Monday, September 30, 2013

Let Him Go

"So... how would you feel if [your ex] and I started dating...?"

The question is posed to you by a good friend. And maybe it's not even an ex, but maybe it's the guy you've had a crush on for thirteen years. Or maybe it's your best guy friend.

It's a situation that comes with a surge of a thousand different emotions...but it's one that many of us have experienced before.

How the heck do we handle it?
We're intimately linked to someone of the opposite sex (through friendship, romantic interest or past relationship baggage) and while so much of our hearts feel like we have a small corner market of ownership on that person, we don't. Not really. We can't call 'dibs' on them as though they're ours and no one else can have any piece of them.

But...sometimes we try to. And sometimes we feel like we have a right to. And sometimes we function out of that...and we're quickly converted into people who write betrayal all over ourselves: How could she do that to me?! She's known I've liked him forever...

We're hurt.
Devastated, sometimes.
Feeling abandoned, betrayed, lonely, forgotten... as we watch two of the closest people to us pair up and begin a life together without us.

I'd venture to say that it doesn't have to be like this, though.
There can be a good (and mature) way to respond to the suckiness of the situation. Because, it is sucky. And it is hard. But it doesn't have to crush us...nor should it.

If we genuinely care deeply about the people in our lives, if we are genuinely desiring to love them sacrificially and placing them above ourselves in all things...then it should also extend into the romance department. There cannot be an 'exception-clause' when it comes to matters of the heart.

It's a perspective shift that's required of us.
If I truly love my friend and if I truly care about the guy I've been crushing on for my entire life...wouldn't I want the best for them? And wouldn't I, no matter how much it might hurt me right now, want them to be together if that's what's best for both of them? If them being together is better than them being apart (especially if it's just to appease my emotional well-being)?

Our relationships with others can't be about an end-goal. Meaning, I can't have all these men lined up in my life that are 'off-limits' because I want them reserved for me and the possibility of being more than friends with them someday, or because I don't want anyone else to have them because it would hurt me too much. We have to be willing to treat people like people. Not as our lousy discards, not as some prize to be won. People...with their own emotions, desires, hopes, dreams... not people to obtain as the answer to our dreams.

Let other people be happy.
Live in such a way that encourages that.
Let other women date your ex-boyfriend. He isn't yours anymore.
Let other women date your best friend. He's not yours. Not like that. Want good for him (and not in the passive aggressive sort of way, either).
Let other women date your crush. If he hasn't shown an interest in you, it's maybe time to move on. Don't try to dictate or control the situation by keeping all other women out of the way. It won't work out in your favor.

Be women who love the men in your life well, even if that means letting go... relinquishing up. Be women who love the friends in your life well by being supportive and encouraging and not resentful, jealous and bitter.

Be gracious.
Even when it hurts, even when it comes at your expense.
We can't demand for others to cater to us in this capacity...and I think we only hurt ourselves (and everyone else) when we try.

It's not about us.
The sooner we can start living like that, the better.
And the sooner we can, ultimately, start trusting that the Lord truly does desire good things for us...the more we're able to really let go and not try to grasp at and hold onto things (and people) that don't belong to us. He's taking care of us...even through the heartache, even through the disappointment, even when we watch everyone else get what we think we want.

So, when we're asked the question?
Let's respond with grace, love, support, encouragement...(which can all be done through a lens of honesty, but not selfishness and control).

It can still hurt, it can still suck, we can still mourn over it... but we still need to let it go.
Let him go.
Our better awaits us somewhere else.
It's the hope that we have.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dating Requirements

Interested in Liking ('ill'n'...?). 
Seeing Someone.
In a Relationship.

It's a confusing world out there with all the different steps that seem required to get us from point A (strangers) to point B (marriage). Granted, sometimes we start off more acquainted than strangers and oftentimes the end doesn't result in marriage...but it doesn't negate the fact that it often feels like a lot of hoops to jump through. 

Check it out: 
So do you like him?
I don't know yet. I don't know him very well. But, I am interested in possibly liking him. I just want to get to know him better first. guys are talking? Yeah. We've kind of acknowledged that we're interested in each other, but we're just talking to see where it goes from here. Neither of us really are ready to jump into anything until we're more sure.  
So, I hear you're dating someone! Yeah- it's pretty chill though. Kind of just feeling things out, going on dates occasionally. There's a few other prospects, too. Nothing serious.  
Are you guys seeing each other? Yep! We 'DTR'ed the other night. We see each other quite regularly and we've actually agreed to not see anyone else right now.  
I saw that you're in a relationship?? I know! Isn't it exciting? Once it's Facebook official, that means it's serious...right? 
Okay, okay- so some of it is just all about semantics, but some of it just feels like unnecessary steps to stretch out the already tortuous process of figuring out all this romantic stuff.

And, I get it. At this point in my life I don't really want to just jump into a relationship with someone without being more 'sure' of things (whatever that even means), and so as a result I'm much more cautious with (a) admitting I like someone, (b) letting that person know I like them, (c) letting anyone else know that there's a possible prospect, (d) committing to only that person, (e) announcing it to the social media world.

It's scary.
Because what if things don't work out? Again...?
How much of an emotional roller coaster am I willing to go on myself, let alone take anyone else on when they get excited that 'Debbie may have actually found someone!!'

And so we
I don't think either gender is really to blame. As much as I'd love to point a finger at all the men and tell them that they need to be bold and take more initiative...I know that even with the guys who do and who have, many a woman are stalling and freaking out about really entering into a relationship with them.

So what's the deal?
We're a generation who is scared of commitment, scared of getting into something messy...into something that isn't perfect, and scared of feeling like there's no way out or that something better might come along. So we resist. We draw it out as long as we can. We want to be sure. We're waiting for the feelings of, 'I know' to dance across our hearts because we've heard so many times that, 'when you
know, you know.'

But what if you're someone who is never sure about much? What if you're someone who can talk yourself out of things just as easily as you can talk yourself into things? What if there are several people in your life that you feel like you could be sure about being with?

I don't think it's simple.
I think it's complex and we tend to make it even more complex (unnecessarily so).
So what's the solution?

Take a chance.
I can't know if the next guy I'm interested in is going to be my husband...but I can't be so guarded that I'm unwilling to be in a relationship with him because I don't know the end result. If I live in the fear of a relationship not working out, I've given it no chance from the beginning.

And so I think we need to take more risks. I'm not saying to jump into relationships foolishly, but I am saying that we don't need to cater to all these steps that it often feels like we're 'supposed' to follow. There isn't a 'right' way to do it.
There isn't a certain 'path' to follow.
What worked for one person, may not work for you. While one couple needed to talk for months before figuring out if they actually wanted to go on a date, it doesn't mean that's how you have to do things.

I am saying that we can't live our lives scared of commitment and scared of what other people might think of us. We can't live our lives fearful of disappointing others (whether that's because of who we're dating or because we don't want to let them down with another prospect not working out).

We can't live our lives as though we know the outcome.
We don't.

And we if we live our lives so scared of being hurt, we'll never really live them at all.
The next guy I date may be my husband. But, I also have to recognize that I may date several more people before that ever happens. I don't want to be the person that's too scared, too unwilling to commit, too untrusting that I'm never willing to just find out...

Do what you gotta do, but don't make it all sorts of complicated.
Enjoy it.
Isn't dating supposed to be fun, exciting, interesting, risky, you get to know the other person better, anyway?
Let's not suck all the joy out of it.

And, in the end, I think we might find a lot of beauty when we're willing to commit, when we're willing to work through the messy, the imperfect and choose to love someone despite it all.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Liking Boys

"What does it even mean to like someone?"

I quickly told my friend that she knows exactly what it means. Because...she knows. I know. You know. We all know.

It means we're interested in getting to know them better. It means we're interested in letting them get to know us (and hoping they want to). It means we think about them. A lot. It means we over think our interactions with them and definitely read into all of their interactions with us. It means our stomach feels fluttery when we think about seeing them again. It means we're excited and hopeful about what could possibly be...

The thing about being a girl that likes a boy is that it's hard to know what to do with those feelings. Once you actually admit that they are there (because how many of us would prefer to keep lying to ourselves about our romantic interests...) how do you then act? Once you acknowledge that you like a boy, both to yourself and possibly others, does it change everything?

I know, for me, it's hard to keep acting like a normal person. Suddenly everything has more weight to it, no matter how long I've known the person. Suddenly I'm cautious of my actions and very aware of the small things that I never before cared about, let alone noticed. Has he always looked at me like that? Has his touch always lingered? Which is then quickly countered by: He's not looking at me at all and he pulled his hand away very, very quickly.... he must actually hate me. 

Irrational thoughts leak through.
But I don't know what to do with the emotions. Half the time I don't even know if they are real. Do I only like this guy because he's the first guy in a while to have a conversation with me? Do I only like him because I'm trying to get over my ex? Do I only like him because he's cute? Do I only like him because he can sing really well?

Because our emotions sometimes convince us that we like guys for really ridiculous reasons. Reasons that aren't lasting. Reasons that aren't substantial.

So, here's kind of what I think through when I decide if I'm going to keep liking a guy (because, yes, I do believe that love is a choice...and that you can help who you love).

  • Why do I like him? Do I know him well enough to have substantial reasons for liking him, or am I basing it off of things that don't matter or aren't lasting? 
  • What is my current situation? Do I like him because I'm lonely or jealous? Do I like him because it seems like an easy solution? 
  • Am I using these feelings as a way to distract me from other things I don't want to deal with? Meaning...sometimes I like guys and entertain the idea of a relationship with them (through various communication or flirting), but I never actually have any intention of dating them. In the moment, it's just nice to have someone to think about...but not as anything real. 
I think when we can admit that we have feelings for a guy, that we need to be willing to process through some of this other stuff in order to gauge how we should respond. Sometimes we need to step away from the situation because it's just feeding an unhealthy desire for something to fill us quickly that never actually can...sometimes we're looking for fulfillment and identity in the wrong spot. Sometimes we need to get to know a guy better before we really decide we have feelings for him (just because he has an amazing voice doesn't mean you need to marry him... or date him). 

But if we determine we like someone for the right reasons and it just seems good? 
Then keep liking him and let whatever happen happen. Don't run away from the situation, don't freak out. Keep being in his life in the capacity that you are and don't be afraid to let him know that you care about him. I'm not saying to declare your love to him (unless things get too unbearable, but that's another blog topic)...but I am saying that it's very okay to give him a little encouragement. Give him a reason to think that if he asked you out, you wouldn't say no. 

In the end, when you like a boy... you kind of just get to wait. And be you. And while you might go through irrational thought processes and freak out and feel like you're about to explode because you feel like you can't ever say what you really want to say?'ll be okay. Something will happen with you guys, or you'll eventually move on to someone else. 

Because that's what happens when we like boys. 
It's confusing and silly... but whatever you're feeling right now isn't defining for the rest of your life. 

Take some hope in that. 
Evaluate your emotions (and freaking admit that you have them)...and go from there. 

Because we all know what it means to like boys. We just don't necessarily know what to do with it once we admit we do... 

Man up. 
Face the risks, the possible rejections, the potential long waiting process.... and trust that it'll all be okay. Even if this moment feels like eternity, rest assured that it isn't. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Pedestal

I hate the pedestal.

You know, that thing people place you on and you feel like you have no room to breathe, let alone make an error...

Sometimes I feel like people put me in this category of 'having it all together' or of being someone they should strive to be like, which seems completely absurd considering the things I write in this blog. Not only do I feel ridiculously honest, but often I feel like in my honesty I'm constantly unveiling my weakness and my brokenness. I don't have it all together.

Maybe it's not always a pedestal, but sometimes I think people think I'm 'cooler' than I am without really knowing me. Maybe they know someone who knows me, or maybe they just read my blog, or maybe they are distantly connected in some way... but they don't know me. Perhaps it's because I try to reserve that type of judgement for people until I really know them well...or perhaps it's because I'm just convinced I'm not that cool. But when I hear that someone I don't know very well thinks highly of me, I just have to wonder... why?

My immediate reaction is to convince them of all the reasons why I'm not that cool, why I shouldn't be on the pedestal. It's as though I want to stand on top of the pedestal and shout out for the whole world to hear:

Look people...Here I Am! Don't you see that I'm broken? Don't you see that I'm selfish, bitter, lonely, jealous, manipulative, controlling, undisciplined, a gossip, consumed with superficial things? Don't you see that I care too much what other people think about me? Don't you see that I'm just trying to figure this all out? Don't you see that I doubt? Don't you see that I'm often unloving? Don't you see that...? 

And, honestly, I think the part that bothers me most about people placing me on the pedestal is that it makes me feel like I've done a terrible job at putting down my mask. Perhaps what they see is the Debbie who is afraid to show any weakness. Perhaps they see the put-together version of me who so badly wants others' approval that somehow it seeps into my daily interactions instead of the girl who is so desperately in need of Jesus and His saving grace.

The Pedestal makes me feel like I haven't been authentic, that I haven't been real, that I haven't been raw. It makes me feel like I've been guarded, that I haven't really let others in...and the more people who think I'm super cool, the more I feel alone. I feel misunderstood. I feel unknown.

Because I'm not that cool.
I don't do everything right.
I don't say all the right things.
I don't have anything together.

But the Lord is gracious with me... He is tender and gentle in loving me even when He not only knows my flaws, but He knows the ways in which I've betrayed Him, doubted Him, fled from Him and idolized others over Him.

I don't care if people think I'm cool... because, I think Jesus does. But He knows me. I guess I just want people to know me before they decide that I'm cooler than I am. I want them to take the time to get to know all the junk that makes me me and choose to love me regardless... not just think I'm some cool Christian lady to be like because of whatever reason.

It gets lonely on The Pedestal.
Because it's not where I belong.
I'm no different from anyone else.
I am a sinner...saved by grace, and grace alone...not by anything I have done or can do.

It's the beauty of the Gospel.
We're all in this journey, trying to figure it all out... and I need (we all need) to feel like we can not have it together. This life isn't about perfection and wearing good masks.

Let's know others better.
And let them know us better.
Let's not be people who make others feel like they have it all together, let's not be people who place impossible expectations on others.

Let's, instead, find the freedom that comes in allowing His grace to truly be sufficient in our weakness...and perhaps give others freedom by allowing His grace to be sufficient in their weaknesses, too.

Let's get rid of The Pedestal.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Internet Dating

Although I've gotten rejected from Online Dating in the past, I've been considering it lately.
The pros. The cons.

Partially because I've heard it's a cool way to just meet people and become friends with them, and partially because it just feels hard to meet guys that I would ever really be interested in. How does a 29-year-old now living in a gated community meet anyone outside of said community, anyway? Church...?

Many people I know have met and had successful relationships through Online Dating, but I can't seem to shake feeling like it's this act of control. But then I'm reminded that there are quite a few people who have tried it and not been successful in finding someone. Mostly I don't feel like I can justify paying for such a service. Isn't there just a 'Find Friends Who Live in the Same Area as You' type of website?

But, I do like to flirt with the idea of relationships.
To think about 'dating'... in the 'I don't know you at all, but we're going out to see if there could be anything there' type of way.

So, I think about Online Dating.
But when I think about, it seems both exhausting and terrifying. Really, the whole idea of 'dating' feels like that. Getting to know someone. Asking questions. Answering questions. Especially when it's done in the context of 'how can I best present myself to this dude so he might want to be interested in me beyond friendship...'? I like being authentic. And sometimes authentic me isn't necessarily the best version of me.

In friendship, you often get to see the good, the bad, the ugly...without all the pressure of feeling like you have to put your best foot forward. I can be sarcastic, weird, emotional, uninterested, independent...without feeling like it actually affects how someone views me. Or, without me caring too much about how much it affects their view of me.

And, I try to be like that in every interaction.. sure. But when I think about getting to know someone online with the purpose of 'Do I want to date you? ...Do you want to date me?', it's terrifying. I can do the written part, the hiding behind the computer screen and only telling someone things about myself in my own time and my own way... but the actual meeting them part? I can't even imagine doing it. Too much pressure. And I think it gives me further allowance to be picky about things that don't matter. That it's much easier to judge someone based on how they look, how they write, how they present themselves...versus getting to know them in a 'normal' capacity and either being attracted to them initially or recognizing how cool they are once I learn more about them.

Mostly I just feel like a coward.
Mostly I'm just too scared to ever admit that I could really like someone, and it seems safer to point out all their flaws and the reasons I couldn't possibly like them (when in reality, I'm just afraid that they'll never like me and I'll be stuck, yet again, in a place of unrequited love).

So as much as I like to flirt with the idea of's hard for me to put my money where my mouth is. It's hard for me to really let down my guard and admit that possibilities are out there and then actually let them happen.

I still feel pretty undecided about Online Dating. Still feel conflicted. Still feel like if I ever decide to really do it, that I can never tell anyone about (mixed with wanting to go all out with it and then blog about my experiences...).

Mostly this question has brought up a lot more questions and self-awareness about my continued fears and insecurities. How much do I care what other people think about how I might meet my future husband? Can you date online without everyone thinking you're desperate? How much am I willing to let someone in? How ready am I to trust? How ready am I to sacrifice? How ready am I to face possible rejection, disappointment, more heartache?

Pros and cons.

Maybe I'll let you know how it turns out.
Maybe I won't.

Curious to hear about your experiences with Online Dating? Are you a fan? An advocate? Of the opinion that it's too controlling? Negative? Dangerous?

Let's hear it...
I'd love some feedback.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is 'Crazy' Bad?

'Crazy' is offensive.

It's a word I use a lot when I blog...and I'm finding out that it can definitely rub people the wrong way. It's not my intent, I just don't have another word to sum up what I'm trying to say sometimes. I'll blame the English vocabulary. 

But, really. 
In some conversations lately I'm recognizing how many people associate negativity with the word 'crazy', while oftentimes I'm not necessarily trying to make it a negative thing. 

Balut: A Filipino delicacy consisting
of a developing duck embryo that's boiled alive
and eaten in shell. you'd have to be crazy to eat that, right?! 
Crazy can be a lot of things, though. Crazy can be extreme adventures, like eating Balut or doing 10 crazy when you hear fingernails on the chalkboard? It's a mark of foolishness, but it's also a voice of extreme enthusiasm (I'm crazy about Chipotle's barbacoa burritos). Sometimes I just act 'crazy'--ranging from trying to get inside trash bags to doing Gilly-type dances without caring who might be watching. It's all crazy.
day long Adventure Races. Crazy can mean mentally deranged. Crazy can be your feelings about how annoying something is...doesn't it just drive you

I guess I'm just saying that 'Crazy' isn't always bad. Even when I use it in regard to being an emotional,  often irrational, and doubting woman. Sometimes that's just how we are. Sometimes that's just how I feel: crazy. What other word can describe my ups and downs in a five-minute time span? What other word can peg my anxiety over various situations? Sometimes I just feel all over the place internally... and crazy seems to be the only word that can sum of my inner dialogue that so often feels bipolar. 

It's complex, I realize.
Because sometimes my crazy can be bad. Sometimes, when I'm living out of irrational thought-processes and over-emotional decisions...the crazy feelings can have a negative affect. I don't necessarily think inherently that it is, but often the way that it can play out is something to be aware of. If I know that I'm prone to be trigger-happy, making irrational bullet decisions that can heavily affect others and myself...I need to be aware of how that part of me may need to I don't need to break up with a guy on the spot just because he chews his food unattractively and in the moment I am repulsed by him. Sometimes I just need to sleep on it and let a new day come and change my perspective. 

I get that women are often pegged as 'crazy' and that sometimes it may be seen like I'm only encouraging the stereotype. I'm not. At least, I'm not trying to. I'm just trying to acknowledge that I often feel crazy, and often those feelings of craziness are a good sign that I'm perhaps on the verge of doing something crazy. Making a bad decision, saying something silly, worrying about something out of instability instead of stability. A world in motion, not a world rooted in something solid and secure. 

I want women to be able to acknowledge that sometimes we do have crazy tendencies...not give others a license to call us crazy simply because we are women. I want women to be aware of when those feelings arise and how to handle them appropriately. Sometimes we do need to voice those feelings and express our emotions...sometimes we do need a safe net in which to be irrational and ridiculous and back and forth emotionally. We do need to have husbands that can allow us to be our overly emotional, irrational, worries that won't quickly chastise us, but will listen to us and recognize that this isn't defining of us. We need to have friends who do the same. People in our lives that gently are able to remind us of the the stability instead of the world in motion. 

Expressing my ever-changing emotions isn't, however, probably the best when I'm talking to a boy I like that I'm, simultaneously, trying to discern whether he might like me too (because that has a whole slew of mixed up/messed up emotions attached to it). There's a time and a place to be crazy--in almost every sense of the word. 

I'm sorry if I offended. I'm sorry if I perpetuated stereotypes. 
More than anything, I want women to know that they aren't alone... that they aren't the only ones out there who sometimes feel all over the place emotionally. And while, yes, sometimes that can be/lead to bad... I think I just want to acknowledge that it happens. It's part of who we are, how we were made, something we have to fight hard not to act out of constantly... and that sometimes the depth of our emotions and capacity to feel different things at the same time can be absolutely beautiful as we relate, as we have compassion, as we engage in other's lives. Sometimes our 'crazy' can be good. 

I don't want women to ever feel like they need to discount their feelings. I just want us to be aware of them, to understand how they affect us and our decisions. A life of self-awareness, essentially...and a life of self-control (once we realize the negative ways in which we can be consumed by all of this). 

Because I'm often crazy. 
And, most of the time, I think it's perfectly okay. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Good Life

I'm tired.
My feet are sore and my shirt still carries the stickiness of orange juice I splattered all over myself this morning. I only remember when my arm gets stuck on it occasionally.

But there are more important things.

I'm back in camp world.
It's both entirely different and entirely the same.

I swept the floor after lunch and smiled to myself: We're doing this. We're doing camp.
I don't know how, really. But I know it's happening. It's been over two weeks and my life has been filled with a random assortment of tasks and only a small percentage of them would identify me with my actual job title. It's been a mix of learning new systems and procedures, deep cleaning, creating schedules, writing blogs and website text, ordering food, shopping for food, waiting for guests to arrive, unloading giant moving trucks, creating events, having meetings, dreaming, drinking coffee, playing spike ball... the list goes on and on and on.

It's challenging.
But it's familiar.
It's familiar and it's new.
It's stuff I know in the midst of something unknown and huge.
I love it.

And still throughout it all, there's only one assurance I have. Because while I'm somehow competent and knowledgeable about some things camp...I don't think any of us really know the weight of what's ahead. We don't really know what's required of us. We don't really know what the Lord is going to do with this place.

But things are happening.
While I'm maybe putting on several different hats at once (as we all are), there's a joy in embracing it fully. A 'Let's Do This!' mentality. And so we band together in the midst of learning together, growing together, building together, creating together. We are no longer strangers. We are teammates. We are working together toward one common goal.

The Lord is faithful.
Jesus is Lord.
Apart from Him I do no good thing.

It's the assurance I have.
And so even with the early mornings, the sore feet, the long hours, the unknowing-ness of everything we are walking into... we rely on Him. Because without Him, none of this is possible.

It's a pretty sweet thing to be a part of.
There are moments when it feels risky and uncomfortable...when there's tension and an uncertainty as we discern the best way to move forward. There are moments when I feel absolutely terrified and incompetent to do my job...and they are countered with times when I feel like I was made to do exactly this.

It's a life of utter dependence. A life where I'm given more than enough for each day.
It's a good life.

I'd encourage you to take opportunities, to take risks, to step into the unknown, to walk into things you maybe don't necessarily feel qualified for...and to trust in the assurance you have in Him.

Because even when it's hard, uncomfortable, challenging, terrifying, overwhelming...

There are more important things.
Jesus is Lord.
And we'll do everything we can to tell as many people as we can of His love and saving grace.

Because it's the most important thing.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Think About It

Sometimes blogging is hard for me.
Does any of it really matter?
Does anything I write really change the way anyone actually lives?

I think it's an issue that boils down to inspiration.
What inspires you?
What inspires you to change your mind about something, what inspires you to keep doing something even if it's hard, what inspires you to reach out to others, what inspires you to be different?

We all have these different catalysts that inspire us toward change, toward action.
Do we even know what ours are, though?
And if we know what they are, how often are they things that we seek out?

Because sometimes change is scary. And sometimes having to do things is hard. Isn't it easier to quit? Isn't it much easier to sit and live our lives complacent and following along the status quo? Isn't easier when we feel like we have everything figured out? Isn't it safer? Isn't it better?

Because sometimes when we read things, or when we have conversations with people, or when we witness things that deeply move us...sometimes we realize that maybe where we're at isn't the best place we could be. And sometimes that means doing something different. Sometimes it means moving across the country. Sometimes it means stepping out of our comfort zone. Sometimes it means not talking to someone OR talking to someone. Sometimes it means applying for a job we don't feel qualified for...and then actually taking it when it doesn't make any sense. Sometimes it means putting ourselves out there, taking risks, facing rejection.

How often do we avoid the things that truly inspire us, challenge us, have the capacity to change us because it's too much, too overwhelming, too scary? How often do we not let the things that can truly inspire us actually inspire us? How resistant are we? How guarded?

How often do we read a blog, or a book, or an article, or the Bible and say, 'Yeah, good point...I should really think about that more...' and then forget about it a few minutes later as we get distracted by something insignificant?

How often do we travel across the world, startled by the things we see and encounter...convinced our lives will be completely transformed when we come home, and then within a few days we're back in the swing of things?

How often do we go on retreats, getaways, vacations, to camps...taking time to slow down and recognize all the things the Lord is actually trying to reveal to us, and then resume to the hustle and bustle of our existence just weeks later?

This isn't a guilt post.
It's just a 'think about it' post.

Think about it.

What moves you toward change?
Do you seek those things out or do you run from them?
What inspires you?
What motivates you?
What are you doing in life with that inspiration and motivation? How are you living out of it?
What is required of you?
Are you moving in some direction, or are you just sitting, waiting, stubborn, lazy, scared?

I'm often terrified of change...and, often, I'm too prideful to want to change (at least initially). But, at the end of the day, I want to be the type of person who is open-minded enough to recognize that I always need to change. That there's always a better. I want to allow various catalysts to move me that direction, too. To let books, to let people, to let speakers, to let movies, to let experiences, to let Jesus working through whatever way He needs to... to change me. That I might be more like Him, that others would see a reflection of Him in me.

Because I want to do things that matter.
I want to write because it somehow matters.
And I want to be someone who grows, deepens, and knows more about who Jesus is and what He desires for me as I seek to love Him and His people.

Think about it.
What does it all mean for you...?

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013


As much as I can be in a place of contentment, especially in regard to singleness... sometimes I feel like there's a big, red 'REJECTED' branded across my face.

It's not even that I place it there, but it's that I feel like others are. Like when they find out how old I am and that I'm still single, only one thought could possibly cross their mind: What's wrong with her? Why does no one want her...? 

It becomes an identity I wear because I fear it's what others are thinking about me (even if it isn't truly what they are thinking about me). It's pretty messed up.

Singleness doesn't often immediately reflect a life of opportunity and freedom, but it often begs the sorrowful glances of those already married or those younger who have high hopes of getting married before they reach my ripe old age. Very rarely am I met with a, 'Oh cool...being single is the best- I never want to get married!' More often I think I'm admired for being 29 and handling my singleness in a seemingly okay manner... like a, 'Man, Debbie, if I'm 29 and single...I hope I can do it like you are.'

I get asked a lot of it's hard.
I get asked if I'm doing okay.
I get asked if I'm jealous of my friends in relationships.

I can't shake the feeling that people feel sorry for me.... and partially it's because when I was younger, I remember feeling sorry for older ladies who were still very single (as if marriage was the end all be all of existence). So... I get it, even if my perspective on it has changed as I've aged.

But the pity only makes me feel like something is genuinely wrong with me. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who can't see the giant goiter on my neck that makes me repulsive. Or maybe I'm just oblivious to these obvious character flaws I possess. Because, at this point, surely someone would have wanted me by now if I was a 'normal' person. Something must be wrong, even if it's not noticeable right from the start...

It's hard to escape the feeling that no one wants me. Or, that it appears to others as though no one wants me (like, could they ever entertain the notion that maybe I'm not interested in the guys that have wanted me?).

And, when I feel like that....when I feel my identity deeply rooted in one of REJECTED, unwanted, unliked... that's when I start reaching. Not even because I necessarily want to, but because I think I should. I convince myself that I've been too stand-offish, too intimidating, giving the impression that I'm not interested and that I don't care. So I over-compensate. I initiate. I say things. I do things.

Ironically, what typically ensues from there is more rejection...only this time it feels more real. It's not rejection simply because of the absence of a man in my life, but it's rejection from actual men in my life (even within the realm of friendship).

The problem?
My solution to feeling the brand placed upon me by others is often to prove to them that I am not rejected, that I am worthy of being cared for by a man...and so I go in search of it. I fall victim to fears of what others might think of me and dwell in an identity that isn't true. To escape it, I search through more unfulfilling things and hope to find my identity in the security of a relationship.

It's bogus.
REJECTED isn't the word that defines me. It can't be. It won't be.
I also need to recognize that the way I interpret other people's thoughts of me are often incorrect and presumptuous. I can't live my life based on how I fear others might be perceiving me.

But, in case you're wondering?
I'm okay. Being single is pretty sweet a majority of the time. I often look at married couples and am thankful I get to go home to my empty, un-sexed bed because it seems a lot less complicated.
Is it hard? Yes... and no. Depends on the day and the moment of the day.
Do I get jealous? Sometimes. Sure. I'm human.

I don't need pity, though.
And there's probably as much wrong with me as there is wrong with all the people who are married. And I'm still thankful for my 29 years of singleness and the things I've learned through long bouts of singleness and challenging dating relationships alike. I wouldn't change it. It's how it was meant to be.

And I can't go searching for fulfillment in a relationship when I encounter the feelings of rejection.
It never satisfies.

So here's to erasing the brands we claim as our own (whether we or someone else has placed them there). Here's to finding true life and joy outside of being in a romantic relationship. Here's to the truth that life is about abundantly more than it.

We are not rejected.
Let's stop living out of it and letting it define us.
Let's stop wishing our circumstances were always different and embracing what they are.
Because, right now, if you're single...? It is good.
Let it be good. Embrace it.

You are not rejected.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Much to Lose

Girl: Do you think I'll stop worrying when I know he loves me for sure?
Friend: Just listen to yourself.
Girl: There's so much to lose.
Friend: There always is.

It's a segment from Paula McLain's The Paris Wife...and I think it speaks volumes to where many women are at in life.

We're always thinking that the next step in the relationship will give us the feeling of security and comfort that we're longing for. If we're just talking to a guy we're interested in, we think we might stop worrying if he would just ask us out or let us know what he's really thinking about us. If we're dating a guy, we might stop worrying if we just knew that he not only loved us, but was ready to spend the rest of his life with us. If we're married, we might stop worrying if we knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he would have eyes for no one but us. Or maybe we'd stop worrying if we knew that every time he left the house he would be guaranteed to come back from any disaster that could take him away from us earlier than expected.

The point?
The point is that we're always finding a reason to worry. We're always feeling like there's so much to lose. Once we get to one rung on the ladder, we realize there are more to climb... and honestly? The higher we get, the more risky it becomes.

Is it ever safe?

Not really. Not in the way we'd like for it to be.
There's always so much to lose. There's always so much at stake. Our hearts are on the line. No matter how much we long for certainty, security, for absolutes... we'll never really get it.

So what's our response?
Honestly, sometimes I want to flee. To flee from any possibility of intimacy or connection because I recognize that the fall will only hurt worse the higher I get up on the ladder. The closer I get, the more I reveal of my heart, the more I let someone in... the more it hurts when he doesn't like me back, when he isn't ready to commit, when he screws up, when he disappears...

But what kind of life is that?
What about the thrill, the anticipation, the hope, the joy, the memories, the experiences, the shared life of learning and growing...?
Where's the adventure?
Where's the taking a chance?

Whenever I'd hook kids into the zipline, or send them down the rappel...I'd typically ask them if they were scared. 'A little...', they might reply. 'Good. That means it'll be more fun.'

Because it was true. The risk makes it more fun, more worthwhile, more memorable. The unknown of what it will actually be makes it intoxicating.

Maybe relationships are a bit like that, too.
And as much as I'd sometimes rather stay on the ground because it's easier, safer, more comfortable? I want to ride the zipline... I want to climb the ladder. I want to risk. I want to have adventure. I want to see what comes, even when I'm sometimes worried about what there is to lose.

In the end, I think I lose more when I'm unwilling to venture out and see what happens.
There's always much to lose.

You get to decide what's worth it and what's not.
Climb the ladder.
Fall hard if you're going to fall.
I'm pretty sure it's worth it...especially when you are assured that life isn't solely about this. Because it isn't.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Face to Face

I'm deeply content.
And deeply dissatisfied.

I journaled this today:
I don't know how to escape the depth of the heartache, the longing...even when I am swallowed up in so much good.

I scampered up some rocks today, quickly reaching a lookout where the views felt quite surreal. 'I live here...' It's a thought I repeat to myself daily as though it will eventually sink in that this place is now home. It hasn't yet.

So I sat, continually enchanted by the light interacting with the clouds, as it danced on the mountains. It's beautiful here. And every few seconds feels more beautiful than the last. I can't keep up.

It is good.
My job, my community (mixed with old and new faces alike), my house... it's good.
I'm constantly humbled, excited, terrified about everything this transition means, but above anything else I'm assured that this is where I am meant to be. Right now, anyway.

And so I'm deeply content.
But as I watched the dance out in creation, my heart still longed for something more. It felt like something was missing. Something important.

Immediately my flesh craved the intimacy of a man, 'If only I had a husband, this would be entirely perfect'. Immediately my flesh craved the comfort of a family, 'If only I had a child of my own, this would be entirely perfect'.

They are the things I tell myself occasionally. If only this, then I would be satisfied. It's a bad hypothesis. My flesh looks for the things of this world that I do not have and immediately assumes that that is what is missing. These things I 'should' have are the missing puzzle pieces to a life of true fulfillment.

My flesh is wrong.
Today I'm extremely aware that my deep longings cannot be satisfied in a spouse, or my own children, or a dream job, or incredible scenery, or a life-giving community, or a sweet house, or a loving family.   Today I'm extremely aware that even in the midst of true, deep contentment...even in the midst of knowing Jesus and the hope that I have in Him...something is still missing. There's still an ache, a void, a longing.

A hole that nothing here can satisfy.

Today I'm reminded, yet again, that this life I'm living is such a small scene in the picture of eternity. That one day Jesus and I will be face to face.
That while even though I get glimpses of that joy and that wholeness here on earth, it fades. But one day it will last forever. And on that day the hole will be filled, the ache will be healed, the longing will truly be satisfied.

I'm deeply content.
And deeply dissatisfied.
But hopeful for what awaits...for what awaits is far better than anything this earth or my mind can conjure up. For I cannot escape the chasm that exists in the here and now, but my hope lies in something greater... the One who bridges the gap.

Somehow the hope chisels away the dissatisfaction as I'm reminded that this world is not my home.

May He remind us over and over again of the hope that we have...and that one day we will be eternally satisfied by He who matters most, without all the flirting of would-be substitutes that all too often leave us empty.

Looking forward to the day...

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When they Walk Away

The Comment:
When friends that followed Christ suddenly stop. They stop because they just want to be friends with the people they used to hang out with. They stop their relationship with Christ to have "fun" without feeling bad about it. They stop following Christ so her friends won't feel judged. Then they start questioning God. Was there walk with Him real? Is He real? It is like they traded a diamond for a McDonalds happy meal toy.
Well, I do love McDonald's (yes, you can judge me)... 

But, I digress... 
This is a good thing to bring up. It's something I think we all kind of wonder about at various points in our life. What are we even supposed to think when our Christian friends suddenly seem to care less about following Jesus? What are we supposed to do when they seem to transform overnight...wearing clothes we barely recognize, talking crudely and doing all sorts of things they never would have condoned a few weeks earlier? 

It's tricky.
And, unfortunately, I think all too often we handle the situation with judgement and condemnation. I think too often we forget that we don't know their whole story. Too often we think that if we don't call them out, if we don't tell them how wrong they are, if we don't remind them of the things that said they used to believe that we will somehow be in trouble for it. Too often we assume responsibility for their soul and too often we lack love as we approach the situation (and if we don't actually lack love, the way we react may give the impression that we don't love them). But, sometimes we need to say something.

How do you know when to speak up and when to stay silent?
I don't think there's a formula for it.
But I do believe that everything must be done in love.
And I think we need to keep in mind how much Jesus still loves them, even when they seem to have wandered off the beaten path. I think we need to really think about what His response would look like...I think we need to look at what His response was to those who hung Him on the cross.

I think we need to remember that we, ourselves, are also not perfect. While our actions may not be a blatant disregard for Jesus, there are many things throughout the day that I think or say that probably aren't up to 'par' with what someone who loves Jesus is 'supposed' to do/think/say.

So I guess there are just some things to consider before we go around throwing stones at everyone else.
  • Does your friend know you truly love them no matter what? Do they know that if you were to ask them about what's going on with them that you're asking out of genuine concern and not judgement or condemnation? 
  • Do you trust the Lord with them? Do you trust that He's in control, that He's taking care of it...and that He loves them more than you ever can? 
  • Do you remember the Lord's grace... always abounding, never-ending...even when He is crucified, even when His children rebel and turn their face away? Do you remember that He still takes us all back, no matter how often we run? 
I don't think we can know the authenticity of someone else's walk with the Lord. People are great at faking it sometimes. But... I don't think we need to worry about it or question it. I think we just do what we are called to do: Love the Lord your God will all your heart... and love your neighbor as yourself. You may not understand their actions and you may not approve of them, but they may need your friendship now more than ever. 

Remember that right now, no matter how bad it might seem... that this is just a short scene in their story. We don't know what happens at the end. And, honestly, you may never know what happens here on earth. 

Rest assured in the hope that we have. 
And don't lose hope. Beg to have it during the moments you feel most discouraged by people abandoning their faith. 

In the meantime? 
Love them well.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Let it Be

One of my guy friends recently decided to read my blog when it popped up on his Facebook newsfeed. He's no stranger to the reason behind the blog, so when he read one of my 'most popular' posts on Coffee Dates he was slightly frustrated.

'I feel like you're giving allowance for girls to over-analyze and be crazy!'

As we hashed through our various opinions on the subject, I offered up the lame proposal of agreeing to disagree. Somewhere in me, though, I knew he had a point. While my post was an attempt to explain to guys why the coffee date gesture can be so confusing, I was also (perhaps) giving women an excuse to keep over-analyzing, second-guessing, and freaking out about all the possible meanings behind such a request.

It wasn't my intent.
And while I'd like to be able to write a blog that every female could read and suddenly be at ease, less crazy and less over-analytical... I suppose I know that's not reality. While I'd like to be able to offer up some tangible solution that suddenly makes us less irrational and worried about the possibilities of what could be...I still haven't found one. Not one that actually withstands any prolonged amount of time, anyway.

Because, in the end, it becomes necessary for us to repeat the truths over and over again...for us to fight to choose to act 'normal'...for us to not make decisions that are rash and emotional. No matter how good our surrender was of our 'crazy' antics and worries during that one really spiritual mountaintop experience, they still come back to haunt us. Or, at least that's how it's been with me...

I can write things, I can proclaim things, I can acknowledge how utterly ridiculous I am sometimes...and beg that the Lord would truly take away all of my 'crazy' as I long to trust Him in all things...but I know that maybe even a few seconds later, I may need to do it all over again.

It's a fight.
A repetitious fight.
And I think one of the first steps in engaging the battle is being aware of our inner 'crazy'. It's being aware of our tendencies to over-analyze, to read into things, to worry unnecessarily. If we are unable to recognize it, we're absolutely unable to try to surrender it.

I don't ever want to make allowances for the 'crazy' that seems to, all too often, mess with the minds and hearts of us females. I never want to say that it's right or okay or the way it should be... BUT, I think that we also need to acknowledge (and men, you need to be aware) that it's often a fight for us. The natural thing for many of us is to over-analyze, or worry, or act irrationally...but it doesn't mean that's who we want to be or even who we are. It just means that we have to learn how to hold our tongues, how to not let our internal freak-outs dictate our actions. It means we have to surrender again and again and again.

It can be exhausting.
So... my friend is right. While I stand by the fact that men should be more straight-forward with their romantic intentions (especially with coffee), us girls need to try to not get so flustered or caught up in all the different scenarios of what in the world coffee may or may not mean.

Sometimes we just need to let it be.
To let it be what it is.
And fight hard to surrender all the other possibilities that fly through our mind in the span of five seconds.

Men... we won't be perfect at it.
But hopefully each day that we are fighting, the Lord is refining us as He continually teaches us what it means to trust Him, what it means to surrender, what it means to not live life based on our fleeting emotions and over-analyzations of a situation.

Here's to letting it be.
Over and over and over again...

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall 2011

A few years ago, I decided I was going to get married.  Like, actually get married…not just wish I could get married.

Fall 2011.

It was the set time in my mind.
I figured since everyone else my age seemed to be in serious dating relationships, engaged or married (some with kids!) it seemed time to get my act together. Instead of just wishing I could get married, I was going to pray faithfully… I was going to pray specifically that this would happen.

I felt like if God could do all kinds of impossible that He might even be able to bring some fabulous man into my life. Some of you may recall my struggle with doubt… so, I decided that instead of doubting that God would do this, I would proclaim that He could and would.

It didn’t stop with prayer. I told people about it. I had others pray for it specifically, too. In fact, I had never really prayed for anything so specifically before…and I had certainly never prayed so diligently about something.

You can imagine my excitement when I started dating someone in the fall of 2010… and you can also imagine the immense amount of pressure and expectation I put on the relationship.

Needless to say, we’re entering into the fall of 2013 and I'm single.
What happened?!

In hindsight, I feel a little ridiculous. A little ignorant.
It was almost as if I was testing the Lord. Almost as if I were saying, ‘Lord, if you don’t give me this at this time…you aren’t good.’ That His goodness was contingent on Him giving me exactly what I thought I wanted at the time in which I thought I should have it.

It’s something a spoiled brat might do. Something that would then allow me to, upon not getting what I wanted, storm into my room, slam the door and yell about how unfair life is, how much I hate my parents (God), and throw a temper tantrum/pity party.

Fortunately, that’s not exactly how it all went down.
I think I ultimately realized that even if this doesn’t happen in the time frame in which I’d like for it to (no matter how faithfully I’ve prayed for it)… that it doesn’t change God’s faithfulness or goodness. In fact, perhaps it speaks more loudly of His goodness and faithfulness. That when He knows that there’s a better for me, He’s unrelenting in not giving me what I think I want. He’s willing to disappoint me in the moment because He knows that what He has for me is better.  He’s teaching me…and I am thankful.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s easy for Him to say, ‘Not yet.’ ….especially when He could see how much I wanted it. But He asks me to wait, to trust Him that there’s a better… and to trust that maybe that better may not even include a husband and a family.

I have to choose to be okay with that.
And while I'm (honestly) sometimes the spoiled brat who goes into my room, upset and dwelling in my limited perspective of what I don’t have… the Lord is gracious in continually reminding me of what I do have. Of patiently waiting for me to get over myself and realize how He is enough, He is what satisfies, He is.

I love praying specifically for things.
I love praying for things to happen in a certain amount of time.
But, we have to be cautious in how we may be limiting or testing God when we pray like this. We have to be willing to allow Him to answer the prayers in ways that we may not want or expect. We have to be able to pray for things without it changing our perspective on the truth about Him or His character.

Perhaps it’s a job, a promotion, a grade, a relationship, an illness, finances, addiction…and perhaps we feel continually defeated when the prayer doesn’t get answered the way we want when we are praying so faithfully and diligently. Perhaps we doubt…perhaps our understanding is limited. It doesn't change who God is, though. 

But I pray that we would be people who would still trust in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness…and in His sovereignty. That we can pray specifically, but pray loosely….knowing that in the end His plan far surpasses ours, that He sees the big picture when our eyes are so limited.

When I remember that, I’d rather Him make all the decisions.

Wouldn’t you?

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fairy Tale Living

The comment: 
Can a fairy-tale actually happen in reality?
There certainly seem to be moments where that happens, right? 
The moments where all seems right in the world. 
The moments when you think, 'I can't believe this is actually happening to me!!' because whatever is happening is so good it's practically unbelievable. 

Fairy-tale moments. 

But what I think we forget about the fairy tales is that there is always an antagonist. The step-mother, the witch, the giant octopus lady with too much make-up and a frightening mole (why are they mostly women...?)
... or the giant, or the Royal Vizier with a sarcastic parrot, or vicious dragons.

We forget that there's opposition that has to be overcome...or else we think that once opposition is overcome that there's only the happy ending. We forget that we never really get to see what happens to Snow White once she marries her prince charming, we forget that we never really see what Sleeping Beauty is like once she is awake (a controlling, unhappy lady who is ticked about having slept so much of her life away perhaps...?).

The point is that the 'fairy-tale' that we so often visualize, that we so often get fixated on... is simply a life full of romance and happy endings. A life of things working out the way we want them to. But... that's not how fairy tales really go.

Because a fairy tale, like any good story, has to have conflict. A fairy tale has to have good overcoming bad. Otherwise, it'd be boring. It'd be just another story about a woman who marries a prince, but it's much more exciting (and weird) when he climbs up her hair to rescue her out of a tower... isn't it?

We want the good parts of the fairy tales... and we often forget about the bad that comes with them, too. It isn't a life of knights in shining armor marrying the girl of their dreams... but it's a life of a man fighting through whatever opposition stands in the way of the damsel in distress. Read me: man fighting (not always perfectly), woman in distress. It's messy. It's ugly. It's uncomfortable. It's scary. It's risky. It's unpredictable. Will he succeed?

And yes, most fairy tales end with a 'happily-ever-after'. He succeeds. And so here is where I think real life begins to separate itself from the fairy-tale world. In real life, there will still be challenges to overcome. Kids, money, jobs, death, depression, addictions... things that get in the way of the fairy tale ending. Moments where you have to continue to fight, moments where you're still in distress.

There's also the danger of identifying too much with fairy-tales. Of identifying too much with the characters in a fairy-tale. For example, as a becomes detrimental for me to think that any man can save me from my distress. The fairy tales can easily lead me to believe that if the right guy comes along, then all of my problems will be solved. But, that's never the solution. I think the fairy tales can give us this disillusion of being able to complete each other, fix each other...heal our wounds and brokenness. We cannot. We will not.

So while our real lives can reflect some aspects of fairy-tale living, I think we have to approach it carefully. We can't gloss over the bad parts of the fairy-tales and pretend that fairy-tale means only good. And we can't pretend like the simple solutions that the characters in fairy-tales find resolution in are the things that will solve our problems.

I think fairy-tales register so deeply within us because they are genuine desires that we have. Desires to be pursued, to be fought for, to fight for, to pursue.... desires to beat the opposition that faces us, to have victory, to be freed. But, we have to look at the source of the opposition...and we have to recognize where true wholeness can be found, where freedom comes from. It isn't in the earthly relationships.

I think there are 'fairy-tale' seeming moments in reality.
But let's be careful about how much weight we place on trying to make these happen. And let's be careful about how much weight we place on 'happily-ever-afters'. And let's remember that those moments where all feels right in the world? That that's just a small taste of what is yet to come.

Enjoy the moments.
But don't idolize the moments.
Remember the weight of eternity. Remember the true Prince who pursues your soul and that everything else is just a shadow of the real thing.

We are made for more than fairy-tale moments.
I'm a firm believer that what awaits us will be better than even a fairy-tale reality.

And again we fix our eyes on what is unseen... for what is seen is only temporary.

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