brigitte kathleen

rediscovering my heart


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I’m Just Like Herod… But Cuter

I only ask what I’d ask any superstar.
What is it that you have got that puts you where you are.
I am waiting, yes I’m a captive fan.
I’m dying to be shown that you are not just any man.
So, if you are the Christ, yes the great Jesus Christ
Feed my household with this bread.
You can do it on your head.
Or has something gone wrong. Jesus, why do you take so long?
Oh come on, King of the Jews.

If you’re familiar with the Broadway hit, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” you might recognize these lyrics. King Herod’s Song is probably one of my favorite numbers from the show because of it’s swing feel, and overall fun factor (if you have time, click the link- you won’t be sorry.). Not to mention everyone I’ve ever seen portray Herod has been EXCELLENT in his role. Always hilarious, always tragically creepy, and always, ALWAYS the perfect portrayal of demeaning. I mean, really- If you want lessons how to make other people feel as little as humanly possible, you must do some serious Herod research.

The first time I saw Jesus Christ Superstar was for my 17th birthday and I fell in love. Having a theater background, I was giddy to begin with, but to see the story of Jesus’ life portrayed in such a creative (and relatively accurate) way was inspiring and exciting. I’ve gone on to own the soundtrack (which is the entire show because it’s a rock opera), and I’ve seen it two more times, as well as watched it on TV every time it’s on. I can also sing the whole show from beginning to end because I’m determined to be some production of it someday.

I love stories. I love telling stories, I love hearing stories, and I love reading and watching stories. I don’t know about you, but depending on the day, I can relate to an wide spectrum of characters from real life, fiction, or the bible. I tend to live in different realities depending on my mood. I’ve been Taylor Swift. I’ve been Katniss Everdeen. I’ve been Rachel Green. I’ve been Princess Jasmine. Right now I’m just like Herod (but cuter). And it’s here, in my Herod days, that I come to you with a question.

The story of Herod comes at a heartbreaking and pivotal moment in the Passion narrative. Herod spends his time doing nothing but mocking Jesus and asking for some sign of proof that he is who he says he is. We see this paralleled in the story of Jesus dwelling in the desert and Satan comes to taunt him. But I have to ask you a very serious question: How are we any different?

How many times have you gotten into a jam- any kind of jam- and been desperate enough to ask God to show Godself? How many times have we been through tragedy and said, “God, if only you were there…”? How many times have we used intercessory prayer to question God’s antics? How many times have we used our relationship with God as leverage to measure “how things should be”? What I’m saying is, how many times have we been so lost in our humanity that we wanted to make God prove Godself to us to make sure WE were being taken care of?

The crappy great part about it is there’s NOTHING we can do about it. We’re unfortunate humans, created in the image of God, but pretty pathetic. Our sinful nature cannot be combated. By the Law and Promise dichotomy, Christ comes to us in our sinfulness BECAUSE of our sinfulness. If it weren’t for our sinful nature, we would have no need for the Promise made in Christ’s salvific act. Because of this, we’re going to continue needing proof of God’s active presence. We are going to continue needing something tangible to hold onto so that our selfish, sinful nature can be convinced that he is alive and loves us.

Especially lately, I find my self doing this at my deepest times of need or loss. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been done with school since December, graduating this past May. I’ve been looking for jobs since September. After applying for 215 jobs, I gave up counting (in February). Job hunting, as it turns out, is the most emotionally taxing, vulnerable, devastating journey you may ever embark on. Never in my life have I felt so small, insignificant, and worthless. In the pit of this valley, I found myself asking God how he could have gotten me here? Why wasn’t he helping me? How could he leave me to flounder so easily? I felt completely deserted by the one thing I knew to be constant.

So what do we do? I’ll tell you want we do– nothing. I mean, something, but let’s start with nothing. By nothing, I mean, let’s sit in quiet. Be embraced by the presence of God that you KNOW is there. Because though your head might feel deserted, your heart knows that’s not true. Settle your mind. When you’ve become calm, remind yourself of the promise of Christ’s love. A promise that could not be broken by death, life, angels, demons… Nothing separates you from that promise. I don’t believe that God has our lives mapped out from beginning to end- I believe that there is free will involved. However, I do believe that as a child of God, I’m offered a promise of love and hope for the future. When I remember this, I no longer need Christ to walk across my swimming pool or turn my water into wine. The thing he’s doing is continually making me a new creation. That’s my proof. That’s my promise.


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It’s OK to Hope for a KitchenAid Mixer

This past Christmas, I did something I probably shouldn’t have: I asked for a 5-quart KitchenAid mixer (with accessories) in the iconic Empire Red color. It might not be every little girl’s fantasy to someday own a KitchenAid mixer, but I feel like once you  hit a certain age, it’s OK to start wanting some of those “adult” things (and actually be excited about them). Here’s the problem- Everyone I know who has one of these wonderful contraptions is married. The KitchenAid mixer is traditionally known to be a wonderful wedding gift from a wealthy family member who is just close enough to want to spend that kind of money on you, but not close enough to want to help with the wedding (like a rich uncle).

kitchen aid mixer

 

It’s no secret that I’m in my mid late 20’s and as single as I’ve ever been. That’s why I had a difficult time adding my KitchenAid mixer to my Amazon.com wish list. In my mind, the Empire Red KitchenAid mixer is a “coming of age” item. To me, it means you’ve arrived- you’re officially the domestic queen that your grandma has always hoped you be. I even thought that actually receiving, purchasing, or owning this kind of item would mean I’ve given up all hope in my future and become settled with being single for the rest of my life (it’s a symbolism thing…).  This whole life of limbo I’m living in really got me thinking about one HUGE question: How do we realistically plan for the future without having a clue what the future might even look like?

This question has been in the back of my mind since I started grad school. When I started seminary, I was toying with the idea of becoming ordained and everything that entailed. At that point, I was single and fine with being sent wherever they were going to want to send me, and I knew that would be a strength I had going into my interviews. After that idea went out the window, I considered moving to New York (you might remember that post from September). I remember people being so concerned with the idea of moving to somewhere new by myself, but my excuse was that I had nothing holding me down here.

Skipping ahead, I’m now 27 and I’m trying to figure out what the latest versions of my 1, 5, and 10 year plans are. When you’re recently graduated with a lot of components in your life that keep changing, your own idea of the future ends up morphing and it can be difficult to keep up. When you’re from the heartland, people are getting married young, and beginning their lives together, meaning they can make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan together. Now, don’t get me wrong- this is not a “poor me, I’m single,” story. This is simply a discovery of what life for 20/30-somethings who are ready to make a game plan looks like when they make that game plan without knowing who they’ve got on their roster.

As cynical as I may be becoming, I still believe in the power of hope and faith for the future. Though your present may either be really great, or really not-so-great, you still have a future waiting for you. The beauty is that your future is just as unknown to you as it is to people who spend their whole lives planning for theirs. So dream. Dream big. What do you want your future to look like? Think about it in terms of painting a picture. The thing that I think a lot of us take for granted in planning without knowing is that our canvas is blank and waiting to be painted on. People who are planning with and around others in their life already have brushstrokes they need to work into their artwork. I’m not saying that people who are married, dating, have kids or family responsibilities, or anything tying them down can’t dream, and more often than not, the art that they’re having to incorporate into their painting is beautiful. I just know that, although I’m a terrible visual artist, I have a huge sense of hope and imagination when I’m staring at a blank canvas.

Another thing that I think we forget, especially when we get deep into “planning mode,” is that plans rarely work out the way we envision them. If you would have asked me 10 years ago what I’d be doing now, I can say with 150% certainty that THIS would not be it. I pictured myself married, maybe with a child, living in a house, and successful in whatever career I may have landed in. Grad school was never on my radar, and I wanted to get done and start life as soon as possible. I’m 27, single, childless, and a recent graduate who feels clueless more than anything. My future, your future, his future, her future… our futures are not static. It’s not a situation of, “Let it be said, let it be done.” Our lives are fluid and we have to make changes and recalibrate when things happen all the time. Some people believe that God has a very precise plan for them (I don’t know if I’m one of those people or not), and if that is the case, then guess what? We still don’t know the plan, and we have to prayerfully accept the dance God has invited us into, and let him lead.

I think there’s a huge leadership lesson in this for us. Leaders are people who can not only anticipate their own needs and the needs of those around them, but they are also people who can adapt to changes, including ones they weren’t expecting. Leaders are also people who are self-aware, know who they are, and what they can offer. I think there’s a big difference in knowing what you can offer and knowing what you want to offer. When we make plans for the future, we’re already limiting ourselves to what we think we’ll want to offer instead of letting opportunities present themselves. When you don’t have your piece of art completed before you begin, life gives you new colors, shapes, and brushstrokes to make it a masterpiece you didn’t know you were capable of.

In closing, I want to swing this back around to my lustful desire for a KitchenAid mixer. I’m not married. I’m not dating anyone. I’m not really even close. But I also know I’m not getting any younger, and that owning a KitchenAid mixer shouldn’t be contingent on weather or not I’m getting married. What’s important is that I’m allowing my canvas to be painted one brushstroke at a time, and when I’m ready for my Empire Red brushstroke that represents my KitchenAid mixer to finally find its home amongst the other colors that make up who I am, I think it’s going to be an excellent addition to the magnificent piece of art my life is turning out to be. And when I’m ready to merge my masterpiece with another person’s, it’s going to be more lovely and intricate that I could have ever imagined.  So go on, dream big, and get yourself a KitchenAid mixer.


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Morning Walk Musings: To Be Loved

SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Obviously, this means that I want to spend as much time outside as possible, so I started walking this week. My first day of walking was Sunday. I walked almost 10 miles between two different trips outside.

This past weekend and early part of this week has been particularly trying so I’ve been finding solace in putting in my ear-buds and drowning out the world. That’s why I had no problem spending almost four hours outside on Sunday. On my second walk that day, I went a route I knew but had never walked before. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I came across this message in the pavement: Image

It might be hard to read, but this is what it says: I wanted to tell you the name of the street where I crashed my bicycle, got my best scar, or how I went walking at sunrise to see dawn’s great evacuation of star. There must be some method, when two people meet, to explain to each other who we really are.

This got me thinking, first of all, about relationships and how we allow them to develop in our  lives. What does it mean to know someone? What does it mean to care about someone? What does that look like for us as someone who cares, but also what does it look like for someone who is being cared for? Although an important conversation, it’s one saved for another time. The other thing this made me think about is my last post that listed things that made me who I am. In the middle of this unexpected existential moment, I realized that this pavement poem could have been written about me. I remember crashing my bike and I have scars. But the other thing I realized is that I haven’t seen a sunrise in a long time, so I decided that I was going to start getting up in the mornings to go walking. Not only would this be a healthy choice, but I’d be able to watch the sunrise… while walking around a lake. I just described what I’m pretty sure heaven is like.

So, to the musings from this morning…

It was about 5:45am and I’m 2/3 the way through my walk as I walk past the Como Lake Pavilion. Normally, I wouldn’t stop because I wouldn’t have a reason to, but this morning, this caught my eye:Image

It was surrounded by a few other chalk drawings, but this one was the largest art piece on the sidewalk. It also happened to be the message I needed to hear. Like I said, I had a difficult weekend. Work, relationships, a never-ending concern about what the future looks like… you know, all the normal stuff that normally fill my relatively large plate, but this weekend, I had a buffet’s worth. I’m not sure if it hurt or helped that Pastor Jon’s sermon could have been written for me, and I cried through the whole thing. So yeah, a pretty difficult weekend despite the comfort that people were attempting to surround me with. It wasn’t until this morning that I really felt it all come together.

Unfortunately, some of us don’t realize how loved we are by the people who matter until it seems like things are falling apart. And even then, sometimes we don’t understand, believe, or trust them. But guess what? IT’S TIME FOR THAT TO CHANGE. You know why? Because. You. Are. Loved.

You are a child of God and worthy to be loved. That is, you are beloved…allow yourself to Be. Loved. A friend of mine tweeted this to me last year. He has a way with words and has wisdom beyond his years. Mostly, he’s a very calming presence and has a beautiful assurance of God’s love that he’s not afraid to share with people. When I saw the message on the sidewalk this morning, my first thought was, “I hear this all the time.” And it’s true, isn’t it? We are always being reassured that we are loved- commercials, jewelry stores, Church. But do we believe it?

I think my friend’s words nail it on the head– sometimes we need to be reassured that we are a child of God and the promise that lies in that knowledge is God’s unconditional love (I’ll get to fellow human love in a second). That means we are sons and daughters of the only presence who can and will and does love us to extremes we can’t fathom. What this also means is that we-you, me, everyone- are worthy of love.

Did you catch that? By the simple fact that you are a living, breathing, existing child of God, you are worthy of love. Don’t get me wrong- this doesn’t mean that everyone is going to love you, nor does it mean that everyone should love you. What it means is that you get to open yourself to the people in your life and allow them to love you in the way they are going to. But this also means you need to open yourself up to that. The people that love you are going to love you despite your flaws, your shortcomings, and everything you think is wrong with you. But guess what? It’s not your decision for them to love you– It’s your decision to let them.

I only know this because I may be my worst critic, but I’m also my worst enemy. I face demons every day, some of them easier to overcome than others, and it is a fight for me to remember that yes, I am not perfect, but I have people who will continue to love me anyway. And usually, there will be nothing I can do to change that. And in that case, it’s a lot easier to let them love me instead of telling them why they shouldn’t.

See how I used the word “usually” there? There’s a reason for that- here comes the flip side of the coin. We’ve established that we all deserve to be loved, right? Well, here’s the deal- If you’re worthy of being loved, then you’re not worthy of being un-loved. People who come into our lives and spend their presence there un-loving us are the people who poison our ability to accept love from the people who are giving it freely. You need to love yourself enough to let those people go. They’re wasting their time by not loving you, and bringing you down with them at the same time. You’re not worthy of treatment like that because you are only worthy of love. Do you hear me?

YOU ARE ONLY WORTHY OF LOVE. YOU DESERVE TO BE LOVED.

YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE UN-LOVED.

It’s so easy to keep those poisonous people around and I think it’s because when and if they do show us some sort of love or appreciation, we feel like we’ve earned it. Trust me– I’ve had friendship upon friendship that has been written like this. In fact, until recently, this is almost every relationship I ever knew. When someone would treat me well or affirm me in some way, I felt like I had won the game and was able to validate our friendship by the mere fact that they were being nice to me. I still catch myself doing it every now and then. I’ll see how much I have to do before I receive some kind of notion of satisfaction from people. And let me tell you, the second I recognize what I’m doing, I snap out of it right away. Why? Because I don’t have to DO anything to win your love. God has already validated my existence, and my existence is proof that I’m worthy of love. While these poisonous relationship might feel good to have around for validation, these are the relationships that seep into your healthy relationships and start to eat away at you and everyone you’re in a relationship with. Not only is it unfair to you to have these un-loving individuals in your life, it’s unfair to everyone who loves you, too.

I know I’m the last person who should be giving any kind of guidance on this front. Like I mentioned, I struggle daily, and most of this is easier said than done. However, I believe that if you’re going to become who you are meant to be and fully embrace the love that is being offered to you by people who honestly and earnestly care about you, the first step is to figure out how to embrace your worthiness of the love they have to offer you…. and the love you have for yourself.

It seems fitting that I’m listening to the new Michael Buble album today, To Be Loved. If you’re interested, I’m WAY digging his version of Something Stupid, featuring Reese Witherspoon. I’ve loved that song since forever, and I always thought it would be a perfect go-to karaoke duet– who doesn’t love Sinatra karaoke? But Michael and Reese kill it and it is awesome. You’re welcome for that tidbit of the day.

So friends, go forth… love others, and don’t be afraid to let them love you back.


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Guess & Check & Guess Again

When I was in sixth grade, we had a large mason jar in our math class. Every week, it would be filled with something- buttons, gummy bears, leggos, etc., and every week we had an estimation contest. I never, ever won. Want to know why? Because I’m terrible at estimation. I don’t guess right on anything- distance, time, numbers of people, how many miles I’ve got left in my gas tank… you get the idea.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that my journey to April 8th, 2013 has been nothing less than unconventional. In fact, if I’ve ever been in a situation where there are guidelines and rules, I’ve probably danced outside of them. I took six years for my undergraduate degree (a B.A. in Business for Religious Organizations– what??). I went to seminary and took two and a half years to finish what is traditionally a two year program. I drove a pick-up truck with 250,000 miles on it. I was a flight attendant. I’m 27 years old and have never dated. I LOVE Twitter. I got to hold an Emmy. What I’m trying to say is this– Although I have many stories to tell, my life has been a collage of experiences and blind moves on my own little chess board.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining, nor do I regret anything (for the most part). But what I’ve learned in my 9,952 days on this lovely planet is that life is nothing more than a series of games of “Guess and Check.” Maybe you believe in a God has some grand plan or maybe you don’t believe in God, or maybe you believe in fate– No matter your beliefs, the decisions you make are up to you, and realistically, you never know if you’ve made the right one or not.

I don’t know about you, but this sends me into a frenzy. On one hand, I’m really glad to know that everyone else is potentially making life-altering mistakes like I am. On the other hand, it’s terrifying to think I could be making life-altering mistakes! Although believe in the beauty of grace and that my mistakes will eventually work themselves out, it’s hard to move forward not knowing what potential risks you’re facing.

There’s a movie out there called “Love Happens,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. At one point in the movie, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Eloise, addresses a mistake that Burke (played by Mr. Eckhart) made in not going to his wife’s funeral. During this little “Come-to-Jesus” meeting she says, “My life is a day to day experiment in really bad decisions.” As much as I want to respect and admire Eloise’s humility in addressing the fact that she’s not good at life choices, isn’t this a sentiment that everyone can relate to? Whether it’s picking a wrong restaurant for lunch or marrying the wrong person, each of us has a history of poor decision making.

Up till now, I’ve been preaching a lot of law, and I apologize, and while I’m the last person on earth qualified to give you a dose of gospel in this area, I’m going to try. I know I addressed this in an earlier blog post, but this is what it comes down to: You cannot live life with regret. You’re going to make decisions. With those decisions come mistakes. But at the same time, with decisions come GIGANTIC victories. Risk is scary, but where would anyone be if we didn’t risk something (at least once in a while)?

I get risk, trust me. I totally get it. I happen to be completely afraid of vulnerability- ANY kind of vulnerability. This means I end up living a very guarded life. Meanwhile, I’m cheering for everyone else, encouraging people to take great leaps of faith, and take risks, and not to fear failure. I have a master’s degree in this, for crying out loud. But for some reason, my own fears and vulnerabilities get in the way when I try to apply what I want for other people to my own life. I think if we all take a second to think about it for a second, we come to the conclusion that VULNERABILITY SUCKS. The only way to get around it, though, is to get over it– unless, of course, you don’t mind living your life alone and with very little to show. Because, you know what? Sure, taking risks involves being completely vulnerable, but the only way to succeed is if you embrace it, and take that leap into a great unknown.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m terrible at estimation. The only thing I’m somewhat good at estimation is the price of things (mostly because I spent the better portion of my childhood watching Supermarket Sweep). But, major life decisions? I can’t even handle it. And let me tell you, most of my decisions are in the “guess” category. I’m never sure of anything. I could pray, and pray, and pray till the cows come home, but are we ever REALLY sure? I mean… really…. are we ever REALLY sure of anything? And sometimes, I make really bad guesses. However, I don’t believe in a God that’s going to hang me out to dry if I make a wrong turn. Instead, I believe in a God who loves me enough to work through any situation, and get me turned in the right direction.

I hate guessing because I hate being wrong. But I’ve realized that while you may be wrong (and you may be wrong a lot), you also might get it right. Embrace the guessing. Embrace the estimation. The only way to move forward is to guess which way to step. But also know that the reality of the “check” is there too. Life is full of “Guess and Check,” I just wish they would have told us they were teaching us a major life lesson in 6th grade math when we were guessing how many paper clips were in the jar.

As much as I hate guessing and hate vulnerability, I can’t help but come back to this final thought: The beauty of the “Guess and Check” game of life is that if “check” comes back and says “wrong guess,” you get to guess again. Eventually, you’ll guess right.


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The Color of the Sea

“To walk alone is possible, but the good walker knows that the great trip is life and it requires companions.”

– Dom Helder Camara

If you’re my Facebook friend, you have probably seen this quote pop up a couple times in the last month. I first saw it as a fellow Seminarian’s status, and immediately stole it because there was power under those words that hit me like a ton of bricks. Since then, it’s been nagging at me, tugging at my heart, and I knew it was something I needed to unpack. Needless to say, I’ve been wanting to write this post for the last two weeks, and I’ve finally found the time. So, here it goes.

I would consider myself a pretty independent person- I’ve lived by myself for a total of almost four years, I’m financially independent, I pay my own bills, etc. I have all the classic markings of one of those “independent women” the Destiny’s Child heroines sang to us about in the early 2000’s.  I’m really happy with who I am– I like knowing I can take care of myself, and I like having to be accountable for myself. I’m comfortable this way, but even more, I’m content.

Since graduating from grad school, I’ve had a lot of decisions to make- where am I going to work? What kind of work will I do? Where will I live? How will I decorate my bedroom? All of these are decisions that seemingly only affect me, myself, and I, and I like the freedom in knowing that other people aren’t dependent on my plans and dreams. I’ll admit that there are times when I wonder what the next five years of my life are going to look like, and whether or not that freedom in planning for the future is going to change. I begin to wonder if I should cling to this life of solitary planning and move forward as if I am all I’ll ever be, or if I need to start considering more flexibility in my decision making.

Camara’s words remind me a lot of my traveling endeavors of 2009 and 2010. I traveled a lot– New York, Seattle, London, Madrid, Nairobi, Florida, Washington, D.C., etc. I saw a lot of great things! However, with the exception of my trip to Spain, I did it alone. Was it exciting? Absolutely! Do I regret any of it? Not in the least. But there are times I wonder what having a companion on those journeys would have been like. They were all liberating experiences, don’t get me wrong, but I often wonder what I missed in not sharing it with someone.

In light of what Bishop Camara says about the journey of life, my travels may seem trivial, but what about in your own life? Can you think of anything that you’ve done alone that you wonder what it would have been like to have someone’s hand to hold? How much would that have increased the joy of your experience? The reality is that you’ll never know, and I’m not a proponent of looking back and saying “What if…,” but I am a supporter of taking what you know of the past and looking forward with a new hope.

Think about a time that you tried to explain something you experienced to someone who wasn’t there. Two outcomes are possible- First, you could be a really, really great story teller, tell the story perfectly, and the person listening can clearly imagine what your experience was. The other possible outcome is that you tell the story, and the other person just doesn’t get it. We’ve all told and been told those stories, and how do they usually end? “Well… I guess you just had to be there.” It’s similar to trying to explain the color of the water to people who have never seen the cerulean blue of the Caribbean.

Image

Here’s the deal- being comfortable by yourself is a really great trait- it means you’ve acknowledged that you can be alone, happy, and content. What I think the Bishop’s words are trying to express is that, while a lot of people take solace in knowing their abilities to be alone, somethings are better and more powerful with a companion. Instead of trying to explain the color of the ocean to someone, invite them into that experience with you.

Here’s the flip side- Spoiler alert: sometimes bad things happen. I think it’s easy to talk about the “good” times we experience in life, and sharing that with someone, or multiple people. It’s harder to acknowledge that the hard times will inevitably come. For the more independent people, I think it’s easy for us to say, “Hey… I’ve gotten through one or two or twenty bad things…. I can get through one more,” but what’s wrong with admitting that sometimes we wish we didn’t have to face a challenge alone? Does that show weakness? Are we less credible as people who are actually able to survive on our own?

And now we’ve reached the core of what I think this quote is meant to mean for us (at least for me): Companionship does not show weakness. Companionship shows our desire to be in relationship. Our desire to be in relationship comes from our human instinct and call to love. Think about those stories you tell your friends- you’re not telling them because you want them to suffer (unless you’re just realllllly mean…)– no, you tell them because you want to invite them into the beauty or excitement that you experienced. There’s a joy that you want them to feel. Our call to be in relationship with one another is out of a need to share joy and love with another one of God’s created souls.

Life is a great trip. Sometimes, we want a hand to hold while we experience it. Sometimes we need a hand to help us up when we’ve fallen. Sometimes we are that hand to help someone else up when they’ve grown weary. God intends for us to be in relationship with each other and with God. The trinity is an illustration of God in relationship with God’s self as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we were meant to go on this journey alone, the journey would have been over a long time ago.

I will never regret doing any of the things I’ve done alone. In fact, I celebrate that I’ve been able to do a lot of those things with freedom. But I’m also not afraid to admit that I look forward to more experiences that I’ll be able to share with people I love. For me, it takes some self-encouragement to invite people into relationship (purely based on my own insecurities), but this is something I challenge everyone to do– Invite someone into your experience. Let them share that joy with you. Life is a great trip, but we are here for a blink of an eye. Walk alongside each other, and experience this life the way God intended for us, embracing the beauty of His world.

In closing, this song is heavily rooted in a romantic understanding of companionship, but the idea of companionship transcends romance– it incorporates, familial love, friendship, and kinship. Regardless, it’san awesome song. Just listen to it.


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The Art of Not Giving Yourself Enough Credit

I’m just beginning to write this post, but I already know it’s going to be a difficult one. Why do I know that? Because I know that I’m one of the most self-critical people I’ve ever known. So really, this could be the equivalent of dog writing about how hard it is to be a cat. While it may seem a little hypocritical, I’m going to go for it anyway. This will either prove to be a therapeutic experience, or it’ll prove that, while I’m not great at acknowledging my strengths and talents, I’m good at recognizing those traits in other people, and this is more for them than it is for me. I suppose this writing is going to come from a sense of first hand experience, but also being open and watching those around me experience the pain of self-criticism as well.

As a part of my Master’s Degree, I did a lot of intensive work on individual leadership development. In fact, my 100+ page thesis was a three-part work on the idea that everyone contains the capacity to be a leader. The first part of my thesis (which I’m referencing for this discussion) can be found here. Since it’s a little long, you might not want to read the whole thing, so I’ll sum it up: I believe that everyone possesses five characteristics that they channel into effective and quality leadership: Passion, Initiative, Courage, Creativity, and Humility. It’s when these five things come together (in a Captain Planet sort of way) that a person emerges as the leader they are meant to be.

In my thesis (and probably in a future work like a dissertation or other post-graduate study), I talk about how passion is truly the catalyst to help the other characteristics fall into place. If you’re passionate, you’ll want to take initiative, you’ll want to have courage, you’ll want to be creative in your problem solving, etc. The tricky part of this equation is finding that passion and clinging to it, knowing that making it into something great is going to take work– but work you’ll be willing and excited to do.

Just like we all have some kind of passion burning inside of us, we all have gifts, too. Some of our gifts are greater or more prominent than others (i.e. I’d consider myself a decent chef, but a good baker), but that doesn’t mean any are invaluable. How you use and develop them is up to you. Unfortunately for us, American society hasn’t done us many favors in the whole ‘developing and discovering your gifts’ department. Here’s why I think this:

1. The most accessible gifts inventory in most high schools is the ASVAB test. I don’t know about you, but I answered questions to get a specific outcome.  I was supposed to be some kind of performing artist…. and look at me now.

2. Colleges and the higher education system are expecting students to choose a career path at the ripe age of 18. Then they’re charging an arm and a leg for school, basically threatening students with the impending doom of life-long student loan debt if they can’t get their degree done in timely fashion.

3. American society glorifies both the celebrity lifestyle, and the participation award. How many times have we asked ourselves, “Why is Kim Kardashian famous?” And, don’t get me wrong, I loved getting participation awards, but no– I should have never received a medal for being on the turquoise soccer team. I was TERRIBLE at soccer. They should have given me a hand-written note (to show sincerity) saying that I should never don a pair of shin guards ever again. Tough love, people. Let’s try to recapture that.

While there may be a lot of things you’re not exceptionally talented at, keep in mind that in order to embrace the gifts you DO have, you have to trust that God had a least a little bit of an idea when he was creating you. To forgo your gifts and constantly wish for someone else’s gifts is not only doing yourself a disservice, but dishonoring the work that the Holy Spirit is continuously doing in you. Have a little faith (albeit, sometimes easier said than done) in the work that God is doing in and through you.

So what? Here’s what- I think too many people count themselves out because they’ve tried things that haven’t worked. This shouldn’t be our mentality at all. With hesitation, I use the failure (I have a love/hate relationship with this beautifully terrible word). Failure brings with it opportunities for greatness (I blogged about that, too). The best thing about failure is that it points me away from things that are wrong for me and opens up a thousand more opportunities. Don’t look at failure as an end, embrace it as a new beginning.

What else? This means that you can’t sit around moping about your inadequacies and expect to be successful. You have to try in order to fail or succeed. You’ll never know which one it’ll be until you get off your couch. If you don’t know where to start, ask your friends (who you can be candid with, and who you trust) what they think some of your strengths and talents are. Ask them what they think you might be good at, or if they can think of things for you to try. Your friends (who love you) will give you honest and worthwhile feedback.

You have some incredible gifts, whether or not you know it. Just because you don’t think you’ve found them yet, whether your 7 years old or 107 years old, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The beauty in waking up every day is the uncertainty of what you’ll discover about the world, God, life, but even more exciting, yourself. And if you’re still looking for that ONE thing to cling to, that ONE thing to be passionate about, go look for it, but be patient in the search. And realize that you do have other gifts- cling to those things that give you hope and joy and realize that you are a gift to people around you.

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