Insecurity

I didn’t miss last week’s email. I actually had three pieces lined up, including a riveting review of Netflix’s most recent foray into cheesy Christmas movies. Everything was ready to send, I just needed to add in the link for the devotional when it published Sunday.

Before I could finish it and hit send, insecurity snuck in.

Writing about myself isn’t anything new, but my typical style was be so compelled to spew my feelings I typed everything out and shared without a second thought. Because I would write and share so infrequently, I never worried about people getting sick of me. But now I’ve been doing this for two months and (if you’ve subscribed to my emails) you’ve received nine emails full of me and my never-ending emotions.

I began to wonder if it was sustainable, if I was sustainable. It’s not like I don’t have more to say; I have lists of essays to write and I’m constantly processing emotions that need to be discussed. What happens when I have more to say and no one wants to listen anymore? How often can I talk about my anxiety, my dad, and my faith before you tire of my opinion?

Before I continue, I’m not writing this so my three faithful readers send me encouragement to keep up the good fight. I know I have people who believe in me and that’s powerful.

Writing like I do also makes me feel like a hypocrite. One week I write about weight and finding peace in the struggle and the next week I’m crying on my living room floor because I can’t lose weight. I detail my financial plans and realizations only to fall back into credit card trouble. I tell people they’re loved only to feel worthless the next day.

I know that this makes me human, but it’s hard to bare and share your soul when you want to keep readers. If I truly was honest each week, you’d be in the exhaustive struggle I face between my two sides: the one who wakes up every day determined to make this the best day of her life and the one who doesn’t want to get off the couch. It’s a rollercoaster I want people to avoid because selfishly I know eventually people would get tired of what I had to say.

When I try to vary my writing, it feels forced and I second guess myself. This is because I’m not really a trained writer and it shows. I don’t have a plan, so I rely on my emotions to feed me with quality content. Frequently they let me down.

In the past, writing in the heat of the moment and throwing it on Facebook made it easy. I wasn’t sending it to anyone in particular so any feedback was good. Now, I’m reaching a group of people who want to hear from me (or at least support me because they’re kind). I don’t want to write just to send an email every week, but I also don’t want to hide behind that excuse.

For the past week, I’ve gone over what I wanted to say in this post in my head repeatedly and clearly I didn’t come up with a cohesive way to hash everything out. What I know is I want to write and I want my writing to reach people. Not reaching as in a large number, but creating a meaningful experience.

Most importantly, I believe in my own writing. God gave me a gift and for a long time I’ve felt a need to share. I don’t have all the answers, but I know there’s a reason I do this and I want to keep pursuing this path. But right now I need to take a break.

One of my goals for December is to take away the things the add stress so I can enjoy the Christmas season. My fast for the month is no lists or diets, so it’s already going to be a doozy. Instead of worrying about having to send an email and what to write, I’m going to chill and pray about where this is going. I might actually make a plan. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2019.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy New Year!

 

 

A year of being unsocial

For almost half of my life, I’ve been active on social media. I remember getting a MySpace at age 15 and carefully taking my profile picture to show off how deep and mature I was. In case you’re wondering, I set a digital camera self-timer and sat across the room with my bangs across my face and the classic look of being misunderstood. Naturally I was wearing a Harry Potter t-shirt.

Considering it was my first journey into social media, I’m not sure how I knew that was the norm. It was before MySpace the Movie exposed the concept of using angles to make yourself look better and I certainly wasn’t a scene kid committed to that lifestyle.

In a time where your parents frequently received CDs in the mail with trials of America Online, I was just beginning my web experience. My dad had Internet before most people, meaning I was on AOL Messenger before it became the sensation of AOL Instant Messenger. ChellyBelly911, hit me up.

What did we do in the early days before social media? It’s hard to remember, honestly. For awhile I played Bingo online and did the A/S/L game with strangers. Thankfully, things weren’t as dangerous back then. GorgeousGeekyGuys.com just *understood* my obsession with the cast of Lord of the Rings and I printed pictures of all my favorite hotties.

Yes, that’s what we did. Printed pictures of hot guys to hang on our walls. What a time.

The social side of the Internet continued to blossom with sites like Xanga and LiveJournal (I had both), but it hit its stride with MySpace. I spent so much dial-up time blocking phone calls so I could pick the perfect background and song for my page. Cultivating your Top 8 was crucial and being able to add more was revolutionary.

At age 17 I made my Facebook account. My sister was in college and guaranteed me it was the site all the cool college kids preferred. Twitter came at 19 with Instagram following shortly after. I guess YouTube happened somewhere too along with a million other sites that tried but couldn’t compete with the big guns (looking at you, Google+). And yeah I know there are more popular sites like Tumblr and Pinterest but I’ve got to get the point of this post soon.

Now as an almost-28-year-old, it’s interesting to look at the evolution of social media use. For some kids, Facebook has always been around. They can get tagged in baby pictures and have their own account. They missed the years where it was cool to poke people and the question wasn’t ‘what’s on your mind?’


It began as a simple way to stay connected and share funny images. Writing on Walls to say you missed someone’s face was the norm. Is it even still called a wall? I wrote that instinctively. No, now it’s a Timeline. I lived through the crises of our generation when the layouts would change and everyone would like pages that served as petitions to bring the old way back. Surprisingly, this never worked.

You posted a status to actually update someone. When I look back and see everything I shared, it’s frankly embarrassing. I would update like five times a day and most of the time no one even liked my statuses. This is when my life with social media starts to take a turn.

At some point, those likes began to mean something to me. Maybe it was learning more about the platforms through my public relations major that made me want to perform better online, but I think it was a cultural shift.

Here social media went from a simple way of staying connected to being unique and heard. Slowly, we began to cultivate our images online. Not everyone, mind you. Some people probably share things today and don’t care about likes. Even writing that I think, then what’s the point of sharing?

And that is my problem.

My family is very smart and funny and fortunately I have received a fraction of both these features. As a result, social media became a good outlet for me. It took time, but eventually I found a way to combine my talents with a way of entertaining people online.

Listen, I don’t write that because I think I’m so amazing and everyone loves me. Then again, Jimmy Fallon did say my name several times on television because I am so creative and funny so you be the judge.

It really started with Twitter. I barely passed 500 followers and didn’t get a lot of retweets, but got told just enough I was funny that I kept tweeting. I began to share less on Facebook and focus my updates on things I could make funny. When Instagram launched the Stories feature, it was over for me.

By this time I was deeply invested, committed and reliant upon social media. It felt like as long as people liked me there, I was good enough. I wanted to keep pleasing people. When a post didn’t perform well, it would make me second guess everything about myself.

If I’m being honest, it felt like my social media persona was a version of myself I could control. My entire life I’ve known that I’m kind of a divisive person. I’m overall likable (she said modestly), but I’m also a lot. I’m intense and not really great at keeping my opinions to myself. In real life, you never know what I’m going to say. I never know what I’m going to say. With social media, I could select the best parts of me and give them to the world. It made me feel liked and good.

Naturally, it also made me feel more insecure.

When you present a controlled version of yourself, you can’t help but worry about all the untamed areas someone might encounter. The way friendship works in this online world only made it worse.


Fasting social media isn’t a new concept for me, but this year it held more weight. As my relationship with Jesus continued to grow, I made decisions focused around following wholeheartedly and several times I knew this meant distance from online communities. It was then I realized so much of my online communities are my real communities.

People told me they missed seeing me online. Others said I seemed like I was disconnected. This online version of me had become a substitute for real relationships. Sure, I saw my friends IRL, but so much more of our communicating was done online. People didn’t miss hanging out with me, they missed seeing what I shared online. I was disconnected because I wasn’t engaging online.

To be clear, I’m not saying this as a slight to my friends. In fact, their words were an eye opener for my relationship with social media. What their words told me was without social media, I didn’t really know how to stay connected.

Even worse, my actions have led social media to be a part of my identity.

Around Easter of this year, I decided to take an extended hiatus. This is where I learned about my problems with community, but I also learned something incredibly valuable. Social media does not have to be a part of my life. Even of people expect it or say it’s sad that I’m going, it doesn’t mean I can’t leave it behind. It doesn’t define me.

Eventually, I came back to it slowly, but as the weeks rolled by, I found myself becoming more and more dependent again. I unfollowed a lot of accounts that brought nothing to my life, but spent more time watching Instagram Stories as a distraction. I’ll scroll Facebook for hours, even if most of my time is just spent unfollowing video and meme accounts that I don’t want to see.

When I was away from social media, I read a lot. Now, I can’t keep my attention long enough and always find myself picking up my phone to distract myself. All I want is to be distracted, to see if my photo received more likes, to see if I’ve received any messages. I’m so tired of it.

I just need to limit myself, you say, and I get the suggestion. For many people who can casually browse and don’t live for the applause, it’s great advice. In my case, it doesn’t matter. I start with a spade and say I’m only going to move the dirt a little and soon enough I’ve dug my own grave where my phone has again become my most important relationship.

Since I turned 25, I’ve themed every year of my life, and 28 will be no different (in a sense). Following the transformation I’ve experienced over the last year, this year is Dedicate 28. It’s about not living for myself, but always pursuing Someone Higher. I quickly realized I needed to use this year to leave social media altogether.*

*so altogether means personally because I’m in digital marketing so obviously I have to use it for my job

In the days leading up to it, it feels like more people have reached out to me saying I’m funny and they love my stories and I’m just like GET BEHIND THEE SATAN! Jk, but really. I keep going back and forth wondering if this is the right choice and then I realize how tightly I’m holding onto something that I only really use to glorify myself. Sure, I share about God, but I know those likes aren’t for Him. I only want them for me.

Then I think about this site and the platform I’d like to have. It seems foolish to abandon social media if you want to grow something in 2018. First, I have social accounts for my blog and never use them. Second, if God wants this to go somewhere, He doesn’t need a Facebook account.

So I’m doing it. September 10, 2018, will be my last day until September 11, 2019. Usually I just quietly take a break, but I wanted to give people a warning in case they try to reach me. If you want to be my friend and continue our relationship, we have to do it the old fashioned way, meaning we’ll text each other about hanging out but never actually have time to do it. If you tag me in things, I won’t see it. If you send me a message on social media, I won’t see it.

You can text me screenshots, though. I do love some of the funny things that can be found online.

With this, though, I’m also challenging myself to be a better friend. Instead of relying on seeing your updates, I want to actually engage with you.

This is going to be a challenging year and prayers are obviously appreciated. I know God is going to use this time to help me refocus and continuing pursuing Him more without the distractions of glorifying myself.

See you next year, friends.

Except not if you read my blog. I’m going to keep doing this.

Perfect should try to be you

This is a hard topic to try and talk about, because sometimes it’s really difficult for me to see my worth, and I know I’m not alone. Even my most confident, beautiful and wonderful friends struggle at times. You can’t blame us, not in a world constantly saying you aren’t good enough.

While I could spend hours writing about the negative effects of advertising and the media on how we perceive ourselves, that isn’t the focus of this post. It’s more in how let others treat us and how that affects our value.

I think too often and without realizing, we let the opinions of others change the opinion we hold of ourselves. For some, it happens when you’re too young to realize you deserve better and for others it happens so slowly over time until you don’t believe there’s anything different.

To really summarize this idea, I’m going to borrow a quote from the brilliant Stephen Chbosky:

We accept the love we think we deserve.

Now, before I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I saw this quote circulated around social media so frequently I wrote it off in my brain as a silly way “edgy” girls romanticized their poor dating choices. Please know I’m not proud of this judgment I so easily passed.

I didn’t read the book until they started filming for the movie in Pittsburgh, but I’m so glad I waited. The first time I read it when I was very early into my 20s, it hit me like a welcome train of awareness. Yes, the characters were teenagers and going through things I couldn’t even imagine, but the truths were there waiting for me. It made me think about how I let people treat me and my motivations and through it, I began to confront some demons.

Another book, The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler, taught me the important lesson surrounding this idea of ‘deserving.’ We go through life telling our friends they deserve better, but at the root, they (and we) don’t. Yes, this sounds crazy and no, it doesn’t mean you should let everyone treat you like garbage.

Love is a gift we give and receive, and we learn to love because our Father loved us first. At no point have we ever deserved that love. I mean really, read pretty much every Bible story ever and you will see a people continually falling short. None of that matters, though, because of His great love. He created us, knowing we would never be enough. He continues to pursue us, knowing our hearts are wicked and prone to other gods. Nothing we do can change His love either way. We can’t deserve more by good behavior and we can’t deserve worse by bad behavior. This is such a powerful truth.

It’s not about deserving better treatment, but realizing we’re worth more because we’re children of God. We aren’t designed to let people treat us poorly because that’s not what Love is about. This is so much harder to actually follow, I realize.

Getting back to accepting the love we think we deserve, I think in some concepts deserve is used very well. When we accept the love we think we deserve, we are accepting imperfect love. Love that is flawed and conditional. Love that only works on the terms established by someone else. We are failing to see the beauty of love because we’re so blinded by the things within ourselves that make us feel less.

In my life, this lack of self-worth is related to my father, which is tragically far too common. Despite being a Christian all my life with a good stepfather, I was still trying to earn the love I never received from my father.

Because I never loved him as well as he thought he deserved, my father made me feel less and like I had to continually work to gain anything from him. I would go out of my way to see him and talk to him until it was me initiating every conversation. This pattern is one I can spot in almost every romantic relationship I’ve had.

Until I paid attention, I didn’t realize this was a problem. I assumed it was just guys and I really didn’t know what it was like to feel wanted. I questioned everything about myself and changed trying to find someone who would actually love me.

Because I didn’t see my value, no one else did who I was pursuing. It didn’t help I pursued men I could see weren’t good for me in any capacity, but their slight interest was all I needed to give up my ideals and compromise to make them happy. I was trained to work in exchange for fake love that never lasted.

When I couldn’t see my value, I accepted less than the love God intended for me to have.

Our need for companionship can be so strong it leads us down paths we know we shouldn’t travel. We pick people we know aren’t good for us but we tell ourselves lies like it’s nothing serious anyway or it’s just fun or this is just how guys treat us (and reverse for men, obviously). Or we even think that somehow we can change them and then they will love us in the way we want.

Think about some of the incredible married, engaged or in a serious relationship people in your life. Do you think they got where they are by making their significant other feel less or like they don’t really matter? Do you think the strong couple foundation is built on belittling or neglect?

The answer should be no. If we see healthy relationships, why do we assume we can’t have it, too?

On the other side of this, I can tell you the behavior justifications won’t hold up once you begin to really look at your life. I can’t excuse those pieces of my past, like staying with a guy for too long because it was fun and a distraction, because now I know better. All of these experiences shape who we will be, both alone and in relationships.

Now I have a hard time believing men are actually attracted to and interested in me. I doubt their motivations when they’re nice to me and convince myself they’re like this with everyone. If they stop talking to me, I assume it’s because they are like all the rest.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking yeah, but it is nothing and just fun, and I really hope that’s true for you. What I know is it isn’t true for me, and every bad experience lowered how I valued myself a little bit more.

When we say yes to people we don’t really like or go back when we say we’re done, we’re showing them how we value ourselves. I know these are generalizations, but that’s where I’m focusing and I want to acknowledge I know there are exceptions. But on the whole, when we give in, we basically tell that person I don’t really value myself at all.

The other side to worth is thinking you aren’t good enough because of something in your past or where you are. We diminish ourselves because we aren’t exactly where we should be or we’ve made mistakes in the past and can’t believe someone could see past them. We carry that weight like a sign around our neck that says ‘I’m a crummy person and not good enough for you.’

Please know that’s nonsense.

Worth is tricky, isn’t it? The power we have to affect how someone views themselves and the impact we can have to make them see they are worth more. It’s hard to convince people of their value, but all we can do is try. And try and try and try because this is a fight you shouldn’t give up on, no matter what.

Even though I’m better than I was, my best friend still needs to remind me of my value when I start to doubt. I can still lose my mind over texts without replies and delays in conversation. The difference is now I’m more selective. I don’t just let anyone in. Conversely, I’m learning to tear down the walls I built to protect my heart and realizing not every man will hurt me. The way I guard my heart now is by reminding myself of how I am so loved by God, and that is the person I want to keep safe so no human can make me feel less.

So what can you take from all this? Remember that while we don’t necessarily deserve anything, we are worth way more than the way we let people treat us. I don’t know what happened in your past or what you did or how they hurt you, but I know restoration is possible. It will never be about finding the right person who will love us the right way, but by learning to love ourselves first and recognizing there is a Greater Love at work within. Completion comes from God alone and successful relationships happen when you can look at every piece of you, whole and broken, and realize how valuable you are.

Maybe you will get to a point where you know and feel this and don’t need reminders or maybe you will still need a daily check in with yourself to see how amazing you are. Either way, you are amazing and valuable and loved just as you are right now.

I will end with a poem by Bo Burnham, called Perfect:

I love you just the way you are

but you don’t see you like I do.

You shouldn’t try so hard to be perfect.

Trust me, perfect should try to be you.

Find Your Sam

The story of finding my Sam is basically all I need to remember God has a plan for our lives and man, is it good. Our story isn’t one that begins with instant connection or common ground. We didn’t hate each other and suddenly realize we should be best friends. We were just people who, by the grace of God, found each other and He worked out everything else.

Before I begin, let me describe what having a Sam means for your life, so you can understand the idea. Best friend is a description casually assigned to a lot of people that you may enjoy spending time with and may know all of your secrets. You hear people use this a lot, and sometimes I wonder how many best friends a person can have (I’m not saying there should be a limit, of course).

But a Sam is different.

A Sam is someone who is your person, your actual person. Not the person you latch onto because you WANT a person. As Emily Bronte describes it, whatever souls are made of, yours and your persons are the same (adjusted for my purposes). By my estimation you can only have one of these people in your life because they will understand you so thoroughly and so terrifyingly that more than one may overwhelm you. It is the person who always sees right through you, tells you when you’re being an idiot and never wavers in love and support.

That’s abbreviated of course. Now back to the story.

My first memory of Sam is her backpack. I was the nerd in class ready to crush freshman year with my Jansport classic and she had a corduroy backpack covered in flowers, probably purchased from somewhere hip like PacSun. She was there in my first college class, and she had a cool backpack.

One of the first things I said to her was I like your sweater. This was a few months later and we were standing outside a professor’s office. It was very nautical with red, white and blue stripes and gold buttons. I now possess this sweater, almost eight years later.

During bingo night in the Beehive (our cafeteria alternative), she was there with a bunch of people I kind of knew. She was wearing a giant sweatshirt and proudly owned the fact she wasn’t wearing a bra. I was partly mortified and partly in awe of this hero among women.

In our second semester, we had back to back classes and a mutual friend who sat between us. There was the occasional lunch and conversation, but nothing substantial. It wasn’t until an early morning drive and a rooming snafu that our paths truly crossed.

As you can tell, I could spend endless amounts of time describing the interesting events that brought us together and the relationship that developed. We became roommates for our sophomore year and strangely decided to have the same class schedule. She arrived on campus before me and when I got there, told me one night she was sure someone was breaking in but it was just a soda that exploded in the fridge. This is one of our earliest stories and still one of my favorites. She just waited in bed assuming she was about to be killed.

Back on track.

It’s been more than seven years since we became roommates. I’m not sure when we became best friends, but it slowly built until one day we just were. I think I like that best about us. We just were. We weren’t each other’s first roommate so the pressure to be best friends wasn’t there. By that point we had mostly established our own identities on campus. We weren’t desperate freshmen adding everyone on Facebook. We didn’t need each other then, but I definitely need her now.

She’s the person I can completely open my soul to – the good and the bad. I can tell her anything and trust that she will be there. I can try to lie to her and know she won’t tell me she actually knows better. Love is patient, love is kind, and love is my Sam.

The greatest gift she’s given me is acceptance. All my life I’ve worried if people still liked me, or if I annoyed them too much, or if I said too much. I meet people and leave feeling terrified, even if it went well, because the record plays of all the reasons why they shouldn’t like me. Even conversations with friends I know well can put me in a spiral because I’m never sure where I stand or if maybe this time I’ve been too much.

I never feel that way with my Sam.

It doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of a breakdown, saying the same realizations I’ve had a thousand times before but still not changing anything. I can be completely delusional or in denial of how I actually feel. I can be condescending or self-righteous. I can be the worst version of myself around her, but I know I none of that will change how much she loves me.

What having a person means is true, unconditional love. Love like Jesus. Even if we’re both busy and we don’t talk as much as we used to, I still know how she feels. I can see her pursue different interests that maybe I don’t like and know she will still love painting her nails and going shopping with me. Our friendship isn’t jealous of other friends, because even when I see her with someone else a lot, I know how she feels because she tells me and makes me feel that no matter, it’s still me.

This is why someday our husbands will die and we will buy a house in the Hamptons, fill it with cats and raccoons and live out our days together. There is no better future.

The best advice I can give everyone is find your Sam. When you do, you will never be the same. She will challenge you and make you a better human bean. She will help you understand just how much God loves you and the way He loves us. Find your person who will still love you when you text her on her birthday to call her rude because she responded to your sister’s text and not yours.

Find your Sam, but don’t stress the people who won’t be. You’re not going to miss who God puts in your life, trust me. I didn’t find Sam. God brought her to me and made sure I wouldn’t miss out on the amazing adventure of being her best friend, her person, her soulmate.

I thank my God every day He gave me Sam.

You need to stop

This week I received my first speeding ticket. I didn’t realize I was speeding, but suddenly the officer was behind me, flashing his accusatory lights while I began praying I had a light out. When he reached my window, the panic set in and I was like a robot, unable to say anything other than sorry while I fumbled for all my information.
I had just left a park where I was scouting a location for my next Bible study. I stayed with traffic, not watching my speed and thinking about getting to work and the never ending list of things on my to do list.

Recently I’ve been paying more attention to my speed, not because I planned to slow down, but it occurred to me I was probably on the verge of a ticket. When driving the same road post ticket, I felt like I was crawling to my destination as I obeyed the posted law.

Go go go is the voice in my head, urging me past the other vehicles. 

Today I went out for a run, but my legs gave up before I made it a half mile. Frustrated, I tried again, confused because I had done this same thing the past two days without issue. A second time my body just stopped.

Instantly I began my attack. What’s wrong with you, Chelsea? It’s not hard. Why can’t you do this? Why can’t you finish anything? Get it together. Be better. Push harder.

And then I looked up. 

I realized it was a beautiful morning. The birds were chirping and people were beginning their days. The houses on the street were old and ornate. I had run down this road the last two days, but I didn’t look up to notice. I just kept pushing pushing pushing

It was in this moment I heard God. His words weren’t spoken aloud, but I felt them in my heart.

You need to stop.  

Even when I’m lying down, I’m in a constant state of rushing. Everything I need to do and want to happen is swirling in my brain, rarely allowing for peace. The end of the day is a reminder of all the things I have left to do that I’ll add to tomorrow’s list.

Amidst this chaos, I find myself wishing to fast forward past this phase. I want my life to be like a movie trailer. I want to see all the good parts, stumble over the darkness and then emerge victorious as the end to the beat of a catchy song. I don’t want the day to day monotony that I have to drag myself through. But I do, always wishing for that happy ending.

I want to make money fast to get out of debt. I want to find my calling fast so I can stop fumbling around. I want to meet my husband fast so I can stop being alone. I want my life to happen fast because this slow track I’m on is crushing my soul. 

Because everything is slow, I try to push faster. If I keep going, it won’t catch me. I don’t want to be here now, I want to be there, dreaming about a time where I’m not always tired and always working and always busy. Say yes to this, this and this and don’t you dare stop.

You need to stop.

Part of me tries to argue with God. Sorry, but You know my schedule. If I stop, I don’t make money. I can’t pay my bills. I can’t pay my rent. I have to keep going, God. My schedule demands it. I have things to do and accomplish and if I breathe, I might miss something. Together we picture my planner and I aggressively point out the level of busy I need to maintain and look away when He reminds me He has the small job of maintaining everyone and everything.

I didn’t try to start running again. When I hit my standard turnaround point, I kept going. I didn’t have a plan. I just knew I had to keep walking. I started to think of everything I had to do today. How I was going to spend my morning. And God just kept saying stop stop stop

Instead of worrying about getting back or checking my pace, I just wandered for a few miles until I found my way back home. I sat down to read my Bible and jump into the list I graciously set aside so God could distract me, only to be disrupted once more. It was my wonderful sister and nieces coming to pick me up for brunch. 

Most people would feel this was a kind gesture, but for me it was torture. I had so much to do! I just can’t leave. I’m in the middle of reading my Bible. I have to check my email. I have to send some emails. Why doesn’t anyone appreciate how valuable my time is! 

 You need to stop. 

I’m always running and pushing and speeding to the next thing. What does ‘experience the moment’ even mean? My moments are spent mentally preparing the next part of my schedule. I’m focused on when something ends so I know how much time I have to be here before I have to be somewhere else. How much time is left until I can go home and sleep. How much time until I have to wake up.

I tell myself hustling is the way to prove myself to God. Maybe if He sees how hard I’m working, I can rest. Maybe that rest won’t come before Heaven, but I can earn it. Maybe He will give me what I want if He sees how hard I’m trying. Yes. Just keep pushing and your Heavenly Father will give you rest and what you want because you deserve it.

I write that, and I hear His plea for me echoing in my soul. I don’t deserve anything and I can’t earn anything. Why do I keep trying? He wants me to stop and I want to go to prove myself as worthy. He wants me still and I worry I’ll get stuck. 

I’m like a child running to my parents, desperate to get to them, and while I hear the words that I need to slow down, I think I can handle the speed. That’s when I fall. That’s when I fall every single time. 

You need to stop.  

Running is a popular image in the Bible. We’re told to run to win (1 Corinthians 9:24), persevere to the end of race to win the prize (Philippians 3:14) and hope in God so we can run and not grow weary (Isaiah 40:31). If that’s the case, why is God telling me to stop?

Because I’m not running for Him. I’m running for me. I’m running for my pride and ego.

I’m running in vain (Philippians 2:16). I don’t have the endurance promised by God (Hebrews 12:1) because I’m listening to my sins of pride, arrogance and worry as they trip me up again and again and again.

If I go fast enough, I can make it out of this. I can find the end that justifies the means and live restful and peaceful and maybe even be present in the moment.

I need to stop.

This much is clear, but the question of how remains. This is my life. Going going going. But I don’t want it anymore. I want to feel each joyful moment in every miserable day. I don’t want to miss this because I want what I imagine is there.

I have to enjoy the drive and not try to cut as many seconds from my commute as possible. I need to see the world around me instead of keeping my head down so I can finish my route faster.

I need to trust that when God tells me to stop, He will still be here, and here is the only place I need to be.  

I like you and I want to date you

No, not you. At least probably not you. This post isn’t a confession to that special someone, rather a realization of words I’ve never said in my life. They seem easy enough, don’t they? You meet someone, you develop feelings and you express your expectations. Unless you’re me. 


The other day I went to my first counseling session. We went over all the details of my life for her to develop a basic understanding of me, and then she asked why I decided now was the time. At first I almost blamed my father’s recent problems but then I realized surprisingly he wasn’t the catalyst. It was, of course, a boy.

I tried to explain as concisely as possible because time was running out. I’m 26 and I don’t know how to have a healthy relationship. In the eight years since my last official relationship (equally unhealthy), I’ve had a few casual flings that just left me feeling rejected. I always felt like a secret to the boys I chose. They never seemed to want to openly date me, or even see me while it was still light outside. They made me feel convenient and I was too afraid of the rejection to tell any of them how I actually felt. I’ve lived the last decade of my life compromising and refusing to push the issue because it meant I could pretend for a little while longer that I had finally found something.

I told her I recently met someone new and I can’t even receive a message or respond without experiencing an overwhelming amount of dread and terror. And about how a piece of my past recently came back into my life and I could feel myself wanting to slip back into the darkness.

At this point, she asked a few more questions about the one who resurfaced, and then asked if me I ever told him how I felt. I responded I made it clear. I told him I missed him and I liked talking to him. But then I stopped talking as I thought about it more. No. I never actually told him. 

She continued and asked if I had ever said that to anyone. I quickly filed through the short list in my head and realized I never told anyone, no matter how strongly I felt, that I liked them and wanted to date them.

The closest I came to it was in college with this boy I was sure I loved. I had liked him for almost a full year, after he quoted the Bible to me at the bar. In one magical and unexpected move, it seemed like just maybe it was finally falling into place. I’m not sure if he told me he wasn’t looking for anything serious or if I just picked up that vibe, but I rolled with it because I didn’t want to lose him. One night, after hanging out, we were texting about feelings.

It’s important to interject I only actually communicated with this boy directly 40 percent of the time. Most of the time I desperately passed my phone to my best friend because it was easier to face any possible rejection through her.

The night in question, she wasn’t there. She was home for the weekend and away from her phone and I was panicking. He asked me how I felt and while I had words upon words upon words, I couldn’t say them and risk him not feeling the same. So instead I said, like the casual and cool girl I was, that I wasn’t looking for anything, but if I was it would be him. To my delight, he replied the same and again my brain thought maybe I hadn’t screwed up too bad. Maybe it would be all right.

It was a week or so later and I was at the bar for the weekly Thursday trip, but he wasn’t there this time. I drank too much and kissed two other guys while I was there. I couldn’t say no. They wanted to kiss me and it didn’t matter what I wanted because it felt good to be wanted.

Of course I told him the next morning. I felt horrible. But he said it was cool but that was it. It wasn’t the same again. For years I felt like it was my fault and I broke this growing thing between us because of my issues, but I can see the bigger picture now. Yeah, I made a really stupid mistake, but he wasn’t innocent either. We were both young and reckless.

Foolishly, I held onto hope for him for way too long. It’s rare for me to actual meet someone I like, so losing that was hard and he lived in the forefront of my mind until I found someone else. With each new connection, I hoped maybe this time would be different, but it never was.

Rejection was just a lesson I kept learning until it became the only truth I knew. 

No one asked me on dates. We didn’t take any photos together. There were no social posts. Just me and him at home, watching TV, late at night. Sending texts about hanging out, but only after a certain time. They didn’t seem like bad guys either, which meant I was the problem.

Were they embarrassed to be seen with me? Did they want something casual? Were they unclear of what I wanted so kept quiet themselves? Was I just convenient? Did I even matter?

These are the thoughts that echo when I meet someone new and run through every reason why he couldn’t possibly like me. I think of the reasons the others didn’t, and soon they become his reasons too. Now I’m so cautious I don’t even really want to try.

I used to think the right guy would change everything. I don’t need a prince on a white horse, just a guy who would text me and make it clear he liked seeing me. Who would ask me to dinner and maybe eventually ask me to be his girlfriend. I believed the right one, or at least a right one, could prove they weren’t all the same.  

You’re just setting yourself up for failure if you look for a savior in humanity.

Recently, after meeting new person, I realized there was no one on this earth who could come in and break through my insecurities by saying the right things. Most likely he would say them and I wouldn’t believe him so I would find a way to ruin it myself to stay protected. If I want a healthy relationship, I need to be healthy.

My goal is to be able to say ‘I like you and want to date you’ without fear of the consequences. I want to remember what I want is important and holding onto someone based on what they want will only make it hurt worse in the end. I don’t think rejection is ever easy, but I don’t want it to be debilitating anymore. 

This is what I want to say and believe in full confidence: To everyone from my past, I liked you and wanted to date you. Maybe you didn’t feel the same way, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m less or I need to feel like I’m nothing. Hopefully we both find what we’re looking for now.

It’s all a journey, right?

Maybe 2016 wasn’t so bad

Like most, I went to bed last New Year’s excited for 2016. Sure, you can make a fresh start any second of any day, but something about a new year feels like the real deal. You leave behind the pain and drama and failure of the past and have 365 days to find a brighter path. New year, new you, new opportunities, right?
Wrong, according to 2016.


I’m not sure when we all began to realize this wasn’t going to be our year. More memes began to pop up blaming 2016 for all the horrible things happening and collectively we agreed 2016 was to blame. My favorite memes involve children in the future asking about 2016 and parents grabbing alcohol before discussing the clustercuss we all experienced.

For some, it was the never ending string of celebrity deaths. Alan Rickman. David Bowie. Prince. George Michael. Carrie Fisher. Debbie Reynolds. All the others I don’t feel like Googling because it will just remind me how bad it actually was.

Maybe it was the fact that our country is clearly divided and not ok with our president-elect, Donald “I don’t actually know how to be president” Trump. Like more than 50 percent of the country, I did not vote for him, but in a year of constant misfortune, I don’t know why I’m surprised he actually won. Perhaps you’re still amazed that we learned Russia hacked our election and people aren’t really talking about it – you know, not like it’s a big deal or anything.

Ok, I’m done being political.

For too many, 2016 hit us personally. I lost two of my grandparents. With my grandfather, we didn’t want to say goodbye but we knew it was time. My grandmother, his wife, was a total shock to our family, and one we’re still feeling more than month later. My beloved Gomer, the alien dog who brought me so much joy, died the day I returned from a business trip.

Realistically I know 2016 isn’t to blame. It was simply a bad year and 2016 is our scapegoat. We can’t explain why so many tragedies occurred, so we attack the common denominator in every situation.

But was it all bad?

Being perhaps an overly reflective person, this is the question I’ve been asking myself as we finally approach the end. Surely there were bright spots we’ve lost in all the darkness. Inspired by my best friend sharing her favorite memories of the year, I decided to write down some of mine and realized maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.


As you can see, I have a lot to celebrate, from late nights to good movies to musicals to everything in between. I made new friends, said goodbye to old friends and continue to grow into who I really am. Two of the biggest reasons I still think 2016 was a success comes down to my relationships and the changes happening in my professional life, as weird as that sounds.

Relationally

“No man is a failure who has friends” and my relationships are a great reminder of this (thanks It’s a Wonderful Life). My life has kind of been all over the place this year, literally and figuratively if you consider my move and all the places I’ve traveled. Throughout everything, my friends and family kept me sane.

Moving to a new state is challenging, even when your family is close. I left a lot of great people in Pittsburgh and spent a few months thinking I would never find people in Buffalo. Little by little, I built a great roster of new friends who continue to add so much to my life. Thank you, Buffalonians, for welcoming me and loving me and being awesome.

My family’s glee that I moved to the Buffalo abruptly turned to horror as I started to make some questionable (in their eyes) decisions. Yes, I quit my full time job and a profession I had a master’s degree in to pursue ????? I put the question marks because I’m still unsure. Now I work at Sephora and I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT IT – from my coworkers to the company to my discount. But I still know there’s more to come, I just don’t know what it is yet. I understand their concern and belief that maybe I should’ve stayed at my well-paying job until I figured everything out, but where’s the fun in that. Don’t worry guys, 2017 is going to be lit professionally for me.

Finally of course, we have the great support system I left in Pittsburgh, most notably my best fran and favorite human bean Samantha. I think it’s rare to have someone like her in your life, and if you are lucky to have one, don’t ever lose her. She stood by me through every step, from the tiniest step to largest jump, asking the hard questions and calling me out when I needed a reality check.

As long as I continue to surround myself with better people than myself, I think every year is good.

Professionally

I just mentioned it, but I kind of threw everything away this year. I spent two years at my last job in Pittsburgh, and I felt a restlessness I then attributed to needing a new job with different challenges. When I received the job that allowed me to move to Buffalo, I was elated. I knew it would be a lot of work and I was ready.

Looking through my planner, you can see my excitement wane over the months as my entries become less and less detailed to the point I’m basically begging myself to do work. I decided to fast, feeling my problem was a lack of focus. I prayed for God to calm my restlessness and allow me to see this work was necessary and I could find fulfillment in other areas. The result? It just made me more restless.

When I realized what the solution was, I didn’t want to tell my family. You see, to them I am flighty, chasing something I will never find because I need to find it where I am. Maybe they’re right, but all I know is I have to try so in 20 years I’m not in the same place because I convinced myself I had to stay.

My original plan was to ease away from everything. Get a second job to help pay off my debt (Sephora) and continue looking for what I should actually be doing in my life. After deciding this, the gnawing didn’t go away. This is the hard part of faith. No one else knows what God is doing in your life and it’s likely it won’t make sense to you either. All you know is you have to follow, so I did.

Without a job, I knew I had to quit mine. I called Sephora, even though I still didn’t know if I was hired, to let them know my availability changed from evenings to open. I sent my two weeks’ notice via email and silently panicked and begged my friend Sarah to meet me for dinner (and likely a drink or two). While I was on my way, I received a call – Sephora offering me a job. Not quite full time, but better than part time with guaranteed hours and benefits. I tried to remain calm and cool on the phone, but as soon as the call ended I screamed with joy and praise to my God who never lets me fall. I immediately called Sam and then my dinner with Sarah turned to one of celebration. Still afraid to face my family, I sent them a text the next day.

There is a bigger thing at play here as well. I have felt for years God calling me into ministry. I remember being at a youth camp and when asked to go to a separate room if we felt the call, I inexplicably stood up and went. I’ve always told God no, I wasn’t anything special, my life had to be simple and safe. I’ve tried my hardest, but God continues to call me into the unknown.

2017 remains more of what I cannot fully grasp. I know I need to make more money. I know I need to find my next step. I know I need to break ties. But I don’t know what any of that looks like. So I will keep praying and trusting.

If you’re reading this, you’ve done it! You’ve basically survived 2016. I know the new fear is what if 2017 isn’t any better? Like the DC Cinematic Universe, the trailers look so good but the movie disappoints. What if we’re so excited for next year we’re ultimately let down?

Here’s what I will tell you – more people we love and cherish will die, whether we know them personally or adore their work. You will have bad times in 2017 and it will seem like things are just going to get worse. If you keep thinking this way, you’ll inevitably be right. Life is as bad as we let it seem.

Next year, believe in the best instead of expect the worst. Even when the world seems to be falling apart, remember it’s always darkest before the dawn. In life, we choose to find triumph in tragedy and joy in misfortunes. Having a life that hits the notes you want isn’t the key to happiness, but remembering you have the power to find the good.

My prayer and wish is that we all believe in the best for 2017 and keep seeking what is good. Love your neighbors fiercely and never stop fighting for what is right.

Happy New Year!

I just want you to know

Sometimes I get depressed. I go through seasons where I’m unstoppable and then I hit valleys where I’m apathetic and filled with hopelessness. Because my family is no stranger to mental illness, this terrifies me.

I manage to wake up every day and go about my business, but the passion I have for life lives so far down I can barely access it. The things I love seem pointless. Today was a particularly bad day, coupled with a loss in our family.

I left work early, numb to everything. I came home, put on my pajamas and got into bed. I didn’t want to eat, but I did. I didn’t want to watch TV, but I did. I didn’t want to sleep, but I did. This is what happens. It’s like I lose my appetite for everything.

Eventually I reemerge just as bright as ever, but until then I deal with the constant feelings of inadequacy. Like I’ll never be a good writer or good at makeup or get my eating under control. I know what I need to do to get better but I can’t, like there’s a block or something.

Tonight I watched Brooklyn, practiced doing my makeup and listened to some music and felt more like myself. Sometimes it’s little things like this that remind me life is still beautiful.

Plus it’s snowing and I have a new coat. I love new seasons and the opportunities presented. I have hope for the good things that will happen in my life. I know God is in control.

I can get through this. I can and I will.

How I handle conflict

I don’t.

 

 

 

 

When you share your political position on Facebook, you’re opening yourself up to conflict. This is never my purpose. I don’t shy away from opinions different from mine, but I don’t care to get in a never ending comment reply argument where neither party will concede. Too many notifications.

I did this yesterday. I wrote my thoughts on the election, why I chose to vote for love and why white people need to shush up about what they cannot understand. I hoped my refusal to fight online would spur the trolls to stay away, but I was wrong.

Here’s the thing – I didn’t vote based on parties or policies. I don’t care about the things you’ve done. I looked at how the candidates treated people and how I thought they would lead. To me, this is most important. The greatest commandment given is to love God with all our mind, body and soul. The second and equally important is to love others as yourself. In my mind, I wasn’t loving other people like Jesus by choosing a candidate who used hateful words and threats toward people different than him.

My argument was Jesus. I wasn’t looking for a political spin or justification or for a white guy to tell me I was overreacting. Fortunately, I got it all.

My mom told me I was sliding down the liberal slope. At least she complimented my writing so like my path to the left, I’ll let it slide (ba dum tssss). A few replied in support, including one of our pastor’s wives, so that felt nice. But there were the people who wanted to engage more.

I won’t detail all of them, only one guy. He is the straight, white Trump supporter from a small town. He will tell you he didn’t want Trump, that he was backed into a corner, but it’s hogwash. I’m not saying Trump was his first choice, but when you spend your time defending him all over Facebook, you need to check yourself.

My thoughts weren’t overwhelming original, especially my point about now is the time for Trump supporters to see their role is to show they aren’t racist instead of telling the world who now accuses them they aren’t. I’ve known a lot of people who aren’t racists and then a lot of racists who will assure you they aren’t racist.

Part of the idea was white people need to stop telling everyone to not worry and move on. Sharing articles with facts doesn’t stop the fear in the heart of millions in America now facing at least four years with a guy who spent his entire campaign tearing them down. I know I’m very privileged, but as a woman, I was targeted.

Even worse, most of America shrugged that off. He’s a guy, it doesn’t mean anything. Dear country, that really hurts. Some of the most important women in my life have been sexually assaulted and it breaks my heart knowing a man like Trump is now our leader.

Anyway.

This guy will seek out anyone and try to justify himself. I wish I had the energy to go to every Trump supporter, especially the women, and comment lengthy replies on their statuses, but I simply unfollow them like an adult. Kidding (in most cases).

The day the world fell apart, when half of America grieved for Hillary Clinton’s loss, I shared an article about what it meant for America and explained why I cried and cried all day. This guy chimed with some asinine comment I don’t remember because it didn’t matter. The next day, even though I didn’t reply, he added another comment. Cool, troll.

He chimed in today not understanding why people were afraid. I wanted to scream at him in my comment that he would never understand because he didn’t want to. Still I ignored, but one of my Facebook friends decided to call out all the horrible things Trump has said against women, Muslims, Mexicans, the LGBTQ community and more.

Obviously, white guy commented back, addressing each group with a separate comment (real annoying for my notifications). He ended saying he could see why they were upset, but it was an overreaction and excused Trump’s statements as poor word choices.

I shared my feelings because now isn’t the time to remain silent when the country is divided. I’m not trying to fuel the conflict or further the divide. The only thing that will bring us back is love and I don’t think it will happen under Trump. But I will spend every second being true to my beliefs.

I didn’t share for mansplanation about equality.

But that is what I got. Hopefully he keeps commenting when I post my feelings so I can continue to ignore him and watch him continue to comment as if it matters. You aren’t commenting for conversation; you’re seeking conflict and to be right and to justify your choice.

If I say in a post, white people you need to shush up, your solution shouldn’t be the slide into the comments section with your flags waving.

What I did learn is people will see their side. Trump voters say we’re overreacting and cry babies and we need to move on not worry. Clinton supporters are fighting harder than ever and in disbelief no one sees what we see. Everyone else has checked out which might be more upsetting. Now is not the time to bow out.

People looking for a quick return to normalcy on social media are expecting unity to occur post haste in our country. Something cracked November 8. We cracked as a nation. Trump is the duct tape who will attempt to hold us together. The world will see this sloppy job and wonder why we couldn’t do it right the first time. The tape will fray and more and more we’ll see it can’t hold us together.

It will snap.

Do I think a president is the solution we need? No. We the people need to come together now and fight for equality. And keep fighting keep fighting keep fighting keep fighting and never give up. Having a leader with similar values helps, but you can’t put your hope on one person.

Unless that person is Jesus, obviously. I know He’s with us, but we need to make America great again by showing each other why we’re great.

I feel like this hit a lot of different areas, but that’s ok. Sometimes we need to ramble to find the truth.

I will not stop fighting

This is a post I’ve wanted to write for a week, but I knew it would be hard. I know some people like my mother who read and actively support my writing will be disappointed with me because I’m not following the right path. By ‘right,’ I mean what is seen as correct and the conservative, right-wing opinion.

I was raised to think Republicans were God’s chosen party and we needed to remain conservative. When my father registered as a Democrat, I remember thinking how horrible. I was appalled. How could anyone not be a Republican?

My eighteenth birthday fell two months before the 2008 election, and I registered Republican because that was my job as a Christian. This was the year Obama swept the nation with his message of hope. Friends in high school who couldn’t vote wore hoodies advertising his platform and I was disgusted. Didn’t they know better? My mom said he would ruin America.

In both of Obama’s election, I voted Republican. My justification was that, as a Christian, I had to vote for the candidate who represented my values best. Being pro-life, this typically comes down to the abortion issue. To me, everything else was politics. I assumed either would do a similar job in office, so I didn’t care about plans or policies.

Looking back, I realize it never occurred to me how momentous it was to witness our first black president. This is incredibly disappointing. I let myself think he wasn’t a good choice and as a white girl from a small town, I didn’t think anything of it because it didn’t seem like a victory to me.

When this election began, I was an ‘anyone but Trump’ person. Early on, it was simply because I saw it as a joke, not a threat. My mom really dislikes Hillary Clinton, so like many others I assumed she was the devil. When it came down to Clinton and Trump, I was a ‘they both suck’ person planning to go third party.

What changed?

More and more, I’ve let my brain think for itself. While I think it’s valuable to hear the opinion of those you respect, I would simply grab that opinion and let it become my own. I’ve learned to escape the trapping of what I should think and decide how I actually feel.

At first I laughed off Donald Trump’s racism because I didn’t see him as a threat. When I started paying attention, I was appalled, both at him and his supporters. I don’t care if you think he’s the fresh breath we need in the White House; you need to acknowledge his racism is unacceptable.

If you and your circle of influence weren’t directly insulted by Trump’s words, you don’t understand why they’re a big deal. To you, they’re just words because he’s a buffoon. Don’t take them seriously. We nominated a buffoon for president and now we’re told to not take what he says seriously. No straight, Christian, white person has the right to tell someone else not to worry when you don’t understand.

I say ‘person’ and not ‘man’ because it’s alarming how many women weren’t offended by Trump’s views and treatments toward us. We heard how he disrespected and violated women and still we voted for him, excusing his language because he’s a guy.

Republicans think they have a right to this country. They believe they are right and the liberal agenda will ruin us. We can’t survive four more years with a Democrat, they say. Christians stick with Republicans because traditionally they line up with our values. Traditionally, I’m ok with this. The problem is when Christians believe their holy Republican mission is greater than God’s mission for us.

What is the greatest commandment? Elect a Republican candidate to keep America conservative? Save our nation through our government? Make everything that isn’t Biblical illegal to keep people right with God?

Maybe you’re reading that thinking that’s not how it is and maybe I believe you, but none of that matters. If you’ve followed Jesus long, it’s likely you know the real commandment.

The religious people of the land loved to question Jesus and try to trip him up. Time and time again, he showed who he was and what it meant to actually follow God.

“One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question, ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’

Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.'” (Matthew 22)

We aren’t supposed to love God and support our political agenda. God doesn’t have a political agenda. He didn’t answer our prayers and put Trump in the White House. We did that with our free will. Jesus doesn’t have an elephant sticker on his car.

Politics are a messy part of religion because there isn’t a commandment telling us how to vote. But Jesus does tell us how to love.

My greatest purpose in this world is to love God and love others. Period. My neighbors aren’t just my physical neighbors or the people I know or people like me. I am called to love everyone. This means even if I agree with the stereotypes or think someone is a threat to my safety, I am still supposed to love them.

Now let’s look at both candidates. For the sake of this post, we’re going to eliminate all of the alleged criminal activity. We’re going to take away every stupid thing they’ve done in the past. Now we’re left with two people who campaigned this year for our vote.

Trump built his campaign on rallying the crowds and allowing hate to fill his words. Because we wanted change, we allowed it.

He threatened to keep all Muslims out because they’re terrorists. He wants to build a wall and deport Mexicans because they’re rapists and ‘bad hambres.’ He plans to take away marriage rights for the LGBTQ community. He’s spent an extraordinary amount of time belittling women with terms like ‘pig’ and ‘nasty,’ and that’s ignoring the tapes where he bragged about sexually assaulting women because of his power.

Because I’m not threatened, I wasn’t concerned. They’re just words, after all.

My agenda as a human is to love others. To hear threats against people I care about and take them seriously, not write them off because they’re ridiculous. It is to tell bullies they cannot keep us down.

In most elections, I don’t think it matters. Typically we have two politicians who probably won’t screw up too much. This time we had a real candidate and a hateful man and we elected him because we didn’t trust her and we needed change.

Like it or not, you supported his mission of inequality.

There is no way around this. I won’t call you all racists because I know you all aren’t and some of you would never admit it. But Donald Trump showed his true colors. Even if he changes his opinion, he’s said the words.

“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Trump isn’t offering us fruit, only poison.

I voted for who I thought would love others better through equality and inclusivity, instead of panic and fear. I hear the reasons you voted for Trump. Now is the time, regardless of who we voted for, to show love to everyone. This isn’t done by saying move on or telling them not to worry.

The election is over, yes, and like it or not Trump won. I thought at first this meant I had to be quiet now, but the fight is far from over. As a Christian, I thought I needed to be quiet and supportive of my leader, but that’s not right. I have to give up letting people know they are heard and loved to support a man? Is that Biblical? No.

Remember those guys who were thrown in the furnace for not bowing to a false God? Or how about any of the disciples who were killed for continuing to preach? Maybe Esther who stood up to the king to save her people, even though she knew it could take her life?

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

I will not accept this as normal. I will pray for our president and wish him well, but what we’ve allowed to happen will never be ok. We have put our fears and frustrations over our fellow Americans. I will keep fighting and making sure people know they are loved.

You can be upset and disappointed with me because of my radical liberal views, but that’s not who I am. I am someone who loves people and puts that above all else. I want equality and safety for all, not presumed safety at the expense of a group we stereotype and generalize.

I know people will read this and be mad and try to tear apart my argument. I know I’m not a theologian. I’m not trying to start a fight. But I will not pretend or hide my feelings about this for approval or to spare a fight.

I won’t stop fighting to love others, because that is equally as important as loving my God and Savior. This is only the beginning, and there is hope.