I went to write a blog post yesterday or this morning or whenever -- I started this post sometime recently; that's the point. But I wasn't really feeling what I was writing, so I quit. A lot of things have changed in my head and my heart since that first attempt. I'm keeping the details of the events to myself, but I need therapy in their wake. Singing is my vocation and my love, but writing? Writing is my safety. Writing is my therapy. As many of you probably know by now, school started last Monday. I'm really happy to be back at Tech. Lubbock is home to me -- I told someone the other day that I had three homes: the house I grew up in, Lubbock and Tech, and Graz, in that order. I moved into a new place and sang in opera coachings all week. Our production of Suor Angelica is in full swing, and I'm really enjoying being part of it. My role, La Zelatrice, is written lower in my range, but I like the stretch -- and since they think I'm a mezzo, it all works out! I share the role with this wonderful new grad student, Katie, and she's fabulous; I love her.

As I said, classes started last Monday. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I have a pretty light class load: two classes, with lessons on Mondays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my busy days: I'm gone all day, and singing all day (choir is on Tuesdays and Thursdays). This is a good place to start telling you about all the weirdness I've been feeling recently. It's not that I don't enjoy my classes -- they're just fine. But this week, I've felt unsettled in my schedule and my routine. Usually I relish a new routine or a new challenge. This week has been different. I have plenty of energy, and my drive is the same. I just feel... wrong. Like something is missing. Maybe I need to take another class; I don't know. I do know one thing, though: I need a job ASAP. I've sent in about five or six applications, with no positive results yet. I'm still trying, but I feel incredibly useless. I need something to do, and I think that when I get a job I'll feel better.

The weird feelings aren't just job-related, though. I don't mind saying to this blog that I struggle with a sense of my own value (hence the title of this post -- surprise, surprise). I don't really believe that I have anything valuable to offer or anything lovable about me, even though I have plenty of reasons to believe the contrary. In fact, I have a myriad of reasons to believe in my own worth, and none that are sensical to believe in my lack of it.

You can know all kinds of things but not believe them.

I have the TV on right now because I need noise -- if I didn't have it on, I'd probably be more eloquent, but also more emotional. Today in church (I love my church here; have I mentioned that? It's amazing and full of people who love Jesus, which is fabulous), the sermon was about our identity in Christ. We tend to look for our identity in our roles in life: for example, I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a musician, etc. But none of those things really define me. Not even my brokenness, which I feel acutely -- not even that defines me. Do you want to know what defines me, and you too?

You are loved. You are worthy of love because Jesus pursues you and loves you.

I don't know about you, but that both blows my mind and fails to penetrate it. I can hardly believe that I'm so unconditionally loved and pursued. Jesus pursues me every day. And He pursues you, too. All the things that you love are given to you out of His heart so that you will love Him, too. For me, some of those things include sunshine, sky, music, laughter, true friends, and encouraging words. What are yours?

It's still making its way into my stubborn brain: I am loved. I'm not feeling particularly loved right now. I've been pretty shaken up in the last twelve hours, and my sense of my own desirability is in the pits. My friend Michelle and I have been saying this one thing to each other this week, though: Feelings are not facts. I have to keep telling myself this, but the world is still pretty dark from where I stand. I feel hopeless and all wrong, not like myself at all. I think I felt most myself at AIMS, but to me that's not a reason why I can't be the same way here. I'm the same person. What comforts me is that you can't hide the person that you really are. Sara comes out whether I think she does or not. It's just a question of how hard I work to disallow that.

For me, the hardest part is laying down my fear every moment of every day. This blog is titled "Adventure Joy," for the love of God. There's going to be fear in any adventure. Adventures suck, y'all. They really do. They're hard. They're so hard that I just took a sip of my tea to discover that I forgot my tea bag. I drank hot tap water. That's how hard adventures are: you forget how to make tea. The hardest part is laying down how hard they are. The hardest part is staying open and vulnerable even though life feels very dark.

I'll be perfectly honest with you: I'm having a hard time seeing the light here. I know in my head that there's an end to the tunnel. The difficult part for me now is not dwelling on my own sadness and strangeness to myself. In the end, the night passes and the morning comes, and you remember how to make tea again (For anyone who's interested, I did go get a tea bag, and now life is well). In the end, no matter how I feel, I'm still loved. I'm not hopeless. I have all the hope in the world. This is what I have to keep telling myself. I can't dwell. I can only live and love and pray.

It's midnight-thirty where I am as I write this, and I don't know if tomorrow morning, in the broad Texas sunrise, this post will make any sense. But I remember telling Liz and Becky, my best friends, that I needed to write. I knew it would give me perspective, and it has. While I'm on the topic, I have to give a pretty big shoutout to Liz and Becky. They've dealt with a lot of tears over the entire course of 2014, and none more than today. They're some of the best friends a girl could ask for. Becky cried with me today. Also a shoutout to my AIMS friends from afar who have talked me through today. Thank you all for reminding me who I am even if I don't see it.

Reminder for those of you who are reading this, whether it's in broad daylight or in the deep watches of the night: you are loved. Believe it. I'll close these thoughts with a beautiful quote my mom shared with me this morning, written by one of my favorite people ever: C.S. Lewis.

"Ah, the Saved... what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back to have been a well; and where present experience only saw salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water."

There's a light coming.

Still to come: Suor Angelica! Renée Fleming is coming to perform with the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, and I have a ticket! I'm so excited! The Women's Chorale retreat is coming up, and the evening after the retreat, I and a friend are going to watch famous mezzo-soprano/Texas Tech alum Susan Graham sing. Also, on a less grand note, I'm pondering chopping off a good portion of my hair, so stay tuned!

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