed everything over to Him. All the crap in my life, all the hardships, all the anger and the sadness…I handed it over. I know I can’t do it alone, no-one can do it alone. When I handed it all over, it felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I had no burdens – nothing keeping me from God.

As November rocks around, my sister has visited, I’ve had a massive freak out (bigger than anything I’ve ever had before) and life seems to be a little rubbish. How things can change in two months! Firstly, I go on the CU weekend away, that was weird. Louise in 2013 would never have done that, Louise in early 2014 would never have done that. Yet here I am, going on a weekend away. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out why I was there because I only went as I had an annoying God buzz…He likes to annoy me. Before I went to catch the coach to the place we were staying, I started to really freak out. When we arrived, I really started to freak out. My anxiety was going into overdrive. Much fun. One thing I did get out of the weekend away was that Jesus puts us back together again; because we have an identity in Jesus, He puts us back together. And after the year I had had, I think I needed putting back together again.

The first Hug Louise Day falls in November and this is when I realised that I have the best friends in the entire world. Friends who genuinely care and love me and want me to be happy. Something I’ve never experienced before. I had done so well all day with not crying and not feeling lonely…done so well with not feeling emotions. It gets to about nine in the evening and I am bawling my eyes out in my bed, I don’t know what to do. The beauty of social media, I indirect the people I need. The annoying thing about my anxiety is that I physically can’t ask people for help, no matter how much I need it…which really sucks, so it comes down to someone else having to text the people that I need. So at eleven on a Monday night one of my friends pops round, with cake, just to give me a hug. He texts another friend that I may have kind of been avoiding because I needed a hug of him as well; he rocks up at quarter to midnight to give me a hug. Why? Why would someone do that? Because they care. I’ve never experienced that before.

Someone called me a strong person in November…I’m not a strong person, I’m not someone to be admired. This person said that I stand firm even when inside I am churning through every emotion possible. This person said my faith was admirable…I don’t think it is. The amount of times I have shouted and sworn and turned my back on God. I don’t know what to make of that. A lot of people have called me strong and brave recently…I’m really not. I’m just a normal person who’s just had a rough start but I’m battling my way out of that identity. A Bible verse that still stands out here is 1 Peter 5: 6-7,

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

And then we come to the final month of the year: December. I’ve played in band, I was a soldier at an interactivity nativity, I did a Bible reading at CU…again a lot has happened. I celebrated Christmas in Aber this year, because it was easier than trying to find a house to go to. I wrote a whole blog on that as well called Home is Where the Heart is. December has been a month of reflection, a month of realising how amazing God is. A month of noticing how much I’ve changed as a person, as a Christian, as a sister. A month of not hating myself…which hasn’t happened in a very long time. For Christmas I had a friend stay with me and I look back to the Louise last year and I never would have done that. I never would have opened up my home to someone, never would have had someone over.

This evening I was talking to the friend who is staying with me and she said she was glad she met me how I am now. I’m glad she met me how I am now. I wasn’t a very nice person this time last year or at any time last year. God has been evident in my life this year and I’ve never felt closer to him. For the first time, I know my identity is in Christ and not in my past or in my health or in my hobbies…my identity is in Christ Jesus. He’s amazing and He never leaves you. As I have spent the entire afternoon and evening writing this essay length blog, I have realised how much I have overcome in 2014. How much my life has changed, how much people change. People have entered my life that I would never have thought possible, I’ve done things I never thought possible…all because of Jesus. Without Jesus I am nothing but in Him? I can do everything. 2014 was very much a rollercoaster of a year and I have achieved so much. Thank you everybody who has been a part of my journey, for having faith in me, for helping me out. Thank you for not giving up on me. Here’s to 2015 where anything can happen

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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