The Lie That You Can Always Be Better or More

The Lie that You Can Always Be Better

Last Monday night I set my alarm for 5:30am to get up for a 6am workout class. My plan was to go to that class, then come home, shower, get ready, go to to work and then go to an afternoon meeting.

This was my Tuesday plan.

What happened instead? Well, Monday night I couldn’t sleep because I was having one of those can’t-shut-your-brain off kinda nights, so when 5:30am rolled around, I hadn’t been asleep long enough to be functional at 6am.

I eventually rolled out of bed around 7am and felt frustrated with myself for not sleeping well and failing to wake up in time. So I resolved to attend the 10:30am workout class instead.

I was going to exercise on Tuesday no matter what.

I show up for the 10:30am class and notice everyone seems to be really sweaty and tired already. Am I late? Did I already miss the warm up? I look at the instructor and mouth, “This is the 10:30, right?”

No, she mouths back. This is the 9:45.

There is no 10:30 class. In my sleep deprived stupor I made up that time and arrived 45 minutes late to a one-hour class.

I left the gym, tired and defeated. I went home and, unable to let go of the idea that I needed to workout today, I went for a run in the sweltering Nashville June heat and almost died.

By the time this shenanigan was over, so was half of my day. Driving to my afternoon appointment, I beat myself up for not only missing the 6am class but for thwarting my entire schedule and wasting time.

I was very mean to myself last Tuesday.

If I had been kind to myself that morning when I couldn’t drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn, I would have simply let go of working out that day and proceeded with other activities.

Instead, I ignored the little voice inside that was quietly tapping me saying, “It’s ok. Let this one go. Burn calories tomorrow or the next day, or whenever.” Because this nice little voice inside me is often overcome by the loud angry YOU CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER voice that also lives inside me.

This voice says things like, “You’re a failure at sleep, and working out and you better make this right.” And it says lots of other mean and untrue things all the time. It’s exhausting to listen to, but I do anyways.

As long as I keep listening, it will keep talking because the thing with the YOU CAN ALWAYS BE BETTER voice is, it is never satisfied. You can feed it and feed it and make it to the gym at 6am every single day and still, it would want more from you.

But you wouldn’t listen to someone in your life you knew was mean and a liar would you? So why listen to the mean liar inside of you?

When we choose not to listen to our harsh voices, we starve them. They can’t survive if we’re not doing what they tell us to do. And eventually if we starve them long enough, they go away.

So this is what I’m trying to do now when it comes to the gym, and my body and a lot of different things. I’m ignoring the mean me, and paying more attention to the quiet and kind me. I might miss more 6am classes, but at least I’ll like myself at the end of the day.

If I Were a Spiritual Guide on The Bachelorette (Episode 3)

THE BACHELORETTE - "Episode 1101A" - America fell in love with two very different but dynamic Bachelorettes last season - Britt Nilsson and Kaitlyn Bristowe. It was hard to choose between the beautiful, charming Britt and the gorgeous, fun-loving, wise cracking Kaitlyn. So now, 25 eligible bachelors will choose between these two amazing women. For the first time in franchise history there will be two Bachelorettes. Chris Soules sent both ladies home broken hearted, but now with another chance at love, both women are ready to take a journey they hope will wind up happily ever after, on "The Bachelorette" two-night premiere event, MONDAY, MAY 18 (9:01-11:00 p.m., ET) and TUESDAY, MAY 19 (8:00-9:00 p.m, ET), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Rick Rowell) KUPAH, KAITLYN BRISTOWE
Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group © 2015 Disney   

I’ve been a pretty faithful viewer of ABC’s The Bachelor and The Bachelorette since 2009, Jillian’s season. Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while might even remember The Bachelor Audition of 2011. Something I more often than not wish I could forget.

I watch The Bachelor because I live in America, and it is my right to zone out for two hours a week and watch trashy (ok, not always trashy, I’m a big Sean and Catherine fan) TV and drink wine with my friends.

On episode three last night, we got to witness the fight between Bachelorette Kaitlyn and the guy she is super made at right now, Kupah.

Here’s what happened. Kupah and Kaitlyn have not had much conversation time since the show started last week. When they finally sat down to talk last night during the cocktail hour, both of them entered the conversation upset at the other for not taking more time to get to know them.

Kaitlyn said Kupah didn’t come talk to her on the group date. He didn’t. Kupah said Kaitlyn was not really paying attention to him the one time they did talk in the first episode. She probably wasn’t. There were 24 other guys in the room.

Kaitlyn was clearly offended by Kupah’s confrontation, but Kupah seemed willing to talk things through. Still, Kaitlyn said she needed to “go away” and think about this. And while sitting beside an outdoor fireplace holding a glass of wine and “thinking,” she overheard Kupah telling some of the other guys what had just happened.

This is just all too much for her, she decides. TOO MUCH. Because, you know, girls never have a conversation with a guy and then immediately tell all of their girlfriends every detail about it in a group text. This never happens.

http://abc.go.com/embed/VDKA0_wsj1bivn“>So Kaitlyn goes up to Kupah mid-story, pulls him into some sort of closet-type room in the Bachelor mansion and tells him he needs to leave. No rose ceremony; just get out of here.

I’ll state this up front if it’s not already obvious by my tone, I take Kupah’s side on this one. Here’s why: Kaitlyn is letting her emotions make her decisions for her. Therefore, she is blind to what is actually happening.

A lot of girls and people, like maybe me, do this. It’s hard not to. In the moment, the emotion is so real. In the moment, the emotion is your truth. So you do what the emotion tells you to do.

Kupah, though, does not. Maybe he is shocked and maybe he is a little wierded out, but he is not as rattled by the situation (he gets angry at the end, but he’s not angry in the closet). He says it is good that they’re arguing because they can work through it. Kaitlyn says this is bad that they’re arguing already, one week into their “romance.”

This is when I as the viewer am blown away by Kupah’s mild temper (again, it doesn’t stay mild) and Kaitlyn’s rash decision to throw him off the show.

Can’t Kaitlyn see she isn’t in a state of mind to make a decision right now?

Can’t she see how great this guy is because he isn’t high-tailing it out of there after her reaction and is instead suggesting they talk things through?

At this point it is all hitting a little too close to home. Sure, she’s on reality TV. Sure, she is under a lot of stress because of this, but what we’re watching here is a pressure-cooker version of what happens in relationships all the time. Decisions made from a place of emotion rather than a place of peace and thoughtfulness.

If I were a producer on the show who was not concerned with TV ratings and solely concerned with Kaitlyn’s mental health, I would have pulled her aside in that moment and told her this:

Kaitlyn, your anger right now is not your truth. In fact, your anger right now is probably masking other emotions, like shame, because deep down you are embarrassed for being called out by Kupah. And maybe sadness too, because Kupah hasn’t initiated much with you. This is ok. Feel the emotion. I will sit here with you while you do. Here, let’s walk back to the outdoor fireplace. Let’s put down that glass of wine. Let’s take seeeeeeveral deep breaths.

Then I would ask her, What’s actually making you angry?

Sadly, I have not (yet) been hired by ABC to provide spiritual guidance on The Bachelor, but this is what I would do.

Once Kaitlyn had stopped drinking and taken six or seven deep breaths, I would tell her that it is ok to feel whatever you feel, but it is not ok to make big decisions from that intense place of feeling. If you keep doing this, this show will destroy you. Be counter-intuitive. Don’t do what you feel like doing. Feelings are not your truth but, rather, they are a path to your truth. Ask yourself why you feel what you feel. Then, we can get somewhere on this show.

I have a hunch, because of previews I’ve seen, that Kaitlyn will continue to rely on feelings as a guide during her Bachelorette journey. This makes me completely unhopeful that she will find love on this show, but I am also really grateful for the cautionary tale she is providing.

May it be a reminder to all us emotionally driven—or gifted, if you prefer to call it—people out there. Emotions are not your truth; they are a path to it.

Deciphering God’s Will (+ a Book Giveaway)

The Grand Paradox

THE WINNERS ARE:

Mikki Jacobs

Pedre Decupe

Alayne

Kim k

Congratulations! You will each receive one copy of The Grand Paradox. Please send me your mailing address using the contact page. 

In my former life as a book publicist, I got to know a man named Ken Wytsma. Ken is an author, a pastor, a husband, a father or four girls and he founded a rather large annual gathering called The Justice Conference.

One week in the cold of February, Ken and I traveled to Pittsburg, where he had some media lined up for his first book Pursuing Justice. My job was to drive us around and make sure we were on time and Ken was prepared. This is always the job of a book publicist when traveling with an author.

I am not so great at directions and was nervous to be driving around Ken Wytsma because he is kind of a big deal. Because of this, I got lost going to almost every destination we needed to get to over the course of two days. We spent more time in that rented SUV driving through mysterious roads in the snow than we did doing interviews or being indoors.

At some point Ken took over the GPS, which really hurt my publicist pride, and we started arriving at our destinations much more quickly.

Even though Pittsburg was kind of a fail logistically, it did give me an opportunity to get to know this author/pastor/conference leader man, and I’m so glad it did.

Ken truly lives out his life message: that justice is central to the gospel, and in order for us to know God’s heart, we must seek justice for all of His people.

Right before I left my publishing job last fall, I got a sneak peek at the manuscript for Ken’s new book The Grand Paradox. I read 20 pages and wanted more. The book finally released a few weeks ago, and I was not disappointed by the other 180 or so pages.

If I had to pick a favorite part about The Grand Paradox, it would be the way Ken talks about the will of God for our lives.

As a millennial, I am obsessed with God’s will for my life. As Ken points out, this type of fixation popular in current Christian culture is not helpful. Not to us as individuals and not to God’s big, overarching will for humanity.

“We all like to think God’s will for our individual lives is to write us into the story as the central character,” writes Ken (p. 82). Yep, I like to think that most days. That God is going to do HUGE things through ME.

Ken goes on: “Instead of asking what God’s will is for my life, I should be asking how I can serve God’s will with my life….God doesn’t promise that all will play the central character. What God does promise, however, is that He will love all, lead all, meet us all, and provide guidance and wisdom needed through the Holy Spirit to find, rest in, and follow His leading in our lives” (p.85).

I am incredibly guilty of trying to decipher God’s perfect will for me, my exact next steps to take. This has paralyzed me in decisions and caused great guilt and fear that I made, or will make, a wrong move. God has been gently freeing me of this mindset lately and reading Ken’s book came at the perfect time to affirm the truth that discerning God’s will does not have to be a hard and scary thing. In fact, if it feels that way, I’m probably trying to make myself the central character. I’m probably thinking that I’m a way bigger deal than I actually am.

Ken ends this chapter with a beautiful and simple thought: “What is God’s will for your life? Simple. It is that you live out His will for the world. That you bring goodness, truth, and beauty to the world. Christianity doesn’t serve me; I serve the cause of Christ.”

I’m doing something today that I’ve never done before, a giveaway! I have four copies of The Grand Paradox to give away to four lucky recipients. Leave a comment below and consider yourself entered into the drawing. On Thursday, March 12, exactly one week from today, I will collect all commenters’ names and select the four winners. I’ll then announce the winners via my Twitter and Instagram accounts. So follow @AndreaLucado and/or @AndreaLucado to find out if you won!

May the odds be ever in your favor.

My Big Plan To Reduce Stress in 2015

My Big Plan to Reduce Stress in 2015

I’ve been a little stressed lately. I know because my body tells me:

-I have a consistent and annoying pulse in my right eye.

-According to my dentist, I tense my jaw at night and need to purchase a mouth guard asap (sexy).

– During a massage–the second massage I’ve ever had in my life—the masseuse told me I have some of the most tense muscles she has ever felt. I told her about my mouth guard, and she told me, “That’s great, but you should really just fix your problems.”

Point is, I’m stressed, and you probably are too. Maybe more than I am, maybe less, but I’ve noticed a theme since entering adulthood about seven years ago: it’s stressful. As my dentist explained to me while examining my disintegrating jaw, our bodies cope with stress in different ways as we age. As children, we cry. As teens, we break out. As adults, we grind our teeth, tense our jaws or do one of the numerous things I’ve heard about and/or experienced first-hand: back pain, shoulder pain, insomnia, eye pulse. Oh, the eye pulse!

I would love to do what my masseuse so lovingly suggested and just “fix my problems,” but sometimes when you’re anxious, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact problem, or problems. And pinpointing the problem can cause even more stress when you’re not sure what it is. This got me thinking that maybe fixing my problems, even when I know what they are, may not be the long-term solution to stress.

What is stress at its core? Feeling worried about things that aren’t going your way, or didn’t go your way, or might not go your way. It’s discontentment. It’s distrust. It’s completely natural and human and ok and simply needs to be embraced at times, but I also believe those living the Christian life can fight stress, at least a little bit, and I think it’s worth a try.

Someone left this verse in the comments of my last post, and I think it’s a wonderful response to the definition of stress I made up: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

After reading this verse, I worried (of course). “I have a hard time trusting God,” I thought. “This is exactly why I’m stressed, so will I never be in ‘perfect peace’?!” Then I calmed down and realized the verse actually tells me how to trust God. If our minds are stayed on him because we trust him, then the reverse is true: We trust him because our minds are stayed on him.

Phew! So, maybe if I keep my mind “stayed” by reminding myself daily of who God is and what he has done for me, I will remember how to trust him, and as I remember to trust, the trust will deepen, and as the trust deepens, I will be brought closer to perfect peace and farther from stress and anxiety.

It’s a theory, but I’m going to put it into practice this year. How? Each day, I will try my hardest to start my morning by writing down five things I am thankful for and five things I know to be true about God’s character.

It’s simple. It’s small. It’s quick. But I think it could be huge. Because the power of gratitude and truth in the face of stress and anxiety cannot be underestimated.

The goal is not to be 100% stress-free. That’s lofty and doomed to make me feel like a failure. Instead, I will take baby steps and hope for a little less stress, a less anxiety, a little less fear. A little more trust, a little more surrender, a little more love. Baby-stepping toward God and away from anxiety, one piece of gratitude and one piece of truth at a time.

He’s Not the One That Got Away

The One that Got Away

This phrase has been running around my head lately: He’s not the one that got away. Did you catch that “not” I slid in there? I thought about it one night when I was cooking and listening to the Civil Wars. Their song “The One that Got Away” came on and got me thinking. The song talks about forbidden love, saying “I wish you were the one that got away” and what it’s like to not be able to let go of that person. As I peeled my carrots and listened, I realized I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in a relationship like the one the song describes, wishing that person had gotten away. Then, this truth struck me: No one in my life did get away, at least, not in the sense this phrase entails.

Saying “he’s the one that got away” is like saying “he’s the one I should have been with and then something went wrong and got us off track.” I’ve wondered this before of course, and I’m assuming most of us have when a relationship ends. Did I miss something? Was that a mistake to let him go? Did I do enough to keep him around? Will he be the one that got away?

These questions can make you absolutely nuts. And they don’t apply only to relationships. We ask it about everything. I remember taking forever to decide where I was going to go for graduate school. I was choosing between two schools that were basically exactly the same, just located in different cities. And when I finally chose, I immediately wondered if the one I didn’t choose would be the school that got away. If not going there meant missing out on God’s blessings and will for my life.

Maybe you’ve wondered if that was the job opportunity that got away or the move that got away or the apartment that got away. Whatever it is, I stand here today (because who knows how I will feel about this tomorrow) and can confidently say to you, it’s not. He’s not. She’s not. Whatever it is, if it is no longer a part of your life or an option for you, it didn’t get away; it went away.

In the Bible, we are taught about seasons in life and God’s sovereignty in the same scripture: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

The best way to attempt to overrule God’s timing and plan is to say that something in our lives got away, as if it were a mistake or an accident. I think we can really mean it when we say this. I know I have. I have felt so ridden and full of regret I was certain I had made a wrong decision. I was certain he/it was the one that got away and that I had derailed myself too far this time. But never has this thought brought me peace and never has it propelled me forward, and this is how I’ve grown so convinced that he, it and they did not get away. Because even in stating that, we stray. Even in wondering and questioning the past, we got lost in it.

The people and opportunities in our lives didn’t get away; they went away because it was time for them to. Our job now is to keep our gaze forward. The light, as they say, is at the end of the tunnel.

‘The Waves and Wind Still Know His Name’

The Waves and Wind Still Know His Name

If you’re not familiar with the Bethel version of “It Is Well With My Soul,” get familiar with it now.

This song played in my head all weekend. My little sister chose it as part of the music played in her wedding ceremony, and I melted as I heard the band rehearse it at the church Thursday night and then again when my sister and I played it on repeat (at my request) on the way to the bridal luncheon and finally during the wedding itself as it played and everything else was silent before the moms walked down the aisle with the ushers’ help, and the bridesmaids lined up behind the large wooden doors, hushing the flower girl who kept meowing back at us.

There is a line in the chorus of this song I’m singing still:

“The waves and wind

still know

His name.”

I first caught it in the car as the song played on its fourth repeat. “They still know His name,” I thought as I drove. “They still know His name,” I thought as we reached the old downtown manor where the luncheon would be held. “They still know His name,” I thought as I got out of the car and walked beneath the too-hot 10am sun. I kept thinking about this lyric until I said it aloud to no one, “THE WAVES AND WIND STILL KNOW HIS NAME.” I couldn’t help myself. They still know His name!

You know this story. Remember it. There was a storm and the disciples were afraid and Jesus was asleep and they woke him up at a loss for what to do, “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?’ And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Mark 4:39-41).

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about this wedding and how as much as I was looking forward to it, it reminded me of a color I was missing in my life’s paint-by-number creation. And tonight I sit here and all I can think about is how that story in Mark didn’t just happen in Mark, but that it happens still. That Jesus told the wind and waves to be silent and I like to remember that story in past tense and I keep it locked up there tightly. I forget he is the same today, that those winds and those waves? They still answer to Him. That my “storms” as I like to dramatically consider them, are at the mercy of Him not only years and years ago but this morning, and tonight and tomorrow. That His faithfulness is in motion, not sporadic. It’s continuous and moves with us, in and out of the dark and light times, whether we see it or not.

Nothing about this weekend felt unfair or incomplete as our paint-by-numbers often can. When you walk in the knowledge that everything around you still knows His name, that includes you too. And if you know his name, life is suddenly filled in with peace and, like the waves and the wind, you are still.

The Risk of Getting to Know People

The Risk of Getting to Know People

I think I’m getting worse at knowing people. What I mean is, I used to be able to ask new acquaintances endless questions about themselves. This is because I have good parents who are good at asking people questions, so I learned this from them. I’m still more of an asker and listener than a talker, but I remember after my first year out of college realizing this had gotten more difficult for me; it took more energy to keep asking questions. I blamed this on the fact I was living in England and people are less nosy about other people there in general. But I notice it still. It is much easier to not ask someone about her story, to just let it be and keep talking about the weather.

I wonder if we get weary of this because we’ve heard all of the sad answers by now. When you enter into the great big world, you ask a stranger a question and you hear about his heartache and abuse and sadness and failures and, well, it would just be easier to not hear those things. I wonder also if we get more consumed by our own heartaches, failures and sadnesses and feel we don’t have room to know anyone else’s.

I actually have to muster up physical energy at times now when I dig into someone’s story, whereas when I was younger, it felt effortless.

And I’ve felt ashamed of this. Do I not care about people anymore? What is this wall that has so suddenly grown up between me and humanity? Where did it come from and how do I knock it down?

I’m not sure how, but I am sure how to keep the wall there, strong and steady. Stop getting to know people. Just stop. We could all agree to coexist and walk side by side without facing each other, looking each other in the eye and asking, “how are you?” Because we’ve heard the answer too many times.

If this sounds remotely appealing to you, you’re not alone. I’ve thought this before. Like when I was hiking with a friend this weekend. She’s been divorced for  a few years but I had never asked her much about the details of the divorce. How it felt, how it hurt, how it even happened, logistics wise. I thought about not asking her these things and staying away from the details and safe on the surface, but I mustered the energy somehow and as we walked through tress and crunched branches with our feet, I dug into her story. And the walk felt surprisingly refreshing and the questions came easier as I allowed myself to ask them. And we know each other better now.

Being known is a desire at the core of us all and though only God knows us fully, I believe he gave us the gift of conversation and each other so we could subsist on a taste of being slightly known while here on this earth. To get a glimpse of what being wholly known could be like. And when I think of it this way, the dangers of asking a friend about herself and getting to know her better is still scary, vulnerable and hard work but it becomes worthwhile work. Because I know I’m chipping away at the wall to reveal a path between us, and the path looks a little like eternity.

Why Life Is Not a Paint-by-Number

paintbynumberStill, well into adulthood, I find myself just wanting to fit in. It’s not in the same way as it was in high school of course. I’m not hoping to be invited to the right party or pretending to smoke a cigarette or claiming my drink in my plastic cup wasn’t water, when it was. This was how I “fit in” as a teen. Today, I want to fit in with a life that follows the appropriate succession of events.

I realized this recently over lunch with a friend. We discussed how each life phase brings its own set of expectations. With college, a degree and a job. With a job, a spouse and a home. With a spouse and home, children. That’s as far as we got because between the two of us, that’s as far as we’ve gotten. But I’m sure the expectations continue as your children grow and your career progresses. And I think we continue to live in a tension pulled on one side by fitting in and on the other side by wanting to be our own person. Rarely can we be both but always, we want both.

We’ve learned life’s paint-by-number. We see the outline; we just don’t always have all the colors to fill it in. This can be irritating and disheartening and depressing and discouraging. We want all the colors.

In about four weeks my little sister will get married to the best guy. It will be beautiful, and I’ll cry “ICan’tBelieveMyLittleSisterHasGrownUp, She’sSoBeautiful, LookAtMyDadGivingHerAway” tears, like I did at my older sister’s wedding. Yet, this has reminded me of a color I haven’t found. Barring a strange act of God, I’m not getting married in four weeks nor in four months. And I’m looking for the instructions for my paint-my-number, and I can’t find them.

Maybe your instructions appear to be missing, too. Maybe something has not happened in your life succession you thought should have by now, or something happened too quickly and you weren’t ready for it and you’re still reeling. This can make us feel out of place. Like we’re doing something wrong. Like we don’t fit in.

Think about the words Paul uses to describe us in his letters: Aliens. Sojourners. Exiles. Strangers. These are the things we were before Christ. The words he uses to describe us after redemption? Citizens. Saints. Members. God’s people. I like “members” best because it can so often feel we’re not a part of the club, and we so often find more comfort in the pieces fitting and the societal norms than we do in our own salvation.

And the sad part is, when we make moves based on these expectations, we forget who we are. We forget the quirks and passions and dreams that make us us and we turn them over to what make us feel a part. We forgot that we already are a part. We forgot that we “are no longer strangers and aliens, but…fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).

When Your Life Isn’t Measuring Up

When Your Life Isn't Measuring Up

I write this on Sunday after church, lunch, a nap and suffering through a Tracy Anderson work-out DVD. Many Sundays are like this for me. Not too eventful, as productive as I can manage with some rest and some writing mixed in. I love Sundays for this reason. But this Sunday after waking up from a too-long nap, I began to scroll through Facebook on my phone. I saw many posts about people playing volleyball, going to parks, going hiking, eating brunch. They were with other people and enjoying summer. Suddenly, my to-do list seemed so lame. I didn’t have plans to meet up with friends later. I hadn’t gone somewhere cool for brunch and I wasn’t “soaking up summer.” I sat up from my reclined position and began to feel embarrassed about my life. I began to believe it wasn’t measuring up.

People have been calling out the social-media comparison epidemic for a while now. I wrote it about it for my friend Katy’s blog in the context of relationships. I particularly enjoyed this one by Shauna Niequist on Relevant. I’m glad we’re being honest about this problem and being honest in the conversation. But as much as I read and talk about the dangers of comparison online, I still do it. I still compare myself to everyone I see on all of my feeds: Facebook, Twitter and, the worst culprit, Instagram.

And sometimes my solution to not comparing myself is worse than the actual comparison: I think bad things about people. Like, “They probably took that last week and are just now posting it to make it look like they’re having ‘the best day of their lives.’” Or, “So he got you flowers again? Isn’t that getting old?” And my most favorite, “Her life must really suck right now if she feels the need to post so much scripture and positive crap.”

Welcome to the reality of my sinful mind. It’s not pretty to write about, but I have a feeling others have had these thoughts at least once before when you’re in low place.

I have moments though when my thoughts aren’t so dark as I peruse the photos and status updates. Those are the days I feel like “liking” everything my friends and acquaintances are sharing. I call it giving virtual high fives. When I’m feeling secure in who I am and liking what my life has to offer, I can like all of the other great things in people’s lives. But when I’m feeling lonely or like my social calendar has way too many gaps, I hate what others are posting and offer no high fives.

The word that came to me today as I felt shame over my big plans to visit the grocery store and write a blog post and felt jealousy toward the volleyball players and picnic eaters was gratitude. Ah gratitude, isn’t it always the obnoxious answer? But something inside me said that if I could pull away from my smartphone screen long enough to list off a few things from my own Sunday I was thankful for, I would probably feel a little better. So I did, and it turned out there were several things: I had gone to a wonderful place to worship God. I had had lunch outside with a friend I love. I had successfully taken a nap, which I often can’t do. I had a missed call from my sister whom I also love.

Allison Vesterfelt recently wrote an article about people who are abandoning social media (I have been one of these people, twice). She talks about how the problem with social media isn’t social media; it’s us. How true. This is evident in my ability to some days “like” everything I see on Facebook and some days want to unfollow each person who is having a better day than I am. It’s not my Facebook friend’s fault; it’s something that’s going on in me. And it could be, just maybe, an opportunity for gratitude.

The Importance of Grieving Everything

The Importance of Grieving Everything

A friend of my sister’s once told her you must grieve everything. Anytime you have to say goodbye to something, someone or some place, grieve it. When you’re in a transitional phase in life, like say, your twenties and maybe your thirties too, this can mean a lot of goodbyes. To things like: college, your first job, your apartment, your hometown, another town, another job and before after and in between, relationships. Lots of relationships in all forms. People are in and out of your life before you can blink and get their phone number.

So when you find something in your transitional life transitioning yet again, you have two choices: avoid saying goodbye, or face the goodbye. For a long time, I was an avoider but didn’t realize it. For example, if I broke up with someone, I hurled myself into a new hobby. I trained for a marathon or joined a volleyball team. One time when I moved away from one of my favorite cities in the world, I immersed myself in my new job and tried to ignore the big, city-shaped hole in my heart. I’ve avoided literally saying goodbye, too. To one of my best friends in that city, I rushed through a quick goodbye conversation on a busy sidewalk in the freezing cold. He handed me a parting gift and I took it and said thanks and hurried away.

It’s like the fight or flight reflex, and I always flew. But this is harmful to yourself and others. What running away from goodbye does is prevent you from grieving. What grieving does is allow you to move on. If you don’t acknowledge that person, place or thing is gone, you live in a suspended denial and have a harder time being without person/place/thing than if you had just acknowledged the goodbye in the first place. What you are running away from ends up following you for a long time. How can something really be gone if you’ve never admitted it is?

On the other hand, if you address the goodbye, you open the door to the grieving process. It feels harder at first but in hindsight you will see you are a healthier person. You won’t be shoving sadness so deep down that it eventually bubbles to the surface at weird and inopportune times. Trust me, you want to avoid those bubbling emotions.

So how do you do this grieving thing when it’s not actual death we’re talking about? I guess it’s different for everyone. For me, that time I joined a volleyball team I had a couple of friends call me out and tell me I needed to sit in my sadness for at least a few weeks because I was the type that ran from sadness. So I had their accountability and I told them I would allow myself to cry when I needed to and I would journal and I would make sure I was conscious of my grieving a couple of nights a week. This really sucked and those journal pages are dark and never to be shared with anyone, but after those few weeks, I noticed the weight of being sad had begun to lift and I began to see the journal pages reflect hope again. And after a little longer, I even felt joy creep in in an unexpected way.

I think that’s the best part about grieving. It makes a crack, and joy seeps in.