Monthly Archives: August 2013

Signs

I got a flat tire today.

It was a normal morning. Woke up, got ready, drove to Frothy Monkey. Yes, the usual routine. As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that my wheel was getting harder to turn as if it was on the verge of locking up.

“Odd, “I thought before putting my car in park and skipping into FM to get my morning coffee.

When I came back out, I got in my car, turned on my iPod and started the drive to work. As I went through the gravel lot, I kept getting a sinking feeling that something felt wrong. My car felt like it was dragging a handful of dirty diapers underneath. (You’re welcome for that image).

t28I pulled into a parking lot and got out of my car. Sure enough, there it was. This wasn’t just a flat tire, this was a BAD flat tire. The kind of flat when the bottom of your tire is parallel to the ground.

As frustrating and inconvenient as this was, to be fair, I had an inkling something was wrong. A couple months ago my car began having trouble starting, shortly following, I started feeling like I was getting a workout when I would turn my wheel. Last week I parked my car on a hill and the tires seemed to have trouble grasping the ground, creaking even with the emergency brakes on. The noise was so concerning that I moved it, “just in case it crashes into the car behind me.” If that wasn’t enough warning, a day or so later my “your tires are low, dummy” light came on.

Sometimes life gives us warnings when we’re headed for destruction. It’s easy to ignore the warning signs, because if you’re like me, fixing problems is such a timely annoyance and there’s just not enough time in the every day business to deal with it.

Yet, as we continue on this road, the emergency lights come on, the road signs flash heavily along your drive. We don’t brake, we keep trekking, making little lies to ourselves that we’ll “deal with it later.”

Last month I started getting a call from an unknown number from California. Each time I would miss the call and there would be no voicemail. When I finally picked up, it was an automated message telling me it was time for my next tuneup. I sighed, pictured my emptying bank account, and deleted the message. After that, I started getting a weekly reminder email from my mechanic that I needed to bring my car in.

“I don’t have time! It’s such a pain to bring my car in!” So, like a good car owner, I continued to ignore the signs.

During this time, I spent a lot of time in my car. I spent over an hour and a half a day driving back and forth from work, I went on a couple long roadtrips and spent any opportunity I could taking shortcuts via the highway. If you think about it, there were a lot of opportunities for me to have crashed, there were also a lot of opportunities for me to ensure I was driving safely.

That’s the thing about destruction, we not only put ourselves in danger, but the people around us.

Amidst life’s warning signs, we also have opportunities to escape our pits. We can choose to forgive those who have hurt us, stop holding grudges, avoid complaining, make an effort to stop doing something (or maybe start) and surround ourselves around people that influence us well and lift us up. All of these steps lead us into a greater path. One that fuels our hearts and souls and gives us the tools we need to make wise choices and have a safer drive.

As I’m sitting here reflecting on this morning, I can’t help but think about how divinely wonderful our God is to us. There were so many terrible driving situations I could have been in then parked in a parking lot next to Frothy Monkey. It could have been this past weekend, when I was driving through the country with a car full of people I love or even this morning when I was weaving through traffic on the highway. Sometimes it takes slowing down and being home to realize you’re standing a few feet form the edge of the cliff.

If you’re reading this today and you’re driving down a road that just doesn’t feel right, stop. Turn around and find a new path. These signs are tugging your heartstrings for a reason. You’re never too old or too far gone to make a change. The only thing stopping you is yourself.

I know it’s hard and finding a new way make add a couple extra months or years to your destination. But here’s the thing. God is bigger than your bank account. He is bigger than your zip code, your relationship (or lack thereof), your disappointments or dead ends. Take some time to map out a new destination for yourself. Surround yourself around good people along the way, I’m talking about the kind that helps you change flat tires; their the ones who will encourage you through this.

Today is the day you drive down a new road, the kind that leads to good stories and happy endings. Jumpstart your dreams and don’t forget to change your tires before you go.

When You Know, You Know

He married his best friend.

I still remember the day we broke up. It was nighttime and I was driving home, he was out of town on a business trip and we hadn’t spoken in days (a rare form for us). There was an aching feeling in my heart that I needed to call him, ask him how his day was and be a present, good girlfriend. But I didn’t want to. All I wanted to do was go home, watch TV and go to bed.

We hadn’t planned to break up that night. There was no calculated conversation, no rehearsed speech, it happened blrand before I knew it, it was over. So much easier than how it began, so much faster than how we met. Six years. Gone in less than sixty minutes.

Lately it seems like I’ve gotten a front row seat to some really great relationships and some really not-so-great ones. I’ve seen what it looks like to fall in love and fall apart and I find myself celebrating the love scenes, crying through the dramatic ones and like a great rom-com, hoping for the best happily ever ending for each of my friends.

Like Rebekah who thought love was something that would always be broken, who found a man more in love with her than … cheese (if you know us cheese-lovers at all, this is a big deal). He gazes at her like she’s the only girl in the room and sometimes I pretend to throw up…sometimes I actually do.

Or Erin who travels around the country and is gone for days sometimes back-to-back weeks at a time. She comes home, exhausted and moody and weary and Jon is there with a fridge stocked with her favorite foods, a vinyl playing and dinner ready.

Or Jenny who met her husband when she was 20, married him a year later and even on her most difficult days of med school, he’s there, helping with house chores, getting groceries and taking her on vacations to see the West Coast.

But in the midst of all of the bliss, the heartbreak is just as much there. Like a friend who calls off her engagement because it became more about the wedding than her marriage. Or the friend who got her heart broken because the guy she was dating wasn’t who she thought he was. And so, just as easily as your heart soars, it also crashes and burns because real life love doesn’t fit in screenplays.

Love doesn’t come in the form of slow running cinematic kisses. Because in real life relationships, there’s a lot of real work that has to go into this. There are great days where you hold hands and make everyone else around you nauseous, but there are also not-so-great days where you fight for staying in rather than jumping out.

So, why did I choose to jump out?

When I was going back and forth on whether we should stay in or out of this relationship, I asked the audience, I took polls, I wanted to hear the love story of every single person I met. And after each interaction, there was a common thread they would tell me, “When you know you know.” And here’s the hardest thing to admit: I. Didn’t. Know.

After the breakup, the repercussions seemed to tumble in all directions. I stopped speaking to all my college friends, or more so that they stopped speaking to me. Relationships with my best friends, who were his relatives, became awkward and uncomfortable and too, ended quickly. Looking back at the memories were painful. Even flipping through old college photos seemed hurtful knowing than most of these friendships had faded into memories.

But there’s no doubt in my mind that what happened three years ago was the best decision for both of us. Through the process I’ve learned what a healthy relationship needs to look like, how to be the best version of myself and the endless possibilities of dreaming big. That’s what happens when we step into the know; our decisions don’t have to destroy us but steer us to something else, something better.

It’s interesting how one of the most dreaded moments of your life can alter your plans for the better. Before you realize it, you find yourself surrounded by new friendships not based on someone else, a job in a city of your choice and spontaneous vacations to your favorite places.

Life will inevitably place us at many crossroads and the scary thing is, we don’t ever have a guarantee things will work out. We are gifted with a Magic 8 ball that reveals our perfect life-scenario depending on if we choose door number one or door number two. (If only!)

What I’ve learned from my friends and my own life is that when you do know (I’m talking deep down in your heart kind of knowing), that’s when you are a fool not to act. Because whatever the decision, and its following repercussions, the knowing is what gives you peace and confidence to move forward. When you are able to embrace and recognize love (or the lack thereof), you realize life is too short to waste in any secondary love story. Because when you know the possibilities of what’s-yet-to-come after the goodbye, there’s not a second to waste. You’ll do whatever it takes for that moment you know it’s for forever.

He married his best friend.

I knew that wasn’t me.

And I’m 100%-totally-without hesitation-okay with that.

Be Fearless.

I used to hate driving. If a group of my friends were jumping in the car to go to McDonal- er, I mean, somewhere super cool, I would innocently pretend I didn’t mind driving while inwardly begging someone else would volunteer. On long road trips, my friend or boyfriend at the time would take the wheel while I reclined as the passenger. That way, car rides were carefree and stress free, I didn’t have to worry about anything because all the responsibility was in the hands of someone else.

When I moved to Nashville everything changed. I didn’t know anyone when I first arrived and I found myself having to chauffeur myself around the city, getting lost on streets that changed names abruptly and neighborhoods that all seemed to look the same. It was frustrating and terrifying and I wanted to stay home all the time.

But somewhere along the road (ha), I started to love driving. I loved finding shortcuts and taking people around to my favorite places. I loved rolling the windows down, blaring the radio and driving – just because I can.

Last week, I made the trek down to Atlanta and back, fighting pouring rain and LA-esque traffic the entire way. But the miracle was that in less than 48 hours, I had made the 9-hour round trip drive and survived!

This feat may seem ordinary to most of you fearlessly expert drivers, but the same trip looked a lot differently for me just a few years ago on a very similar trip down to Atlanta. I had convinced my roommate to drive down with me to go shopping and eating. The morning of the trip, I ignored the anxiety I was feeling, pretending the drive wasn’t terrifying me. I played music, I told jokes, I kept my mind distracted as my heart raced past each mile marker. Relief didn’t come even after arriving in to the city because I knew, in a matter of hours, I would have to turn around and drive home.

rhwyAfter getting lost a couple times (me, secretly screaming inside), we finally made it on the highway to head home. But right in the midst of all the sunshine, it started to rain. And that’s when I froze. I was so afraid of what the rain COULD do on this drive, that I became overcome with fear. I was so afraid that I had to pull to the side of the highway and make my roommate drive the rest of the way home.

I felt defeated. Weak. Stupid. I can’t even drive myself through the rain.

I feel like this in life a lot. Something happens, rain starts unexpectedly pouring, and my confidence freezes. I can’t see clearly anymore and I’ve lost all faith in myself. In these moments of rain, I find myself playing out my worse case scenarios all the way up to the car crash. But what if we lived our lives like there were no worse case scenarios?

Bare with me here.

In the past few years, I’ve been trying to live outside my comfort zone – telling a longtime friend that I liked him, meeting strangers and becoming friends with them, moving to a new city, asking out a crush. Like a true planner, I played out the worse case scenarios: I will get rejected…I will feel awkward and stupid and realize that no one likes me…I won’t be able to find a job…No one will want to be my friend…But as I thought more about these “worse case” scenarios, the more I realized how ridiculous it sounded. So instead of letting the fear hold me back, I did it anyway.

I won’t go into details, but I will say living outside your normal comfort zone opens up a lot of opportunities to crash and burn. Like when I told my friend that I liked him, I got shot down and then accidentally texted him (instead of another friend) about how frustrating and embarrassing it was. Whoops.

But the more I put myself out there, the less scary the rest of the world becomes.

Last month I went over to a friend’s house for dinner, but they were running late and wouldn’t be home for another hour. I parked my car and walked a few streets down to a neighborhood restaurant and sat at the bar. By the time my friends came to pick me up, I had made friends with the people around me and the entire wait staff, exchanging numbers and of course, high fives. It was a proud moment for me, driving in the rain like that.

I used to wonder why God reminded us so often not to worry and be afraid. Sometimes I reasoned it was because there were a lot of fraidy-cats in the Bible, but I’m starting to see it’s because we are so innately bred in letting fear cripple and alter who we are. We don’t do things because we’re afraid that the outcome will be something or nothing or everything we could ever imagine in our craziest dreams. But if we live without fear, these seemingly “worse case” scenarios become non-existent.

The topic of “worry” has come up a lot in the last few weeks and it’s becoming apparent that it’s all around. We worry that we won’t find the perfect job or a husband or wife or a good house or a great roommate or a picturesque life. Even in our dreaming modes we already have 50 worse case scenarios picked out in our minds.

But life is too short to be afraid.

We only have the time we’ve got right now to be kind to others, to be generous, to lift up our friends, to love well, to be spontaneous and to be ourselves…so why waste any second of it? Once you start allowing yourself to live fearlessly, you start to see that even the worst things aren’t really that bad.

Like for me, even when my “worse case” scenarios come true…like accidentally text-venting about the boy I like TO the boy I like…I find that I can just as easily brush it off, laugh about it and move on. (And turn it into a great party story in the process).

Cause really, it’s just a little rain.

Photo credit here.