Thursday, August 25, 2016

We deserve more.

In May I wrote a blog that I never posted. I wrote about a guy that I met and how meeting him made me feel. Yesterday I read it and I decided that since this year I wanted to be more vulnerable maybe it would be a good idea for me to post it.

I read through my words and I was taken back to the day I met him. All the feelings came rushing back, the laughter, the emotions, the moments that I never wanted to end. The blog was filled with lovely words that I 100% meant at the time, words that expressed how highly I thought of him and how alive I felt being in his presence.

Yeah, I read that yesterday and I was feeling like it would be a great idea to post it and to let people see into that experience but then I changed my mind and here's why.

I can count on one hand the encounters I've had with what I would have called at one time "very special" people. Encounters that made me feel like the prettiest, smartest, most interesting and most loved girl in the room. Moments that I romanticized and let play over in my head as things that I would hope would one day turn into a relationship or my 'day one' with my forever person and it never happened.

All of those moments ended, just as soon as they began. They ended because those men, those guys, as dynamic as they were, were not that into me. I could take those moments whether they ended with an embrace, a kiss, or an exchange of numbers and say that it was a life changing moment but if they never called, never tried to make those moments last, were those feelings even mutual?

I was thinking about those people and those moments yesterday and I realized that I was so lost in the potential of what those encounters COULD have been that I refused to come to terms with the reality of what they actually were. They weren't anything. They were moments in time that left me feeling a certain way but they involved no follow through, no commitment, no sense of security...they were nothing.

Now, don't get me wrong I think that I've learned a lot from those days/moments/encounters and they have affected who I am as a person. I think that all of the confusion, the tears, the nights awake have merged together and become a piece of the puzzle of who I am. With that being said, to learn is to change and where the change has manifested in my life is in the truth that if someone isn't investing in you, taking time to know you, working for your heart...they're not your forever person.

A really wise person once said "We accept the love we think we deserve," and I think that's so true. Even if it makes you feel alive and sets a fire in your heart, why settle for a flame that's only going to last for a night when you can invest in an ember that will roar and blaze for life. I'm sure it sounds like I'm discrediting these people that I've met and the moments that we've shared but really what I'm doing is calling a spade a spade.

The love that I deserve is a love that isn't left to chance. A love that is considered an investment by both parties, a love that is pursued, a love that we're both committed to, a love that doesn't get up and just walk away.  A love that stays.

Wherever you are in life, whether you're knee deep in a relationship that isn't healthy for you or just getting your fingers wet with something new, I hope that you know what you deserve. I hope that you look in the mirror every morning and you see your worth and you see the truth of how beautiful you are. If you don't see that, I hope that you take a break from dating and relationships to discover your worth and to write it on every square inch of your heart.

We, my dear friend, accept the love we think we deserve and it's time that we start thinking and believing that we deserve more.

Until next time. XO.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lessons and lessons and lessons.

Things I've learned in the last month...

1. Vulnerability is key to starting, building and sustaining healthy relationships.

I struggle with being vulnerable. It's so easy to write out my feelings and thoughts on my blog and then kind of walk away from it. People read it and they might even comment but we're not having a face to face conversation so it's easy to be removed from the things that I'm saying and what they're learning about me. Brene Brown, a researcher and a story teller, has a fantastic Ted talk about vulnerability and I highly recommend it. I watched it and it put words to what was going on in my heart, learning to be vulnerable is freaking difficult but it's key in building healthy relationships and that's what I want.

2. When you learn you change and if you haven't changed than you haven't learned.

I've kissed a lot of frogs in my life and despite my desire to find better it wasn't until recently that I learned that you'll never find a prince in a swamp. I had a conversation with one of my dear friends the other day and we talked about women and our standards. I know so many people who settle for less than they deserve in relationships and romantic encounters and I was definitely one of those people, until I wasn't. I learned that lust is very different than love, if they'll lie for you they'll lie to you, a kiss is not a commitment and if they want to play games, hand them a controller not your heart. This is especially for my beautiful, talented, intelligent and queen lady friends: if they're not calling you, not wanting to spend time with you, not introducing you to their friends, not taking you on REAL dates, not praying for you, than they're not worth your time. When you know better you do better, it's time to do better.

3. Even the smallest acts of courage can be inspirational.

The other day I had someone tell me that they thought I was brave and when I asked why they mentioned a series of small moments that I didn't think anyone noticed. Moments where I stepped out of my comfort zone to participate in an event or accomplish a small goal and unbeknownst to me someone was watching and they were inspired. So I guess this lesson was two fold in the way that it showed me that people can be inspired by the little things and also it reminded me that everything counts. You have no idea how your today can affect someones tomorrow, so give it your all kid!

I could go on and on but I think three lessons is enough for today. This month has really impacted me and it's not for any reason in particular but rather it's all the small moments and encounters, all of the encouragement to do and to be better, all of the thoughtful choices that led to a month of so much growth. Life is fun, so much fun, but a year ago I made the decision to be more than just happy, but to be intentional about my journey and it's made all the difference.

Until next time friends. XO

Friday, August 12, 2016

Noordaleen...the light of religion.

On Tuesday, I met a young man from Iraq named Noor.

Before I could even sit down and speak with him I was moved by his presence. His laugh reached my ears from across the room and I found myself smiling simply because of his amazing energy. He seemed so happy, like his burdens were light and his hope and aspirations for the future were high.

 I asked him what the meaning behind his name was and he told me that it meant light. He went on to explain that his full name is Noordaleen and that it means the light that comes from religion. He made sure to explain that it didn't just mean the light that comes from the Muslim religion but rather all religions.

Does that name affect you as much as it affected me?

The light that comes from all religion. What a powerful and strong name.

In the age that we live in you often hear about the dangers of religion. You hear about terrorist attacks, funeral protests, hateful politicians and more but you rarely hear about someone talking about the light. The light that comes from someone believing in something bigger than themselves.

I really struggle with the word religion, if I'm being completely honest. I'm always the first person to tell someone that I'm a Christian but I'm not religious. That I believe in a relationship with Christ that involves the deepest parts of who I am as a person. But the questions that I find myself pondering right now are, is relationship the rejection of religion? Or is relationship the expansion of religion?

Perspective is a tricky thing but depending on how we use it, it can either cast a dark shadow on religion or brighten it and make it easier to understand. It's difficult for me to even write this but when I think about religion the same way I think about faith and Noor, I realize that religion is not the absence of light.

Religion is the belief and worship of God or gods. Relationship to me takes that a step further by adding the reverence, love, devotion and service to God. Religion I think can be the first steps but it's through relationship that we get a view of the full staircase.

Jesus says in John 8:12 that he is the light of the world. So when I spoke to Noor and he told me that his name meant light I was overwhelmed by the love of Christ and how he reveals himself in the people around us.

The Lord has been working so heavily in my life in regards to my quick judgments of others. One of those judgments has definitely been related to other belief systems. Before I get misunderstood let me say that I do believe that God's word is truth and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. With that being said I don't think that closed minds win hearts and the Lord is teaching me how to guard my mind with truth whilst being open to the opinions and thoughts of others.

This year, I've been very intentional about deepening my relationship with the father. Through the deepening of that relationship I feel very strongly right now that the Lord is guiding me to unpack the baggage that I have in regards to religion and to explore the root of it.What a journey that will be.

I wonder if Noor's parents realized what they were doing when they gave him such a thought provoking and hope filled name. Noordaleen, the light that comes from religion.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tragedy and joy... the balancing act.

Yesterday I logged on to Facebook and the first thing that I saw was a true testament to one of life's many realities. There were two different posts, one right after the other from my friends and they both told seemingly similar yet extremely different stories.

One post was made by a friend expressing his exhaustion and deep anguish after burying his father and the other, a collage of photos and smiles, was a post celebrating a father's birthday. Two posts, back to back, both describing emotions towards a father, but they couldn't be more different. One was saturated in joy and happiness while the other truly embodied the sadness that comes from the loss of a loved one.

This extreme contrast led me to a few moments of reflection about the fact that with every moment of pure joy and love that is experienced, someone somewhere, is in pain. How is it possible that these two contrasting emotions are weaved into our lives so seamlessly.

Why does there have to be any sadness? Can't there just be joy?

Yes, maybe those are optimistic and maybe even naive questions to ask but haven't you ever had the same thoughts? Haven't you looked at a picture and reminisced about an event wishing that you could relive it over and over for the rest of your life? I think that it's human to see something like one person celebrating their dad's birthday and the other mourning their dad's passing and being moved emotionally by it. Moved to the point where you start asking questions and seeking answers for why things happen the way that they do.

Why can't there just be joy?

Well, honestly I don't know the answer to that question. I don't know the answer to a lot of questions. What I do know is that I've felt the pain of loss and I've also felt the warmth of joy. I know what it's like to cry and cry until your body can't do anything else except sleep.

 Life will tell anyone who takes the time to look that with every moment of joy there is undoubtedly moments and glimmers of pain.

With that being said I think that it would be a shame to go through life dreading the irrefutable end. It would be a waste of life to spend this time running from the death that will eventually find us all. Wouldn't it?

In a few months I'll be the one posting about my wonderful father on his birthday and one day, years and years from now, I'll be speaking about him in the past tense.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this or even what I'm feeling right now but what's coming to my head in this moment is that life is a balancing act. It's an act of living in the present and building a life that is filled with love and joy. It's about leaving a legacy and it's also about what comes next. It's about knowing that this, every thing we see around us and all that we touch, doesn't last forever.

It's knowing that in one second someone you know may be mourning a loss while the other is rejoicing in celebration over another year of a life.

What interesting and ever changing lives we all lead.