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The Missing Piece?

I hint a lot (maybe too much?) about how I changed my life in 2010. But, maybe I’ve never really layed out everything I did to make that happen – especially since with my crazy schedule I’m not always the most regular blogger. How is December 2009 Karen really different from May 2011 Karen? Switching to a vegetarian diet and getting in to working out (biking especially, as well as running and swimming) are the two big things I’ve focused on in my writings in this space. These things have given me energy and confidence. Another interesting stat is that in 2009 I got sick a lot. I probably had 5 or so serious colds and was hospitalized on Christmas for a particularly bad case of strep. Oh, and let’s not forget my concussion. Since 2010 I’ve only had 1 minor cold that only lasted like 1 day. I think this is a particularly amazing statistic and probably non-coincidental. I used to be a girl who caught every cold in a 15 foot radius. My immune system is kicking butt these days : ).

Another one has been getting out of my comfort zone to meet new people and try out new activities. Not all of these have been winners, but after a year or so of doing this I’m finally starting to stick with a couple things that make me happy: Biking and swing dance.

But a big one I’ve never mentioned is figuring out my beliefs. I started going to church again in 2010 after a pretty long hiatus after high school. I always felt I had a pretty strict upbringing, and after following all the rules for 18 years I just had that time I think a lot of people go through in college where they just want to experience what it’s like to have no rules. During this time I did things that I can’t believe were me. I like to think of that Karen as some kind of weird doppelganger – she looks like me but is unrecognizable in so many ways. There are stories from the past that literally make no sense in my head. As a result, I really rode the highs and lows in my life. One week I was on top of the world and the next I was crashing and burning. I dated jerks who didn’t respect me, and honestly, I probably didn’t respect a good majority of them either. My self esteem came from others and worldly things. I worried about things more. I let anxiety get the better of me a lot.

There were a couple times in college I tried to get that back. I think that’s the good thing about being raised in a Christian home – when I crashed and burned I did think about going back to church and figuring out my beliefs. But it never stuck. I never found a place I was comfortable with for the long haul. I found most Christians seemed like ‘scary happy people.’ And that sketched me out at the time.

But in the middle of 2010 I got in a pretty scary car accident. It was then that I remembered how really fragile life here is, and that if I wanted to figure out what I believed….if I wanted to change my life, then I better do it now. Because, it’s never going to get any easier to do these things than it is right now. I was in the trap that I think a lot of people are, where you just think you’ll have time to do X later….but ‘monday’ never comes. Coincidentally at around the same time I ended up having a conversation about God during a thunder storm with a new friend, and before I knew it I was invited to church and a small group.

From July 2010 to now, I’ve really gone on quite an exciting faith journey. In the beginning, I had a pretty shaky faith based on science, actually. I believed in God because the world was just too beautiful and complicated to happen without some guidance in evolution. But all the ‘Jesus stuff’ – I just didn’t feel excited about it like all other Christians do.

But somehow over the last year – by really working on my faith, praying, learning, reading, and talking to others – I dunno – I feel it, and my faith has made me a happy person. I don’t see Christianity as a list of ‘rules’ anymore. I see it as wisdom for living the happiest life you can on Earth – a toolkit I guess. I find when I follow Jesus’s rules I’m happier. I find that I’ve gained waaaaay more than I’ve sacrificed. I find that I am kind of becoming one of those scary happy people, but that it’s a pretty great way to be. When I hint at 2009 Karen to new friends, most can’t imagine a Karen that isn’t bubbly with excitement. I kind of love that. Through the last year I’ve really tried to exercise those faith muscles, and as a result can hear and feel God more than I ever could. All of this is so strange and new, but awesome at the same time. So here I am…writing it all down because I just felt like a big piece of the puzzle was missing here.

I’m also partially writing this because in conversations with other over the last few weeks I’ve realized so many people my age are in the same boat I was before. And because of this, I feel like my story is important, and maybe someday it will help someone think about putting the work into figuring out their beliefs again. It’s easy to get stuck and complacent. And I’m glad my world got shaken up a bit so I could find this happy place. Anyway : ) ! Peace!

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