I’m Not Okay

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“it has been one of the greatest and most difficult years of my life. i learned everything is temporary. moments. feelings. people. flowers. i learned love is about giving. everything. and letting it hurt. i learned vulnerability is always the right choice because it is easy to be cold in a world that makes it so very difficult to remain soft. i learned all things come in twos. life and death. pain and joy. salt and sugar. me and you. it is the balance of the universe. it has been the year of hurting so bad but living so good. making friends out of strangers. strangers out of friends. learning mint chocolate chip ice cream will fix just about everything. and for the pains it can’t there will always be my mother’s arms. we must learn to focus on warm energy. always. soak our limbs in it and become better lovers to the world. for if we can’t learn to be kinder to each other how will we ever learn to be kinder to the most desperate parts of ourselves.” – rupi kaur

My sophomore year has been one of the messiest years of my life.

Trust me, I’ve had a lot of messy years (hashtag mental illness starting in seventh grade probs). But this year has absolutely kicked my butt in a way that I thought I was past.

The past two years, I’ve been the strongest that I’ve ever been. My freshman year, even if I didn’t realize it at the time, was 1000% the healthiest and most secure I’ve been mentally. Eating disorder struggles were definitely present being just a few months out of treatment, but man, I was SO STRONG and reliant on the skills that I knew. I had a lot of emotions, but I also knew that no matter how big my emotions were, I was bigger than them still. They didn’t have to control me. I could feel them and honor them, but also still own them. What I was feeling was valid, but that didn’t make my thoughts true. I had all the emotions in the world, but I knew I had ground over them.

Somehow in my sophomore year I lost my ground.

I really don’t know when it started exactly, but probably around the time that I started “dealing” with trauma for the first time. I didn’t know how to relate my skills to those kind of emotions, so I kinda threw everything I knew out the window.

And dang, I crashed and burned pretty quick.

I like it call it, “November/December happened,” because it did. But so did January, February, March, April, and May. All these months I truly thought that I was in the clear. I wasn’t engaging in any self-destructive behaviors, I was pursuing Jesus in deeper ways than I had before, I had my group of people, I was traveling all around the country, trauma wasn’t that bad. I kept telling people that life was the most yellow it had ever been. Now I’m realizing that it definitely wasn’t.

My friend held me accountable me a few weeks back about some patterns that she was seeing in my life. After I truly thought about her words, I texted her a few days later and told her that this past semester was “death masqueraded as life.”

How true that is.

I thought that I was living so good, when in reality I was masking so much underneath.

Towards the beginning of the semester, I was sexually assaulted again. It really, really messed me up for a week or so, but eventually I convinced myself that it was fine and that I was over it. I truly thought that I was… until after my friend confronted me and I traced everything back and realized yup, everything messy and death living started right after that happened.

I had myself so convinced that I didn’t need healing, when all my actions and reactions were SCREAMING for healing.

The strength that I had over my emotions–the ability to validate them, accept them, and then move on from them–disappeared. I became a slave to my own emotions again, and it. was. hell.

Not only did I become a slave to my own emotions, but I also became a slave to the emotions of other people. I put myself in that role for sure, probably due to the guilt of last semester and everything that happened as a result. With everything that I did and every breath I took, I was trying to do this to please one person, worrying about what this other person thought of me, and making sure that I was doing everything “perfectly” for yet another person. I was exhausted, I was a mess, and I was constantly hella anxious, but everything internally felt okay when everything felt okay in my external relationships.

I wasn’t doing anything drastic, but I was grappling at the outside world to numb whatever I was feeling underneath. I was focusing on anything except what was going on inside, trying to convince myself that my problems were coming from anywhere but within myself.

I had myself so convinced that I was okay even though I was constantly anxious and having nearly full-blown panic attacks over little things, such as friends or making plans or work. Basically, to feel okay, I needed someone with me constantly reassuring me, validating me, and reminding me that they didn’t hate me. I knew deep inside that I wasn’t okay at all, so I was trying to make myself feel okay through my relationships with other people. But that only made me feel more broken.

I thought I was okay. I was convincing myself that I was okay. But not only was there so much going on inside of me, I was also allowing my anxiety to create so many outside problems for myself that made me feel even less okay, making me more anxious to focus on the outside world, please people, and ignore what was going on within me emotionally.

This year has been difficult. The whole thing. I wanna say it was only first semester that was messy, but second was just as bad, just in different ways. In more hidden ways, I guess. I wasn’t physically harming my body anymore (praise Jesus), but I was still dealing with the aftermath of last semester and my recent assault by emotionally and mentally putting myself through so much torture.

I’m not sure where to go from here.

Healing, yes.

But healing is daunting.

I’ve spent the past five months pouring everything in me into outside relationships to convince myself that I was okay. How do I pour back into myself? How do I learn how to feel okay within myself, without needing outside validation?

Jesus and I were talking about this yesterday. He reminded me that this isn’t who I am. He reminded me of the days when I was so steadfast in who I was because of who he is. He reminded me that I know how to live a different way.

So, that’s the goal. And to do that, I gotta own the crap that I’ve been feeling, experiencing, and putting myself through for the past five months.

So, hey, friends. I’m not okay. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am by ignoring everything inside and focusing on everything outside. It worked for a while, until it didn’t (shocking, I know). I have a lot of things that I’ve refused to process or work through. I’ve stuffed these things deep, deep down, but they’re still festering inside and causing so much anxiety in every area of my life. I’ve put way too much into outside relationships so that I didn’t have to focus on myself, but that’s left me even messier and in need of even more healing than before. I’m finally realizing this castle of lies I’ve built for myself over the past few months because it’s lowkey crumbling on top of me.

I so badly want to be okay, but I’m just not. And that is okay. I need to be okay with where I am. Not every season has to be sunshine and yellow. Some seasons are lessons. And I think that’s where I’m at right now.

I’ve said since January that this year is a year of healing. “God’s gonna heal that” has been my mantra. And I’m still believing in that. It’s May, and so much has changed. It’s been a lot of steps and a lot of twists and turns and I haven’t experienced full healing in any area yet, but everything that has happened up until this point have been necessary steps to the full healing that I know is coming.

So, things are messy right now. I’ve spent the past semester ignoring a small fire that has now spread to an even bigger fire. I’ve got a lot of damage control to do. But, I know that I am going to be okay. I’ve spent all semester running and avoiding, and now I’m looking at all of the mess in front of me, and it doesn’t seem as daunting. I see how one thing led to another and how I got here. It’ll be a process, but I’ll get back.

I have peace and joy in knowing that okay is coming.

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“No, Daughter, I Died FOR You”

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Holy Week/Resurrection Weekend. They get me. I’m pretty sure I cry more in these seven days than I do in the entire year (okay, that’s an exaggeration because I’m a very emotional person, but you get my point). They completely wreck me and they leave me undone in the best way possible.

Yesterday my church held a Good Friday service. Instead of being a typical hour long service with a message and worship, it was a come-and-go as you please as you go around to different stations and reflect on different aspects of what happened on Calvary so many years ago.

It wrecked me.

I sat on the floor at one station for the longest time. It was a painting of Jesus, and there was a note that said “look Jesus in the eyes and ask what he feels.” 

I cried. A lot.

It reminded me of the humanity that Jesus existed in. He was fully human when he died, so he felt the full physical and emotional pain of the cross. The cross was gruesome. I cannot fathom the pain. But the emotional pain, y’all. He had been abandoned by his closest friends. He had been given over to die by one of his disciples. Those that he came to save were begging for him to be hung on the cross. We all know what it feels like to be stabbed in the back by a friend. But Jesus experienced the ultimate betrayal.

And if we had been there, if we had been in that crowd, we would have been yelling “crucify him!” right alongside them.

After visiting all the different stations, I came back to the picture of Jesus. I sat down and journaled. I wrote, “Sunday is coming and you have won, but this day is heavy. It is a celebration, but I did this to you. You died because of me.”

Jesus immediate replied,

“No, daughter, I died FOR you.”

Oh my Jesus!!!!!

Hallelujah.

My Jesus reminded me that there is no guilt in the cross, and to cloak what happened on Calvary in our own guilt is to take away what Jesus did.

The cross is about what HE did for US, not what WE did to HIM.

To twist it any other way is to exalt ourselves higher than our Lord and to pretend that we have that much power. We don’t. We didn’t have any control over Good Friday. That was planned and orchestrated all along by God. We have no responsibility in what happened. To think that we did is to give ourselves power that belongs to God. We aren’t that mighty.

Doesn’t that just take a weight off your shoulders?

I’ve been feeling that guilt this Lenten season. I’ve been feeling dirty and unworthy of my Jesus. I’ve labeled my mess bigger than the cross. In all honesty, I’ve been feeling more grief in the cross than joy. Because when I’ve looked at the cross, I’ve been seeing what I did, not what Jesus did.

I’ve been looking at the cross and seeing my sins, not his forgiveness.

Oh, but that’s not what it is.

I’m thankful for the humbling nature of the cross.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that Jesus was put on the cross because of us. I don’t deny that it is my sins that put him there. But he chose to be there. My sins were not a bondage that held him there. He could have saved us another way. He could have had a legion of angels come rescue him from the pain of the cross. But he stayed. Because he wanted to show the crowd (and every other human to exist for the rest of eternity) that his love for them was so much greater. The cross was radical declaration of love that was literally the laying down of his life for us. He could have chosen another way. Yet he decided to completely give himself away to show us how much we are worth to him. He died so that we could live. THAT is love.

Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.

It’s Saturday.

We’re almost to Sunday. We’re almost to the resurrection. We’re almost there.

But he’s in the waiting.

Saturday was dark. Saturday was painful and lonely for his followers. Their first full day without their Savior.

But we can exist in the Saturday in hope because we know that SUNDAY IS COMING.

Today I am thankful that we can rejoice in resurrection life while we wait for Sunday to come. 

Hallelujah.

How much that reflects my everyday life. I feel like I’m in a season where I’ve experienced the pain, but I haven’t yet experienced the glory and resurrection. I’m in a season of waiting between the two. I’m living in the Saturday. It’s frustrating and it can be really dark and lonely, but I can have hope in the Sunday that is going to come.

Hallelujah for how the resurrection is reflected into our normal, everyday lives!!

Crying at my Jesus and the beauty of his resurrection and the selfless, recklessness of his love.

Amen, amen, amen.

Thank you for pouring our your love. Thank you for reminding me that their is no guilt in the cross. Thank you for the hope in the waiting for Sunday.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I can’t say it enough.

Thank you.

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Dreaming of Malibu

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If the stars were made to worship, so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence, so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness, so will I
For if everything exists to lift You high, so will I
If the wind goes where You send it, so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I
If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times

I can’t. stop. thinking. about Malibu.

And Redding, and really just California as a whole, but Malibu. I’ve never seen anything like it.

If you didn’t know, I was blessed to have been able to travel to California twice this past month. A few weeks ago I spent a long weekend in Redding to go to Bethel Church, and last week I went to Los Angeles for spring break. And wow, Cali stole a piece of my heart.

I had such a blast in both places doing so many new things, but the views, y’all. The nature. The beauty of all of the creation. I still can’t get over it.

On Thursday of our spring break, Kayley and I rented a car and drove the Pacific Coast Highway up to Malibu and spent our day exploring the cutest little beach town I’ve ever seen. We stood in the Pacific Ocean, had a dance party on the side of a canyon, sat on top of a mountain, played on rocky beaches, and just had a really, really awesome day. One of the best days of my life.

And all I could say was, “wow.”

Seriously. Pretty sure at least 60% of conversations in Malibu started with “wow” or “oh my gosh.” We couldn’t find words to vocalize what we were seeing. All we could do was scream at the top of our lungs or happy dance or run or just sit speechless. It was beautiful.

At one point, as we were standing alongside Malibu Canyon Road, Jesus started talking to me.

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Malibu Canyon Road

I had spent all day obsessing over the creation, but I had yet to turn it all back to the Creator.

Mid-sentence, as I was saying how breathtaking the view was, Jesus stopped me in my tracks and said, “I made this just for you.”

He pointed out a short little palm tree in the gorge of the canyon and said, “I made all of this for you to enjoy. I made that tree just to make your smile. I formed this canyon with my hands knowing that you would come visit it one day. I made this for you to see me.

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This was the view that I was looking at when Jesus said the quote above. See that cute lil palm tree? Thanks, Jesus.

I was vocalizing all of this to Kayley and Jesus spoke into my heart again and said, “and I’m glorified through your amazement of my creation.”

WHAT!!

My speechlessness and inability to say anything besides “wow” is LITERAL PRAISE to my God.

He is glorified when we appreciate what he created for us.

He is honored when we give credit back to him.

He is worshipped when we stand in awe at what he has done.

That blows my mind.

Me standing on the edge of a canyon, dancing around with tears in my eyes, was praise to my Jesus. The amount of times that I screamed and said “wow” and made Kayley pull over just so I could get out of the car and take the scenery in was worship. Me looking out and pointing the creation back to the Creator was exaltation.

Me simply living and enjoying what God made for me was the same kind of praise that happens when I worship in a church. He is glorified just by me soaking in what he made.

What a good, good Father.

If creation sings your praises, so will I.

Jesus, your praise will literally ever be on my lips.

Let me never forget that the creation is yours. Let me not only see its beauty, but also see you in it. Let me forever be in awe of what you have made. Let me never forget that you created it just for me. That you thought of me when you made the mountains of Tennessee and the beaches of Malibu and everything in between. Let me forever worship you when I see the earth. Let me cherish what I have been given. Let your praise ever be on my lips, even if it is just a simple “wow.” Let me always point it back to you.

Amen amen amen.

Now, let’s go back to Malibu??? Please?

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to proclaim freedom for the captives // NEDA week 2018

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“May you learn to embrace the freedom that has long been your calling so you can liberate courage in others so they can do the same.”

Happy National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018!!! This is my favorite week of the year because it feels like Christmas for one of the things most near and dear to my heart. (PS, read all the way to the bottom to get a fun lil surprise!)

Really if you follow my social media, you’d think that every week is NEDA week because I never shut up about freedom. I am always so vocal about this. I live in a constant state of vulnerability and being seen for all that I am. And just YES to that. Yes to never being silent.

Early on in my walk with Jesus, he (and my mentor) proclaimed Isaiah 61 over my life.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

….

to bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.”

Isaiah 61:1,3

Those verses light a fire under me like nothing else. YES. Let me proclaim FREEDOM for the captives and RELEASE FROM DARKNESS for the prisoners. Let bestow on them a CROWN OF BEAUTY instead of ashes and the OIL OF JOY instead of mourning.

If my purpose in this life is to proclaim good news and truth to those around me, then heck yeah, let me lean right into that. I am all about it. Let me be an instrument of freedom and healing for my God.

I’m pretty known around my school and really just life in general for being the girl in recovery or the girl with the blog or the girl who shares a lot of her personal life on social media. And honestly, I am so so okay with those titles. This is what Jesus has called me to, so hallelujah that this is what I am being known as. Hallelujah that I am not wasting my purpose.

I was talking to my friend the other day and I told her that I am apart of the “Glennon Doyle and Brene Brown world,” so I am 1000% about leaning into and living in vulnerability. Which I mean, that’s true, Glennon and Brene are both heading an awesome movement of living authentically and being vulnerable, but Jesus led this movement first. LITERALLY JUST LOOK AT THE VERSES ABOVE. Jesus is calling us to live in vulnerability.

We are called to speak truth into others. To break each other’s chains. To lead others into freedom!!!

“As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal someone else.”

This looks different for everyone for sure, but for me, Jesus has called me to be open and vulnerable through my blog and through Instagram. Through this, I have met so, so many amazing people that I have joined hands with and walked this journey with. I have mentored girls, helped people research/apply to/get admitted to treatment, and made friends all over the world (yes literally, the world–absolute craziness). Through my vulnerability and openness, I have helped walk people into freedom. And that is the most humbling, amazing feeling.

It is honestly the most humbling moment when I get a Facebook friend/message request or Instagram DM or email through my blog that starts with, “Hey so I know I don’t know you, but…” and then goes into how I inspired them, how I encouraged them to get treatment, how I helped them choose recovery. Literally WHAT. I am a mess of a human, and I fail this whole Christian and recovery thing daily, but Jesus uses my messy, rambling Instagram captions and creates them into megaphone for freedom for his glory. I don’t say this to toot my own horn (I really don’t know how my words mean so much to people I don’t even know), but I say this to show what Jesus does when you lean into your God-given purpose. It’s amazing.

It blows my mind and fills my heart with unexplainable JOY that this is the life that I am called to. My purpose in life is literally to help walk people into freedom. To say hey, me too. but it’s possible to get through this. let me walk with you. That is my calling as a Christian/friend/advocate, but it is also my calling as a future social worker. I CANNOT WAIT. 

Two years ago before treatment I would have never imagined that I would be where I am now. I would have never imagined that I would ever actually be in recovery and living life without my eating disorder, but I would have especially never imagined that I would be so vocal about such dark things.

The past year and a half has taught me that I’m not afraid of the dark. I’m ready to run straight into it. I’m ready to hand flashlights to those living in that darkness and say, “here’s a light. You can do this. I’ll be here to help and encourage and show you that you’re not alone in this, but you are capable of saving yourself.”

Hallelujah for vulnerability. Hallelujah that Jesus broke my fear of being seen. Hallelujah that he is using me as an instrument of freedom. Hallelujah for the freedom that he gave me. Hallelujah that he gives it freely to everyone who asks for it. Hallelujah for it all. 

I’ll never be quiet about recovery. This thing is too good. 

“I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.”


To celebrate NEDA week, I created a recovery-focused, empowering-as-heck playlist!! I’ve been hardcore jamming to it, so I hope that y’all do the same. 🙂 

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The Valley of Achor // A Door of Hope

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What. A. Life.

Flashback to January 10, the third day of classes of the semester.

I spent all day on phone call after phone call, first to my therapist, then to my parents, then to multiple treatment centers all over the country, then to professors in my department at school, then repeat the cycle all over again.

I was set + ready + prepared to medically withdraw from school and head to treatment by the end of the week.

Things were hard. Not as hard as last semester (thank God), but the challenges of last semester left lasting repercussions that just made life hurt. There were a lot of changes to my life at school, and I was still slowly adjusting to my new medication and coming out of the funk that I had found myself in. Sleeping was hard, eating was even harder, and I was low-key crying at least once every hour. I was a mess.

After planning literally everything out–when my parents would come to move me out of my dorm, treatment admit dates, and bookmarking potential one-way flights to whichever city I ended up in–we decided to put all those plans on pause.

A lot of things contributed to that decision, but looking back, I can see God using that as a way to say Wait. I have something great plan. Restoration you didn’t believe possible. Restoration you didn’t know was needed. Wait. You’re going to want to be here for this.

So I waited. And things were still sad. I still cried. The adjustment period back to my new school normal was weird. But I put in effort in areas that I believed would help (blog post about there here). And boy, has that intentionality CHANGED MY LIFE in literally the past three weeks.

God has closed doors that were painful, but he has opened so many and done so many new things in this season that I can’t help but scream to everyone that will listen JESUS IS HERE AND HE IS MOVING SO MIGHTILY. 

Literally. Anyone that will give me a second to talk will definitely hear me ramble about the goodness of the Lord and his sovereignty over every situation, especially in this specific season of my life. #BLESSED

Just to give you an idea of how he’s moving, here’s a short rundown of some of the ways he is moving SO big.

  • Restoration. God is restoring things that I thought were broken. “He’s not just reviving, not simply restoring, greater things have yet to come.” YES. Our God is a redemptive God. And wow, he is pouring out the redemption and grace on me right now. Hallelujah.
  • Community. Oh man. THIS is where it’s really big. He has blossomed SO many new relationships in my life. Seriously. And these relationships are literally just falling in my lap in the most God ordained ways possible. Ways I never even imagined. God is answering prayers that I’ve literally prayed for since before freshman year in SUCH a tangible way. I’ve been crazy busy this semester because literally all of my time is spent getting coffee with this person or going to that club meeting or going over for dinner at someone’s house. So many friend crushes are becoming real life relationships, and so many people that I have never even met before are becoming so special and dear to me. My community has EXPLODED. I’ve never felt this surrounded. I am amazed.
  • Bethel Church. Jesus is wild. Living with Jesus is crazy. But it is SO GOOD. The trip is still in the works, but it looks like I’ll be hopping on a plane to California the first weekend of March with some of my ministry besties to go spend the weekend at Bethel Church. What!! It’s always been a dream of mine to go there. What started as a conversation about true healing in the Lord with a close friend turned to a hypothetical conversation about flying out to Bethel which turned to actual real plans. I’m still amazed by it. I’ve never been to California, but God has opened so many doors and I will literally be going to California twice in ONE week (this trip and then a few days later for spring break). Wow.
  • Apartment. When I went to Carolina House, I didn’t expect to meet my best friends. And I really didn’t expect for one of my CH best friends to move to Nashville a few months later. And I definitely didn’t expect to become roommates with that best friend. BUT JESUS KNEW. And in just a few short months, that will all become a reality!! Watch out world, Queen K and I are moving into an apartment together. We’re getting a sign that says “Eat or Die” to put in our kitchen. I can’t wait to live with my bff and lay on the couch with her and watch Gilmore Girls every night. This journey of recovery has blessed me in more ways than I can even count.
  • Freedom. Chalk it up to my last blog post, but I have never felt this free in my life. I’ve experienced SO much freedom since I met Jesus, but a part of my soul has always been tied and bound to the shame connected to my trauma. But no longer. Now I’m refusing to let it have a hold on me. It has no more power. I have never felt this light in my life. I can’t wait to keep stepping into this abundant freedom!
  • Conversations. This one definitely relates back to community, but WOW, have I been able to have some really awesome conversations! About Jesus, about mental health, about life. With strangers (now friends!), with old acquaintances, with some of my bffs. My heart has never been so full of joy and hope. 

As you can see, Jesus is blessing me SO big. He is moving so much that WOW my mind cannot even keep up. Literally I have two group messages with two of my closest bff groups and I feel like everyday I’m texting them and being like “listen to this crazy thing that God did in my life just now!!!!” 

And that is such a change from just a few weeks ago. Literally two weeks ago today was when I was about to withdraw from school. That is crazy for me to think about because I am literally WORLDS away from where I was then.

And that’s not to say that everything is perfect. It’s not.

Some things are still different and weird, and though I’m adjusting to this new normal and honestly thriving in it, it’s sometimes still sad.

Trauma is still hard sometime and I definitely had to walk out of my human sexuality class yesterday because it got slightly too real, but it does NOT have a hold on me anymore. I’m no longer bound to it. But it is still there and I do still have to deal with it.

And I really could list out other things that aren’t “perfect,” but why? There is so much good.

All I can say is that I’m glad I stayed at school.

I’m thankful for the uncomfortable changes that this semester brought.

Because I can say with 100% certainty and conviction that none of the things that I listed above would have EVER happened if things were still the same as last semester.

The changes that this semester brought has majorly pushed me out of my comfort zone, but God met me there. With so many gifts. He’s such a good father to me. He was like, “this is going to hurt, and it’s really going to stretch you, but here. Look what I have for you. Here’s the friend you met at church. Here’s the girls that reached out to you on Instagram. Here’s the trip to California. Here, here, here.” So many gifts that I never expected. So many things that would have never happened if it weren’t for the changes. Wow.

Jesus really took me through the valleys the past few months. But now he’s slowly but surely leading me up to a mountaintop. Halle-freaking-lujah. 

This has been one of the hardest seasons of life. I remember sobbing to my bff Mere on the phone on the first day of classes, “I don’t think that anything has ever hurt this bad.” And just two days ago on the phone with her again I said, “I have never felt joy or peace this deeply.” Yes, Jesus.

God broke me to rebuild me. And it’s been the most glorious process.

I have never felt joy like this because I have never been so out of control of what’s happening in my life, but still able to see Jesus in the midst of it all. I have no hand in what is happening anymore. I’m just watching it all unfold. I have given up all control to him, and wow. FREEDOM. 

I’m glad I didn’t withdraw from school this semester. I would have missed out on so many blessings that I didn’t even think were possible. But God knew. He knew what he was going to do.

I’m so thankful to have a Father that loves me so well. That pursues me like he does. He wants to woo his children.

Hosea 2:14-15 has been ringing in my heart all week and I feel like it really sums up my life right now.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness
    and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

The word “Achor” means “trouble.” LITERALLY GOD WILL MAKE THE VALLEY OF TROUBLE A DOOR OF HOPE. Amen. Yes. Hallelujah. God took me out into the wilderness. He pursued me. He wooed me. And he made the mess of my life into so much pure hope and joy. 

Yes, Jesus.

I can’t stop dancing. I can’t stop talking about Jesus to everyone. I can’t stop asking the Holy Spirit to come and move. I. Just. Can’t. Stop. 

Peace be still,

say the word and I will

set my feet upon the sea,

till I’m dancing in the deep.

YES. I’m dancing in the deep with you, Jesus. 

Amen.

Amen.

Amen.

This song is my life song right now. All of it. The lyrics. Wow. Yes. “I’ve lost control but I’m free.” All the yes.

Hold out for Jesus, y’all. This season might hurt. It might be the worst season of life that you’ve ever had to walk through. You might feel so extremely alone. But Jesus is there. He’s waiting. He’s got you. Hold out for the promise. It is so unbelievably worth it.

(Also, just for completely transparency here, I’m sitting in the student center absolutely SOBBING as I write this. I am so overwhelmed by Jesus. And I’m listening to the above song. I am SO beautifully in over my head!!!!)

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My 2017 Saving Graces

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I don’t know how we’re already at the end of 2017, but here we are. And I am so thankful for that, because man, 2017 has been one heck of a year and I am ready to leave it all behind. Trust me, I know the clock striking midnight on December 31 isn’t as momentous as we make it seem–nothing actually changes unless we make the change. But it’s nice to have the clean slate and fresh start. And I am so. dang. ready. for that.

While reflecting back on the year, I really kept thinking of my saving graces that kept me sane, happy, healthy, and alive. They range from the smallest of things such as blog posts and songs all the way up to people in my life and moments that I lived. So many things in 2017 that reminded me stay here. you got this. we’ll make it through. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite saving graces from the year. There have been so, so many, but this is just a small handful that leave me saying YES YES YES every time I read/listen to/hang out with/remember them.

Blog Posts

“Good Morning Baltimore”–Hannah Brencher — Forever and always my favorite blog post. I seriously go back and read it at least once a week. I hang onto the hope that it offers when I can’t see an end in sight. So. Good.

“What I Do Know”–TWLOHA — “I’m not sure how it all started”–something I feel like I’ve said a thousand times the past few months. “I was choosing to believe I mattered enough to do the work that had to follow, even if those upcoming years looked daunting, even if the waves around me were more terrifying than ever before—those scary things meant I had hope. … I was taking healing into my own hands because I deserved it. It’s OK that I can’t remember, it’s OK that I’m unsure of how it all started. Because I do know how my healing started. It began with a decision to stay.”

“The Pain is the Price of Admission”–TWLOHA — “The pain comes with the joy. It’s the labor before the birth. The night before the dawn. The storm that soaks the soil before the bloom. You can’t let one in without the other either, I know. … You can’t run away from the pain and live. The pain is as much a part of the process as the joy is. They are not opposites, not even close: The pain is just the other side of the same life coin.”

“This Is Survival”–Aly Raisman — Blog post written by Aly Raisman about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her Olympic doctor. At the end of her post she shares her victim statement that she wrote for her abuser’s sentencing hearing. Powerful as heck.

“Promise Me Tomorrow”–TWLOHA — “Tomorrow is a place where we can figure out a better way to cope with living and tomorrow is a place where, one day, we won’t be coping – we’ll be living.”

People

Peggy + Lindsay–literally never underestimate the relationships you have with your freshman year RA(s). Peggy and Lindsay have been literal gold to me this year, and I am forever thankful. It takes some pretty special people to drop life just to bring you Panera when things are hard. Thanks for always answering my texts, phone calls, FaceTimes, and for letting me crash in Elam. I love y’all more than words can explain! (Also, Peggy, we have no pictures together. What the heck.)

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CH girlies always and forever!!–Mere, Kristin, Mandy, wow. I will never get over the friendship that I have in y’all. Thank you for keeping me grounded and for always inspiring me to walk out the freedom that I found with y’all!

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Lauren–my go-to, always and forever. Roomie bff. Yes. I love you. Always. Thanks for always answering my FaceTime calls when I’m sobbing and making jokes about whatever I’m crying about (that most people would find offensive but I love because they make me laugh). Thank you for always pulling me out of my head, even from a gazillion miles away.

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Kayley + Andrew + John–the most present, hands-on people in my life this semester. What a ride. But literally would not have been able to do it without y’all. Thank you. (Also, no picture of the four of us exists??)

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Michael + Amari–thankful for people that keep you grounded and laughing in even the most unfortunate circumstances. Let’s never go back, but thankful to have met y’all. Thanks for the jokes and coloring and… well that’s pretty much all we did, so thanks for the jokes and coloring!

Songs

Moments

Spring Break in CT–I said it a lot while I was there, but I was hardcore living my happy life up in New England. The blizzard, the rocky beaches, the roomie bffs reunited… it was all too good.

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One Year in Recovery!!–one year killing it in recovery from anorexia. Need I say more?

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Nannying Wyatt–honestly the highlight of my life. Nannying Wyatt was my greatest joy from summer 2017. SO. MUCH. HAPPINESS.

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Chrysalis–Chrysalis is always a highlight. Jesus is so present in that community of people. I am always grateful for a weekend that leaves me completely undone by the Holy Spirit and completely filled to the brim with Jesus joy. I always leave the weekend full of spiritual rest (def not physical rest) and with new eyes to see what the Lord is doing in my current season of life.

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Carolina House Alumni Retreat–what a blessing. Words cannot describe how it felt to be back at the place that saved my life with the people that my life was saved with. And finally getting to hug and meet McCall… best thing ever.

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Glennon Doyle!–I GOT TO MEET AND HUG MY (S)HERO AND I CRIED SO MUCH. Thanks for teaching me how to always show up and be brave and for always reminding me that WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!!

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NYC–honestly the calm before the storm of the end of the semester. Thanks, Jesus, for that one.

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All the Car Rides with Kay–loud music somehow makes all the broken pieces feel together. #blessed

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Etc.

Pinterest Quotes

“Home” by Rupi Kaur

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Peace out, 2017. I am SO ready for you, 2018!!!

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He’s Already Coming To Get Me [a follow up post]

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It’s only been a little over 48 hours since I sat crying in my bed and published my last blog post, but wow, God is already showing up.

When I wrote that blog, it really wasn’t for my readers. It was for me. It was for me to be able to vocalize that God is good in the midst of it all. In the midst of my sadness and uncertainty, I needed to proclaim that God is good so that my heart could believe it. It was a reminder for me, no one else.

Oh, heart, believe.

I let that blog post become my faith declaration; my heart cry. My white flag to Jesus. Me screaming, “I TRUST YOU. I KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOOD. I BELIEVE THAT THERE WILL BE AN END TO THIS SUFFERING. BUT UNTIL THEN, I WILL PRAISE.”

I didn’t expect the darkness to lift any time soon. And if I’m being honest, it got a whole lot darker on Monday morning.

But God.

God hear my heart cry. He knew that I believed and that I trusted, but when I wrote that out for the world to see on this blog, he used that as my declaration of faith.

It’s as if God read my blog post and said, “Okay, she trusts me. She knows that I’m good and that I’ll save her from this eventually. She has that faith. And she is still choosing to praise me, no matter the timeline or outcome.”

And then God moved. 

By Monday evening, I couldn’t stop crying because of JOY. Pure, unexplainable-except-for-Jesus joy.

God moved mountains and opened doors that I had not even imagined or knew existed. He is just THAT good!!!

He knew my deep heartache, but he also knew my deep faith. And once I proclaimed his goodness over my situation, he moved.

That is just who our God is. Time and time and time again, he has proven that throughout all of history.

Abraham. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Without question, Abraham went. When Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the offering, Abraham said, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). He didn’t know for sure, but he decided to believe that God would provide. FAITH DECLARATION. When Abraham goes to slay his only soon, God stops him. “Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (Genesis 22:12). And then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the bushes. GOD MOVED.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. King Nebuchadnezzar created a statue of himself and commanded all the Babylonians to bow down at the assigned time and worship him. They were all told that if they did not bow down, they would immediately be thrown into the blazing furnace. Yet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, stood their ground and refused to worship any god except for God. Right before they are to be thrown in the fire, the king asks them if they believe that God will save them. They reply, “if we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18). Even though they knew God might not save them, they still declared him good. FAITH DECLARATION. They were thrown into the fire, and once the king and his advisers looked in, they saw that they were not burning, and that there were four people in the fire. Jesus showed up. Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego were taken out of the fire unharmed–“they saw that they fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them” (Daniel 3:27). GOD MOVED. 

Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit. This is one of my favorites. A man brings his demon possessed son to Jesus, begging him to heal him. After the man expresses doubt of his ability to heal, Jesus sasses him and says that all things are possible for one who believes. The man then proclaims, “I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) FAITH DECLARATION. After the main’s proclamation, Jesus rebuked the impure spirit and it fled from the boy’s body immediately. GOD MOVED. 

These are just three examples of countless times over all of eternity that God has worked and opened doors after his people have declared faith. Sometimes faith is all we need.

I stand amazed at my God this week. Things have been SO hard and I saw no end in sight, but I trusted. I had faith. I proclaimed. And God moved in ways that I had no idea were possible. WHAT?! 

It isn’t over, but joy is there. There is sun again. I can’t stop dancing and twirling.

God is good.

He is faithful.

Time and time and time again.

Always good.

Always, always, always faithful.

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