Who is it all for

I have always been a people pleaser – through and through.

In most cases, I would rather make as many people as possible happy than I would do what is right for myself.

A few months ago I began to realize how I spent so much of my time worried about hypothetical opinions of people who don’t even know me–or even of those that do. I have been working on unraveling the mindset that I am here to please, validate, or impress others.

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I’ve been noticing a few things along the way, primarily that I’ve been trying to prove something to people that isn’t even theirs to validate. My worth doesn’t rest in their hands. But I have tried over and over to measure it by their approval, how they treat me, or what they say.

What someone thinks of me is fundamentally not meant to matter to me. Their opinion is just that — their’s. It’s not mine. It’s not my Creator’s opinion of me either. It’s not my responsibility to convince them to cheer me on, love me, or approve of how I’m living my life.

I’m learning this more and more lately, and as I am, I’m beginning to experience a different kind of freedom. A freedom that simply allows me to be who my Creator made me to be – to not put on a facade, or hold back parts of my heart from the world.

I don’t have to write to earn their approval. I write because I love words and it’s where I feel God’s presence the most. I don’t have to work to make them happy. I can set boundaries and control what time I give to others. It’s not up to me to make them love me. I don’t have to be a “fan favorite.” And any negative opinions they might actually have certainly should never be enough to derail me from pursuing what He has put on my heart.

He has never asked me to convince them that I am worthy of love.

If others don’t value me – that’s on them.

Some won’t, but that does not mean I’ve done a lousy job of convincing them that I matter.

Because I don’t have to convince them.

It means they don’t have the eyes to see people for who they actually are.

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Here’s the thing – this life I’m living is not for them. I know who I am living for. He made me in a way that is completely different from every other human on this earth. He gave all of us our differences and quirks and personality traits that some might deem “weird” or “awkward.”

I am embracing those differences each day now. The things I hid behind or shrunk back from. I am running towards the things that set me apart because now I see that He wants those differences present in my life – He put them there. & if He rejoices over them, so will I.

So take the pressure off yourself. To feel as though you have to work or perform to be loved. You are worthy of love – even if you never did or accomplished anything else during your time on earth. You are enough, even if you never reach your next goal, perform the way you want to perform, or impress the people you want to impress. In the end? That stuff doesn’t matter so much. What matters is that you said, “God, here are all the things that set me apart. Here’s what you made me to do. I’m embracing these things with arms wide open. I’m running into the fullness of who you made me to be. And I don’t have to convince anyone that I am worthy of love. I am full – whole – complete. & it’s all for You.”

What 2018 Taught Me

When you look back on a period of time, do you ever feel as though you learned more within 2 months than an entire year? Growth seems to come like that. Healing seems to come like that too. You wait for so long, then it hits you, and then you come out of that season a little confused, stumbling over what you thought was complete healing.

That’s a little how 2018 went for me.

I made up my mind to be completely vulnerable with this post.

I’ve connected with more of you this year than any other year before. These connections encouraged me, but they also broke my heart.

So many people around us are walking through the same valleys we are and we pass them over because they look perfect.

This post is about disembodying the label of perfection. It’s about a year that transformed me in more ways that I could have ever imagined. When I asked for help selecting the topic of my next blog post, most of you said “What you have learned in 2018.” But I got a few other suggestions too. Relationships. Loneliness. Broken friendships.

To be completely honest I feel as though I am the last one to speak to those things. Right now, I am in a season of brokenness and learning. It’s funny how you think your season of healing will come and go and you’ll be alright again. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes, you back track a little. But you’re only getting pulled back in order to go that much farther forward.

So what follows is not an expert’s opinion. It’s not how I feel most days. It’s what I can look back and see that I have learned. What I want to feel. I am working on believing these things. I am working on processing them. I am working on getting the truth to my soul – but sometimes it just sits in your head for a while. I hope you can relate.

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At the beginning of 2018, I was on cloud 9. 2017 had given me all I wanted. It’s funny how the best part of one year of your life can almost become the worst part the next. I don’t know if you’ve experienced anything like that, but this year I did.

I thought I knew how everything would work out, and what I wanted seemed to be going my way.

But in my heart I knew something was empty. Something was broken. But I kept getting what I wanted and slapped it over my doubts like a bandaid. That held together the parts of my heart that felt so meaningless.

I felt very confused for a while. I didn’t feel as though I could explain how I felt to someone. It seemed like too much. I knew I was listening to lies too often, but it felt like I couldn’t silence them.

My mom has always told me I have a very sensitive conscience, and that it’s a gift. I’m beginning to realize more and more how right she is. Looking back on the beginning of this year, I wish I had listened to that voice a little more.

I put all my happiness in the hands of one person. That was my greatest mistake.

I moved into Summer with expectations of change and wasn’t disappointed. It was one of the greatest summers of my life. I saw so much of the world. I experienced it with people I loved. I felt so content. There were ups and downs in between but they were the ups and downs of any happy life. Everything felt perfect and I didn’t want anything to change.

I moved back home. It was kind of hard at first but I thought it’d be better in the long run. It’s funny, I think God directed me to make that decision because He wanted me to stop taking my family for granted. He also knew what was around the bend. This decision also reminded me that it’s ok if my life looks a little different. You don’t have to be like everyone else.

Then the hands of the person I had put all my happiness in were pulled apart and all of that happiness looked more like pain scattered on the floor.

I’m grateful it happened when it did.

I am so glad I did not go on longer that way.

Because when you give one person the power to control all of your being, you sign over your life to them. Your thoughts, your emotions, your moods, your everything.

It was not their fault I had become this way. It was my own. I learned this lesson in the hardest way, but I think God knew the lengths He had to go to in order to get my attention.

I learned I cannot put my worth in the hands of anyone except the One who made me. He is the only One who can tell me what I am truly worthy of and who I truly am.

In the wake of this surprise I felt The Father pick up the pieces of my heart that had fallen to the floor and He put them all back together. He reminded me of who I was. He never failed.

I experienced loss and felt it hit my family in a different way. Another surprise. Another unexpected. But in the middle of that I felt The Father hold us like He never had before. I learned that most times, God  doesn’t take the pain away. But He sits with us and cries with us in it. He is present. 

He doesn’t leave our sides even for a moment. Often times we’re just too angry to see it.

I met new people. God opened my eyes to see the beauty of the people surrounding me. I had ignored a lot of beautiful souls for a while. & I faced a few more disappointments, but He covered them with an assurance that He had something better in store.

Lately God has seemed quiet again. I have felt discouraged. It’s not easy to break that habit of finding validation in someone else and just forget about it. Sometimes, you have to take a few steps back. I realize now how much of my life has been spent looking for what people can give to me instead of what I can give to them — instead of what I can give without expectation in return.

I’m not ending 2018 with incredible clarity or direction or perfect contentment, although I wish I could say I am. I am ending it still confused. I don’t think we should pretend to be where we are not. But I am ending it with so much assurance that 2019 will be better in every way. I am ending it with so much assurance that what He is teaching me now is far more important than what I think I should be experiencing now. I’m ending it with new struggles, but with new grace.

I am ending it with a bravery I never knew before.

2018 taught me that He will forever leave the 99 to find me. That He will hunt me down in my wandering. That He will remove the barriers that keep me from Him.

Because the thing is?

What you think you need in your life might not actually be what you need right now.

You may think you need more friends,

but He is just trying to make you see how much you need Him.

You may think you need to know what you will be doing next year at this time,

but He is just trying to make you see how much you need to learn to trust.

You may think you need someone to understand you,

but He is just trying to make you see that He understands every part of you.

You may think you need more,

but He is just trying to make you see that He is enough.

You may think it is all pointless,

but He is just trying to make you see how much you matter.

& you may think you need clarity,

but your heart just needs Jesus.

It could be your year of victories, or it could be your year of defeat. For me, it was a year of Him saving me from myself. He knows better for me than I know for myself. I don’t know if I could think of a harder – but more valuable – lesson to learn.  I hope I never forget what He taught me.

There are still things that don’t make sense. But I’m sure of one thing,

Next year will be even better.

 

uprooted

I know what it is like to feel uprooted.

Suddenly you’re caught off guard and you’re not sure where you’re headed.

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Confusion. Hurt. Bitterness. They are heavy feelings that can envelope you completely.

Because of all of the things you had planned, this wasn’t one of them. You weren’t expecting to say goodbye–without actually getting to say it. You weren’t expecting to lose a best friend. Or to not know where to go from here or what you want to be doing a year from now. You were expecting it all to go as you planned. We think we have it all sorted out, & I think God just smiles, holds out His arms of grace, and tells us to come sit with Him for a while.

I feel everything so deeply. & sometimes I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. I am grateful for the ability to think, but sometimes my mind keeps me up for hours running through every possible scenario that I might face or every possible turn my life could take.

It is a decision my mind has to make: to tell my heart to trust.

Lately I am writing reminders. I call them “maybes.” They help me to remember that nothing that is happening in my life is wasted. I call them maybes but I know for certain: everything I am being brought through is bringing me closer to where I am supposed to be.

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Maybe the uprooting has carried you somewhere new where you can bloom into something so much greater. It’s not to deprive you of life–it’s to give you so much more.

Maybe the uprooting has carried you somewhere where you can better use your talents and gifts to breathe life into the lives of others. It’s not to stifle your joy–it’s to multiply it.

Maybe the uprooting has carried you somewhere dark so that you can be the light. It’s not to separate you from Jesus–it’s to make your connection with Him so much stronger.

I will keep repeating this until my heart understands it. Until it sinks in to the core of who I am and until I can’t help but believe it everyday of  my life: God’s love is too great to leave me where He doesn’t want me to be. & sometimes–most times–this means an uprooting.

If your storm has wrecked your plans and uprooted your heart–maybe it’s because He wants to send you in a different direction. Maybe it’s to get you to stop, step back, and focus your life and love on something entirely different. Maybe what you see as a wreck and a mistake is actually God saving you from something so much worse.

Maybe the storm–your storm–is a grace in disguise.

IMG_2523Because the One who made you knows where you need to be in order to become most like Him. He knows where you need to be to best offer your gift to the world. He knows where you need to be to have the closest relationship with Him. & He is not going to let the wind of the current season that you are in pull you away from Him.

In reality I don’t need to call them “maybes” …they are certainties. & one thing is forever certain: God’s love is too great to leave me where He doesn’t want me to be. & sometimes–most times–this means an uprooting.

 

He gives us what we need

I know you are confused.

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You think that if you could just have the answers, you could be at peace.

You think that if everything fell into place the way your heart wanted it and you had your way then your life would be complete and fulfilled. That if the unexpected stopped suffocating you then you could breathe again.

You just want the answers. You want to come up for air, but you took a plunge so deep you’re not sure you can get back to the surface.

You want what you think you need to feel complete.

You are blindsided by what you never thought would come true and your mind is running a hundred miles an hour in every possible direction. You are questioning yourself and wondering if everything is your fault and if you could’ve acted differently to change it all. I know you–I see you–and sometimes, I am you.

It is as if we think that seeing the whole picture could make us happy. We want that thing that God has and that Eve wanted: knowledge–of everything. But what we don’t get is that our limited minds can’t understand plans that great and big and powerful.

He gives us what we need. & what we need is the assurance that He is walking with us through each and every day, ever present, always faithful.

He gives us what we need. & what we need is the confidence that we are His: chosen, loved, worthy, beautiful, and filled with His power.

He gives us what we need. & what we need is not more confirmation from the world or approval from people: it’s the knowledge that nothing can shake us from His love or startle away His opinions of us.

He gives us what we need. & what we need is not clarity as to why something happened the way it did, what we need is the face of Jesus.

He gives us what we need. & as beautiful as His gifts are, sometimes we simply just need Him–all else stripped away.

So even if you are confused. Even if you are hurt, broken, healing, happy, motivated, discouraged, or filled with joy–even if you think you are too far. I know that sometimes it is easy to believe you cannot handle what He has for you in this season. But even still, He will give you what you need. Because you simply need Him, and as painful as it can be when He takes everything else away, it will be the most beautiful thing that will happen to you.

 

September

Today is the start of a new month and the change of season. This is the month that the leaves are starting to turn, and so are the pages in your story.  This month is your chance to become the strongest version of yourself and to stop trying to be someone that you were not meant to be. This is your month-I believe in you. Grab a hold of this chance and don’t let go. Who you can become is limitless. It is your chance to breathe in, exhale, and repeat as many times as you need until you are OK. It’s your chance to break down and surrender in the arms of a God who has been pursing you all year long. September is the month for you to realize that He still wants you, and to run back to Him.

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This is the month to stop letting voices or opinions or words or choices of others determine who you are. This is the month to breathe, and rest. It is your chance to let any sense of loneliness lead you to the One who designed your heart to feel a little lonelier than you’d wish, so that you’ll come to Him.

It is your chance to surrender all the people pleasing and the fear. It is your month to relinquish control — of your thoughts, your plans, and all you thought your life would — or should — be.

This is going to be a good month, I believe in you–but most of all–I believe in Him. & He is in you. He is strengthening you and He will work all things out for the very best. Remember that His best might never be the easiest thing for your heart to handle — remember that.

I can feel His presence this September. I can feel His peace. I don’t know where your heart was in August, but I know this: He still wants it. And it is never too late to come back to what you know is true. You are the one He leaves the 99 to find. Never forget that.

This September, we will be a people who come back. & we will be a people who remember what we were made for, but most of all who we were made for. We will not seek after answers or clarity more than we will seek after the face of a God who envelopes us in His peace, His grace, and His mercy even when we think maybe His ways are too hard.

So let the pages turn as the leaves do. I know you want to turn back and it’s tempting to re-read the last chapter thinking that maybe He’ll change the ending. Don’t keep turning back. He is doing something incredible in your heart, and a new season is coming. Trust me, there is so much more to come.

I believe in you — but most of all —

I believe in Him.

who do you want to be?

Who do you want to be?

In the core of who you are – where nobody sees – who do you want to be?

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It’s a startling question really. To think about all of this. Because the second you start you feel you cannot stop. There is such an infinite reality of things and personalities and characters you can be. There is no limit to the amount of kindness you can grow to hold, no cap on the love that can spill out from your heart, and no stopping the creativity that can flow from your soul.

You hold so much power inside of you. There is so much beauty and potential to grow and become someone and something you never imagined.

I asked myself this question and I’m still scribbling down answers, memories in my head of people who I wished to be like, pictures etched of their joy and kindness and their hearts.

I don’t know where we got so trivial. So focused on the cover of a book. We spend so much time worried about our weight and not enough about how healthy and alive and full of energy we are. We sometimes hate our faces or bodies in the mirror and yet we can’t seem to remember all of the beautiful parts about us. We crave to be seen and heard and known and popular and yet we cannot sit alone with ourselves because our thoughts make our palms all sweaty and we get nervous.

We are beautiful beings bursting with ideas and sentences and pictures in our minds to capture and create and yet we stifle so much of that creativity sitting in front of a screen scrolling mindlessly through accounts of everyone else’s daily celebrations. Somehow we’ve forgotten our own.

We would rather look and see all the ways other people are enjoying their lives than we would embrace the gift that is right in front of us.

Who do we want to be?

I don’t want to be another dreamer who sits still and lets the world take her spirit. I don’t want to be a soul withered from comparison and defeated by my instagram that shows me how monotonous my life is. That is not the person I want to be.

& I think if you are here, you think that too. You don’t want to chase the trivial and float through on empty and shallow visions of what life could be. There is more. You are more. You have so much inside of you, and the world needs to see it. Don’t let it stifle your beautiful words. Don’t let them trample your beautiful art. Don’t let opinions put out the fire that burns inside of you.

Who do you want to be?

You can be her.

Starting now.

15 Quotes to Change your Monday

Nothing fancy here–just a whole lot of words that I love. I hope this collection of some of my favorite quotes inspires you to make this Monday count.

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“My mom said something, ‘you can lie down for people to walk on you and the will still complain that you’re not flat enough.’ Live your life.” -Mature Gambio

“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” -Max Depree

“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” -John F. Kennedy

“I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good.”

-Roald Dahl

“God’s plan for us is usually where our passions, our purpose, and our capabilities intersect.” -Bob Goff

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

“Be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyways.” -Glennon Doyle Melton

“She understood that the hardest times in life to go through were when you were transitioning from one version of yourself to another.”

-Sarah Addison Allen

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” -Nelson Mandela

“Normality is a paved road. It’s comfortable to walk on but no flowers grow on it.” -Van Gogh

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

“A long time ago I learned not to explain things to people. It misleads them into thinking they’re entitled to know everything I do.” -Lisa Kleypas

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.” -Pema Chodron

“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.” -Wayne Dyer

& my all time favorite…

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald