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3 Good Things That Happened During My Break From Blogging

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Good morning, and happy Saturday friends! 
I hope you are all having a good and restful weekend.



Wow, it feels weird to be writing that after a year and a half away from the blogging world. Last month I marked my official return with a blog post, which you can read here. Somewhere along the process of writing that post, I realised how much has happened since I stepped away from my blog all that time ago. I know that the changes that have happened in my life will have some kind of impact on how my blogging journey pans out, and this blog has always been a pretty personal space...


Which is why I've never bothered deleting my old (and some very embarrassing) posts.

I've always felt like this blog is a fragment of my raw, authentic self. That's one of the reasons I thought you guys deserve to know the most significant things that have occurred over the last 17 months of my life. 

But it's not the only reason.

The other reason is for old times sake.

I don't know if any of my old readers will ever read this post, but for you newbies who have most likely accidentally stumbled here on this post, I used to have a regular feature called "5 Happy Things".  At least once a month, I would sit down with my bullet journal and list all the things that had made me smile or filled me with joy... and then from that I would hand-pick the 5 most significant things which I would write about. Sometimes I would write about things as simple as the weather, or the TV shows I was watching. Other times, I would write about more intimate, personal things.

 They were my favourite posts to write, my favourite to read back over, and some of my biggest hits on the blog. I'm writing today's post with that in mind. And who knows; maybe if you guys like this kind of post I might reinstate "5 Happy Things" as a regular feature again. 


Before I go any further, I feel like I need to make two disclaimers:

1. This is a COVID-FREE zone. I think that by now, we all know that the pandemic has had a crazy, lasting effect on all our lives... but other than recognising it briefly here, I don't want to pay too much attention to it on this blog. 

If you're looking for that, you might be looking for BBC NEWS instead. 

2. My best friend and photographer, Zoe, is currently in Northern Ireland due to the pandemic... and I am currently living in a house with three other people who are definitely not so good at taking flattering photos, although my Mam does try, bless her. (I miss you, Z). 

What that means is that for today's post, all the photos taken of me are either selfies (like the one above) or taken with a timer on my phone (like the two photos to follow). Zoe is likely to be in NI for at least a couple more months, so looking to the future, that means that I am either going to have to find some more, really creative ways to take photos (yelp), OR I will have to cherry-pick some of the photos that have been taken and not posted over the last year. I hope you guys don't mind but... if you do mind, I hope you understand.

Anyways, enough of me rambling on. 
Let's get to the point of this post. 


The Top 3 Good Things That Happened During My Break From Blogging:


1. I STARTED GOING BACK TO CHURCH... AND EVENTUALLY RETURNED TO GOD

I grew up in a Christian house. My parents raised me in the most loving environment, and the weekends of my childhood consisted of waking up bright and early on a Sunday morning to go to church. I was baptised age 14, and did my first mission trip the year after. I am so grateful to my parents for how they raised me, and there's truly not much more that they could have done for me. But come my 17th birthday, I was in a different place. I continued calling myself a 'Christian', but if anyone dared to look beyond the surface, they would see that I had no true faith, love, or hope in Christ. I started living for myself, and I would be lying if I said I didn't have fun doing that. I had a lot of fun. Truly. I'd go out at least three times a week, and on the nights that my friends and I didn't go out, we'd sit in at someone's flat to watch a movie, and drink/smoke. If you had asked me, I'd tell you that I loved my life, and at that point I did. 

Fast forward to February 2019, and the 'fun' and 'freedom' that I was chasing after while I was living for myself, was starting to wear off. At that point, I was in my penultimate year of university; I was looking towards my future, and I had no idea where I was going. I was so full of fear and anxiety for what the future might hold for me. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a cliff, knowing that if I took a single step forward, I would fall. See the thing about living purely for yourself, is that eventually 'fun' wears off. It isn't steadfast- you can't depend on 'fun'. One night that month, I came home from my boyfriend's flat and broke down to my Mum. Again. See, it had kind of become a bit of a routine: wake up, go to uni, see my boyfriend (or go to work), come home, cry, sleep, repeat. 

That night was just like all the other nights... only it wasn't. 

My Mum hugged me, and I tried to settle down by looking for something to watch on our TV. While I was scrolling through Netflix, my Mum was scrolling through Instagram, and she stopped on one post to read it aloud. "Sara, Dave's put up a post giving out an open invitation to anyone who'd like to try going to Home Church... why don't you go tomorrow?".

I didn't have anything left to lose at that point... I really didn't. I was hanging on by a thread; so close to dropping out of uni and giving up on all my dreams. Very few people knew how bad things got at that point. I was kind of hopeless, I guess. So I decided to go- not knowing how much it would change my life. Not knowing that three months later, in June, I would rededicate my life to God. I had no idea that I would see God answer prayers, and change lives... but I did. And He changed my life. 

Three months after going to Home Church for the first time, I returned to God. And I can honestly say that I've never looked back since. 

If you would like to watch me sharing my testimony for Home Church Scotland's live-streamed Testimony Tuesday, click here.



2. I EMBARKED ON MY JOURNEY AS A SINGLE 20-SOMETHING

One month after I wrote this post, I found myself in a situation where I had to close the door on a long term relationship with a lovely guy who had at that point, become an integral part of my life. 

Notice how I didn't title this point 'my boyfriend broke up with me'. No- it was so much more than that. Call me crazy if you want, but I believe that this particular break up was almost like a puzzle piece being put into place, rather than anything being shattered. And that's not to say that it wasn't difficult to process, adjust, and move on- it was. But it was also a blessing. While I had lost a boyfriend who I'd been with for a year and a half, I gained a friendship with that same man- a man who I value and respect so much. 

I also gained the time and freedom I needed to pursue a meaningful life. 

Or really, to pursue God.

And here comes the low-key crazy part. 

See, when I started going to Home Church back in February 2019, I realised that there weren't a lot of people my age. In fact, other than myself, there was only one other 20-something who regularly attended the church- so I prayed that more would come, not really expecting much of it. And the next week, I walked into the main hall of the church, only to see an old friend standing there. A girl my age, who I hadn't seen in over a year, who had applied to work at the church. We reconnected and had countless deep conversations. During one conversation in particular, I expressed feeling as though something was holding me back from fully committing to pursuing God... and my friend suggested that it might be the fact that I was dating someone who was not a Christian. 

While my boyfriend at the time was supportive, I couldn't share this experience with him. He had said that he would be up for coming to church with me sometime, but that time never came. It just wasn't his thing- and that's okay. But I needed someone who I could pray WITH- not just for. So that night, I cried out to God, begging Him to change my boyfriend's heart. Deep down, I knew that something had to change- either I had to be single, or going out with someone I could share going to church with.

"God, please use me to bring him to you... I love him so much, God. I can't break up with him, I don't have the strength. But... if it's your will God, please make something happen to break us up"

A week later, we broke up. He told me that he had been thinking about things for about a month (the same amount of time that I had been attending Home Church), and that he felt as though we were better off as friends. Now it's 2020 and I can confirm, we are definitely better as friends!!! He is still a dear friend to me, and I can't imagine what life would look like without him. When he broke up with me he did it upfront, with the most respect and honesty that I had ever received from a man. And for that I am grateful. 

I have now been single for over a year, and I can tell you wholeheartedly that I believe that my singleness has been a gift (just as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7). I have stumbled along the way, but being single has meant that I've had all the space in the world to focus on myself and God. I'm the kind of girl who will sacrifice everything and pour her all into a relationship. So... being single has meant that I've been able to give all the energy I was pouring into my relationship with my ex, to God. 

My ex taught me a lot about myself and the world. He helped me become a better person, he helped me realise that I needed to work on being less self depreciating (a word I didn't even understand until he explained it to me, lol), and he introduced me to people who have had a massively positive impact on my life over the past couple years. And for that I am immensely grateful. 

But God has taught me so, so much more... and I'm only starting. 


3. I WENT TO POLAND TO TEACH ENGLISH

I can't remember the exact dates, but I think it was around two or weeks after I had made my return to God, that I returned to a country I hadn't visited in three years, to teach English at a summer camp, called Camp Arka. My Mum is from Poland, and so I grew up making regular trips to Poland to visit family. I've always loved Poland; the language, the culture, the atmosphere, the people... and of course, the weather. Summers are a lot warmer in Poland than they are in Scotland.

In the month of June 2019, I travelled to Wroclaw to stay with some family friends a couple days before camp started. These family friends were involved in organising the camp, so all the native English speakers would stay at their home in the days coming up to the camp starting, so that we could get to know each-other. You might remember that I mentioned my good friend Zoe, earlier on in this post. The one who takes THE nicest, most flattering photos of me? Well, she joined us a couple days after I had arrived, and I am so glad that I have a friend like her with whom I can treasure our memories. 

The kids camp was organised by people involved in a Christian school, so the majority of the leaders were also Christians- although not all. For me, as a young Christian, it was the ideal environment for growth: I had mature Christians who could help guide me and answer my questions, AND I had an opportunity to serve. I taught English to a small group of 5 and 6-year-olds, which worked perfectly since their English was very basic, so I also had an opportunity to brush up on my Polish while I was teaching them. We had so much fun over the week that we served at that camp; from making creative and adventurous lesson plans for the kids, to going swimming and sunbathing at 30'C heat, to having deep chats with the other native English speakers while we watched the sunset over the lake. It was a beautiful week... almost perfect.

When the week ended, Zoe and I made plans to travel to Berlin for a couple days, which was equally as thrilling. Within a week or two of me returning home, I was asked to return to Poland for another week that summer, to teach English to a group of Ukrainian teenagers. I ended up going back and also doing a week of classroom English lessons with people of all ages. I even had 5 three hour lessons with two University lecturers, which was a massive personal achievement.



At the end of 2019, I realised that all three of these things were so interwoven. My singleness allowed me to dive straight into a relationship with God, with my focus solely on Him and no-one else. My relationship with God grew through the opportunity I had to serve and teach English in a country I loved... and I was able to return to that country at the drop of a hat, because I didn't have a boyfriend to think about. My singleness made the decision to return, a whole lot easier. 

I fell in love with Poland all over again that summer.

... and I didn't just fall in love with Poland. 

I fell in love with teaching.

Next week I will officially be beginning my journey as a student-teacher at the University of Strathclyde, and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to dip my toes into the world of teaching. It is thanks to God that I have some sense of direction in my life again.

Until next time...

Adios,
Sara Louisa xo

6 comments:

  1. I absolutely love this post. I'm so happy to hear that your break up wasn't absolutely horrendous, whilst tough to process, these things always happen for a reason, amazing x

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    1. Thank you so much my love! Honestly while hindsight is a beautiful thing, I remember just KNOWING that it was all for a greater purpose, and a year and a half later I can absolutely confirm that it was!!

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  2. What a lovely read. I'm so happy you've started to attend church again, I find going to church really grounds me. You've got a new reader here! :)

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    1. YAY!! Nothing beats getting a comment from a new reader, Sophia, this really made my day! Returning to God definitely been a learning process for me (which I might write a different post on sometime in the future...), but honestly I can't express enough how much I value the support my church & pastor has given me when I've needed it... and we all know I've needed it!

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  3. Welcome back lovely! I am glad you had a great time away and I hope you are feeling refreshed. It sounds like you had an interesting time away - I think teaching English is an amazing thing to do!

    Em x

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    1. Thank you so much Em, I absolutely am. Honestly, I feel like I've come back to blogging at the perfect time- there's just SO MUCH to write about!! x

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