Lovely Letters: When Hate Walks In

Of all the e-mails I’ve ever received, I haven’t had one hit me quite the way this one did. I’m grateful to be able to receive words like these and to have an open invitation to share my thoughts about them on this blog. Thanks to all my readers who are being so open and vulnerable. Your words change me in ways I can’t explain.

Somehow, it took a turn for the worst and he was yelling things at me that no one should hear. “You aren’t worth my time / I’m so stupid for being here / You aren’t worth anything / Just stop talking”   I had never felt so unsafe and violated as I did that night…. I ended the relationship and friendship all in one. It’s never easy walking away from someone you’ve known for a long time, but I had to do it.

 -Ann

Darling Ann,

Your words took me back to a day in my parents’ living room. Scrolling through e-mails, I opened one that I had been anxiously waiting for. And there, in Times New Roman font, sat three words that I never thought anyone (especially not someone who had been so close to me) would ever say.

…go to hell…

As plain as day, in black and white… those words just sat there sandwiched between a few other words and sentences that were equally as blunt and painful. Granted, people have said worse, but when words like that come out of a clear blue sky, it’s quite a kick to the gut.

The truth is, I don’t know much about what you believe about God or about His voice, but I heard Him speak clearly to me in that moment. Despite what you may think, I think the words I heard Him say are just as much for you as they were for me.

“It’s not your fault.”

Let that sink in. It’s not your fault. Nothing you said, or did, or didn’t do, could ever merit someone saying those words to you. I don’t care how much blame they can stack on your shoulders, it will never justify being told that you have no worth.

Darling Ann, I’m sorry he was that coldI know how that in that moment you didn’t recognize his face and that his voice must have sounded like a stranger. I know that feeling all to well, and I know that the way it leaves you limping.

You might need a crutch for a few weeks or months. You may need some shoulders to lean on. But don’t lay down in it, love; don’t you dare lay down in those words. Because you are made to lean into words like “you’ve always been enough / you are worth my affection / i’ll always come running / time with you is never wasted” 

You did exactly what you should have: you walked away. I did the same thing, once upon a time, on a rainy night at Starbucks. It started with some yelling, it ended with my eyes closed and the words “it’s okay and I forgive you” tumbling out of my mouth.

Truly, I did forgive him. And somehow, after that, I knew I’d never again carry the weight of those words he tried to paint me with. Since that day, I haven’t been angry or bitter. I haven’t carted around loads of underlying rageHonestly, I haven’t thought of him much at all. Since that day, we haven’t spoken and most likely, we never will. Because he is just a person I used to know, who said some things that, for about five minutes, actually mattered. If I saw him at the grocery store tomorrow, I’d smile at him (like I do every passing stranger) and I would keep looking at the cereals or yogurt and that would be that.

Don’t get me wrong, we had some good times. We had some fun car rides, laughter that would make your belly hurt. He wasn’t always so cruel, we had some golden days. But I let all of that go, soon after I read those three words in that e-mail. Not because I didn’t value the good times we had, but because they became only stories when he brought hate to the party.

And I’m not willing to sit next to hate for a few good stories and some sweeter e-mails I saved in their own little folder.

Love and I just kindly smiled to one another and decided to get our groove on elsewhere.  I think that’s what you’re needing too. It’s okay to decide to leave the party and head back home. Have a few nights spent wrapped in a big comfy sweater, buy yourself some yellow tulips, sit down with a mug of Tazo Zen tea (that’s the best kind), and soak in some peace and quiet. It’s okay to take some time for yourself. Take some time, Darling Ann, because you’ve just been through a battle. You’re coming out swinging, and you my dear, are looking mighty fine with your arms raised in victory. But even so, I want you to sit and take a breath. Steep in the truth of who you are and who you’ll always be.

You’ll always be the girl who is worth good words, and the love of a steady man who doesn’t kick you after backing you into a corner.

I’m proud of you for knowing that you had to walk away, for being strong enough to actually do it, and not just sitting around wishing you could. You, precious girl, are the envy of many women who have walked in your shoes. There have been countless women who have prayed for the strength to get up off the ground, slam the door and start over again.

You’re doing it, you are plowing new fields, finding new skies, and I’m so proud of you that I could burstYou make that eighteen-year old version of me cheer loudly because me and you, we are a force and we are fierce and we are not going to be made small. 

You remind me, even years later, that a girl has got to fight for her right to leave the dang party.

You and I, we left the party when hate came in the room and that’s more than most people ever dream of doing. While they sit quietly, afraid to make a move (afraid of what they’ll do next if they lose something or someone) we are dancing, jiving, moonwalking out that door and it’s a beautiful sight.

The ones who know when it’s time to go home and to get the heck out of here… they are the ones who keep the light in their eyes.

So while you’re dancing home tonight, know that you’re shining brighter than the street lights hanging above you. You are absolutely stunning, Darling Ann, with the way that you’re twirling in that dress and waltzing with the moon.

I’m proud of you. Not just for the way you walked away, but for knowing that you’re better because of it. You are my brand of brave, you’re pure gold, you are a girl after my own heart. You never even needed any of these words to know that you’re going to be just fine, but nonetheless they are yours.

Here’s to you, and to me, and to my absolute certainty that the girls like us will always keep dancing in the street!

Love, Ashlin

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I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Lovely Letters is a series that happens every Wednesday! I’ve gotten such an amazing e-mail response from many of my readers and I try to respond to as many as I can directly; and some of them have inspired me to share thoughts and ideas on my blog. You guys seriously inspire me and what you’re going through is universal and I think other people need to hear that they’re not alone.

So… if you’re interested in inspiring the next Lovely Letters post, send me an e-mail and let me know what’s going on in your life. I absolutely love hearing from all of you!

E-mail:  ashlinkayh@gmail.com

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She Actually

“She actually turned out to be pretty…”

A few years after coming out of the awkward i’m-far-too-lazy-to-wake-up-early-and-dress-like-i’m-going-to-Paris-when-i’m-actually-going-to-gym-class stage, these words were said about me.

Casually, someone told me about that conversation when we were in the car leaving Walmart and something about it dug deep into my skin. It had been a conversation between boys who apparently wrote the definition for pretty.

I had always known that braces, curly hair and untamed eyebrows were not a winning combo, but it did something to my core to hear those words actually said out loud (even years later).

“She actually…” 

As if there had been some town council meeting that had convened during the years when flannel wasn’t cool and nobody liked the messy/bed-head hair look. It was as if everyone had gathered to secretly whisper their doubt about me and my future cool status.

“Yeah, that girl? She’ll probably always be awkward, gangly and discombobulated.”

There was a fire that sat in my bones for years. “She actually…” Over and over again those words would follow me around. It took everything in me to keep blow drying my hair, or using any makeup. There was something in me that so desperately wanted to just go back to how I looked at twelve years old. I wanted to prove to them that twelve year old Ashlin? She actually had always been pretty.

Oh, and that she actually knew that people were pretty in their own way. No one person, or group of people, is superior enough to decide a universal definition.

I’ve seen so many gorgeous girls stand in front of a mirror with a look of disgust. Even if I thought them to be absolutely breathtaking, it never mattered, because they couldn’t see it in themselves.

I should have said something like this to them:

Oh, you were always beautiful, babygirl. It was never about your hair. It was never about the tag sewn into your jeans or how much mascara you could coat onto your eyelashes.

Pretty was that fierce way you stood up for truth in the lunchroom. It’s the way you love to make others laugh. It’s the way you choose to stay and hold others when they cry. 

Pretty is when you still cry at movies because you’ve got a heart beating inside of you that knows love is still worth waiting for and not so impossible to find.

You know, the world will say these words are stupid, they will roll their eyes and call this another inspirational speech or ridiculous piece of encouragement for people that I’ve never even seen.

But I hope you don’t really believe that we have to see someone to know if they’re pretty or beautiful. Those words are not lost on blind eyes, but rather on blind hearts. 

Whether we never sit across from one another, I will always believe there’s something breathtakingly beautiful about you.

Because to me, you will never be a number on a scale. You will never be just another face. You are entirely your own kind of wonderful, though some may never see what I do. How sad for them, that they’ve defined their own worth by what they see in a piece of reflective glass in the bathroom.

You were always enough. You actually were always pretty. Even in your awkward middle school years and even when you take your make-up off. You are beautiful because you are intricate and deep, and thousands and thousands of details make up the heart of who you are.

And you are worth untangling. You are pages upon pages of your own kind of story and it’s worth reading. You have value and I hope that’s what you see when you look at yourself. I hope you know that at the end of the day, it will never matter how tan you are or whether or not you ate that second serving.

You deserve to hear that you are incredible. I really know that, I really believe that. There is somebody in your corner who thinks you are worth loving.

But I hope you really believe that about yourself, too. Because no matter how many times I write it for you, it only matters what you see.

As for me, when I stumble into the bathroom to get ready, I see a collage of all the stages of the person I’ve been and the person I am. I laugh at her frumpy ponytail and oversized pajama shirt and I shove the lies from the back of my mind and think about those words said to me on that car ride and I reply,

She actually was born beautiful and lives beautifully and she actually didn’t ever really need anyone else to believe that but herself.

She actually wants the world to see the person behind the hazel eyes and tiny hands. She actually knows that there’s something put inside her that the world can be changed by.

And she actually wants to say thank you. To the girl who told me about that conversation and the two guys who never intended for me to hear that and most likely meant no harm. Because in their twisted compliment, they made me love that girl in a whole new way, the one I am and the one I’ve always been

The Tightropes of Transparency

“DON’T LET THEM PAINT YOU RED.”

She reminded me of when the cards told Alice that the white roses were a mistake. I pulled pain from the cracks of my heart as I thought about how many times I had let them make me feel that way. I let my mind replay all the times they hurried to paint me red before I caused problems.

Somewhere between buying coffee in Blacksburg and chasing the sunshine along Charlotte’s horizon, I realized that it was time to surrender.

I started to understand that it wasn’t about needing stability. What I really needed was to love some strangers and to throw tangerines at trees that stood in line along the lake. I needed to sit in a crowded parking lot, five hours from home, and tell God that I was nervous and rattled; that my hands seemed to small to hold everything He’s been handing me.

I’ve got words to say and I know that you do too. I can see it in the way you pause in conversation, it always seems like you are holding your breath and waiting for the right moment. But I wish we’d just say them. I wish we would stop being afraid of greatness and of the price you have to pay to hold it. Because we were always meant for it, but we’re all too cheap to really go after it. The price seems to high; the price to be the people that do the hard things, say the uncomfortable things, stand in the awkward gaps.

I want my hands to cramp from writing letters to strangers. I want to stay up late and fill pages with words that say you’re holding a promise that will probably change the world. I want to know what it means to be unafraid of the absurdity that comes with really living.

Because they’re trying to paint all of us red. They’re trying to change us, shame us and tell us that we were never good enough to knock knees and bump elbows with those who are believed to be the most important people in the room.

But we’re enough. We have always been enough and I want to love you enough to tell you that. I want to be foolish enough to make you look me in the eyes and hear it. I want to grab your hands when we’re face to face and soak you with the kind of affirmation that unnerves the lies you’ve believed. I want to love you enough to say the words that send your insecurities running out the door. I want to make you forget all the ways your heart has been steeped in pain and show you that there are still a few people left who aren’t afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve for you, because you’re worthy of that.

I want to love others with such force that I am out of control, reckless and downright dangerous in my prayers for them. That I’m so affected by the footprints they’re making on the world that I’ll move mountains and lead armies to see them win their wars. That I’ll find myself fighting for them on the carpet of my closet, my knees forming imprints and my tears making altars.

I really want to stop being too intimated to paint the room with the light that’s been put inside of me.

I want to stop thinking that I’m far too weak to ever really fill in the lines of future history books.

It’s going to be the irrational, senseless, outrageous way that we sing 90’s songs at the top of our lungs, and make facial expressions that cause the Starbucks barista to explode in laughter. It’s the little ways that we’ll learn to love people. It’s going to happen when we stain the the kitchen table with overflowing bowls of ice cream. It’s going to be brief moments that turn into hours that are laced with words like “you’ve got what it takes”  “i’m proud of you” and I’ve got your back.”

It’s not always going to be the big things that take us to the heights. Most of the time, it’s the smaller steps we take that are going to teach us how to trust when walking on the tightropes of transparency and relationship. We’re learning how to love and it’s going to be our love that changes things.

You Can’t Let It Take the Best of You

You’ve done everything you can.

I need you to hear me on that. If love were water, your hair would be dripping and your boots would be filled. You’d be choking on the gallons flowing out of your mouth. I’ve watched you love when it meant ripping your ribcage wide open. I’ve watched you toss out handfuls mercy like a kid on a newspaper route. You’ve thrown them time and time again, they’ve hit a lot of closed doors, but you continued to deliver. Even when they piled up on the porch and you knew no one was going to come out and get them, you kept on pedaling.

You’ve felt guilty. You have thought there MUST be more. There must be something else I can say, one more letter I could write, one more strategy I could try. There has to be something I can do to make it better.

I’m sorry. You just can’t fix it and I’m so incredibly sorry for that.

It hurts in the worst way, to stand there, knee-deep in someone else’s pain and unable to mend what’s broken. It’s hard to watch them writhe in misery. It’s hard when all you can do is stand with your hands shaking and your throat filled with questions that will have no answers. You may not get any answers, and you can’t let it take the best of you.

And I don’t say that casually or without feeling. I don’t press those keys in ignorance.

I know what that takes. I know the strength it takes to pry clamped fingers and white knuckles from something you’ve gripped so tightly.

I know they say that silence is golden, and maybe there are days when that might be true. But I think you might find treasure in giving someone else the chance to sit across from you and pour some love into the cracks of your heart. I think your heart needs to hear that you are not standing on your own, that someone’s got your back, that your words and values matter. I think hearing that makes it easier to walk away from the people and things that douse the fire you’re meant to carry.

Walk with those who will help you carry your torch. The people who will stand with you in the battle, those who will fight for you when you can’t stand. Spend your birthday weekend with people who make you wheat pancakes and let you nap on their couch. Dry your eyes and block out the sounds of the closing door. Choose to celebrate with those who will dance with you at the breakfast table and who bring you flowers and boxes of your favorite cereal.  Don’t waste your tears on something or someone who is senseless or selfish. There are certain things that are far too shallow to deserve the grief that comes from depths of your precious heart.

You’ve done absolutely everything you can, so it’s now or neverChoose now. Wipe your hands off, get up off of your knees and allow yourself to be happy, allow yourself to stop sitting in the pain. Decide to plant your feet in places that cause you to grow, not places with hands that pluck your petals. 

There are such great things out there for you, things that are going to make up for the sorrow that has dug itself into your gut. You just have to let yourself find it.

And it’s hard to find all the things you deserve if you sit around crying about the things you don’t.

Maybe G was for Grace

I have been learning how to live without.

I’ve also been baking non-stop. If you don’t know me, then let me tell you, I ain’t the kind of girl that bakes.

But this week? Brownies, muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls.

I learned a lot about loss when I lived in Apartment G.

My doctor told me I had to cut out sugar and white flour. I didn’t respond well to being told that I couldn’t have chocolate or pizza or cheesecake. It was a sad day when I was forced to break up with Ben & Jerry.

Now, here I am a year later. I’ve learned to do without it. Apparently, I learned to bake without it. I learned a lot about grace while giving up a lot of things I love.

Not just sugar or flour, I lost a lot more than food when I lived in Apartment G.

I am now seeing just how much these months have changed me. I am not even close to being the same person I was when my sister and I unpacked our lives in that little space.

In that time, grace grew me up to be steady. She taught me how to choose love when it seemed like a complete waste. She sat with me while I ate peanuts and tried to figure out how to dance through someone else’s sadness.

Her elegance and class kept me from saying all the things I held in my clenched fists. “Keep your head high, love.” Over and over she would whisper words like, “You’ve always been enough.”

She would grab my hand in critical moments, tuck my hair behind my ear and remind me,”You are better than the words you want to speak in your anger.”

Grace is the kind of girl who wears a dress to meet you at a diner. She orders coffee at 9 pm and settles in for the long haul. Grace knows how to love the bad, endure the imperfect, but grace looks for the beauty, the worth, in everything she sees.

Even after I ignored her, left her in the cracks and crevices of apartment G, she quietly followed me. She followed me back to my parents house, and hangs out with me in the kitchen while I bake.

Because that’s who she is. Grace tells you to do what seems impossible and then she teaches you how. When you can’t quite sing the words, she teaches you how to hum the tune. She teaches you how to live with less. She’s beautiful in that way.

Even in all of her elegance, grace knows about living with less. She knows how to make loss seem lighter.

Even when I was knee-deep in blame and anger, she was waiting for the day when I came back around. Always waiting with her wit, strong coffee, healthy breakfast and some endless laughter.

Grace is teaching me to do the same. She’s teaching me to be classy in my efforts, poised in my anger. She is teaching me how to stick around for the long-haul, even in the midst of terrible loss.

Grace addresses birthday cards that may never be appreciated for their sentiment and she never believes that it is a waste.

Grace knows Thursdays are for calling to say “I miss you” even if they don’t miss you back.

I’ve always known her, but we became good friends when I learned to pay bills and sweep my own kitchen. I think maybe that was fate because in these days I need her more now than ever.

Maybe G was for Grace.  Maybe those days in that tiny apartment were about learning how to stand alone when others walk away, about learning how to live without, with less and with loss.

 

Jesus Doesn’t Hate Your Make-Up

Women are praised for showing their bare faces.

No make-up, no photoshop retouches, their blemishes are put on display and they should learn to be happy about that. A confident girl can embrace all of her flaws, right?

Women are scorned for painting their face. They are condemned for putting their best foot forward. They are called down-right shallow for spending an hour on their hair.

And as a Christian, I’m supposed to condone these views and call them right and holy. I’m supposed to clap my hands for every girl who is au-natural, call her the Proverbs 31 woman and throw her a party.

For the girls who spend two hours getting ready, who decorate their appearance with clothing and make-up, I should try and convince them they are surface and that they are “really just masking their insecurity”.

The church is willing to accept that we live in a fallen world. As Christians we can easily take “we all fall short of the glory” and shout “AMEN!”

We praise the pursuit of righteousness. We tell people to strive to live in love, to treat others with kindness, to walk in humility, to give generously. We can easily admit that it’s harder than God intended. He intended us to be perfect and sometimes we feel the sting of our imperfections, our shortcomings and we seek to do better, to be better.

Well, let me break it to you, I am not as God created me to be.

I am imperfect in my appearance. I have permanent bruises from a broken nose. Right at this moment, I have acne. I have thin hair. I have lines from gaining and losing weight. I have scars from falling down. My appearance changes from week to week and month to month.

I am not as I was intended to be in heart or in body.

 I am a mess. But this is because of sin, not because of God.

I am praised for making my heart better, but doomed for doing the same to my outward appearance.

I can hear some of you and see you in my mind, shaking your head, wagging your index finger and saying “1 Peter 3:3-4”.

Forgive me for rolling my eyes at you right now. I did not say that my beauty COMES from my outward appearance. I know it comes from my heart. I know that WHO I AM is far more valuable than what I look like or what I wear. God said those things don’t define your beauty. But he wasn’t condemning women for their clothing or appearance either, because let’s be honest, that’s not his character.

He was saying, don’t neglect your heart. Don’t make the outward your priority.

But he never said you couldn’t improve it, better it, or decorate it. Oh, I can hear people shouting the “whitewashed tomb” verse at me.

Jesus said (my paraphrase), “you’re beautiful on the outside and inside you are dead bones and filth”.

Uh. If they weren’t filled with filth, I highly doubt Jesus would have cared if they were looking stylish that day. Maybe he would’ve asked to borrow their shoes sometime. If their hearts had been in the right place, He might would’ve complimented their robe and encouraged them to pair it with a fashionable belt.

Jesus doesn’t have a problem with appearance, WE DO. That’s why he told us these things. Not because he thinks you shouldn’t fix your hair, but because he didn’t want us to think that was more important than the heart.

I assure you, when you get to heaven, you are not going to be gross with wrinkled robes, greasy hair, and with dark circles under your eyes. You’re going to be absolutely flawless and radiant because we will be like Him when we see Him as He is.

If your heart is filled with life and purity, if you’re pursuing the heart of God; please don’t let the church condemn you for showering and blow drying your hair.

The truth is… they would all judge you and abandon you if you stopped wearing deodorant and brushing your teeth.

You are beautiful because of your heart. You are absolutely gorgeous in your own skin because you are a miracle made from the hands of God. Whether you wear make-up, or not… you are enough. But not wearing make-up doesn’t make you more holyTelling people to stop brushing their hair, doesn’t make you evangelist of the year.

You are broken and fallen. You are flawed. You are not as you were made to be. 

I’m not giving you permission to starve yourself and spend $17,000 on plastic surgery and clothes at Nordstrom. But you are free to be natural and you are free to be glamorous. I’m telling you that if you want to wear a cute dress and powder your nose, God’s not disappointed in you, you are not unholy and you don’t have to apologize for it.

It may not mean much, but it’s okay with me if you stick it to the state of sin we’re all living in and say “I’m going to get as close to flawless as I wanna be.”

The Burden of Acting Free

I want to see you laugh again. That kind of laughter that used to swallow the world.

I want to see you look at the world with a sense of wonder. Even in your brokenness, you always saw the wonder.

Did you know there’s a difference in being free and acting free?

When you go through the motions of pretending to be free; when you get louder, prouder and bolder, you are not far from danger, my dear.

You’ve been taken from one kind of prison and thrown into another. Because the burden of having to keep up the appearance of freedom, is even heavier than the one of trying to create a facade of perfection.

It will steal the life right out of you. This show of acting like you’ve let it all go & there is absolutely nothing holding you back. 

Oh, sweet one. I wish you could see that you’re in a scary scary space. You’re using your energy to draw a room to believing that you’ve reached the pinnacle of liberty and license. The truth is, now you’re bound to a life of striving and a life of deception. You keep saying that you’re free and yet it’s taking every muscle you have to convince the world. That’s not freedom, it’s a life that breeds exhaustion.

Freedom isn’t something you have to convince others of. And it’s not something you have to convince yourself you have.
Freedom just is. It doesn’t draw attention to itself, it just is. Freedom is not tied to opinions of others, or even opinions of your own. Freedom can go home and be okay with that. Freedom can have a night out on the town. Freedom means that whatever choice you make, you don’t have to do it for the sake of convincing anybody or anyone. Freedom acts on its convictions and is free to do so. That’s why freedom is so beautiful. Freedom is free to make it’s choice based on what it believes.

Freedom is not a mask or a costume. You don’t just put her on and wear her to the ball. Freedom sits in your fingers and toes and makes your choices. Freedom holds your head up when you’re in a room with no one but yourself. 

Freedom comes from who you are, not what you do.

You can climb mountains, dance in the town square, buy a funny hat or hug a stranger and appear to be free. But free people don’t use those things to define their lives. Those things are not the things they announce or take pride in. Freedom doesn’t know how to be proud because freedom is released from the burden of having to impress.

Freedom doesn’t have to explain itself or pat itself on the back. Freedom just smiles quietly at the end of each day and feels the contentment of a full life. Freedom smiles, oh she smiles and even when she’s sad she smiles.

She smiles like you used to when you were under those orange street lights or when I saw your face shining through the windows of the kitchen, your hands washing dishes in soapy water.

Freedom laughs when people are looking, when they’re not, and doesn’t know the difference.

Freedom says hello and she’d like come back in your ligaments and limbs. She wants to fill your stomach and teach you how to laugh again, how to stay and how to walk away. Freedom wants you to know that she never really went away.

Freedom wants to come home and rest in your bones. Welcome her with open arms. Oh, and you don’t have to announce her arrival, believe me, she’ll make her presence known.

What About Thursdays?

Saturday mornings are for cold pizza

Most Tuesdays are for dancing in the living room like a bull in a china shop. Four to Six are the hours best for reading books and drinking apple cider.

Oh, and Wednesdays are for shoving discouragement on the playground, for giving hopelessness a bloody nose.

I wish we would all realize these bullies were also the weights around the feet of the sailors who kept on going when everybody said, “The world is flat, you can’t, you can’t!”

“Oh, someday I hope that you get tired of waking up to thieves and liars”

I hope you stop listening to the voices that scream why you can’t, won’t and never could. I hope you laugh in the face of impossibility. I hope that doubt gets trapped and forced to watch your eyes sparkle as you start to realize just how much you can and you will.

I hope you make fear tremble and insecurity break out in a cold sweat.

Let’s watch cowardice wave its last goodbye. I want us to chase away timidity ’til he reaches the point of no return. May we unnerve reservation and isolation all the way to their core. 

I want to be fearless and brave. In my bones, I am made reckless and daring. Oh, I’m learning how to be downright disheartening to the enemies who have tried to keep me down.

When they turn to see us fall, I want us to be standing with heads held high and hearts intact. We’ve got the makings of a warrior and the limbs of a champion; let’s challenge rejection, manipulation and apathy. Let’s riot in the streets against hatred, abuse and criticism.

Inferiority doesn’t stand a chance when we walk in the room. Indifference is moved when we speak.

The world is full of books about people who threw off those shadows and came out of the darkness. History favors the brave, celebration and change follow the gutsy and the lionhearted.

Pity parties are for the faint of heart and procrastination is for the counterfeit. You have something to give that no one else can and you can, you can, you can.

You know all those things you want to do? You should do them; and you should laugh, dance and unabashedly revel in joy and hope as you do them.

Be outrageous and improper and grab every day by the face and sing it a song, call it sweetheart and take it to dinner. Be romanced by this abundant life that you’ve been given. Buy yourself a cup of coffee, read a good book, fly to the other side of the world, give someone a hug, decide to change the world.

Because we can, you can, I can.

It starts with deciding that passivity and halfheartedness are not welcome where we are. Detachment and comfort are not the cool kids and passion, bravery and backbone are the stuff of champs.

So, what about Thursdays?

Thursdays are for remembering that the world isn’t flat, that men can walk on the moon, and for making sure that impossibility runs home crying to its Momma.

A Letter to The Ledge

“I refuse to be another stepping stone.”

I believed her.

“Why am I the last step before someone finds their greatest adventure? Here I am, just a stone to be stepped on.”

It was easy for me to stay quiet. To sip my latte and just listen because I know that ache. I’ve felt that kind of frustration coil itself around my muscles. Time passes and it just ties and tightens those knots of disappointment.

I didn’t have words that would wrap her wounds with the kind of healing they were begging for.

But I think I have some things to say now. I think I’ve got a letter to write to the ones out there just like her.

Darling, You are not simply a step. You are a ledge.

Oh, and when they step off your steady ground, they are left free falling and it seems like the time of their lives. Breath rushing to their lungs, the world full of possibility. Everything feels so free.

But they always come crashing–down, down, down. Just know they will hit the water every single time.

After that, it’s nothing but work. Swimming and holding their breath. Strokes of effort over and over again trying to find the dry land they once knew. It doesn’t take them long to remember you. Steady ground’s beauty starts flooding their memory as they choke on the waves of the unreliable waters they left you for.

You are a steady, strong, awe-inspiring ledge. You are exciting. You bring a sense of adventure, but you’re solid and dependable and you are where people climb great and far distances to stand.

But there are going to be few who climb to your great heights.

From where I’m standing, reaching a peak like you is a long way to travel. Only the brave and strong will go that far. But there are going to be those who make it and who still leave you for the sake of plummeting into the waters below. Because the dive seems like the climax of their journey.

But just know, they missed it all if they missed you. The dive may have lasted for a minute, but the view they had from standing with you will burn itself into the deepest parts of who they are. 

Oh, they’ll be carrying you around for years to come.

Even if they’re far too proud to admit it.

But baby, they’re probably not going to climb all the way back to you. Because very few can take the kind of journey it takes to win a heart like yours twice. But, that’s okay. Other climbers are coming and one of them just won’t be able to leave that horizon that they see from the firm earth below their feet.

You were never a stepping stone. You were a ledge that led to the free fall of the ones who were never meant to hold your heart.

But you are a thing of beauty to the brave ones. You are a glorious destination to the traveler who knows the value of the view versus the temporary excitement of the jump.

You’re a firm ledge, darling. You’re a perfectly lovely piece of this breathtaking earth. And you are worth the climb and worth the one who builds a home where you are.

You will never be just another stepping stone.