Oceans.

I never wanted to forget this view, this moment.

My last blog was about music, too. Music is incredibly powerful, and can be totally wonderful. But after my first real heartbreak, I listened to Christian music nonstop. I couldn’t listen to anything else. I needed the constant reminder of His love and I needed to listen to songs that could only improve my mood and mental health. Christian music was an outlet and a safe haven for me.

The song that found its way into my heart and into every shower cry was the song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United.

“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine . . .

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior.”

I used to not like to talk publicly about my faith. I never wanted to offend someone, because I recognize that everyone follows different belief systems. As I grew older, I realized that I am never offended by someone sharing a key part of their heart and their faith, so I hope I can share the same here.

I have been healing and growing for a long time. I’m nowhere near perfect. I always say I’m an imperfect girl loved by a totally perfect God… and that is the truth. This song would remind me of God’s hand in my life even at the darkest of times.

As I stood on the San Clemente pier after a morning jog, I allowed the wind to blow through my hair as I tilted my face towards the radiant beams of a high, strong sun…. I played this song.

The song felt so different. Instead of the usual reminder that God would lead me and take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, it was instead a brilliant moment of “Here, Alex. This is what I was talking about. Can you see what I’ve been working on for you?”

I stood there, surrounded by waves on three sides, staring out at endless waves of blue water, basking in His glory and the beauty of His promises for me. In that moment, I felt free of invisible chains that had been weighing me down. Am I healed or perfect or done growing in my faith, life, mental health, physical journey, or any other facet of my life? Absolutely not. As one of my favorite instagrammers (@GoFitJo) would say… I am a #WomanInProgress.

So… what’s my message to all of you? Bask in the little moments. These little moments could be God’s way of sending big messages.

For me, it was this moment, standing on the pier and surrounded by the ocean and feeling God speaking to my heart. I am glad that my faith could stand – my faith carried me through the darkest of times. I had to surrender myself and trust in Him fully to fulfill (and continue to fulfill) his promises to me. My faith was made stronger when I brought Him more deeply into my life (and my Spotify playlists :)).

just worshipping and surrendering over here on Catalina Island

I felt called to share this message with you. If you are hurting or healing — you are not forgotten. You are loved, you are heard, and the Lord will fulfill his promises to you. Remember that your plans may not be His promises, and that is this beautiful craziness we call life.

“I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.”

God, thank you for the reminder of just how small my problems are in the midst of the ocean of your love. You have held my hand and lead me through deep water, deeper than my feet could ever wander alone.

Thank you Jesus for the sign. I got your message loud and clear, and you rock my socks.

always,

Alex

Image

headlights

{One year ago, my life changed. All I saw before it happened was the flash of headlights.}

•••

If you need someone to blame, blame me. It was my fault. I know that. Wrong place, wrong time, yes.. but I failed to yield. Other people assume to know what happened; they assume that it was simple. It wasn’t. They assumed I was fine, but I wasn’t.

I’m not.

One year ago, I was involved in a head-on collision in which a woman I did not know lost her life. I will never, ever forget. I can never, ever forget. I never, ever want to forget. I am reminded every time I open the door of a car, every time I put on my seatbelt… every time I see headlights ahead of me.

Headlights. My worst nightmare and my largest terror, seemingly harmless guides into the darkness of that long stretch of highway. They remind me of the worst night of my life,  the life that was lost, the lack of control, the tears, the ambulance, the hospital, the bruises, the nightmares…. everything from the night when everything went to hell. They flash me back, every time, to the moment before my world turned upside down and inside out.

I’m not writing this for pity, or for self-reassurance, or to appease the masses. I’m writing this because I need to. I don’t know what else to do. I’ve had one year to bottle up my feelings and fears and all the things I’ve learned.

One year. I’ve cried at each milestone since that day, praising God that he allowed me to be here through it all… my high school graduation, my 18th birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas. I cry today, because I wish I could go back to one year ago and change everything. I cry for the life that was lost and the part of mine that changed so drastically.

One year. So much has changed. I am not the girl who climbed into that driver’s seat that night on February 20th.

I lost my sense of ease. When you’re driving down an empty stretch and singing to the radio… I’m tense, watching for anything that can go wrong. When you’re grabbing your keys to head somewhere even just a few blocks away, I’m waiting around for someone else to drive so I can hop in the back seat. When you have your feet up on the dash, I’m sitting at the edge of my seat and gripping my seatbelt. When you’re heading home for the weekend, I’m staying behind only to avoid being in the driver’s seat. When you see headlights, I only feel fear. I close my eyes. This is a common response to fear… if you don’t see it, it must not be real… right? But this… this doesn’t go away. It’s the endless loop of my highlight reel of the worst moment of my life. I lost my sense of adventure. With every adventure, fear looms over like a dark shadow on my carefree plans. The thought of being inside a car, a deathtrap, sucks the air from my lungs. I lost so much of myself, that it was hard to climb back into my body as I hovered above watching myself carry on with my mundane tasks and asking God “Why? Why did this happen to me, to her, to all of us?” I lost touch with Him, feeling sick at the thought that this is what he had determined necessary in my life at the age of 17. Why he had taken her, but left me here to deal with all of this?

365 days ago, I hit rock bottom like I had never before experienced. Rock bottom is where I began to build up the solid foundation that is the rest of my life.

I have gained a love for life unlike any other. I will never stop being grateful for the opportunity to live and breathe and walk and talk and just be ME every single day. I love life. I have learned to love deeper, to laugh often, to form connections, and to cherish every single moment, because I know that at any moment it can all be stripped away.

I have gained strength. Sometimes, it’s not easy to put on the face that everything is ‘okay.’ It’s just not. I had to deal with the whispers around my high school, but I mostly had to deal with the realization that some people just really didn’t care. Instead, I focused on the people who did. (♥) I have suffered and conquered the nightmares, the flashbacks, the endless anxiety. I fight these battles each day because I am stronger now than I have ever been. I am too grateful for life. I conquer these fears as my debt to pay for the ability to love life each day.

I have gained thoughtfulness. I have realized that each person has their own personal version of hell, perhaps unseen from outside. I have given my words a second thought and my actions more consideration. Each person struggles, and we must realize and combat the negative in our world with the opposite.

I have gained faithfulness, which I like to believe is the root of the rest of my gains. After my accident, I lost touch with Him and I felt as if no God who truly loved me could let me go through this and continue to feel the shockwaves of self-loathing and regret for months to follow. Of course, however, He has a plan for me. After months of healing, I came to realize that God showed me, that day, to look at the bottom of my boot (as Woody did for Andy in ToyStory 2) and claim me as his own once again. My faith has never been stronger. I have never been more connected to Him. He has utilized me to do his work and to lead a better life.

If I could go back and change it all, rewrite the past, I would… but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the right to feel each and every emotion that I am feeling. Anger. Love. Loss. Despair. Sadness. Hope. Faithfulness. Strength. Fear.

The worst day of my life happened exactly one year ago… and I am continually learning and growing from that day. I am learning to conquer my fears, anxiety, and struggles of that day that remain with me. I have made it one year, and I hope to continue, one year at a time, for the rest of my life.

LOVE, STRENGTH, THOUGHTFULNESS, and FAITHFULNESS will stay with me every day for the rest of my life. I will remember that night and the life that was lost alongside these four ideas. These four ideas will be the headlights of my life, guiding me through the unknown.

Someday, headlights will only brighten the path and will cease to fill my heart with dread. Someday, cars will take me to new places and will cease to trap me and stop the adventure. Someday, these fears will be replaced with new, scary things in the world.

I am not fine. I’m working on it, though. I will be.. someday.

~

Thank you to: my family. Mom and Dad, Blake and Mason, who guided me through tough times with hands to hold and shoulders to cry on and nothing but unconditional love.

Thank you to: the friends who cared, the ones who never left, and the ones who have joined along the way and pushed me to overcome my fears and also let me carpool.

Thank you to: the people who reached out to me one year ago, that I couldn’t bring myself to thank back then. Your words jumpstarted my mental and physical recovery.

Thank you to: the big man upstairs.

Thank you to: the people who’ve read until now. My blog is really personal for me, it’s not exactly easy to publish your innermost thoughts on the internet. Thanks for allowing me to show you my struggle. I truly feel a slight weight off my shoulders. Communication is very important to me, and I feel that by telling my story I am somehow doing the work that I am meant to do.

Wear your seatbelts, always say I love you, and always remember that every day should be cherished. Let the headlights brighten your path.

•••

“Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.” James 4:9
“As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.” Psalm 71:14

Rest in peace, Marcella Larsen. (2/20/15)