This is my prayer for you: that your love will grow more and more;
that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love;
that you will see the difference between good and bad and
will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong
for the coming of Christ; that you will be filled with the good things
produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God.
If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you should– it’s fabulous. I love it more and more every time I watch it. Any other Moulin Rouge fans out there?
Here are 2 of my favorite scenes. Enjoy!
I am excruciatingly insecure at times. Maybe you can relate.
I’ve always needed someone there to love me on days when I don’t love myself. I needed a boyfriend to reassure me that I’m good enough and, until recently, I’ve consistently had that support. After intentionally taking a break from dating I’ve realized how much I used relationships to reassure me of my self-worth. Beth Moore made a comment on this topic that stuck with me. “We use guys like mirrors to see if we’re valuable. Beautiful. Desirable. Worthy of notice.” I see myself in her observation. I see myself looking for security and worth in the eyes of another person. I also see myself getting crushed repeatedly when my unrealistic expectations aren’t met.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way. I see women all around me struggling with the same issue. I see it in women who remain in unhealthy relationships. I see it in women who struggle with eating disorders and self-mutilation. I see it in women who think they need to dress provocatively to attract or keep a man. I see it in women who constantly criticize their bodies. I see it women who constantly criticize other women’s bodies. We’re insecure.
We get tricked into believing that beauty, credentials, and relationships are the key to healing our wounded souls. These things won’t bring healing though. I know because I’ve tried it for years. I’ve thought, I’ll be happier when I meet the right man or when my body looks better or when I get a good-paying job. I’ve felt jealous of the prettiest girl in the room because I thought I’d love myself if I looked like her. Instead of eradicating my insecurity at its root, I’ve cut the symptoms off at the stem and wondered why they always grow back. I’ve dated great men and it didn’t heal my insecurity. I’ve starved my body and it didn’t heal my insecurity. I’ve gotten to know the prettiest girl in the room. She’s just as self-conscious as I am.
But… For the first time, God’s truth is screaming louder than my self-doubting thoughts. When I look in the mirror and think that I’m not beautiful, I hear His voice saying, yes you are and you’re mine. That voice reminds me that someone always loves me on days when I don’t love myself. He can’t text me or hold my hand, but I find security and healing in Him. I may be far from where I need to be but I’m finally realizing the beauty of all that He is… and I’m seeing that beauty reflected in myself.
If you’re reading this and you can relate, I hope you’ll start seeking security in new places too. I may not know the root of your insecurities, but I know that Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. I know that you won’t find a healthier relationship anywhere else. I know that if His grace can cover my mistakes, it can definitely cover all of yours. I want that security for you so badly, my sweet sisters. I want you to walk in the truth that– no matter how old you are, or how much make-up you’re wearing, or how many men compliment you– you are sunshine. I wish you the kind of security that hugs you from within and makes you feel whole. And, darling, you will always always always be good enough. It’s time you and I start believing it.
Everyone gets drilled with certain lessons in life. Sometimes it takes repeated demonstrations of a given law of life to really get it into your skull, and other times one powerful experience drives the point home once forever. Here are 88 things I’ve discovered about life, the world, and its inhabitants by this point in my short time on earth.
1. You can’t change other people, and it’s rude to try.
2. It is a hundred times more difficult to burn calories than to refrain from consuming them in the first place.
3. If you’re talking to someone you don’t know well, you may be talking to someone who knows way more about whatever you’re talking about than you do.
4. The cheapest and most expensive models are usually both bad deals.
5. Everyone likes somebody who gets to the point quickly.
6. Bad moods will come and go your whole life, and trying to force them away makes them run deeper and last longer.
7. Children are remarkably honest creatures until we teach them not to be.
8. If everyone in the TV show you’re watching is good-looking, it’s not worth watching.
9. Yelling always makes things worse.
10. Whenever you’re worried about what others will think of you, you’re really just worried about what you’ll think of you.
11. Every problem you have is your responsibility, regardless of who caused it.
13. If you never doubt your beliefs, then you’re wrong a lot.
14. Managing one’s wants is the most powerful skill a person can learn.
15. Nobody has it all figured out.
16. Cynicism is far too easy to be useful.
17. Every passing face on the street represents a story every bit as compelling and complicated as yours.
18. Whenever you hate something, it hates you back: people, situations and inanimate objects alike.
19. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works alone can teach you everything you need to know about living with grace and happiness.
20. People embellish everything, as a rule.
21. Anger reveals weakness of character, violence even moreso.
22. Humans cannot destroy the planet, but we can destroy its capacity to keep us alive. And we are.
23. When people are uncomfortable with the present moment, they fidget with their hands or their minds. Watch and see.
24. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least.
25. Putting something off makes it instantly harder and scarier.
26. Credit card debt devours souls.
27. Nobody knows more than a minuscule fraction of what’s going on in the world. It’s just way too big for any one person to know it well.
28. Most of what we see is only what we think about what we see.
29. A person who is unafraid to present a candid version of herself to the world is as rare as diamonds.
30. The most common addiction in the world is the draw of comfort. It wrecks dreams and breaks people.
31. If what you’re doing feels perfectly safe, there is probably a better course of action.
32. The greatest innovation in the history of humankind is language.
33. Blame is the favorite pastime of those who dislike responsibility.
34. Everyone you meet is better than you at something.
35. Proof is nothing but a collection of opinions that match your own.
36. Knowledge is belief, nothing more.
38. What makes human beings different from animals is that animals can be themselves with ease.
39. Self-examination is the only path out of misery.
40. Whoever you are, you will die. To know and understand that means you are alive.
41. Revenge is for the petty and irresponsible.
42. Getting truly organized can vastly improve anyone’s life.
43. Almost every cliché contains a truth so profound that people have been compelled to repeat it until it makes you roll your eyes. But the wisdom is still in there.
44. People cause suffering when they are suffering themselves. Alleviating their suffering will help them not hurt others.
45. High quality is worth any quantity, in possessions, friends and experiences.
46. The world would be a better place if everyone read National Geographic.
47. If you aren’t happy single, you won’t be happy in a relationship.
48. Even if it costs no money, nothing is free if it takes time.
49. Emotions exist to make us strongly biased towards or against something. This hinders as often as it helps.
50. Addiction is a much greater problem in society than it’s made out to be. It’s present in every person in various forms, but usually we call it something else.
51. “Gut feeling” is not just a euphemism. Tension in the abdomen speaks volumes about how you truly feel about something, beyond all arguments and rationales.
52. Posture and dress change profoundly how you feel about yourself and how others feel about you, like it or not.
53. Everyone thinks they’re an above average driver.
54. The urge to punish others has much more to do with venting frustration than correcting behavior.
55. By default, people think far too much.
56. If anything is worth splurging on, it’s a high-quality mattress. You’ll spend a third of your life using it.
57. There is nothing worse than having no friends.
58. To write a person off as worthless is an act of great violence.
59. Try as we might to be otherwise, we are all hypocrites.
60. Justice is a human invention which is in reality rarely achievable, but many will not hesitate to destroy lives demanding it.
61. Kids will usually understand exactly what you mean if you keep it to one or two short sentences.
62. Stuff that’s on sale usually has an annoying downside.
63. Casual swearing makes people sound dumb.
64. Words are immensely powerful. One cruel remark can wound someone for life.
65. It’s easy to make someone’s day just by being uncommonly pleasant to them.
66. Most of what children learn from their parents isn’t taught on purpose.
67. The secret ingredient is usually butter, in obscene amounts.
68. It is worth re-trying foods that you didn’t like at first.
69. Problems, when they arise, are rarely as painful as the experience of fearing them.
70. Nothing — ever — happens exactly like you pictured it.
71. North Americans are generally terrible at accepting compliments and offers of help.
72. There are not enough women in positions of power. The world has suffered from this deficit for a long time.
73. When you break promises to yourself, you feel terrible. When you make a habit of it, you begin to hate yourself.
74. A good nine out of ten bad things I’ve worried about never happened. A good nine out of ten bad things that did happen never occurred to me to worry about.
75. You can’t hide a bad mood from people who know you well, but you can always be polite.
76. Sometimes you have to remove certain people from your life, even if they’re family.
77. Anyone can be calmed in an instant by looking at the ocean or the stars.
78. There is no point finishing a book you aren’t enjoying. Life is too short for that. Swallow your pride and put it down for good, unfinished.
79. There is no correlation between the price of a brand of batteries and how long they last.
80. Breaking new ground only takes a small amount more effort than you’re used to giving.
81. Life is a solo trip, but you’ll have lots of visitors. Some of them are long-term, most aren’t.
82. One of the best things you can do for your kids is take them on road trips. I’m not a parent, but I was a kid once.
83. The fewer possessions you have, the more they do for you.
84. Einstein was wiser than he was intelligent, and he was a genius.
85. When you’re sick of your own life, that’s a good time to pick up a book.
86. Wishing things were different is a great way to torture yourself.
87. The ability to be happy is nothing other than the ability to come to terms with how things change.
88. Killing time is an atrocity. It’s priceless, and it never grows back.
I feel conflicted about how I fit into religion. I’m searching for the balance between embracing God and not becoming too religious. I love my church family and I’ve always been a member of a Christian congregation… But, sometimes church feels like an exclusive club where not everyone is welcome.
I qualify being “too religious” as that point when we get so wrapped up in the ritual and appearance of faith that it creates a wall of judgement between ourselves and others. Church should be a place where everyone– and I mean everyone– can come as they are. I hope it will be someday. I hope churches become places where everyone feels welcomed and safe.
The only thing I know about faith is that I feel God’s grace covering every area of my life. His grace covers every flaw, past mistake, and misunderstanding. I love being in relationship with God because He’s the most faithful friend I’ve ever had. He lives with me and within me– He never leaves. I’m not afraid to get angry with Him because I don’t think He cares if I’m angry, as long as I stay close to Him. He just wants to be with me– in joy and in sorrow.
Maybe we get so caught up in the framework of religion that we miss the point. God is love. Maybe He doesn’t care how many Bible verses we can quote or how many church services we attend. Maybe He just wants us to open our doors and open our arms to everyone. Maybe we’re just supposed to maintain hearts that give and receive love. Maybe He just wants us to love Him, love each other, and love ourselves.
I can’t count the number of people I’ve met who want to be like someone else. I’ve had times when I wished I was like someone else. We’re all under so much pressure to be something. We want to be beautiful. We want to be successful. We want to be accepted. But, in this charade of trying to change into something else, we forget that we have light and dark within us and those shades are uniquely beautiful. And if you can’t love yourself, how can you love anyone else?
The more I learn, the more I realize how much I will never be able to comprehend. All I know is the sum of what I’ve learned so far: Love God. Love others. Love yourself. Maybe that’s all I need to know.
I had a difficult day at work last week. Someone asked my plans for the weekend and I responded with my usual, “church and volunteering at the hospital.” My answer spurred a full-blown critique from the people in my office. Everything from my outfit, to my faith, to my character was criticized. I held it together all day and cried as soon as I reached the safety of my apartment that night.
This recent occurrence made me realize that I can learn a lot by receiving criticism from others. In fact, I think criticism can foster compassion if we choose to respond in a loving way.
5 Ways to Turn Criticism into Compassion
1. Grow in Humility
Receiving criticism from others can reveal areas where we’re lacking. These areas can be revealed by seeds of truth in someone’s words or by the way we respond to false accusations. Pay attention to the responses you have toward others that lack integrity, love, compassion, forgiveness, and/or acceptance.
2. Practice Forgiveness
I get wonderful life advice from my 72 year-old friend, Lois. A couple of weeks ago at church we discussed forgiveness. I told Lois that I was struggling to completely forgive someone. Every time I thought I was done with the issue, it came back. Lois looked at me and said, “Jaclyn, honey, sometimes you have to forgive someone every single day. Just keep giving it to God.” My point? We should seize every opportunity to practice forgiveness because we’ll never stop needing to give and receive it.
3. Actively Listen and Respond
I believe that people are inherently good and hurt feelings usually result from miscommunication. Active listening is a dying skill that need not be. Instead of inwardly fuming or developing a rebuttal while someone is speaking, try listening. Being a good listener and having an ability see things from another perspective will help you in every aspect of life.
4. Choose Empathy Over Anger
We’re all on different paths but we feel the same emotions. You and I both have bad days. You and I both say things that we regret later. You and I have both hurt others and been hurt by others. The next time you start feeling angry with someone, try to remember that they feel things just like you. Maybe they just need someone to extend kindness and love to them today.
5. Receive Feedback Without Losing Confidence
As much as we need to have compassion for others, we also need to have compassion for ourselves. Even the most kind, generous, and loving people will be attacked at some point– it comes with being human. Showing compassion to yourself means that you can admit to having flaws but not lose confidence when people call you out on them. Instead, you listen, consider their advice, and move forward without loss of faith in yourself. You’re becoming the person that you love and doing your best to help others along the way. And, darling, that’s what counts.