After two years of singleness, I found myself with three guys who wanted to date me, and date them, I did. It was wild. It was a whirlwind. Spoiler alert: here I am a few weeks later, still single. Here's what I learned.
When we sit down next to loved ones and strangers and acquaintances and break bread, we are building love. We are building community.
I encourage you not to stay in an echo chamber in your life. Don't stay stuck in the places where everyone around you tells you what you want to hear, what's safe to hear, what's comfortable to hear.
In the middle of hot days and crazy thunderstorms, I read some great books and abandoned some not-so-good ones and made some progress on my summer reading list, too. Here are the 12 books I read (and listened to) in July!
How cool is it that when we gather, we can encourage and spur each other on in our worship, crying out to God and calling out to one another as we praise?
May this season be one of growth, grace, and goodness. May we walk step by step alongside Jesus, God made man to save us, as He walks forward for us to the cross. May we grasp a little better this year how big that is.
Tomorrow, more than 900 women will gather in a room. How often does that happen?
This summer has been a season of waiting for me. Waiting all summer for my big, exciting road trip. Waiting for my job to evolve to the next stage, the one where my hours and responsibilities grow and my bank account (thankfully) does the same. Waiting to move into a new home with a new roommate in a new part of town. Waiting to launch a website that has been months in the remaking and redesigning. Waiting for the actual seasons to change so the heat and humidity would be left behind.
This past year has been an even longer season of waiting for me, too. Waiting to figure out which city to call home-- a new one, or this one here by the river? Waiting to meet somebody to be my person. Waiting for the community that challenges me, loves me, and becomes my people. Waiting for clarity. Waiting for discernment. Waiting for direction.
Sometimes it can be hard to define waiting. It can be hard to know if we are just ignoring, or if we aren't ready, or if it's already in front of us but we just haven't realized it yet. But waiting, according to the dictionary, is "the action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens."
Waiting is an action.
I picked up a book that had long been on my shelves, one written by an author of fiction that I love, and just fourteen pages in, I was met with this passage that struck me:
I couldn't have written a more accurate passage to bring waiting to life.
Waiting is hard and it can be heavy. It can feel hopeless at times and hopeful at others. It's full of longing and learning. It's a time of cultivation and creation. It is full of so much searching and seeking and learning how to stay, to be still, to speak and to be silent too.
I am not any less because I am waiting. The things that I am waiting for will surely add goodness and richness and beauty to my life, but my life is not bad or poor or ugly right now.
My life right now is good, even though I'm waiting.
My heart right now is full, even though it is still longing for things yet to be.
My identity is confident and sure, even though roles might change and relationships will come and go.
Sue Monk Kidd also talked about how the imagery of cocoons and butterflies resonated with her during her own season of waiting, and I love what she says here about cocoons:
I'm learning that waiting is both active and passive, that it's necessary even in the ways that it is hard, that it is worthwhile to enter into it fully and wholly and openly.
Only after seasons of waiting can new fruit come forth.
Once upon a time (because this is how all the best stories begin), I met a girl named Macy. I can't remember the specifics, but I knew that I had heard so many great things about her from so many people around my church, Hope. She just seemed like somebody I wanted to be friends with. Now, I've probably known her for more than a year, and I'm so incredibly grateful I get to call her friend.
This girl is a gem. She has this infectious joy and radiance about her that just lights up every room she's in. She's absolutely beautiful, completely genuine in every way, and one of the sweetest people I have ever called friend. She has a warm and welcoming way about her that makes you feel loved and valued when you interact with her-- she asks great questions, encourages endlessly, loves deeply, and is just such a delight.
You know those people that just make life sweeter and brighter and better? That's Macy. I love it.
Macy chases after Jesus in a way that is just so evident and so beautiful. Every conversation I've had with her, it's so clear that her heart is completely for Him, and that she's living every day in pursuit of what He has for her, even if it's things she never expected or necessarily wanted herself. That's true faith.
I'm so grateful for the times I've gotten to sit with Macy over iced chai lattes and just catch up. She doesn't live in Richmond anymore sadly, and I treasure the times she comes through town and I get to grab time with her! I've always left feeling encouraged and a lot less alone in whatever season of life I'm going through. She just gets it.
She's always adventuring around the country (and making me jealous), making time for the people she loves and always making the most of her trips and explorations. Even though she's a new teacher this year and I'm sure busier than she's ever been, she still took time to be part of this project and support what I'm doing here. What a friend.
I'm so excited and honored to share Macy's story with you!
My name is Macy. I am 22, a recent graduate of Clemson University, and a Social Studies teacher at Blythewood High School outside of Columbia, South Carolina. After years of saying I never wanted to return to the Columbia area, I have once again found myself here. And I love it. Navigating through the waters of post-grad, “real world” life is beautiful and scary all at the same time, but I know that wherever I am His hand guides me. This story is just a glimpse of my life, but it needs to be shared because it seems to follow and impact me throughout every season so far.
When I was four years old, I remember standing in front of my bathroom mirror, barely tall enough to see myself in it. I was wearing a turtleneck, jumper, and my hair was a wreck (some things never change). I asked myself, “Do I think I am pretty?” Immediately I heard a voice in my head that said, “No.” Unknown to me at the time, but my war with insecurity had just begun.
Insecurity followed me and planted more roots within me throughout the following years. It seemed like the older I became, the more I grew displeased with myself. In high school, this led to bad decision after bad decision in a search to find fulfillment, satisfaction, and a sense of belonging. This search mostly occurred through an obsession with relationships with boys. As long as I had a boy’s attention, I was silent about anything else that happened. I remember the first time a boy took advantage of me. I did nothing to stop it because I thought that a moment of desire from a boy would be enough to fill the insecurity in my heart. It never worked, but for some reason I kept thinking it would. I entered a season of continual sexual involvement with boys, never once finding strength within myself to fight for my worth. I’ve been taken advantage in many situations, from a room full of people to riding alone in a car with a boy. Insecurity makes us do things that we know are wrong, but appear to be easier to do than stand our ground and fight. So we give in. And we may feel okay for a moment, but that quickly fades.
When I began walking with the Lord in college, insecurity still followed me. While the impact of insecurity looked different than before, I still felt it deep within my soul. Insecurity left a constant feeling of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. If anything, it actually continued to increase and plant more roots within my soul. I am pretty open now about the fact that I did not enjoy most my college experience. I never felt like I belonged and experienced some of the loneliest years yet. It was a hard season, both emotionally and physically (ask me about breaking my foot some time). Yet, I endured. And I learned. And I grew.
Insecurity is often coupled with an abuse of the word “enough.” If I could just be skinny enough, pretty enough, rich enough, funny enough, smart enough, cool enough, then I would defeat insecurity. When Jesus went to the Cross, He took all of this with Him. The only “enough” that mattered after the Cross was that Jesus became enough. He is the only thing that is truly enough to satisfy me. The mindset that if I could just be enough for someone or something then I would defeat insecurity was not necessarily wrong. It was just flawed. I tend to fill in the position of someone or something with temporary things, but rarely turn towards Jesus for help.
The thing that annoys me about how we handle dealing with insecurity is that we treat it like a battle. A battle is a one-time thing. Insecurity is not a one-time thing. It is something that has been deeply driven into so many of our souls by sin, culture, and the enemy himself. It’s difficult to accept, but when I think poorly of myself, I actually insult God Himself. In Genesis, we see God looking down on Creation with favor. Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good….” Who am I to look upon an aspect of his creation, myself, and tell Him I don’t like it?
If we are going to truly fight and defeat insecurity, we have to be ready to endure the many battles that accompany this war. The sweet thing about this war is that we already know the end result. If we endure and fight, we will be victorious. Our anchor is in our Savior, not anything of this world. Our Savior is ready to bring beauty to these ashes.
Insecurity has brought me many scars. The thing I love about scars is how much we can learn from them. Scars show us the painful effects of a decision, situation, or choice while teaching us to not engage in them again. My scars hold me accountable. They allow me to be able to better help others. Do not be ashamed of your scars, they are part of your story. Insecurity may be a part of your story, but it is not your entire story. Jesus’ last words on the Cross were “Tetelestai.” This translates to “it is finished.” This means that insecurity is finished for us. It no longer has to keep domain over our lives. We can fight it.
I'm learning lately that life is a lot about just showing up.
In the mornings, when I'm only half-awake and still mostly grumpy-- show up, at the dining room table, with my Bible and my journal and a mug of coffee still too hot to drink. Be present before the Lord.
When the work day hours begin, when I'm not feeling inspired and my to-do list is miles long-- show up, find a place to start, and begin there. Do the work.
When the evening cools down, when I'm tired and Netflix beckons-- show up, put the sneakers on, take your keys, and go walk. Let the wind blow around you, see the sun set in the sky before you, feel the strength coming back as you move your muscles and stretch your legs. Go move.
When a friend gets news that is crushing, devastating, horrifying, and tragic-- show up, stand by her side, offer the few words you can find, and just love. Be there in love.
When there's a meeting on your calendar for this evening but the day has been long and draining-- show up, sit around the table, and let the wisdom, passion, and hearts of those women recharge you. Be fueled by their fire.
I want to show up. I want to be present. The news around me reminds me that this life is so short, and I don't want to stay asleep and afraid and miss it all. I want to rise up, awake from my slumber, and show up.
We need each other. We need people that show up and don't bail when life is hard or heavy. We need friends that prove through their presence and their constancy that they are trustworthy and true. We need to be reminded through the people that love us that the Lord's love is endless and relentless. When they show up, we remember that He does too, and that He always will.
Show up today. Be there. Be present. The Lord meets us when we show up ready, willing, and open. He will make it all worth something wonderful.
Find more Friday Freewrite posts here!
Today's Blog-tember prompt: Write a letter to sixteen-year-old you. Any advice or funny stories?
This is about to get real, so get ready.
Dear 16-year-old me,
Oh, sweet girl. I have so many things to tell you. High school is so hard, I know. You feel alone and your heart is broken. You moved all the way across the country last year and it totally rocked your whole world-- everything and everyone you knew and loved is so far away and it's really hard to be the new girl in a school full of cliques.
I know it's hard to be in hallways full of people and feel alone. I know it's hard to hear the hateful words they are whispering as they pass you and to remember those words aren't truth. I know it's hard to see the vicious threats come through to your inbox, to realize that even church girls can be bullies. I know it's hard to rise above it, to try to be the bigger person, to let the words roll off your back when they're cutting into you like daggers. I know it's hard to feel like there is any good in your world right now.
Sweet girl, if only I could dry your tears and whisper words of love to you. If only I could go back and make all the bad go away, take the hurt away, and wrap you up in a bubble so the bullies can't get to you. They are cruel. They are hurtful. They are in the wrong.
I'm so proud of you. I'm proud of how you keep falling back on your faith, even when it feels like the whole world was falling apart. I'm proud of how you keep opening your heart, even though it has been so badly broken. I'm proud of the words you spill onto pages and pages of journals, because they are honest and true and raw and you are brave enough to write them down.
The rest of high school will be hard, I can't lie to you about that. You will get through it. You will come home crying and collapse on the couch more times than I can count, but you will make it through.
You will make new friends that you will still talk to even six years later. You will fall in love with a boy for the first time and it will be life-changing to spend two years with him. You will find your passions and pursue them, through leading worship at your church, and through the school newspaper, and through your own writing.
Those years are the hardest ones. They're full of more heartache and heartbreak than any teenager should have to endure. But those years are the ones that set the stage for a glorious story of redemption that your Creator is writing through your life. Those years are the darkness, but the light is coming, and it's going to be radiant. People will see a change in you and they will know it's only Jesus. That's a good, good thing, love. That's what this life is all about.
I know you don't understand why anyone in the world likes high school, and why any adult ever says that it's the best time of your life. Even when you're 23, you won't understand that. That's okay. High school was hell for you, but the rest of your life? Girl, it gets GOOD. Really good.
Hold tight to your faith and your family. Know that your parents are always going to be your biggest fans, your rock-solid foundation, your best friends, and your most trusted confidantes. They love you. Let them. Be good to them, even though you're moody and hurting and you want to lash out. Know that it won't always feel like life is a battle of you against the world. There are good, trustworthy, honest, kind people, and you'll meet them soon. They'll love you relentlessly and you'll learn to trust friends and community again. It will be the best thing that ever happens to you.
Hear me when I say this, sixteen-year-old self: You are brave. You are beautiful. You are beloved. You are going through hard times, but they are not in vain. You are worthy of love. You have been created by a God who loves everything about you, even when the people around you don't. You are where you are for a purpose, because it's part of a bigger story that is better than you ever dared to hope. You are hurt, but you will heal. You are struggling, but you will rejoice soon.
It's always darkest before the dawn. Hold tight. Hold on to hope. I'm so proud of you.