Tag Archives: fear

Completely Honest Thoughts at the End of A Long Week

30 Jun

I’m up too late again. But maybe not. Maybe this is when all the traffic and noise has gone away and I can finally be free to think and feel and process.

I’ve had a lot to process but not much space to do so. With all this change happening, I haven’t really been able to ask myself a key question: “How do you feel?”

It’s easy to go through life and be numb. Emotions are too hard. Relationships take too much time and investment. And if I’m honest, lately I don’t really want to engage, I just want to coast. I want God to show up and I don’t want to have to work for that relationship. I want friends to call me and somehow know that sitting in traffic is lonely. Looking at a clock and wondering what time I’ll make it to that appointment all the way back in Pasadena when I’m in Beverly Hills stresses me out. I long to run with friends, have events already planned, and the permission to just have fun. Not talk deeply, persay. Maybe pick up a golf club and drive some balls. Maybe bowl. Maybe hike or run. Or finally, through some vigorous exercise or something get to the bottom of this nagging feeling that something is left unfinished and all I can hear are the whispers: “How do I finish it? ”

In those moments, I reject all that I have learned and it’s like I put my earbuds in and tune out to the world. I can see people around me, just like the cars on the sidestreets in LA (especially on San Vicente near Olympic and Fairfax at about 5:42 every night). I can watch police pull people over. I see wealthy men yelling at a homeless guy for no apparent reason other than that our world is a broken place and who really knows why people are jerks sometimes? Elsewhere a woman gives a dollar and her last piece of bread to a different homeless guy. What does it all mean? I feel a cool breeze you can only really feel on the West Side of LA because the East Side feels more like a hairdryer but without the wind. It’s just plain hot.

In the midst of all of this change, I’ve numbed myself out. I’ve been turning to food for comfort. I’ve never done that before. But something about salt and vinegar chips spells comfort. Reverting back to the fast food of my youth soothes me, if only for a second. And then I start to wonder, what hunger am I trying to feed? What pain am I trying to avoid? What would happen if I said no to myself again when it came to stopping by Mcdonalds for a midnight sundae? In those moments I feel a sense of rebellion because I got away with something (breaking my plant based diet) and yet a sense of shame knowing that I’m trying to cover something up but not really aware enough to put my finger on it.

These could be anxious ramblings at the end of a long week. I could need to give myself grace to eat some fries once in awhile. I don’t know what appetites I’m trying to satisfy but I do know that when all of this feels up in the air, all I can keep turning to is Jesus. He is my sole-provider. No friend, no person, no conversation can ever take the place of who he has been and will be in these moments of uncertainty. He is my security and my life. He is my fortress and my shield. I shall not want. And I shall be thankful for all the things he’s brought me through.

Troubles, pain, sorrow, uncertainty. I long for a day when the brokenness I feel is completely restored. It will never happen in this life and yet, I ask God for the grace for some of those broken places to be brought to him. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus

I hope to remember that the next time I’m feeling numb and disengaged. Trust is a process. It’s an active process. But before I reengage with that fully, I may just follow the advice of someone I trust and go to a quiet place and just read a book. No striving. No self improvement. Just me and words on a page that will melt off of it into my head stringing into happy thoughts, songs of a life that isn’t mine. Situations I don’t really have to face because I’m just reading about them. Time to just get away…

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My Phone Is Smart But What About Me?

18 Jun

People with smart phones often come across as distracted. I see them in the elevator at work, in the lobby, walking down the street not paying attention to traffic. Eyes glued to a screen, squinting, often looking perplexed. It’s for this reason that I’ve avoided getting a smart phone for so long. In a culture that has us traveling at a break neck pace toward individualism instead of community, we can easily create our own little worlds with our favorite music, background, photos, apps, contacts, Facebook page, blog, and more. And in that attempt to connect us quicker with our favorite potential Amazon purchases, we lose a piece of ourselves. That is concerning.

And yet today, after years of postponing, I got a smart phone. I did it in a way that I’m proud of because I bought a used phone at a cheap price and I got a plan where I can get everything I need for less than I was paying for my dumb phone and still have no contract. It’s not an iPhone, but I’m using my new Windows phone as a training ground for now. And I feel good about my purchase. Except for my hesitation. What if I lose my awareness and become a drone hooked on the piece of metal and gorilla glass in my hand?

I just came off of a weekend where I spent a ton of time talking to people in face to face conversations in the car. We talked theology and played games. We told heartbreaking and heartwarming stories. We hiked the Grand Canyon and didn’t fall in. We discussed this hypothetical guy named Bob and wondered aloud about his soul in different scenarios.  I saw live elk and watched them eat leaves off of trees in our campsite for 30 minutes. And at no point when I took that self-induced break from my computer and phone did I feel like I was missing something more important than the moment I was in.

And that’s just it. As I embark on my new journey of having a smart phone and trying not to get obsessed with it, I want to remember to take time to step away. I re-learned yesterday in a moment of humility that God is so much bigger than I am. Than all of the little pieces I try to control. Bigger than the Grand Canyon. Bigger than the stars in the sky and our questions about aliens or angels. Bigger than our feeble attempts to control our little worlds. Even if we can do it in the context of our hand held computers, God is ultimately in control. And that is very comforting for someone like me who likes to pretend I am when I can make my background purple or download a panorama app to take amazing pictures.

So here’s to owning a smart phone but being smart about that ownership.

Here’s to taking time out to notice the little moments and continuing on my journey of awareness.

How Do I Stop Being Awkward Around The Person I Used To Date Or Around The Person They Are Dating Now Part 2

14 Mar

A sign saying "awkward"

Awkward has become a word that people like to throw around. “That’s awkward” is used for all kinds of situations ranging from a wardrobe malfunction to something blurted out at the wrong time. But I can say this from experience. Very few things are more awkward than having to stay in community with someone you’ve dated and then watching them date again.

As I mentioned in Part One, I’ve had this experience several times and it’s never been pleasant. But I’m at the point where I have to accept it for what it is and trust that it’s not always going to feel like this.

There will be a point when most of the awkwardness passes. 

A friend of mine has literally watched her first love date and get married while she remained single after they’ve broken up. I’ve seen her go through the grief and then actually welcome her ex-boyfriend’s fiance into our community through a difficult but loving conversation. It was insanely hard but that one conversation has shaped her character in so many ways and changed the advice she gives about this topic. My friend had to pray a lot before this conversation. And when she felt the nudge to go and talk to the fiance, she didn’t ignore it. She could have. But she chose to step into the awkwardness.


So that’s what I do. I step into my awkwardness every week at church. It’s just a given. The guy I dated has a new girlfriend. Do I run away? Sometimes, I have, honestly, when I’m having a less than stellar moment. It’s just been too much and I get all Prodigal Son’s brother and start asking the “Why not me? I’ve done everything right” questions. As a result, I’ve avoided parties that they were going to likely be at. And then I stopped doing that because especially in the case where it’s my good friends hosting the party, I don’t want to miss it! I’m a social person. What if I meet someone new at one of these parties? It’s not my job to own the awkwardness and slink away from it. It’s my job to acknowledge it and step into it.

My friend, Merlin, does the best "awkward" face of anyone I know!

Stepping into the awkwardness means a lot of things which I’ve narrowed down to three for the time being.

  1. Giving yourself a pep talk before you might encounter the awkward situation.  For me this has to involve prayer. Even if it’s a quick one just saying that I need strength and courage, I pray. I’ve found peace in these prayers and probably grown more in my faith when I choose to go into situations with people I’ve dated that many would think I was crazy for walking into.

The pep talk can also be done in a mirror, in the front seat of your car, with a friend, and as a reminder that the relationship wasn’t right. My ex dating again doesn’t say anything about my value. And then I tell myself the truth about who I am according to God, not according to the automatic negative thoughts that are swirling in my head at that moment. Without badmouthing the guy I’ve dated and the girl he’s dating now, I’m able to walk into the situation more confident than I might have been. When I forget to do this, all bets are off and I’m a victim of my own awkwardness with sputtered words, strange looks, and hurt feelings.

2. Grace for yourself. This is important! Sometimes you’ve just had a bad week and the last thing you want to do is see the person you’ve dated again just when you’re wound is starting to heal. Then you happen to see them and something inside of you is triggered and you forget why you broke up in the first place. Or you have a case of “sideways glancing” and you start to do a little romantic revisionist history and suddenly your relationship seems amazing to you again. This is when it’s time for a reality check. As one of my favorite books says, “It’s called a breakup because it’s broken.” Some days it will be easier to deal with his/her new relationship than others. Have grace for yourself but don’t lash out in anger or revenge in the process.

(Mostly tips for girls in this section) If you find yourself doing that, go hang out with a friend in the church bathroom for a few minutes. Or write down your issues in a journal. Or do some yoga or high impact aerobics.

Take a breather.

One time months after my breakup was long over, something was triggered. At church a song was played that just wrecked me. I was a crying mess. I had to run outside to just let it out, which I did. Luckily a friend followed me and just stayed with me there. This is permissible. When the guy I dated started to date someone else, I made sure to surround myself with good people who can give me a reality check and the love that I need to co-exist in community with him on a weekly basis.

3. Grace for him and her. 

This one is difficult. It’s hard when the person you’ve dated is now on cloud 9 and you’re trying to figure out how to love, honor, and respect them from a distance while being single and wondering why you’re not dating, too. In my worst moments, I cry about it. In my best, I smile at him and especially her when she passes. Once I introduced myself because we have many of the same friends. Another time  I was friends with a girl a guy I dated  decided to date and so we figured out a way to walk out how the whole thing was supposed to work.

Suppose I’m not friends with the new girl, why would I not be friendly to a woman who I consider my sister in Christ? Aren’t we supposed to all love each other? Despite the fact that our culture says that the woman who dates “our man” is a backstabbing-choose-a-degrading-term-for-a-woman,

Jesus says something different.

He says love those who persecute you, he tells us that we should lay down our lives for our friends. He never says that following Him would be easy. Laying down our lives means sacrificial love and in my context, that means being happy that the guy I dated who I once loved and who I let love me is happy. It’s wanting the best for him and his new girlfriend. I’m not saying this is easy but when is love ever easy?


I’m not saying that I’m ever going to be best friends with the guy I dated or his new girlfriend. That’s unlikely but future interaction considering our overlapping friend groups is inevitable.  Had we the opportunity, it would be nice for us to all acknowledge one another sometime. It would be nice to exchange a few words to know that we’re all still members of the same church. That we all want the best for each other. And for me and him, acknowledgment that I’m not just some face in the crowd. But that we spent time together learning and growing and discovering what it meant to love both within the context of our relationship and beyond it.

Final thoughts: I don’t think that love ends when a relationship ends. Rather it’s the opposite. I’ve found that when a relationship ends, that’s when the test begins.

Will I love this person well even though we’re not together? Will I treat them with dignity and respect? Will I refrain from talking trash about them to my friends? Will I decide to not welcome and actually discourage comments from my friends about her?

Because the reality is, those comments could be said about me or any of my friends. And we’re not backstabbing. We’re just girls who want the chance to date in our community, just like the girl that the guy I used to date is currently dating. We want the opportunity to see if one of the guys in our church could be a good match with us.

By giving him and her grace, I’m giving the entire community permission to date and breakup without judgement. I’m allowing for love to reign over my fears that I’m going to be single forever. I’m allowing for God to intervene in the hard places. I’m choosing, once again, to trust.  And that’s not only good for me, but for all of us involved in this crazy, messy, amazing thing we call community.

A Proclamation to Fail Forward

16 Jan

I’m failing forward.

Failure warning

I told the guy who brings us toilet paper and seat covers that he should pursue his dream to finish college. He might not be working as a delivery guy if he did that. He’d learn that by taking one step and registering for a class he’s been meaning to take would mean that he’s not so trapped in a dead end job having people sign invoices all day.

I told my co-worker she should find someone who is doing what she wants to do and talk to them.  Spend her lunch money taking potential mentors out to coffee so that she could pick their brains.

I told my friend that I had a dream percolating in my brain and it had been there for the past two years. We had both talked about it but with the long end of my relationship and the long beginning of his, neither of us ever got around to attending to that dream.  I think I’m ready to stop being so scared.

I submitted myself to a writing contest and lost.  But I read the winning story and it was inspiring. I know that I can write like that.

It’s amazing how much fear can drive us. As if we didn’t have an all knowing, all powerful God on our side. How easily we forget that we have access to him.  How easy it is to take matters into our own hands.

I want to move forward now.  Even if it means failing.

 

Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

Dating In Community Is Risky: Part 1

30 May

This is what dating in community feels like sometimes. Can you relate?

Dating in community is always a risk. Let me repeat that. Dating in community is RISKY. Always. Why is that the case? Because we as humans are flawed. We sin. We mess up. We are impatient and selfish. We often don’t want to face our deepest fears. The “maybe this will happen” and “what if that will happen” scenarios always creep in.

Sometimes we aren’t mature enough to handle the ramifications of breaking up in community and neither is the person we’ve dated. I have been that not-so-mature person several times. I’m still trying to figure out and pray through how to want the best for the people I’ve dated in my community in the past. It’s a process that doesn’t just magically happen.  For me it’s been being intentional in the decisions I make, the words I use, the thoughts I allow myself to sit in, and the feelings that I act on or have to give to God.  I am still trying to walk this out. It’s a difficult process.  But once I made the decision to walk out what it looks like to date, break up, and stay in my community and advocate for healthy dating patterns amongst my friends and peers, my life has not been the same. I say this to encourage people who are not sure that this can be done that it indeed can and it is in my community amongst me and several of my friends.

Ideally, it would be great to not have to see the person you’ve dated after you break up. In one book I’ve read about breakups, they call this the 60 day he-tox or she-tox. The author contends that if you don’t see the person for 60 days, it’s much easier to get over that person.  I tend to agree (as I’ve done that in the past) but in a Christian context where we are called to love one another despite the costs (Jesus says to his disciples, “ Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”) and when we’re so rooted in the communities we’ve worked for, invested in, and risked to build, leaving them seems out of the question.

I’ve noticed that when I date and then break up in community, I’m immediately tested and have to live out what that means.  In the most honest version of my story, I’ve done this so poorly in the past that I’ve almost lost friends over it.  I left a church because of it. I cut myself off from considering dating again in my past community after these bad experiences. The awkwardness has overcome me at times and all of my deepest fears came to fruition.  He dated again after me. He married the person I watched him bring to church. He moved on. Without me.  But the truth of the matter is, so did I. Yes it was incredibly hard to grieve that loss, but

the fact of the matter is this: I’ve dated in the context of communities and the relationships haven’t worked out but I would still much rather date in my community than date anywhere else. 

That’s why I want to advocate for this! I’ve been there and it hasn’t worked. I’ve also been there and am now doing my best to walk out what it looks like to stay in a community where I’ve dated someone for more than a year and am no longer with him.

So why am I advocating for this? Why am I so passionate about creating a community where dating can be done from start to finish in a healthy way, where we can want the best for the people we’ve dated and for our friends?   To be continued in Part 2…

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