Posted by: Spatzi | November 11, 2015

The battle of the mind

I’ve boxed a grand total of two times in the last month. In a typical month, I can get in eight to twelve boxing classes, so this is a pretty sad admission. Between work, my coworker being gone for two weeks, and health issues, I just haven’t made it to boxing much recently. And, the more time passes, the more my mind convinces me that I don’t need to go at all. There are so many pressing things in my life to take care of, and more than anything, I’m tired. Bone-tired. Exhausted.

The biggest struggle lately has been my health. For five years now, I’ve battled this weird disease called hyperthyroidism. Basically, my body is on hyperdrive 24/7, especially my heart rate and metabolism. I often describe it to people by saying that hyperthyroidism is like simultaneously having enough energy to run a marathon and being so exhausted that you feel as though you already have.

The only “cure” for hyperthyroidism is drinking radioactive iodine to kill your thyroid then taking a thyroid hormone pill for the rest of your life. Yeah… I decided to pass on that one. So I manage my disease nutritionally, or at least try to, and part of that involves getting plenty of exercise. In a weird way, despite my ever-present exhaustion, exercise is one of the few things that helps with my hyperthyroidism. And I tend to do fairly well overall of managing it and living a normal, healthy life.

One of the problems with hyperthyroidism, though, is that it cycles. Once I fall into a routine and healthy pattern, said pattern randomly stops working, and my thyroid crashes. I go through weeks or sometimes months where my body just can’t absorb nutrients from anything I eat and climbing a set of stairs feels like climbing Mount Everest. My hair starts to fall out, I have trouble sleeping… and it all spirals back to square one.

About three weeks ago, my thyroid decided to crash again. I tried to ignore it and muscle through. (I’d been feeling fine for months. Maybe it was all in my head.) I kept up all of my regular activities. I went to boxing. And… I didn’t do so well. My vision was blurry, and I could feel how weak my punches were. I felt like I was going to collapse at any second. I felt weak. And for anyone who knows me, appearing weak is my number one nightmare. I’d rather have a root canal. Or hang upside down by my toenails. Or try to outrun a train.

So, needless to say, I didn’t really feel like going back to boxing. It became really easy to find other things that needed to get done. Like cleaning. Errands. Reading. Sleeping. Yes, I did choose one day to go to back to bed and not go to boxing. It wasn’t my proudest moment. But we’ve all been there… am I right?

So, today, as I was getting ready to leave the house, that nervousness popped up again. “You can’t go to boxing,” it said. “You won’t even be able to throw a punch. You’re thyroid is still a mess. You’re tired. Don’t go. Go to bed. Don’t put yourself in a position to look weak again. What are people going to think of you?”

But you know what? I went. I didn’t do the best I’ve ever done. My punches weren’t as strong as they maybe could have been if I was 100% healthy. But I went, I boxed, and I felt good. Strong. Healthy. I wasn’t shaking, blurry-eyed, or on the verge of collapse. But even if I was, at least I would have been able to say that I went. That I fought. That I, even in my weakness, won the battle against my mind. And maybe that, more than my ability to run or punch, is what actually makes me strong.

I wanted to write this post for others who are fighting the battle of the mind. Maybe it’s over making healthy lifestyle choices. Maybe it’s over reaching out to friends. Maybe it involves stepping out of your comfort zone. Maybe it’s something I can’t even imagine. Our minds are powerful things, and it can be so easy to fall into the trap of “I’m not good/strong/capable enough” or “What will people think?” The truth is, no one ever became strong by refusing to try. And if people judge you, that’s their problem. They will have to answer for that someday. The kind of people whose opinions matter will see that you are fighting and will realize that you are strong for doing so. So, don’t give up. Don’t let your insecurities win. Keep on fighting.

Posted by: Spatzi | October 2, 2015

The selfish side of service

About a week ago, I called up my mom on the phone and told her I wanted to quit my job.

I felt like I was failing. I was tired of being a human punching bag, of being the brunt of outbursts that had nothing to do with me. I didn’t understand how to make it better and, further, I didn’t know if I had the strength to keep trying. I was spent.

I wasn’t bothered so much by the feeling as by the confusion surrounding it. I couldn’t understand why I felt this way. I’ve always loved my job, even during the difficult times. I’ve always loved “serving” others. And getting to love on hurting little ones… it’s what I’ve always dreamed of. So why, all of the sudden, was I so bogged down and ready to move on? Why was I suddenly fixating on the list of wants in the back of my mind, convinced that I’d be happier if only I had a different life, a different job? Why was I suddenly so discontented?

It took some time for me to realize what was going on. In fact, I didn’t really realize it until tonight when I read the following verses:

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6)

It struck me then that my gaze had shifted and was no longer where it should have been. I had become fixated on the praise of others, the verbal pats on the back that people give me for doing what I do. I had started to do my job because it was the “right thing” and not because it was God’s will for me. I was doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. And, as a result, my emotional and spiritual reserves had been depleted, leaving me feeling empty and broken. I had nothing left to fill me up.

To set the mind on the flesh is death. But the Spirit? That’s where life and peace are found. When my gaze shifted back to the reason I’d taken this job in the first place (namely, God’s working and direction in my life), I was able to see the blessings along with the struggles. And I was reminded that my eyes are capable of seeing only a small part of God’s plan. There is much yet that I don’t know or understand.

This sounds like such a neat, tidy lesson. I realized my error, turned my sights, and here I am. If only it was that simple. In truth, the tendency to people-please is a daily battle for me. It’s something I’ve done since I was a small child who was desperate to make herself worthy of love. If I just did enough right things, then surely I’d be worth something. Right? It’s a state of mind that’s difficult to escape even as an adult. I forget that I don’t need to prove myself, indeed that I can’t. I’m not worthy of love. I’m not worthy of forgiveness, compassion, grace, anything. I am nothing.

And yet, there’s a God who has seen fit to raise me up from the pit and redeem me. He has clothed me with His righteousness, His worth. It’s pretty much the most illogical thing in the universe, but it’s also beautiful. It is for this reason I am able to live and love on these little ones, because God first loved me. It is from His comfort that I am able to comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-7). And without Him, I am capable of giving nothing. My own selfish motivation cannot aid me in serving anyone. It will only leave me (as well as those who are the focus of such “service”) hopelessly empty.

It’s a daily battle, like I said. But today, I choose to set my mind on the Spirit. Today, I choose life and peace.

Posted by: Spatzi | September 11, 2015

On Being a Safe Place

The fire in your eyes is a match
lit directly beneath the surface of your skin,
the burning remnants of all you have endured.

You look at me with the deepest hatred,
aiming to wound, desperate to
make someone hurt the way you do.

So you fight and scream and hit,
firey bullets taking aim, searching for
a safe place to land.

The truth is, I don’t know what you expect from me.
Anger, fear, the return of blows? Do you fear
I’ll rip holes in those already aching wounds?

The truth is, one so small should not be so angry,
but you have every reason to be.
And I’m okay with being your safe place.

The truth is, you never make me angry,
only tired and sad and desperate
to hold you close, to protect you from what’s inside.

And when you cuddle close and ask me not to leave,
what else is there to do
but pull you in tighter and whisper, “never”?

Posted by: Spatzi | September 11, 2014


I can’t stop talking about vulnerability and authenticity. Over the last few months, I continually keep bringing it up with friends, mulling over the reasons why it is so stinkin’ hard these days to be vulnerable. I go to church and get up on stage with my guitar (before you think I sound too cool here, I’m honestly not even very good) and paint a happy smile on my face and pretend that all is right with the world…

And not that it’s not (I have to say, I lead a pretty blessed life), but I’ve realized that I never allow myself to struggle. At least, not when other people can see. I never spontaneously burst into tears in the middle of worship or go up for prayer at the end of service. I never confess my sins (which, by the way, is a healthy, biblical practice) or ask for accountability. Because I’m supposed to be a “leader” (and leaders never struggle), and struggling is for new believers, anyway. At least, that’s what that little voice inside tells me when I have the urge to step out and be vulnerable. “They’ll judge you.” “They’ll see you’re not strong/capable/perfect/insert-word-here.” Or the real kicker: “If they know the truth, they won’t love you.”

Listen. I know these things aren’t true. I know that I am accepted and loved and that there are so many people in my church who would be there for me if I just asked. (And occasionally, I do. But not nearly often enough, if I’m being honest.) And here’s the other thing: I know I’m not the only one who struggles with being vulnerable. I watch my brothers and sisters, and I see occasional glimpses of hurt or struggle, but I don’t often see the kind of raw authenticity that I think needs to happen a little more in our churches today. It seems like we’re all playing this game together, like if we just pretend to be fine and perfect and always-happy-never-sad, that it will be true. And people will respect us and love us and never leave.

But here’s what I think we often forget (I know I do, anyway). We are not saved by our own strength.

Check out Ephesians 2:1-10 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Wait, wait, wait. That’s often not how we live. At least, that’s not how I live. I live like I’m the author of my own fate, like it’s only by my striving that I can be good enough. Like it’s actually possible to be good enough. Like somehow when I became a believer, I stopped being a sinner, stopped feeling pain, and was instantly healed from everything in my life (past present, and future). Or, in short, I stopped needing God’s grace and mercy. Which, basically, is the opposite of the entire Gospel. Don’t you think that, if we could do this on our own, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die? And if Jesus didn’t have to die (because, you know, we can save ourselves), then everything we’re talking and singing about on Sunday is basically pointless. We should just go home and read some self-help books and pray to the Idol of Me and call it a day. Right?

Here’s what I’m wondering: if we needed Christ and the Gospel pre-conversion, what makes us think we suddenly don’t need him after? And if we don’t believe that lie–that we have to be good enough, strong enough, perfect enough–then why do we live in fear that others will judge us? Why are we not open and honest with each other about the areas in which we struggle? Why do we act in church as though we don’t need God but are fine clinging to Him in private? Wouldn’t the Gospel be so much more beautiful and meaningful if we were all living it out loud and open, in community with one another? Isn’t that really how it was intended?

I was talking earlier this week with a friend and mentor of mine, and I confessed my fear of being real with people. I told her, if people knew the real me–the me buried under the facade of strength and capability, the me who is still learning to heal from certain things and honestly still pretty scared of intimacy–they wouldn’t love me. It’s not something I’d spoken out loud to anyone before (and the honest truth is that my stomach is clenching at having just typed it here, but I do so that I can now share what she said to me).

She answered, “That is a fallacy! No one has those expectations of you. The people who love you love you for who you are. The only expectation they have of you is to be honest and real.” What a simultaneously freeing and terrifying thing to hear. On one hand, it was like someone had stripped away the blinders and freed me from the lie I had been buying into. On the other hand, it’s scary to hear that the only thing people really expect of me is to be real. Because that’s the hardest thing to be. And, she said, by not being real, I’m basically sabotaging those relationships. Um… ouch?

I was speaking to another friend a couple days later, and I mentioned that I’d put a couple posts here on private because they were just so personal that I felt I’d shared too much. She looked at me and nodded thoughtfully, then replied. “Yeah, but often it’s the more personal posts that make the biggest impact.”

Again, ouch. That’s a lot of conviction for one week. And it’s a lot to think about. Clearly, it’s something I’m still thinking about. I don’t have the answers to all of our insecurities and struggles. I don’t even fully know how to be vulnerable. But I do know that it’s a necessary, healthy part of relationships. Of course, it needs to be done with wisdom and discretion, but it needs to be done nonetheless.

This is my challenge to you and to myself: Let’s strip away the facades and stop tiring ourselves by trying to be perfect. Let’s take a few risks and open ourselves up… yes, to hurt, but also to joy and fellowship and meaningful interaction. Let’s be authentic. Let’s be real. Let’s be vulnerable.

Posted by: Spatzi | April 19, 2014

Letter To Me

A few days ago, I read through an old journal of sorts I kept sporadically in my senior year of high school. After plenty of failed attempts to keep a “real” journal, this was just stream-of-consciousness ramblings, nothing more. It was simply my feelings put into words.

Anyway, after reading through it, I was inspired to write a letter to myself at sixteen. Sort of like Brad Paisley’s “Letter To Me,” I guess. Who knows? Maybe it will mean something to someone today.

First, here are a few excerpts of this old journal to give you an idea of what kind of thoughts used to run around in my head:


Do you ever wonder what’s out there? Not like aliens or some undiscovered abyss, but just life. Like, where is all this going to take me or why does this even matter? I mean, in the end we all die anyway, right? The only difference is where we go. So, once you’re saved, what’s the point of even being here? What’s the point of just living (if you can call it that), just waiting for the inevitable? I mean, sure, you’re supposed to help bring others to Christ. But, then, what if you’re like me? What if you can barely even keep yourself afloat? What if you know, no matter how much you try, you’ll never be good enough?


Do you ever see someone looking at you and wonder what they’re thinking? Maybe your first thought is that they’re thinking of what a freak you are, but then you start to hope. Like, what if they’re really thinking that you’re beautiful or funny or wonderful? Do you mentally berate yourself for even hoping? What’s the point of hoping anyway, right?


Do you ever think about the fact that you don’t cry? Why is that, anyway? Because you made it so, right? You can’t cry, because, once upon a time, you decided that you wouldn’t cry anymore. And now you don’t, do you? Except for those nights where no one else is around, except you in your bed, alone. You cry then, don’t you? And no one ever knows that you sob into your pillow and beg God to forgive you…


Do you ever wish for at least one night with no dreams? Or even pray for it, asking God to give you no dreams just this once? Or one even semi-good dream…?  Do you remember what it’s like to wake up smiling?

Dear Elizabeth,

It breaks my heart to hear the hurt and anger in your words and to know the things that have happened to you to cause you to think and feel this way. Maybe that’s a funny thing to say, since I am you, but it’s true. There is such hopelessness in your words, and I wish more than anything that I could lift you up and hug you tightly. There are so many people in your life who love and cherish you, even if you can’t see it now. Someday you will look back with such gratitude at those who have stuck by you, prayed for you, encouraged you, and poured themselves into you. Even in those moments when you cry alone and long for someone to show you love, you are not alone. The Lord is patient and loving, even when we fail, and He will never abandon you. Read Ezekiel 16 and the book of Hosea. They will come to mean very much to you someday. In fact, read the entire Bible. Again and again. Nowhere else will you find such wisdom and comfort.

You’ve spent your entire life longing for a father who will love and care for you, who will tell you how proud he is of you and how he cherishes you. What you don’t see, dear one, is that you already have one! Not long from now, you will find yourself face-first on the floor of your dorm room, crying out for that one thing, and you will hear a still small voice speak, “I am your Father.” Hold on to that. And as much as you are able, be grateful for the earthly father you do have. He’s as human as the rest of us, and God has no less love for him than He does for you. Maybe someday he will see a Light in you that will inspire true change.

And I know you want more than anything to be able to protect Mom from any more hurt, but that is not your job. Don’t make yourself into an adult before you have to be one. There will be plenty of time for that in the future. In the meantime, love her. Cherish her. Tell her how grateful you are for her. And, maybe more than anything, let her be your mom. Tell her things. Be honest with her about how you feel. There is no shame in the truth and absolutely no honor in hiding it.

Sweetie, what happened to B was not your fault. You can’t keep wishing him to life and hating yourself for not saving him. You couldn’t have saved him. Yes, I’m sure there were a hundred or more things you could have said or done differently. Everyone could have. You cannot go back, so move forward. Treat those around you with kindness and love. Always make sure they know how important they are to you. Don’t carry him with you as a weight but an inspiration.

And next… boys. Stop looking for love. Realize that you won’t be fulfilled by a relationship. That kind of peace and satisfaction comes only from God. And as tired as you are of hearing about finding contentment in God, it’s true. You must be content in God. It will not necessarily help you to find “the one,” but it will help you to have a healthy relationship with “the one” someday in the future. If you put all your hopes and dreams into one person, how can they help but fail? We are all but human, and we will all fail. Part of relationships is talking through those moments, choosing to forgive, and moving on. No one will ever be perfect, least of all you. Live with patience and understanding.

It’s true that you’ve been hurt, and I don’t want to diminish that (hey, I still struggle too!), but you need to learn to let go. Seek healing wherever you can find it, whether it be in the beautiful, intricate depths of the Word of God or in the embrace of someone you trust. Years from now, you’ll still be seeking healing in some areas, but you’ll be able to look back and see how far the Lord has brought you. It’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing. Someday, you will not carry that weight with you. And the nightmares will end. Just hold on a little longer.

You have so much to live for. A wise man recently told you to spend time in service, for healing comes much easier when your eyes are not focused on your own hurts. It is a truth you will learn to live by, and it’s a great one. You have purpose on this earth. Never doubt that. Also, don’t be afraid to share your story. It’s a beautiful one, and God has given it to you for a reason. When the opportunity arises, share and give all the glory to Him.

Lastly, learn to forgive. When your roommate wakes you up in the middle of the night or wears your shirts until there are stains in the pits, forgive. When you suffer big, lasting hurts, forgive. When people you love are hurt, forgive. And forgive yourself. No good comes from holding on to wrongdoings.

                                                                   With love,


We are each born with different genetic predispositions. Some are good, some bad, some neutral. For the most part, I never used to give much thought to my genetic makeup or how it affected my daily life. Things just were the way they were. But now, as an adult, I’m beginning to see how these different puzzle pieces I inherited from my parents are shaping my life. And, like I said, some are good, some bad, and some neutral. But they are all a part of who I am.

There are a select handful of people who know about the specific genetic predispositions I inherited. But, for the most part, I tend to keep things like this silent. Maybe a part of it is shame, I don’t know, but I think most of it honestly has to do with not having the energy to try to make people understand. Because, when you say, “I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,” people tend to respond in less than understanding ways.

Why is that? Honestly, I wish I knew.

For whatever reason, people tend to severely misunderstand OCD, thinking of it as an affinity for neatness and order and not an often debilitating anxiety disorder. The term “OCD” gets thrown around on the daily, but it is often misused. “I’m so OCD,” people often say (which annoys me simply for its grammatical incorrectness, much less the fact that the statement, 9 times out of 10, is false). Or, they might jokingly say to one another, “OCD much?” or “Stop being so OCD!” What is worse, though, is when people treat those friends who actually struggle with OCD as though it’s some sort of a game. They re-arrange things that have just been arranged or intentionally do the opposite of their friend’s compulsions just to get a rise out of them. And, while it may seem funny to watch a friend compulsively move to fix whatever you’ve just undone, they may never be able to explain the amount of anxiety your little joke just caused them.

Fact is, most of the people who say and do these things unfortunately have only a very limited understanding of what it actually means to be obsessive-compulsive.

OCD is a disorder that centers around anxiety. People who struggle with OCD suffer from what are called obsessions (uncontrollable thoughts, feelings, mental images, etc. that repeatedly occur and most often push the person toward their compulsions) and compulsions (the ritualistic behaviors they follow in order to lessen the anxiety they feel and/or the presence of the obsessions). There are many variables to OCD, and it looks different for different people. But the anxiety, obsessions, and compulsions are always there.

And I’m pretty sure this is also true across the board: Having OCD is exhausting. It means being hyper-vigilant, even when you don’t want to be, never being able to just “turn it off.” Always keeping track, always counting, always trying to appease the obsessions in order to get just a moment or two of peace. Sometimes it is more of a background issue, like an itch you can’t scratch. And sometimes, it takes up the entire forefront of your mind and makes it difficult to focus on more important things. Overall, it takes more energy than you might think.

I’ve lived my entire life with OCD. And, while I’m able to handle my obsessions and compulsions much better as an adult (and after years and years of prayer and concentrated effort) than I was as a child, it can still be debilitating at times. My compulsions fall into the category of “counters and arrangers” (I only recently realized there were categories, and it made me happy to have this bit of normalcy), which basically means my compulsions are all about things being symmetrical and/or corresponding with certain numbers. Thus, because I’ve always struggled with things being symmetrical, getting ready for the day has always been (and may always be) the most frustrating part of my day. And, depending on how I feel when I wake up in the morning, it may be either a routine part of the day or close to a meltdown-level catastrophe.

Throughout my life, getting ready has consisted of the following rituals (and other small things):

  • putting all clothing on right-side first, only (and putting both sides on in exactly the same way)
  • (as a small child) putting on/taking off clothing a certain number of times before actually being able to put them on
  • putting the correct socks on the correct feet (yes, socks have specific feet) and in an exact way
  • hair being perfectly symmetrical, esp. in tightness
  • shoes being the exact same tightness
  • etc.

And that’s just the getting-ready part of the day. My days have, in addition, been consumed with hand washing, counting everything, overstepping sidewalk cracks with alternating feet, opening/closing doors all the way, doing things in specific number/time increments, and other compulsions. And, like I said, I’ve come a long way since I was a child. Things that once sent me into tantrums/meltdowns now are much less debilitating. But I still struggle.

For example, I recently bought new socks from the store, only to get home and realize (after putting them on) that they all have a logo on the upper left-hand side. Which means, whenever I wear them, one foot will have the logo over the baby toes and the other over the big toe. The first time I put these socks on, I nearly, as a 22-year-old woman, started screaming and crying like a small child. The anxiety that rose up in me over something so small and inconsequential is impossible to explain. Needless to say, I quickly took off the socks and shoved them back into my drawer.

But here is one major difference between my child self and my adult self: I wore those socks. Not at the moment, no. I waited for a day on which I was less stressed. I mentally prepared myself for the lack of symmetry. And, throughout the day, I made a valiant effort to not look at my feet or think about the socks. When I would feel myself starting to panic, I would think of other things, distracting myself until the panic subsided.

So what’s my point?

Mainly, this: I know it’s routine for some people to joke about having OCD or to intentionally get their obsessive-compulsive friends riled up, but is this really the best way to love people who actually are obsessive-compulsive? I’ve overcome so much in the way of my OCD in the last 5 years or so, but I’ve needed the help and understanding of my friends and family along the way. We need your help, people of the world. Not your jokes.

To make things simple (and hopelessly cliche), I’m going to make one of those “6 ways to love your obsessive-compulsive friend” lists. 3 negative, 3 positive. Because who doesn’t like lists, especially when they’re perfectly symmetrical?

1. Stop calling yourself obsessive-compulsive.

Yes, we know you alphabetize your DVDs and make your bed every morning. Good for you. That does NOT make you obsessive-compulsive. Unless you suffer debilitating anxiety when those things don’t happen, unless these habits interfere with your daily life and occasionally even make it a living hell, you don’t have OCD. And, by claiming that your affinity for neatness is actually OCD, you’re diminishing the battle we fight every day to live normal lives.

2. Stop undoing our compulsions.

Do me a favor. Close your eyes and picture the thing that drives you crazy faster than any other thing. Imagine that thing is happening. Imagine your stress building. Now triple that stress. Now triple it again. Sucks, right? Now imagine you take the time to right that wrong (whatever it is). Take a big sigh of relief. Feels good, right? Now imagine someone comes by and intentionally undoes all of your hard work. The stress comes back, only tripled again. You’re starting to panic. Do you give them the reaction they’re looking for and let them laugh? Or do you hold it in and pray they leave before you explode?

That’s more or less what it feels like when you intentionally mess up something I’ve just compulsively fixed. Panic upon panic upon panic, upon anger and frustration. It doesn’t feel good. You may laugh about it, but it makes me feel like crap ten times over. Ask yourself honestly: is it worth it for a laugh? If you’re that desperate, go watch a comedy.

3. Stop saying, “OCD much?”

Believe it or not, I know I’m obsessive compulsive. I don’t need you to remind me and make me feel even more stigmatized than I already do. Even though we know you’re probably just teasing, it can often just make things more stressful for us.

4. Offer to help us, but don’t be too offended when we say no.

I know, this is a little counter-intuitive. When you see us floundering, starting to panic over something as small as packing a suitcase or tying our shoes the same tightness or whatever else, it makes sense to want to help. And to get upset if/when we say no. We do appreciate it, really. But chances are, at least for me, that I will say no. Because it’s my compulsion, and having someone else’s hands in it may just increase my anxiety. But, if you can handle the possibility of rejection, please do keep offering. It means a lot to us. And, besides that, we just might surprise you every once in a while and say yes.

As a side note: You don’t necessarily have to offer to help with a particular task (i.e. folding laundry or packing). Sometimes, if you see us stressing, the best reaction is just to ask, “What can I do to help?” rather than offering to do a particular task. And we’re much more likely to let you help that way, too.

5. Ask us about it.

I find it incredibly ironic that people joke constantly about OCD, but when it comes down to finding out a friend actually has OCD, people freeze. They either keep joking (which honestly doesn’t help) or ignore it altogether. I don’t want you to talk about my OCD all day, every day, but I’d love the chance to tell you what it’s like or explain what specifically sets me off. When we’re so used to people misunderstanding what OCD really is, we usually choose to not talk about it. You asking shows you really care and want to understand.

If you want to go the extra mile, do some research! Look it up on the internet. Check out research books from the library. Read novels with obsessive-compulsive characters (Two examples that come immediately to mind are Martin in Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger and Jake Martin in Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe. I’m sure there are others).

6. Treat us like normal human beings.

This probably goes without saying, and thankfully most people do this very well. But aside from acknowledging our obsessive-compulsiveness in the moment and trying to not to make it such a laughing stock, really the best thing to do is just treat us as normally as you can. (For most of you reading this, you probably didn’t even know I had OCD before now, so I’m sure that’s been no problem before. ;) ) Believe me, we don’t love living with the constant reality of our OCD. Sometimes its nice to not let it have the stage (and it can be incredibly healing to focus on other things).


So there you have it, folks. Hopefully this was a helpful little post and not too harsh. Also, please note that I’ve drawn mostly from my personal experience here. So if anyone who reads this disagrees with me, please do let me know. But also realize I can only speak from what I’ve experienced. OCD is a vast and varied disorder, and everyone’s experience is in some way different, just like with any other part of life.

Thanks for reading!

Posted by: Spatzi | November 13, 2013

Why I don’t say “It’s okay”

I’m a people pleaser. I like for things to be harmonious and peaceful, for everyone to be content, and for there to be absolutely NO CONFLICT. Even so, I think I maintain a pretty healthy balance of not being a walking doormat, which is not something I can claim for my younger self. Actually, during my high school and early college years, I pretty well determined never to voice my opinion or desires. Instead, I essentially let others do whatever they would like. (Brave? No. But it felt safe.)

As a result, I developed an awful habit of responding “It’s okay” to just about every injustice, inconvenience, or hurt that I suffered. It was as though, if I could just convince everyone that I was unaffected, it would be true. So I never really thought through forgiveness or excusing the wrongs that were done. Instead, I just muttered, “It’s okay,” (of course not meaning a word of it) and continued on, all the while holding on to what had been done.

In my freshman year of college, I met a friend who challenged my use of “It’s okay,” among many other things. One day, we found ourselves in the midst of an argument. He had asked me for forgiveness for something-or-other (I seem to remember that it wasn’t anything big or something I necessarily viewed as needing forgiveness). I casually responded, “It’s okay,” thinking that was the same as expressing my obvious forgiveness. However, to this particular friend, it wasn’t the same thing. Not by a long shot.

This is where the argument arose. He was searching for a verbal acknowledgement of his need for forgiveness and a response to the affirmative (“I forgive you”) or negative (“I’m unable to forgive you”). But my thoughtless “It’s okay” addressed neither of these. In fact, in reacting to my response, he inadvertently hit the heart of the situation: I was accustomed to responding “It’s okay” to any given situation regardless of whether it was actually okay or not. The words were entirely meaningless.

I don’t know that I immediately stopped using the phrase. I’m not even sure if it was done with much intentionality at all. But I do know that, today, I don’t say “It’s okay,” and it’s very intentional. Because, here’s the thing: If someone does something to hurt me, it’s not “okay.” I can extend forgiveness to the person or assure them that there are no hard feelings. But I’m no longer willing to offer a meaningless, untrue phrase in order to make someone feel better about a wrong they’ve done. I would rather address the issue, admit I was hurt, and work through the situation with the person than put a verbal band-aid on the situation. I think that, in the long run, it ends up being much more productive.

Posted by: Spatzi | November 9, 2013

The Dangers of Comparison

“You need to stop comparing yourself to everyone around you and compare yourself to the person God created you to be.”

It was one of those rare, deep, heart-to-heart moments that quality time people like me thrive on. I was sitting in my favorite chair in the living room, legs tucked underneath me and head cocked to the side as I pressed the phone to my ear. I had just confessed a mountain of insecurity that I had not yet spoken to anyone. My mother, one step away from exasperation by the unreasonable size of said mountain, gently (but firmly) admonished me with the above words.

They hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat in my cozy little chair, suddenly out of breath from the weight of those words. But it wasn’t over there. I got quite an earful about the impossibility and danger of attempting to measure up to other people. And it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I can look back over my life and realize that much of my time has been spent in this comparison game. And I know I’m not the only one.

When my friends look at me, (I’m told) they see a strong, capable young woman who has overcome adversity, who works hard for what she gets in life, and who is tender-hearted and empathetic. It’s not that I would disagree with that assessment necessarily, but it is difficult to accept that partial truth when I know the full weight of my humanity that lurks beneath the surface. I know not only where I have come from (which is in some ways a terrifyingly dark place) but also the dark and ugly depths of my own soul. Sometimes, I think I forget that Jesus has washed me clean of all of that. I look at the “perfect” believers around me, the ones who at 20-something are already 3/4ths of the way to having a “perfect” little American family, with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence, not to mention a thriving ministry/job/whatever… and I just feel out of place. I can’t look at our radically different pasts and see a common, safe, reliable future. It just doesn’t add up.

But here’s the thing I’ve been missing all along: God didn’t create me or allow certain events in my life with the intention that I would someday live up to Susan’s or Mary’s or Betty’s potential. If I accept the truth that God is sovereign (which He most assuredly is), then I must also accept the truth that everything that has happened in my life, good and bad, has been under His sovereignty. I must accept that God is bigger than my past, bigger than my failings, and bigger than my insecurities.

Further, the state of my future (or present) is not dependent on how good I am or how I measure up to Susan or Mary or Betty. And thank God for that, because if I were the captain of my fate, I’d be somewhere radically different than I am today, and I’d have a lot less hope to go along with that.

So here’s what I’m getting at: comparison is dangerous. We all do it, whether it be in fashion, dating, academics, our walks with God, or any number of other things. I’ve watched friends battle depression  over their inability to measure up to other people. I’ve seen relationships fall apart over the same thing. And I’ve seen people’s walks with God deteriorate over comparisons. How are we to be the people God intends for us to be if we are all trying to be like Susan or Bill or whoever else?

Instead of focusing on what we lack, let’s focus on what Christ is doing in us. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, let’s compare ourselves to Christ and who He desires us to be. (We will still inevitably fail, but I believe we will be striving for the right thing and growing in that direction.) Instead of walking in fear of never measuring up, let’s live our lives in the freedom of grace and truth He has given to us.

We’ll never do it on our own strength. Thankfully, though, we don’t have to.

Posted by: Spatzi | September 28, 2013

Is Chivalry Dead? The perspective of a 21st century woman.

Just the other day, I had an interesting encounter that got me thinking. I was running down the stairs to the chapel’s first floor, hoping to not miss the opening of the first song. I happened to reach the door at the same time as a group of young men who pushed and crammed their way through the door, leaving me standing with one hand on the door, wondering whether any of them had even seen me there. Of the twenty or so young men who shoved their way through that door, not one offered to let me go in front or tried to take the door from me. Only one stopped to say thank you.

Annoyed, I rushed down the aisle and slid into the seat my roommate was saving for me (ironically, a seat right next to a couple of the aforementioned young men). “Gentlemen,” I whispered to her in a huff, “do not exist.”

The question now, of course, is this: Do I really believe that gentlemen don’t exist? Do I really believe that chivalry is dead?

The simple answer is no. But I do believe that a number of our young men (and women) have forgotten what chivalry really is, and how it came to be.

In the Middle Ages, knights were held to a standard known as the Code of Chivalry. They were called to support justice, defend the weak and defenseless, assist widows and orphans, respect women, live by truth and loyalty, be courteous to others, avoid scandal, and fear God, to name a few. It is from this code that the concept of a gentleman was derived. However, there are days when I wonder whether this is an idea that is beginning to die out.

On the whole, do men nowadays occupy themselves with thoughts of fighting for those who are unable to fight for themselves? Do they determine to live by truth, loyalty, and fear of God? Do they strive to avoid scandal? Do they respect women?

The issue with this last idea isn’t really about opening doors or walking on the street side of the sidewalk, although that’s certainly a part of it. The issue of respecting women, as I see it, has to do with the ability to see women as they truly are. I believe that men and women are equal in the Lord’s eyes, but they are by no means identical. We have different strengths, weaknesses, and roles that have been given to us by God. A part of men respecting women (and, conversely, a part of women respecting men) is recognizing these differences and choosing to embrace them rather than shoving them aside for a misunderstood concept of equality.

On the flip side of my earlier story, I recently spent a weekend in California with my family for my brother’s wedding. While there, I had the opportunity to spend time with a cousin of mine who I could tell was really striving to embody the idea of a gentleman, even down to opening doors for me and pulling my chair out for me at dinner. Did he have to do these things? No. Were they a little weird to accept? Yes. But they also gave me a sense of security. They conveyed the idea that I was worth doing something for, that I meant something to him. These little things, no matter how insignificant they may have seemed, made me feel worthwhile and beautiful.

My point here isn’t that guys should have to go out of their way all the time to do every little thing for us women. I’m perfectly capable of doing things on my own, and I surely won’t die if I have to open a door for myself. The point is, guys, that what you do makes a difference, and that through embracing (or ignoring) those little, seemingly insignificant things, you convey much more than you may realize.

The fact is, we want to know we are important to you. We want to know we’re worth the effort, even if it’s a little annoying. We want to know that you see that tender, fragile part inside of us that needs protecting, and that you are willing to make that sacrifice. We want our brothers and friends and boyfriends and husbands to realize that, though we may not be lesser, we are different. And, within those differences, there is a part of us that, no matter how capable we may be, desires shelter, protection, and affirmation.

So, if you think we’re worth protecting, cherishing, pursuing, even loving… tell us. Show us. Because it means more than you may ever know.

Posted by: Spatzi | September 15, 2013

A Letter to Us All

I know I have posted this poem before, but it’s been nearly a year and a half, and it is without a doubt among my favorites that I have ever written. After taking a short trip down memory lane in reading some of my old posts, I thought I would share this with all of you once again. Enjoy! (As always, comments/criticisms are welcome.)

I’m baffled by the person behind the lies,
by the shadows behind those eyes that you hide behind two dark squares of glass,
whispering with false bravado that nothing has happened,
he never touched you.
I wonder at those lies.
You are a flash of lightning on a dark, still night,
unexpected and beautiful, here one moment and gone the next.
Your heart is not protected behind those cool, grey walls
but it’s growing colder, lacking the warmth of the Son.
I’d offer you a space heater if I thought it would help.
And I wonder what would happen if we each took two steps
to the left, away from those shadows, in order to gain some perspective.
Take my hand, we’ll make it, for beneath the glassy stare of your eyes
I know there is hope not yet quenched by the frigidity of your past.
You have not been forgotten.
Does it really matter where we go, so long as we go?
We make plans for ourselves, disguising them in false pleas for guidance.
Isn’t it true that we have to surrender everything before we can be made new,
and that, without Him, our dreams are not nearly as big as they should be?
Take a moment to listen.
We are not unforgivable, unredeemable, unmistakably broken.
We are stronger than they’d ever allow us to be, broken free from those unwanted glares,
ready to fall into something greater.
So fall, fall, and don’t look anywhere but Up, where hope comes from.
It’s okay to let go.
We are young, but we are not niave.
We have been branded by the past, but scars fade and 
the flower blooms even after the storm.
Through the cycles we come face to face with faithfulness.
Don’t worry about being perfect.
The depths of His grace are too great for your small form;
If we were alone, we’d be crushed.
But I saw you swim in that ocean, bathed in that fine Light,
and I smiled for all that you were.
True beauty is never what they expect of us.
Who are we to walk down the streets just like everyone else?
We were not made to fit that mould,
pressed into cookie-cutter shapes of what the world says we ought to be.
Don’t sell yourself for that bit of appreciation.
Do you honestly think the attention is real?
Listen, remember that ocean!
Did you forget what it felt like to be warm when you forsook the open arms that had for so long held you?
Acknowledge that wrong already, admit that it wasn’t your fault. 
And tomorrow, when your eyes open to the Light, you’ll remember the warmth.
His arms are never far away.
I remember when we used to dance through the sprinklers
like hummingbird wings fluttering 80 beats per second.
You didn’t so much tiptoe through my life as leave permanent bootprints,
like that old saying about true friends.
Let’s be children again.
Isn’t that the only way to go, with wide eyes and open hearts?
What makes us so inclined to hide away that pure, untainted shard of what once was,
as though that child could be hurt again so better to not let it live at all.
I miss that clarity of mind, when you spoke your words out of nothing but honesty.
If you’d hated him, you would have said so.
And now? Are you ready to admit it?
Say the words, speak them aloud,
acknowledge the wrong and hold fast to the right.
Bend over backwards, fall like a leaf tumbling from the heavens.
“I was never alone.”

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