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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How to Run in Your Own Lane

































 

We pass each other on the street every afternoon, the blonde 

runner and I.

 

She's in her pink hat and I am in my turquoise and lime green Asics. Now that I've returned the shoes three times (once by the boyfriend because I was far too embarrassed and didn't want to be deemed a diva), they're the perfect fit, and I love melting my heels into them at the end of the day.

But the blonde runner and I have become almost-friends the last few weeks while we've bounced along our running trails. We do the runner's nod (I'm still learning what "runners" do). It's a little militarily-esque salute--a smile and a little wave--that seems to say,

"Hey, I see you out there, pounding the pavement. You made a 

resolution back in January and you're keeping it...good for

you!"


At least, that's what I imagine her saying to me while I'm on the cusp of my half-marathon training. Not that I could hear anything above my rhythmic huffs and puffs or the audio version of Shauna Niequist's Cold Tangerines that I listen to obsessively.

But if we were to ever actually speak to one another, I'd probably say something along those same lines, too.

Here's where I have to be careful, though. The blonde is much faster than me. Her ponytail flounces like a metronome on the back of her neck. She's fit, trim and tan. And she's one of those females that apparently never sweats and has the self-confidence and muscle tonality to run in only a sports bra and shorts.

I wouldn't call them pangs of jealousy per se, but I would be lying if I said I didn't feel the urge to hold my head a little higher whenever I pass this particular woman.

My brunette curls fly wayward. I do not believe I will ever run in anything that ever exposed what goes on beneath my tank top. And I probably don't look as sporty as I think I do in my mind.

I like to at least pretend that I don't look like a hot, dripping 

mess of a mad woman when I run. But I totally do.


This sort of mentality, I'm sorry to say, has been the crux of what my twenty-something years are built upon. Standing up straighter when someone who is more accomplished, has more money, has more expensive jewelry on their left ring-finger or has thrown a big party and worn a white dress to said party. 

It's distracting. It's petty. And it's actually a little soul-crushing 

to look around and focus on the life stages that you're not a 

part of yet.


I expressed this to a mentor in an email written flippantly, complaining about how it seems that so many other twenty-five-year-olds seem to have their love lives, careers, house hunting and family planning under control. And I am living day-to-day similarly to how I run: pretending like I'm not getting my sweet behind kicked.

 

She wrote back four simple words: Stay. In. Your. Lane.


This is what I imagine living in the midst of Christ's freedom is like. Running the race while simply focusing on the terrain in front of you. Having the composure to be content on your own path and to reject the bitterness that comes with trying to win the comparison games.

We can't win that race. No one can.


But, we can practice staying in our own lane. We can train ourselves with the same methods and schemes that runners do. Bit-by-bit. Step-by-step.

And when we pass another runner on the street, we can say "good for you, keep going!" and leave it at that.



photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

photo credit: mysza831 via photopin cc


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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Prodigal Sister Ebook PREVIEW

Hello, friends! First and foremost, THANK YOU ALL for all the support you have shown me. You have no idea what it means to see something you've written spark thousands of views.

Or, maybe you do, I'm not certain.

One thing I am certain of, however, is that this would not have been possible with you all. To show my appreciation (and because I sort of don't really know where to go from here), I thought I'd share the introduction of a new project I'm working on.

This ebook, Prodigal Sister: Redeeming Stories for the Bad Girl Returning Home will release by the end of summer 2014. Grab a glass of sweet tea, and settle in for this sneak peek! I hope you enjoy!

Note: names have been changed to protect the identities of the sassy.

“You know, our friendship really isn’t for the faint of heart,” my friend Sam said to all of us said one Tuesday night. I know she had to have said that on a Tuesday because those were the nights we had our weekly Bible studies in my apartment.

And by “Bible study” I mean “drinking-wine-and-eating-

popcorn-but-not-really-talking-about-anything-

scriptural” study.

Sam grinned at each of us with a cheshire smile that stretched wide across her face, then took a sip of white wine from her stemless glass. She was right. Our Tuesday night friendships, our sassiness and our very honest conversations were not for the faint of heart at all.

We had to be careful, because while the things we talked about–sex, drinking, sleeping over with the men we were dating, making out with strangers, being that girl at a bachelorette party or waking up in an apartment we didn’t recognize–was a lot of fun, they weren't necessarily…edifying.

I felt myself listening to the whispers of guilt every now and then. Maybe we should have been praying more together, maybe we should have pretended to really enjoy diving into heavy theological bits together after straining our minds all day at our respective nine-to-fives.

But this group wasn’t about pretending. Besides, the white wine we sipped and swirled around in our glass that smelled like lemons broke down our barriers. It was impossible to pretend.

The best friendships are born out of transparent, almost painful, honesty. We’ve all become so scarily accurate at refining our virtual selves into perfection on social media, and even in church. But we can’t be earnest friends with two-dimensional people online, and we can’t create community and support each other through our trials and triumphs if we’re living our spiritual lives in the same manner.

On Tuesday nights, the girls and I could have talked about scripture, theology and church community. We could have gone through the devotional book I had picked out for us: a day-by-day guide for the twenty-something women in the post-graduate world.

But that wouldn’t have been genuine. Not really. We didn’t need contrived communication or a feigned retelling of how we witnessed God moving in our lives.

We needed to find our way back to faith and God and the community that hurt us by allowing ourselves to be a little prodigal with one another. We needed to share our prayer requests, our frustrations and our shortcomings.


Why?

Because each of us are prodigal daughters by our own right. All of us need grace. All of us need redemption. All of us need a place where we can bare our burdens. Where we can admit that we may have some problems. Isn’t that the first step we are instructed to take toward healing? Toward recovering from an addiction?

We were there, my girlfriends and I. We identified with the women who owned up to their mistakes. We didn’t need to be shamed, or scared into a righteous way of living. Right then, what each of us really needed was a homecoming with our Savior.

So we nicknamed my large dining room table “the circle of trust” and we shared our secrets; those that we were proud of and those that we wished we could take back. We pushed our thoughts aloud, simultaneously on the brink of tears and too-much wine. 


And that, sweet friends, is what this ebook is all about.



This is a series of stories about friendships, being a Christian in the “real world” and developing relationships and discussions that are based on truth, rather than of fear and judgement. It’s about growing up. It's about generating honest conversations and encouraging one another to tell the truth. Even if it’s ugly.

Especially if it’s ugly.

I’m convinced that there is no other way. Honesty is our only option. There is no better philosophy of love or friendship. And of course, there is no better means of storytelling.

Lies may deceive, but they do not captivate. Dishonesty is a shortcut. It will only leave your cup full with the dregs of community. They are the grains that remain after our words are pressed through the filter of religious legalism. And they do not belong here.

That is not what the “circle of trust” is about. It’s about returning home after walking alongside our bad girl tendencies. It’s about telling the truth. Exposing the parts of our lives we wish we could change–the parts that are buried so deep that we’re actually hoping they are exposed to the world. Because we’re tired of holding onto them.

We know that the sooner we expose them, the closer we 

are to retuning home.

If you can handle nights out with sassy girlfriends and white wine (or even a less-controversial beverage, like coffee) poured to the rim of the glass, then you were born for this journey. It’s the path that we should all explore. Because if you really believe in grace and Christ, then you must believe that His goodness transcends the bad in our lives.

So, welcome. Welcome into the “circle of trust.” Welcome to a series of stories that, much like my conversations with my girlfriends around the “circle of trust" table, are not for the faint of heart.
Here’s to letting stories from scripture guide and mold us.

(If you have any doubts, read a few chapters from the Old Testament. They’re not for the faint of heart, either.)

And here’s to you, prodigal daughter. Rest in the fact that no matter your story, no matter what you bring to confess around the table, when you return, there is a loving Heavenly Father anticipating your arrival. He’s inviting you to sit in the circle of grace and redemption.

We’re here, too. My Tuesday night girlfriends and I. Grab a glass the wine that tastes like lemons. Take a seat at the circle. You are wanted and lovely here.

photo credit: overseastom via photopin cc

photo credit: Mr.TinDC via photopin cc
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