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What If You Did?

I really hate comparison but to be honest… I do it all the time.  I get so disappointed when I compare my life to those I follow on Instagram – they have more likes, more followers, are doing super rad things, wearing all the clothes I wish I could afford, living the dream life that looks like my Pinterest boards… you get the point, right?

I’ve been in this massive personal growth season lately, rebuilding myself in many ways from a major burnout. In growing though – I often look at how far I still need to go, without acknowledging how far I’ve come.

Burnout, in some ways felt like this massive set back but the reality was it gave me space to clarify my priorities and values. Instead of rushing along with life, all of a sudden I found myself in a season of reflection and evaluation. This was good for me.

Through this time evaluating my experiences, I realized I had gained maturity far beyond my years and in ways that I would never have imagined. When I sit back and think of 12 year old Julia with big audacious dreams, she would have never ever believed what the future Julia was capable of.

So GF –  what if we stopped comparing ourselves, stayed in our own damn lane, cheered the women alongside us, ahead of us, and behind us, and CELEBRATED how far we’ve come?

Instead of allowing fear and anxiety to creep in with all these B.S.  “what if’s” and why this won’t work, shouldn’t work, better not try excuses (Thank you Rachel Hollis) .. WHAT IF YOU DID? What if you really did the things you are scared of, what if you really did pursue your dreams, what if you really moved outside of what is comfortable and took a few risks?

At nineteen years old,  I played a large role in the pioneering of an international non-profit. I set up not one, but THREE companies, two in Australia and one in the Cook Islands (it’s a real place I swear, Google it). There were so many times I asked myself “am I old enough to do this?” “shouldn’t I have a degree?” “is this legal” but guess what?  I shoved the crap excuses and lies aside and just bossed up and went after it.

So, when I am sitting here having a pity party to myself because I am not where I want to be and too nervous and insecure to chase after my dreams and do hard things, I remember how far I’ve come, put my big girl pants on and boss the hell up.

In the words of my uncle – Get out, Get after it!

x

Jules

 

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Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash

When Words Fail

HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS

It can be so easy to respond to your friend wrestling through depression with “I feel helpless” “I don’t know what to do” “I don’t know how to help” or maybe you just don’t respond at all, because it’s too hard, too scary and you are so unqualified to ‘counsel’ them through this.

I get that. It’s ok.

In a recent Q&A I asked some of my followers who have struggled with depression or anxiety to offer some of their thoughts and reflections on how to support a loved one dealing with an ‘invisible illness’.

This is what they had to say:

  1. “Spend time with them without necessarily trying to change them” 
  2. “Stay in their life, your friendship means everything”
  3. “Make a plan… so many people said ‘I am here for you’ but nobody actually showed up… just say ‘Hey, I am free this afternoon could I swing by and take you for coffee?” 
  4. “Invite me out for dinner, and when I decline invite yourself over”
  5. “Don’t pressure me to come out to one specific thing, but keep inviting me”
  6. “Little things speak volumes, buy me flowers, write me a card, grab a face mask and have a spa night with me”
  7. “Please don’t minimise my pain, and tell me to just toughen up” 
  8. “Don’t wait for them to reach out, they probably feel like a burden”
  9. “We don’t always want to talk but we do want company”
  10. “Sometimes I’ve said I just want to be alone but I really just wanted to see who would stay”
  11. “Tell them they’re strong, that they’re going to be okay, and that this isn’t their fault”
  12. “Depression can’t always be prayed away, just like when someone breaks their bones – both need medical attention”
  13. “Don’t be afraid to ask them how they are doing, don’t just assume your presence helps, start by asking how they are doing.. it’s the simplest form of helping someone out”
  14. “Don’t disappear”
  15. “Encourage them to go out, they need to know they are sincerely wanted even if they aren’t able to be super energetic and  happy” 

The greatest displays of love and support I received while I was really struggling came from those who refused to let me do this alone, who made sure I had someone keeping me company, who frequently checked in and asked “what do you need” not what I wanted but what I needed, it came from those who were willing to meet me in my suffering, break bread and remind me that it was truly going to be ok.

Every person is unique, their healing journey is unique and their needs while battling with anxiety and depression may look completely different from the next person.

If anything, remember this – be patient and be kind, be the kind of person who stays.

x

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*Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

Stay

Be the kind of person who stays.

Maybe you have a friend or loved one going through a tough time.. and words are failing you on how to support them through grieve, heartache, trauma, depression…

Maybe they’re walking through something you never have, and you can’t even begin to imagine how they feel, be the kind of person who stays.

Please don’t go silent, please don’t disappear and ghost their messages.

Staying is consistent, consistency builds trust, and trust builds loyalty.

The greatest relationships lasted because two people decided to stay.

Often you don’t have to say much, but the sentiment that you are with them and for them is enough. Nothing is more heartbreaking than walking through a dark season and watching your circle of people disappear because they didn’t know what to say.

In the words of Hannah Brencher… be the kind of person who stays.

x

International Women’s Day

“Julia, you never asked me how I felt about Eve”

These were some of the most sobering words I’d ever heard God speak to me.

Last year around this time I really wrestled with what I believed about women in leadership, this was largely triggered by an incident where I felt completely vulnerable and incapable to protect the people I was leading.

Wrestling through gender roles, theology that belittled women, and the continued rise in the feminist movement I was so so confused about what I believed a woman could and should be.

Should women lead? teach? What is their role in marriage? Family? Society? Can women be fierce yet feminine and gentle?

As a twenty something year old, carrying large amounts of responsibility and pioneering an international ministry my thoughts were so clouded.

I took a retreat with one of my friends, and every morning I withdrew to the hillside to hear God speak to me and align my thoughts.

In wrestling and sorting through this confusion it was like he took my face between his hands, looked gently into my eyes and said to me ..

“Julia, you never asked me how I felt about Eve, you never asked me how I made her, what my intentions were for her, you never asked me what she was destined to do”

It was so simple but I could feel my worldview shatter, as he so boldly proclaimed truth over my life and the way that he made women – destined to rule and reign.

Jesus never puts women in the corner.

Happy International Womens Day 💃🏽

 

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Healing Pt. 2 (An Open Letter)

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Dear Brave,

Let’s call you Brave because that’s who you are, you’ve showed up, you’re still here – Brave is not just who you’ve been, it’s who you are becoming. 

I’ve been on a rather painful journey of healing and recovery and I thought you may need to hear some things that I’ve been learning – and wished someone had told me.

Over a year ago, I wrote a blog called “Time doesn’t heal – God does” and as I’ve re-read it in a completely different season, I look back and would have never anticipated to be where I am today. That blog still holds so much truth, yet there is still so much more I have to learn about healing.

Depression and Anxiety have strangled me, suffocated any inch of hope I had inside. Like Psalm 88:18 there were days where it felt like ‘Darkness was my only Friend’ – I was beginning to understand why people take their life. The pain I was facing was crushing me. I lamented, grieved and raged over the season I was in.

A few weeks ago, I cut my finger and received a few stitches but watching the wound heal has become fascinating to me. No matter how much I willed it to heal, my finger had its own agenda and there were stages that were so necessary in its healing.

First – my finger went numb, and not just the finger that received stitches but the majority of my hand. The pain was just too great to initially bear, but once the numbing wore off, my finger throbbed, and I was up most nights in pain. The skin was hard, hot and red. This was healing pain, different from the pain when I cut myself, but it still hurt me.

The pain started to subside, I uncomfortably removed the stitches, and wanted to see a gloriously beautiful finger, but here I was bleeding again. The stitches needed to go, and I needed my body to start to figure out how to hold itself back together again – and it did.

My finger scabbed; it itched.

I   w a s   h e a l i n g . 

I’ve woken up countless days hoping to will away the pain inside my heart; I’ve journalled about it, written poetry expressing it, painted it, and screamed it. My will is pretty powerful, but thank you Jesus – so is healing, like honest real healing.

My heart went numb, it was hard. Any love expressed was an art, a facade to hide what was really going on inside. When the numbing wore off, I ached… every fibre of my being. I was tired, I had no energy, I had family and friends hold me while I wept uncontrollably, unable to communicate the chaos inside me.

There were really messy days, where it seemed like things were starting to get worse instead of getting better.  

Brave, the days will get better.

I couldn’t burn my own light, but others did for me. I found it in them.

I am still healing, I am still willing, I am still showing up for myself. I am still trusting and believing there is a redemptive end to this story.

My finger is teaching me how to trust the process, how to embrace the stages that are NECESSARY for true healing. We can’t anticipate what and how the healing will take place, and yes it will take time, but time doesn’t do the healing – God does.

It will be okay, it has to.

Julia

Time doesn’t heal

I’ve been pondering this for a while but haven’t necessarily found the words to express what my heart was feeling, but I guess what I’ve found is that time doesn’t heal – God does. I don’t want this to be unsettling if you have been told that it does – as I was – and what I’ve experienced is that it just isn’t true.

Time may put distance to a memory, but what happens when you go back? It’s like a knife to the heart, and you find you are bleeding out again, re-living every memory, heartache, regret and you scream, while wondering if God is even real at all.

When I decided to go to Australia for the first time I was attracted to the distance; oceans and nations apart from my mistakes, poor choices, bad relationships, unfulfilled dreams etc. I was allured by the fact that I would be somewhere where the younger me wasn’t. She wasn’t known there. During the course of my DTS (Discipleship Training School) in 2014, God radically restored a large part of my heart and identity; I was filled with a deeper sense of belief in who He was and who I was in him.

Although DTS was transformational for me I still found that when I returned home that it was often a painful experience, until this summer…

I watched the younger me in slow motion: I found her in the bathroom disgusted with herself, I saw her screaming out to God with frustration, I saw her crying into her horse’s mane over a broken heart and I winced at the notion of her considering to inflict pain upon herself. I felt the weight of her disappointment, I was burdened by her hurt, and I watched her carry a yoke around her neck that wasn’t hers to carry.

Time doesn’t heal – but God does.

Going home was uncomfortable because I tried to ignore, erase, and numb out the parts of my life that I wasn’t proud of. As much as I was falling more in love with the Lord, I wasn’t letting him heal those parts of myself. I couldn’t say they were dead to me, because they weren’t. I have cried every time I’ve gone home, because I have been filled with regret, haunted by poor choices, and grieved by the condition of my heart.

But we get to choose.

In Genesis 27:40 Issac is talking to Esau after he has given his birthright away to his brother Jacob and he says:

“You will live by your sword,
and you will serve your brother.
But when you decide to break free,
you will shake his yoke from your neck.”

The thing is that there is stuff that can have a hold on us and it does take time to heal, but we can’t expect time to do the healing for us. I had to choose to break free and shake off the yoke of regret from my neck. I had to decide and walk in truth knowing that those things did not have a hold on me.

Like Esau, we too get to decide when we want to break off the things that enslave us.

Rest assured I have never felt more at ease and content in my own skin, I don’t feel like I live this double life ie. the missional me vs the younger me who was bound by shame and anxiety.

If Jesus left the grave behind him, so will I.

With Love,

 

Julia 

A Big Hello.

I wish we could be having this conversation face to face, I wish I could look you in the eyes and tell you how exhilarating and challenging this season has been. There is nothing like sitting at a desk for over seven hours hoping that an immigration site will come back online, finding out your horse has been sold at the auction, finding your car on empty, tear stained cheeks, a variety of emotions, yet the growing of intimacy through the nurturing of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday my visa expired and I came home from the office pretty frustrated to say the least, I hadn’t heard back if my application was received or if I would be put on a bridging visa. You could imagine my mind was racing with all sorts of ideas; do I have to leave the country, can I leave the country, do I have money to leave the country, what happens if I stay, am I illegally here, what if I have to leave and can’t come back?

Oh boy.

That same night we had Rahab outreaches, frustrated with myself and this whole visa situation I decided to go nonetheless, having to keep in mind why I am actually here.

Rahab popped off that night, having some of the most in depth, and vulnerable conversations with the girls I may have ever had. One particular girl had shared how her family doesn’t know what she does, but she feels working in the industry is essential for her to be able to go to school and study.

They always say eyes are the window to the soul, and you just couldn’t miss the pain she was suppressing through looking at her.

I had the opportunity to encourage her, remind her that she has purpose and prayed before she went off to work.

Thursday passed and quickly was Friday, until mid afternoon when I received an email saying I was granted a bridging visa! This email came while our centre was engaging in a time of extended prayer and worship. Literally couldn’t have been a better time.

It was like a big hello from heaven. 

I am supposed to be here, this season is intentional.

 I may have been preaching to the choir that night in the brothel because how could I have forgotten that I too was created with purpose. If I believe I am meant to be here, that this campaign is not a silly exercise, than why wouldn’t the God who created me as intimate friend not come through on his promises?Straight to the heart – grateful for a season that forces me to confront truth, and demands that I wrestle things over with God.

God makes a way, he always does.