Six Tips for Navigating Your Twenties (+ a Giveaway!)

All Groan Up

Winners of the All Groan Up giveaway are…

Leslie Wood

Beverly Vance

Missy Mutchnik

Send me your address via my contact page or PM. CONGRATULATIONS!

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about an article I had read that inspired me to embrace this unknown season of life I’m in, rather than run from it. I tweeted about the article and because social media, I ended up virtually meeting the author, Paul Angone. Turns out, Paul has just written a book all about navigating the shaky, weird decade that is your twenties. The book is All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job. I began reading it and very quickly began to recognize myself in the book, which is the sign a good book. (Scroll down for info about a giveaway…) Paul is so refreshingly honest about his faith and the difficulties and joys of it in the midst of a difficult season. I may have even cried a little in some parts. Because the book has been so helpful for me, I asked Paul if I could interview him about it and post it on my blog, because I think he might just be able to help and encourage you too:   You talk about the “best years of our lives” always being the life stage we are coming out of. Why do we always look back and think, “Those really were the best years of my life”? And, what are the best years of our lives??  When you’re scared out of your mind about the present and future, it definitely makes you appreciate the past. However, it took me a long time to realize that nostalgia is a liar. Each season carries with it the good, the bad, and the awkward. The best season of your life is the one you’re in right now, if you’re willing to look for it. You are open about anxiety in the book. I know for me, anxiety became a real thing in my twenties. I think this happens for a lot of us. Why is that? What hope can you give to the anxiety-prone? For many years in my twenties Discouragement, Depression, and Despair followed me around like sick dogs trying to sit in my lap whenever I sat down. And I was definitely anxious about the whole ordeal! I learned that I had to war for hope, even as the world seemingly warred against it. As anxiety would start to squeeze my heart like a hungry Boa Constrictor, I would hike above the Hollywood Sign in LA and literally declare the hope of my future, even when my present felt like nothing to be hopeful about. Fortunately, as anxiety has become real for me in this decade, so has God’s grace. You talk about a wonderful encounter with God’s grace after hitting rock bottom. What is it about the twenties that makes grace so real and so necessary? In our twenties, there’s no hiding from our mistakes and failures. They are all too real and in our face. I was definitely on a free-fall search for rock bottom, weirdly hoping that the bottom would at least bring stability. Thankfully God stopped my descent with what I call a rocky ledge of grace. Grace breaks you, yet somehow makes you more whole. Do you think men and women cope with this life phase differently?  I think we all have visions for how life is “supposed to” work out and we feel the pains and frustrations differently depending on what part of our “supposed to” is going up in flames. I love when you say that sometimes our dreams are on a “low simmer.” Meaning, we are working toward them even when it’s not overtly obvious that we are. How can we find joy and peace during our “low simmer” seasons? I love having big dreams, goals, and visions of making an impact. During “low simmer” seasons I found joy and peace by realizing that if you want to dream big, you must first have the courage and perseverance to be faithful in the small. The bigger the promise, the more intense the preparation. You share some great relationship stories in the book—some about successful relationships, some about not-so-successful relationships. How would you advise twentysomethings to approach dating relationships and friendships? Do you know what comment I receive the most in emails from twentysomethings? I feel so alone. We are globally connected, yet are insanely isolated and are not talking with each other about what’s really going on in our lives. This isolation was one of my driving motivations for being as honest and vulnerable as I possibly could in this new book All Groan Up. We ALL have struggles, fears, and questions, so let’s really talk about it in our dating relationships and friendships. We can’t let what I call the new OCD – Obsessive Comparison Disorder – put a wedge between us and all our friends who “appear” to be doing so much better than us. More about Paul: He is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! (Zondervan) and 101 Secrets For Your Twenties (Moody). He is also a sought-after national speaker and the creator of the popular website AllGroanUp.com, a place for anyone asking “what now?” Follow him on Twitter @PaulAngone. Book giveaway: I have THREE copies of All Groan Up that I am giving away! You can enter your name for the drawing by posting a comment below. If you want you name entered twice, subscribe to my blog by entering your email address in the box on the right and clicking “Follow.” I’m no math expert, but I’m pretty sure having your name entered twice increases your chances of winning by about 4,000%.

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.

10 Things I’ve Learned, 10 Years After High School

10 things learned 10 yrs after high school

This weekend, I attended my ten-year high school reunion. I didn’t think we would ever make it to our ten-year reunion. In high school, it seemed a million years away. But it turns out, ten years flies by like ten minutes in the real world.

As we sat around in a circle reminiscing about crazy stories and remembering people we had forgotten about, I realized I’ve learned a lot things in the last ten years. About myself, about life, about God. So I decided to sit down and list the top ten lessons I’ve learned in the last ten years. Here they are:

1. People appreciate authenticity over popularity.

I learned the formula for being accepted in high school: Act however the people you are around want you to act. If I was at a party, I drank. If I was at church, I worshiped. It was easy. I didn’t realize I was a little two-faced and I didn’t realize this prevented me from being myself and learning who I truly was. Because of that, I’ve really had to make up some ground in adulthood when it comes to authenticity. Today, I am drawn to people who are themselves no matter who they are with and hope to someday be the same.

2. Some of your dreams will die and that’s ok.

I loved musical theater in high school. I wanted to be an actress on Broadway and then in movies, but guess what. I haven’t been in a single production, play or musical since my senior year. That’s ok because in reality, I wasn’t that great at theater. I was much better at other things and did those throughout college and today. It’s ok to learn what you’re good at and what you’re not so good at. In fact, it’s freeing.

3. You will not necessarily live up to your yearbook superlatives.

In our 2004 yearbook I’m listed as “Most Likely to Be a Millionaire” and “Most Likely to Lock Her Keys In her Car.” I have not done the former; I have done the latter. What high school labels you as is most likely not who you will end up being. You may take parts of that identity with you, but you will shed lots of it too.

4. It’s ok to not have a quiet time every day.

I picked up the wonderful habit of morning quiet times somewhere in the middle of high school. I love this habit and continue it today, but I was a little legalistic about it for years. I would feel guilty if I missed one day, like I needed to make up for it somehow. Now, if I wake up late or just don’t feel like it, I skip the Bible reading and praying and I don’t beat myself up about it. This has allowed time with God to be something I want, rather than something I have to do.

5. It’s ok to not go to church every Sunday.

As a pastor’s kid, I was at church every Sunday and most days in the week after that. So in college, I did the same. I went to church every Sunday. The thought of not going made me feel very rebellious. But as I began to rid myself of some of the rules that made me feel comfortable and safe and like God liked me, I realized missing church every once in a while was ok. In fact, staying in and journaling or doing something to be with God but not necessarily with the church has been a healthy thing for me to do on occasion, and makes church a joy rather than an obligation.

6. Your dating life in high school does not determine your dating life post-high school.

I didn’t date anyone in high school. Anyone. I thought I was doomed to never be asked out and never have a boyfriend, but that wasn’t true. I’ve dated and have had relationships since then. Turns out, there’s nothing irreversibly un-datable about me. Phew.

7. That guy you thought was the bees knees probably isn’t anymore.

I mean, he might be doing great and might still be good looking and successful but what drew me to guys in high school certainly does not draw me to guys now. Then, I admired (from afar) the popular, “bad” boys who were always the center of attention, had good music taste and drove a Tahoe. Now, I’m looking for slightly deeper and more important qualities like kindness and humility.

8. No one cares what you were like in high school.

Really. I have friends who were complete nerds, friends who were prom queen, friends who cut class and smoked weed and none of them are the same person now. I care about who they are today, not who they were ten years ago, and I’m grateful they care about me in that way too. We all need a lot of grace for who were ten years ago.

9. Courage looks different.

As a junior in high school, I thought it took courage to sneak out of my parents’ house with my friends and drive to a party. I thought it took courage to rebel. Now I see that it took courage for my friends who didn’t do those things, who chose to stay in on a Friday night instead of doing something illegal. It takes more courage to be yourself than to do what everyone else is doing.

10. You haven’t achieved half the things you thought you would by now, but you’ve achieved so much more.

Maybe you had a long list of the academic degrees you would have by age 28, or the number of kids you would have or the places you would have traveled to. You look at that list and realize you haven’t done half those things. Ten years is a much shorter time period than we realized. But I bet you’ve achieved a lot of things you never thought you would, within yourself. I’ve grown in way I could not have hoped for or thought to include in a list when I was 18. I’ve learned about grace and forgiveness. I’ve learned about what it means to depend on Christ and nothing else. I’ve learned that beauty truly does come from ashes, and these are lessons I would take over a bucket list any day.

Learning to Rest

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I write to you today from the lobby of a Ramada Inn in Ft. Walton, Florida. I’m on a somewhat last-minute beach trip with a friend. We plopped ourselves onto the white sand for two days on this long weekend with no agenda, lots of snacks and what turned out to be expired sunscreen. We are “resting.” At least, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I have vowed to take a breath between leaving my job and diving into My Writing Thing. A couple of weeks to breathe deeply, read, look at the water and renew my mind in preparation for a transition.

You would think I would be really good at resting right now. I don’t have a work email to attend to. I’m not anticipating the craziness that is Tuesday after a holiday weekend. No one will need me to answer questions or send them things. I’m not getting calendar alerts for meetings happening this week. I can say my body has been resting this weekend. I have done nothing but lie or sit in sand. Yet my mind is a different story. It’s been running. Running in the wrong directions: ahead and behind. Running anywhere and doing anything but stopping to recognize the present moment.

I don’t think many of us are good at true rest. I actually wonder if it’s something that we as a culture have forgotten how to do. True rest lies in the present. I’m not resting on a beach if I keep wondering about my future or replaying past conversations and events in my head.

It’s not surprising I’ve been revisiting my past this weekend. I’ve said this before but it’s ever true today, I think we go to the past because we know what happens there. It’s comfortable. And when you’re in a time of change and things aren’t as clear, you hurry back to familiar scenes and faces. So these past two days, I have been gripped by a nostalgia for my past. I’ve thought about the places I’ve lived and the people I knew there and I’ve missed them and I’ve wished I was back. Back to being 22, in school and certain of more than I am certain of now.

Maybe you do this too? Who wants to squint at an uncertain future when you can see and hear with clarity the voices of your past? On the other hand, who wants to stunt her own growth and refuse to take leaps in the dark because she can’t turn her head around to face the future?

I’ve been playing “Out of Hiding” by Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger over and over since her album released last Tuesday. I listen to it for these words:

Come out of hiding


You’re safe here with Me


There’s no need to cover
 what I’ve already seen

I’ll be your lighthouse when you’re lost at sea


And I will illuminate
 everything

God as our lighthouse is a powerful image. If He is our lighthouse, He will point the light in the direction we are to go, and I bet that light won’t be pointed backwards. I bet He isn’t aiming to illuminate our past for us. Maybe for clarity’s sake, but not so we can find our way back there. If we are to arrive safely to shore, His light will point us ahead. And I believe it’s in His light, that we will find rest.

‘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).

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.

When Women Are Jealous

Girls being jealous of girls was the spontaneous topic of conversation for me a few times this week. And by girls, I guess I mean women because the friends I talked to were in their twenties and we weren’t speaking in past tense. Sure, when we were in middle school we huddled with our friends and talked bad about the girls we secretly felt were prettier than we were even though we said they weren’t and who we secretly knew were better athletes than we or smarter or, what it most often came down to, we didn’t like because the boys gave her more attention than they gave us. And I’m saying “us” and “we,” but I was jealous all by myself a lot too.

A few days ago as I was driving down the freeway talking to one of my best friends. We began to confess how we still get jealous of other girls and it is still often for the same reasons. All bad reasons of course, but that’s where jealousy is bred—in unreasonable arguments clouded and confused by insecurity.

Have you ever done this: Facebook stalked the girl who is dating your ex or dating the guy you wish you were dating and come up with all kinds of reasons you are better than she is? By stalking you dig for evidence that you are indeed prettier, funnier, lower maintenance, more adventurous, better educated, more highly organized, creative and that you love Jesus more than she does. Yes, you have found evidence of being holier than the girls you don’t like. You have felt the toxicity of jealousy inside of you and have allowed it to bubble out your pores. That sounds gross, but jealousy is really gross so I don’t know how else to describe it.

There is something about women and jealousy. It comes naturally for us and sticks around for a long time. It reeks heavily in our conversations with other women but we are so accustomed to the smell, we don’t even notice it. Not within ourselves at least, but we sniff it out when it’s coming at us from someone else.

As I drove and chatted with my friend, we discussed the women we’ve felt jealous of recently. They weren’t people we knew well. We basically had to make things up about them to have something to feel jealous about. We were ashamed. How old are we? We asked. But you don’t grow out of jealousy. And you certainly don’t grow out of insecurity. They are ageless, old friends.

We noticed as we were speaking how destructive jealousy is, not only for our hearts and confidence but for our gender as a whole. How can we support each other and be for each other if we just want to be better than each other? If we are all panicky about equal rights and being seen as strong and capable, why are we ripping each other apart? How is this helping us, or anything?

I have long thought about the gender plight. It’s a war my generation didn’t start but was born into and then ordered to take up the cause. Jealousy has always been obvious in this war to me. The jealousy of women toward men. I have felt it and seen its danger, but I don’t know that jealousy of men is as dangerous to women as jealousy of other women is. I don’t know that this is a war with two sides anymore. Or that it ever was. And now more than ever, I feel it’s my job to focus on one side, my own side and learn to love it well. And in order to do this, jealousy must be the first conquer.

Our Jobs, Our Calling, The Fall

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I just came off a weekend with some wonderful people: my little sister, Sara, and her fiancé (my future brother-in-law!), Jeff. We talked about many things and of course at some point the conversation turned to our callings in work, as it often does when you are a group of twenty somethings.

I think the years in your twenties can be multiplied by 7, like dog years. You experience life so quickly and furiously in that post-college time. You are forced to absorb and learn at a highly concentrated level. From 22 to 27, so much can change, and with it, your perspective on most things. I realized this as I noticed so much growth in my little sister. Who was this 24-year-old person on my sofa? And I felt this about myself too. My perspective at 24 was so different from what it is now, at 27. Especially in the area of work and our calling.

When I was 24, I was in a job that was not a great fit for me. Not terrible, but not great. But the “not great” part was all I focused on. I was very anxious about my job and very restless for the next thing. I wanted to find out exactly what my calling was and do only that. I thought if I found the job that was my calling, I would love it and jump out of bed every morning, even on Mondays.

I’ve felt this way for most of my twenties. Even when I got a new job that was a much better fit for me and that gave me more joy, I have prayed that God would show me exactly what he wants me to do and give me the courage to do it.

A few months ago I began reading a book called The Call by Os Guinness. I loved the title and decided by the time I finished it, I would have a clear picture of God’s will for my life. This was going to be great. Then, I read this paragraph and it’s basically all I’m thinking about right now:

“…it is easy to become spoiled if we concentrate on the core of our giftedness—as if the universe existed only to fulfill our gifts….We live in a fallen world and the core of our gifts may not be fulfilled in our lives on earth. If there had been no Fall, all our work would have naturally and fully expressed who we are and exercised the gifts we have been given. But after the Fall, that is not so.”

When I first read that part of the book, I fought it. No, I thought, I will “arrive” one day. I will discover my perfect calling. It’s here, and I’m going to find it.

But what if it’s not? What if things fell and now they are broken? How quickly I forget that. How quickly I get discouraged and wonder why I don’t feel content or why work is so hard sometimes. Maybe it’s because it’s supposed to be. Maybe it’s to remind us that things are broken here.

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I am, shockingly, beginning to find comfort in this thought. It carries over into all areas of our lives. We scramble for perfection, peace, clarity and happiness, but are they here? Sometimes, yes, but also sometimes no. And they’re not meant to be. Eternity is in our hearts, so we long for it everywhere. But when we don’t find the wholeness here on earth, we are forced to look forward and upward. The brokenness is a promise for the whole that is coming and when I see it that way, it doesn’t lessen the longing, but it does sink in the hope.