An old thing, a new thing, & a playlist: The blog returns

Remember not the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; 
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 
-- Isaiah 43:18-19

Howdy, friends, and welcome back!

As some of you may remember, once upon a time (aka the summer of 2016), I started a blog. Wearied from a difficult graduate school experience — not to mention a lifetime of fear, anxiety, and perfectionism — I was finally starting to make my way to a healthier place, and I wanted to invite others along for the ride. So I started writing and sharing my thoughts in a little corner of the internet called Turning the Paige

For nearly a year, I posted about living in the moment, letting go of unrealistic expectations, embracing messiness and discomfort, and being patient in periods of waiting, and I detailed my experiences recovering from graduate school, managing anxiety and depression, attempting to stay sane while job searching, and eventually, relocating from Indiana to Texas (yeehaw!). But about halfway through 2017, amidst some unexpected events that required my undivided attention, I made the decision to step back from the blog for a bit. 

I intended to pause for only a few months, but the break ended up lasting for three years — three crazy, beautiful, unexpected, difficult, and deeply transformational years. During this time, I quit my stable government job in the wake of a historic natural disaster and became a fundraising missionary — and that turned out to be just the beginning. (Cue dramatic theme music.) But all along, I never stopped dreaming, I never stopped writing, and I never gave up my URL to some other Paige, dang it. I hoped to return someday; it was just a matter of when.

Back in January, when “2020 was going to be our year” (remember how precious we were back then?), I thought it might be time. And now, in the midst of a global pandemic and what feels like general societal upheaval, it actually seems all the more fitting.

Because here we are, facing unprecedented anxiety and uncertainty in practically every aspect of life (as well as unprecedented use of the word unprecedented, amirite?). All of us are up against new fears, new challenges, and new beginnings, and while some of these changes are welcome, others are truly devastating. But if I’ve learned anything over the past 3 years, it’s that security and control are mere illusions. We live in a world where it’s easy to convince ourselves otherwise — after all, with a simple click of a button or flip of a switch, we can alter everything from the television channel to the temperature of the surrounding room. We can have food delivered to our homes in minutes and clothing, books, and if we’re lucky, toilet paper on our doorsteps in 2 days or less. But at the end of the day, as COVID-19 has reminded us, we’re not really in control. Life is always fragile and always in flux, and even though circumstances might feel more uncertain now, our plans are no more or less “safe” than they were before.

This is a sobering reality to face, especially if you’re a recovering control freak like me. My inner planning whiz wants to believe that it’s possible to prepare for every possible outcome so that I’ll never be caught off guard or experience suffering. The former A-student in me wants to believe that if I study hard and take good notes, I’ll always ace the Quiz of Life. My Enneagram One-ness tries to convince me that if I can just be good enough, good things will always result. This simply isn’t true.

But there is some really hopeful news, too: We don’t have to live in the shackles of fear and despair. We don’t have to spend all of our time trying, in vain, to control an uncontrollable world. Why? Because we have a God who is bigger than all of our problems and whose plans are better than our own — even, as I have witnessed time and time again, the plans we’ve mapped out with beautifully color-coded spreadsheets. We have a God whose love for us cannot be fathomed and whose generosity cannot be outdone authoring the story of our lives. Admittedly, the fact that the Lord is always doing new things and making all things new is equal parts exciting and terrifying, but we can always trust in His process and His timing — even if we really, really liked the old things.

I say all of this not to sound like Christian Motivational Speaker Barbie, but as someone who has dealt with pretty severe anxiety for most of her life. Fear, dread, panic, and despair have been my frenemies for as long as I can remember — always around and eager to play, only to stab me in the back Every. Single. Time. I was finally diagnosed with an anxiety disorder four years ago, and although I have so much left to learn, I can see the progress I’ve made towards navigating these dark places and walking in the light. Slowly but surely, the shackles have started to come off. And so I hope to share my journey, as imperfect and unfinished as it is, for anyone else who has felt similarly imprisoned. No one should have to go it alone.

To kick us off, I’m sharing a Spotify playlist I’ve been slowly building over the past year as I have prayed with, and truly lived, the words of Isaiah 43:18-19. It captures many facets of change and transition — from struggling to shake off the past to embracing the future with open arms to being okay with not knowing what’s next. And although inspired by scripture, the playlist contains a mix of religious and secular music, as well as different genres and styles. I hope you enjoy it!

So whether you’re facing a major transition, grieving a major loss, or just trying to make it through another day of the Coronapocalypse, here’s to new beginnings, to rivers carved in the desert, and to playlists that manage to combine Hillsong United, Walk the Moon, and Tom Petty. Let’s do this, fam!