Saturday, March 31, 2012

That Time of the Month

The question:
Is it ever okay to ask women if they're on their periods? 
I laughed when I heard it, thinking of one of the more recent episodes of Modern Family. When all 3 women in his family are obviously on their periods, Phil's advice to the boys is the following:
The first rule of dealing with the cycle? You never mention the tiptoe around it. The woman has actually taken great pains to hide the monster she's become, but if you acknowledge it, that brings the monster forth. 
There's probably some truth to it, honestly (aside from the fact that the raging emotions typically come prior to the period--what we refer to as PMS). In some strange world we are able to recognize when our moods are highly irrational due to PMS and we are trying desperately to mask the fact that we feel like everything around us is wrong. When guys bring it up, it makes us realize how terrible of a job we're doing at hiding it and so we become even more irritated/frustrated with ourselves for that, and then with them for having the audacity to point it out.'s a complicated question because every woman is going to react differently to such a question....and no woman will probably react the same way twice to the question, especially if the guess is correct.

A few suggestions in navigating your way around the emotional instability of a woman in regard to this issue:

  • If it's someone that you're close to (wife, girlfriend, best friend, sister, mom) it may be appropriate to have a conversation about it when you know they are not currently PMSing. Let them know honestly how they tend to act about things during this time and ask them how they'd like you to respond to them. If you do as they suggest and things still don't go well, you'll have at least tried. 
  • If it's someone you aren't close to, but have to be around frequently (co-worker, neighbor, house mate) you can gauge whether or not this would be an appropriate conversation given the need to work through conflict and figure out a way to live harmoniously. If having a conversation is completely out of the question, don't be afraid to steer clear for a few days. 
  • If you don't know them very well at all, just steer clear. No use in bringing it up if it'll pass. 
  • If you can't steer clear or they aren't responding to any of the agreed upon responses, it may be best to just try and hold your tongue. Or, at some point... you can tell them how ridiculous they're being. It may be good a wake up call for them.  
The question, itself, may need to be revised. Not many women will respond well to, 'So are you on your period or something?' Be willing to approach the situation as you would with any conflict, asking questions, listening....instead of jumping to rash conclusions. 

Mostly because when you ask that question, you might as well be saying, 'So are you being a total *&$#@ because you're on your period? Or are you just being a total *&$#@?'  It's not really great, no matter how you ask it. 

All that to say... probably don't ever ask the question, 'Are you on your period?'... ('cause when you're wrong, that's just as much of a disaster) but be willing to talk about her attitude and mood if you need to. Find out what's going on, as you would with anyone in turmoil, without jumping immediately to the 'period' conclusion. 

Remember that every woman is different, too. Allow them to be different. What worked for one, may not work for another. 

And women, PMSing isn't an excuse for being a complete jerk. Ultimately, there's always such a thing a self-control... you always get to choose how you respond to things. It's best to be aware of your emotions and when they might be heightened because you will, usually, have to be more on guard of what comes out of your mouth when your hormones are all jacked up. You aren't exempt from loving others a few days every month because you're more easily annoyed. We are responsible for our actions/words at all times, no matter what's going on with our bodies. 

Oh, the beauty of communication... and learning how to co-exist with the opposite gender. 

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Asking for Love.

A friend once asked me if God’s love was enough to truly satisfy my heart.  I’ve had to think about that a lot…is His love enough to satisfy me?

I finally came to this conclusion: I'm not sure if it is enough to satisfy me here on earth.  I fear that I will continue to fail to realize what His love truly means for my life, because I can’t seem to grasp how wide, how high, how long, how deep is the love of Christ.  Ah...but there are those moments where it clicks.  Those moments where I get it and it's all I know I need and I recognize how foolish I am to want anything more...but right now, they're only just moments...  
January 13, 2005  
today God told me that He loves me. And I finally get it. I finally get it.  It was what I was missing this whole time. A simple concept, but the biggest and hardest and most undeserving thing to attempt to grasp. I watched as my Savior got on His knees and took my foot in His hands.  I looked down into His eyes...and everything else fell into place as i wept and He began to wash my dirty feet. have you ever heard God tell you that He loves you...? Last night I told Him i was ready for what was next.  He provided...showing me His love in an entirely new, beautiful way that I've never before experienced. 
This was a few years ago…and this was part of an email I wrote to a dear       friend. These moments feel few and far between these days.  I imagine they   are few because of my lack of asking God to rain down His love on me.   
This particular moment in my life I will never forget.  It was one of the most    vivid and out of body experiences with Christ that I can recall…and it             happened in the most random of places—the bathtub. 
I have this ridiculous affinity for baths.  In college, sharing a bathroom with      three other girls wasn’t exactly conducive to fulfilling this desire…not to        mention the mildew and soapscum that was eternally glued around the base of the tub.  I took every chance I could to take baths when I went home for     the holidays.  This particular Christmas break proved to hold a more special purpose for bathing than just cleanliness and relaxation.  
For whatever reason, I began to imagine what my life would look like if one of my parents died suddenly.  The thought was excruciating…and I began          weeping.  These thoughts were no just longer thoughts, but the emotion was as though it had actually happened. I realized the tragedy of life without them;the fear of growing up, becoming independent, starting my own family,           getting my first job.  The thought of not having home to come back to; a       place of love, support, encouragement, wisdom…my parents--that thought    broke me.  

Soon these thoughts took a bit of a different twist.  I was now the victim of an untimely death and I was knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how my sudden death would wound my parents.  I imagined their life without me, and that broke me even more still.  Not because I’m special, not because I’m a good kid…simply because I knew how much they loved me, and how much it would kill them to lose me.  Even though they have other children, I knew it would devastate them to lose just one of us. 

It was at that moment that I felt like God was telling me that He loved me…that He loves me with a greater intensity, a greater tenderness and gentleness than my parents could possibly muster up.   He loves me, despite my faults, despite my past, despite my weaknesses, my insecurities, my shame, my sin, my selfishness.  I felt as though He was whispering 'Debbie, see how much they love you? It’s like this, only better…way better.'

He didn’t stop there.  I was suddenly watching myself seated before Jesus Christ—and as I plunged on my face at His feet, realizing my absolute unworthiness in His presence, He tenderly knelt beside me, and helped me to my feet.  He seated me in the chair, and as I became aware of His next actions, I began to weep uncontrollably at the thought of what this really meant.  My Savior knelt down at my feet and began to wash them.  He looked up into my eyes…and I looked down into His.  I looked down into Jesus’ eyes. 

In the bathtub I grew up taking baths in, my Savior told me of His love for me…and then He acted on it.  It was one of the most real and vivid things I can ever remember…and maybe the strangest.
But that was just a moment.  One moment…and while it made perfect sense  in that moment, and while that moment reminds me often of His love…I don’t feel His love for me like that most days.  I don’t feel this intense emotional    connection to the God of the universe.  

I think that's okay. I don't think that makes me a failure. I don't think that      means I'm doing something wrong. I kind of just think that's how it is. But, I    think the moments are important. I think they bring Scripture to life for us. 

Ask Him to give you a moment... a moment where, even if it's just a second, you undoubtedly believe His love for you. A moment where you just know      that that's all that matters. A moment where sins are forgiven, slates are       wiped clean and you can walk freely. Trust that it'll happen... in His timing and His way. Don't try to fabricate it. 

And in the time in between the moments? Keep walking faithfully with what He has told you, what He has given you, what He has called you to. Be faithful   even when He doesn't feel 'near' or when you don't feel satisfied. His             presence isn't dictated by our emotions... 

Thank God. 
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

From Boyfriend to Friend.

Have you ever broken up with someone and uttered the most cliche line in break-up history: 'I hope we can still be friends...'?
(I suppose we could argue that it's actually a 'It's not you, it's me' type of phrase, but for all intents and purposes, we'll stick with this one for now...)

Have you ever been broken up with and been offered the polite request of friendship in place of a relationship? 'But I really value our friendship and I don't want to lose it... I think we're much better at being friends than we are at dating...' 

You know the phrases that seem to too easily trickle off tongues as there's an attempt to make the blow less fatal and heart-crushing. The suggestion usually seems to result in the following:
  1. Agreeing to try and maintain a friendship. Nothing changes and it's as though you're still dating without actually 'dating'. 
  2. Agreeing to try and maintain a friendship. Conversation is stilted and awkward and forced, but you feel obligated because it was suggested and agreed to. 
  3. Agreeing to try and maintain a friendship. You successfully move into friendship without a problem (this seems rare to come by). 
  4. Not agreeing to the proposed friendship. No communication is had between both parties.
  5. Not agreeing to the proposed friendship. Communication arises when one party feels the need to express their thoughts, opinions, feelings on how the relationship ended, how things currently are, etc. 
  6. Not agreeing to the proposed friendship. Within a few days you're back together again, unable to face life without the other by your side. 
It's an interesting world, this place of friendship after relationship. Attainable? Maybe sometimes.  But, ultimately, I think it's a ridiculous suggestion... at least initially. 

Can two people become friends again after sharing in romance, deep matters of the heart, hard circumstances only to be broken-hearted and wounded by the other? Absolutely... it would make sense that they could be, although it's not typically the wisest decision. But, I think time is a necessary factor here, no matter what. Time for healing, time for moving on, time for forgiveness. I don't think friendship ever needs to feel like a requirement, though. 

If you're doing the breaking up, be willing to allow for time. Be willing to give the other person time. If you're breaking it off with someone, allow them to cope with their heartache in a realistic manner...don't demand or suggest friendship as a necessary next step. It doesn't ease the pain, it often can increase it. 'Oh, so I'm good enough to be your friend but nothing more?' might be a thought that runs through their mind... 

If you're being broken up with, be willing to give yourself time... and force yourself to do this, if necessary. While you may be the one to suggest friendship out of fear of losing the other person, I wonder if you're suggesting it because you're hoping to win the other person back? Evaluate your motives and your reasons for friendship...consider if your heart can really handle the new conditions...and be willing to take time before jumping into a new type of friendship with a person that you deeply care about. This takes self-control and letting go. 

Again...there are always exceptions. 
But... on the whole, consider your words as you break-up with someone. Don't offer up the friendship card immediately because you can't think of anything else to say and it just sounds right. Don't feel like you have to take the friendship card because it was offered. 

The heart is a complicated thing... and every relationship is different. 
Tread carefully, and be willing to do what you need to do.... friend or not. It's okay. 

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hating You.

"What do you hate?"

A college minister asked us this in a leadership meeting several years back. We were supposed to write down our answers. 

I remember viciously scribbling down answers, as though the time on the clock would never be enough to allow me to remember everything I wanted to. My list ranged from a bazillion pet peeves and quickly full-circled to the things about myself that I couldn't stand. 

I got real specific as I logged my every imperfection: my too frizzy hair, my nub of a middle finger, my sometimes too brash honesty, my finger toes, my selfishness, my fear of talking to strangers, my hairiness, etc., etc., etc. 

As our allotted time to write came to an end I came to a harsh and ugly truth about my list. 

As much as I hated all these things about me, I still loved myself more than everyone else. 

In the midst of my absolute self-loathing (over some really ridiculous things), I still knew that I mattered to me more than anyone else. Even the very nature of self-loathing somehow reveals this selfishness that exists so deeply within me. 

It's interesting... because the Christian faith teaches to love God, love others, love ourselves (the I'm Third mentality). We're supposed to be last, right?  But Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Hmmm... 
Somehow I think we miss that last part a lot. We say 'love God, love others'...but what happens when you throw in that 'as yourself' part? 

It changes things in a multitude of ways. It changes things because as much as I can hate myself, I can still love myself. Can we do that with others- hate them AND love them simultaneously? As much as we look out for ourselves and do things that have our interest in mind... can we look out for others to the same degree, can we do things that have their interest in mind just as much? Not necessarily more, but as much as (the old Golden Rule)? 

It's something to consider, as we move forward in striving to be people who love well. Perhaps when we're asking how to love others, it's simply a reflection of how we love ourselves. And if you truly hate yourself, does that excuse you from loving others? I'd probably argue that the moments we think we truly hate ourselves are the moments when we may love ourselves a little too much.... in some fun psychological world I won't get into now. 

All that to say... 
Do a little self-examination today. What do you hate? Why? Who? 
What would it look like for you to love others as yourself today? 
While driving? While in class? While at work? While getting lunch? 

You tell me. 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting it all Hang Out.

They [girls] just need to realize that guys will be looking at them. Old dudes. 
It was my favorite part of a conversation I recently had with a group of guys about modesty.

The age-old topic of modesty again...really?
It's a battle of the sexes: men wanting women to wear more clothes to help them in their sexual struggles and women wanting men to get over their sexual struggles so they can wear whatever they want.

So--we come to a screeching halt. Who must give in? Can there ever be a compromise?

We women find ourselves in a world where the fashion trends are currently quite revealing. Unfortunately, this same world seems to be penetrating the minds of men from the moment they hit puberty until the day they die, flooded with an array of bodies they've seen slewed across billboards, playboys, the local swimming pool, facebook... you name it.

I think the reason modesty is addressed so frequently is that, when it comes down to it, women either don't care that guys struggle so much sexually or else they really aren't aware of how much their clothes can affect men.

Sure, it's true that different guys will struggle with different things so when we're asking what the line is, we're inevitably going to come out with different answers. I think the bigger thing is realizing that they do struggle and that it does matter. Perhaps it's also important to realize how we dress and present ourselves will also determine the types of guys that will find us attractive.

In college I remember one of my non-Christian guy friends telling me how he was going to date the one girl in the swimming pool who was wearing a one-piece bathing suit. It caught me off-guard because I thought that surely the more revealing and skimpily dressed girls would be the ones to catch his eye...

I'm probably a bit disappointed in the way Christian girls dress. Disappointed because I want us to care more about how our bodies affect all men of all ages. Disappointed because I think we've become numb to the fact that our cleavage, our butts, our stomachs can rouse men...disappointed because I think we're sometimes glad when it does.

I think we put our desire to feel desired above men and their desire for holiness and purity... a battle that isn't easily won. We put our desire for sin above their desire for good.

Because, at the end of the day... what benefit does it really have? What benefit does dressing any way that you want to have? Who does it actually benefit?
BUT, if you being more wary of your clothing has a positive impact on the men around you, on their struggle with sexual sin... in even the smallest way... isn't it worth it?

I wish we'd think so.
I wish I'd always think so.

Women... I encourage you to put away your push-up bras, your low-cut v-necks, your sleeveless t-shirts that show your entire sides, your short shorts, your leggings, your bikinis. Ask a friend or a mentor what is too much. Delete your sports illustrated swimsuit edition pictures off your social networking sites that only encourage guys to drool over you for all the wrong reasons.

And guess what? Even if you don't have the perfect body, you can still cause men to struggle. Don't ever let yourself be fooled by the 'ol 'well, because I don't look like __________ I can get away with wearing this without affecting guys'. Pish posh. A boob is still a boob, a butt is still a butt.

This is a battle I'd like to raise my white flag to.
Men, you can have this one. I know how difficult it is for you even when girls do attempt to dress modestly. I'd prefer to not make it more challenging.
So- you keep working on your own stuff with this... and maybe a few girls and I will work on being a little more cautious with how we dress.

I think you're worth more than wanting to look stylish and sexy from time to time.
Hopefully a few others out there will agree with me.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

God is...

Letting God be who He is...not who we want Him to be.

A pastor said this in a sermon a few weeks ago and it struck me.

It makes me think about who I want God to be... and I think it's interesting the different characteristics we seem capable of getting hung up on at any given moment in our life.

When I'm feeling unworthy and loved, I assure myself that God is love.
When I'm feeling afraid and untrusting, I remind myself that God is faithful.
When I'm feeling like bad things keep happening, I tell myself that God is good.
When I'm feeling convicted of sins, there is no doubt in my mind that God is holy, holy, holy...

It's true that God is all of these things, but in specific moments it's easy for me to get caught up in which one of these things I want God to be vs. allowing Him to be exactly who He is... which is all of these things.

Think about it in terms of our relationships with other people. They are often a lot of things all mixed up in one package, right? You wouldn't ever say that your significant other's only redeeming attribute about them is that they are attractive...but that's just one part of who they are. They're attractive... and selfless, and funny, and gentle.... and the list hopefully goes on.

In any given moment with them, they might respond to you in way that isn't exactly what you want... but it's very true of who they are. Sometimes they hit the nail right on the head and their reaction is just what you wanted... and then we wish it were always like that... but it's not.

And it's mostly because we're selfish people. As we operate like this with other humans in life, it makes sense that we act the same way with the Lord. We want Him to be what we want Him to be when we want Him to be that way.

For example, when I've sinned and messed up.. I want God to be forgiving. I don't want His wrath, I don't want His judgement, I don't want His holiness... I just want to be forgiven, to know that I am loved, and to move on. But He is all of these things.

It isn't what we want to hear.
But, I can't help but wonder if we've confined God to a box of being who we want Him to be... and then we continue to shove Him further and further down when He continues to be exactly who He is. We become self-righteous and prideful, thinking that we have all the answers, that we have figured out just who God is.

I urge you to be wary of focusing on just one aspect of God's character at a time. At any given time He is more than that. So much more than that. Don't get so honed in on God being one thing that you miss out on the majesty of everything else that He is... even if you don't always like it, even if you don't always understand it.

He is.
And that's that.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Loving Gossip

Do you hate gossip?

I think most of the time all of our answers join in a resounding, 'YES!'
BUT, before we get ahead of ourselves--I'd venture to say that there are can be a few instances where we enjoy gossip...especially when it helps us out. 

You know what I'm talking about. I believe there are quite a few movies with this as the premise and there have probably been a few occasions where we hoped this would be true of our own lives. It's especially hilarious when we try to start our own chains of gossip about ourselves. 

For example: telling enough people about our current crush so that it will eventually get to the object of our affection's ears. 

This is a typical move for the single Christian girl for a few reasons: 
  1. It makes us feel like we aren't pursuing.
  2. It allows us to express interest without really putting ourselves out there for rejection. 
  3. We can deny the rumors and accredit them to simple gossip... basically we can lie more easily. 
I think this is a bogus move that we try to pull. It's ultimately a move of manipulation and control. It's almost as though crushes should fall under the 'ol 'don't kiss and tell' rule. 

If you're going to tell everyone but the guy that you like that you like him, I wouldn't consider that not pursuing. He's going to find out and you know it. You want him to- you just don't want to be the one to  mention it to him. You're hoping that he'll hear about it through the grapevine, and suddenly, once he has been awakened by the realization of your feelings toward him, he will pursue you and you'll end up happily ever after. Right?  Maybe it's not so extreme, but you've probably gone somewhere within that vicinity. 

Maybe the more people you tell, the more advice you get and the more of a chance you'll have with him? Maybe the more people you tell, the more they will try to talk to you up to him and then he'll be more interested? 

Gosh... there are all sorts of possibilities, aren't there? 
I had a guy friend recently tell me about a girl who was telling everyone that she liked him but wouldn't come and talk to him about it. The result? Awkwardness, uncomfortableness... and here's why: He wasn't interested. If he had been, he would have pursued her already, he would have wanted to hang out with her and get to know her more.  

The truth about us gossip faces when it comes to telling others about our crush?
  1. It's a manipulative way of pursuing. Guys would much rather you be honest and straight-forward with them from the get-go. It speaks of your character. If you want a guy to know you like him, tell him. If you don't want to pursue a guy, don't. Be willing to wait patiently and not try to put things into your own time-table or package. 
  2. You'll still feel the rejection just as much as you would in talking to him directly, perhaps even more so. More so because not only are you ever aware of the rejection, but you'll be answering to the thousands of friends you've told about your crush who are just dying to hear how it ended up. Instead of licking your wounds in the company of a few good friends, you'll need to be prepared to tell yet another acquaintance that he just wasn't that into you... 
  3. Lying is stupid. 
  4. Your telling everyone about your crush can affect him in bad ways, too. Think about it. 
Like anything, there are always exceptions. There are always going to be a few instances where this works, and, unfortunately, these tend to be the stories that we latch onto and hope for. I guess all I'm saying is... be careful with your words, be careful of who you are telling things to, and be careful of your motivation. Be a woman who is willing to be patient, honest...and willing to let go and move on from a guy if he's just not showing any interest, instead of desperately searching for ways to win him over. 

Let it hurt, mourn the loss... and then rest in the fact that there is hope. 
Oh... and don't forget that movies aren't real. 

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Ruler

And we're back...

Don't you just hate it when someone else is better than you at something? Especially when it's something that you love, when it's something you might even be pretty good at? Even if you can acknowledge that you aren't the best at something, it's usually pretty sucky when someone strolls along and makes you look like a newb.

We've been playing soccer a lot lately.. and while I know I'm certainly far from being the best soccer player in the world, I had probably gotten a little accustomed to the fact that I'm typically one of the better females around camp. You know, being at the point where guys actually pass you the ball because they trust that you aren't going to lose it every time.

In the last year we've acquired quite a few more soccer players...including a girl who actually knows what she is doing and can do it well. Very well. As we played today, I found myself feeling quite inferior to her athleticism (something I had always prided myself on).

Here are the series of thoughts that ran through my head, 'Well, of course she's good-- she played in college. I bet that if I had played all through high school and into college I would be as good as her. She also runs a whole lot more than me so her endurance is much higher than mine.....'

And this is where I caught myself.
Why is it so hard for me to let someone else simply be better than me at something? Why do I have to justify everything in order to make myself feel better? Why do I have to be jealous?

I've realized that it's not exactly limited to talent, either. It seems to happen in most arenas in life... in how we look, our personality, our jobs, our academics, our spiritual life...our romantic lives. Ultimately, it's the result of comparing.

We get all primped and ready in the mirror, feeling good about ourselves for the day and then the moment we encounter another human being we're immediately stacking ourselves up to them. Are we more attractive than them or less attractive than them. If we come out on top we walk away, patting ourselves on the back and feeling good. If we pale in comparison, we slink off...either listening to the berating lies about how hideous we are, or we explain our loss by providing a thousand reasons we look the way we do or they look the way they do while we're inwardly fuming with jealousy. Coping mechanisms.

I wonder what it might be like if we could just acknowledge beauty when we see it. That we might be able to see someone else, see them as beautiful.... and let that be all... instead of comparing ourselves and how we measure up next to it.

What might it be like if we did the same thing with our talents, our jobs, our personalities, our relationships (with the Lord and others)?

What might it look like if we let others be beautiful, good, smart, talented, funny... instead of trying to rob them of their gifts, instead of trying to make ourselves look better, instead of feeling sorry for ourselves because we don't measure up?

You know when you do it.... just like I caught myself today. In that moment I just decided, 'Dang, she's good...truly good. And that's okay.' and allowed myself to simply enjoy the rest of the game.

I'll leave you with a little something a wise woman once told me:
Put the measuring stick down.

After all, you shine in your own way... there's no need to compare today.

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Brief Hiatus

I'm going on vacation.
A vacation to the pacific northwest where I hope life will be full of adventure, spontaneity and not a whole lot of reliable internet connection.

For this reason, I'm going to take a short hiatus from daily posts (just a week!).

Lately I feel like I've gotten a lot of comments along the lines of, 'Debbie, you should write a blog about __________!' And I think you're probably right. I should.

While I'm taking a break, I'd love to hear from YOU what things you want to hear about, or what things you think others need/want to hear about. What cliches do you want discussed, what crazy stories do you have in hopes of encouraging others to not do what you've done or had done to you?

Let's talk about it!

Feel free to comment on this post, or, as always, shoot me an email (remember that I'll keep everything anonymous).

Help me better serve you, my readers.
Can't wait to see what you all come up with!

And, don't worry... I still have a plethora of things I have yet to address.

Read me later!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Say what you mean to say!

A guy friend of mine recently said, 'Debbie, you should write a blog about how people just need to say what they want to say sometimes!'

As I poked and prodded a little more to find out what he was getting at, I thought it was a good point. A good point because as we continued the conversation in the midst of a sand volleyball game, I heard my boyfriend (in my head) pointing out the thousands of times I never say what I'm actually wanting to say.

Apparently this isn't a problem limited to just me, either (thank goodness).

My friend gave me an example... purely hypothetical, I imagine..
A girl says that she's just find with the amount of time she is spending with her boyfriend, but in reality she is upset that they aren't spending more time together.

As I sit here and continue to think about it, I'm aware of the amount of times this type of thing happens all the time in so many different types of relationships. We hate stepping on people's toes, we hate looking like we're selfish or unsatisfied... so, instead, we quietly mumble and groan about all the things someone isn't doing for us, with us, to us. Somewhere along the line, expectations haven't been met.

Meanwhile, in the process of mumbling and groaning, we are hoping that we'll eventually get over it. Sometimes we do, but I'd venture to say a lot of times we don't. Instead of getting over it, these things continue to build up and we eventually explode. Suddenly extremes pop out--they have done everything wrong and we're inconsolable.

Let's flesh out this hypothetical situation a little more. Girl doesn't want to bring up the fact that she'd like to spend more time with her boyfriend because she doesn't want to be too needy or emotional or high-maintenance. She tries to keep her cool and be thankful for the time they do get to spend together. But, every time he chooses to do something other than hang out with her, she can't help but feel a little wounded by his actions... she can't help but feel like other things are a priority over her.... because now it feels like he is always choosing something over her. She finally brings it up (most likely when she is in an emotional state) and her words are accusing because they come from a place of feeling hurt and abandoned. He's totally caught off guard because he felt like they'd been spending quite a lot of time together and she always seemed really cool about him spending time with the guys...and every time he'd ask her if she was okay with it, she always said it was fine.

I imagine things might have gone a little differently if she had been a little more honest about her feelings from the beginning.

Isn't that true of all of our relationships though? We don't say the things we really mean because we're scared. We're scared of hurting feelings, we're scared of being vulnerable, we're scared of coming across a certain way, we're scared of rejection... and so we live our lives full of miscommunication.

What would it look like if you told everyone what you really thought?
If you don't like him, tell him. No need to dodge around this one.
If she's doing something that's super annoying, it's okay to confront it and explain how it's affecting you negatively. She probably doesn't know she's doing it and no one likes to be that annoying girl...
If your boyfriend/girlfriend asks you something- try being honest with them about it. Don't expect them to read your mind... 'cause guess what? It's impossible and they'll just fail you over and over again if you don't tell them what you're hoping for, wanting, desiring as you walk through things in your relationship.
If you really don't care about something, fine. But if you do care, don't say that you don't. I know sometimes you're trying not to be selfish, or cause problems... but there's no point in lying about it. Lots of times people can see right through it anyway and then it's just extra annoying that you're not saying what you really feel. Oh, not to mention lying has got a whole lot of darkness surrounding it...

Get over whatever it is that's holding you back from being honest with some of the closest people in your life. Say what you mean to say, especially when asked.
How's that for practical, tangible advice?

Go out and get 'em today, tigers.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When He Doesn't Heal.

I wrote the following soon after some good friends and co-workers experienced a detrimental loss... 

She lived for 36 hours and I never actually met her.  She was one of the first babies that I ever felt brave enough to touch while in her mother’s womb… but the very thought that a little being was alive inside of my friend’s stomach was enough to freak me out—in a fascinating and surreal sort of way. 

Gwendolyn Hope’s story touched thousands, and for possibly the first time in my life I understood the full extent of what it meant to mourn with someone who mourns.  My friend’s loss was my loss, and as I pictured Erin coming home from the hospital without a pregnant belly and without a child in her arms, I wept in knowing that the phantom limb that was Gwen would always be the missing appendage in Erin’s life… the part of her that was supposed to be there, alive and flourishing, laughing and giggling and growing…

But instead, little Gwen was buried in the tiniest box in a cemetery in Kerrville, Texas.  It was wrong.  It was unnatural.  It was sabotage. 

I remember sitting in that memorial service, tears streaming down my cheeks as Blair got up to acknowledge his daughter as the blessed hope that she was and is, about how she was with Jesus, getting to avoid the pains and heartaches and complications that this wordly life has to offer.  They had prayed that Gwen would be given life, and in that moment Blair praised the Lord that He had been faithful, that He had given Gwen a life that was righteous and whole. 

Thoughts of Lazarus rising from the dead drifted through my head, and my soul ached as I pleaded with the Lord to bring that little girl to life.  I prayed that the box in front of all of us that contained a lifeless body would soon start thumping as a perfect baby cried, desiring to be held in her mother’s arms.  I feared that maybe the Lord had answered my prayers but we wouldn’t be able to hear Gwen and that they would bury her alive. 

There seemed to be so many babies around during the service, and their cries and coos seemed to echo loudly through the chapel.  “Get your babies out here!”  I wanted to scream.  Didn’t they know that Erin wouldn’t ever get to hear her baby cry?  Didn’t they know that she would have craved sleepless nights if it meant holding her breathing baby again?  Didn’t they know??  And as mother’s shuffled around to take their babies into the corridor behind the sanctuary, I could swear I heard a noise come from that little box in the front.  My eyes locked on the back of Erin’s head, waiting for her to pry open the coffin with the strength of a desperate mother wanting to save her child.  Erin didn’t move.  I didn’t understand.  Was I the only one hearing things…?  Was I crazy?  Doesn’t God raise the dead?  Why wouldn’t He? 

I talked myself back into a rational thought process.  Gwendolyn Hope was dead.  There were no noises coming from the coffin.  She was dead.  And there was nothing else to do about it.  And somehow, in all of this, God is still good. 


This wasn't the first time the Lord hadn't answered my cries for healing, for restoration, for wholeness...or, had He? Had our prayers, in fact, been answered?? 

In pleading for complete healing and wholeness, is it possible to recognize that for the believer maybe that's what death is? That being united with Christ again is better than being alive here on earth? That being in a place where there is no more tears, no more death, no more pain might be better

I was talking with one of my brothers today about how when we pray for things and don't get them, it affects how we view God. We pray to God as though we deserve something more than what we've already been given through Christ. But isn't that enough? And can we begin to view everything else as a blessing, a bonus, another thing we didn't deserve? 

There's a lot more to say about this...
But today I'll cut it off here. 
When He doesn't heal...can we believe that maybe it's better? Can we trust in His sovereignty? Even when it hurts, when we don't understand, when we feel like a piece of us has been cut off? 

Can we confidently say that God is still good? 

...all the time?? 

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Monday, March 12, 2012

A Musician Fantasy

Ladies... be honest.
Have you ever wanted to date a musician simply because he was a musician?
...I have.

There was always something dreamy about the thought of sitting in a crowded room, watching my man perform, and knowing that he would be directing all of his romantic lyrics toward me as his voice melted the room. There was always something appealing about knowing he could privately serenade me and that he would be all mine and I would be all his. There was the hope that we could even perform together, if not enjoy belting harmonious ditties on long car rides.

It became such an important fantasy to me that any time I saw/heard a talented man performing or leading worship I immediately gauged the following things:

1. How old is he?
2. Is he single? (I got really great at checking for that wedding ring)
3. How good is he?
4. How attractive is he? (Usually the more talented they were, the less this mattered... )

Between my involvement in show choir and musicals, Christian organizations, and my brothers' activity within the realm of theatre and music I felt as though there was a wide array of talented Christian men that should want to date me. For a while, it became my only concern. I had to marry a musical man.

For a while I half convinced myself that one guy did want me. He'd often play the song Everybody But You by Dave Barnes. After listening to the lyrics a few times, I began to wonder if he only played it around me and if he was trying to send me a secret message through the lyrics: 'Everybody knows it here but you...I love you girl but you still ain't got a clue'. I probably hoped he was...

It's ridiculous looking back on it now...
But, I can't help but wonder how much we let our fantasies determine the men we find ourselves willing to date.

It took me a while to realize that while the appearance of a talented musician was especially alluring, there's a whole person that's necessary to get to know. While a man may have a beautiful voice, be an incredible athlete, be super intelligent, be crazily charismatic, or simply be gorgeous... there is much more to him than that. Much more that matters more.

The luster wore off and I realized that behind the voice on stage there always lies a man... a human man. A man with problems and sin and pride and selfishness and whatever other quirks you don't always catch in their 15 minutes of glory. I could now never marry a man simply because he was a musician.

Just be wary of the men you throw yourselves at, the men you think you would "never turn down" because of their social status, their attractiveness, or their abilities. Be willing to look at their heart and ask the questions that really matter.

Does he love Jesus? (don't forget that even if he loves Jesus, he won't do this perfectly...)
Does he love others? Does his life reflect one of self-sacrifice or self-exaltation?
What eternally matters...?
His voice, his good looks, his athleticism, his brains, his humor, his artistic ability, his style...or his heart, his character, his integrity, his honesty, his humility...?

Ultimately, I suppose you get to decide... I just urge you to think twice. And I urge you to honor the men who happen to be incredibly talented and gifted at various things. I imagine they'd like to be known before you determine that they're the one you're supposed to marry simply because they are good at something. I imagine many of them want someone who is going to love them even when they are old, gray, fat, losing their mind, cracky and shaky.

Be a woman of integrity and honor--one who is willing to look past the superficial and temporary. Be willing to give other guys a chance...and you just might be surprised by the beauty that lies within.

...what a difference a shift in perspective can make...

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Glee for Glad? Oh boy...

I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this being sold at the Five & Dime in San Antonio the other day....

I want to get it. I do. Perhaps I should clarify that by 'get it', I don't mean purchase it... I mean that I want to understand it.
I also want to not be overly critical of things Christians are doing to in order to start conversations. But, I am.

I sincerely hope that somewhere out there, this shirt has brought someone to Christ. It reminds me of the movie Bruce Almighty- that in a moment of desperation Jim Carrey is asking for God to send Him a sign and BOOM, there it is. I have to believe things like that happen in real life... that someone might be crying out for something bigger, something greater than them, to be saved or rescued and then all of a sudden they run into someone at the airport wearing a ridiculous Christian t-shirt. And BOOM, it moves them closer to Jesus. That has to happen, right?

I guess I just hesitate when I see shirts like know which ones I'm talking about...
got Jesus?
hisway (like Subway)
Lifeguard-- mine walks on water
Armed & Ready (like Arm & Hammer Baking Soda)
YouWho He died for (like Yoo-Hoo Drinks)

There's a plethora of them. I just did a google search for Christian t-shirts and browsed through the images...and I can't handle it.

I can't handle it because I don't think that's what Jesus meant when He asked us to be set apart. Throwing on a t-shirt with some popular slogan/brand that's modified to fit our Christian culture and language isn't going out into the world. I think we can expect to be ridiculed and made fun of for following Christ, but it shouldn't be for this. 'Cause, in reality, I'm probably going to make fun of you, too.

I think being set apart has everything to do with the way that we are living and loving...and doing that drastically different than others might. Wearing this shirt doesn't change my heart, it doesn't scream that Jesus is really the Savior of my soul. Rather, I fear that wearing this shirt wouldn't even allow me a chance to talk to someone enough to where they might take me seriously.

I'm probably just fed up with Christian culture, in general... and these shirts seem to be a good representation of what it's become. We try to appeal, we try to fit in, we try too hard...without really trying at all. And sometimes I wonder if the Lord isn't looking down wondering when we'll get it. Remember in Matthew when Jesus quoted Isaiah's prophecy:

‘These people honor me with their lips, 

   but their hearts are far from me.' 
Are we attempting to honor Jesus with our t-shirts, when are hearts are far from Him? I guess that's for each person to decide.

I know God uses them for good...and for that I am thankful.
But, I know that I cringe every time I see one... because I fear the negativity that comes with it.
I suppose I want people to think I'm crazy because of the way that I radically love Jesus and His people, not because of the clothes that I wear.

At the end of the day, it probably doesn't matter... but if you're going to wear shirts like this, I pray that you do so cautiously. That as you proclaim Christ across your chest, back and sleeve, I pray that you proclaim Him through your words, your actions...and that your heart is not far from Him.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012


The Comment: 
John 13:34-35 is really tough right now. How can I love everyone including those who constantly ridicule and make fun of me. I know, i know, love your neighbor as yourself, but that doesn't work for me because I don't even like myself. Praying for people I don't particularly like makes me not HATE them but it's not an easy thing to love those who make my life miserable. I want to love but it's against all my natural instincts, I'm stuck in the Romans 7 trap. Any suggestions, experiences, and help appreciated. 
I hate this for you...and I fear my only advice will be things you've heard over and over again. I wish I could slap every bully around and tell them the ramifications of their actions and words, but these are the times when I recognize I can't change people. Neither can you.

My thoughts though?
I suppose I don't know why you're constantly being ridiculed or made fun of...but I honestly think that if we are claiming Christ, we should expect to be. I think as Christians we try to fit in too much, we try to be cool, we try not blend in unnoticed. I'm not saying go out of your way to be uncool (see tomorrow's post about this) to prove a point, but I am saying that it's very clear throughout Scripture that believers will be made fun of and ridiculed (and even killed).

Without knowing much of your circumstances, when I read your comment I immediately thought of Stephen. Check out his story in Acts 6-7 if you're not familiar with it. He's preaching truth, telling people about Jesus... he's seized and put on trial before the Sanhedrin. He gives a speech that rubs them all the wrong way, so they start throwing rocks at him. This is his response:
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Really Stephen? They're stoning you and you can find it somewhere within you to beg for grace on their behalf? I get that Jesus could do it, but you? A mere man?

That's what I would want to ask him if I could.
Because, my friend, I don't know how to love those that constantly tear you down, that bully you, that persecute you, that give you no reason to want to love them... but I know that we're called to. Jesus very clearly states it: But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you... 

I suppose, like you said, that it is one of the most unnatural things we can do. In fact, I think it's something we're incapable of on our own. I think that's why we're asked to do it--because when we walk in forgiveness constantly, we're relying on the Lord to constantly do a miracle in our hearts.

I think some of the most beautiful stories I've heard and experienced are the ones where the gospel is presented in a tangible way. Stories where forgiveness is offered when it isn't asked for, when it isn't deserved. Author Timothy Keller said, "God's grace and forgiveness, while free to the recipient, are always costly for the giver."

It isn't fair. 
It just isn't. 
It costs a lot, and it hurts, and it doesn't always feel worth it. 
But, I think there can be something beautiful to getting to know your persecutors, or simply recognizing that their words and their actions come from a deeper loneliness and hurt and insecurity than you might imagine. That beyond the cruelty, there lies a soul that needs Jesus just as much as you and I do. 

And so as much as it hurts, as much as they torment and make life unbearable...I pray, first, that you find your identity and your confidence in Christ--their words/acts don't define you. I then pray that you would beg Him to be the one that loves them through you (I think being fully honest with the Lord in your lack of desire to want to love them might be a huge step in this). And I pray that you just decide it's worth it... that they're worth it. That no matter the cost to you, loving them is worth it if it means Christ is revealed, if it means one of them gets it (even if you never, ever know about it). 

You can't do it, my friend. You just can't. 
Which is why it will be a miracle when you do. 

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Friday, March 9, 2012

I wish I could change you.

I just had one of those moments where I realized I don't have control over things.

I hate those moments. Sometimes they cause panic to surface...and sometimes they result in total surrender. Obviously the latter is preferred, but sometimes the crazy just comes out.

The big 'a-ha' moment came when I realized I don't have control over others....I can't change them.
"Duh, Debbie..." is what you're all probably thinking right now...

BUT- I think we live life thinking that we can to some degree. I think we have the tendency to try to change people, even if somewhere in our minds we know that we can't. We desire to mold and shape them into the perfect boyfriend, roommate, friend, co-worker, boss, parent, sibling... and by perfect I mean that they'll eventually do and say and be all the things we want them to be.

Think about it...
How often do you offer suggestions to others, in hopes that they'll eventually catch on? Or maybe we use sarcasm to reveal our true thoughts on someone's personality or habits...with the slight desire that they won't take it seriously enough to have their feelings hurt, but just enough to change things up a bit. We might be bold enough to just tell them the things we wish were different. Or maybe we'll talk about them and hope that someone else might be willing to confront them once we've gossiped ourselves silly. Perhaps we're just inwardly hoping and pleading that maybe this time it'll be different...

I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm not very good at letting people just be who they are. I know I'm overly critical, and I know I have unrealistic expectations for everyone around me...

Today was just one of those days when I realized that it doesn't matter what I think about others and it doesn't matter what type of person I want them to be-- even if I have high hopes for them (sometimes I have to wonder if my high hopes for them are exist because of how it will benefit me...that's probably another conversation for another day). Ultimately, I can't make them change.

I can't make you stop choosing to sin.
I can't make you stop being mean to someone else.
I can't make you use good grammar or stop popping your gum so loudly.
I can't make you pray more, or read your Bible, or share your faith more.
I can't make you dance, or sing, or watch a movie with me.
I can't make you grow out your hair, or wash the dishes, or have all the same interests as me.

But I still try sometimes. I still try to mold you and shape you into being the type of person that I think you should be. I take my weird need for perfection and place it on you...that maybe someday you'll eventually meet all my standards for a perfect boyfriend, roommate, friend, co-worker, boss, parent, or sibling.

I'm so sorry.
It really isn't fair of me at all. And the sad part is that you, most likely, feel as though you'll never be good enough for me, while I live life miserably with the imperfection around me. That's a sad state of existence, don't you think?

I don't know if you're like me at all... for your sake, I hope not. But, if you are...join with me. Join with me as I seek to let others be themselves and to let that be good enough. Sure- there's always room to challenge and hope for more...but when all we are offering is failure, maybe we need to be willing to change ourselves before we start thinking others need the adjustments.

I don't have control.
And I don't want to panic about that today.
Today I just want to rest assured that there's a sovereign God who is working in others, moving them in His timing and in His way...
It's not up to me.

Let's make a deal: today I'll let you be you and you let me be me.
Idiosyncrasies, imperfections and all.
Let us sharpen each other, not because of the way we judge and critique one another... but simply by the way that we love.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Living Regrets

First time.
Back seat of a car.
A guy from the bar.

Glamorous, right?
When you hear things like this, you often fail to picture the real scene that probably goes with it. Perhaps it's better that way... but perhaps it reveals how desensitized to it we've become.

When a girl I know told me this piece of her story, my stomach hurt. She was 23 years old and had been saving herself for marriage. That night she gave up. She gave up because she felt like no one would ever come along and it was pointless to wait any longer. She was curious, a little tipsy...and he was eager.

While it wasn't my story, I remember feeling the heartache as if it were my own. Because, while I hadn't forged through the actual act of sexual intercourse, I knew her feelings of hopelessness and how easy it was to get lost in the abyss of feeling like it would never work out. I knew regret, and I didn't want that for her.

She had been hurt. Hurt by the 'good' guys. Her frail heart put a false conclusion together that the pain she was experiencing meant that she undeserving of 'good' why not hook up this once? Why not try it?

I hate that some of you reading can identify with this. You've been here. This is part of your story, too.

She met her husband a few months later. He was a 'good' guy. Not too long into dating, when things started to get serious, this 'good' guy struggled to get over the fact that his soon-to-be wife was not a virgin.

Classic story, right? It's the one you hear all the time growing up... only, this was this girl's reality.
I'm not going to paint some picture of you of a girl holding a flower that's had all of it's petals plucked off and now she has a petal-less flower to offer to her husband someday (although, I think there's a quite a lot of validity to the now-cheesy metaphor)...

But I am going to ask you to look at the ways you may be compromising yourself. In what ways have you given up and so you've thought, 'Oh Well' and done something you never dreamed you might...?
Maybe it is sex...
Maybe it's compromising on all the physical stuff other than sex... maybe you're going around making out with a wide assortment of men because you can and because you think it doesn't matter. Maybe it's just a few hand jobs or oral sex. Maybe it's through the revealing clothes that you're wearing every day, hoping to turn guys' heads when you walk by...
Is it working?
Do you feel better?
Is the emptiness gone?
Has your hope been restored?

Maybe it has nothing to do with compromising sexually. Maybe you're compromising through your words-- the ways that you talk badly about people to make yourself look better, the ways that you manipulate and lie to come out on top. Maybe you're compromising in the way that you're starving yourself, or throwing up all your food, or exercising like a mad-woman.

I think we've gotten really good at throwing out the line, "Oh, I don't have any regrets. If I didn't go through all the things I have, I wouldn't be the person I am today..." Sure... sure, that's fine. I get it. I feel the same way sometimes... but, honestly? Honestly, there are some things I wish I could take back. There are some things I wish I could do over. There are some regrets.

Examine your life right now.
Examine your heart.
Are you compromising?
Have you given up hope?
Are you thinking, 'What the hell, it doesn't matter anyway?'

It does matter.
You will regret it.

Live a life of integrity and purity today, sweet girls.
There's much to hope for.
Don't give up. Not today.

If you feel like it's too late, please contact me and let's talk. I've been there.
I have regrets.
There are second chances.
Praise Jesus.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

When You Know, You Know...?

I'm not sure I'll ever be a person who 'knows'.

You stumble upon books, with married people, and a lot of them repeat the same phrase: 'When you know, you know.' It's something that kind of makes me want to punch people in the face.

'cause really...?
Is it really that easy?

For someone who second guesses and over-analyzes and freaks out about the tiniest imperfection, I honestly can't imagine ever saying that. And so then I'm left with a frustrating 'is it supposed to be like that?' that I'm desperately trying to understand. A question that causes me to think that no matter who I meet, no matter who I date- because I'll never 'know', then they must all be wrong for me. It's this question that only perpetuates the second guessing and over-analyzing, no doubt.

Whatever happened to leaps and risks and choosing to take a gamble, even if you don't 'know'?

Perhaps it boils down to an issue of soul mates. Do they exist, or not? Is that what everyone means when they say they 'know'? That they've found the person they are, undoubtedly, going to spend the rest of their life with?

I'm not sure I believe in soul mates. If we believe in soul mates it gives us permission to leave, permission to run out when things get too hard. If we believe in soul mates it becomes primarily about our own happiness. Example... the person that you are currently with (even married to) isn't your soulmate, but now you've found the someone who is. If I'm destined to be with this other person, then I have to get out of my current circumstances fast and I'm completely justified in doing so.  Hmmm....

If by soul mates we mean that God has one specific person in mind that you're supposed to marry, then I don't know if I can go there. If by soul mates we mean that God knows who you are going to marry, then perhaps I can go there. Perhaps.

I think we walk in fear of being with the wrong person forever. Instead of allowing relationships to flourish and be what they are, we are over-analyzing, fearful, and trying to figure out if this is the right person. We're hoping to have a moment where we just 'know', and then we can lay all of our doubts to rest.

While I have quite a few married friends that assure me that they just 'knew', I don't want that to be the thing that dictates my relationships and my decision to be with someone for the rest of my life. I don't want to go through guy after guy after guy, waiting until I 'know'... because, in knowing me, I can't think of many things that I've ever been truly, 100% certain about. I always have doubts, I always second-guess. Why would I think choosing to spend my life with someone forever would be any different?

So- to all the married folk out there: I'm quite happy for you if you just 'knew'. I believe you, I really do. But, please understand that we don't all work the same way you do. Don't make that out to be the point at which your single friends are then ready to commit. 'Knowing' isn't a pre-requisite for marriage...being ready to make a life-long commitment is. Allow each relationship, each person to be different.

And to all the single folk: don't feel like you have to have this feeling of 'knowing'. You don't have to feel inadequate or like something is missing if you don't have that feeling. Do know that it is going to be a gamble, a risk, a commitment... and it's going to be one that you have to work at constantly. Know that once you make those vows, this is the right person for you and that the Lord has got your back. He seems to usually root in favor of marriages being a life-long commitment. Mostly, do yourselves and your relationships a favor and try not comparing them constantly. When it comes to love, it's not black or white and it's been done successfully in all sorts of ways (just look back at history and how romance has changed over the years). Let your story be different, unique, yours.

Choose wisely, grasshoppers. It is a life-long commitment, but it doesn't mean you have to destroy every good thing through psycho-analyzing/comparing it all the time. Trust me... that doesn't get you very far....

It'll all work out.
In one way or another.
So... enjoy the ride.

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