The Things I Cannot Change

My mom used to mutter this prayer a lot when I was growing up: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” There was something about peace and wisdom too, but I never took the time to remember those parts. I’ve been learning a lot about acceptance lately, so this prayer has been on my mind. I’ve been learning about how sometimes the sun doesn’t set in a way that leaves me in awe and sometimes it will only rise to reveal another cloudy day. I’ve been learning about how chasing a dream is a lonely journey because some dreams you can only dream alone. I’ve been learning about fear and love and how they’re two sides of the same coin.

I’ve learned about how all of this is okay. That even though the sunsets and the sunrises don’t look the way you want them to, they’re still signs that the world is moving forward and so are you. That even though you can only dream alone and not everybody will understand, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream at all. That even though fear and love are two sides of the same coin, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel both with a whole heart and let them drive you to make radical decisions. Life is about accepting everything that comes your way and trusting that every pain you feel, love you show, or decision you make is meant for nothing other than good.

Because you are meant for nothing other than good. You are meant to do what you know is right and trust me when I say you know what is right. You will feel it in more than just your heart. You will feel it in your mind and your soul, and it will flow down to your toes and pulse with each step you take forward. And when you feel the pushing and the fighting from your head, you will know that that fighting is nothing other than the world testing your endurance and your understanding of who you are and what you want.

So let it test you. Let it push to the cliff as Fear itself believes it is getting you one step closer to a fall. One step closer to a fail. It will laugh at your struggle and embrace your discomfort. But just as it starts to think that it has you figured out as you stare over the edge into the darkness and your toes curl as they lose ground beneath them, jump. Fear and Doubt did not push you over the edge because you were always meant to take that leap of faith – they simply gave you the courage to do it. And as you find yourself falling and learning to fly, accept that this moment right here is not something you can change (nor is it something you should want to change) because it is exactly what you are meant to be doing and trust that you will land exactly where you are meant to be.  

Maybe, IDK

I’ve been told that I ask a lot of questions. Whenever I meet someone, I’ll ask them about their life and their passions; small talk is boring and I like to get to know people. When friends are telling me stories or talking about their problems I’ll ask about how they felt, what they experienced, etc. so I can truly understand what they’re saying. I like to know things. But no matter how many questions I ask or how many things I try to learn about others, life itself doesn’t always work that way. 

If something happens to me, I want to know why. If there’s something I want to do, I want to know how and when. I have this incessant need to know what’s going on around me and what’s going to happen at all times and while I always saw that as a good way to keep tabs and maintain control over my life, I’m beginning to see how much of a burden it can be. The need to know everything is not only exhausting, but it’s absolutely impossible. People can say that sometimes “ignorance is bliss” and that’s great and all, but other times ignorance can drive you absolutely bat-shit crazy and that’s not always easy to deal with. 

But sometimes I just don’t know. I don’t have a clear vision of what my future will look like. I don’t know how I’m going to do on an exam or a presentation or an interview. I don’t know why someone did what they did. I just. don’t. know. And nothing infuriates me more than that, but I’m learning. 

I’m learning because I can’t practice faith without the not knowing.

I’m learning because I can’t know everything and still celebrate the little surprises in life.

I’m learning because I can’t grow from mistakes or pain if I know enough about my life to avoid them.

I’m learning to be okay with the unknown and just live in the now. Sometimes overthinking and over-analyzing who I am, what I’m doing, or what I’m going through won’t lead to better answers or any sort of closure, it’ll just lead to more confusion and self-doubt.

So, like Jon Bellion once said, “maybe I don’t know, but maybe that’s okay.”

*featured photo by @navetography on instagram

Intentionality

Intentionality – the fact of being deliberate or purposive. (Google Definition)

Intention – a determination to act in a certain way (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Not long ago I had an interview for a position as an orientation leader for my university for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The interview was very laid back and consisted of three parts: an impromptu speech, a group activity, and a one-on-one interview. We rotated in groups and I just so happened to be one of the last people to take part in the one-on-one interviews. While I was waiting for my turn to go in I was thinking about my transition into college and what advice I would offer first-year students based off of my own experiences. This wasn’t my first time thinking about this, but I figured giving it some extra thought might be helpful considering there was a very good chance I would be asked a similar question. Luckily for me, that was one of the very first questions I was asked.

At first I wasn’t sure. There is a lot I would want to tell a person making such a large life transition, and a lot that I wish I would have known, but nothing I was thinking of seemed good enough. But then I remembered a quote that I had read in The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst: “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.” I have this quote written on my calendar in my dorm, and beneath it, in bold letters, I have written, “BE INTENTIONAL.” So, when the interviewer asked me what advice I would offer a new student, I said that I would tell them to be intentional with their choices. It will be so tempting and easy to do what you want without putting much thought into your decisions because you finally have that extra freedom you never had before… I mean, you’re in college, right? But only so much time will pass before you realize that these decisions you’re making aren’t paying off in the way that you hoped they would.

As I was talking to the interviewer, I felt as if I were giving myself advice more than anything. I dedicate a lot of time and energy doing things that I know (or at least hope) will put me closer to a goal that I hope to achieve. Being intentional with my choices can be really easy when it comes to large scale decisions, but what about the smaller things that I do with little thought? Things such as the way I communicate with others, the music that I listen to, or even the people that I surround myself with seem to happen automatically, but maybe they shouldn’t.

A few days ago I asked a friend how you can know if you’re on the path that God laid out for you and she said that as long as you’re being intentional and praying about all aspects of your life – big or small – you’re on the right track.

Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances, but each day is full of thousands of choices… how intentional are you being with yours?

What’s on your scale?

This year has been a wild ride, and it’s only March. Can anybody else relate to that? I’ve had some incredibly high moments where I felt as if life couldn’t get any better, but there have also been a handful of times where I’ve felt so knocked down that I couldn’t even see the potential for a positive outcome. It’s as if 2018 has been this weird roller coaster where all of the insane lifts and thrilling drops have happened in the first five seconds and I’m left wondering what more the architects could have possibly designed for the rest of the ride.

Earlier this week, I went camping for four days with some friends from college in Clifty Falls in southern Indiana. It was cold, snowy, and crazy beautiful – an adventure I wouldn’t trade for the world. On Thursday morning we all packed our bags, cleaned up the site, and went our separate ways to enjoy our last few days of break at home before going back to school. Normally, the drive would only be a little over two hours for me to get home. However, feeling confident in knowing where I was and how to get home, I turned my GPS off after about an hour. Bad idea. That “easy two hour drive” turned into a tedious four hour drive on back-roads and weird highways and me not knowing where I was until I was twenty minutes away from home. But, on the brightside, those four hours turned into prime thinking time.

Once I figured out I was lost, I turned on some worship music in hopes that it would help me to not stress over something so small. I started talking to God (because what better time to pray than when driving and lost hours away from home?) and I said something that I didn’t expect to say, and even though I was the one who said it, it had a pretty decent effect on me. I said, “God, please help me to understand that the weight of this boulder is nothing compared to the weight of life’s pebbles.” Okay, reading this I can see how it doesn’t make a lot of sense out of context. What I was talking to God about was how the two weeks leading up to break I was kind of struggling. I may have mentioned in previous posts how they were pretty rough weeks and even though I was doing what I could to stay positive, it was a challenge. However, I’ve always been one to talk about life’s little blessings – the things that make life worth it but we so often look over because they seem so small compared to the big things. But think of these little, happy things as pebbles – small and seemingly insignificant. Think of the big things, the things that feel like constant weight on your shoulders and seem incredibly large and important at the moment, as boulders. Now, place each of these on a scale. On one side, you have this boulder that’s representing your struggle, whatever it may be, outweighing the other side by mass proportions. Now, one by one, start throwing on the pebbles. A pebble for each of life’s blessings – for each good thing in life. Random acts of kindness, each of your friends and family, beautiful weather, the smell of fresh coffee, cheesecake, etc. Anything you can think of that brings you even the slightest bit of joy.

As I started to think about this, I quickly realized that the combined weight of the pebbles was much, much greater than that of the boulder. I think we get so caught up in looking at the scale and seeing the boulder as something big and scary that we forget the amount of control we have over that scale. Sure, the boulder is heavy and it will take a lot to outweigh it, but there’s a reason people write books like Happiness is… or 14,000 Things to be Happy About. It’s because there are so many beautiful things in life that are easily overlooked. But as soon as you look at them and add them to your scale, you’ll quickly realize that the good really does outweigh the bad.

Epidemic

There’s a lot of commotion going on in the world right now. With opinions that differ in more ways than one and people butting heads over the desire to be right, I feel as if there’s been a dwindling of hope spreading across the nation – an epidemic of moral losses as everyone searches for a political gain. But the problem doesn’t lie outside of us – it’s not something we can put limitations on or negotiate – the problem lies within us.

I have a thing for encouraging shirts. No matter where I’m at, if I see a shirt with an encouraging or optimistic phrase on it, I have to buy it. It all started when I bought a shirt that says, “peace starts with empathy.” This shirt is my favorite, because it reminds me to be empathetic (understanding or compassionate towards experiences or people without having firsthand experience) no matter what the situation is. I think this world could use a lot of empathy right now. We seem to have collectively looked at the world, pinpointed a problem, and settled on the quickest and “easiest” solution possible, but the only reason this “solution” seems easy is because it doesn’t require any real change within us – it leaves all of us free of guilt while also leaving us free of change. But we can’t have both.

We need to change. Not laws or legislation, us. We need to be more responsible with our actions, more careful with our words, and more generous with our hearts. We need to make a point to reach our hand out every chance we get instead of stepping over all the people who have fallen and expect them to be okay. We need to get rid of this, “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” mindset and start helping others – the change may start within ourselves, but an individualistic mindset will lead to individualistic actions, and this world is in desperate need of collective actions.

Stop giving people reasons to feel alone. Stop giving people reasons to believe nobody cares. Stop giving this world reasons to lose hope. Let’s start a new epidemic – start filling yourself up with empathy and spreading light and love everywhere you go. The world is too dark of a place to keep it all inside.