growth

74 days, 12 hours and 27 minutes. The beginning of this year until where I stand today. Today is one of the few days within that time where I have taken a deep breath and stepped back.

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I went into this year struggling a lot. I am not about to detail the ways I overcame everything I was struggling with in 2.5 months. The truth is, I haven’t. It’s a post celebrating growth, and I hope you’ll join me.

Sometimes when we are so focused in on each day we miss everything that’s happening in our hearts. We miss the big picture. We miss what His love could surprise us with because we’re focused on what our minds have planned. But what I’ve realized is that He never hesitates to remove the things in my life that I don’t even realize are holding me back. 

I am still learning but one thing I do know is that every time I open my hands, what He places in them is far greater than what I’m holding onto. Sometimes He pries them open slowly – and other times it’s a little less subtle. I go back to my ideas so many times. I think that this time I have it figured out. That maybe this time I can outsmart Him. But every time He interrupts my plans with His love, I am reminded that He does know best. 

He is not trying to keep me from what I want – He is giving me what I need. And when I remember that He created me, I remember that He knows what He created me for. When I struggle with remembering what my purpose is or feel hopeless, it is often because I’m doing things my way instead of pursuing what He has for me.

The truth is? You’re not always going to end up where you pictured. In fact, most of the time you won’t. The people in your life might look different. Your job might look entirely different than what you imagined. Never discount something just because it is different than what you have planned. Instead, show up where you are right now with a willingness to give it your all.

Show up when you’d rather stay home. Take the internship that you don’t feel qualified for. Try a hobby that is outside of your comfort zone. Create a habit that will switch up your routine. Embrace what you never thought you’d do. Don’t limit your life because you’re so set in your ways or your own ideas of what your life should look like.

I am convinced that all of the greatest things in life are given to us when we are not expecting them, because that is when we can be truly thankful. When we are embracing what is in front of us and making the most of it. When our hands are open to receive and lifted to praise.

You are going to be surprised. You will be caught off guard. But He is just calling you back into your purpose. He is reminding you over and over again that every single experience is a way for Him to draw you closer to Himself.

I have messed up. I have spent plenty of time chasing what the world says will deliver for me. I’ve forgotten that people are made in His image. I’ve convinced myself that going around God will make me happier. I will never pretend like I have it all together or as though I have followed God the way I want to. I haven’t.

But if there is one thing I have learned is that what the world promises seems like it will fulfill. The world does a really good job of letting you think it has what you need and then letting you down. God always has a plan in the midst of it that you don’t see. He is always working for what He knows your heart needs.

Every time my hands are wrapped so tightly around what the world has to offer, they’re not open to receive what He has intended for me. He knows this. He wants my heart. He removes those distractions so that I can follow Him. But all I know is that if His plan catches me off guard, I’ll be ready to switch up my direction.

Yes, it might look completely different than all that I imagined.

But that is the best part.

 

Dear girl: who wants to move on.

To the girl who wants to move on:

There is a very big part of you that knows God’s plan holds something greater. But there is another part that wants to go back to the way things were. To the few-or many-times it was so good. It doesn’t make sense and you feel like there is such a void.

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Please fill that void. Fill it with Him: the One who made you.

Fill it with Him first and then fill it with new experiences. Fill it with deep friendships and workouts and new hobbies.

It might seem confusing, but at the same time, you have to let yourself grieve what is gone. You have to miss what you are missing in your heart so deeply. Sometimes, it’s ok to sit home and cry, journal, and watch a movie by yourself with a pint of ice cream. In case no one has told you: it’s ok to be sad. Just don’t stay there forever.

Wake up early. Try something new. Start dreaming again. Breathe in His freedom and grace. Learn His strength in all of this: grow stronger in Him.

I know you are tired of the unsolicited opinions everyone is giving you about him or about all of it and what you should do. They’re trying to help but most of them aren’t quite sure how. You can remind them that you just need someone to listen right now. You’re allowed to do that. Throughout all of this you truly will find out which friends you want to stick around forever.

Look for the light and newness each day. Wake up to watch one sunrise: promise me at least just one. And while you do, write down every dream you have, even if they still include him. Write down everything you want to do with your life. Remind yourself that even in the midst of all your pain God knows those desires. He is holding something so much greater for you. But maybe that something He is holding demands a whole new version of you that can only emerge as your heart breaks and His light pours in.

Dwelling on the past will make you so bitter. One of my favorite verses has always been Isaiah 43:18. That page of my Bible is nearly illegible, filled with notes and arrows and highlights, because I wanted this verse pressed into the core of my being. It is still the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the words “move on.”

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It comes from a passage where God is reminding the Israelites how powerful He is. How there is never a reason to not trust Him.

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. -Isaiah 43:18-19

I cannot explain how much hope stirs in me when I hear those verses. Hope for me & you. He is moving through our lives with so much power and beauty and grace.

Some of our greatest mistakes are for His greatest glories.

Some of our deepest pain is so that we can learn how to give Him the highest praise.

And in the midst of what feels like the greatest disappointment, He gives us more than we could ever deserve to hold onto:

He gives us Himself.

You might feel completely broken but healing is on its way. & the name of healing is Jesus. So place it all in His hands-even the disappointments. It can be hard to connect what we know to be true to how we feel sometimes. It is easy to sink into self pity. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love. That you are so beautiful. That if someone doesn’t understand or see your worth: that’s on them. It doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Read it again: it doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Life is too short to sit in yesterdays and could haves and should have beens. So let Him pick your heart up, lift your head high, and start to believe what He says of you.

When you do, you’ll start to understand what you deserve, and if I had to guess, you deserve more than the boy who broke your heart.

The right heart won’t run.

To the girl who wants to move on: you can. You will. & your heart is seen today.

open hands

I have such a tendency to hold onto everything so tightly.

I find something or someone and I am fixated. I become too consumed with building my life around that one thing. I hold on so tight because I place my worth, purpose, and security in it. It can’t be taken from me because what would my life be without it? Where would I find my identity?

It is either that or the complete opposite. I run from situations, people, or things because I am afraid that I am not in control. I’m afraid something might not turn out the way I want. I’m afraid to be disappointed, or I’m afraid I’ll disappoint myself.

But at the heart of both those reactions I just want to shield myself from anything that might put me in a place of discomfort, pain, or uncertainty.

Lately my perspective is shifting.

I’ve found that without even noticing, my hands are more open than ever before.

You cannot have the promise if you are not willing to risk the pain.

I don’t know if it is simply because I have tried so hard so many times to control situations and have only been left feeling completely depleted and miles away from the person I was made to be. Or if I am finally awakening to the fact that ultimately holding my own life–or trying to–gets heavy. Trying to figure everything out wears you out.

I think I noticed that opened hands beat clenched fists when I realized that every time I think it will be the end of my world if I let go of something, I am always proven wrong.

Life always goes on, and often times I find more inspiration and strength in disappointments than I do when things go according to my plan.

When we grip something so tightly, we might have a feeling for a moment of strength, self-sufficiency, and the illusion that something is within our control. In reality our clenched fists are just preventing us from receiving something so much greater.

They are clenched tightly around something good, but if we open them we can receive something great.

But there’s a catch.

In order to receive something great-our hands have to be open.

It is easy to close off your heart and it is easy to hold on so tightly. That is where most people stay. But security is not synonymous with fullness and beauty and feeling and life–risk is.

The bravest thing you can do is uncurl your fingers and open your hands – free – without expectation.

It goes without saying that the bravest thing is often the hardest. No one wants to relinquish control. But when you realize you’ve never really had it in the first place, it’s much easier to remember that trying to hold on to what you think you need will only deprive you of what He knows actually need.

Open your hands – let your heart relax. Some things might fall away, but what He has meant for you never will.

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

 

You are enough

Do you ever just breathe in and realize right in a single moment, that you are enough? That even if you never did one more thing or accomplished what you want to accomplish — even if you did “nothing” by the world’s standard, that your existence is simply enough? I admit it, I think about it every day: ways I could be a little bit closer to perfect or areas in which I am not doing “enough.”

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I tend to shy away from an idea if I know I can’t do it perfectly. In fact, most often I run from something completely even if I could do it well. Because in my mind, doing something well isn’t worth it if I can’t do something perfectly. What if all that I put into my work isn’t enough for some people? What if all that I am doing is never enough?

It is easy to size up how your life is feeling to how someone else’s life is looking. & even if you’re not comparing yourself to someone else, it’s easy to constantly be wishing you could just be better. It’s easy to believe the lie that you are not qualified to step into a dream or calling because you don’t have yourself perfectly together. It is easy to believe that because you are still learning, you can’t teach others what you have learned. And above all, it is easy to believe that you can never reach a point of feeling like you are enough, because there is always something else you could do or a better version of yourself you could be.

In today’s day and age I think that it is so easy for us to idolize people that we learn from, draw inspiration from, or follow online. If you want, you can curate the perfect feed. You can compose blog posts that talk only about the good stuff, and you can share pictures that are edited to the T. You can show everyone your amazing life, your amazing habits, and your amazing relationships. You can leave out the real stuff. You can minimize your mistakes and blemishes. You get to select your content.

We can get caught in a cycle of always reaching for more, thinking that one more promotion will validate us in our career, that one more person will fulfill us when it comes to relationships, or that more recognition will take up the empty space in our hearts when it comes to what we want to achieve.

But no matter how much you achieve, who you know, or what you accomplish, you will never feel as though you are enough if you first don’t believe it when you don’t feel it. 

Believing the truth about yourself isn’t something you save for the days when it’s easy to do. Believing it starts on the days when your heart feels the exact opposite.

That means today.

Believe this: nothing you can ever do can make you more worthy of this life, more beautiful, more worth loving, or more “enough.” When you let that sink in, you can live fully alive in who you are called to be.

Know that you are enough in all of your imperfections,

& nothing you ever do — or don’t do — can change that.