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Grace Introspective

Learning how to be loved// a thank you for friends

I can be a real hot mess sometimes. Usually, my life runs semi-chaotically. Most of my plans are made the day of, my bed is never made, and I occasionally forget what month it is. I have a big ole jumbled up past, full of both good and bad, that I am still trying to fully heal from. Sometimes I panic…. over absolutely nothing. My thought patterns are completely absurd. My car was a health hazard for a couple of months. And all of these are things that I realllly don’t want other people to see.

I’m afraid of being “too much”. Being too much means that my struggles, inconsistencies, and doubts, exclude me from normal community. For a very long time, I assumed that if I just hid all of the parts of me that didn’t function all that well, people would assume I was doing okay,  and they would want to be friends with me. (Spoiler, that didn’t work). The truth is, when you only let people into your life at surface level, then surface level is where those friendships stay. People don’t love people who aren’t genuine. 

This last year, I’ve challenged myself to be someone who is honest. I want to be flawed, imperfect, and unpredictable. I want to be myself, even when I feel like “too much”.  Recently, I’ve really been putting that to the test. Most of you know that I have really struggled with high levels of anxiety, since just about forever. Life just seems to hit me a bit harder in the worry department. Things scare me, and so do people. However, my life has been radically more joyful, and worry-free these last 6 months or so. I have taken a real big step, and gone off of the last medication I have been on. (Lexapro, which I took to help curb anxiety). This stuff has helped me feel semi-sane for a long time, but also has some side-effects that I am no longer willing to put up with. And the truth is? I don’t need it anymore. 

I took this medication as a way to keep myself in check… as a way to keep myself semi-normal. I was very afraid that without this “mask of functionality” the people around me who love me the most would see into my struggle, and decide that I was too much of a mess for them. (Crazytowns, I know!!) But God has been taking me on a wild journey these past 6 months, bringing people into my life that accept me as I am, wholeheartedly. It is a revolutionary concept to me, but also a lil terrifying. 

I never know how to accept unconditional love. I don’t understand it, it is mind boggling. I don’t often love the “messy” side of myself, so how can I expect other people to love that in me?? And yet, they do!! 

   I have people in my life right now who know to check in with me every day or so, because they know how hard the medication withdrawal is. I have two, beautiful, amazing friends who “borrowed” my car, and completely detailed it. (Like that car was so gross😱😳) And they did it as a surprise, knowing how embarrassed I was at the state of my car. I have friends who have talked me down from a panic attack, and others who just let me process alllll of my thoughts out loud. I have friends who let me start freaking out on them, and only let it go for a bit, and then snap me back into reality. I have a friend who routinely lets me know how loved and appreciated I am. Some friends are out of state, and out of country, and still make me feel like a priority to them. Some of my friendships are so therapeutic that I feel like I ought to pay a fee at the end of a good convo. I am completely blown away by how much people can love, when you let them in. I never, ever will understand what I possibly could have done to deserve people like this in my life… but I think that I’m starting to understand that it might not be a question of “deserve”. 

   I wholeheartedly believe that the amazing people in my life right now are 100% a picture of the love that Christ has for all of us. My people can look into my mess, and still see something beautiful. Everyday, I learn to trust a bit more, to let people in on both the joyful side of me, and the messy side of me. Miraculously, they keep staying. I am loved. Very, very well. And it is crazy, and beautiful, and I’m just learning to soak it All up. 

So this is a long winded thank you. Thank you for every time you all have exceeded my expectations for what life in community could possibly look like. It’s 1 A:M on a Thursday night in august, I can’t sleep because of withdrawal insomnia, and I have never felt this loved by people who weren’t related to me (read “had to love me”) since maybe ever. I am so thankful. I am so happy. And I am learning to love you all back… Just give it some time. 

Love always, 

Mal

A second first-impression. 

If I were to talk to myself, circa two years ago, I don’t think I would recognize myself.

Most people go through a lot of personal change and growth from 18-20, but I feel like very little of who I was then remains with me now. For those of you who did not know me then, let me paint you a little picture of who I used to be be. Physically, I looked about the same, but inside… I was a wreck. I had a list of mental illnesses longer than my arm. I struggled with everything from ADD, ODD, Major Depressive Disorder, Binge Eating Disorder, Generalized Anxiety, to Borderline Personality Disorder. I was bullied and suicidal, an avid self-harmer, and at times, I was lonely and isolated. I took attention any way I could get it, including from guys who were all too willing to make a few bad decisions. I hated myself, hated those around me, and tried to hold everything together and fake a semi-perfect existence. I hurt myself deliberately, hoping to control the sadness I felt inside. I had no plans for life after 18, figuring that I wouldn’t make it that far anyways. I had decided that God wasn’t real, and if he was, he certainly wasn’t Good. I rejected every belief I had been taught was “right”. I was a broken, and deeply wounded person.

I was given an ultimatum at 19 that landed me in a treatment facility. It derailed me. I had to confront the nightmare of my life, and decide to live. While there, God met me… Radically. When Jesus came into my life, he came to restore every broken and shattered piece of me. I had denied parts of myself for so long, that I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I had convinced myself that I was an extreme introvert, who hated physical touch. (The exact opposite is true, give me all the people and all the hugs!) I had decided that I was stupid and unteachable, which just isn’t true, and that I would always be a mess.

God met me exactly where I was, and told me how he saw me. I spent months re-learning who I was, what I liked, and what my passions were. Most of my major beliefs and ideologies changed. (I’m still a democrat though, sorry mom and dad!) I went from staunchly agnostic to passionately in love with Jesus. I went from death to life. I found that I was no longer a bitter or hateful person. I had fully been restored.
Some things still frustrate me though. There are people that I hurt during those first 18 years. Some of them I have been able to fully restore relationship with. Some have no idea that I’ve changed, and some are probably surprised I’m alive. I don’t get to change the first impressions I made. I don’t get to change my story. To be honest, I don’t really want to. I get to celebrate a beautifully transformed life, firsthand. But, I would like the chance to re-introduce myself. So here goes:

Hi, my name is Mallory Grace McBride. I’m 20.5 years old. I love people, despite all my complaints about customers at work. I’m busy alllll the time, and I have some A++ buds that love me real well. I work a lot, but find that I feel happier and content after a long work week. I adore my church. I am a big time, full body worshipper, and I love me some praise music. I love to cook, and I’m passionate about a ton of really random things. I light up when I get to talk about Jesus. I’m a goofball at least 61% of the time, but I love a good sit down heart to heart convo. I’m a night owl, I’m slightly obsessed with Instagram stories, and I’m a huge klutz. Someday I might go back to school, but right now, I’m more focused on work. I wanna get married someday, and have kiddos. But at the moment, I’m just looking for somebody to take me out to coffee 🙂 Sometimes I make art. Usually I make messes. I’m always running late…sorry. I love pretentious hipster music, but also all other kinds of music. I mostly wear all black, because it’s easier to match things that way. My spelling is usually awesome, but I don’t understand grammar, and I overuse commas like it’s my day job. I love good cheese, and I’m a sucker for a good butcher shop. I obsessively watch cooking shows. I Love flowers, particularly peonies. I keep all of my makeup in my car so I can get ready on the go. I love to read, and my favorite books always end up being poorly written sci/fi or fantasy paperbacks from the 80’s. I can be a little insecure physically, but I’m working on it. I like learning about what makes other people tick, what they are passionate about. I love having a little garden, and I can tell you every variety of tomato I’m growing right now. I have a cat named Beyoncé, we have a love/hate relationship. I use box dye in my hair, because I like it to be as bright ginger as possible. I love to cook meals for my friends. I’m a huge believer in vulnerability. I’m a lil bit competitive, especially with sales at work. I love picnics, and adventures. I’m really afraid of birds and thunderstorms. I try to do things that panic me at least once a week. I let myself feel a full range of emotions now, I’m not just stuck on Sad/Mad. I still struggle sometimes with various issues, but I don’t ever feel alone. I am passionately, madly, obsessively, in love with my creator. I want my love for Jesus to be the first thing others notice about me, the defining feature of my life. And I want to love others better. I am growing, a little bit every day.
To those who knew me then, this is an open opportunity to get to know me now. Shoot me a text, let’s do life. Every single person can change, and I’ll give you the same grace I have been given. And to those who are newer in my life, let’s celebrate what I came out of. I am proud of who I am, and prouder of who I am becoming. Life is a beautiful, messy endeavor. Come enjoy it with me.

😘Love always, Mal.

“the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you”(‭Jeremiah‬ ‭31‬:‭3‬ ESV)

“and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans‬ ‭5:5‬ ‭ESV‬

“How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

Assorted rambling// we should be lanterns

 
I love the biblical analogy of being clay, of being sculpted and moulded by God into a beautiful creation. I think of myself usually in terms of being “shaped” and created daily. But I started thinking about how a fully beautiful clay vessel has only one function. It holds something in. All that it receives, it holds. 

You cannot shine a light from inside a clay pot. The only way that you can see the light within is if the creation has been broken, or shattered. 
Shattering is never an easy process for a beautiful piece of pottery. It takes a ton of work to create the intricate details on the painted facade of a clay pot. Hours are spent perfecting that image, building it up into just the right shape, creating it to be perceived in just the right way every time. But if you have created a beautiful lidded vessel, perfect in every way, closed and sealed tightly, but the original intent of the creation was to make something that functions as a lantern, then the creation, however beautiful and intricate… is a failure. 
Placing a lit candle in a painted vase does no good to anyone. There is no way for the light to be seen. There is no way for oxygen to reach the flame, so eventually, the flame dies. There is In order for that sealed vase to be used for its intended purpose of a lantern, something has to be broken. A crack must be made in the side, holes must be carved into its interior. Only then can the light shine through. It seems a shame, to break through the perfectly painted exterior, but the truth is that the exterior means nothing. Beautiful or not, that vase is unable to function as a lantern. 
The shattering process can be painful. Years have been spent lacquering this vase, glossing up the sides, creating a perfect looking hardened exterior. These built up walls and layers can be hard to chisel through. They were created to withstand. It takes something hard, and probing to break through that exterior. Something that hits hard, and hurts this vessel. Sometimes it takes takes years of sanding down, tiny hurts rubbed and filled with grit until they relent. The these processes can seem painful and unnecessary. They hurt, they tear up the beautiful exterior. But the purpose is never to break the vessel down, it’s always meant to bring the vessel into the promise of what it was created to be. 
We were never created to have a beautiful exterior, glossy and hardened. Our image, however painted and portrayed, is not our intended purpose in the world. Oftentimes, that beautifully crafted and curated outward image that we project out to those around us, ends up being the very thing that stops us from functioning in what God has for us. We are not intended to be beautiful vases, we are intended to be broken pottery, shattered by the world, with cracks, and imperfections that allow us to be used as a lantern, a vessel for the light of God. 
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:14-16‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬
“Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭9:20-33‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“I’m definitely not getting baptized tonight”

I had run out the back door and jumped in my car getting ready for the occasionally brutal 45-minute drive to my church, 15 minutes before church began. I was a hot mess. I debated even going to the service at all. I turned my key, started my car, and began the trek. I turned on the Livestream feed of the sermon about 15 minutes into my drive because I didn’t want to feel clueless when I made it to church halfway through service. Within minutes, I realized I had made a mistake. I had forgotten it was baptism night, and I had told myself that I wasn’t getting baptized tonight, or anytime soon.

Right before graduating from Mercy Multiplied, (read more about that at http://mercymultiplied.com/2016/10/mallory-2016-mercy-graduate/ ) I had desperately wanted to be baptized. I had felt like I was in such a deep, intimate place in my relationship with Christ. I had been reading my bible every single day for months, I prayed often and meditated on God’s Word. I was in an environment designed to fully immerse me in Christ’s Love. But I was still struggling a lot with legalism. I sometimes saw all of those good things I did as good things that I had to do, to earn love and favor from God, or even from myself. I didn’t (and still sometimes don’t) understand the concept of a love so radical that God would give it to me even when I don’t deserve it. So I tried to earn a love that had already been given to me. I hoped that I was becoming a good, picture perfect Christian. I joked a couple of times that I was totally ready to be “dunked”. I had made a decision (fully on my own) that God wanted me to be baptized then, and I was ready for him to do his part of “our ” plan. The church that all of us Mercy Residents attended announced a baptism service… scheduled for the day after I graduated the program and moved back home. I was upset that God hadn’t gotten on board for my picture perfect baptism, in the church that I became a Christian at, surrounded by the residents and staff who had witnessed and helped me through my journey. I was checking all my little “good Christian” marks off, but that one remained empty. And so the desire in my heart to be baptized dwindled until I had mostly forgotten it.

I kept the Livestream going in my car as I drove to Church, even though the knowledge that it was a baptism service made me consider turning around and just spending the night at home. But, I was already halfway to church, and I figured turning around would have been a waste of gas. I listened to the service halfheartedly, regretting that I wasn’t able to get dunked back when I wasn’t struggling in life as much and I had wanted to get baptized on my own terms. I had decided that now I wasn’t really eligible for this round of baptisms. I was holding onto a deeply ingrained lie in my mind about my Christianity and baptism in particular.
I had some really incorrect, warped doctrine that I probably had heard some version of somewhere and then twisted and molded it to fit my often legalistic mind.
I had decided that baptism was essentially a very public sign to everyone that you have all your crap together, and that you’ve pretty much got this thing figured out. I saw it as a public declaration that Christ was with you, which to me sounded like a whole lot of pressure to be saintly and holy. I wasn’t feeling remotely saintly, or even a bit holy. I felt like me, a sinner, who is still struggling with a lot of major life issues. This baptism service was not an option for me because I was still struggling. I wanted to be all put together and perfect before I got baptized. essentially, I wanted to do for myself what only God could do for me, before I let him do it for me. (Confusing much???)

     “I’m definitely not ready to be baptized, I’m not good enough” I repeated to myself, believing the lies I was saying as I sat in my car in the parking lot in front of the church, 30 minutes after service had begun. I sat and put makeup on for another 15 minutes, still watching the tiny streaming video of the service because it was unthinkable for me to go into the church building without my full face of makeup. I watched the streaming video of this beautiful service, just a few feet outside of where it was happening, adamantly telling myself that I wasn’t ready for that. “I’m definitely not getting baptized tonight”, I told myself. Once I felt my face looked somewhat presentable, I left the safety of my car and entered the church venue. I found a seat as close to the very back as I could. I watched as the brave souls who had signed up for the baptism service go up to the inflatable pool and get dunked for Jesus. I sort of halfheartedly worshiped from my spot in the back of the room. I was safe back there, and I just kept telling myself that I was definitely not getting baptized tonight because I didn’t have my life looking the way I wanted it to look yet. The amazing worship drew me in closer, and I suddenly found myself towards the middle of the room. (I’m a total full-body wandering worshipper) Just then, Pastor Alex said that she felt there were other people in the room who needed to be baptized tonight and that they would let other people, who had not signed up to be dunked this service, be baptized. I literally said out loud to myself “I’m definitely not getting baptized tonight”. I slowly meandered up to the front of the venue, just to get a better look and see if I knew anyone deciding to get spontaneously dunked. There was water spilling everywhere, and a whole throng of people in line who were asking to be put in the water wearing the clothing that they had worn to church. Everyone coming out of the little inflatable pool looked sopping wet, and I told myself “I am definitely not getting baptized tonight”. However, looking at all of the water and wet clothes, I decided to make myself useful. I had done a whole bunch of laundry at my parent’s house before church, and so coincidentally had tons of clothing in the back of my car. I decided to run out to my car and grab some dark clothing for those who were spontaneously deciding to get baptized so they would be spared the horror of having to drive home with soggy britches. I told myself that these clothes were for others, and certainly not me because I was definitely not getting baptized tonight. I came back from my car, dark bundle of clothes in hand, and quickly headed up to the front with the intent to offer the clothes to those in line… And that’s when God began working on me.

       I started to think about why I had decided that I was definitely not going to get baptized tonight and the absolute absurdity of everything just hit me full force. The true meaning of baptism was instantly and amazingly revealed to me. I saw that the “newness of life” that I feared so much was not in any way supposed to be an indicator of how “good” of a Christian I was. I saw how ridiculous it was for me to expect that Jesus wouldn’t want me to proclaim his name while I still sinned because he chose to literally die a brutal and horrifying death on the cross for me while I still sinned. I saw baptism as a literal burial of my old sinful nature, and a beautiful way to claim the inheritance I now have as a daughter of God. I was hit by the powerful nature of baptism, not just as a declaration of my faith, but as a catalyst for my much-needed breakthrough. I saw how baptism had been twisted in my mind to give the devil a legalistic stronghold, and I decided that I wouldn’t allow him to trap me like that any longer.
It was a heart Revival.

Somehow, while praising God for the revelation he had given me about baptism, I had managed to get myself tangled in the very front of the queue of those ready to be baptized. I was holding a bundle of clothing that I intended for others to wear, and I was wearing dark clothing. I looked the part. It was an easy enough mistake for the woman organizing the last-minute baptisms to make. She did not know how many times I had told myself that I was unworthy of this, she didn’t know how many times I had told myself that I was definitely not getting baptized tonight. She just looked right at me, and simply asked: “Are you ready to be baptized now?” I thought for a second, looked up at her, and told her

“Yes”.

 

 

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

romans 6:1-14

Boys, Identity, and Weight.

I have fairly recently discovered that I actually need other people.

And I’m somewhat of a people person… who knew?!? A crucial part of being a human being is interacting and forming relationships with other people, and that includes the elusive other half of the species known as the male gender.  This terrifying, and super startling realization has caused a fair amount of distress to me. Mainly, because I am overweight.

For a solid majority of my life, I believed that my extra weight made me unlovable. I saw my body as “unworthy” of male attention, or affection. The lightning shaped stretch marks, the rolls around my waist, the bulge of a second chin… each of these physical characteristics marked me as defective, grotesque, fat.  Societal expectations defined the parameters of beauty in my world, and unfortunately I never made the cut. I believed that no man would ever look at me and see someone worthy of attention, affection, or even simple kindness. Some of that had to do with male middle school  bullies, who realllly enjoyed pointing out my weight, but a solid majority of this mindset that I carried towards the men around me was self-imposed. They may or may not have found me unattractive, but because I found myself lacking I projected these feelings of inadequacy onto them. I later learned that an extremely low self-esteem is oftentimes seen as highly undesirable. I essentially created a “fat and ugly” prison for myself. I projected feelings of dislike onto the guys around me, they caught on to my intense self-hatred, and then would  proceed to actually find me unattractive, which caused me to feel more isolated and unlovable… It became a cycle that I was caught in for many years. It led me to seek male attention in any way that I could, which ultimately led to some of the biggest mistakes of my young adult life.

It took a lot of time to realize that all of the aforementioned things were really not the problem at hand. It wasn’t the guys I was into, the cycles I fell into, or even my extremely low self-esteem. It was the issue of Identity. Everything that I believed I was, was completely wrapped up in worldly things. I was searching for some amazing, emotionally stable, teenage guy to save me. I had no real sense of self, and whoever or whatever I really was I was certain I hated.

 It took me a long time to understand that the only amazing, emotionally stable guy who could actually give me my identity was Christ. I was saying that I was fat, unlovable and disgusting. Jesus told me that I was his holy temple, a place for him to dwell, and his divinely inspired creation. I said that no man could ever find me beautiful, and Jesus told me that I was created for so so much more than being physically beautiful to men. I was telling the God who knows all, that he had somehow committed his first mistake with me. That maybe he forgot something, or maybe he fudged up the part where I was supposed to be 125 pounds soaking wet. He told me I was knit together in my mother’s womb, with purpose and future intact. He gave me a new identity.

I still struggle with this. I struggle with the idea that maybe someday, God will bring a man into my life that I’m meant to marry. I struggle with insecurity. I want to get out there and date, but oftentimes I feel those creeping feelings of inadequacy grow. But I do know this, when God brings a man into my life, I will have boundaries, and be able to love him with the love I am shown by my Creator daily. I will be able to love from a place of wholeness, and not from a place of self-hatred. And most importantly, That relationship won’t define me, because my identity is found in Christ.

 

A very valentine-y addition

On today, of all days, I’m reminded of this post and the truth Jesus has spoken to me about my identity. I wanted to write a little addition to encourage those around me in a similar position. (And also for myself, because I need to hear this too!!)

Learning to see yourself as Jesus as Jesus does is a lifelong process. Seeing yourself as someone worthy of the ultimate sacrifice, when you cannot see your own inherent worth is such a huge painful journey. I write this to remind you (and me) that we are never alone in this. For every isolating “only I feel this way about myself” thought you have, know that their are at least a couple million people feeling the same way At the same exact moment. Acceptance and love are hard-wired into our biological needs, and you are no different than anyone else in that regard. Let others love you. Let them into your struggle, let them shine a light onto your insecurities and show you that you are still a person worthy of their love. Jesus designed us for connection, and denying that part of yourself denies others the joy and privilege of seeing life through your personal perspective. And to all my single ladies, know that just because we crave connection and acceptance from our male counterparts (which is totally a good and normal thing) If you find yourself without a man on Valentine’s Day, know that you are no less of a person, or incomplete for it. Take the time today to love the one who loved you first, or take steps towards loving yourself. There is 100% nothing wrong with buying yourself flowers. (I’m gonna see if I can find some peonies, my fav!!!)

All this to say, whatever your relationship status, wherever you are on this crazy weird journey of loving yourself, you are not alone and I’ll be here to celebrate your victories along the way.

love always,

mal

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