Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hurt people, hurt people

There was a car accident today.

I know, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary these days, but this one stuck out to me. Maybe it was because it caused a detour in my plans to go to Target (yeah, probably had something to do with it). So, while I sat in my car for a solid hour, I had a lot of time to think and here is what I was thinking…

There was a car accident today. It was right off the highway exit going West so the Police Storm Troopers and Firefighters closed it off and everyone had to either stay on the highway or take the East exit. The highway going North obviously became backed up, same with the East exit. The main road that the exit spits you out at – West End – was also bumper to bumper traffic.

I was very determined to get to Target so I took the East exit and then a left onto Murphy Rd through the neighborhoods. All the detoured cars had the same idea and so, as you can imagine, there were cars EVERYWHERE. It seemed that no matter which direction I turned, there was traffic. It was like Car Fan Fair except nobody was very happy to be there.

It’s fascinating how ONE person’s decision can have such a rippling effect on hundreds of complete strangers in a metropolitan city.

I think life works this way too.

We justify our bad decisions. “It’s my life, I can do what I want to” seems to be the theme song we sing, but what is important to realize is that our bad decisions have repercussions. And from that, the rippling effects can look an awful lot like a bad traffic accident.

I don’t know the person’s story who was driving that car today. Maybe he/she had a spider on the dashboard, maybe he/she was texting, maybe he/she just took their eyes off the road for a split second and then…What I do know is that this person is currently standing in front of their car, re-telling the story to the officers on the scene, completely unaware of the massive Armageddon traffic jam their ONE decision has affected everyone else’s day.

When something similar like this happens in our personal lives, it’s hard to see the mess we’ve made around us because we’re focused on the mess of the scene. But I wonder, if we were able to look up, look around and see how our actions have affected others, would we still do it? Would we stop hurting ourselves so that we wouldn’t accidently hurt someone else in the process?

Sometimes I get in bad moods. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe. When I’m in my bad mood, I’m frustrated and my patience is at a very low zero. There have been times when I’m in my Hulk persona that I will be careless in what I say to another person. Now, imagine that person taking in what I said to them and turning around, going home and snapping at their roommate. This roommate then goes to work the next day, slightly annoyed and makes a sarcastic comment toward her coworker. And the cycle continues, and goes on and on until the SkyCam shows that what we’ve got now is a massive Armageddon traffic jam.

There’s a guy I know who drinks in the mornings. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal or if he does, he doesn’t let on that he does. His kid sits at the kitchen table munching on cereal as he pours himself a glass from the nearest bottle. When I start zooming out of that scene, I wonder if it looks a lot like that exit ramp on West End where the person is explaining the story and trying to deal with the problem at hand. And because they’re not aware of their surroundings, they have no idea all the hurts and the frustrations they are causing to the people around them.

That’s the thing about life. You can never just hurt yourself and have that be it. Whether we like it or not, what we do, what we say, how we live, inevitably affects the people around us.

mapI did a little amateur map of the accident and from what I know were the areas affected by it. The blue dot on the right is where the accident occurred and the streets in red are the ones with bumper to bumper traffic jams. I even circled Target in yellow so you can see where I was supposed to go.

I don’t know where you are on this road. Maybe you’ve found yourself in a wreck and you’re not quite sure where to start fixing it. Maybe you’re stuck in the middle of a traffic jam because of someone else’s mistakes. Wherever it is you are, know that there is always hope. Traffic jams always clear, insurance claims always work themselves out. And life is a lot like that too. Pain heals, forgiveness gets extended, whatever it is, remind yourself it’s not too late for you. You are going to get through this and your story will not end while you’re at a standstill.

So, don’t panic. Turn up the music in your car maybe even sing at the top of your lungs. Life is too short not to see hope in the traffic. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.

For auld lang syne, my dear

“There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

On December 31 2010 – This was my very first New Year’s Eve in Nashville – my new home with my new friends. We put down $100+ to have an unlimited amount of fun at some swanky place downtown. I was so excited about being an adult on NYE, fancy dresses and food, but it turned out to be a disaster. I mean DISASTER – one of the girls passed out, there was an unbelievable line for drinks and to top it all off, Pei Wei for catering. And while everyone kissed one another at midnight, I vowed, “Never again.”

On December 31, 2011 – But then, I did it again. A party was being thrown at an abandoned warehouse and a good 50-70 people we knew all agreed to go. So we shelled out the money to attend knowing it was going to be the most epic party because what better way to spend New Years than with a massive group of people you know? Photo booths, all the dancing you could want, hipster sightings left and right…you name it. Fun guaranteed, right? WRONG. But again, the hype leading up to it paled in comparison to the real deal; the night ended up being a major fail. For starters I wore the wrong shoes and ended up leaning against a wall in pain while I tried to find my friends for two hours. And of course, the icing on the cake was when the DJ forgot to count down to New Year’s and at 12:05 PM the crowd disappointingly murmured, “hip hip hooray.”

On December 31, 2012 – This was going to be the New Year’s Eve of New Year’s Eve’s. Again, I put down an embarrassing amount of money for another upper class party. But I told myself that this was a surefire event because a small group of us were going and that would ensure that everyone stayed together and had fun. Plus, as a charity event it was going to be filled with classy folks in their finest pearls. After all, we’re adults! Sadly, by the time we arrived at the party at 11:20 PM (not a joke), everyone was in a fog, the food was gone and the party was looking pretty limp. By the time the clock stroked midnight, everyone was headed toward the doors. Let’s just say, that was the most expensive 40 minutes of my life.

Screen Shot 2014-01-01 at 12.00.54 AMIt’s funny how much we build up New Year’s Eve and yet, it’s always, ALWAYS a let down. I have yet to meet someone who says, “Man, now last year’s NYE party, that was done RIGHT.” It seems that no matter how much money we put down for these fancy four-hour fiestas, it’s never fulfilling.

Maybe it’s because we have it all wrong. Maybe what we’re doing is celebrating the wrong things with the wrong motives. It seems the annual theme of New Year’s Eve is to say “out with the old and in with the new.” We say goodbye to the past 365 days of pain as we frantically usher in a new year with a clean slate. But 364 days later, we find ourselves in the same place. And so, the cycle continues, like my bad party choices year after year.

But as we count down to 2014, what if we tried a new approach? What if we replace this desperation of putting our bad memories to bed and highlight instead, all the wonderful moments of our year? What if instead of trying to say goodbye to 2013 as quickly as possible, we embrace it and savor every last moment all the way up until midnight?

This year I am thankful for a lot of things. Definitely the basics like the ability to pay rent month after month, that I’m not lactose intolerant, and I am healthy.

And on a more personal level – I’m thankful for restoration both emotionally and physically. I’m thankful for making new friends and for the same oldies but goodies from years past. I’m thankful for forgiveness in both giving and receiving. I’m thankful for so many moments spent laughing until my cheeks hurt and my abs ache. I’m thankful for good movies that have made me cry and great television shows that keep me hooked week after week. I’m thankful for the ability to speak, to be heard, to listen and to hear.

In 365 days I’ve seen my share of heartache and joys, being broken and fulfilled, and every second, I’ve loved them all.

On December 31, 2013 – There were dreams of going to another party, but one of those “this-year-will-be-different” parties, the kind at a friend’s house with fun friends and good food. But I decided to forego all of that. Instead, I’m putting down $10.50 to go see a movie with one of my favorite people. We’ll prop up our feet and laugh at the big screen as we sip hot cider from our mason jars. It is the perfect sendoff to this great year and there’s no other place or party I would rather be.

So long dear Year 2013. You have been good to me.

Happy New Year. Here’s to many, many more.

Waiting on the World to Change – Part Two

It’s been almost two months since my last blog post. I’ve spent a good time polling people on how to tackle part two, what to say, where do they think I should go from here…Then, last night someone tried to break into my house while I was there and that’s when I realized – the world is never going to change.

wc1So it seems that I’ve been asking the wrong questions and looking for impossible solutions. It seems in fact that we’re destined to live among heaviness and pain and disappointment and hate. This is no waiting game because the truth is, this world isn’t going to miraculously shift into Pine Tree, Vermont in the next scene (that was for you, Kelli). No. The world is never going to change.

Last December everything sucked. I was having health problems I didn’t know how to deal with, I was irritable, lonely and miserable and the sad truth was I didn’t see 2013 looking any better. Somewhere between the early months, something shifted within me and I realized that if I wanted different circumstances, I would need to make a conscious effort to change. To change my lifestyle. To change my relationships. To change my attitude.

I embraced this year with a new motto – to say yes at every opportunity. I said yes to new friendships, yes to late dinners, I even said yes when strangers asked to sit at my table at Taproom. And something miraculous happened in the process. My life wasn’t the only thing that changed, but the world around me started to shift in an extraordinary way.

Of course there were still bad days and sad moments, but something changes when your perception is different. Life looks differently from a dreary and disheartened heart verses a hopeful and joyful one. Looking back at these 350-ish days of snapshots I’ve come to realize that exciting possibilities occur when you allow yourself to be a little more fearless and say ‘yes’ a lot more. 2013 has made many better stories in 12 months than an accumulation of years past. Like…

–       Getting to officiate a wedding
–       Asking a perfect stranger out on a date
–       Sitting at coffee shops and talking to people I don’t know
–       Have those people I didn’t know become some of my favorite friends ever
–       Running on the beach
–       Making the most epic wedding speech of your life
–       Spontaneously driving to several corn mazes and pumpkin patches in a weekend
–       Learning the value of speaking my mind, saying what hurts me and in the same way telling people what makes me happy

One of the biggest encouragements this year has come in the form of friendships both new and old. In a year where it felt like a terrible devastation of relationships, there has come with it an overflow of kindness, loyalty and companionship.

Oh how much can change in a year. This time last year I felt unbelievable isolated and frustrated. But on the same day a year later, life seemed drastically different. As I sat in my room in the dark last night, waiting for whoever was outside to leave, I felt a sense of peace as my phone flickered with warm advice from dear friends. And without asking, in my small moment of loneliness, I had friends rush over to keep me company, to check around the house and go take extra measures to make sure I was safe.

The world may not change. Hate will still exist in our days. Wars will disrupt our lives and turmoil will linger in many, many unfortunate moments. But life can change. Life can be breathtakingly beautiful if we let it. We don’t have to sit around and wait for the trigger of a new outcome, we can make a conscious effort to change ourselves and our perceptions.

One of my dear friends sent me this quote while I was in the process of writing Part One of this blog. It says, “The moment you feel like you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.” There’s something liberating of walking away from the things that hurt you and bring you down. There’s also something quite powerful and exciting about running towards the things that make you happy.

And that’s the wonderful thing about change. It happens when we least expect it. When we make movements toward something great without planned expectations. We can choose to wake up and make decisions for the better. We can remind people that they are appreciated and loved. We can do good, even if it’s simply buying the person’s coffee behind us. We can choose to see White Christmases instead of winter storms. We can find every opportunity to be present and available and thoughtful.

We can simple say yes.

Waiting on the World to Change – Part One

“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

For the last two weeks, I’ve been thinking about this blog post. Part one was going to be a letter to someone who has deeply hurt me. But the thing is, I could never bring myself to write this letter. I could never bring myself past the first part –

Dear Person,

All of my favorite “remember when’s” were with you. And now I can’t relive any of those with anyone because how do you look back on happy memories with a person you now hate?

Here’s the interesting thing about pain. It sucks and because it sucks, often times we mistake our pain for hate. It seems that it’s better to feel cold and distant around someone than a bubbling, crying idiot. But I think we mistake our emotions for a “burning hatred.” I think people’s ability to hurt us so deeply is because we loved them so deeply. And so, when someone offends us, the resulting pain is also deep.

Last week, I accidentally shut the closet door on my finger. It hurt so bad that I cried out in pain. The pain quickly followed by me being mad at the door. If the door hadn’t been so poorly constructed…if the people who installed this door could have put in a better…if my roommate hadn’t had us move into this place…if the inventor of the door had never decided to…By the time my finger felt fine, I was already seething and angry at Henry Door, whom I had made up in my head as the inventor to all of my life problems.

It wasn’t the door’s fault. It wasn’t my roommate’s fault. It wasn’t my landlord’s or Henry or whoever. It was my carelessness. ME. But can you see what the repercussions of pain are? It’s anger. It’s frustration. And when you don’t diffuse these emotions quickly, your pain becomes masquerading as hate.

I used to think that one day I would be somebody that people would care to know. I would have a fancy job, drive a cool car, dress in stylish clothes and be the funniest person ever. And because people were so enamored by me, everybody would want to be my friend.

While not all of these things came true, these delusions still lived in my head. I was confident that if I was the best, most thoughtful, most selfless friend, that the friends I would make would want to stay friends with me forever.

But some of them didn’t.

Naturally, I started playing out scenarios. I over-thought EVERYTHING – reliving conversations, doing everything and anything to try to figure out what went wrong, why did it go wrong and what had I done to push them away?

Sometimes, the worst answer to that question is nothing. And with it comes that sobering knowledge that it really doesn’t matter what your job is or who you know, sometimes people just won’t want to be friends with you. Period.

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 12.33.13 PMHere’s the simple truth: a friend loves at all times. A real friend – not just someone you grab coffee with and gab about boys and have surface level conversations – will love you at all times. They will love you even when…you pick the wrong person to date, when you’re friends with someone they don’t like, when a rumor starts about you that isn’t true, when you’re sad and lonely and depressed and frustrated, and in the same way when you’re happy and joyful and excited about life. A person who is worthy of that esteem “friend” title in your life is someone who will stick around. So those people who have hurt you, the ones that you don’t speak to anymore in whatever capacity, they aren’t your friend. Maybe they never were.

I’m tempted to end it here, to let us simmer on this thought until Part Two, but I have a feeling there are some of you out there who have felt this way before and I don’t want to give anyone more of a case of the Mondays then they should…

This morning my devotions so fittingly led me to Colossians 3:12-15. I don’t know why people hurt us the way they do. I don’t know how people wake up and decide that their life is better without certain friendships. I don’t know why I didn’t make the cut for some people. But I have a choice. I can clothe myself in disgusting shades of gray or I can forgive, let go and move on.

To borrow the brilliant line of a song – “I will learn to let go what I cannot change. I will learn to forgive what I cannot change. I will learn to love what I cannot change. But I will change, whatever I can.”

We can spend our entire lives waiting for people to change – to be nicer, to love better or just to change their minds. Life is too short to wait around, and quite honestly, who you are is enough. You are not defined by who likes or does not like you and who does or does not want to be your friend. So, I want to end this the same way I began it; to remind you and me to forgive those who have hurt us. To simply be yourself, love people well and live confidently in that. The rest is out of your hands.

“Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.”

Broken

I have a gold necklace that I wear all the time that holds a simple lightning bolt to proudly signify my loyalties to the OKC Thunder team. It’s the perfect length for every outfit and whatever occasion. But unfortunately, this precious necklace of mine is flawed.il_340x270.464224164_mcut

As I prance around town throughout the day (yes, I prance), more often than not, the necklace gets caught on something – a door knob, a nail, sometimes just my hair – and in a quick jerk, the chain breaks leaving my necklace in more pieces than it should have. I mourn it every time, cursing me clumsiness yet again. Luckily these breaks are always salvageable. I can find the scattered pieces and shimmy the chain back together and wah-lah! It’s good as new!

Even in my best effort though, the chain (of it continuously breaking) can’t be broken (pun intended) and sadly, it happened again this week. I was looking for something in a drawer and stood up too quickly. The necklace stayed behind but this time, the chain broke in a way it had never done before. And yes, I cried out in frustration when this happened.

Sometimes things break. Friendships fall apart. Relationships end. Hearts get burned. Promises don’t get the expected follow through. All of these are reminders that we live in a broken world and in this brokenness, we experience deep hurts and disappointments.

My gut in these instances is to find the easiest path to fix what has been broken. I use sloppy methods to mend my brokenness with tools of this world. But just like with my necklace as soon as the pieces are brought back together, I turn around and watch it get torn apart again.

I’ll be honest. It’s frustrating. Constantly mending myself and nursing my wounds only to have the cycle repeated in some cruel Twilight zone-like movie. Sometimes all I want to do is shake my broken necklace in the air and scream, “I JUST got over this pain” or “I JUST stopped caring about so-and-so.” I’m tired, I’m exhausted and all I want is some shelter from the constant storms.

When my necklace broken yet again this week, I felt quite defeated. This was the end to my necklace and I just needed to accept the fact that I would never be able to wear it again. One my closest guy friends, Adam is quite the problem solver so I brought the pieces of my broken necklace to him. “You may not be able to do anything with it, it’s fine,” I blurted out. “If you can’t don’t worry about it.” I was already doubting his handyman skills even before he had the opportunity to check out the casualties.

There’s a reason why God calls us to lay our heavy burdens down at HIS feet, to lean on HIM when times are hard and allow HIM to carry us through our storms. It’s because it is impossible for us to do it ourselves. When things fall apart, the best thing for us to do isn’t to try to fix the problem ourselves but to hand over all the broken pieces to Him. Because even in our best efforts, our remedies fall short and pale in comparison to the wholeness that comes when we allow Him to heal our brokenness.

I got my Thunder necklace back from Adam today. Instead of putting it together with a flimsy chain, Adam had added a second chain to make it more secure. The necklace looks better and its chain stronger than ever. It made me realize how without his help, I would have continued repeating the cycle making my necklace weaker after each break never really getting it fully “fixed.”

When we love something, it’s hard to surrender its fate to someone else. We do the same with our hearts, we hold onto the shattered pieces tightly. After all, it’s better to be beyond repair because of our attempt than someone else’s. When we try to fix our brokenness, our hearts get weaker as well. Our pain tolerance gets lowered, our sense of self-worth and ability to forgive becomes non-existent and we become vulnerable to being hurt more often than not. But this vicious cycle can end. Our God can mend brokenness far greater than we could ever imagine, I’m talking more than two chains or three chains strong. We are secure in Him. Our hearts, our worth, our tomorrows are all so much better in His hands than ours…or AllState’s.

Sometimes things break and people who are close to us hurt us. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but it’s an inevitable fate in this world. But even when things break, know that there is still hope beyond your pain. When you find yourself holding to the broken pieces of your life, don’t be discouraged. Bring your brokenness to God, the ultimate handyman. He doesn’t just heal what’s broken, He makes them new and better than they ever were before.

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It’s been a rough week. Come to think of it, it’s been quite the month. Flat tires, endless traveling, short tempers, Frothy Monkey closing for a few days for construction, you know, the norm. To be honest, I’m exhausted.

A couple days ago I hit my limit. I had just returned from a business trip out in LA, my flight home was a red eye so I got in at a lovely 4:30 AM. My body was worn out and somewhat confused, “Should I be awake or should I be asleep?” All day I fought extreme alertness and extreme exhaustion. Sometime in the afternoon I decided to stop working and forced myself to get out of the house. Unfortunately the weather was quite torrential that day, the kind where you can barely see what’s in front you. As I quickly sprinted to my car for cover, I realized I had left my keys in the house…and I had locked the door behind me. So, I was stuck.

Luckily I had my phone. I started frantically calling every person I knew who wouldn’t be working at an office that afternoon. Call after call, no answer. I was starting to get frustrated. I huddled under my carport but the rain got harder and harder and the wind slapped water against my face. The harder it rained, the angrier I got. Soon, I had disowned all my friendships, cursed everyone I knew. After all, it’s their fault I was stuck here. I know you’re reading this and thinking “Dang Sarah, that is pretty irrational.” And you’re right. But in that moment, in the middle of this overwhelming storm, all my irrational thoughts seemed quite sane.

alexvid1One of my favorite children’s books is, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” The main character, Alexander, is having a bad day. The kind that hovers every kid’s nightmares – gum stuck in his hair, his brother’s picking on him, a cavity. At one point, Alexander decides that he’s had enough, he’s packing his bags and moving to Australia.

Isn’t that always our gut move? Things aren’t going our way and the easiest, best-case scenario is to cut loose, get out of town and start over. Even the other day, as I was shivering under my carport, I was mulling over the idea of moving to a city that doesn’t rain…or one where my friends answered their phones.

The thing is, it wasn’t the rain’s fault that I locked my keys inside the house. It wasn’t my roommate’s or my friend’s or the pilot on the red eye flight I was on. The only person that was to blame for this unfortunate series of events was myself. Have you noticed though, that when everything is coming apart, it’s so much easier to shift the blame onto everyone else than deal with your own issues?

Let’s be honest, life sucks. We get fired or hate our job, we have crappy friends or no friends at all, we get dumped or are forever single. The signs are clear, the verdict is in; everyone and everything sucks! This realization is enough to turn us into hobbits, to crawl into our holes and avoid socialization for the rest of our lives. And if you’re relating to this hook that life sucks, there’s a reason. It’s because we’ve all felt it at some point. Some worldly disappointment that has led us to this conclusion and we’ve experienced first hand how broken and ugly life can be.

One of my favorite Bible verses can be found in John 16:33 – “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” I don’t know where I came up with the idea that if I believe in God, if I am a generally good person and if I follow a certain protocol of living “right,” then I will find happiness and prosperity and popularity. Life will be easy and quite perfect. But it’s not something that’s ever been promised. In fact, this verse blatantly guarantees that life is going to have struggles and disappointment. Yet, I continue to live a life of unrealistic expectations. And so, of course when I’m let down, the fall feels that much more painful.

Some storms are uglier than others. There are some where there is no shelter strong enough to keep the rain out. And then there are others that are deceivingly innocent, the kind that seems light and misty but can make your car hydroplane when you least expect it. Whichever the storm, whether big or small, there is an end in sight; because even the biggest of storms eventually end.

The best part of John 16:33 is the “but.” It makes the verse what it is. I mean, if it was just, “Hey guys, life is going to suck” period, statement, game over, then it would be a pretty depressing line. That’s why the ‘but’ is so important and that is this: “BUT take heart, I have overcome the world.” Whenever I’m in the middle of the most painful of storms, I hold on to the promises found in the ‘but.’ Yes, there is going to be heartache, yes I will be disappointed, yes some days I will lock myself out of my house, BUT there is a God who loves me dearly. One who never leaves my side, even in the darkest of storms. There’s comfort in His promises and there’s a guarantee EVERY TIME that even the most painful of storms will eventually end.

I get it. I’ve been huddled under many of carports this year, shivering through the storms, praying for better weather. It sucks. You lose respect for humanity and forget what sunshine feels like. All of this, trust me, I get it. I used to find with each passing storm, there would be a momentary relief followed quickly by a sinking dread for what is yet to come. This constant season of storms is a terrible feeling. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad feeling.

Think about all your favorite lead characters. The ones who have survived unspeakable storms – like Daniel in the lion’s den or Jackie Robinson fighting the color barrier in baseball. These characters are known as heroes, not because they lived storm free lives but because they lived in spite of them. They didn’t allow these devastating, torrential downpours to break them down. They used these moments to make them stronger.

We can spend a lot of wasted energy wishing bad things didn’t happen to us or demand for better circumstances, but maybe instead of wishing for a life that doesn’t exist, maybe it’s time to embrace the rain. No one will ever have a perfect life or have the luxury of living storm-free. So, rest in the comfort that you are not alone in your battles. We’ve all been there and we will be there soon enough. Even in your deepest of storms, find every opportunity to lean on God for strength and every opportunity to find things you are thankful for. Don’t cut and run, stay and let these downpours fuel your faith and make you stronger.

Some days are like this, even in Australia.

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.

I Was Wrong

Our love is conditional.

We love others, but only when it is convenient for us.
We spend time with people, but only when we really want to.
We reach out and extend ourselves, but only if it fits into our own satisfactions.

I’m not trying to be negative or curt, I say these things because I am guilty of living my life with selfish, conditional love. But I’ve learned something –

I was wrong.

Four years ago I moved to Nashville and into a lovely purple room in the middle of the city. I had three other roommates in the house and we all had different jobs (some were still college students), priorities, schedules and lives. We lived there together comfortably and contently, at least for awhile.

Somewhere along the way things changed. We changed. Dynamics were no longer friendly and docile but passive and tense. There were moments where I found my stomach in knots when I pulled up to the house and their cars were in the driveway. Lies were exchanged. Walls were built. This house that was once a home was now a war zone. So I did what I thought made the most sense – I ran.

Fast forward to a couple years later. I randomly bumped into one of the roommates around town and eventually she reached out to me to catch up over coffee. I remember second guessing the date, afraid to reopen old wounds and wondering if there was some ulterior motive behind us meeting. But I knew I had to go. I just had to know why she wanted to meet.

We sat adjacent to each other at a coffee shop nearby. We chit-chatted about life and our families and we laughed as we recounted old memories (the good ones). Then she looked at me sincerely, pausing briefly before saying:

“I was wrong and I’m sorry.”

I’ve been working these past couple months on a project that’s titled I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry and I Love You. Ever since I started working on it, I haven’t been able to get this sentence out of my head. It’s fascinating how the heaviness behind those nine words, when formed together, have an indelible impact on its recipient.

Think about your conflicts, your fights, your frustrations and how they continuously gnaw at you. Sometimes you wonder if it isn’t the fact that you can’t let go, but that you won’t. For me, I find myself over analyzing and thinking about these lost relationships until my heart is raw. I put together scenarios, wondering if these hurts and burned bridges have had any affect on them at all and the more thought I put into it, the more callous I get.

But I have to be honest. While I may spend hours upon hours sharpening hypothetical pitchforks and writing about sucky friendships in my diary, I know that I would immediately lay down my weapons at the sound of those nine little words. I mean, wouldn’t you?

photoLast week I spent a few days in New York with my old roommate. We walked up and down the Highline, kayaked on the Hudson River, watched fireworks, went shopping and ate a lot of good food. By the end of the weekend, I still wasn’t ready to go and we contemplated extending my trip so we could spend more time together. As I was in the cab on my way to the airport, I thought about how different our relationship was just a few July’s ago when I was packing up my room into cardboard boxes. And if you had told me then that I would be so quick to let go of all the accumulated hurt, I wouldn’t have been able to fathom such a thing.

That’s the truth about real love – it’s unconditional. It loves in all circumstances and though life can interfere with pain and suffering, true love will always hope, it will persevere and it will never, ever fail.

We’re too quick to write off the relationships that have hurt us. We chronicle them away, half-expecting the other person to live with some deep-seeded regret for the rest of their lives. But they probably won’t and while their hypothetical sorrow fuels us in the moment, eventually our pits make us feel emptier than fulfilled. Maybe winning isn’t contingent on who is really wrong or right in the situation. Maybe what it really comes down to is deciding which is more important – restoring a relationship or proving a point.

I used to think it was the principle of it all. That at some point one of us has to back down and the moment you do, you lose. But as I looked out my window at the city skyline and relived all my favorite snapshots of the week, I realized that none of these memories would have been a reality if it hadn’t been for that day at the coffee shop. And while I, too, had just as many things to offer up and apologize for, it was her selfless act that made these future moments a possibility. She decided that our relationship was far more important than some twenty-something debacle and that it was something worth fighting for. It was because of her that our friendship had a shot at a better story.

Sometimes we choose to end chapters and wrap up stories too early. We write people off not so much because of the pain, but because of our pride. “It’s easier this way,” we convince ourselves. We refuse to let go, we refuse to forgive and we refuse to move on. But when we finally allow ourselves to let go of the past, we see how easy it can be to forget the things we thought we could never forget. Then, it doesn’t matter who was right.

I’m not saying you don’t have a right to feel hurt. I don’t know your situation, but you may be completely in the right and I’m sorry that you’ve been hurt the way you have. But right now, this not-speaking-to-each-other, not-healing-wounds season isn’t making you a winner either. I don’t think we’ll ever find peace and answers from holding on with clenched fists. But what if we can alter the course of fate by moving with open palms and open hearts?

Maybe the key to living with unconditional love and restoring relationships is simpler than we think. We’ve spent years tormenting ourselves, writing out pages of excuses and justifications when all along the act of surrendering our pride has always been nine words away:

I was wrong, I’m sorry and I love you.