If Given the Same Chance…

I feel as though I’ve lived that exact moment a hundred times.

This place I’ve been standing recently is one that tastes so familiar. If I went back to old journals, I think I’ve got hundreds of pages filled with maps of walking this pathway.

“Haven’t we been through this already?” I asked God, not expecting much of an answer. He knew I felt frustrated, thinking I would never learn whatever it is that He has apparently trying to drill through my thick head about this kind of pain.

“You know, it doesn’t mean you failed to learn the lesson last time. Sometimes, you come to the same circumstance in order for me to show you that you are not the same person you used to be.”

I took a deep breath and leaned my head back, tears forming in the corners of my eyes. Because you always hope, if given the same chance, you would make better choices than you did last time.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have done things differently.” 

If you’ve lived long at all, you’ve probably uttered those words. But can we ever really be sure of that?

It’s hard to be sure when our hearts get so tangled in the edges and curves of faces that figure out ways to paint themselves into the lines of our days.

But sometimes, you get a chance to find out.

All over again, you get the moment of reaction, the choice of how to carry it, and to tug from grace what it takes to nod and graciously walk away.

Sometimes, you get to see that you’re a far better person than you used to be. And maybe it was that gruesome mountain you walked up last time that gave you the strength to more easily scale the one in your present.

I smiled at God, “We’ve been through a lot worse, am I right?”

I felt him smile and then we went on talking about how I have horrible coordination when it comes to vacuuming.

I told Him last year that I was finished with picking up disappointment.

I’ve given her a ride too many times in the last twenty-three years. She is a demeaning back seat driver and she will eventually push herself behind the wheel. When she does, she will take you to a place that a simple GPS could never get you out of.

When I saw her the other day, thumb taunting me from the side of the highway of my heart, I locked the doors and let my foot press harder on the gas. There’s no room for you here, I thought. You’ve taken up far too much of my time and ruined way too many of what could have been beautiful miles.

So much of what we go through really has less to do with other people and more to do with us. It’s about who we decide to be and how we keep a balance of grace and principle. About learning to be steady in the places that used to rattle our bones.

Keeping disappointment out of the car takes realizing that the only control you have is over your own choices. You can’t change or anticipate what others will do, but you can commit to a better response, one that refuses to settle for going back to the person you used to be.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy, that you’ll enjoy looking at these same monsters in the eye.

But what I will tell you is that when you realize you can stare back at them without blinking, without shoving them back behind those closet doors, you will be grateful to be standing in places you prayed you’d never stand again.

Growth is the thing that keeps us moving and opens doors to bigger and better things.

It’s only by being confronted with all those fears and the battles that once bloodied your elbows and knees that you find out just how far it is you’ve really come.

And I hope each time we do, we find that we’ve actually come a lot further than we ever could have imagined.

Why I Won’t Pursue a Man

Relationships and opinions about them are sticky.

People get passionate and everyone has an opinion. I think it’s something that we all work out, a choice that is ours to make. I can’t and don’t judge anyone’s personal journey, or the way they feel like God calls them to pursue romance.

As for me, I can state this (after much wrestling and questioning):

I can not and will not pursue a man.

Feminism is becoming a common doctrine of our world, and because of it, there is a question of whether or not women can approach a man in the way that they’ve been forbidden to in the past.

I’m not going to answer that for humanity. But as for me, I have one desire:

I want the (and yes, I said “the”) man that God has for me. God cares for the birds, so I believe that He intimately cares about my husband. He is sovereign over that. I believe that, I’ve prayed for that and I live my life trusting for that.

My entire life, I’ve wanted a man whose life is committed and unquestionably sacrificed to Jesus. I want a dead man, whose own life means nothing to Him, who doesn’t want a Sunday morning Jesus, but is branded by the very God who has wrecked my entire life.

And, yes, we’re going to be equal.

We deserve the same privileges and respect, we are both fully human and should be loved and valued equally. But there’s an order, a way that the Bible calls me to be. It says that I will be submissive, it says that my husband will love me as Christ loves the church.

To be submissive appears to be contrary to everything that makes sense to me. I’m independent, opinionated, passionate, argumentative. But if someone loves me sacrificially, unconditionally, I can (and want to) submit to that.

The problem is, we don’t trust men to love us as Christ loves the church. In a lot of ways, that makes sense. They’re imperfect, they mess up, they aren’t Jesus. No one will love me like Jesus, this is something that I must accept.

But my husband’s desire will be to love me in that way. My desire (though it won’t always happen) will be to submit.

I want that to start as soon as I meet him, as soon as the pursuit begins.

If I want a man that loves me, the way Christ loves the church, then that’s going to point me toward this belief:

Christ came for his church. He chose me, I did not choose Him.

I was the responder. Yes, I got a choice. I was given the right decide whether or not I wanted to enter into that relationship. AND I knew what God’s intentions were toward me in that relationship (and if I didn’t, I was free to ask!)

But He found me, He chose me, He came for me.

I want a husband, a man, who has that quality stained in the core of his heart, his behavior, his choices.

I can submit to that. I can say “yes” to that. And it might surprise you, but I feel respected, equal, free, and valued in that.

Feminists everywhere might nail me to a cross. That’s fine, I’ll loan you my hammer. This is something I am willing to put my life up for. This is something that I will not compromise. This is because it is one of the biggest decisions I will ever make. The man I marry will be my partner, my advocate, my leader. He will be the father of my children. He will need to be responsible, he will need to be bold and he will need to know what he wants and how to pursue it.

When we are ninety, I will wipe the drool from his cheek, bathe him, feed him mashed potatoes. And he will sit with me when I’m frail, he will pray with me, he will still stand up to fight for me…(even if he knows the other guy could take him).

I want someone stronger than me. And if that’s the hammer I hand you, the thing that makes you call me old fashioned, weak, or irrelevant…well, I’ve been called a lot worse.

You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to believe that this is the path for your life, I’m not telling you it is. This is me, this is what I’ve chosen, and these are my reasons.

All of them because I fell in love with a man, with holes in his hands, who comes, fights for, and pursues his bride.

I want my life to mirror that on this earth. On earth, if I ever get married, I’m going to be a bride; so, I don’t want to, at any point, act like the groom.

That Was The Night That Broke Me

Honestly, I didn’t think I would make it out alive.

I remember that the sky was black, the darkest I’d ever seen it. One hand on the steering wheel, the other holding the back of my neck. I was screaming and sobbing. I was fighting for my life and at that point, I felt it could go either way.

The streetlights were blurred by the ache in my head and burning tears in my eyes. My vision went in and out of focus. There were moments when the pain pushed through me so fiercely that I’d find myself leaning over the middle console, praying from the depths of my soul. There’s no earthly explanation for how I kept my car on the road.

My tiny foot ramming into the gas pedal, I was racing down I-85. All I knew was that I had to keep going. With every mile marker I passed, the pain grew worse and fear tightened his grip.

My phone battery was blinking, just a few minutes and my phone would be dead. I turned it off, trying to save what little life it had left. I just kept telling myself to get somewhere safe: anywhere but there. If I could just find a safe place, I could call for help.

I remember pulling into that restaurant parking lot, picking up my phone and shakily dialing. “This is where I am. I’m in this town. It’s at this exit, please come.”

Immediately after those few sentences escaped my mouth, my phone died.

That was the night that broke me. I convulsively wept until I was choking and gasping for air. I waited. For hours, I waited and I cried. I slept a little in my car. Then, I went inside the restaurant and I ate yogurt, drank coffee, laid my head on the table and mumbled a prayer of very few words.

I’ll never get that picture out of my head. The image is burned into my brain: the look on her face when she got out of her car. The pain, the worry, the relief on her face when she finally grabbed me in a tight hug.

When my eyes opened the next morning, I only laid there in my childhood room and stared at the blank white wall in front of me. For hours, I just laid there.

There were a lot of mornings after where I did the same.

In the months that followed, I remember mostly one thing: everyone just kept telling me to move on.

I’d tell my heart, my limbs, my head to listen to them, to strengthen themselves and to get up, to move on. But they didn’t and I couldn’t. And every single time I saw those old friends again, they’d say the same words: just get up and move on.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about my ribs hurled over that console, my head screaming at my body not to stop fighting. I just kept thinking about how no matter how hard my foot pushed, I couldn’t go fast enough. I kept remembering her face, that look that said, I wish I could have gotten here faster. 

It took a while to recover from that.

But there was one thing that never helped, that never eased my pain: someone telling me to “just get over it and move on”.

Yes, I know they were trying to help and that it killed them to see me in such grief and pain. I’m not even saying they weren’t right, but the truth is it didn’t help. 

So, I’m not going to tell you to get over it and move on.

Because I wasn’t there.

I wasn’t there when you went through your darkest moments, your longest nights. I wasn’t there when you felt your deepest pain, gave your hardest fight.

And maybe you’re like me, and you have a story that only you, God and a stretch of highway will ever really understand. Maybe there are some things you’ll never find words for, moments you’ve lived that you’ll never be able to whisper out into the world.

I’m not going to tell you that you have to tell that story.

Because you don’t. It’s yours, to hold and to give. You get to be the one to hand out permission slips, invitations for someone to walk in and know the details of your pain.

But what I will tell you is that,  I hope the day comes when you let someone in.

In the core of my being sits this certainty that every little thing we’ve gone through has powerful potential. If we use them, they can bring light to someone who is now sitting in that same place of darkness.

Our songs may never be the same, but the fear, the pain, the fighting and the rescue all have the same tune. We all, in some ways, live ours lives hearing the same melodies. Sometimes, we just need to sit together and share the different words.

So, I’m not going to tell you to get over it, move on, let go. Because I already know that day will come. You’re a fighter and grace got you this far. I’ll just grip my coffee mug and clench my fists and pray that the same God who undoubtedly drove my car down the highway that night, also grabs ahold of you in your grief.

Sometimes, it takes weeks before we can walk again. For some stories, it takes years to heal. I’m not going to be the one to give you an expiration date for your pain.

But our stories, if we let them, have light to give. When people come broken, I don’t want us to simply tell them to get over it and let it go. My hope is that we grab ahold of them, and that for whatever stretch of time they limp, we let them lean on our shoulders.

May we be unafraid to tell our stories, and may we use them as a light. May we selflessly help others through the dark places in which we ourselves have already been.

Sunday and Not Settling

Sunday has ruined me for other days.

Sunshine, windows down, music sailing through speakers, it’s like his wind whispers: you’ll never be able to settle when you see how I’ll always come back around for you.

I’ve tried to fall in love with Mondays, Thursdays, but they can’t hold a shred of my heart once he starts knocking.

He is gentle in the way he loves me. He brings friends with fresh flowers and comes with steeples that hover over people who are also trying to learn about this thing called grace.

I love that he makes me feel comfortable to be natural, barefoot and lazy. I’m never afraid to let my hair down, to dance and twirl on hardwood floors. Together, along with caramel coffee, we don’t focus on the questions, the worry, what we don’t know. He’s my day, it’s that plain and simple. Sunday has got me wrapped around his finger.

He’s painted with laugh lines and leans in to remind me that even when it’s hard, i’m going to be just fine.

Sunday ruined me for settling.

God knows I’ve tried. I’ve drawn maps and written pages about how maybe just maybe, I could try and hold hands with people and things that just weren’t ever meant to be mine. But then there’s Sunday, and he starts shoveling hope back to this heart like he did when I was eight, twelve and fifteen; he does it now, just weeks away from twenty-three. 

I’m not going to stand here and tell you that it’s easy to hold onto hope. I’m not going to grab your hands and force you to grip the end of this rope and wait for a love like Sunday. I’m just going to tell you that you could. I think you could do it.

You don’t have to wait. I’m not saying that you’re doomed to loneliness unless you find perfection. What I am telling you is that, I don’t want to be the one who settles. 

Not in a world where I can string together Sundays and know what it feels like to be so completely delighted in.

Not when there’s ice cream and good conversation on the front porch to be had. I can’t settle when there are backyard campfires to be around while sitting on blankets, roasting hotdogs and drinking root beer.

I can’t settle when I really do believe that love exists, that it can be strong enough to overcome death and that I was born to be fought for and absolutely adored. I can’t settle for “making something work” or something that’s “logical and just makes sense”.

I left social media for a while to discover how to be enchanted by the world again and I think I’m finally there. I think today, Sunday, sealed the deal for me. I’m starting to remember that the world is pretty glorious, pretty breathtaking place and that hope isn’t foolish, it isn’t a recipe for disappointment.

Foolishness is giving up on what you’ve bruised your knees in prayer for.

It”s up to you to decide if you want more. Decide if you believe that better things than what you’re wanting to settle for are really worth the wait.

I’m going to tell you that I want to learn to leave people feeling the way I feel about Sundays. I want to be a reason for people to think they’re made for much better than settling.  

Sundays have ruined me for being disenchanted and for telling people that it’s okay to choose anything less than what makes them better, what makes them feel adored. I want them to be inspired to love with a kind of love that’s overwhelming and that sets the bar for those who’ve never known what it means to be truly, wholly and completed delighted in.

I’m ruined for anything less than life filled with love like Sundays.

Choosing The Better Path

The first time I slipped on that jacket, I was walking right into a war zone.

Head held high, shoulders straightened, I made the choice to be fearless and forgiving. That jacket became a trophy for a day that I decided to be the bigger person.

Seasons changed, the jacket got packed away with other winter clothes and life continued on. I had forgotten it until the early fall when I pulled it out again. I shrugged it on, remembering how it helped me to stand in the worst days of the previous year.

I found myself lugging it around everywhere. Even if it was too warm to put it on, I kept it close. Over and over, I’d think about sitting in that cold room with fluorescent lights and white tile floors. I kept reminding myself that I have what it takes to choose the better path.

In the days that followed, my dreams were being forced to change, all my plans started failing. Doors I thought would always swing wide open started to close with a resounding smack.

I found myself drowning in anger. Standing in a parking lot on a breezy afternoon, the disappointment of slamming doors were a kick to a heart that had finally begun to hope again. Wearing that jacket suddenly felt heavy, I felt like I was going to crumble under the pressure it had put on my shoulders.

I didn’t know if I really had it in me to be better than all the things I wanted to scream in my anger. I really just wanted to take my fists and ram them into the person standing in front of me. I didn’t want to be the better person, I didn’t want to make the right choice. I just wanted some justice, I wanted some long awaited answers.

Just when I felt my temper hit its peak, I dug my clenched hands deep into the pockets of that jacket and I knew the war was over.

I wrapped my fingers around a little piece of cardboard in the left pocket and that was when I waved my white flag. I knew I never really wanted to be the kind of fighter whose weapons were bitterness, disappointment and rage from my pain.

There in that pocket was a coffee sleeve I’d crammed in there on a night in September. I told myself that every time my fingers grazed it, I’d remember to pray in the middle of hard things. I’d remember that God could make a way when there is no way. I told myself it would be the trophy of the new season, it would be the thing to remind me that not only could I be better, I could believe for better. I could believe that good things, really good things, were in front of me.

That jacket felt like a weight and the coffee sleeve became an anchor and I realized it is actually quite a heavy thing to decide to be the bigger person and to believe for better things.  Many days you’ll be forced to go against everything you want and everything that makes sense. You’ll have to choose to live a way that looks pretty empty handed. Being that person sometimes causes you to lose friends and other times, it causes you to sacrifice yourself.

What it takes to be to the kind of person who can hold their head high, who has true class; a person who can leave a mark on the world, on a room with fluorescent lights, or in a parking lot on a breezy day is a person who knows the only wars ever won are the ones where the fighters chose love and bravery over the disappointment of the season.

Unplugging and Reinventing

I’ve forgotten how to be enchanted.

We live in a world where text messages are considered pursuit, apps can act as a crystal ball for choosing your future spouse, phone calls are for old people and face to face dinners where phones stay tucked in our pockets are almost extinct.

I used to spend weekends watching movie after movie. My sister and I would curl up with cups of tea, bags of snacks and sit under piles of blankets. I never once watched a movie where people stared at their phones during dinner or sat in rooms silently scrolling through Facebook for three hours. If I had watched a movie where people paused at every meal, street corner, or flower to take a picture and Instagram it, I would have never made it to the ending.

I’ve been consumed by the wrong kind of light. The glow of my computer and phone have dulled my eyes to what’s truly beautiful.

I miss being inspired by grand gestures. I miss believing that people care enough to run through airports, that we live in a world where it’s possible for people show up on your porch. I miss being the person who is willing to go to great lengths to let people know they really matter. I miss believing that other people are willing to do that for me.

I want to live in a world where girls know they’re beautiful because someone looks them right in the face and says it, not because they got 174 likes on their selfie.

I want to live in a moment and not feel the need to have 844 people approve it or admire it. I want to live in a world where it’s still fun to have sweet secrets. I want to dance alone in my room like a fool if flowers are delivered to my door. I want to treasure and cherish surprises and not spoil the intimacy and thrill of a gesture that whispers, “I thought of you today.

We forget to live. It’s really that simple. We forget to spend our last moments before we fall asleep thinking about the way someone made us laugh that day. Our phones are the first thing we grab in the morning, so we forget to take a second to even be thankful that we’ve got another day, another chance to show up.

The things we love in movies are the things we wish we could do, but have completely closed ourselves off to. We love the extravagant speeches, when the plain-jane girl finally gets asked to dance, and when the guy stands outside with a boombox over his head. You actually have to show up to do those things. You’ve got to get in your car and go to them for that to happen.

You know, I’d weep buckets of tears if we started swooning in movie theaters as we watched George Clooney send a text that said, “What are you up to?”

All of this to say: I’m unplugging for a little while. 

Because I want to enjoy a sunset without grabbing my phone. I want to be forced to do something more than run my fingers over a keyboard to tell someone I really miss you.

I can’t expect this from others, without requiring it of myself. It starts with me. I have to learn how to look away from my phone, Facebook and anything else that gives me a false sense of relationship. I want people to know what’s happening in my life because we sat down and had lunch. I want to be forced to remember my closest friends’ birthdays without having to be told by a screen. I want to stand in front of someone and say “Hey! You’re pretty awesome” with a hug and a bag of their favorite chocolate.

So, I’m unplugging from social media for the next little bit. I don’t have a set time, I guess it will be however long it takes for me to feel excitement rebuilding in my bones; however long it takes for me to have made a dent in reinventing the way I see the world.

But not to worry, things will be written and the blog will go on! I’m excited to see how it will refuel my passion for life and help me create new content. I’ve got a feeling that good things are on the way.

We’ve Got Bigger Problems

My playlist landed on that song, it happened just as I was turning into my neighborhood in Georgia.

It poked at my heart, it nudged at some pain I’ve been carting around.

I turned it off and put it out of my mind.

This morning the same song came on, but its weight didn’t crush me. Today, I’ve got bigger problems. I’ve got bigger problems than sad songs that remind me of disappointing seasons and of people who didn’t turn out to be who I thought they were.

This morning he left. I lost an uncle. My family lost a father. The world lost a fighter.

Sad songs didn’t really seem like such a problem after that. The little heartbreaks didn’t really seem to matter when I thought about his life, the miracles he lived. The world seemed more gray this morning. The news felt like bricks breaking in an earthquake, I could hear the sound of crumbling clay around me.

The earth should shake when someone is no longer here. There should be breaking glass and falling objects when someone takes their last breath.

There are harder things than people who refuse to grow up and the problems they cause us.

Our lives should be defined by more than small obstacles, inconveniences, bad days and hurt feelings. These things are really not worth the time we give them.

If we’re going to value small things, let’s value the good ones. Let’s put our energy into falling in love with cups of coffee shared with old friends, long walks beneath cracking winter branches, take-out food with your family, and sweet memories of uncles who knew how to say i love you.

The rest of it, the little heartbreaks and disappointments, the days that are uneventful and the discontent seasons…let’s stop letting them keep us from playing a song we used to love.

Cheat Sheets: 24 Ways To Be Happier

1. Learn to be confident. Not cocky, not in a I-think-everything-I-do-is-epic-and-incredible way. Be a humble sort of confident–the kind you can wear comfortably like an old worn out sweater, the kind that fits you just right.

2. Stop spending time with people who throw water on your fire. Stop pouring your dreams out to people who tell you they’re impossible and try to make you shove them out of sight. Walk next to people who are carrying their own torch and pushing you to keep running with yours.

3. Wear comfortable and reliable shoes. Really though, I know Target has super cute and affordable ones, but you need to invest more than $14 in something that you’ll be wearing to all the places you’re headed. Take it from me, it is really inconvenient to try and super glue the soles of your shoes back together in a foreign country.

4. Live with other people while you’re single. Laugh at each other when you’re standing in the kitchen with messy hair, make a quote wall of all the dumb/hilarious things your roommates say. Make each other dinner, fight about the dishes, share your bananas, know that this is sure to be one of the best seasons of your life.

5. Know that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Your feelings matter, but you’re not the only person who needs to be seen or heard. Sometimes, the person that just hurt you needs to be told that good things are ahead of them and to keep holding on.

6. Men and women, you need to know this: buy t-shirts, flannels and sweatshirts in the men’s section. They’re cheaper, they’re thicker, they’re longer and they don’t go all awkwardly short & wide after you put them in the wash.

7. Take people to coffee. Spend two or three hours hearing their stories. Ask questions. Don’t text other people, check your social media, or Instagram your mug. Listen. Curl up in that chair and memorize the lines and freckles on their face. Hear the way the words of their own stories tumble out of their mouth and be grateful for the gift it is to give a person the chance to be known.

8. Buy slippers for the colder months. It will save you the horrible task of trying to actually find socks and then having to wash socks and inevitably losing one of them into the sock-stealing-abyss that is the dryer.

9. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop wishing your hair was longer, your waist was thinner, your nose was smaller. You’re a straight up baller—don’t forget it!

10. Stop counting calories and make better choices. Get fruit instead of fries, buy wheat instead of white, drink 2% instead of whole. Little changes can have impressive results.

11. Cry. Cry when you need to. Don’t be ashamed of it or apologize for it, but set a timer. Cry it out, but when you’re done—be done.  Don’t keep playing sad songs or coming back to it. Stop giving that pain more attention than it deserves.

12. Be brave. That thing you want to do? Just do it. Even if it fails, you’ll learn from it. Risk isn’t a waste, but years spent wondering “what if” probably will be.

13. Fight for things. There’s a strength in walking away when the time is right, but until then—put them gloves on and put ’em up. Don’t so easily give up on something that has grabbed hold of your heart. Give it all you’ve got and if it doesn’t work out, leave it all in the ring with no regrets.

14. Dance. Sing at the top of your lungs. If you can mop an entire floor without busting a move and singing into the mop like it’s a microphone…you need more fun in your life.

15. Learn how to give a good wink, it makes people feel good. Yes, that will probably make you look crazy, but it usually makes at least 60% of people giggle. People need to giggle as much as possible.

16. Everything makes more sense when you write it out. Get a journal and write it out. Ask yourself hard questions and come back to them when you’ve had time to clear your head. Months later, go back and read how you’ve grown or how most of those really stressful situations always seem to work out.

17. Be the bigger person. If they don’t apologize or if they refuse to speak to you–love them anyway and move on. You’ve got big things to do and you don’t have time to get caught up in pointless and never-ending drama.

18. There are no shortcuts when it comes to your dream. Put in the blood, sweat and tears. Pour your heart into something only to throw it in the trash and start all over again. There is no substitute for time, it takes time to craft a skill, to build something beautiful. No matter how many books you read, there’s no Dummies Guide that’s going to instantly make you and your work unforgettable.

19. First impressions are rarely right. They might stick for a little while, but if you take time to get to know someone it’s likely they’re nothing like you assumed and their story is far different than you expected. Know this to be true about yourself too—you’re not doomed if you accidentally make a fool of yourself.

20. Learn how to brew a good pot of coffee. Invite people over. Stop spending $5 one or multiple times a day for a drink. If you’re just obsessed about looking cool—save the paper cup and put your own coffee in it, it’s not like anybody is going to know the difference.

21. Don’t be that girl who thinks a man holding the door for you means he wants to marry you. If a guy likes you, he will let you know. Don’t try to make your life a Taylor Swift song (even if she is the queen of jams).

22. Shaking hands is becoming a lost art–let’s bring it back. Have a firm grip and enough self respect to straighten your shoulders and look someone in the eye. It’s classy, attractive and will never go out of style.

23. Learn from others. People who are further along and/or who have lived longer. Learn from their wisdom, ask them questions, ask for help. Learn from their mistakes and avoid optional obstacles.

24. Be open. To laughter, to love, to spontaneous road trips and trying new things. Do things that will give you stories for years to come and tell those stories every chance you get.

Lovely Letters: Getting Out of “The Friend Zone”

He told me that he thought of me as a friend. All my friends tell me to move on and that I should just throw in the towel, but I honestly don’t think I could find a guy more perfect for me. What should I do?

Sincerely, Friend Zoned

 

Dear Friend Zoned,

It came down to me and my best friend. She and I were sitting on the cold tile floor, in front of the filing cabinets, when he said he liked us both, but he knew he had to choose.

We were seven years old. I just sat there patiently waiting.

My odds weren’t looking good. My best friend was beautiful and she knew how to color better than I did. She was nicer than me, taller than me, her hair was straight (mine was tangled, curly and tragic).

He didn’t even know all the good stuff about me.

The only things he knew were things like: I was terrible at art, I was a painfully enthusiastic evangelist and that I carried a green Tarzan lunch box. These are not cool qualities for a seven-year-old girl.

He chose me and that, dear friend, will forever be the greatest mystery of my childhood.

There was no good reason for it. It wasn’t my dazzling/witty personality, my sense of fashion (unless I missed the memo that said my best look was high water jeans and t-shirts). It was just the mystery of life, the unexplainable reasons of why we love some people and why we don’t choose others.

I don’t have all the answers about love or how this whole thing works. I know that some people stay with their high-school sweethearts, some girls marry a guy they met online, some people never find anybody and I can’t tell you why.

What I can tell you is that if you get the chance at a love story, make it a good one. Don’t choose your hero to be someone who doesn’t even own a white horse, don’t let your heart ache for a man who is looking for Cinderella in other places.

This is your story. You can make it epic, but only if you decide to use the best characters. I know he’s probably incredible, I have no doubt that this guy you’re talking about (your best friend) is likely a good fit for you.

But the reality is that he wants to be cast in a different role and he wants to be the leading man of another story. You know how I know that’s true?

Because “When a man loves a woman… can’t keep his mind on nothin’ else. He’d trade the world for a good thing he’s found.” 

Those might be cheesy lyrics that came dancing through the radio when my Mama was just six years old, but I promise you they are not just some fantasy. I know this because I have a Daddy who looked up toward God himself and said that he would never marry another woman if he didn’t marry my Mama. Once he met her, he was ruined; she was the only woman he could see. They’ve been married almost 30 years and he’s never taken his eyes off of her.

It’s out there and it’s good. I know we’ve all seen a lot of broken marriages, relationships, even friendships, but the real thing exists. Maybe I’m childish and crazy for believing it, but I promise you that I’ve lived on the hopeless side of not believing it and that didn’t make heartbreak any easier or protect me from any pain.

I’d rather live with this crazy notion that the right man is going to come knocking on my door at any minute than to sit around hoping that one day a guy I’ve been secretly pining for will finally decide, after months and years, he likes me and take me on a real date.

You deserve more. I know that as nice as those words are, they’re not always easy to hear (believe me, I’m well acquainted with that reality). I’ve been where you are and I know it’s hard to let go. I know that he probably makes you feel alive all the way to the tips of your fingers, but at the end of the day, those fingers of yours still aren’t laced with his and you can’t make that happen.

It doesn’t really matter if your hair is perfect or you are good at coloring the right one will pick you. He will choose you in a world full of a billion other possibilities. It may not even make sense, but he’ll set his sight on you and Tarzan lunch boxes and bad blue jeans won’t change his mind. But if he’s looking for another girl or telling you that you’re not the right one, you’ve got to start dreaming for better things. A good man will be up front and let you know how he feels; even seven year old boys eventually make their choice and make it known. You’ve got to start believing that it is worth waiting for someone who looks you right in your pretty little eyes and says, “This is it for me, it’s you or it’s nobody.”

I’m no expert, friend. I’m just a girl who still believes that she’ll get chosen without having to always convince him of all the good stuff. He’ll love me without me having to jump and wave my arms in front of his face, without me having to buy better blue jeans or discover hair taming products. It will be a mystery to me, but he’ll see someone worth bringing flowers to and someone worth adoring and I think I can wait a little longer for a man like that.

You’re worth that kind of love, sweet girl. I believe it is out there, but chances are you won’t find it waiting around in the friend zone.

Ashlin

The Words of a Thunderstorm

They called me a hurricane and said that my love would destroy every one in its path.

They told me to settle down, dry up, stop spinning. They begged me to stop shaking up their perfect little homes that hold the secrets and lies they’ve grown comfortable to keep.

They used to point to the ocean, telling me that’s where my kind comes from. In their not-so subtle comments and struggle to tolerate me, they would dig their shoulders into mine and try to scoot me back out to sea.

I knew I was a force, that I was strong, that something about my presence always seemed to be accompanied by wind and rain.

What I found out later was that, I’m a thunderstorm.

Lightening causes a rumbling sound; that thunder is the after effect of a really bright light. There is a roar that comes with that light. Things get loud when a light comes breaking into darkness.

I decided I’ll take it. I’ll be that light, the one that tells the darkness that it isn’t allowed to stick around. I’ll let Him use me as the light that crashes into all the lies people believe about why they’re not good enough, and why no one ever sticks around.

Still, I’ve learned when you answer the call to be a thunderstorm, you’re taking a risk of people locking themselves away from you.

And they might cover their ears when the thunderstorms come, but baby, human hands can’t block out heavenly sounds. 

It will always get loud when someone stops being afraid to speak truth. I believe there is a sound from heaven that will back you up when you decide to be a flash of light to cold black skies. 

I will always want the best for you, and I’ll never become a walking apology for that. I’m not going to enter and exit rooms carrying the words “I’m sorry” when I storm in fighting for you.

I’ll tell you that I think you’re worth being fought for. That somebody should’ve told you this earlier, but that you are worth a thunderstorm barging in. You are worth hearing that you were made for more than being judged for your past, criticized for your present and terrified about your future. You deserve for light to come loudly into your darkness, even if it’s fierce and a little scary. I know how hearing words like “you’re enough, you are not your past, you are made for mighty things” are words that will shake you to your core every time. They’ll push you to want bigger and better, I won’t ever apologize for that.

I know it’s inconvenient when your papers get blown away and your computer and iPhone get wet. You may not like it when I show up at your door to tell you that you are meant for an in-person, face to face kind of love. But when you’re on my radar, it’s not enough for you to just get some words on a screen, I’ll tell you that you deserve more than a text message happy birthday.

Your instincts will tell you to stay inside, hide away, shut the doors, and move away from the windows because you might get struck by this lightening.

But you see, I grew up with a daddy who takes to the porch with his coffee when storms come rolling in. He loves to watch the flashes and hear the grumbles and he never flinches.

And I also learned these things from his mother, who pulled her grandkids to the back bedroom and laid us on the mattress in the middle of storms. She’d say “Stay still, the Lord is speaking” and we’d listen to the rain on the roof, the clanging of chimes swinging wildly in those strong winds.

She called it a beautiful thing, a mighty thing, when the skies started to shake.

They never meant it as a good thing when they called me a hurricane, but it’s a wonderful thing how it taught me that I’m a thunderstorm. I can’t even be sad about those words any longer. I won’t be sorry for being the light. I won’t apologize for being what comes before a sound that says God is wanting to shake your house of lies that say you were made for anything less than incredible things.