How to Be an Overcomer (Interview)
This is a Repost from http://betterthanwine.net/ 🙂
A few months ago my friend wrote a book called “How To Overcome Heartbreak”. She interviewed several people, including me, to hear how they overcame their individual life challenges. Check out my interview below!
1. What does the word “overcome” mean to you?
To me the word “overcome” means to experience a challenging circumstance and to be a survivor of the challenge. I am a geek so I also like to look at the dictionary definition which says “to get the better of a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat; to overcome the enemy; to prevail; to overcome one’s weakness”. And my favorite is “to gain the victory”.
2. What was one or more life event(s)/experience(s) that proved to be extremely challenging/difficult?
There are really many struggles that I have overcome in my life. The first things that come to mind are getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees and ending an unhealthy relationship.
My undergraduate and graduate college experiences were difficult for different reasons. When I was in college pursing my undergraduate degree I struggled to find myself. I was 17 years old when I started and living without parent supervision for the first time. I grew up in a strict household. The benefit of this is that my parents did not encourage worldliness. The disadvantage was that I did not have my own healthy boundaries and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I started college knowing God, loving God, but also being very angry and not on speaking terms with Him. I did all of the things I was supposed to do like going to church and joining the gospel choir, but anything He was trying to say to me or do for me I was not feeling. Academics did not come as easy to me as they did in high school and I was surrounded with people that were smarter than me, or at least more efficient. I slipped in and out of depression over the years. When I had difficult classes I rarely asked for help and suffered in silence. All the while, I was crying in my dorm room, not knowing how to complete assignments or feeling overwhelmed with all that I had to do. I also had a challenging student teaching experience and literally had to fight the school in order to graduate with my degree and teaching license. During the 5 years that it took me to complete undergrad I felt like I was fighting for my life.
In graduate school the challenges were different. I was going to school full time and working full time. I was in a healthier space mentally, but I still struggled as I had in undergrad with the weight of the workload that I had to do. Each paper and report I had to do came at the price of sleepless nights and many, many emotional breakdowns. The challenges I had completing work in undergrad paled in comparisons to the mental anguish of grad school. Almost every paper had me in tears because I could not bring myself to get started or to stay focused. During this process I joked that I had ADHD…only to find out this past year that I really do. It was God’s grace and mercy that got me through to graduation both times.
As for the unhealthy relationship that I was in, it unearthed many of my flaws, self-esteem issues, previous wounds and my true sinful nature. I always had the reputation of being a “goody-two-shoes”. In this relationship I was far from this stereotype. I was downright nasty when I did not get my way. I was manipulative and had very unhealthy boundaries. The biggest struggle for me in this relationship was that I was exposed and weak. I always had held up a strong exterior prior to this relationship. However, in this relationship my boyfriend could see how insecure I was and when he would try to encourage me I would lash out at him. I also was very codependent in this relationship and idolized my boyfriend and placed him in God’s position in my life. One of the biggest emotional challenges in life was letting go of this unhealthy relationship. I was so invested in it and had some of my identity and future wrapped up in it. I literally couldn’t imagine my life without this person and loved this person so deeply it was SO hard to be obedient and walk away. In fact after God told me that I needed to end the relationship, it took me a year to end it. Then it took an additional three years to cut the chord emotionally.
3. How did you “overcome” this life event or experience victory upon its culmination?
I overcame these life events by lots and lots of prayer and Godly fellowship. I would like to say that I was praying for myself in these seasons, but in the beginning I was not. I started out so angry with God that my prayers consisted of “I have NOTHING to say to you God. Leave me alone!” But thank God that I had friends and family that were praying for me. Over the years I had a stronger prayer life and better communication and I could hear God and begin to trust Him. Then I became obedient to what he was trying to show me, protect me from and how he wanted me to heal. In each season, in each challenge, God sent me a friend to walk with me. They would give me words of wisdom and help me apply the Bible to my life. They would hold me accountable when I would get off track and encourage me when I felt hopeless. And they would be there for me through many, many tearful days and nights reminding me that it would just be for a season.
4. How did that life event/experience change you? How did you grow as a person in your world outlook and character development? In your faith?
Graduating from undergrad really showed me that I could do all things through Christ Jesus. I learned that no matter my weaknesses that He would be with me and help me to finish what He started. During this season I recommitted my life to Christ and began talking to God again and being less angry with Him. I finally was able to receive His love for me. I also saw all the ugliness that was inside of me and started the healing process.
Graduate school was a process for me to learn how to ask for and receive help. During this time my dad passed away and a lot of responsibility was placed on me. My friends offered to help me and despite the inclinations I had to struggle through on my own as usual, they came through for me and supported me during a difficult time. In this season, although I struggled to reach the finish line, God showed me my purpose and calling. It still feels crazy to know that he “built” me for this work and now I am doing it. I feel secure in my faith, secure in who I am and secure in God’s commitment to me.
This unhealthy relationship showed me all of my insecurities and the wounds my family inflicted on me and how they affected my romantic relationships. It also showed me how much God cared for me and loved me. Although this relationship had negative aspects, I can truly say that this person was God sent. He supported me through many difficult days and was the first example I had of how God wants to help me and journey through life with me. This relationship also showed me how deeply I love people and how that is a special way that God made me. I never knew I could love someone so much. It excites me to think about loving my future husband and future kids. The most important thing that I learned that is if I don’t put God first and put a human in the place of Him, it doesn’t matter my intentions, how great the person is or how much I love them. The relationship will fall apart and me and the other person will get hurt.
5. If you did not have that experience, how do you think your life would look now?
If I had not had the unhealthy relationship I think I would continue to repeat the pattern of unhealthy boundaries and be a really insecure person. I think I would also be in a relationship where I settled for less than God’s best for me. I most likely would have children and be in a loveless marriage or divorced by now.
If I had not had experienced challenges in getting my degrees I don’t think I would have a strong faith. With each struggle of school I realized more and more that I couldn’t reach my goals on my own. I needed the support of God and my friends and family. Each experience helped me to know God better and to see how God strengthened me and prepared me to help people in my life and to be prepared for the future.
6. If you did not overcome that experience how do you think your life would look now?
Answer combined with question 5
7. What are tips you can give to others who are experiencing similar difficulties? What helped you to overcome your life event/experience that may help them?
I encourage you to share with your friends/family what you are going through. You don’t have to struggle alone. Good friends will support you, give you wisdom and always lead you back to God. If you don’t have good friends you can read blogs, books, YouTube videos, etc., to hear others’ testimonies. You can encourage yourself by witnessing hope in the lives of others who have had similar experiences. I also encourage you to pray to God, He will hear each cry and be with you and help you to know what to do. If you don’t know how to do this imagine talking to God like you do a friend or ask someone to help you and to pray with you and for you. I also recommend for you to praise God anyway. In my weakest moments I would listen to victory songs (my favorite being the Rocky theme song) and remind myself that I am a conqueror through Christ. Here is a list of songs that I use: http://youtu.be/kvtQ2Y4JCgY?list=PLUN9LvlguAojnkIEXSe4z3fBu-cf7Deq6 and https://soundcloud.com/ricardoclarke/your-pain-has-purpose
8. Please share any additional information that was not requested in the previous questions.
I met an amazing woman who worked with me. She knew some of the struggles I overcame. When she left my job she gave me this quote that I hang by my bed to remind myself of the strength God has given me.
“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true”. –Leon J. Suenes
Thank you so much for sharing a piece of your journey! How can others reach out to you if at all possible?
People can contact me on my twitter page: @distincthope