You’re Calling Me as I Am to New Wine

Have you ever read the Psalms or Ecclesiastes? What about Job? Have you paid attention to the words Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? I don’t know that we’ll ever see anything more honest or raw than these words. That is unless we’re brave enough to be as honest and raw with our own prayers. For some reason, there’s a common misbelief among believers that we can’t be honest with God or each other. We can’t share our real feelings. Our hard feelings. Our questions and our doubts. Ask any Christian leader or figure if they’ve ever hidden their feelings from God and others. They will admit they have. I know because every true Christian leader I’ve ever followed has shared the same story. At times in our lives, we’re afraid to be honest. We’re afraid to share our feelings, questions, and doubts. Why is that? Why do we have this impulsive need to answer, “I’m blessed and highly favored” when asked how we’re doing? When the truth is we don’t feel blessed and we certainly don’t feel favored? We’re human. We don’t like being vulnerable and transparent. It leaves us feeling exposed and open to attack, criticism, abandonment, you name it… but what if we stopped fearing the vulnerable and transparent? What if instead of being afraid, we were hopeful? What if we were honest and real and believed that we would be loved and accepted and held in that? I think… no. I know we’d all be better off for it. Think about it. David is a man after God’s own heart. Solomon is the wisest man. Job is known for His extreme faith even in extreme loss. Jesus is Jesus. Perfect and without sin. God Himself sent to earth to save us.

You might be thinking, “Come on Brittany, those people are thousands of years dead. And are we even sure their stories are true? What if it’s all a story and not history?” That’s fair. I’ll allow your doubt and skepticism here and counter you with a modern and personal example. Let me warn you first. If you don’t actually want an answer to your prayers, then don’t pray. Because like it or not, God will answer. When He does it’s up to you to respond or not.
About a month or two ago, I felt God asking me to do something I wouldn’t have chosen to do myself. So, I was honest with Him. “I don’t want to do this. If you want me to, I’m gonna need you to have someone directly ask me about it. I’ll take that as Your sign.” A week or more later, someone directly asked me about it. So, now I’m doing the thing.
A few weeks ago, I wrote out several pages worth of frustration into my journal. I was brutal and honest and raw. I did not hold back. I felt like I was doing all the talking and all the work, while God sat back and watched. He was providing, don’t get me wrong, and I told Him I was grateful for it. That was and is true. Still, I felt like God kept asking me to do the big things that required a lot out of me, but was doing the bare minimum on His end. I journaled about this for a couple of days. I know God is a good God. I know He loves me and provides for me. I also know He doesn’t have to do what I want Him to do. I know that His way is always better than my way. That said, I have trust issues. And sometimes I find it hard to believe God wants to bless me when I’ve spent the past several years not knowing if or when or how my daily needs would be met. I know He loves me. I know He always provides. I know that over and over again the Bible calls us to worry about today’s provision today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. It would be nice to have some cushion though. It’d be nice to know if something happens tomorrow, then I’ll be covered. I understand I have it a lot better than most of the world does. I know I am blessed. And I know that if He wanted to, then God could provide more for me, but He hasn’t. And sometimes I feel like He doesn’t want to. Sometimes I feel like He cares, but not as much on this side of Heaven as He does in Heaven. Does that make any sense at all?
I journaled all these feelings out and got super specific. I was honest and raw and real. Over the next several days, God answered my prayers. I didn’t know it then, but it started on Sunday when the pastor asked our worship leader to sing a song she wrote called “You’re Calling Me.” At first, I liked it because I like our worship leader and have yet to dislike anything she sings, especially if she wrote it. But then she (Shelby, who doubles as my best friend) and I were talking to some friends at church about “plan B’s.” I said I didn’t have one and I was fine with that. She reminded me I have a CDL, so bus driving is technically my Plan B. I responded with an emphatic, “NO!” to that. It’s never been my plan to go back to bus driving after leaving in summer 2020. God likes to laugh in the face of our plans, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most mornings, I go to YouTube and watch/listen to the saved recording of our worship service from the week. Every day I was listening to Shelby sing “You’re Calling Me.” On Friday, it was stuck in my head and I was struck by a line that says, “You can do whatever you want to do. Whatever it is I’ll do whatever you ask me to.” That got some good journaling out of me because I was singing it, but I wasn’t sure if I meant it.
A little while later, a song by FM Static called, “Take Me As I Am” played over my shuffled liked songs on Spotify. I was struck by the lines, “I was too scared to start now I’m too scared to let go.” Could that be for me? Am I too scared to start now but will one day never want to let go?
Later that same day, a third song struck me. “New Wine” by Hillsong popped into my head. So, I listened to it and was caught by the line, “When I trust You I don’t need to understand.” ’nuff said.
Y’all, when I say God had me journaling my heart out for days after this, I mean it! It’s like I couldn’t stop. I was still caught on the feelings I’d had before, but I was also struck by a new faith and a new trust. I’m not made over yet, but I’m being made over and I have further proof of it.
Remember how I said I wasn’t planning to bus drive ever again? And how God laughs at our plans? And how if you don’t actually want the answer, then don’t pray, because He will answer? Yeah… well… I’ve been driving for UberEats and DoorDash for a few years now. In the summer, I took it on as my only source of income. I was loving it. Then, for the fifteenth time that day and at least the fiftieth time that week, I drove past a school bus on Tuesday. It was a little over a week after my emphatic “NO!” to bus driving being my “plan B.” Surprise, Surprise. God used this bus to say, “That’s the answer to your prayers.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. He didn’t answer. I knew. “Aww, man… Okay…” So, I finished the delivery I was on and went straight to the bus station.
I grumbled the whole way there. “If You want me to do this, You’re gonna have to make it abundantly clear,” I prayed.
And guess what. HE DID. I went in and no less than five people asked if I was coming back. The station manager offered me the station computer to apply immediately. The hiring manager told them to interview me on the spot. I was hired the next day, went through the hiring process the next few days, and started the very next workday. It was the fastest process I’ve ever experienced. Even the station manager was surprised it happened so quickly. God made it abundantly clear He wanted me to work there again. He made it abundantly clear He is in the business of answering prayer and providing in big and insane ways.
So, why did I share all this? Why have I written yet another insanely long blog post that maybe no one will read? Because I care about you! Because I want you to know you’re not alone. I want you to know that no matter how long we’ve been in church (my whole life) and saved (since I was six) we all wonder and question and doubt. We all ask God for another way. We all ask if He’s even listening. Seriously, read the Psalms. David was a man after God’s own heart and asked quite a few times, “Why are you ignoring me? Why aren’t you listening?” God doesn’t ignore us. And He always listens. He always provides and He always answers. We have to listen and we have to respond even when we don’t want to. Even today God wants us to be honest with Him. He wants us to run to Him and cling to Him and face our fears and worries head-on. He’s willing to hold our feelings, answer questions, and even provide signs of what He wants from us. Three songs and a school bus told me He was listening and providing. What is it He’s using to speak to you? Are you listening? Do you need a sign? God is willing to prove Himself, especially when you’re honest. Thomas doubted Jesus was Jesus, so He let him touch His wounds. A father in the Gospels admitted, “I believe. Help me with my unbelief” and Jesus healed the man’s son as a sign the father’s faith wasn’t in the wrong place. Be open. Be honest. Be real. Be raw. God is big. Bigger than you’ll ever know. He can handle your feelings. He can handle your honesty. He is listening and answering every day!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you need anything! Like seriously. I’m here for you!

Find me on Twitter and Instagram @ogbrittanyalex

Find my podcasts “The Mask; Her Aid” and “Obsessive Girl Podcast.”

You can also buy my book “The Mask; Her Aid” by Brittany Alexandria on Amazon for Kindle.

Dear Demi

This is a letter addressed to Demi Lovato, but it’s for anyone struggling with addictive and or self-destructive habits and behaviors. To listen to this letter/watch the open letter video, click here.

Dear Demi Lovato,

You don’t know me and I don’t know you. In many ways, I feel like I do sometimes, but I know I only know what you let the world see. It’s likely that I will never know you, but please know that whether I will or won’t ever know you, I will always love you. You are loved by so many wonderful people. Your friends and family. Most, if not all of your coworkers. Your fans–the Lovatics. We all love you. More importantly, God loves you.

I know you grew up in the church. Or at least you used to say you did when you were a young Disney star. I know that at some point, whether you do now or not, you claimed to be a Christian. As I am neither you nor God, I can’t know if you are or are not a Christian. I do know that you believe in God and often credit Him for your successes. I also know that you know how easy it is to struggle with faith and God when you keep falling into the same traps and or have countless struggles hurled your way all at the same time.

I’m sure you also know how it feels to feel like God is abandoning or ignoring you in your time of need. It sucks. If you truly believe in Him, as it seems you do, then somewhere in your heart and mind, you know that’s not the case. You know God does not leave or forsake His children. You know that He hears your every prayer. Yet, you still feel like He has, even though you know He hasn’t.

That’s what causes and results from addictive and self-destructive habits. You feel isolated and alone. You feel like no one cares, like no one sees you, and like no one understands. To a certain extent, no one does. Every struggle is unique and every story is new, but you’re never alone. Somewhere deep inside you, you know that, even in the struggle, but it’s hard to believe it because you can’t see the light. All you can see is darkness. And it’s even worse when you’ve come out of the darkness only to see and follow the shadows again. Even through healing, the pain never fully goes away. There’s always an ache and there are always scars. There’s always another wrong move, another misstep, and another challenge threatening to push you back over the edge. Just when you think you’ll stay strong and keep fighting, something jumps out at you and threatens to turn out the lights. I know this, because I’ve been there. I’ve never struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol, but I have been addicted to self-destructive thoughts and habits.

When I was 17, though it really started long before that, I struggled with thoughts of self-destruction. I considered and nearly tried self-destructive eating habits. I considered and sometimes tried self-destructive workout habits. What stuck was self-harm. In the darkest and lowest point of my life, I gave into self-mutilation and injury. I entertained the thoughts of death, major self-harm, and disappearance. I was depressed, anxious, and in loathe with myself. I hated myself and everything about me. I felt alone, unseen, and unheard by God, by my family, by my friends–even though I felt like I didn’t have any friends–and by everyone else around me. It was exhausting, heartbreaking, and draining. Then, I slowly started to see the Light through various people, various works of art, and various other things.

In my darkest times, “Open” from your EP became my anthem, because “I felt like I was screaming my mouth shut when it was really open.” As time progressed, “Believe In Me,” “Skyscraper,” “Unbroken,” “Firestarter,” and nearly every other one of your songs–and several other songs–became my anthems. I wanted to be like you. I wanted to be strong and beautiful and successful. When I felt like I would never be like you, MTV aired your special, “Staying Strong.” Then, I saw that I was like you, but not in the ways I wanted to be. We were both struggling with self-harm, depression, and general self-hate. You were struggling with other things too… some things I had thought about at one time or another. At that moment, I was afraid to be like you, but more than anything, I still wanted to be like you. I was afraid of becoming so much like you, that I’d have to go to rehab. Though I was proud of you for going, I didn’t want to go. I did, however, want to be like you in the sense that you shared your struggles, you confessed you needed help, and you reached out for assistance. I wanted to do that too, so I did.

First, I kept my struggles to myself. I prayed a lot and I did everything I could to stop hurting myself. It was surprisingly easy to stop physically hurting myself, but it was a lot harder to stop mentally and emotionally hurting myself. I prayed a lot, found refuge in music, and clung to stories and testimonies of female celebrities who had fought battles and won or were fighting battles and trying to win. You, Demi Lovato, were one of those people. When I was in my darkest days, God used you, your music, and your transparency to lift me out of my lowest point and raise me to a place of healing and restoration.

I hope now, as I write this letter, if you ever read it, that you might find healing and restoration through my prayers and the prayers of others. I hope that this battle will lead you to God in a way you’ve never seen Him before and that He will heal you totally and completely. I pray that not only will you finally overcome the addiction and temptation, but also that the temptation will go away altogether. I know that’s a big ask. I know scars and aches don’t often go away. I know that temptation is always creeping at your door, waiting for you to be weak. I do get it, maybe not in the same way, but I do understand. If I’m honest, then I must confess I was tempted to give in to the darkness a few days ago. Not only was I tempted to drown myself in drink–just this once–but worse than that, because that’s not my personal demon, I was also tempted to hurt myself again–just this once. Just to make the pain go away. Just to feel something other than the stress and looming depression. I didn’t, but I almost did, and I think that scares me more than if I had done it.

Anyway, I’m praying for you, Demi Lovato. I’m fighting for you through prayer and supplication. I am thanking God for you and your life. And I’m praying for His miraculous healing over you. I believe He can heal you, but sometimes He only heals us if we believe for ourselves that He will. Please believe Demi. Please believe that He can and will heal you. Please believe and remember that no matter what you feel, you are never alone. Please know and believe that your true friends, your true family, and your true fans–the Lovatics–are always here for you in spirit and prayer with support and love. Please stay strong and when you can’t, let us stay strong for you! ❤

 

Sincerely,

A fan. A friend. And a supporter.