There Comes A Time In a Girl’s Life When She Needs to Unplug

Clean

“I bought a bicycle. Turns out it’s easier to ride the thing when you’re not trying to simultaneously check your Twitter.”

— Baratunde Thurston

 

I’ve been thinking about social media lately. A lot.

And I have decided that I desperately need to take a break. You see, I’ve been trying to use it to quench my thirst for a long time now. But it’s not working. It’s leaving me thirstier, more drained, and gasping for air.

We’ve all experienced it. You sit down with your phone and the intention of scrolling through Instagram once and then you’re 118 weeks deep on some fashion account and an hour has gone by. Every time this happens to me, by the time I swipe up to close an app or shut my laptop, I have the overwhelming feeling that I’ve gained absolutely nothing from the time I just spent.

Social media has become a stomping ground for my insecurities. It lets me do plenty of comparing and striving to be more like the girls and women whose accounts I pour over for inspiration. It lets me paint a picture of myself that is a glorified representation of who I am, me without my mess, more who I want to be.

And I miss the real life. I view things through the lens of what I can take a photo of or what clever caption I can create. Tonight I made kale chips and listened to The Beatles with my mom with our woodstove going. Hip right? What a nice element that would add to my aesthetic. But when in the world did my “aesthetic” become my first priority? And why am I detracting from the few precious weeks I have at home with my mom by spending it thinking about what I could be posting online? I spend time admiring photos of cute guys or laughing at their Tweets, observing them only from a distance, when I could be putting my phone down and asking them out for coffee and a real conversation. I spend time scrolling through the Timelines of old friends when I could be calling them to ask how they’re really doing.

The other biggie for me is the impact my social media use has on my relationship with God. If I’m totally candid with myself, I can admit that I’ve been trying to use it to fill a void I should be filling with him. What if instead of reaching for my phone to check Instagram every morning, I reached for my Bible and made my time with Him a priority? He’s reminded me over and over again that if I’m thirsty all I have to do is come to Him. But I can’t seem to learn and I run to my social media accounts to try and satisfy me first. And you know what? I keep coming up short. They will never, ever deliver like He can.

Just a caveat, I don’t want this to seem like one great big rant, holding social media as the root of all evil. It’s not. As a college student, I’ve seen first hand how wonderful it can be for keeping me connected to people at home. I’ve seen it promote positive messages, being used as a tool for loving others better. But what I’ve realized is that too often we look to it first. We don’t supplement pictures on Facebook with letters to our grandma at home. We hide behind it and use it as our only method for loving people. And right now, there are just too many negative implications of social media use for me personally. It’s too easy for me to get sucked in. So I am making a choice for myself.

I am ready to define myself based on what God thinks of me. To build my identity around His truths and not around my social media profiles. To be so content with my own real life that I don’t need a platform to build a glorified one. I am ready to shape stronger, deeper relationships with people, developed around vulnerability and face-to-face interaction. I am ready for real connection. I am ready to reclaim the time I’ve spent in front of a screen and use it for things of value. I want to read more books, to discover more new places, to exercise more, to learn how to cook new recipes. So to start of my new year, I am taking a break. January 2016 will be a month without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest. And then I’ll go from there. I am not doing this because I think it’s trendy. I am doing this because I am thirsty for more than these things can offer.

Audrey & Hannah on Owning People

Breakfast at Tiffany's

(Originally Posted – November 2015)

“No. People don’t belong to people.”

I adore Audrey Hepburn for a lot of reasons, too many to go into right now.

But this Holly Golightly line from Breakfast at Tiffany’s is definitely near the top.

This is a lesson that it’s taken me a lot of time to learn. And I’m not there yet, but I have come a long way. Me, I’m a control freak. My favorite pastimes are trying to fit things into a box and wrapping my mind around every possible detail. As a result of my control issues, sometimes I try to play God, thinking that I know better than Him. But usually, when I get all grabby and put my hands all over things, I wind up realizing I should’ve left them in His hands.

When it comes to people this gets tricky. I care an awful lot, I love to fix things, and sometimes I wonder if I’m a magnet for people with emotional baggage. I see people struggling with something and my immediate reaction is to try and fix them. To reach into their lives and pull out the pain, to get out my band-aids and go to work. I seem to think that if I can just love them enough, all of their issues will be resolved. But the thing is, I am no more than human myself. I’m not Jesus; He’s the only one who can do the saving. And I’m not perfect, so sometimes my own humanity might even make things messier.

Next to Audrey one of my biggest inspirations is a spunky author by the name of Hannah Brencher. Per usual, Hannah hits it on the head in her book, when she says: “Just because something breaks, or comes to you broken already, doesn’t always mean you should script yourself an invitation to go on and fix it.”

Now I don’t want to make it sound like I’m saying we shouldn’t let people in, or get involved in anyone else’s life. One of the best things about this life is getting to be in relationships, sharing our jumping up and down days and our sobbing on the couch days with humans who see our own dysfunction and love us anyway. We are called to do life in community with each other. But this is just a reminder that, if you’re like me, you need to remember the balance. Ultimately God is at work in all the people in your life. And regardless of how hard you try, it’s not within your power to put their pieces back together. Maybe more importantly, it’s not your responsibility either. You are not in control of the circumstances or the outcome in your relationship with that person. It’s them and God.

One of the side effects of the illusion that we’re in control is the heart ache that can come when someone slips from our reach. People leaving, a relationship coming to an end, most of us would agree this is one of the hardest things we’ve ever gone through. I think part of it stems from this idea that somehow, we own the people that come into our lives. But, holding on as tightly as possible, fighting for all we’re worth, is just an extension of our desire to fix people on our own. Hannah writes:

“Maybe that is why some people walk into your life- to tip you over and pour you out. Maybe some people storm into your life just to tell you they’re not supposed to be there. That you can’t take them or anyone else with you wherever you are going next. Maybe not everyone we encounter is a love story. Maybe some are wake-up calls.” (If You Find This Letter)

These are words that I have repeated to myself over and over again. I know who these people are and have been in my life. And it’s true, there are some people that God does not intend to stay forever. They often come to teach us something and then to wave goodbye when they’ve said the piece they came to say. That’s hard for us to understand, because we love to hold on. But we have, have to know that we are not the ones in control. We don’t get to know why; we can’t see the aerial view of our lives.

So join me in cutting it out. Stop pretending that you are God, that you can fix people, that people are things that belong to you. Lift the hurting, broken people in your life up to Him and if He’s asking you to, trust Him enough to let them go. He can make their lives beautiful the same way that He redeemed yours. Audrey knows best.

He Is So Good

Simplicity

(Originally Posted – October 2015)

I want to write. I really want to write. It’s been almost three months since I’ve blogged anything and that feels wrong. But I’ve learned a lot about trying to force the words. That it doesn’t work. I don’t want it to be fake, I want it to be a living, breathing, piece of what I’m experiencing these days. Those kinds of words aren’t the kind you get by sitting in front of the screen, searching your brain for things, and trying to push them out.

So much has happened. It has been sweet; it has been huge; it has been new. I have met the kinds of people who you just want to hold closely to, that you know will still be your friends for many days to come. I have had the kinds of late night conversations over cups of tea that you want to tuck in your pocket and save forever. I have been reminded of who I am and stopped pretending to be anything more than that. I have cried because change is overwhelming, but so is God’s provision along the way. There has just been a whole lot of real life lately.

I have been learning things along the way too. Learning about my own capacity, that I need sleep and I need slowing down. Learning about God and how he continues to bring me to my knees in awe of how gracious he is. Learning about who I am and how to root my identity in him. Learning how to be straight up with people and form the most genuine relationships.

I think what I want to say to anyone reading this is that He is good. He really is so good. I remember reading the verse in Psalm 37:4 about trusting in Him, that says He will give you the desires of your heart. The crazy part is that He knows our deepest desires even when we aren’t sure what they are. Although it may not happen in our time-frame or based on the picture we had in our heads, that’s so okay. Because the vision He has to fulfill our desires is ten thousand times better. Six months ago I didn’t know where I was going to college. I was conflicted, I analyzed, I vacillated. And He knew all along. He knew what my soul was craving. He knew exactly where I was going to end up. He was one by one, putting all the pieces into place. The times when I was worried that I wasn’t going to work out or discouraged that I couldn’t see His plan, He was just whispering, “wait”.

So wherever you are right now, precious girl, wait. Patiently wait in Him. I can promise you that He is preparing you for something incredible. Hold onto that in your moments of doubt. He knows even your most secret hopes. He sees you. One day, maybe soon, maybe far, it’s all going to come together. And oh man, is it going to be beautiful. Beautiful and worth it.

 

When I wake up in the morning I look around me and just think about how good He’s been to me. He saved me with His grace, but He didn’t stop there. He made me new, but He didn’t stop there. He’s giving me the desires of my heart. Lord, I stand amazed at who you are. You are so faithful.

Do You Want to Go on an Adventure?

Adventure
(Originally Posted – July 2015)
     Eleven days backpacking and canoeing in the Adirondack Mountains. No running water, no deodorant (I’ll pause while you wrinkle up your nose), completely unplugged from technology, and carrying approximately two and a half changes of clothes. I had spent so much time telling God that I wanted to go on a grand adventure. But the night before I left for a trip that seemed pretty adventurous, I was afraid. 
     Oh man, was I afraid. Afraid of excessive B.O., afraid I was in lousy shape, afraid to be stretched spiritually, afraid of being bitten by some malaria carrying mosquito. Ok so the last one was probably an exaggeration, but still, I had a laundry list of fears.  
     But here’s what I learned: adventures are not easy. They are not even always pleasant. Think about why we love adventure stories. It’s not because everything is always hunky dory. The knights of King Arthur, Harry Potter, all our favorite Disney princesses faced a challenge or a hurdle, something they had to overcome. Or even look in the Bible at David, Joseph, or Esther.  Without that there would be no story. Those characters wouldn’t be heroes. Without the dragon or the rival kingdom, without Dudley or the Tri-Wizard Tournament, without a sea witch or a lack of dress for the ball, without a giant or jealous brothers, it wouldn’t be an adventure. 
     And you can bet each and every one of those characters was afraid. You can bet the going got tough. But we love the story because they made it. They pushed through whatever was thrown at them, because they knew there was something bigger on the other side. That’s part of what I learned. We get so freaked out about temporary discomfort. As humans we’re creatures of comfort; and one our favorite pass times is complaining when something isn’t going the way we like. But there’s something to be said for learning how to be uncomfortable. Yes, challenges, things that stretch us are no fun at times, but when we persevere and don’t wimp out the first chance we get, we actually get the chance to see what’s on the other side. On my trip that meant physically pushing myself on a difficult portage or a long hike, and getting to see the view at the summit or experience the feeling of reward and accomplishment. In life it means experiencing the bad days and the sad days, and becoming a stronger person or learning something through them. If we’re scared of ever being uncomfortable, if we avoid leaving our comfort zone at all costs, how will we grow? 
     For me, it boiled down to a trust thing. I love to be in control, love with a capital L. But the thing about an adventure is that you really can’t be. You don’t know what’s going to happen next; you’re not on a schedule; you reach the end of your ability to manipulate your circumstances. So what do you do? Do you freak out and try harder to figure it out? Or do you make a decision? A decision to trust God, the One who brought you on this adventure in the first place. The One who has the ability to keep you entirely safe. The One who is actually in control of your circumstances. The One who knows what’s at the end of the adventure and has a purpose for each step along the way. Realizing that you are utterly powerless to control this thing brings an incredible amount of freedom. It allows you to just be present and soak up the experience. And it comes with a stillness like you’ve never experienced before, trust me. All it takes is acknowledging that God’s got it, because you can’t. Let Him take you on an adventure. 

 

Love In the Everyday

(Originally Posted – February 2015)

City
“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips. Airplanes and passports and old songs and new songs, but people more than anything else. You will need other people and you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things.”

Jesus talked with people.

Jesus walked with people.

Jesus ate with people.

Jesus prayed with people.

Jesus suffered with people.

We see Him talking with a woman when she comes to get water from the well.

We see Him meet his disciples on the road after He has been resurrected.

We see Him eat with the tax collectors.

We see Him pray with the disciples in the Garden before He is arrested.

We see Him grieve with Mary when Lazarus dies.

So what would it look like for us to love people like Jesus did? If Jesus were here right now, would it really look as different as we think?

We would see Him talking with the worn and exhausted single mother behind Him in the grocery store line.

We would see Him walking along Main Street with the man who just lost his job and his hope.

We would see Him listening to the girl pouring out her heartbreak over countless cups of coffee.

We would see Him kneel and pray with the broken man who just lost his wife of 50 years.

We would see Him holding the hand of the sobbing woman shattered by her cancer diagnosis.

He would be meeting people in the swirling chaos of their lives. He would be the one to hear their desperate cry for a miracle and run to them with arms wide open. He would freely give whatever he could to sooth the aching soul of another. Just like He always did. Jesus was in the business loving up on people. It didn’t matter how disheveled or worn or messed up they were. He took the time to love them in His everyday.

He asks us to do the same.

The Darkest Nights

Just a note: I’m beginning this new blog by sharing a few posts from my old blog. To see more archived posts, visit: http://teanwarmsocks.blogspot.com.

(Originally posted – January 2015)

The stars are brilliantly bright tonight. The multitude of them covers the sky, darker than a pocket. I have an overwhelming affection for the stars. And on nights like tonight, they remind me of two things.

One. They leave me in absolute awe. The Creator of those stars, that vast expanse of beauty and intricacy, sees me. He wants my heart. His thoughts about me outnumber the stars in that sky. Wow.

 

Night sky praise

 

Two. The stars shine the brightest; we see them the clearest, on the darkest, coldest nights. Kind of like life. God has shown Himself to me most clearly on my coldest days. He has taught me lessons that I was not capable of understanding at any other point in my life during the hard times. In my times of greatest pain, I have seen Him at work more clearly than every before. It’s incredible, really. Just like the stars shining on a cold, but clear night.