Don’t Run Away


Life is filled with a number of wonderful memories and joy that we can’t contain, but it’s also full of pain and tough times that feel like they’ll never end.

And when those struggles hit, don’t let them cause you to give up hope or run away.

Quitting often seems like the best solution—it’s usually pretty easy and feels like stepping away from our troubles completely will simply make them disappear. Let me be the one to break this to you: That’s false. Your problems don’t vanish or stay behind when you run away from them. That actually tends to make things worse.

When I was in college, I had trouble figuring out where I belonged. I started out at one school and felt overwhelmed and out of place the first semester (which are actually normal feelings for a college freshman), and I missed parts of my life that I had left behind. Rather than let myself get used to the transition, I ran away. I went to a different college for my second semester and hated it. So, naturally, I ran away again—back to the first college I went to.

After my sophomore year, the school dropped my major, so I left. Again. I went to the same college where my brother was, and I lasted a semester before deciding that I didn’t fit in there and needed to leave. Once again, I ran away. This time, I transferred to the school where my sister was and endured what ended up being one of the most difficult five months of my life. I figured there was no point in sticking around at a place that made me miserable, so I transferred back to the school I had attended the previous semester and stayed there for my entire senior year. (Yes, the fact that I still graduated in four years is an actual miracle.)

What I realized—many years later, of course—was that the problem wasn’t the schools I went to or the people I met at those schools. I ran from all of those things, and I still wasn’t happy. In fact, I was in a bit of a depression for my junior and senior years of college. The problem was that I wasn’t facing the actual problem—the struggles I was facing in my heart. I didn’t feel like I was enough, and I was having trouble feeling like I belonged anywhere. Although I was going to church and pouring myself into Christian organizations, I felt more like I was just going through the motions and not actually making concerted efforts to grow in my faith.

I wasn’t finding my identity in Christ and didn’t know my worth in Him. In fact, I wasn’t finding my identity anywhere—and I certainly didn’t feel any worth.

I know that I’ve gone on the path that I have for a reason, and there’s no use thinking about what might have been, but I think I would have enjoyed my college experience a lot more if I’d had more hope in who I was and who I was meant to be.

My friends, I hope that you never find yourself in a place like this. I hope that you know that you are valued, you are loved, and you matter. Don’t let any person or situation make you believe any less. And don’t run away from the things that scare you or are difficult for you to face.

Be brave in those moments of anxiety and fear, and stand firmly, knowing that you are enough, and you are worth the fight.

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.




 

Be Brave Enough to Pursue Your Dreams


It’s really easy to get comfortable and set in your ways—there’s safety and familiarity in the areas of life that you know well.

But what about those places and situations with which you aren’t familiar but want to be? What about those dreams you have that seem pretty unattainable on many levels—the ones that you put in the back of your heart as dreams that are too big and too lofty ever to happen?

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a lot of different things. At one point, I thought I was going to be an Olympic sprinter. That wasn’t exactly in my DNA or natural talent bank. I now run only long distances, and I’m nowhere near the Olympics. I also considered being a well-known singer or gymnast, but the sounds that my voice produces in song are not ones that would sell records to anyone with ears, and I was essentially asked by my instructor to leave my gymnastics class because I was so awful.

So, no, not all dreams come true. But if I had spent every single day doing sprint workouts on the track or taking voice lessons or ignored my instructors comments and committed to actually being able to complete at least a straight cartwheel, then maybe my story would have involved some different dreams. But, to be perfectly honest, my heart was never fully committed to those pursuits.

There was something about writing, though, that I always loved. The more I wrote, the more I dreamed about writing more. When I was in second grade, I published my first book (granted, it was in my school’s library, but still—I was a published author, and I was proud of it). I used to write songs and poems and stories that only I ever read, but I knew that one day my words would mean something to more people than just my hopeless-romantic teenage self.

I studied journalism in college in hopes of becoming a sports reporter. I had been watching SportsCenter for years and admired the different anchors and sidelines reporters, especially the women. I wanted to do what they did in the written form, and I wanted young women to see my words and know that they were just as capable of chasing and achieving their dreams in what was largely a man’s arena in the world.

During my junior year of college, I took a sports reporting class from a professor who quite apparently was of the mindset that women weren’t as qualified as men when it came to knowing and writing about sports. Up until that point, I had never made less than an A on any type of assignment in any of my journalism classes. I don’t mean this to sound boastful, but it was something I was good at doing. I had been covering sports as a beat reporter for multiple sports since I was in high school, and I knew that I was capable and competent. This professor, however, tried to tell me differently.

I went to his office one afternoon to discuss a grade he had given me on a story, and he essentially told me that I wasn’t any good and that I should consider changing my major and my intended career path. When I became a sports reporter as my first job out of college, I emailed him my first story that I wrote.

Your dreams are your dreams, and nobody can tell you that they’re too big or too small or that they’re anything other than your dreams. You are capable of achieving more than you might even know right now—so let yourself dream big. Sure, not every single hope you have for your future will come true, but the long process of training or working hard or doing whatever you can to accomplish what you desire will grow your character and make you a stronger person just for being brave and having enough faith to try.

Don’t be afraid to go boldly after your dreams—after all, they won’t become realities unless you dare to make them come true.

Don’t Rush Life


When you’re a little kid and even a teenager, life seems to go by much more slowly than you would like. You wait in line
forever for that ride at the amusement park. It takes forever for your mom to get home with or finish cooking dinner. It seems like forever before Christmas gets here when the school year begins. And you wait LITERALLY FOREVER for your first boyfriend, while all of your other friends have had multiple guys take them out.

Girl, that version of forever sure goes by quickly.

It feels like the older you get, the more quickly time seems to fly by. I mean, it’s mid-May, and I’m pretty sure that it was Christmas yesterday. You graduate college, and the next thing you know, you’re buying tickets for your 10-year high school reunion. I’m not saying any of this to freak you out and make you feel like you’re about to lose all of your youth before you’ve even enjoyed it, but I do want to caution you to appreciate the moments that you have right now—because you will never get them back.

If I think about my own life, I remember how badly I wanted a boyfriend when I was in high school. And then in college. And then in my 20s. I’m in my early 30s now, and it still hasn’t happened. You know what, though? Oddly enough, I’m actually thankful that some of those relationships never actually happened. Though I really did have feelings for the guys, in more than one of those cases, I probably wanted a boyfriend more than I wanted the actual boy.

It was the same thing with my first kiss. I waited more than 27 years for that kiss to happen, and even though that was a special moment that I’ll never forget, I often wish that I could erase it because the guy who captured that kiss did nothing but lead me on and then break my heart.

The good thing about life is that each one is so unique and so different. No two people were created exactly the same, and no two people are meant to live exactly the same, either. There’s no timeline that you are required to follow. Just as all babies don’t start crawling and walking when they are a certain amount of days or months old, all young women don’t suddenly get boyfriends or kisses or a number of other things when they hit one specific age.

Let your timeline be yours, and trust that it’s right for you.

I won’t say that it’s always easy—patience isn’t exactly the most enjoyable of the virtues. I’ve probably wasted more time than I’m comfortable admitting wishing and hoping for the things I didn’t have when I could have been enjoying so much of what was right in front of me.

When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to graduate and get out in the real world. There were a lot of things I didn’t do because I was working multiple jobs or taking part in internships so that I would be ready for whatever was ahead in my career. While it’s great to take on responsibilities, I think it’s also important to be a kid while you’re still a kid. Sure, being an adult is really great, but it’s also really tough. And I didn’t even end up sticking with the same career that I worked so many unpaid jobs and internships for all of those years ago. I wish someone had taken me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and said “slow down, sweet girl.”

Whether it’s with work or guys or experience or whatever, slow down, sweet girl.

Life is full of way too many incredible moments to waste them worrying about the moments that haven’t actually happened yet. Just as you shouldn’t rush an artist who is working on a masterpiece, you shouldn’t rush God as He’s working on His masterpiece (you).

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