Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Pause

I've been reminded recently that girls are pretty crazy when it comes to love and romance.
Don't believe me??

Even Sebastian knows what's going on (while he simultaneously has no idea...).
I mean, we've all done it. And when the flowers weren't accessible we would play the soda pop tab game. You know, the one where you push the tab back and forth to the letters of the alphabet just hoping that it'll pop off on the letter of your crush's name. I remember trying to manipulate the tab to come off at just the right time, as if, somehow, the tab held the secret powers of making my crush suddenly be interested in me. I think it worked.... never?

The funny thing about this is that while our insecurities take us back and forth emotionally before a relationship even begins... our over-analytical minds also tend to take us back and forth once we are finally in the relationship. The female mind seems to flourish in the world of being completely Unsettled.

It's awful.
You feel crazy. In one moment you're convinced he likes you, the next moment you're convinced he doesn't. In one moment you're convinced you love him, and the next you're wondering what in the world you saw in him in the first place. Something he does is infuriating and absolutely wrong and the next second you're melting because of his smile or his eyes, or the way that he did something kind for you without you asking.

We're hard to please.
And yet we demand that we be pleased, in our own way... the way that meets all of our expectations.

The reassuring thing, ladies, is that you're not alone in this.
The not so reassuring thing is that it's almost always irrational and ridiculous and we very easily are creatures driven by emotion, which often leads to us making poor decisions.

I can't tell you the number of times, while crushing on someone when I wasn't sure how they felt about me, that I became crazy and ended up doing or saying something I immediately regretted. I can't tell you the number of times, while dating someone, that I wanted to break up with them for the most insignificant thing and then ten seconds later found myself so thankful that I was with them. I can't tell you the number of times that I've just felt plain crazy when it came to men.

Here are my thoughts though: pause...before you do anything or say anything at all.
Take it to the Lord. Be willing to consider if you are manipulating, controlling, being selfish, or simply not trusting the Lord with this area of your life. Be willing to take a moment to process whether or not this thing you are so worked up over matters (especially those of you in relationships who find yourselves becoming nagging, constantly annoyed women)... and be ready to hold your tongue.

I hate feeling crazy.
But, I must admit that sometimes I am.
I think the more I can acknowledge that sometimes I truly am a little crazy, the more I can recognize tendencies within myself to actually do the crazy things... and then stop them before they happen. I think ultimately my prayer has to be that the Lord would quiet my anxious heart, that He would teach me how to trust Him, that He would teach me how to be a woman who acts in sound, rational ways instead of flighty, irrational, emotional ones.

This always requires the pause.
Pause before doing.
Pause before saying.

Sometimes it's even good to have a sounding board in trusted friendships/mentors that can remind you of your tendencies while you're in the middle of a 'crazy' episode. Sometimes it's good to even touch base with them before you end up doing something irrational or emotional and allow them to be your sounding board before you go spill your guts to your current romantic interest.

Be slow to speak, ladies.
I think we'll all find ourselves a bit better off if we learn to live with more of a pause in our lives...if we learn how to truly take things to the Lord before letting our irrational, crazy sides consume us.

maybe that's just me.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Rationalizing Relationships

I had a conversation recently with a new friend about how easy it is to rationalize relationships.

As we shared past relationship stories, it was evident (in retrospect, of course) that we had convinced ourselves to remain in unhealthy or stagnant relationships for far too long. As I told random stories about things that had happened or things that I had done, there was always a feeling of embarrassment that lingered and the desire to hit myself in the head, 'What was I thinking?!' Who stays in a relationship when this happens, or that happens?

We can talk all day long about the things we could have done differently, or the regrets that we have... but, it doesn't really change what was. I think some of the best things we can do is learn from our mistakes in the past and be aware of the tendencies that we have to make similar ones in the future. Honestly, as much as I've done stupid things and not always been in the best relationships, I don't regret them. I think there was much growth as I discovered tons about myself, myself in relationships and the Lord in regard to relationships.

that doesn't mean I want to do it all over again.

So- if you're in the middle of a dating relationship and you're wondering if and when it's time to pull out, I'd encourage you to really check yourself to see if you're rationalizing the relationship. This may actually require a third party (ideally someone whom you trust and respect and who will be honest with you...and not too biased).

Be aware of your tendencies to do the following:
  • Be the hero. Often times we develop a hero complex and we want to 'save' those we are in a relationship with. This causes us to think that if we ever end the relationship, the other person will immediately start going down the 'wrong' path. It's in this moment that you must recognize that you are not the savior, you can't fix them, it's not your responsibility. If they're only on the 'right' path because of you, that's something to be aware of and it may behoove both of you to end the relationship (despite how it feels). 
  • People-Pleaser. Sometimes it just sucks to hurt people's feelings... especially if they haven't done anything wrong and they've actually been a really great person to be in a relationship with. This doesn't mean you should stay in the relationship, especially if you're not feeling it and if you're completely checked out. This is hard because you don't feel like you have any real reason to not want to be with them and so you try to convince yourself of the million reasons why you should stay. I've kind of decided that if I have to convince myself to want to date someone, I shouldn't be dating them. 
  • Be the victim. It's easy to think that we don't deserve anything, and so we allow ourselves to exist in relationships where we are treated like crap. It's okay though, because at least someone wants to be with us, right? Wrong. If you're in a relationship that is harmful for you (physically, verbally, emotionally, etc.) you need to get out. This isn't your last shot with someone, and the sooner you get out, the better. I firmly believe that the Lord longs for good in this area of our lives...someone who will cherish you, honor you, love you, and gently remind you of Him in all ways (even in the ways that you feel foolish admitting that you need). 
I think a lot of times we convince ourselves to stay in relationships because we are fearful of being alone. I know I've been there. Recently I've had to come to some drastic points where I realized that I would rather be single for the rest of my life than with the wrong person. There's a difference between letting things that don't matter matter and rationalizing things within a relationship. 

If you're still dating, there's a lot of stuff that you don't have to put up with yet...and a lot of it is stuff that you shouldn't put up with. I think I trick myself into thinking of dating as marriage and then I wind up letting a lot of stuff slide that doesn't need to be comprised on. 

Yes, relationships are hard...
But that doesn't mean you need to settle, compromise, or allow yourself to exist in misery because it's more often hard than it is good. I think a relationship should be good and can be good a majority of the time. As much as we like for things to be hard, I think it gets pretty destructive when we are in a relationship that's usually hard and rarely good. 

Be willing to step out of an unhealthy or stagnant dating relationship, even if it's scary and hard and it means you might be alone for a while. Don't rationalize. And, if you aren't sure if you are rationalizing... ask that trusted, wise friend or mentor for their honest opinion (and then be willing to listen to them when they tell you the truth). 

You'll be thankful for it in the end, even if it's hard. 
Allow the Lord to be good to you in this, even if it means walking away from something you're currently comfortable with. 

There's a hope to be found in trusting Him as you step into the unknown. 

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Sunday, January 27, 2013


The comment:
What do you do when you have been hurt by someone, say you have told God in your heart that you forgive this person and have said the same to the person. I thought I had forgiven, but then thought it was important to pray for the person as God asks us to pray for those who have wronged us. The problem is that as much as I want to pray for this person as its the right Christian thing to do, I can't very easily bring myself to do it. Mainly for the simple fact that this is the person who hurt me and a part of me doesn't want to see anything wonderful happen to this person while I'm still sulking in my pain. I feel bad because part of me feels like I won't be able to say I've fully forgiven until I can honestly wish and pray great things for this person. Am I the only one who struggles with this? I still care but am still very much hurting.
I hear you.
I've been here. Sometimes I still feel like I'm here. Hurt and wanting justice for the wrongs done to me. And, even if I'm not wanting bad stuff to happen to those who have hurt me, it doesn't necessarily mean that I want good for them. In these moments I feel like I haven't really forgiven them at all...

I kind of think it's bogus though. As much as I'd love for us to forgive once and have that be the end of the story, I think it's going to be something that we have to fight for. Sometimes the fight is daily, depending on the crime. Just because we don't always feel like we want lollipops and sunshine for those who have hurt us, it doesn't mean that we haven't forgiven them.

I'm not convinced forgiveness is a feeling, despite what the dictionary says.  In fact, I think this is something the enemy can jack with us about. We get all emotional and feel okay with someone in a moment and so we think we've truly forgiven them. A few days (or seconds or hours) later we are reminded of something and suddenly we're ticked again... there goes the forgiveness we thought we had granted. We begin to beat ourselves up over the fact that we haven't forgiven them at all and then we exist in guilt and shame for our inability to forgive like Christ forgives us.

I kind of think that a large part of why we are asked to pray for those who have hurt us or wronged us is for transformation to happen in our own heart. That when we are willing to sit down and spend time surrendering this bitterness in our hearts, light begins to infiltrate the darkness within us. That when we take time to consider the state of where the other person is or where they have come from, understanding begins to unfold. And while we still may be extremely hurt by their actions, we may be able to empathize with them when we remember that they are human, too. That, like us, they are sinners. We remember that the same grace that has been extended to us has also been given to them.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that most of the time we're probably not going to have these awesome feelings about the people who have hurt us. This is where, regardless of how we feel, we have to be people who walk in obedience. Forgiving. Praying for your 'enemies'. And, in these moments, I truly think transformation happens. Because when we are willing to pray for them, we're essentially inviting the Lord to move in this broken part of our hearts. Restoration is easier to come by when we are open to allowing it to happen.

Regardless of how you feel toward the people that have hurt you, I think it's vital to make it a point to pray for them. And don't be afraid to be honest when you pray. I think the Lord can handle it. I imagine some of my prayers have been pretty brutal: 'Father, I don't even care about this person right now and I don't want good for them... but you've asked me to pray for them and so I will. I don't even know what to pray for...' and eventually, the words come and true meaning comes from them. I find myself praying that they would know Him, truly know Him. That they would be walking faithfully in that. It's not even that I'm praying that they would get everything their heart desires...but I'm praying that they, too, would have a heart that longs to know Jesus and be obedient to Him, that they would truly learn to live a life of surrender. In the end, it's not too different from prayers I pray for myself. And you just do it. Even when you don't want it. Even when you aren't feeling all chummy toward them. Don't allow yourself to get lost in the emotions of what you think forgiveness should feel like. Just do it.

Because, at the end of the day, they matter.
Whatever wrongs they've committed against you, they aren't big enough for you condemn their soul to hell when you, yourself, are also a sinner, a thief, a betrayer, an abandoner, an adulterer, a idolator, a pharisee, a liar...

Forgive as you have been forgiven.
There's no other alternative.
And then, as you forgive... rejoice!...for you are truly exemplifying the Gospel, and that is the most beautiful, the most important thing.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Plan and God's Plan

I sometimes feel foolish when I tell people that I want to write. 

The responses I get are pretty standard: 'Oh, really?', 'What do you want to write?', 'That's neat...' It's hard to not immediately assume that behind the words is the hidden reaction of, 'Good luck with that...' (muttered in the most sarcastic tone you can imagine, of course). 

I realize it's a stretch. 
I don't even really know how to get from writing a blog in my free-time to having it be the thing that I get paid to do... and I'm not even sure if that needs to be the end goal. I think all I know is that it's this important outlet for me, and that I want to do it in a way that matters...in a way that's beyond me and my own fame. I want to do it in a way that's inspiring, life-changing, and applicable to those who might read it. 

Sometimes I think I might as well tell people that I want to be a rock star. 

I wonder how often we all get stuck in this mindset. The mindset where we convince ourselves that what we'd really like to do is too far out of reach...and so we settle for something that seems a little more attainable. I wonder how much we respond to other's hopes and dreams with a deflating opinion that causes them to question if they're ever even possible. 

I could probably write a blog for the rest of my life and have that be the extent of what I do in regards to writing... but I don't want this to be it. This is good, and I've been so thankful for my readers and those who have encouraged me in this process... but I still think there's more for me in this realm. It means harder work, more diligence, more risk...and frankly it seems easier to not try at all. Can't the blog be good enough? I don't want it to be... 

So what does that mean? 
What does it mean to pursue things that we are passionate about and hopeful for? Will we do what it takes to even try to live out our dreams? Will we ever take strides forward? Are we willing to sacrifice?  

I recently had a girl ask me if it was bad to have plans for her life, or to have an idea of what you want to do. My immediate response is NO. It's not bad! I think too often we get stuck in this place of repeating verses like 'A man's heart plans his ways, but the Lord determines his steps' or 'Many plans occupy the mind of a man, but the Lord's purposes will prevail' over ourselves and then we end up paralyzed. Paralyzed because we don't want to make these plans if they aren't really the Lord's plans and so we sit and we wait for some booming voice to come out of the sky and tell us what to do.

But I think God is good to us in this. I think He's given us gifts and passions and dreams and He wants us to chase after them wholeheartedly...and I think He wants us to remember Him at the core of those things, that He wants us to go forth into the world and declare the Gospel and there are so many ways in which we can do that. Our problems with planning our own paths start when we are unwilling to budge, unwilling for it to look different than we might have imagined, unwilling to submit when we need to. Because, yes, the Lord's plans will prevail...but it doesn't mean that we sit idly by and twiddle our thumbs until we have full clarity on what He is telling us to do. 

And trust that He will guide you in the process. Trust that He has given you gifts and talents to be used in powerful ways. Be diligent in these things and give yourself wholly to them. Be absorbed in them...that you might tell others of His saving grace. 

I don't know what that looks like for you. But for me it means I need to tell a story. I need to write in a way that I've never written before. It's going to be hard and it's going to mean sacrifices must be made... but I think it's worth it. I know that it is. 

I hope, no matter what the skeptics in your life may say, that you live a life that is full of chasing after the hopes that you have. And I pray that you hold these dreams loosely and allow the Lord to shape them and mold them into a better as you move forward in them. Ultimately, I hope we remember that Jesus prevails, that He is the hero in our stories...and we let that theme be the thing that's woven into our dreams, our passions, our visions for what our futures hold. 

Try it. 

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Crashing Down

The comment:
What do you do when your spiritual world comes crashing down on you, and you're not even sure all the things you've believed about God are even true. Everyone else carries on like everything's normal and nothing's happening (cause it's not for them). It's awkward to talk about it. You don't feel like people will understand. You sometimes get silly, cliche answers that don't help at all. The answers you at one time might have given. But this is something so much deeper. 
Can we just acknowledge that sometimes things do come crashing down around us spiritually and we feel lost, and thats.. maybe even OKAY. Not to sin. Not to turn from God. But it's okay to be real about where you're at and it's ok to be there, and to wrestle, and to not settle for easy answers. It's okay to be an "bad" or "weak" Christian, if that is what we are.
I think we can acknowledge that. Mostly I think we just need to strip away any adjectives that we tend to place in front of Christianity that make us feel like we're on a higher or lower playing field with other believers and the Lord...but that's kind of a tangent I'll avoid going on for now.

You're right. It is a little awkward to tell other people that you're struggling with fully believing...because, there's not a whole lot they can say to help. It's easy to rattle off a lot of verses and wonderful cliches that we keep stored on the tip of our tongues, but when we're in the midst of questioning those very things it doesn't seem realistic that they would be the things to draw us back into  fully believing.

I think one of the best things someone told me when I was doubting was that it was okay. They didn't try to 'sway' me back to believing, or tell me things I already knew (which is often another annoying part about telling people things like this)... but they actually pushed me to look at others who have doubted before me. They pushed me back toward Scripture. They reminded me that I was not the first to ever doubt God's existence, His plan, His goodness, His love, His faithfulness, His ability to save, heal and redeem. I was not the 'worst' Christian around. There was hope in that for me...because beyond wrestling through these hard issues, I didn't feel as alone in it.

If you've read much of my blog, you know I'm a doubter...so your comments resonate a lot with me and my own experiences. There is a distance that's often created between ourselves and the Lord (and then naturally other believers), as we process through these things to try and figure out what we believe. In the midst of feeling like a foreigner to the cliches and the truths that flow from their mouths, it's easy to feel misunderstood and then immediately not cared about. I don't think we can blame them though.

I think one of the best things we can do in these moments of doubt, in these moments of wrestling, in these moments where we feel a bit lost.... is to press further in. What does that mean? I think that obedience is really key here...and I think pressing further into what He has commanded of us becomes the thing that carries us. And sometimes when we don't feel like we can love God, we desperately seek to love others (and through our love for others, we are actually loving God...it's a viscous cycle). We do things that take us outside of ourselves and our over-analytical brains and in the moments when we are serving others, when we are considering them better than ourselves, when we are not so focused on trying to figure out what we believe...I think those are the moments when God reveals Himself to us.

It's a shifting of focus off of ourselves, and diving straight to the heart of the Gospel. I think when we do that, it makes sense... and the fullness of what we say we believe, what we want to believe...it becomes what we actually believe.

I realize I'm a little all over the place...
But, I give it a resounding yes- it's okay to admit where we truly are at, even if that means we are doubting, feeling lost, or feeling like our whole spiritual world is crashing down around us. But no- it's not okay to dwell there and let it become something that's defining. And it's not okay for us to avoid talking to people about where we're at just because it's awkward or uncomfortable or we're scared they won't understand us. You might be surprised.

I guess for me, at the end of the day, the most reassuring thing is that God is faithful. Even in the most intense times of doubt and denial, He has continually beckoned me back. And, as cliche as it sounds...it's also true.

You're not alone in this.
Press further in. There is something so much deeper.
Seek to find it...and don't settle until you do.

* * *

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Deeper

Sometimes I don't know how to plunge into The Deeper.

I feel like I'm often tinkering around on the edge of the pool of life, dipping my toe in every so often...delighted by the sensation of how the water affects parts of me, but unable to grasp the fullness of what it would (or could) look like and feel like to take the plunge.

It's not that I don't want to.
It's just that I don't know how.

It's like I'm aware that a deeper exists, I just don't know how to get there. And, if we're being honest, there are probably times when I'm quite content on the outskirts of the pool because I'm not fully sure of what the plunge might require of me.

Too often I'm scared of the unknown, especially within the spiritual realm.
It's easy to love the God that I've grown up 'knowing', but what happens when He does things outside of what I'm used to? What happens when His moving in others looks radically different than what I've ever witnessed before?

It's easy for me to snap to quick judgements and defy that it could ever be God doing those things, moving those people in those ways... but what if my comfort level didn't dictate what God can and can't do? What if I allowed God to be bigger than what I've always known? What if I embraced the fullness of who He is? And what if that looks different than what I'm always comfortable with?

I want to go beyond what I know and step into what is true, even if it means stretching the box that I've put God into. I think I have to. Because as much as I'm content dabbling around the pool and sticking my toe in when I feel 'ready', I think there's something greater to dive into. Something more powerful, more mysterious, more unexplainable....and while that's terrifying, I'm convinced it must be better.

I guess I hope that in addition to all the newness in my physical life, that there would be newness in my spiritual life. That my heart would be open to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit moving in ways that are true and good. That may look different from what I've known, but I pray that I would be stepping into a fuller, deeper view of who God really is and what He is calling me to. I realize I may be in a perfect place for that as I'm entering into a season of learning and meeting tons of people from tons of backgrounds.

I hope you'll pray for an open-mindedness with me. I hope you'll seek out truth for yourself, that you would long to take a plunge into The Deeper...even if you're not entirely sure how or what that even means. May we be a people who continually long to know our Savior more intimately, despite how uncomfortable it may make us at times. May we be a people who long for others to know the fullness of who He is and what He has done for us.

I don't exactly know how to get into The Deeper, and I'm not actually convinced that I can get there on my own...but my plea is that I'd be open to knowing Jesus and everything that entails. I'm trusting that He'll take me there when it's time.

A journey.
More learning and growing...
It is good.
It is necessary, no matter how painful and uncomfortable it may be.

May we catch more glimpses of the Lord's glory here on earth as we willingly open ourselves to The Deeper.

* * *

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Men Cry

Men cry.

I'm not sure if you knew that... but, they do. And sometimes, when they cry, it's okay. I used to not always allow such grace. In my head, crying was quite symbolic of weakness and I didn't like the idea of 'weak' men. Remember how I like strong, manly men?

But, they cry. Just like I cry.
Note to Debbie: crying isn't reserved for females.

I think one of the other reasons I wasn't too keen on men crying was that I hadn't seen it much when I was growing up. It was an uncomfortable site to see because when a man cries it's usually that something is really wrong...and we're usually pretty bad creatures at responding well to others in crisis (or maybe that's just me). To this day I can only think of a couple instances that I've seen my dad cry...the most vivid is when one of my brothers was being wheeled away into open heart surgery.

Men don't typically cry at the same things women do, nor at the frequency we do. But there's a strange beauty in allowing them to cry when they need to. Unfortunately, I've often been a forbidder of the male tears. One guy I dated felt no freedom to show this part of himself because he knew I thought of it as a weakness...and, as a result, I then was never allowed into this part of his heart. I don't blame him. I had shut the door before he had even invited me in by making blanket statements about how men shouldn't cry...or, how unattractive it was when they did.

I regret this. I truly do.
Here's something you should know about me and movies: I don't cry during them. At this point it's probably a source of pride, but regardless of how emotional a movie can be, I do whatever it takes to keep tears from rolling down my cheeks. I think the only times I've even considered allowing this 'rule' to be broken have been when I've seen men cry. Weep. Mourn. Embrace each other as they experience loss and heartache and true tragedy.

I think what gets me about scenes like this is that they portray humility. A letting go of walls and defenses, a moment of truly feeling, an ability to not care about maintaining a 'manly' exterior and just existing in the emotion that seizes the entire body. There's something beautiful about it. There's something raw and deep and necessary about it.

As I've been writing this, I recognize that Jesus wept. More than once. It's hard to imagine what that might have been like to witness, and the emotions that might have accompanied such a visual.

But, I think it opens us up to something important about the men in our lives...and the nature of humans. I think there's something necessary to letting ourselves (whether we are men or women) fully embrace what it means to mourn, what it means to weep, what it means to release and allow the tears and the sobs to flow. To let go of having to 'be' a certain way and exist in the moments where we aren't always trying to swallow back tears because we are mortified of what others might think of us.

Women, I hope you'll let men cry when they need to without thinking of them as weak. I hope you'll let them be sensitive and in touch with their emotions. I hope we can recognize that it's good and necessary and value the strength that it takes to allow the tears than the cowardice that comes when they are held back.  And men, I hope you feel the freedom to cry without it taking away from your 'manliness'. That you would be able to bring us women into these places of your heart and soul, that you would let us mourn with you when it's necessary and good.

To sit and to cry together.
No words are needed.
The sorrow may last for the night... and may we then also embrace the fullness of joy that comes in the morning.

Men cry.
And it's good.
Even when I don't always know what to do with it... I'm thankful for it.
Be raw, men. No need to hide. You are strong, even in the tears.

* * *

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guys Can't Read Minds...?

I sometimes like to ask my guy friends what I should write about on this blog. As this is a site geared toward women (although I recognize that a surprising number of men read it, which I love...), I am always looking for male perspectives on things that us girls seem to be ignorant of.

Most recently, the comment (from a man) to all the ladies was a, 'Don't suck at communication'.

After probing a little more, this turned into a, 'You've probably written a blog on girls thinking that guys can read minds, right?' And while my answer to that question is probably a yes, it never hurts to remind ourselves of this little truth.

In this particular instance, the story goes a little something like this:
Guy and girl meet and become friends. Guy and girl are great friends who enjoy each other's company immensely. Guy realizes he has feelings for the girl (okay, he may have had feelings the whole time...but that's another blog for you gentlemen) and decides he ought to let the girl know where he's at. Guy tells girl that he likes her. Girl doesn't say much of anything, but starts changing the way she treats her guy friend completely.

Maybe you're familiar with this story. Maybe you're even a character in this story...?

One of my college roommates and I always used to say that if a guy ever asked for our phone number that we would give it to him. I can still hear her say, 'If he's got the balls to ask, I'm going to at least give him my number'. I never got the chance to back her in that, but she certainly had a guy ask for her number and then even obliged him with a first date. I loved her desire to honor the risk, to award a guy for mustering up the courage to ask her out.

But, seriously ladies...
If he has the balls to tell you that he likes you, don't you think you could at least respect him enough to actually tell him how you feel instead of assuming that he's going to know exactly what's going on in that crazy head of yours? Because, believe it or not, sometimes women back off for reasons other than not being interested. Sometimes we just get freaked out, sometimes we have commitment issues, sometimes we just don't know how we feel... but don't you think he deserves for you to have an honest, open dialogue about where you're at (even if you're just not interested)? Don't you think he wants to have that conversation with you?

Putting yourself out there is risky, and as much as us women complain about men not stepping up and telling us if they like us or not, it seems we ought to respond in an honest, forthright way when they do. Living up to the very same thing we expect (and hope for) in the male counterpart. There's no room for a double standard here.

And yes, I know that sometimes you are probably trying to preserve his feelings and you feel 'too harsh' telling him that you're not interested and so you're just hoping he catches on to your shorter emails, delayed text messages, unanswered phone calls and avoidance of hanging out with just the two of you.... but, I mostly just think that when we respond to men this way (especially men that we've been calling a friend), that we are just cowards. Selfish cowards. Probably (honestly) thinking more about how uncomfortable we are going to feel instead of valuing their hearts and their desire for honest and open communication.

Just think about it.
Think about what you would want if you were in their shoes.
Sometimes I think we think it's our responsibility to keep their hearts intact, but I often think we do them much more of a disservice when we don't clearly communicate what we are thinking/feeling.

Despite what you may think, they can't read our minds (nor do we want them to). Don't expect them to. And don't expect them to accurately read your actions, either.

If you're a character in this story, I hope you'll make efforts to openly communicate with the guy who has put himself out there for you. He thought you were worth it. I hope you think he's worth an honest (and maybe hard, but kind) conversation about where your heart is at concerning him.

And men? Thanks for putting yourself out there, even when us women respond like crazies from time to time. I hope you'll keep doing it. I hope you'll keep taking risks for us. Know that my inbox is always open for blog topics from you, too.

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Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be Single

I remember being pretty antsy when my senior year of college rolled around.

I only had a few months to snag a boyfriend if I was hoping to finish up my MRS degree in time for graduation. That was always the plan, right? Graduate high school, go to college, graduate from college and then get married... the rest I could figure out with my husband.

Life didn't really work out that way, though. It's been over six years and I still get these anxious thoughts about needing to have a boyfriend so I can get married by these weird deadlines I've created for myself in my head. It didn't help when all my single friends eventually got boyfriends, fiances and then husbands.

But...the thing is...
I've loved my life.
I wouldn't change the way it's gone down (if anything, I'd change the amount of time I've spent caring/worrying about being single). I talk to a lot of girls in their early twenties who are still single and in a lot of despair about never getting married, and I can't help but think, 'You've got so much time...and you've got so much time to do incredible things!'

Yes, marriage is a beautiful blessing and I'm looking forward to when it's that time for me, but I don't want to wish away the moments that I have now and the opportunities that I have now. Opportunities that I have because I'm not married.

So this post is for all the single ladies...especially all you ladies who feel discouraged about your singleness. Seize it. Live in it. Enjoy it. Take advantage of the time that you have, the freedom that you have, the ability that you have to do what you feel called to do without having to consider how a husband or family might affect that. Don't alter the things you think the Lord is asking you to do because you're scared that you couldn't possibly meet the man of your dreams while doing it. Go! Do it! You just might meet someone when you least expect it...and even if you don't, it shouldn't be the priority in your life.

Would you trust that the Lord will be good and faithful to you in your desire for a companion? Would you trust that you don't have to make it happen? Would you trust that you can truly surrender this part of your life and live abundantly in the greater calling He has for you right now?

Gosh, I know it's easier said than done... but I earnestly yearn for this to not be a thing that drags you down or discourages you. There's so much freedom and goodness to be found in your singleness.

If there's something in your life that you know the Lord is calling you to but you've been hesitating because of the possibility of something working out with a guy...? I urge you to be obedient. If there's something in your life that you know the Lord is calling you to but you've been ignoring because you think you'll never meet someone in India or at that new job or volunteering for that organization...? I urge you to be obedient.

Don't miss out on the greater thing for your life because you're crippled by the fear of being alone. Don't miss out on impacting the Kingdom eternally because you're too focused on the temporary. Don't miss out on the opportunities, on the experiences, on the people who the Lord is asking you to love because you are consumed by the 'what-ifs'.

Be single.
Embrace this time...because you probably won't have it forever.
Make waves in the Kingdom because of your willingness to go forth into whatever He is calling you to, single or not. Be willing to set aside your own plans for your life and live in the fullness, in the better, that He has for you.

I promise it's awesome.
I wouldn't change a thing.

Live a life of no regret, eh?

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Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, January 14, 2013

Overwhelming Kindness

Have you ever been so overwhelmed by the way someone has given to you? And given, and given, and given... without asking for anything in return?

I have.
And in the midst of being overwhelmed, I've been steadily shown how hard it is for me to receive. To receive something from someone with no way to pay them back, with no real way to show them how thankful you actually are?

It's emotionally unbearable. It's brought me to tears every time I talk about it. I'll probably cry at some point while I write this post.

I recently had a friend overwhelm me with kindness. It was a kindness I didn't deserve, and yet, all I could do was receive it. No money could repay my debt...no words, no act, no anything. And so I stood, and I received...and recognized how I was experiencing the Gospel. The Lord used my friend to remind me of His kindness when I am so undeserving of it, His faithfulness when I seem unable to offer my own in return, His grace when I am in desperate need of it, His love when I am fearful of it.

I want to overwhelm someone with kindness.
I want to be someone who gives and gives and gives...and asks (and expects) nothing in return. I want to be that kind of friend. I want to be that kind of roommate. I want to be that kind of daughter, that kind of sister, that kind of co-worker, that kind of mentor. And, simultaneously, I know I need to be someone who is able to also receive it.

For as hard as it was for me to receive gift upon gift from a friend, I've realized how this paralleled my struggle to receive from the Father. The moments when I'm overwhelmed by His grace and mercy and love pouring out over my life are the moments when I feel the desperate need to somehow repay my debt. And then I come crashing to a halt where I realize I can do nothing...and I fall on my face, no words able to communicate how truly grateful I am. It's one of the most humbling things I can think of.

Our debt has not only been paid, but we serve a God who continually lavishes goodness upon us. A God who gives and gives and gives. And even when we don't always feel like it, and even when we feel forgotten and abandoned in the midst of various circumstances...the storm clears, and we see, yet again, Christ's faithfulness throughout it all. We see the way He provided for us, the way He brought us into an even better that we never thought possible.

I pray that you remember that...and I pray that you can receive that, even in the times where God might feel far from you. I pray that He would bring someone into your life to remind you tangibly of what it means to receive when you feel most undeserving of someone else's kindness. I pray that He would heap goodness upon you.

And I pray that we also might be people who simply overwhelm others with kindness. That we would go out of our way, that we would sacrifice, that we would live selflessly... because we believe that other people matter more than ourselves.

Wouldn't that be beautiful?
I think so, too.

I'm thankful for overwhelming kindness.
It's life-changing.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

One year Down

It's been about a year.

I remember pretty vividly the moment I realized I needed to start this blog. At the time I felt quite inundated with girls asking for advice on various topics: boys, God, future, boys, God, future... In some form or fashion it probably always related back to their spiritual formation, and whether or not it had to do with school, jobs, money, boys, their past, sex, or straight up Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, I felt under qualified to be giving any sort of advice. I mean, what do I know?

So, why not start a blog where I tell people what I think about things...?
Makes perfect sense, right?

I guess the moment struck me when I was talking with a girl face-to-face and she confided in me a story that she was ashamed to share with others. I found myself sharing part of my own story with her. 'Don't worry, friend... you're not that crazy... listen to what I've done, and listen to the hope that I've found.' I remember seeing relief in her eyes, an assurance that someone out there felt the same way as her, had even lived through it, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn't that I had all the answers, but that I was willing to admit that I, too, didn't have it all together.

I wanted this to be a blog of honesty, of rawness, of struggling through life together as we admit how disheveled our own lives can be and the hope we have found in spite of that. There seemed to be safety in the anonymity of an online forum, as I've encouraged people to write in and share their own stories with every post. There was probably the hope of developing some sort of 'Dear Debbie' column (that has a nice ring to it, eh?) where people could write in and I could share my own thoughts and stories on whatever the subject at hand was.

The blog hasn't exactly been what I envisioned it being initially, but I think that's okay. There's been a lot of internal stretching each time I sit down to write, filtering through the next topic I'll bare my soul to the world wide web about. I've been encouraged and supported by many and, oftentimes, an unlikely person will admit their gratitude for the blog. It's been a fun journey...despite how hard and uncomfortable it's made me at times.

I suppose this post is just a thank you.
Thanks for encouraging me well and for sharing your life and heart with me as you journey and sift through hard things.

There may be some changes in the near future, and some hopes to launch even bigger things as I long to reach an even wider community. Hopefully you'll also be willing to support me in that endeavor. Your feedback as I continue with this online dialogue is crucial, so please don't to hesitate to let me know ways that I can better benefit you and serve you.

I think each time I post, there's always a prayer that just one person takes something good from it, that just one person finds a bit of hope, that just one person sees Jesus more clearly... and even if it's just one person, I pray that the Lord is ultimately glorified.

One year down.
Let's keep growing together, learning together, fighting together.
It's gonna be worth it all.

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Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Manly Men

I once told my oldest brother that I wanted a man that's a man. You know, big and man-like. Coarse hands, broad shoulders, deep voice, hair on the chest (I'm not really into that whole chest-shaving thing).

He looked at me and simply said, 'That's not what makes someone a man.'

Shoot. It's not?
I mean, I know it's not... but do I really? The truth of my brother's statement pierced through the lies I have allowed myself to believe for decades (I think I'm old enough to say that now...).

It actually made me start thinking about all the seminars, talks, conferences, break-out sessions that we go to on being godly men and women. Only...we go to the ones that teach us how to be godly within our own genders. I can't think of a time where I've gone to, or was given a chance to go to, something on learning what it means to identify a godly man, allow him to truly pursue you, and really dwell on the things that actually matter in a romantic relationship.

I think it doesn't typically happen for a few reasons. One, we're probably too scared that it'll cause people to 'lose their focus'. Completely devoting something like that to the opposite gender in a way that's talking about the good stuff seems pretty sketch. It makes it seem like we're encouraging dating and romance when really we'd rather young people stay away from it as long as possible so they don't accidentally lose their virginity. We also probably assume lots of it is obvious. Don't date jerks. Everyone knows that, right? Why do we need to tell people that? I don't know... but it seems to happen too much of the time, so maybe we're missing something.

Here's all I'm getting at...
At some point along the way I started believing that the man of my dreams would be a certain way. We can blame society, or my role models, or the books I've read, or the movies that I've watched, or the advertisements that I see... but, regardless of where it came from, I don't think when I was younger that there was ever anyone telling me that I should maybe keep my heart open to men wrapped in a very different package from my expectations.

What is a godly man?
And beyond that, how do I be attracted to that when it can look so different from my knight and shining armor?

When a man loves the Lord passionately, seeks Him with His whole heart, is kind, generous, selfless... a man of good character... can that be enough? Can my heart be opened to, regardless of whatever is on the outside, allowing this to be 'man' enough for me?

I guess I'm just admitting my superficiality. That my understanding of what it means to be a 'man' has more to do with earthly things than eternal things...and that needs to change. I feel like I need to retrace my steps through life and erase the moments when I thought that being a man required athleticism, intelligence, muscles, good-looks, height... and whatever else my mind has firmly established as 'manly'.

It kind of feels like something that only Jesus can do, though. And I pray that He does. I want to fully appreciate men who are wholeheartedly devoted to Christ without mentally emasculating them in the process. To fully see that kind of man as someone who is truly a 'man', regardless of their appearance or their fleshly skills.

To let what matters matter...and to let what doesn't fade away.

Ladies, I hope you'll join me in this prayerful endeavor to truly honor the men in our lives who are on this treacherous path of attempting to (much like us) fight what the world is saying what kind of men they should be versus what the Lord is calling them to. May we be women who seek to love them for who they are, not what they can do or how they look. May we be women who can set aside expectations and standards for what we thought we always wanted, and be women who can be open to something different and, most assuredly, better.

Men, I'm sorry for the ways we've so often let you down in this, for the ways that we've discouraged your walk with Jesus and undermined it's importance because we've been too consumed with caring about things that simply don't matter. I pray that you'll find the freedom to live abundantly in Him, trusting that there are women who will see and love the beauty that flows from a heart that is truly devoted to Christ.

I'm so very thankful for you, men.
Thank you for continuing to follow, even when it's hard. Thank you for striving to live lives with your eyes set on heavenly things and not earthly things.

I still have much to learn, and much to grow in.
And so the fight resumes...
Join me.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

New Girl

I wonder when I'll stop feeling like I'm a guest in someone else's home.

Sometimes I'll find myself chanting things aloud: This is my house, this is my house, this is my house... this is my town, this is my town, this is my town...

This is my life...

I'm here.
I'm doing it. 'It' being something different and weird and unknown. It's just happening. I think that if my life was confined to existing in my house and getting around town (and spending money), I'd be okay. The hard part comes in finding community, looking for a job (so I can spend money), attending classes which require a whole lot of reading and self-discipline... essentially creating a new life for myself. Everything so far has seemed pretty emotionally effortless. Diving in deeper is what scares me.

I think this going to be especially hard in relationships. At this point in my life I sort of feel like I have enough good friends. I don't need anymore. I want to extend effort in maintaining the friendships that I already have...not exert energy in trying to make new ones. It's exhausting to think about the repetitive conversations that I'll have over and over again as I get to know new people. Some part of me just wants to know the people I already know, to find comfort in the fact that I don't have to give background for why I am the way that I am, to be in silence with others and not have it be awkward.

I know...
I know It's not feasible and it's not actually what I want. It just feels easier to be an elusive hermit who goes to class, goes to work, goes to church....and then hides out the rest of the time.

But, in reality there's a part of me that's excited about new friendships and investing in new people and vice versa. It's just hard to think about reaching the same level of friendship that I already have with others... and I think I want to expedite the process. I want to immediately have friends. Good friends.

I recognized just tonight that I can't expect these things to happen on their own, either. I have to be willing to put forth effort. I think when we are the 'new person' we have this expectation that others should come to us, others should reach out to us, others should include us...but a lot of times we're unwilling to make the same effort ourselves.

I was talking to a girl who is in the same program as me and was thinking, 'It'd be really nice to talk to her more about all of this stuff and maybe get to know her more. I hope she'd be willing to hang out with me.' And in that, I realized I had this expectation that she should be making this effort to help me out in my transition to school. Upon such a realization, I decided that was ridiculous and that she probably had a lot going on, and so I began to ask her how busy her life was in the next few weeks which immediately took us to a mutual agreement that we should hang out. Just like that! Give and take.

Perhaps she's cool enough that she would have initiated hanging out with the new girl on her own, but I think it's always helpful when both parties are willing to make an effort.

It's something to consider if you're ever the new person. Whether that's in a class, or at church, or at a job, or in a family, or wherever. To be willing to put yourself out there, to initiate connection beyond casual get-togethers, to truly be interested in other people's lives without expecting them to take you in and take care of your needs. I think it's good. And I think I'm going to have to do a whole lot more of it, no matter how uncomfortable it might feel sometimes. I honestly think it will be an important way to develop true, meaningful friendships.

And, shoot, if you see a new kid around...don't hesitate to eat lunch with them, invite them to join you for something, take time to make them feel like they matter...

It's easy to feel lost and alone when you're the new girl, but it doesn't have to be where you remain.

Choose to engage.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Betrayal (Part II)

(You might want to read the previous post before reading this one...) 

'I'd really love to see you...' 

These are the statements that torment my soul in the instances of betrayal. 'I've already forgiven you and yet you still want to maintain a relationship with me? How dare you.' are among the first of my thoughts upon receiving such a request. How much more can people ask from me, anyway? Don't know they know the pain they've caused hasn't vanished? Don't they know that every time I think about it, it hurts? Don't they know that the stabs of betrayal aren't a one time thing? My heart bleeds because of them. 

And yet... they'd really love to see me? Why?! Doesn't it also remind them of what they have done? I don't get it, but it doesn't change what is. 

But, really? Really, there was no shedding of blood on my part. That was already done. The price has already been paid. Their trespasses are forgiven. Who am I to say anything different? 

I don't always want it to be that easy, though. Maybe it feels like they're getting off scot-free. Maybe I want them to pay for the sins committed against me. My flesh screams for retribution. I want them to get what they deserve. And it doesn't work like that... 

'I'd really love to see you...'

It's frustrating because I thought I had forgiven them. Hadn't I? Hadn't I truly meant it when I looked them in the eyes and told them they were forgiven? Hadn't I realized how necessary it was when I realized that I am really no different from them? 

So why the anger? Why the desire to continually distance myself from them? Why the desire for revenge? This doesn't feel like forgiveness... 

What kind of Christian am I, anyway? 

'I'd really love to see you...'

It lingers in the back of my mind, a response is necessary. But I don't want to see you.  That seems a bit harsh. I shuffle through a mental list of polite dismissals, but nothing feels appropriate. 

Because, the honest trust is that I still care about them. In the brief moments that I am able to set the pain aside, I'm reminded that they are human... that they are broken... that they are my friend. In my lowest moments, in my darkest transgressions, wouldn't I, too, long for the embrace of those closest to me? 

'I'd really love to see you...'

Let's do it. 
Coffee. I can handle coffee. My time is limited, but I think this matters... I think that you matter. You've hurt me, you've betrayed me, you've turned your back on me... but you still matter. 

Deep within me, and perhaps it's not even me at all, I know that even at the cost of myself....you still matter. Your heart matters, your brokenness matters, your dreams matter, your passions matter, your apologies matter... your soul matters

Despite the ways you've messed up, and despite the ways that those mess-ups have included me...somewhere, in the midst of it all, I love you. I care about your life. I care about what you're doing. I care about where you're at and where you're headed. I want good for you. 

A short hour of coffee with you reminds me of this. 
And maybe you'd really love to see me, but I really needed to see you. Because the Lord reminded me of His kindness in that hour. The Lord reminded me that when I choose to act in forgiveness (regardless of how I feel), that it's better. He redeems my own heart of wickedness and sets my thoughts on things above. 

No retribution is necessary.
The price has been paid.

You are forgiven. Truly. 
I pray that I not be the person who keeps you confined to chains, but that you would walk freely into the life He has intended for you. Because it is good. It is bigger than you. It matters. And despite the mistakes of the past (and probably ones of the future), He is continually calling you to better. Keep walking in that. 

* * * 

If we're being honest, I'll probably wrestle with forgiveness most of my life...and maybe you'll join me in that, especially with those who have hurt us the most. I think it's okay. Because, I think when our hearts our opened to it, the Lord will repeatedly bring us back to this place again. I think when we choose to act in forgiveness that He honors it. 

And what is acting in it? I don't know. Sometimes I think it means sitting down to a cup of coffee with someone who has hurt you. Sometimes it means diligently praying for them. Sometimes it means honoring them in the way you speak about them. Sometimes it means maintaining a relationship with them again. Sometimes it means an email, a text, a phone call, a little something to remind both of you that you meant what you said: you've forgiven them (...right?). 

There's nothing perfect or simple about it. It's always hard, and it's always painful. I think forgiveness has a lot to do with considering others better than yourselves...even the ones who have hurt you. 

I don't know who it is for you, but I'm guessing there's probably someone. Someone you've been avoiding, someone you've been talking bad about, someone who probably 'deserves' it... but someone who needs forgiveness, who needs love, who needs grace. Someone whose soul matters. 

Live a life of grace. 
And may you find abundance as you truly exemplify the Gospel. 

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Sunday, January 6, 2013


There have been a lot of thoughts rumbling around in my head lately without a lot of time to write any of them down. Between final moments with friends and family, 22 hour road trips and trying to move in and feel like a strange town is actually my new town...'down time' seems to escape me. Maybe that's okay for now.

But...I've been thinking about betrayal some lately.

It's a horrifying word. And, a rather weird word (if you look at it too long). In its simplest definition it means to be disloyal. It's one of those words that I don't think you fully understand until you actually experience it.

I was in that boat a majority of my life. I could give textbook thoughts on betrayal, and I might even be able to empathize with you if you had experienced some sort of betrayal, and some might say that I was even a betrayer at various points (although I certainly hope that's not true)...but I hadn't ever really been betrayed. At least not in the way that shatters your heart, or in the way that makes you want to vomit, or in the way that makes you feel like someone is punching you in the gut...over and over and over again.

In the last few years, my sheltered existence finally caved and opened me up to the harsh reality of betrayal. It's maybe one of the worst things I've ever experienced emotionally before. Someone else's actions cause your entire being to recoil in horror, disbelief, anger, and hatred. Darkness is consuming and before you know it, this emotion is having a physical affect on you. Your hands are shaking, your voice doesn't sound like your voice....sometimes it's hard for you to speak because your level of nauseousness makes you feel uncertain that you can keep it all down. Everything hurts. Any trace of joy has been sucked out of you.

How do you ever recover from it?
How do you ever move on?
Can you ever possibly forgive?

I've had to make some tough choices in the face of betrayal and while my flesh sought vengeance for the wounds I fear I'll never truly heal from, there wasn't a chance that I could follow through with it. I remember specifically being in the midst of one of the most heart-wrenching betrayals and hearing Matt Maher's song Christ Has Risen pound through my head: 'Freely You've bled for us...'

His blood has been shed for me and those who have betrayed me. I am not better than them. I am just as in need of Jesus. Who am I to withhold forgiveness when I serve a God who so willingly gives it even though we reject Him, abandon Him, run from Him...and betray Him...? 

But how I can I? And what does that possibly mean? What does that look like?
I think it's different in different situations, but I think it's absolutely necessary.

I'll leave it here for now... I suppose you could consider this 'Part I' of a blog on betrayal and forgiveness. But... if you've been betrayed (whether recently or long ago) and you're battling through forgiveness and what that needs to look like, let's talk.

It's hard.
It hurts.
It's unfair.

But there's hope.
Stay tuned.

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Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A New Year

As the final countdown began and the ball dropped, my friend brought up the calamity in her heart to all of us.

'I don't know how I'm supposed to be feeling right now...' 

We kind of laughed, but we also knew it was a serious comment. And, I get it. 
It's a new year, and every time another one rolls around we are inundated with thousands of comments, posts, questions about our regrets and highlights of the past year and our resolutions and dreams of the upcoming year. It's like it's a big deal or something... but, mostly (to me, anyway) it just feels like another day. I always feel like I'm 'supposed' to feel something more though. 

Despite the celebration that accompanies the first of the year, there's never been this feeling of a 'fresh start'. The only thing it was nice for was beginning a devotional... but that's mostly because all of them start with January 1 and it was easier to keep track of it that way. 

This year feels different though. This year feels different because, for the first time, I'm truly moving toward something completely new in January. 2013 is actually a year of significant life change for me. 

I cried about it today. 

Because, yes, it's exciting and new and different and the possibilities seem endless for where my life might go from here... but it's also overwhelming. So overwhelming that I feel unable to actually process through my thoughts and emotions on the subject. 

I don't even know if I'm scared. I think I just mostly feel uncertain. And, for someone who doesn't typically do change well, I'm about to swallow a whole lot of it at once. I can't really begin to imagine what my life will look like, what routines I might fall into, or who I might journey through life with. 

I've been asked a few times what my resolutions for 2013 are, and I've sarcastically responded with, 'to get a new life'. But, really... I'm probably mostly in a place of recognizing how wonderfully freeing it is to let go of expectation, and I'd long to embrace that freedom more. Letting go of expectation for how this year should go, how this transition will be, what kind of job I'll have, how I'll handle schoolwork, the things that I'll have to spend money on, the types of friends I'll make, how I'll spend my time, the relationships that will matter most to me, the amount of time I'll get to spend with family, the career I envision myself having, the ways God will move, the ways He will prove Himself faithful, the ways He will grow me and change me, the ways I will run away...and the ways that He will continually bring me back to His side. 

I think I can only expect that God will be God, in the fullness of who He is. Which means that He is faithful, good, righteous, holy, just... filled with grace and love. I can expect Him to be these things (and so much more), but I can have no expectation of how He will be these things. So, even in expecting God to be God, I still need to let go of my expectation of what I think that means and allow Him to be the fullness of what that actually means (because in my experience it almost always differs from what I would have expected).

It's a new year.
It's a new life. 
But...there's reassurance that He's still the same God. Yesterday, today and forevermore. I can still trust Him to be God. So, even in the midst of the overwhelming...I can let go and exist in the freedom that comes with knowing that I'm cared for, loved, provided for, deeply and intimately known. I can let go and exist in the freedom that all of that doesn't have to look a certain way, either.  

And, no...it's not easy. But, it's better. I'd rather live in the better...in the freedom that accompanies the better, in allowing God to live outside of the confines of the box that I've tried to house Him in for so long. 

There's hope and excitement in that. 
So... here's to relinquishing all expectations on this upcoming year and simply trusting God to do His thing (even though I have no idea what that means or what that looks like). 


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