Never let your fear decide your fate

I am a quitter. I am a maker of bold statements and consequently an admitter of defeat. I have the best intentions, but they rarely become anything more. I tire, grow weary and lose faith, mostly in myself. I begin to think because something has never been, it never will be. I am a failure.

It’s probably impossible to count the number of times I’ve decided to change my life by eating well, working out more and saving money. Every time, I feel so sure that this is it, this is the time I will get better. I might remain on track for awhile, but inevitably I give up when life gets busy or stressful or I’m tired or any other excuse.
This defeatist practice of mine isn’t limited to my body and how I treat it. It might be in the form of making a life change to read more, travel more, do more. It’s easy at the beginning when you’re still so jazzed from the revelation, but reality sets in and makes everything harder.
Right now, I’m trapped. I’ve committed myself to two things that are difficult. Making the decision was easy, and both are what I need. Saying that, however, doesn’t remove the months of energy and faith I will need to see them fulfilled.
This May, after watching several of my friends run in the Pittsburgh Marathon and Half-Marathon, I realized I wanted to be a part of that. Seeing all the determined runners cross the finish line and give all they had made me realized I’ve never achieved anything to this level. Sure, I do well in life, but I do well where it’s easy for me and once I’m challenged, I tend to back away.
To fight this head on, I registered for a half-marathon because I am truly insane.
Not running has always been my thing. I’m the one to make lame jokes about not being crazy and how I’d rather watch Netflix than spend two hours running. This deflection, thinly veiled as humor, was a representation of my fear. I am afraid.
It’s really a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rarely will I take on something I know will be hard, strictly because I’m sure I will fail. I recognize my limitations and hide from pushing myself. Running makes me tired and sweaty and I can’t make it very far, so I put it into my ‘impossible’ category.
Let’s take a timeout and think of all the times we’ve used this impossible category in our brains and kept ourselves from something truly worthwhile. We’re sure we can’t  or we won’t succeed or that person doesn’t like us, and we hide. Hide and wait for something safe to pursue that we know won’t hurt us. Curse you, brain.
Speaking of impossible, here’s life challenge number two: Leave. I have lived in Western Pennsylvania my entire life and loved almost every second. I dreamed of living in Pittsburgh for most of my teen years and it felt amazing when I made it a reality three years ago. Now, I truly believe God called me here for a time, but now I feel a gentle nudging, forcing me from my very comfortable life.
Because there’s my problem. I’m comfortable. Granted, this was nice as I worked through grad school and grew as a person surrounded by truly amazing friends. My job is good, my church is good and my friends are great, but I am just here.
I refused to imagine a life different than the one I had, and that became my problem. I never looked beyond Pittsburgh because I didn’t think I could make it and wanted to stay with what I knew, but God reminded me He has an amazing plan for me to prosper and is already there, fighting the giants in my path.
Two days into marathon training and I want to quit. Running is still really hard and I can’t run the entire time. I’m slow. My body is constantly screaming at me, confused why we’re doing this. Every instinct tells me this isn’t who I am and I need to stop.
Several weeks into contemplating a move, and the challenges continue to mount. I begin to think of all the details it will entail, like my current lease and finding somewhere else to live without any reference. Who would want to hire this out-of-state person for a job down south? Why am I good enough to get any of these jobs? Some nights, I look around my room that I love, covered in wall art within an inch of its life, and I think I should stay. It’s easier. I have everything I need here.
With both of these, I realize my strength alone will not get me through. I cannot do this alone. I will lose faith in myself to excel beyond my current job or ever be able to run several miles consecutively. I am afraid of what is ahead and discouraged about all the work I need to do.
I know it’s a cliché, especially when talking about running, but Isaiah 40:27-31 in the Message is basically everything I need right now.
“Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s the creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, they run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”
In many ways, I’m a lot like Jon Snow because I truly know nothing. God has shown me time and time again that He is with me and preparing a great future, yet I doubt. I rely on myself and fail because I can’t do it alone. I am a young person in my prime who stumbles and gets tired. But I don’t want to be.
Instead of being Chelsea, maker of bold statements that she can’t stand by, I want to be Chelsea, believer of God’s promises. Instead of giving up because I can’t on my own, I will wait for fresh strength from God.
I’m writing this for several reasons, mainly for an actual record of my choice so when I have to run four miles this Saturday I can’t quit because my two subscribers and seven random spambots will know I committed to continuing to run. So when it takes months or years for this move to become something real, I’m still holding onto to the promise from God that it’s happening.
Living a safe life is what I needed until now. God gave me rest so He could push me at the right time. Right now, I’m terrified but I know it’s time. As AWOLNATION so brilliantly sings, “Never let your fear decide your fate,” and I won’t.

#TBT: That month when I died my hair six times

It began with a simple conversation about a costume. For my sister’s bachelorette party, we were dressing up like different versions of Britney Spears and going out. As I contemplated my outfit, I said aloud ‘it would be better if I was blonde.’ The reply from my then-roommate began the spiral.

“You should die your hair blonde, like Emma Stone. She looks good as a blonde.”
Because I’m Chelsea, the idea took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. We weighed the pros and cons but finally I decided it was a good idea. Much to his dismay, we went to Walmart late that night and purchased a blonde box of hair dye and hoped for the best.
Spoiler alert: If you have very dark hair, a box job will not make you blonde. You will look like this:

Granted, it’s not a bad look. But I wasn’t satisfied. I did another box of blonde and was unsurprisingly still a brunette. A hairdresser friend confirmed my greatest fear: I would need to bleach my hair to achieve the look I wanted. I realized I couldn’t potentially damage my hair like that, so like a genius I decided to add more color.
I became a redhead because I’m an idiot. Thank God I cannot find any photographic evidence from this terrible week in my life. I did it myself and it was so uneven. As soon as I went home, my mom gave me the deserved ‘you’re such an idiot’ look and quickly commanded it be dyed. So we bought another box, dyed it and I still had spotty roots. My mom had a root touch-up lying around so we added that as well. If you weren’t counting, here’s the total amount of box jobs currently in my hair:
(2) Boxes of blonde
(1) Box of carrot-top red
(1) Box of some brown color
(1) Box of root touch up
We’re up to five, right? And I still had all my hair. It was great. But my hair also looked like this:

While you might not be able to tell, it looks like brunette dye was haphazardly applied all over my head which is exactly what happened. It resembled a chunky brown rainbow. Pretty, I know.
Here is the most important detail I excluded: I did this the month before my sister’s wedding. I tend to lose my mind from time-to-time, but I really thought Kristi was going to kill me given the state of my awful hair. At first, I justified it because it was my hair and I liked it and I’m cool blah blah blah. And then I realized this is what my hair would look like, forever immortalized in my sister’s wedding photos and I panicked.
Luckily, my mom felt the same way and paid to have it done properly. Mind you, this happened the day before the wedding. When the time for photos came, I looked much better:

 Well, my hair did at least.
Then we all lived happily ever after.
Incorrect. My hair did not. I learned the hard way that using red will forever cause your hair to turn copper. For more than a year, I went through cycles. I would get it dyed or do it myself (depending on da monies) and then within a few months I looked like this:

 Yeah. Not my best look.
Eventually, I had to cut it all off to remedy the situation. It was so damaged and weirdly colored and I needed a reason to be brave and try the pixie. Now all is good in the hood of my hair.
The moral of this story: don’t try to make a drastic change to your hair without professional help, and especially don’t do it the month before your sister’s wedding where you’re the maid of honor. Did I mention that part?
Suffice to say, dying my hair blonde seemed like a good idea the time (to me only because let’s be real in what world would that work)

The problem with wanting it too much

When something consumes you, it’s crippling. Nothing else matters except for whatever you can’t get out of your head. You’ll stare at your computer at work for hours, dreaming of something else. You feel stuck because you can’t change the situation.
You want it too much.
My entire life, I’ve wanted things too much. Sometimes this drive is beneficial because it pushes me, but more often it’s maddening. It’s almost as if my brain believes enough focus will make it happen, like it’s a wizard or something. You would think my brain would learn after 24 years as a muggle, we can’t do that.
It all begins with an idea. A chance encounter. A seemingly mundane happening. Before I can stop it, this spark lashes out into a wildfire threatening to burn down every shred of reason I try to use as extinguisher. I can feel it coursing through my veins, making me feel terrifyingly electric.
I become fixated and obsessed, allowing my thoughts to stray to the interest more often than not. I slip into conversations. I imagine scenarios with this person or idea. I can feel myself growing crazier by the minute.
Sometimes, it involves a life change, like the idea of moving. As soon as I feel it, my life is centered around making it happen. Where I am seems unbearable, like I’m wasting my time in this place.
Other times, it’s a boy. Nothing goes from something to everything before I can remind myself to breathe and take a step back. It always begins slowly, before the eagerness sets in. We meet, I’m hesitant. When it’s too late, I recognize I want it and then you’re gone. I think because we would work together, we should.
It comes in cycles. Cycles that go round, but take me nowhere. I remain who I am and where I am, bracing for the next whirlwind to consume me.
On some level, I realize this. Occasionally I can comprehend what’s happening and I let the fever rage until it passes. It’s like going through withdrawal. I want to think about it. Talk about it. Dream about it. But I can’t. I shut down all thoughts until they stop happening, recognizing it’s temporary. Eventually I even out and dive back into my real life.
The worst is when they linger. You can live day to day without the knocking on your brain, but you know it’s on the other side of the door waiting to burst through and wreck you again.
Despite all of this, the craziness and the inability to see real life, the problem is something different. How do I know if it’s good when I want something? I’m always the one who wants more and so far nothing has wanted me back. How will I know if it’s something I should pursue or wait out the cycle? Will I ever understand if something is real or a creation in my imagination?
This is my problem and fear. I’ve become numb to the passion of a moment because overdrive will kick in before the real and rational Chelsea can allow it to process. I pray God allows me to see when it is something real. I trust He will.
I’m here now, by the way. Fighting my way through two things that demand my every thought. In this case, I know one is right I’m working with everything I have to make it happen. As far as the other, I’m clueless. Is it worth pursuing or am I losing my mind? Who’s to know.

Promises, promises: The never-ending wait for what’s next

Being a Christian is all about promises – stay strong and reap a harvest, God works for the good of those who love Him, He will finish what he started, He’s coming back, etc. Now don’t get me wrong, these are all exciting things, but between the promise and execution is the wait. And the wait is excruciating.
Kind of like braces. We know the end result will be beautiful, straight teeth, but it’s hard to keep that in mind when you look like this and constantly have ulcers or food stuck somewhere.

Now if you’re a patient person who can wait without any issues, you should probably stop reading. This post isn’t for you.
If you’re like me, you get excited about things. You feel God’s call on your life and you’re so ready to respond, and then you reach a few weeks in with nothing happening. You’re waiting on God, but He seems to have prioritized someone else’s calling for the moment. It’s like we take our number from the dream machine, only to wait until God has time for us.
(I know God’s timing doesn’t work like this because he’s omnipotent or whatever and can help us all simultaneously, but these are my feelings)
As a go-getter, this doesn’t sit well with me. Once I decide something, I cannot be convinced otherwise. Some call it stubbornness, but I prefer to look at it as a loyalty to myself and my convictions. The whole idea of ‘be still and wait patiently for the Lord’ is practically my faith kryptonite.
I’m a fidgety person. I’m rarely still, physically or mentally. To me, it’s like my excitement cannot be contained so it causes convulsions, often what looks like prancing. It’s hard to be patient when your mind is always refreshing the to do list and things God wants you to do are outstanding items on the list you can’t do without Him.
Kind of feels like school, right? You’re given a group assignment and being the organized psychopath you are, you make the master to do list and carefully complete your responsibilities. But it DRIVES YOU CRAZY that one kid is slacking and his items remain exposed without the neat line through to mark it done.
Yes, I just compared God to a slacker. But now I’m going to fix it. Let’s look at it from God’s perspective. He reads the assignment, knows what needs done and also knows the perfect amount of time it will take. He can stress and panic and rush when he isn’t ready, or He can take His time and make it perfect. The crazy person in the group (us) might want to finish his or her part so badly that mistakes are made.
See where I’m going with this? God gives us great promises and we get mad when he takes his time because it’s not fast enough for us. He gives us everything, and we remain unsatisfied because of one thing.
“Sure God, I get that I’m healthy with a good job, great friends and a wonderful family, but I’d really like a boyfriend but since that hasn’t happened I’m mad that you don’t work with me and my timing.”
This kind of thinking leads to two questions:
Why can’t I be patient with God?
Often we look at God’s timing as something to dislike, but it’s saving the lives of people everywhere. In 2 Peter 3, we learn about the Day of the Lord and how it’s the ultimate end of waiting. It’s a great reminder to live each day as if it’s the last because we never really know, but verse 9 is a slap in the face to those of us who begrudge God’s timing.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
We often misinterpret our waiting as God taking his time, but this couldn’t be more wrong. He knows what he’s doing. There’s a reason for every moment of the wait, and while we may not always see it, it’s there.
Looking at the second half, we see why he’s waiting to come back. GOD IS PATIENT WITH US. Think of every situation where you could’ve been better in the last week. Multiply that by the seven billion people on this planet. God is patient with each and every one of us, despite the fact that we’re all petulant brats who definitely only deserve condemnation.
It’s hard to wrap my brain around that. He loves us so much, despite how little we deserve it, to the point that He is waiting to return so more can be saved. He is prolonging His coming because of love.
And yet I can’t be patient because the God who gives me everything hasn’t presented my future husband yet. Check yourself, Chelsea.
Why don’t I have complete faith in His promises?
I firmly belief that my life is on a path defined by God, yet as a human with free will, I have the capability to decide how I manage on that path. Even if God knows what I will do and knows it is wrong, He lets me do it (TBH God, I wish you would exercise a little more control because I really know nothing about functioning).
Often, this manifests as me hearing God’s will and then trying to take control and make it happen sooner. I get tired of waiting and convince myself that God wants me to take action. It’s true God wants you to be active, but there’s a difference between doing what needs done and taking the reigns entirely.
Many of my mistakes relate back to hearing God’s will and then muddying it up with my inability to chill. The good news is I’m not alone.
Remember Sarah from the Bible, wife of Abraham? God promised her family so much, yet when she thought she would never conceive a child she had her husband sleep with servant and he was down. This is normal, right?  Naturally, problems arose between Sarah and Hagar, the servant, who at one point ran away because she was afraid.
Later, when Sarah was past her prime at 90 years old, the Lord visited Abraham (now 100) and said this time next year she would have a son. Naturally, Sarah was eavesdropping and after hearing what the Lord said, she laughed. Laughed. Almost in God’s face. Then she asked herself “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure,” which kind of sounds like I’m too old for this crap, but I’m not a Bible scholar.
Because God knows everything, he asked Abraham why his wife laughed, and of course Sarah because she’s a human tried to lie. Rookie mistake. God came back with the “Yes, you did laugh.” And that was that.
Within this passage (Genesis 18 if you think I made it up), the Lord also says “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Often we’re too much like Sarah. We want to trust God, but He takes a long time so we adapt and it causes bigger ripples than we anticipated. We start to think maybe it’s too much for God and we’ll be waiting forever. As time goes on, we lose faith even if we don’t realize it, because our own actions are exactly that. If we had complete faith in His promises, would we try to do it ourselves?
We have an entire book dedicated to God keeping His word, but still we hate to wait. We lose heart and think maybe it won’t happen. We use our own methods. But we always end up where God wants us, only with more heartbreak and baggage than before.
So now here’s the challenge – wait patiently. Fight every impulse to stray with truth. The Bible is seriously filled with great verses about His promises. When you’re on the edge of desperation, use His word to talk you back down. Nothing is impossible with God, and when it happens in His timing, it’s amazing. Joy in your circumstances will take you a long way.
I write this challenge because I need it. I need to trust completely. The inspiration for this came from my Women of the Old Testament Bible study and our church sermon on God the Spirit yesterday. Basically, God is telling me to shut up and wait so now that’s what I’m trying to do.

Chelsea’s quest to find a life

If you look up the word “crotchety,” you’ll find many less than flattering words. For example, Google will tell you it means irritable, with synonyms including peevish, crabby, snappy and cranky. According to Urban Dictionary, crotchety is a way to describe an old person in their golden years who hates the world and decides to take it out on the world. See also: Chelsea Cummins.
While in Ireland, I realized I was crotchety. I was practically one step away from yelling at kids for enjoying their lives too much. How does that happen to a 24 year old?
It wasn’t that long ago that I risked staying up late for a good time. I drank before meetings in college and chose a night out to studying for a quiz the next morning. I went to class unshowered and skipped the next to go shopping. Even as a recent grad, I hung out and drank with work friends making questionable decisions. I once had a party and invited underage kids and the cops came. Notice I included questionable in the description of my decisions. Nonetheless.
Without realizing it, I grew up but not in the right way. As with most situations in life, I go too far one way or the other. Turning 21 brought a lot of weird times and choices in an attempt to grow into me, only to realize I was going the wrong direction. To correct this, I jumped in the opposite way, cutting myself off from every opportunity to make poor choices. Honestly, I think this abrupt change made me less funny on Twitter.
Now I find myself a real adult. I live in a place with three floors, including a basement and washer/dryer. I have a dog. I’m leasing a new vehicle. I wake up early, work out, read my Bible and eat breakfast. I go to bed at a decent hour and decline activities that might keep me out too late.
Yes, I really am that old. And it’s really depressing.
It didn’t occur to me how tragic my existence had become until I watched several other young people in Ireland do fun young people things as I sat doing grad school work. Slowly, I put my computer down and went outside where it was windy and cold but also a great time. I realized other people weren’t the problem, I was.
This isn’t to say that all will find my life sad. For some, it may be ideal. The point of this is realizing I’m not satisfied with life which is understandably not good.
The worst part is that somewhere along the line, I forgot how much I enjoyed occasionally making the wrong choice. I pushed away the good memories and held on to the bad for reinforcement that I was doing the right thing.
Thank God for traveling to put your life into perspective.

Instead of hiding behind my schedule and responsibility, I’m ready to take chances and let myself be 24. So what if sometimes that means I stay up a little later? Eventually I won’t have these opportunities. I’ll have more than a dog that relies on me. My future responsibilities will dwarf the ones I fear now. Being young is a gift and I’m done celebrating the fact that I’m old. This is a new chapter in my life.
Chapter 1: Chelsea is the consummate good girl (1990-2011)
Chapter 2: Chelsea loses her mind a little and compromises a bit too much (2011-2013)
Chapter 3: Chelsea overcorrects her life to the point of boring tragedy (2013-2015)
Chapter 4: Chelsea finds a new perspective and embraces life (2015-?)
Prior to the writing this post, I began making small changes and decisions about my life. For example, I’m taking a trip down south at the beginning of August to see my friend Linzy because I love and miss her. I plan to start hiking with Samantha. I’m going to the Three Rivers Arts Festival this Saturday (lived in Pittsburgh for 3+ years and I’ve never been there).
Life is what you make it, and I’m done making excuses for this future where I’ll have time to enjoy myself. That time is now. #chelseafindslife