Something Honest

If I’m being honest, there are many times when I’ve been skeptical curious about my “superChristian” brothers and sisters. I think most of you who’ve attended church know the people I’m talking about. They may give you the “I’m not judging you, but I’m judging you” look when you don’t put money in the offering one week. They may lecture you about drinking if you mention going to a party on Friday night. They seem so perfect that you start to wonder if they’re even human.

Do you know that type?

I’m a hypocrite for judging them.

On the outside, my life looks the way it should to fit the stereotype of a “nice Christian girl.” I go to church every Sunday. Some weeks I even get there early to greet people. I’ve consistently volunteered with local non-profits for the past 7 years. I’ve attended Bible studies and prayer groups. I’ve written blogs about faith. But, as much as I try to appear this way, I am certainly not always “nice” and many times my actions fail to reflect that I’m a follower of Christ.

I can go days or weeks without cracking open a Bible. I listen to rap music with lyrics that would make my mother cringe. I gossip. I feel ugly when I don’t have any make-up on. I laugh at other people’s expense. I try to handle things beyond my control. I hang out with people whose morals don’t match my own. I miss opportunities to share my testimony because I’m too intimidated. I’ve fooled other people, and sometimes even myself, into believing I’ve got it all together.

I wonder how many of us go through life hoping we can just “check the boxes” and get by without anyone figuring us out. We show up on Sunday morning. Wear our best clothes. Put money in the offering. Raise our hands during worship. Smile and say “hi” to everyone. Check, check, check, check, check. We should be covered until next Sunday now, right? Nevermind that we looked at our watch the entire time, silently judged the appearance of the person sitting to our left, and critiqued the choir on the drive home. Throughout this crazy routine we forget that, while everyone else might not recognize a mask, we can’t fool God.

I’ve recently forced myself to re-evaluate my intentions and have discovered some truths that trump my imperfections. The real miracle of my life is this: despite my selfish heart, God still invites me to call Him father. And He knows me. He knows when I’m genuinely serving Him and when I’m just going through the motions. He knows when I’d rather watch America’s Next Top Model than read my Bible. He knows when I’m being loving and when I’m judging others. He knows when I’m sitting at church, wondering if forgiveness really applies to me or if it’s just for everyone else.

He knows all of this and He still loves me. He knows every flaw and yet I feel Him reach for me.

I’m finding that, when I hold myself accountable for daily devotions and actively practicing honesty, God begins to transform my heart. It has nothing to do with me and everything to do with His grace. I had wrongly lived under the impression that I need to “fix” myself before I can get close to God. The truth is that He’s calling us to an intimate relationship with Him now. I have genuine enthusiasm about sharing my faith because I know that I don’t have to be perfect to fit perfectly into God’s plan. Asking God to be the foundation in my life just means allowing Him to use my broken, sinful heart as instrument for love. I don’t have to wear a mask because I’m not living for myself anymore… I’m living for Him.

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I Wish

I wish you only the beautiful things in life. I hope you find happiness beyond anything you can imagine. I hope your days are filled with love, friendship, inspiration, joy and peace.

I wish you could see yourself through my eyes. You have absolutely no idea how lovely you are. No matter how much you disagree, I will never stop saying it. 

I wish you strength to move forward. I’m sorry that he broke your heart and treated you carelessly. Your next boyfriend will be so happy that your last one didn’t realize how precious you are.

I wish you the courage to tell your parents that you’re gay. If they’re not accepting, you can bring your boyfriend to holidays at my house. I already love you like family.

I wish you had stayed. I understand why you had to leave, but still…. I wish you had stayed.

I wish you would meet the girl you’re meant to spend your life with. Maybe then you’d realize that I’m not her. It breaks my heart every time I have to turn you down.

I wish you everything you want in life. The whole world will cheer for you when you finally realize your dreams. Everyone knows how much you deserve it.

I wish you believed in me. If I were a weak person I might shrink to match your expectations. But I’m not.

I wish you faith for the road ahead. I know you don’t trust God right now, but I hope the path you’re on leads you home eventually. It’s never too late to go home. 

I wish you and I had stayed close like we used to be. Maybe then you would have called me instead of trying to drive home drunk. Maybe then I wouldn’t have seen the look on your mom’s face at your funeral.

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Everyone Is Seeing Someone

Photo via Lily Donaldson

Everyone is seeing someone. Who isn’t seeing someone? I was just seeing someone, and now I’m no longer seeing him. Even if a person is seeing you and only has eyes for you, that person could still be noticing, longing, considering, fantasizing, back-burner-ing, seducing, flirting, accidentally touching, and nonaccidentally having sex with other people.

We’re all just giving ourselves away, to everyone, mostly people who don’t want anything to do with us. Will I ever belong to someone? Will someone ever want that responsibility? Will someone ever say, ‘Yes, she’s mine, and I’m hers, and there’s nothing better than this, and I can’t even employ the popular phrase ‘may not work…’ because these words vanished from my vocabulary the day I decided she tasted sweet.Is this feeling so rare that inappropriate flirtations seem to take up more space in the universe than hermetic fidelity?

And more to the point, if everyone is seeing everyone else, why have I been seeing no one all this time? The math doesn’t work out, not in my favor and not correctly. Why do there have to be any other people when I exist? I am right here. Here I am. And here is someone.

–Elissa Bassist, If Not For Everything Else

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Protected: What I Learned From Mr. Charisma

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Accept the Shadows as You Seek the Light

“A tender heart and a brave soul light up the path for others with the kind of luminosity that heals and enlivens. So don’t worry about being good. Instead, discover how both good and bad live within you. Deeply accept the shadows even as you seek the light. Believe in change. Take full responsibility for who you are and what you want. And from such forthright wisdom, your goodness will prevail and your kindness will blossom and your heart will be healed.”

— Elizabeth Lesser, The Seeker’s Guide

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Be Inspired. The World Needs You.

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We Are More Alike Than Different

At 17, I learned that we are more alike than we are different.

I attended a Catholic high school that put its social justice teachings into practice. We housed homeless people from the community in the evenings and I was part of a group that set up sleeping areas, prepared dinners and spent time with our guests.

I enjoyed getting to know everyone I met through the program, but there was one particular person who changed my heart. Candice was 19 when I met her. We chatted all the way through dinner because we had so much in common– love for biology, reading, and Jesus. Candice was articulate, compassionate, and pretty. She seemed just like every other teenage girl.

Except, she was homeless. And she had a two year-old son. I will never forget the look on her face when she told me it was his birthday and the only present he received was a stuffed animal from a shelter they’d stayed at. She couldn’t afford to get him anything. Candice’s circumstances were overwhelmingly sad– as were everyone else’s there– but that’s not what I remember most about her.

She reminded me of myself. I looked at her and thought, why did my life turn out so differently than hers? Why am I in prep school while she’s a single mom? Why do I have loving parents while hers kicked her out? Why am I so quick to judge other people when they have the same wants and needs that I do?

Candice is the reason I became passionate about volunteering at 17. She inspired me to get involved in the lives of people I didn’t normally meet. From working with children with Autism, to building houses with Habitat for Humanity, to tutoring kids from “at risk” schools– I’ve met countless people who changed my life. They did far more for me than I could ever do for them.

The great thing about serving is that it does not require you to have extraordinary talents or gifts. You do not have to change yourself or pretend to be anything you’re not. Serving is simply having so much gratitude for the life you’ve been given that you can’t help but praise God by loving what He loves: people.

We’re born into circumstances and often unconsciously think that because we have more opportunities that another person, we somehow deserve it. If we saw ourselves in someone else’s eyes, we might realize that we’re not so different from a homeless single mom. We’re just given cards and play the hand we’re dealt.

I picture Candice when I judge someone unfairly or start thinking that I deserve something. If you ever find yourself feeling superior to someone, I’d suggest asking them about their story… You may be surprised when you see yourself in it. And when you do see yourself in their eyes or feel gratitude that you were blessed with different circumstances, that’s when you need to put yourself on their level and walk with them.

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I’m a Sunflower. What are You?

A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower. You didn’t have to struggle to make your face different than anyone else’s on earth. It just is. You are unique because you were created that way. Look at little children in kindergarten. They’re all different without trying to be. As long as they’re unselfconsciously being themselves, they can’t help but shine. It’s only later, when children are taught to compete, to strive to be better than others, that their natural light becomes distorted.

–Marianne Williamson

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A Selfless Heart

I mentioned in an earlier post that I won’t be dating again until my heart’s aligned with God’s heart. I received an e-mail from someone asking for an explanation. I could not answer the inquiry concisely, so I’ll respond with this post.

Relationships should be about giving. People often say that relationships are “give and take” but I disagree. We live in a society that promotes independence, self-preservation, and selfishness. People often look at romantic relationships in the context of “what can this person do for me?” and not “what can I do for this person?” But, if both parties enter a relationship with the mindset of giving, they will both receive. If one or both people are not giving, the relationship cannot work.

If you want to have something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do things you’ve never done before. If I continue jumping from relationship to relationship, I will never become the woman I know I’m capable of becoming. God is the center of my focus now because He can make my heart more selfless. Being single is not about my independence– it’s about finding unity with God. It’s asking Him to extinguish the selfishness in my heart so I can be the best possible partner for somebody in God’s perfect timing. For now, I want Him to be my completer– not another person.

Our desire for independence can be fueled by many sources– pride, unresolved issues, pain from the past, bitterness, etc. People say that time heals all wounds, but sometimes time just prolongs our pain. Jesus heals all wounds. He fixes broken hearts, relieves our minds of bitterness, and humbles us enough to get out of our own way so He can use us.

I think God’s purpose for romantic relationships, beyond supporting one another, is that we would reflect His image to a lost, dying, and self-focused world. If we love one another in a way that is truly selfless, then others will want what we have. If we pursue peace, offer forgiveness, and live in love… We might just change the world. It’s been said that people who are hurt, hurt other people. But the same works in reverse– people who are healed, heal other people.

I will never pretend to know what’s best for anyone else. I cannot judge your journey because I have not walked your path. I just know that this is the direction my heart is being pulled and I want to share my heart with you.

To the person who e-mailed me: I hope that answers your question.

To everyone else: Thank you, as always, for reading and sharing your beautiful hearts with me.

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Things I Love

I wonder how many boys would fall in love with me if I owned these shoes? Ha!

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