Sometimes Unfortunate Events Make Way for Better Ones

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This isn’t always true, but sometimes after time has passed, you’ll look back on something not so great that happened and see that it made way for something better to occur.

This can usually be seen with job losses, breakups, and even smaller day-to-day things, such as canceled plans.

That job loss is horrible at the time, but it may be the push you need to look for something better. A breakup may crush you, but it may be the only way you would have left a bad situation. Canceled plans may disappoint you, but they may make you available for something better or for a night in that you desperately need.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a little short on cash, and I really wanted to go to homecoming—it was our last one, afterall. Tickets got more and more expensive the closer it got to the dance, so during the early bird sale, I asked my friends if we were going to go, and everyone decided against it. I made it clear that I was not willing to pay full price later.

Well, the week before the dance, one of our friends ended up being nominated for homecoming court. Suddenly, just like that, everyone was going. Of course, that made complete sense; they had a new reason to attend the dance to support our friend.

I, however, felt hurt and betrayed. I probably could have asked my parents if I could still go, and knowing them, they would have gladly given me the extra cash for the more expensive ticket. But I was—and still am—stubborn. It was the point of the thing.

I was also going through a pretty rough semester. The guy I had liked the year previous—who had also been one of my best friends—was not really speaking to me. I felt ousted from the people who mattered most, and I was terrified of what the end of the year meant: graduation and college. I cried pretty much every day on the way home from school that year.

Not going to homecoming with my friends really hurt on top of everything else I was going through, but had everything gone my way, and had we all bought our tickets when they were cheap, I may not be married to my husband right now. Yep, that’s right! Had I gone to that dance, my husband and I may never have started dating.

You see, when everyone decided to go to the dance at the last minute, I decided to grab a few friends who I knew weren’t into school dances, and I invited them to go to a drive-in movie that homecoming night.

Even in California, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck at night in October requires jackets, hats, and blankets. It was cold!

And on that chilly night, my husband offered to share a blanket with me so that our friend who didn’t bring a blanket could take one of ours.

Had I gone to the dance, had everything worked out, my husband and I would have never shared that blanket, and I would never have started wondering if he liked me, which snowballed into us finally admitting feelings for one another a few months later.

It feels like the end of the world when our friends hurt our feelings or when we begin to feel left out and alone. You may not necessarily meet your future husband due to a friend hurting you, but take heart in knowing that things will get better. I’m a strong believer that things usually turn out how they should.

So when you’re in a particularly hard time, take a deep breath, and know that you might look back at things very differently once you’ve had time away from the situation.

And make the best of those unfortunate times. If you can’t go to homecoming, go see a movie. If you lost your job, enjoy the time off. If you’re facing a breakup, go do all of the things your ex didn’t like to do with you.

Sometimes things aren’t quite as bad as they seem.

Remember That You Get to Choose

When you’re a little kid, most of your choices are made for you—what you wear, what you eat, where you go, what you do. As you get older, more and more choices become your own. While the freedom and independence you gain are certainly benefits to that whole “adulting” thing, they can also present challenges for your mind and heart along the way.

This is especially true when those decisions you make pertain to the relationships you form.

Dating can be challenging in a number of different ways. For starters, it’s confusing at times. Does he like me? Do I really like him? Why hasn’t he texted me back? I wonder what he meant when he said that he had a “nice” time.

It also takes up a significant amount of your time and energy that you may or may not be investing in the right person. Of course, each date or relationship can also prepare your heart for a relationship with the right person.

There are many decisions to be made in a relationship—where you go for dinner and what show you’re going to binge watch next together on Netflix or Hulu and (as things get more serious) what you’re doing for certain holidays and what your future together looks like.

But there are also plenty of decisions that you make all on your own. There are certainly quite a few pressures that come along with relationships, but remember that you are the one who gets to decide how quickly you want to move and how far you want to go in certain situations. You don’t have to kiss someone before you’re ready. You don’t have to have sex before you’re ready. You don’t have to do anything that you’re not ready to do before you’re ready to do it.

Many years ago, I thought that I was interested in a guy who was interested in me. But the more time we spent together, the more I realized that I saw him as nothing more than a friend.

One evening when we went to see a movie together, he held my hand in the car. I didn’t want to hold hands with him. I realize that this isn’t a huge thing, but it was to me, and I wanted my hand free from his. He tried to hold my hand again during the movie, but I told him that I needed a free hand to bite my nails since it was a scary movie.

It might have been one of the lamest excuses I’ve ever used—and, if something like that happened now, I would simply tell the person that I don’t want to hold hands with him if I didn’t want to—but it’s what I said at the time. The bottom line is this: I didn’t want to hold hands with this boy, so I didn’t hold hands with him.

And you can also make the choice not to do the things that you don’t want to do. Life is full of so many choices every single day, and you have the ability to make the ones that are best for you.

Be bold enough to let your personal choices be your own.

We All Have Our Own Struggles


The great Hannah Montana once sang a lyric that’s so simple yet so jam-packed with truth:
Nobody’s perfect.

We’re all flawed, and you’re likely never going to meet someone who has it completely together. Despite what Instagram might make you think, most people have at least a little bit of junk in their lives. Whether it’s personal struggles or things we’re facing in our relationships, we all have our own issues.

It’s easy to hear about another person’s strongholds in life and immediately become judgmental—after all, there’s no way that you would do that or be like that if you were in the other person’s shoes, right? You know what’s a little bit tougher but so much better, though? Loving that person in spite of his or her imperfections.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as imperfect as they come. I certainly don’t always say the right things, and I have a tendency to encourage others so much that it’s almost like I lose encouragement to feed to myself. Then I end up feeling like I’m not worth other people’s investments of time and energy and like I’m not good enough for certain people or roles in life.

I’ve been a lot better about overcoming this over the years, but these thoughts still creep back into my mindset every once in a while. You know what, though? All of those negative beliefs are lies that I shouldn’t be letting myself count as truths.

But they’re also further reminders that I have a lot of work to do on myself.

And we all do. One of the good things about being human is that we’re all completely different—which also means that we’re all completely capable of different things. We all have talents that aren’t exactly like those of our friends and family members. We can use those gifts in meaningful and impactful ways, especially when we realize how much more effective they are when we use them to help others.

One thing that we’re all absolutely capable of, though, is loving others. Regardless of their looks. Regardless of their social statuses. Regardless of their incomes. Regardless of their personalities. Regardless of their pasts. Regardless of their mistakes. Regardless of their inabilities.

And regardless of all of the things that we think make them unlovable.

Don’t be afraid of people’s faults. We all have them. Sure, some of them are bigger and sometimes scarier than others, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t extend love and grace.

There may be times when a toxic relationship causes us to have to walk away from a friendship or a love, but even then, we can pray and wish well for that person—even from a necessary distance.

We all want to be loved. Why not show that same love that you desire to others?

Just Like We Shouldn’t Slut-Shame, We Shouldn’t Virgin-Shame


Listen, I wasn’t in the “cool” circles when I was in high school, and everyone’s experiences are different, but when I was in high school less than 10 years ago, slut-shaming didn’t seem to be a thing anymore.


Sure, even in my AP circles, there were rumors about if a couple had “taken it to the next level,” but I don’t think anyone was shamed for that—just gossiped about as a couple in a wistful or grossed-out tone. Again, everyone has different experiences, so if you were slut-shamed in high school (or ever), I’m truly sorry, and I don’t mean to belittle that.

When I was in school, though, and what I definitely see happening in society as a whole now, is a new trend that shames virgins. It seems like, as a society, we tend to shame whichever group is the minority. For a while, it was girls who slept around, and then as that became more common, now it’s virgins who are shamed.  

And, if anything, it’s not just girls that experience this, but it might even affect guys even more so. There seems to be some bizarre macho-man pressure on them that they have to be sexually active by a certain age, which is so sad because everyone is different. Not to mention different religions have much more conservative beliefs about such things.

When I was in high school, there was a girl who came off as more “worldly,” shall we say. I have no clue if she was actually sexually active, but boy did she like to make jokes and comments that insinuated that she knew about such things.

She must have picked up on my innocence because she liked to try to get me to admit that I knew what she was talking about. One time I joked as if I did get her reference (that actually went way over my head), and I regretted it horribly afterward. I just wanted her to leave me alone!

When I started dating a guy in our class, she made multiple comments that made me unbelievably uncomfortable. She also tended to have a tone that pitied my boyfriend because we were not physically wherever she thought we should be. She was shocked that we hadn’t kissed, and when our class was accidentally exposed to a naked Juliet’s chest during a viewing of Romeo and Juliet, she made jokes that it was something my boyfriend hadn’t seen in real life yet.

It was really hurtful, and as you can imagine, the comments did not help the relationship I was in. While the guy and I ended up breaking up for lots of reasons, at the time, I blamed her quite a bit.

I don’t know why she felt the need to be so invested in our relationship. Maybe she thought she was helping, but it was nosy, inappropriate, and just downright judgmental. I might not have agreed with her relationship choices, but I would never have criticized her or belittled her in front of anyone, let alone her boyfriend and an ENTIRE classroom full of people!

Regardless of the choices you make or how you feel about them, do not put people down for making decisions that are different than yours.

Virgins shouldn’t think they’re better than those who choose to be sexually active (after all, especially if you’re abstaining for religious reasons, we all sin. We all fall short. We all mess up). Sexually active folks shouldn’t look down on virgins or pressure them to change their views.

Be loving. Be kind. Stop shaming people for making different choices than you. Let’s stop finding a minority to attack and show love, grace, and kindness instead of being critical.








 

The Christian Dating Cliche: Guard Your Heart

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I call it a cliche, but it’s a rule to live by: Guard your heart.

When I was 15 years old, I found myself heartbroken for the second time in a year. Out of nowhere, the guy I had been dating (who I thought was so different than my ex-boyfriend) dumped me. He said God was calling him to do it.

Listen, I’m Christian, but I do not think a good way to break up with people is to claim that “God said so.” That is not loving. That is a cop-out. If God is really calling you to break up with someone, then give that person the reason why that may be. For example, it might be that the soon-to-be-ex wants to raise children with different values or has a different lifestyle. Even the cliche “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is better than the “God told me to” line.

The same boy who used that line on me also told me over and over that he thought God was telling him that I was “the one.” OK, dude. I think he was confusing what he wanted with what God was saying to him. Just saying.  

Anyway, I was heartbroken. Crushed. I couldn’t get out of bed. It had taken me months to snap out of my last heartbreak, and I couldn’t face the inevitable road of pain that I knew I was about to walk down again.

My mother, being wise, called me out of school and drove me right down to our church offices to speak with the high school pastor. I’m really thankful for the heartfelt talk he gave me. It really did help—not so much with the pain, but I think he saved my faith. I could have easily turned sour and cynical toward the church and God. After all, did God really tell that boy to dump me? Why would He let me get hurt again?

Ladies, regardless of your religion, it is important to guard your heart and your faith. People lie. People make mistakes. People say things without thinking. I’m sure that boy didn’t mean to hurt me. Honestly, for all I know, maybe he was—VERY WRONGLY—flirting to convert, and he thought he was actually doing a very nice thing by getting me more involved in church. Maybe it was some weird test I didn’t pass.

It doesn’t matter why he said what he said. I should never have allowed myself to be that caught up in someone that my entire world would be shattered by a breakup.

Breakups are hard, and they hurt. As Lorelai Gilmore would suggest, they require wallowing, but they should not derail your entire life—at least not at 15 years old or after only a few months of dating.

Guard your heart. Be sure that you don’t allow your boyfriend to become your world. Keep time for friends and family. Don’t text 24/7 (as tempting as that might be). Schedule phone calls, or have a cut-off time for text conversations.

Most of all, value yourself. You are far more than a relationship. You are more than some boy’s words.




 

But What Do You Want?


When you’re in a relationship, whether it’s fairly new or one you’ve been in for a while, it’s easy to get caught up in what your significant other wants and forget about what
you want.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship—or if you’re in one currently—think about a time when you did something simply because it’s what your boyfriend wanted to do. More likely than not, you can come up with at least one example, and that makes perfect sense. Relationships involve compromising and also sucking it up sometimes and taking part in activities that you may have no desire to do (e.g., seeing a Star Wars movie when you absolutely hate Star Wars).

It becomes a problem, though, when you’re constantly the one having to sacrifice your wants and happiness to accommodate the other person.

If you reach a point in your relationship when you feel drained from consistently having to set your preferences to the side in order to make the other person happy, then it might be time to reconsider whether or not he is the right person for you. For me, I know that I want to be with someone who cares about me enough to want to experience my interests with me and who also wants to invite me along to his own hobbies and interests—someone who honors and respects me enough to acknowledge that relationships are about more than one person. He shouldn’t be constantly catering to what I want to do, and he shouldn’t expect me constantly to cater to what he wants to do.

It has to work both ways for the relationship actually to thrive.

This isn’t exclusive only to romantic relationships, though. It can certainly become the case in friendships, but there should still be that same general understanding. Friends should respect that, while they aren’t going to have every single thing in common with one another, they can still enjoy time together by sharing experiences and memories by partaking in each other’s hobbies and interests. My sister doesn’t like big crowds (like, at all), yet she’s come with me to multiple concerts and sporting events because she knows that I enjoy those things, and she enjoys spending time with me.

But compromises like that can’t be one-sided. I’ve gone places with her (like going to see a musical starring her middle school students on a Friday night), as well, because my sister is my favorite person, and I like sharing moments with her—even if those moments take me places that I might not have necessarily gone without her.

When you’re on your own, sure, it’s much simpler to do what you want when you want. I guess that’s one of the perks of being single. When you finally meet the person who makes your heart beat faster, though, you need to accept the fact that sometimes you will find yourself in situations and places you don’t necessarily want to be (I’m looking at you, State Fair). Just make sure that your choices aren’t always taking the back seat.

Because sometimes it’s OK to ask yourself a question that must be posed once in a while: “But what do I want?”

Find Your Courage, and Keep It

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I was never that girl who always had a boyfriend, and part of that is because I was never that girl who told guys how she felt.

I was the girl who held it all in but told her friends and posted hopelessly romantic Taylor Swift lyrics on Tumblr, hoping he would notice even though he was not on Tumblr. I put it out in the universe, OK? That should have been enough.

But it is, of course, not enough. If you go about your dating life this way, your crushes will at most only ever hear rumors or have suspicions that you like them. Or, even worst, your crush will be endlessly pestered by your friends—trust me, you do not want this.

Sure, if this were a rom-com (Did you all see To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before yet? It is a perfect film. PERFECT.), the boy in question would still make a move, but life isn’t quite a rom-com, and I don’t want you to live the way I did.

If you have feelings for someone, just tell him. Make your life easy. Why spend time pining over guys if they can just tell you upfront to move on? Why spend time pining if you could be together right now if his feelings are the same?

I know it’s scary. I know you don’t want to hurt. But, at a certain point, you have to make a decision either to move on or to make a move. Do not waste time sitting on the sidelines hoping someone will finally make the call to put you in the game.

I had one moment of bravery in high school. I was sitting in my last class for the day, and I suddenly decided that enough was enough. I knew the guy I liked had feelings for me, but he had done nothing about it. He hadn’t asked me out. He hadn’t confessed that he liked me. I felt like I was being strung along. and it was time to do something about it.

The bell rang, and I burst out of class, speed walking through the halls. I was going to find him. I was going to confess that I liked him. I was going to tell him that I knew he liked me and that he needed to do something about it, or I was done. I was out. Out!

Unfortunately, this one single moment of bravery was abruptly snuffed out. I ran into a friend in the hall, and as I speed walked past him, he knew something was up. He slow jogged along with me and pestered me about what my rush was. I confidently told him what I was about to do.

I don’t recall what he said that made me stop my crazed run through the hall—I’m sure just about anything would have worked since it took so much just to get my courage up to that point.

I sadly listened to my friend as he talked me out of my brave act, and I went on pining and moping for another few months. That friend was genuinely trying to look out for me, but that confrontation and confession was something I needed to do. It was something I would have been proud to do.

Ladies, take control of your lives. Yes, it’s scary when feelings are on the line, but how much better would it be if you could either have those feelings returned or get the answer you need to find someone who is a good fit for you?

Be brave.

And once you have that courage, don’t let anyone take it away from you.

Be Intentional in the Way You Treat Others

I really don’t like trite expressions, but there’s one that’s grown in importance to me over the years: Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

It sounds so simple, yet it can actually be rather challenging, especially in terms of the relationships we have with people in our lives. Sure, it can sometimes be scary to say what’s in your heart, but I can think back to far too many times when I wish that I had said what I really wanted to say rather than hidden the truth or not been completely honest with someone who should have known my feelings.

Say what you mean—don’t say what you think other people want you to say or what seems like the safer option. It’s better to be bold and take a risk by saying what you mean rather than looking back in wonder or regret later for letting a prime opportunity pass you by.

The other half of that expression—meaning what you say—is even more important. I’ve been on the wrong end of someone not meaning what he said, and it hurt. A lot. I once let a guy lead me on for months and feed me some pie-crust promises (easy to make, easy to break), and I was left with a broken heart and an ocean full of tears. It’s really easy to let words fly out of your mouth, but actually living up to what you led someone to believe is another story entirely.

Make sure that what you’re telling someone is what you actually mean so that you don’t leave someone hurt and confused.

I’ve never been on a real date. I’ve been in 19 weddings and attended many more as a guest, but I’ve always either gone by myself or taken my sister as my plus one. For two of these weddings, I was supposed to have dates, but the guys both canceled. Two separate weddings. Two different guys. I wish that they both would have been honest with me from the start if they weren’t planning to go with me.

If you say you’re going to do something or be somewhere, do the thing, and show up to where you said that you’d show up. Otherwise, don’t initially commit to it.

Yes, sometimes life happens, and you do have to back out on plans that you made. But have you ever said to someone “we should get together soon” or “yeah, I’ll be there for sure” or “I’ll be praying for you” without truly thinking about what you’re saying or actually having the intention of following up with that person, going to whatever you agreed to go to, or later thinking about what you said that you’d be praying about? While it’s great to offer friendliness and support to others, it’s important to be intentional in what you say and to make sure that you follow through on the promises you make.

The human heart is strong, but it’s also extremely fragile at the same time. What you say to people and the way you treat them can impact them in bigger ways than you think. That’s the thing, though—if you’re not being intentional, you’re probably not even thinking about how your words and actions can affect others.

Every person matters and deserves to feel valued, so let’s make more efforts to remember that and be intentional in what we say and do.

How to Embrace the Single Life

Life can start to feel a little lonely when the majority of your friends start dating, getting engaged, and then walking down the aisle toward the men who make them swoon. But just because your friends are all becoming one half of couples doesn’t mean that you have to feel left out and sorry for yourself.

Being in a season (or what seems like a lifetime) of singleness can actually be a true blessing, whether or not it seems like it at the time. There is an entire world out there for you to explore and a countless amount of people you can meet along the way.

While the list below definitely doesn’t include every benefit to flying solo, it hopefully provides some encouragement and a reminder that you certainly don’t have to be in a relationship with someone to have a good time—even at events that are full of mostly couples.

You don’t have to consult with anyone.
You can pretty much do whatever you want when you want to, and you don’t have to coordinate your plans around those of a significant other. Decide last minute that you want to go on a quick weekend getaway or road trip? Go for it. Craving Chinese food tonight? Get it, girl. Your schedule is your schedule, and you don’t have to double-check with someone else to make sure that you’re still getting in that QT with your man. Sure, it will be nice eventually to be able to share your experiences with someone else, but for now, embrace the time you have to maintain a lifestyle that goes with the flow of what you’re feeling and what you want to do.

You save a lot of money on holidays.
One thing that I’ve always appreciated about being single is the fact that I don’t have to worry about what to get someone on Valentine’s Day and all of the other gift-giving holidays. I’m sure that I will love getting presents for my main squeeze when I actually have one (except for on Valentine’s Day because I will never celebrate that one), but my wallet and I are currently very appreciative in this solitary season.

You can still dance.
The dance floor was created to be filled with people busting out their greatest (and not-so-great) moves. Even when those slow songs come on, don’t feel like you have to use those ballads as excuses to go to the bathroom, stand in the corner, or pretend that you need a break or that you have something in your shoe. You can dance all by yourself during slow songs—I do it all of the time, even at wedding receptions. It’s freeing. Get out there and twirl, girl. Hopefully one day you’ll have someone to sway with you and spin you around the dance floor during the slower songs, but until then, let yourself enjoy the songs that you want to enjoy.

You develop a unique independence.
Being single allows you to become much more self-sufficient, especially when you actually do many of your life activities alone and not always in groups or with your friends. It’s good when you can learn and practice some basic skills—cooking (or, in my case, being able to use a microwave most efficiently), changing a tire, putting together furniture, seeing a movie by yourself, eating out alone, managing your finances—without the help of anyone else. Those things will make you that much more ready when you finally do stumble upon the man you’ve been hoping and praying for all along.

You learn more about yourself.
The more you know about yourself, the better you’re able to let yourself be known by someone else. A season of singleness is a great time to discover even more of your preferences and tendencies as well as what exactly you want in a relationship and what types of qualities you want in a guy.

You learn to love yourself for the person you are.
Yes, you can still love yourself when you’re in love with someone, but being single allows you to invest in yourself more than you ever have before. It’s a really good time to develop more of an appreciation for the qualities that make you you. I spent far too many years thinking that I was single because there was something wrong with me, but that was a lie that I shouldn’t have let myself believe. The things that make me the woman I am are not bad things, and someone will appreciate them someday and love me for all of my quirks and in spite of my faults.

We all have different timelines, and just because you aren’t on the same page as your friends might be in terms of relationships and experience doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you or that you can’t enjoy life as a single woman. You already have so much going for you, and you can continue to pursue your own passions without worrying about what you don’t have in life.

You’ll find the right person when you’re supposed to, but don’t miss out on all of the wonderful opportunities in front of you because you’re too busy squinting far off into the future.

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