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The Break Up

I truly believe that the most difficult of break ups is not the romantic type, but the friendship break up.

You see, friendships are just…different.

In your heart, when in the beginning of a new romantic partnership, you are weighing your emotions against your experiences with the person you choose to spend the bulk of your time with, ultimately deciding if they are going to be the person with whom you spend the rest of your mornings..your life with.

Friendships are like that, in a sense.

But friendships are different, because the best of friends, those not tied to you by romantic intentions, are the people you truly share your most intimate selves with. Your friends have seen you at your absolute worst, both physically and emotionally. Your friends have comforted you during the storms of your life that left you questioning if you could carry on. Your friends celebrated in genuine delight with you when the storms ceased and wonderful opportunities came your way. And while you felt that the changes that naturally come with life could change your friendship, they never did. Because your friendship was strong enough to withstand absolutely anything that came it’s way.

Or so you thought.

Because unlike a romantic relationship, that could easily dissolve if both parties determined that the relationship was not beneficial to them, a friendship takes far longer to get over. Your friends are the people with whom you have chosen to invest your time. Your energy, emotions and heart are poured in to the friendship, and while similar to a relationship in that way, when a friend breaks your heart, especially sudden, the trauma can seem overwhelming.

I have had two friendship break ups in my life. Each person was crucial, during the journey of my life, to aiding me in navigating the uncertainty of my future. With these friends I shared some of the most intimate moments and discussions. One friend, in particular, was someone whom I had known for years, spending most of my adult life sharing major experiences, such as college and our transition in to the corporate world, together. We were close, and the fact that we were able to see one another every day as we were both employed by the same company, not only magnified our friendship, but strengthened our common bond.

Ultimately, life would guide me in a different direction, and this very literal shift in our dynamic affected our friendship as well. As we no longer saw each other daily, and no longer had the same interest at heart, our friendship quickly dissolved. I found, a short time later, that this person had allowed even a social networking site to define our former friendship, in the manner of an immediate “friend” deletion.

Another, sudden and swift friendship break up occurred in a rather similar manner. Like the first friend, this person and I shared a long history that spanned years. With this friend, I felt as if I could be my most raw and honest self, sharing opinions and emotions with them that I was even hesitant to share with my husband, as I was not sure how he would feel about them. When the single most devastating event to occur in my life thus far happened, she was there for me. This friend listened as I struggled with my faith, and she always had a kind word to offer. Any struggle that she faced I would reciprocate, sharing with her the words of wisdom I had available, my foremost intention to always protect and encourage my friend.

I’m not certain when I went wrong, or where. But I recall the night before she stopped being my friend. Like many other days preceding it, we had discussed the daily nuances of our lives, sharing our inner most feelings and silly comics guaranteed to make us chuckle. I sent her one that I found particularly funny, and we laughed in agreement. I fell to sleep that night, exhaustion weighing heavily in my bones as another long day wound to a close, and with my phone on vibrate, as is my nightly ritual to produce the most comfortable sleep I can achieve with small children in the house, I missed one of the messages she sent me. I awoke the next morning, to a notification on my phone, a simple message with a comic and her commentary following. When I hit the message window to reply to her, I received this message “We’re sorry, but this person isn’t currently accepting messages from you.” I had been friendship blocked.

Again, without warning, and again, so suddenly, a friendship had dissolved before my eyes with little explanation as to why.

Both of these friend break ups were difficult to understand at first, and I wondered if I were the problem, the common denominator in the dissolution of these important relationships. For many months thereafter, I would blame myself, wondering what I had done wrong, knowing that I would never receive the answers I desperately sought.

Yet now, I know.

God shapes us in our constant and ever changing walk through life. As we change, as we are transformed by our experiences, so too do our friendships change. Some friendships are strengthened and some bonds become even tighter, while others are doomed to fail. It is not the fault of either party when they do, as often, a lesson that only perspective has taught me, these relationships were flawed from the beginning. When trials test either party, if the flaws are too great, and the friendship will not succeed.

I do find myself missing these former friends at times. I certainly still wonder where the winds of their lives have drawn them too. I wonder if they are happy, and if they are doing well.  I am, and I will always be this person, the one who cares with her entire heart. And though it is painful and bittersweet, when I find myself missing them in these moments, I remind myself that I have to let them go. It is okay to move on, to create a better person in myself, even if that means I have to leave others behind.

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A reminder that you are worthy-a letter to a boy I’ve never met

I have never met you, but I know your name, and I have heard your story. We have never had the opportunity to speak to one another, and I find that you have already left an impression on my heart. I am writing you this letter because I have stood where you currently rest, and I want to remind you that even if it feels like you are alone in your struggle, someone on the other side of the globe is thinking about and praying for you.

My letter, to you, the boy I have never met who has left his mark on my heart.

By traditional standards, I am not considered beautiful. There are physical aspects of myself I have always wished to change. Ways that I would internally criticize myself, and markers which I would use to base myself against my peers, confirming my internal dialogue that I was not friendly, nor smart, witty nor outgoing enough. I would judge my height, a reminder that I would never be tall enough to play volleyball, or be a model. I was too short, my voice was too high pitched. My eyes were too brown. The list of my flawed features read longer than a grocery store receipt, and I was disappointed in myself.

I never felt as if I measured up.

Being a teenager is difficult. Navigating the mounting responsibilities of impending adulthood can be overwhelming, and can be even more stressful when you are battling yourself as well. Feeling as though you must be the perfect son, the perfect student, the perfect brother…it can all weigh heavy upon your heart when your heart is already incredibly conflicted.

Right now, as you stand in front of a mirror and criticize your reflection, you are likely measuring every negative. You are pointing out the flaws that seem to be so glaringly obvious to you, but invisible to everyone else. You see the exhaustion in your eyes. You are tired. Tired of feeling this way, and tired of the physical toll this is taking upon your body.

I want you to know this, and every time that you begin to doubt yourself, I want you to look back on these words and remember this incredible truth about your life.

You are so worthy. God created you in His image because there is no one like you upon the entire planet, and He knew that your presence, your personality and your physical presence, was needed on the Earth. He knew how much joy you would bring your family, especially your mother, and He knew that you were going to be the perfect role model for your brother. The same things which feel so overwhelming, which you feel like you are drowning under, are the things he created you for. And I promise, that you are not letting anyone down.

You are loved, and you make such a difference in the world. Right now, you may not realize it, but someone thousands of miles away is thinking about you. You are touching that person’s life (mine), and you are changing me for the better.

I know life is hard. I’m nearing 30, and I still question and doubt myself. I still criticize my appearance occasionally, and judge my physical imperfections. I still doubt my choice in outfit, mood, hairstyle.

But I am reminded, in the moments when I doubt myself the most, that God created me to serve a purpose on this Earth. Whatever I consider flaws, he considers perfect. He wouldn’t have me any other way, because in His eyes I am exactly who I am supposed to be. And he feels the same way about you.

So dear boy I’ve never met, I hope after reading this, you know just how much you mean to me.

I hope to meet you some day.

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The power of your presence

I sat for the first time that day, knowing the break would be short and likely interrupted at a moment’s notice for me to fulfill a request..or refill a cup of milk. As I spent those few moments of rest gathering my composure and energy for the next round of duties that day, I briefly retrieved my smartphone from it’s resting place securely fastened in to the charger, and pressed the familiar blue F, impatiently waiting as the application loaded, the moments and fragments of my friends’ lives that they had chosen to share populating my screen at once. As I numbing scrolled through the vast array of pictures, shared articles and status updates, I came upon her status. I’m not certain why that particular status stood out amongst the others, and yet I felt called to read it, digesting each word as I could read her emotions poured across the screen.

Instantly, I felt my heart break for her..because I had been her. The very position she stood in her life currently was where I stood one year ago, questioning everything. My self. My faith. My circumstances. It felt as if the weight of the world rested upon my shoulders alone, and in a world that was determined to test my strength, remaining positive felt nearly impossible.

Perhaps that is why her status called to me on that day.

In spite of the circumstances she has been through, situations that would crush others under their depth and frequency, she rises above. She never complains, nor becomes angry. Even when the storm seems to be striking her the hardest, battering her sails, she still floats, a true reminder of how remarkably a positive attitude can shape a person.

We met for the first time in high school, and while we were not close in those short (yet to someone who absolutely dreaded high school, seemingly the longest 4 years of my life) she made an impact on everyone she encountered, including myself. She always graced the halls with a smile on her face, an infectious ray of energy that made her one of the most popular members of our graduating class.

I ran in to her a few years later, at a clothing store where I was working to gain more experience before applying for corporate jobs. I’m not certain of where her journey had carried her in the years between high school and this meeting, but she accepted me instantly, embracing me in a hug not because it was expected but because she was, and still is, completely genuine. I was honestly surprised that she had recognized me (after all, I was the second runner up for “most quiet” ) in our senior yearbook highlight reel, and made it my purpose not to draw attention to myself, but still she treated me as she would one of her best friends, engaging me in conversation and making me feel welcome.

We are friends on social media, and that is how I was able to come across her status on that day. Throughout the years, I have seen the circumstances of her life bring her to a man who would later cause unimaginable hurt..what seemed like the worst devastation at the time, and looking back now, was an incredible blessing for her. She has met the love of her life, a truly wonderful man who, through my brief social media interactions, has treated me like one of his own friends, and together they have created a beautiful life and a gorgeous family.

Life is testing her now, and I know from my perspective, a year later, how in the moment everything can feel very overwhelming. Under the weight of constant negativity, it’s hard to see what the lesson is, or why situations are occurring in the time and order that they are. I know that she must have these questions too.

In spite of everything happening to her, she remains positive. She is such an inspiration in the way she carries herself, especially in times of trial. And friend? Through her I am learning what it is like to treat every day as a new opportunity to rise to the occasion.

As we navigate the paths of our lives, especially in a social media age, we are very much unaware of what our impact is on others, or how the words we speak on a computer screen affect those who are reading them. But across the state, or across the globe, our friends are logging in to their social media pages, and they are reading. They are noticing every action you make, every word you type.

You are making an impact, whether you realize it or not.

Friend, I encourage you to make it a good one.

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When exhaustion steals your joy

I am tired. I am to the bone, utterly tired. My eyelids sting with the weight of a nap that will not come for several hours and my limbs ache. I think we all feel this way, some of us more often than others. We find exhaustion creeping in to the very spaces of our body, taking residence in our limbs, our hearts, and our minds.

Friends, we don’t always have to be physically exhausted to FEEL exhaustion.

Exhaustion can come in the form of a tired soul. After negative experiences wear us down, we can find ourselves feeling exhausted at the mere thought of trying to be joyful. To feel positive among a sea of negative circumstances is not only difficult, sometimes it can feel near impossible.

I understand how exhaustion can steal joy, because I have been there. I have felt so tired, so overwhelmed with the stresses of circumstances out of my control that I felt as if I constantly wanted to sleep. Sleep was comforting and did not demand my attention. Sleep was the one time within my otherwise hectic day that I found solace. Sleep allowed me to quiet my thoughts, those doubts that would crowd my mind and convince me that I was failing in every aspect of my life.

I was not a perfect mother, because I was running on empty. I devoted my time to a full time job, over the course of eight hours distributing slices of myself to others, leaving my family at the end of the day with a shell of a person who had no energy left to interact. My children found me irritable. I felt an incredible sense of guilt as I watched my children’s faces collapse in disappointment, when I requested a nap rather than read them a story, or play a game with them.

I was not a wonderful wife either. I did not prepare meals, or interact with loving words and kind gestures towards my husband. In my angered state, so tired with the world, I found my moments spent on edge, wanting to retreat to time with myself, rather than spend time with my husband.

In those moments, in that season of my life that at the time loomed overhead, feeling as if it were never going to cease, I was joy-less. I was like an epidemic friend, and I infected everyone who surrounded me. I noted, in their faces and in the way that those closest to me carried themselves, that I was infecting them with my negativity. My exhaustion was stealing their joy.

Friends, I know there is no simple remedy for curing exhaustion. Exhaustion of the body can often be alleviated with a long rest. Exhaustion of the mind can take far longer. But they are both similar in the fact that rest can help.

I rested my tired heart in God. I realized, one evening when the weight of the world seemed to be crushing me, that I could not do it alone. Friends, as the stream of droplets from the shower head washed over my worn down body, the rivulets of warm tears falling from my eyes combined with the flow of water, and I prayed for guidance. I prayed for an end to the negativity that had riddled my life. I cried for patience and for forgiveness. I cried as I asked of Him that he show me the next move to make. I cried until the water became cold and my physical body matched the condition of my heart.

He answered, in a way more striking that anything I could have ever dreamed of. He removed me from a toxic environment, the very environment that was wearing me thin and stealing my joy.

Friend, look around you. What is exhausting you right now? Is there something physical that is wearing you thin? Is it a person or a situation? Or is the force that is stealing your joy less tangible? Is it your very thoughts, convincing you that you are not worthy or deserving enough? Whatever factor or factors it may be, I urge you to pray to Him. Ask Him to remove anything not sent by Him. I guarantee that you will be astounded at the difference this simple prayer makes in your life.

I was so tired, for far too long. But now, I find after many difficult nights and trials that felt as if they would shatter me, I feel well rested, comforted in the fact that I no longer have to do it alone.

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Conversations with God

We visit often and yet, I’ve never met Him in person. It will, hopefully, be many years until I do. He finds me in the quiet moments of my life, folding laundry, or rinsing out the cups of milk or juice dismissed from a long abandoned meal. He finds me in those moments before bed as my head lay on my pillow, quietly recounting the moments of my day where I felt as if I excelled, and rewinding the moments I wish I could do over, like a coach replaying a game tape for his team. He finds me in the busiest parts of my day, where I can find myself getting overwhelmed at the length of a particularly long line, or a large crowd, and He calms my anxiety.

We talk often, and though most of our dialogue is unspoken, I know He hears my words. I can see his answers to my questions in the moments of my day, the way he continuously provides for myself and my family. He encourages me to encourage others also. Together we stumble across a quote on pinterest, or a story online that we feel like sharing, letting others know that this seemingly negative season of their lives too shall pass, and that they are worthy of good things.

We share these things, and even though I’m not sure if I’m reaching anyone when I do, I know the ways in which He wokes, and I’m hopeful that I am reaching someone too.

He reaches me through the power of prayer also. Sometimes I wonder if what I think are His calls are actually my own thoughts, but I dismiss the notion when I receive an email, or a text, confirming what I have been asked to do, and I know that He is asking me to pray for someone. He thinks that I can have an impact on that person’s life, and so I pray. For their health. For a season of abundance and security. For their lives. I pray, and when I send these silent prayers up to Him, I know He’s listening, taking mental notes.

Recently, I felt a very strong urge to pray for someone. I was sitting on the rocking chair in our living room, reading a book about spiritual encounters (Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven), when I felt a very strong, almost uncomfortable urge, to pray for someone. I say uncomfortable because it was so powerful, so overwhelming, that I was honestly taken aback. I have always prayed for certain people when I start one of these conversations with Him, but I have never, never had Him come directly to me, and prompt me to pray for someone else. The first time I dismissed the feeling, and continued reading my book as my children played rambunctiously in the background. And then, He urged me again. The feeling was stronger this time, and so I prayed for this person. I’m not sure what the outcome of my prayers was. While this person is a part of my life, we don’t have the opportunity to talk often. But I know this. I do hope that whatever I was being called upon in that moment to help heal, has happened.

I know that after that experience, I found myself confused.  I wondered why He had chosen me to pray for this person, and what purpose I was supposed to serve. I didn’t understand. Then this morning, our doorbell rang. It was a UPS delivery for a book I requested several weeks ago to be delivered, and had since forgotten about.

The title of the book?

Finding your way back to God.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I honestly think that this book was delivered at this time when questions swirled in my heart, because He knew just how to soothe them, and how to answer the things I wondered about.

In our conversations, I often ask Him for signs. Signs that I am doing things correctly, in the plan for my life. Signs that I am the best person that I can be. I think that today, in receiving this book, he was sending me the sign He knew I needed.

We find each other in our conversations at the most random of times. I typically do most of the talking. But today, and in the moment he asked me to pray for the other person, He was doing the talking. And I couldn’t help but listen.

 

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A purposeful life

For many, words are simply the tools we use to communicate. Words construct text messages and convey feelings. Words have meaning, but aren’t always meaningful.

For others, words are the instruments we use to encourage. To motivate, inspire. To change lives and change feelings.

Recently several individuals have been brought in to my life, at critical times in theirs. I have wondered, upon different occasions, how I can help them. I know that they are being introduced in to my life for a reason, but I have been unclear as to what that reason is. I have prayed, silently asking for signs and other indicators of what my purpose may be.

Then, I realized exactly what the reason was.

My words.

I have always been an awkward person in every sense. I feel like I have gangly arms and carry myself in an uncoordinated way. I have never been the most popular, nor the prettiest, but I have always been able to express myself confidently using my words.

I realized that these people were being introduced in to my life so that I could show them encouragement. I could use my words to guide them through their weakest points.

Last year, when I was facing a multitude of negative events in a seemingly never ending series, I could have benefited from the kind words and encouragement of another person. I could have felt comforted in the knowledge that negative situations and negative people do not last forever. It ‘s truly amazing what knowledge like that can do.

So, in those moments when I question my purpose for these people, I am reminded. That rather than impact with grand gestures or monetary donations, I can impact with my words.

And I’m hopeful, that if I have been able to reach, and inspire even ONE person, that I have made a difference, and lived my true purpose.

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