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Monday, July 28, 2014

I Think, Therefore I'm Fearful

 Hey friends! If you're new here, welcome! I'm so glad you're here!

I've been a little quieter than usual here on the blogfront this summer because I'm getting ready to launch my new (and very first...please be kind!) eBook! I'm about halfway through writing at this point, and I'm so excited/completely terrified to share it with y'all! I've been a little distracted with a fiction story I've been working on lately. Typical. But I'm back in the swing of things and looking forward to giving away a few digital copies and hearing your feedback.

And, of course, I'll be turning to y'all to help get the word out! More details to come!

"You seem a little bitter." 


The truth is always hard to hear. But this truth was particularly difficult--especially considering they were a part of a conversation taking place before I finished my first (of two I need to become a human being) cup of coffee.

The woman who spoke those words into my life over the breakfast table was completely right, though. Not only was I bitter, I was impatient. Even worse, I was defensive about my entire attitude.

In between sips of tepid coffee, I realized that I hadn't lived the last season of my life very well. On the outside it was full and bright. Vibrant cocktail hours, celebrations on behalf of the lives of others. Bouquets, banquets, and bangled jewelry.

But there was a storm brewing on the inside of my heart. Faded, but definitely strong enough to tear down my brave face. The buzz of my own accomplishments post high school and undergraduate was beginning to fade. My perspective was paper-thin and my ability to keep my cool was waning.

When was it going to be my turn to celebrate?

I thought moving forward was a sign of success. I though taking next steps was a promotion, an outward demonstration of all the good in our lives.

Following the same logic, I considered my current life stalled out. Stagnant. After all, an object at rest stays at rest, right? It's the objects, the lives, the careers, the relationships in motion that go forward. I have been living in the same place for four years. Shouldn't something, anything be happening right now?

I really thought life worked that way. I thought that the anti-jealousy game, the one we all play when we compare what others don't have that we do,was enough to protect me from bitterness. And then I realized what was really happening in my day-to-day.

I'm impatient because I'm fearful.

I've been living as though if these things--marriage, children, wedding days, world-changing jobs, life-changing moments-- didn't in my life right now, today, last month even, that they would never happen.

It became a habit to drag, drop, cut and paste the items on the twenty-five year-old checklist I thought I should have accomplished by now. And it was making what should be a joyful season a complete struggle.

If I kept living this way, there would always be a reason to fear. There would always be a reason to be jealous of others. The more afraid I was that I'd never make it to where I think I should be, the more likely I was to make rash decisions.

The more likely I was to be...bitter.

Thankfully, there are people in my life willing to call me out. And to show me what it means to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. And staying in their own lane when it comes to their own life story.

They're showing me what it means to live without fear. Without bitterness. With hope for tomorrow and eyes to see the good transpiring in the here and now. Even if it seems like I'm waiting a little bit longer than everyone else to get started.

photo credit: Daily misery via photopin cc
photo credit: Emanuele Rosso via photopin cc

Monday, July 14, 2014

God Cares About "Online Dating"

"This is a little like online dating, isn't it?"

My potential roommate's face was pixelated through the video chat forum, but the humor in her voice cut through even the bad connection. She was streaming from a completely different state and we had to decide whether or not we'd move in together as soon as she landed in Virginia Beach.

"It is, you're totally right," I said. "Except for you live together after you match up."

We both laughed. It was more like an arranged marriage than anything. Two people from states away, knowing each other through faded friends-of-friends. In what other sane part of life do two strangers commit a lease of their lives together?

It's manic when you think about it: barely knowing someone and then legally binding yourself to them for a year or two by way of a lease. Post college, living arrangements can get pretty tricky in this light. Many of my close girlfriends already have roommates–their husbands and children–permanently attached to them. Others are simply here for a season, no longer wishing to be tethered to one place or one job.

But, I am. Prospects were few, and I was suddenly worried. Would this new woman I had agreed to meet via Skype love Jesus? Would she be okay with the way I ordered food to the apartment? Or didn't think it was the absolute end of the world if I left the dishes in the sink overnight?

Then, through a few minutes of exchanging humorous getting-to-know-you antics, she and I made plans to move to a vintage, cobblestoned part of town. A high-rise apartment with hardwood floors and a stunning, blue view of sky and water. Miraculously in our price range.

I would be moving in with a total stranger. Both of us taking a pretty bold "leap of faith." Which translate to us both being unable to afford living on our own.

By all appearances, even in spite of how well our first online appearance to each other went, we had one thing in common: she and I were both taking a risk. We bonded over it, and decided to make it official. We were moving in together.

It's one of those decidedly not profound parts of life

that make you realize that nearly everything is profound.


It's not exactly a secret that I've been struggling with my faith journey lately. It's been a bridge with gaps that I've had to maneuver for a few years.

You can feel it rising within you like you can hear gravel

pop under the tires of a car.

It starts low, softly creeping into the tiny gaps that your faith no longer covers. And then it's before you. Disbelief. Doubt. Uncertainty. The Christian female's triple threat.

When this part of your life is in disarray, it has the power to make your life, your choices and your circumstances seem as though they're imploding. The uncertainty I was feeling about my new living arrangements was affecting my ability to function on a normal level.

I was so absorbed by all of these changes and anxiousness, that one night I put my head on the table at Panera. And beside my tomato soup, the boyfriend calmly reached over and patted my arm. He quoted the verse about God even caring about the birds in the air.

"Don't you think He cares about this, too?" he asked. And then he looked at me with eyes so blue they actually made me wish I had known him all of my life.

He was right. God cares about the sparrow. So, He must care about me enough to set me up with a nice roommate. He must care about the bills in the mailbox and the gas in my car. He must care enough about me to put people in my life to remind me time and time again that God really does care about this stuff that we feel like we have to slog through.

The life changes. The big moves. The career shifts. Family planning. Bill paying. All of these adulthood relays seem so overwhelming. Especially when we are tempted to forego the faith and hang on to stress.

But I am reminded, as I slowly begin packing up my little apartment I've made my home for two years, the random circumstances that led me to my new home and virtual stranger to share silverware, coffee and a television set.

I am reminded that there must  be a God who orchestrates even the mundane. Even the bits of life that stress us out and make us want to crawl back into bed at the beginning of the day.

This God that cares about the sparrow cares about the grueling details of our lives. Skype dates, moving boxes, hardwood floors and all.

This realization comes the peace and the sigh that goes

along with looking in the doorway of an empty apartment

before locking up and moving on.

That's what I want to do with this four-year season of wrestling. I want to pack it up and leave it behind. And move on to a better place with a spectacular view. I want to cling to a God who cares about the details as much as He cares about the big picture.

And I want to walk away from the space I've been dwelling in. No longer afraid and ready to live again.

photo credit: GabrielaP93 via photopin cc

photo credit: meg's my name via photopin cc

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Fast-Montage Season

"Ms. Wilson, thank you for your submission. Unfortunately,

while we appreciate your pitch it does not fit our editorial

needs at this time."

I blinked at the digital rejection splashed across my computer screen. It was the third "thanks, but no thanks" from different online publications I had received that week. And it was only Tuesday.

If you ask nearly anyone with a healthy perspective about their philosophy on failure they'd tell you that it teaches you more than winning does. Failure is where we learn to grow. It's where we start to do drills, repeating again, and again, and again. These routines ultimately do lead to success. Eventually.

But, philosophies are edited versions of our actual beliefs. Sometimes our well-intentioned philosophies are a lot different from how we actually feel about a matter. At least in the moment.

On the surface, sure. Many of us play the big-picture card when it comes to rejection. We offer free advice. We throw up a prayer on the contender's behalf.

But it's so different when it's happening to us, isn't it?

When we're in the midst of doing the hard work that leads to nothing but rejection, particularly for creatives, it can feel like we're on the spin-cycle in a dryer. Our spirits are up, down, tumbled and dry.

It's the part of the story that no one really likes. Not even movie directors. Particularly in sport movies. It's the fast montage in Rocky, it's the drills in Remember the Titans. It's that scene in Bridget Jones's Diary when she's collecting the lose threads of her life in the time-frame of one song.

This hard work is showcased by characters in blips and flashes on the screen. Their journeys are sped up. Conditioning viewers, like us, at home to think:

Wow. It all happened in 30 seconds for them. Followed by: why the heck isn't it working out that way for me?

We're tempted to forget that those scenes were layered together to mark passing of time. They were edited to be quick because they're boring. We want to believe that in real life, work leading to success isn't routine, day-in-and-out.

We skip over these narratives because they're not as sexy 

as winning.

Success, true, anchored, surefire success, doesn't usually come without the season of slogging. Without the season of failing. Of applying and rejecting. Of feeling like you are taking the route with more twists and turns than a theme park.

These stages, of course, are not as glamorous as getting the byline or the corner office. The work-in-progress isn't as admirable as the finished product.

But these seasons are remarkably good in the midst of it all. Because we're not failures. We're just living in the montage part of our stories.

We're living in the place that leads to the top-of-the-mountain


We can't obtain that without the work. Without opening our emails and discovering another love note from the editorial staff in our emails. Or getting another phone call from Human Resources that tells us to please apply again in six months.

We can't have sucess by skipping over the fast-montages. We have to live through them. Because the big picture falls on the kite string of that storyline. And the sky-high ending is worth it when the credits roll.

photo credit: Pörrö via photopin cc

photo credit: Luis Hernandez - D2k6.es via photopin cc

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

True Love Never Waits

"We're flying! We're flying!"

The little girl sitting across the aisle squirmed in her seat and raised her hands in the air. Pure elation. Her very first plane ride.

There was just one thing. Despite her enthusiastic squeal, the plane was still locked to the airport. We weren't even moving, let alone flying.

Her mother, who was simultaneously holding an infant while supervising the iPad usage of her oldest son sitting on her right, patted her back and spoke softly:

"Almost, honey. Almost. We haven't left the ground yet."

I smiled into my copy of Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed. How precious that she was already in the midst of a wild ride, and the passengers weren't even finished climbing over limbs and carry-ons to their seats yet.

Just wait, I thought. Just wait until we all surge forward together. When we hear the landing gear pop into the bottom of the plane and we swoop into the clouds.

You think this is flying? Just wait.

A similar benediction was given by a pastor at a wedding. There, I was fortunate enough to stand beside a very dear, talented and vivacious woman as she married the love of her life.

The bridal party rallied on the borderline of the couple's vows. The pastor held up the wife and husband-to-be's new silver bands. He spoke in wisps and echoes of the words many of us have heard spoken at wedding ceremonies before:

You think you love each other now? On this day? Trust me. The love that you have today, in your white gown and your rented tuxedo, pales in comparison to the love you'll share ten years from now...

Wait until your first child is born.

Wait until you walk through your first tragedy together.

Wait until you learn to compromise. Or find that you're capable of unspeakable forgiveness. The kind of forgiveness you thought was reserved for Biblical heroes. Or people like Mother Teresa.

You think this is love? Just wait.

Here's the thing though: the beautiful bride and her husband loved each other enough to commit their lives to each other. They had to love each other first. Their actions, the walking-down-the-aisle and the cutting-the-cake bit seems to say more about their patience and adventure for accruing an even higher level of love.

Their love for each other didn't just wait. It grew.

A few weeks ago, an article about waiting received a little more attention that I was prepared for. From the blogging aspect, certainly. But also from the relational standpoint. Because, as it turns out, there is no person, no relationship–even those that have "Cinderella time" boundaries in place–that's immune to the agony of waiting.

Not just for what the "true love waits," abstinence implication of it all. But for that level of intimacy. For being committed to someone and knowing that they are spiritually and legally bound to you. In rich times, in poor times, in no-matter-what-times.

Many of us get lost in a sea of waiting. It paralyzes us from enjoying the good in our lives. It seems like the waiting can be a trap if we're always looking for the next level, the next life-item to check off of our "to do list."

Twenty-somethings, myself very much included, can get lost a hurricane (emphasis on "hurry") of dating to engaged. Engaged to married. Married with a kid. And the next kid. And the next. And a bigger house. And a better career.

You think this is flying? Just wait.

But, if I could choose, I'd want to be the like the little girl on the airplane. I'd rather have a zeal for every stage. For every part of life and flying. I want to be so absorbed in the goodness of the day-to-day that I forget I'm not even off the ground. Yet.

Can we enjoy the stage we're in? Can we lose the ability to get caught up in waiting? Can we stop focusing on what we don't have (or what we can't do) just yet and enjoy our current seasons?

Can we choose to get so caught up in the moment that it almost doesn't matter that we're sitting on a plane that hasn't lifted into the sky?

Can we say to each other, "Yes, friends. We're flying. Open your eyes and enjoy this day and this stage. And when we do finally leave the ground, it only gets better."

You think this is flying? It is. It is.

photo credit: jilleatsapples via photopin cc

photo credit: Linh H. Nguyen via photopin cc
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