Thirteen Reasons Why…and One Reason Why Not.

As I am sure many of you have by now, or soon will if you have yet to discover, binge watched 13 Reasons Why. I came across an article about it and was intrigued by it, this particular subject hits home with me in more ways than one and I was curious to see how someone portrayed the topic through a mini-series.

“Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) -his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers.” Written by Studio

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After completing 13 emotionally raw episodes as Hannah goes through the events that led up to her death, I was left with an empty feeling and an overwhelming sadness that even though this was just a television show, things like this happen every day. It happened to me. It happened to friends of mine as we were growing up. It has happened to close family and loved ones. It happens every day, all over the world and frankly is not talked about enough.

In case you choose to never read the book that inspired the series or watch it for yourself, I’ll shed some light on the “reasons” why she ultimately took her own life. (Potential spoiler alert)

She was a high school girl that was fairly popular who ended up losing all of her close friends and soon found herself feeling all alone. As a result of bullying through simple “normal” high school antics, it all struck a chord with her that left her feeling worthless. She was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually until she felt like there was nothing left of her. She even tried to seek help, but was made to feel as if she was not worth the help or that there was nothing that she could ultimately do about it, except forget it and move on. Every part of her was broken, lost, confused and she felt hopeless.

I have yet to share my story with you all and plan on doing it soon.. But, I have been there before. High school was not easy for me, as much as I was great at hiding it. I lost friends that had been in my life since kindergarten, which when you are 16 years old feels like your entire life. I was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually. I thought about suicide more times than I would like to admit and even failed at it once or twice. I got to a point in my life where there was nothing left for me and I was completely disgusted with myself and everything about who I was and what I was doing in this world.

and that’s when Jesus stepped in.

I won’t say it happened in one day or even in one moment, it was a collection of days that came to a head to make me decide to push for life, instead of death. No matter how long I had been running or how far I had run, Jesus loved me and He wanted me to live. I could have easily came up with 13 reasons why I did not want to live on this earth anymore, but it took me finding only 1 reason why I should surrender and stay, and that was Jesus.

We are not so different from Jesus in our trials and unfortunate circumstances. Jesus was blameless and yet He was still;

Betrayed

Abandoned

Rejected

Falsely accused

Mocked

Physically Abused

Spit on

Shamed

Crucified

All for us.

He loved us so much that He wanted to bear the weight of the world, the weight of sin, everything terrible thing that you and I have done, or have yet to do, or that has been done to us. He took it all so that we would be forgiven and if so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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It was that truth that saved me. It is that truth that I want to save everyone with. It is that truth that has me sitting here writing to you today asking you;

Please, do not give up. Reach out for help. Even when it is hardest to think about your family and loved ones, especially in the moments when you feel like they could care less, it is not true. They care, they love you so much. He loves you so much. I do not even know you, and I love you so much. You are worth it. You have a purpose. You were chosen for something beautiful and you can only find out what that is if you stay.

For those of you who have never dealt with anything like this before, give thanks to the Lord that you have not had to experience such pain. But more than that, make sure that you are not a part of someone else’s pain. As hard as that might be to hear, everything we do or say impacts the world and those around us. It is our job to be kind to others, to love and be loved in return, to help those who need it, and simply be there for others who need someone. When someone gets to the point in their life that they are even thinking about taking their own, they will not tell you and you will not know, which is why we have to be proactive in making sure it never gets to that point.

If someone you know and love is going through a tough time, take a moment out of your day and reach out. It could possibly mean life or death. If someone you know is going through a hard time and is suddenly happy and content, reach out. Even if someone is not going through a hard time, reach out. If you are that someone, reach out.

Be there for others.

Love and be loved.

Choose Jesus.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Important Choices.

Lately, I have watched people suffer for reasons that ultimately could have been prevented. Not just lately, this has been happening for forever but lately, it’s been bothering me more and more and I want to talk about it.

I will start off by saying, I am well aware that there are things in our lives that we have absolutely no control over and in those moments, the following does not apply. But in the grand scheme of things and as we go through life day to day, the things that happen to us are a result of the choices that we make. Simply put; we have control over our lives and what happens to us and whether or not we are happy or sad, healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor, kind or not.

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Each morning when you wake up you have to make the choice whether to stay in bed or get out of it. For those with jobs, staying in bed could mean missing work and potentially losing your job. The same as choosing to get out of bed would mean that you do go to work and in return keep your job. For those without jobs, staying in bed could mean that you continue to not have a job and suffer the consequences that come with that, whatever it may be. Choosing to get out of bed could mean countless opportunities of productiveness depending on what you choose to or not to do with your time. No matter how you look at it, your end result is defined by a choice that you made.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move it up a notch. Making choices applies to everything we do in life. Yes, everything. In addition to making choices, there is a need to take responsibility for the choices that you make. Responsibility? What’s that I say?

The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something

You heard it here folks. When you make a choice, no matter what that choice is, no matter how great it is or how bad that it is, you are responsible for it. You are responsible for whatever ripples from that choice. i.e. the example given above when choosing not get out of bed when you have a job and you then lose said job, it’s your fault. Just as, if you chose to get out of bed even when you do not have a job and that choice leads to the finding of a new job or a clean house or whatever it is that you decide to do, it’s also your fault.

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Now you are wondering; what’s the point, where I am going with this? The point is that we need to do a better job at taking responsibility for our choices. By doing this that means that you accept the repercussions of your actions, no matter if they are good or if they are bad. In doing so, a lot more foolery would end, because 99% of the time a person does not want to take responsibility for their actions when it gets them in trouble, hurts them, hurts someone else, or ultimately causes harm and not good. Which means, if you took responsibility for your actions 100% of the time, you are a lot less likely to make bad choices.

There’s more.

You are not responsible for someone else’s actions.

This one is undoubtedly the harder one for most people, I believe. For some insane reason, people want to blame themselves or take responsibility for someone else’s actions. Which is crazy, because you cannot. But still, people try and in doing so tire themselves and wonder why good does not come from it, and the reality is; it just does not work that way. Sure, you “can” take responsibility and you can suffer the consequences of their choices, but why would you want to, especially if in doing so causes you harm?

Which brings me to my next point.

You do not owe anyone anything in this life. I am so serious, nothing.

Do not get me wrong again here. Out of love and respect and the desire to make others happy, we want to give what is given to us in return (the good anyhow). But you are not obligated to and there is not some unwritten rule, or written for that matter, that says that you have to keep someone in your life simply because they have been a part of it and have “done something” to deserve it.

Yet again, I tell you truth. If someone is doing more harm than good in your life. You do not have to let them stay there. It does not matter if that person is your mom or dad, your sister or brother, grandmother or grandfather, aunt or uncle, boss or co-worker, or even your best friend. You have the right to choose to have a better life, even if that means one where that person is not in it.

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I get it, making a choice like that is hard. Like really hard. I have been there before and had to make that choice and it was not fun and it really has been hard to live with at times. Not from regret, but because I do not wish for anyone to not be a part of my life, especially family. But sometimes, for the sake of your own well-being and your children’s, if you have them; you have to make hard choices. It is necessary, and in the end, you will be so much better off for it.

Picture it like this; your life is a garden of flowers and everyone in your life (or garden) is a beautiful unique flower. But, just like in any garden, there are weeds that can and will grow. You have to make sure to weed out the bad so that ultimately your garden as a whole will not die, but also by doing so you make way for all of the good flowers and have space for more to grow. Meaning, you have to take care of yourself and weed out the bad people and things in your life so that your life will be beautiful and full of good things and good people. By doing so, you make way for more beautiful things to grow and good people to come into your life.

Life is hard, I know. I live here too. But it does not have to be so bad and you truly do have the power to change it for yourself and those around you. It all starts with the choices that you make and your ability to take responsibility for them. Once you understand that, you are golden, and it is only up from here.

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Beautiful Anxiety.

I slept through my alarms this morning and apparently turned them off without noticing. I went to bed a little later than usual, which I am sure attributed to my tiredness, but the past few days and weeks have been overwhelming for me. The last two, in particular, have been the most draining. I hate when this happens to me, I have no control over it and it all boils down to my emotions.

I try really hard not to question God and why He made me the way that he did. In fact, especially when I do not understand it most, I attempt to appreciate the uniqueness that has been given to me and channel it towards Him and furthering His kingdom. The past few years have been the hardest in this area because my relationship with God has grown so deeply where He is stretching me and growing me as a person, in ways that I sometimes cannot keep up with or fully understand.

This past year I struggled with anxiety, really bad. Overwhelming anxiety that was so strong every day that even with medicine it was physically debilitating. Some days were better than others and some days I was so exhausted by it that I just wanted the day to end so I could go to sleep and be free from its burdens for a couple of hours, without interruption. The hardest part about it all was not being able to control it, not being able to pinpoint the cause of it so I could attempt to fix it or make it better.

My anxiety seems to stem from deep rooted emotions for things going on around me, most usually not even my own circumstances. I truly believe that God gave me a gift to be able to feel what others are feeling and be concerned for others when they need it the most. Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. This is something that I do, even when I am not trying to or honestly do not “want to” because I just do not feel up to it, yet it is a part of who I am and I cannot hide it or change it.

Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Towards the end of last year, my anxiety was peaking at an all-time high. With the upcoming presidential elections and all the hate and discord that happened during that time, to ongoing circumstances in my family that I could not change fix or heal, to everyday life with my children watching them grow before my eyes and all the wonderful activities that come with it. My anxiety medicine decided to just stop working one day and by mid-morning on each day that followed, I was usually having a full blown panic attack. Thankfully, through prayer and my favorite essential oils, I was able to get through those days and by the grace of God discovered a natural vitamin that took away my anxiety altogether, sweet relief.

That was in November and I can honestly say that I have been anxiety free since then, even through the madness of the holidays and all that comes with it. I was pretty chill during this time and able to get things done in a way that I had been neglecting for nearly a year straight. I was able to be in situations that in years past would have not been an easy feat for me. I have been doing things that I have always been incredibly scared to try, like leading a group of people in a bible study each week, cooking bacon for the first time in my life, or starting this blog.

You see, there is an overwhelming peace that comes with being keenly aware of your own emotions and those of others around you. There is also a sense of burden, confusion, and pain from not being able to separate it or turn it off. I am both humbled and honored that God would give me such a gift, and at times angry and tired and wish that He would just take it all away. But, I am thankful that I did not write my story or create the me that I am because I would miss it. I know God does not make mistakes and when He made me to care so much for others around me, He also gave me the tools that I would need to handle it and ultimately use it for good to bring glory to His name.

This past week, my anxiety returned. Not even remotely like it was before. But just enough to take my breath away, and drain me through utter exhaustion and bouts of confusion where I cannot think straight or do the things I need to do without struggling or taking twice as long to get it done. Although this week has been great in all aspects that pertain to me and my immediate family, it has not been so great for others around me; from the pain that they are enduring from loss of loved ones or the fear that comes with it once they have, to unforeseen circumstances added to an already stressful situation, it has been overwhelming.

“Blessed be the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corininthians 1:3-4

If you are still reading this, you are probably telling me; to stop. Mind your own business. You cannot let what is going on in other people’s lives affect you so much. It is not your problem so why are you letting it bother you. Get a grip. Focus on yourself and let other people worry about their own problems, you have enough of your own. Just pray about it, that’s all that you can do anyways.

Then I would tell you; I can’t. I was not made to. Oh trust me, I have tried. You try arguing with God and see if you win. Grow closer to God and see what he does to you. I have prayed about it and I will continue to, without ceasing, pleading with the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf when I do not have the strength or the words.  Because that is all that I can do, and quite frankly, what I was called to do.

“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18

Yeah, it sucks. But through prayer and trusting God, it will not last forever. I do not think my anxiety has returned and is here to stay, I just think that while I am dealing with some of the emotions going on around me I need to take my anxiety as a reminder to pray, hard, for those who really need it. The gift to love others so deeply that their sorrow becomes your sorrow and their joy becomes your joy is a beautiful blessing. Sometimes it is hard to cope with, especially in times of sorrow, but I think that’s why He allows us to feel their joy too, to remind us, that even though pain may come through the night joy will come in the morning.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

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