Don’t Put People on Pedestals

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I’ve had a tendency my entire life to put people—usually celebrities—on pedestals. Most notably, I did this with Taylor Swift as a teenager—and, to be honest, I still do. I still find myself making excuses or defending actions I probably wouldn’t agree with if it weren’t her doing it.

I tend to do this with people whom I see are standing out from the crowd and, in my opinion, are serving as positive role models. The problem is that I then hold these celebrities to standards they can’t possibly live up to, and then I’m disappointed when they let me down.

I found myself going down the same familiar path this weekend. My husband and I saw Twenty One Pilots perform last week, and we’ve been listening to them non-stop ever since. I’ve always liked their music, but outside of having their songs on my Spotify playlists and what friends who liked the band had shared, I didn’t know much about the band itself.

As I researched more about Twenty One Pilots, I found myself falling into my familiar traps. God forbid I found something I didn’t agree with or something I was uncertain about in their lyrics or in a quote from an interview with the band members.

I put these poor celebrities on pedestals that they cannot always stay on. I hold them to standards that they can’t possibly meet. They’re just people, and people make mistakes. People have different backstories and different ways of thinking.

I cannot expect an artist only to release songs that I relate to or that have messages I agree with. I cannot expect Taylor Swift never to change as a person and continue writing fairytale country songs. I cannot expect that Twenty One Pilots’ religious references in their works won’t include doubts or misgivings—shouldn’t we, instead, applaud them for being honest about something most Christians feel at one time or another?

I do this with the people in my life, too. My entire life, I’ve held myself to strict standards, and when other people fail to meet my standards, I can be judgmental. That’s not fair. That’s not right.

For one thing, I can’t even meet my own standards, so how can others? Human beings are flawed, and the more quickly we learn to love and embrace others even when they let us down, the less disappointment we have to live with in our lives.

I finally had to accept that Taylor Swift and I, while perhaps at one time similar, are living very different lives. I have to accept that sometimes my friends and I will not see eye to eye. I have to accept that things are not always—in fact, most likely are not—going to go the way I think they should.

And that’s actually quite great. Because I certainly do not have enough answers to be able to dictate how my life or the people in it should behave.

Don’t put people—celebrities or not—on pedestals. No one is perfect. No one will always meet your expectations.

Just love people.

Some Doors Need to Close


Letting go certainly isn’t always easy, no matter how simple Elsa makes it seem.

There are definitive moments and situations in our lives in which I think we know that we need to let go of certain things—or certain people—but, for whatever our reasons are, we cling so tightly to them that it’s as if we’ll never let go. Whether it’s fear or uncertainty or the thought of having to endure pain that we don’t think our hearts can handle, we simply can’t walk away from what we’ve known and become comfortable with for so long.

The truth is, though, that some doors in our lives truly do need to close completely in order for us to be able to press forward to what is waiting for us ahead.

I’ll be one of the first people to admit that it’s sometimes difficult for me to let a door I really want to stay open close all of the way. There was a guy in my life a couple of years ago who caused me more pain than I knew my heart was capable of bearing, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m still not completely over him or mended from that pain. It hurts thinking about him and thinking about everything that happened (and didn’t happen). For far too long, I tried to hold on to something that wasn’t there—I tried to keep the door cracked open, even just slightly.

But then I let it close, and I walked through a brighter one that allowed me to be where I am today.

Had I not let him go and let that door finally shut, I don’t know if I ever would have moved to California. I don’t know if I would have taken that leap of faith to pack up my entire life and driven across the country to a place where I knew zero people. You know what, though? It was hands down the best decision I’ve ever made. I know that God called me out here with purpose and intention, and I know that I needed to go through everything that I did in order to get here.

God wasn’t putting me through heartache in order to cause me pain—He was leading me through a dark time so that I would walk boldly through a new door full of unexpected opportunities and more joy and love in my heart than I ever thought possible.

Yes, change is scary. No, it’s not easy to let go. But I want you to believe this one thing right here and now: YOU CAN DO THE HARD THINGS. You can turn and walk away from something you don’t need in your life. You can let go of what you know you shouldn’t be holding on to any longer. You can endure the pain that you’ll feel when one of the chapters in your life finally ends.

And you can boldly march through that new door that is full of unexpected opportunities and more joy and love in your heart than you ever thought possible.

It’s not always easy to slam a door completely closed, especially if your heart still wants it open, even just a little. But, if it’s not meant to stay open, I truly believe that God will continue to change your heart until you’re able to let it close completely. He will continue to mend your heart and prepare it for what He has in store for you.

And it will be so much more wonderful than you could ever imagine.

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.

Don’t Miss Out Because You’re Afraid to Miss Out


There are so many things that happen in our world today that it can certainly be easy to feel like you’re missing out on some pretty incredible events and activities.

FOMO is real, people.

But one of the big problems with being afraid that you’re missing out on the people and places where you are not is that it ends up causing you to miss out on the moments that you could experience with the people and in the places where you actually are.

When I first moved to California more than a year ago, it was a really difficult transition for me. I had lived in Dallas for my entire life up until that point (not counting the years when I was at college at Texas A&M University), and I knew exactly zero people in my new city. It was a sad realization to me that I had just left behind all of my friends and family and more memories than I could count.

I scrolled through Instagram way too often, each time feeling more and more disheartened by all of the fun my friends back in Texas were having without me. My heart ached to be there with them and experience all of the joy and merriment that they seemed to be having. I wanted to remember what that felt like, even though I probably rarely acknowledged those emotions when I was in the midst of it all.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that, by longing for the people and moments that weren’t in my life at the time, I was neglecting to notice all of the new memories that I could be creating right where I was. There were—and still are—so many places to go and people to meet where I am now, and it was silly for me to sit around sulking about what I wasn’t doing.

Don’t worry about where you aren’t—instead, focus on where you are.

I often find myself succumbing to FOMO not only in tangible moments of my life but also in the seasons in which I find myself. For me, singleness has been somewhat of an ongoing era (as in, it never ends), and there have definitely been times when I haven’t been content with that status. Rather than embrace the lot in life I currently have, I often look at other people who are happily married or dating or whatever, and I long to have that time of companionship. If I’m being perfectly honest, it actually physically hurts my heart to think that I might never find it.

But if I spend so much time letting my mind wander to what is not, then I’m missing out on some pretty incredible opportunities that God has given me to use this time of singleness for His purposes. I may not be in love, but I can still love others well. I may not be in a relationship, but I can still build relationships with the individuals placed in my life. I may not have one hand to hold, but I can still join hands with others as we strive toward common causes. I may not have certain prayers answered as I wish, but I can still boldly pray on the behalf of myself and on behalf of others with the faith that He has everything under control.

Don’t worry so much about missing out on life—otherwise you’ll actually miss out on life.

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.




 

You Don’t Know What Others Are Going Through: Be Kind

Sad girl in hammock. You Don't Know What Others Are Going Through
*Sigh.* So, I really wanted to like the new Netflix movie
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser. It looked so endearing and starred Barb from Stranger Things and the loveable guy from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. By all accounts, it should have been amazing, but about halfway through the film, I had to turn it off due to my rising anxiety levels, second-hand embarrassment, and pure horror that one of the scenes included a character being misled about whom he was kissing with his eyes shut. (Consent, guys. Consent.)

One of my initial issues with the movie was that the stereotypical mean popular girl was over-the-top cruel to her classmates—she was the type of cruel that had me thinking, “Did these screenwriters ever attend high school or just watch movies about it?”

Thankfully, the screenwriters did explain the character’s behavior with a fleshed-out background featuring a hectic home life and pressures from her mother to be perfect.

It’s an important lesson that, though it seems to be pounded in our heads incessantly in film and books, I tend to easily forget: You never know what others are going through.

I can be a am a judgmental person. I’m trying to be better, but more often than naught, I let my thoughts get away from me, so these next few paragraphs are as much for me as they are for anyone reading this.

Once again, you never know what someone else is going through. That person who cut you off on the freeway might be rushing home in the midst of a family emergency. That person at work who put you down in front of your boss might be dealing with job insecurity. Your friend who made a snide comment about your outfit might be feeling left out.

We should, of course, stand up for ourselves, but instead of responding in anger or defensiveness, take a moment to think about what the offender may have going on his or her life.

Sometimes things we take offense to may not even be intended to be taken as an insult.

I’ll never forget, one time in junior high, my friend pulled up her hooded jacket in a really cute way, and I said something like, “Aw! You look just like a little mouse peeking out of a hole!”

She got really upset, and our friends who witnessed it all asked me why I would say that.

While I looked like the biggest jerk in the world, I had only made that statement because my father had said it to me a few days earlier, and I had thought it was really sweet. When he said it, it had come off extremely endearing. Obviously, it had not come off that way when I repeated it.

And there’s the kicker: Not only should we be mindful of what offenders may be going through, but we should also be mindful of what anyone we are around may be going through. Something we say without thinking could be harmless to us but could scar the person we’re speaking to for life.

We’re all bound to make mistakes in this department, but be mindful, be caring, be understanding, and, above all, be quick to forgive.

God knows I’ve certainly cut off my fair share of people on the freeway, hurt people’s feelings, and just been a downright unpleasant human being.

The least I can do is extend the same grace that I hope others are giving me.

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