Grace

My mom and I have this thing where we say to each other a line from the song Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol – “I need your grace to remind me to find my own,” it says. Almost every time I’m home or if one of us is going through a rough time, we lay on the cold kitchen floor and play this song as loud as it can go – one or both of us crying but feeling peace as this line flows from the speakers. In times where I’m feeling particularly down, this phrase is almost always guranteed to cross the depths of my mind and make its way to my heart. In each low point of my life, before I even know it, I’m longing for grace.

When I was younger, my mom used to joke around saying she should have named me Grace because of how clumsy or, better yet, ungraceful, I could be. It’s funny how that word has taken on a new meaning to us now.

Grace can mean a lot of things. It can mean elegance, goodwill, blessing, prayer, etc. With all the different meanings it possesses, I could ask for grace a thousand different times over and still ask for something new each time. The one thing that stays the same, though, no matter who I’m asking, be it my mom, God, or anyone else, the point is that I’m asking for something that I lack – I’m asking for a reminder or a renewal of something I am in need of.

I’m at this point in my life where I need grace from everyone around me, everything within me, and my God above me. I need grace because I know I have fallen short a thousand and one times, but I will always try to do right by that. I need grace because I am far from perfect, but I am looking for perfection in everything I find. I need grace not because I deserve it, but because I don’t deserve it. I need grace so I can better learn to give it.

I need grace to be reminded of the grace I already have.

Do You Deserve the Love you Accept From Yourself?

Growing up I had always been afraid of heights. I remember having panick attacks on roller coasters and clinging to my best friend on a ferris wheel because the idea of being so high up and having so far to fall terrified me. There was no sense of “freedom” being up so high, it was just pure fear. At some point, though, I decided that I hated being afraid of something so trivial. So, I did what I could to tackle that fear. I rode more roller coasters. I climbed to higher heights. I tried to expose myself to the very thing that scared me so much so that I no longer felt afraid. Or rather, so that the fear didn’t mean nearly as much to me as the thrill.

I did the same thing with love.

Throughout this year, I began to analyze myself more deeply and learned a lot about my fear of love and where it came from. I learned that the amount of failed relationships that had surrounded my life had paralyzed me to the idea of love and caused me to (subconsciously) live in fear of relationships. So, just like with my fear of heights, I decided to dive headfirst into love.

I met a few people here and there and explored the posibility of love with each one, but it never felt right – none of them felt like the perfect match. Then, I unexpectedly fell in love with a man who wasn’t, by any means, perfect. His hobbies were more like obsessions; his temper was strong but shortlived; his opinions were nothing shy of (overly) passionate. But none of that mattered to me because I still saw perfection even in all of that. I saw his crinkly smile and felt the way it made my heart skip. I heard his laugh (which was more like a giggle) and couldn’t help but feel laughter bubble up within myself. I listened to the way he talked about things that mattered to him and I felt something that made cliche’s seem normal and love songs make sense. I knew I was in trouble, but with everything he did and said, I fell a little more.

I wish I could say there was a happy ending to the relationship and, because of him, I learned that there was nothing to be afraid of, but that’s not the case. Instead, I learned why I was afraid to love – I learned how much it could hurt if it didn’t last – and added that to my current knowledge of where the fear came from.

I’m not going to give any of the gory details on how the relationship ended because I don’t want blame to be pointed in any one direction. (I may write something that focuses on the relationship later on, but for now, this is a little more about me.) I believe wholeheartedly that the failure came from both ends – we each had things we needed to work on and that’s simply why we couldn’t be together right now. But when I look back on the relationship, I’m able to see how, in my opinion, we were doomed from the beginning; he never knew how to love me and I never know how to accept love from him – it doesn’t mean the love wasn’t there, it just means we were on a track that would eventually run short.

While I’ve never felt a pain worse than heartbreak and I think I definitely have quite a bit of healing to do, I’m glad I got the time that I did with a man who has such a great heart so I could learn what it’s like to love and allow myself to learn more of who I am. My last post was about my own mental health struggles, and being in love with someone else was exactly what I needed for me to realize how little love I had for myself. Each time I got upset about something he did or didn’t do or the appreciation I did or didn’t feel had little to do with him, but a lot to do with me. It was a realization that was hard to accept, but I’m glad I know it now.

Opening my heart up as much as I did when falling in love with him and then having it broken in the end was the only way for me to see inside of my heart and take a deeper look at what was in there. All of my insecurities, loneliness, and struggles were finally making themselves evident and it’s because of the appearance of those things that I couldn’t have a successful relationship with anyone even if I wanted to. I would always end up either pushing that person away or putting too much pressure on them, something that wouldn’t be healthy for either of us.

But maybe that’s what falling in love is all about. Maybe it’s about learning what’s in your own heart and then acting accordingly. It’s easy to hide from things until you start exposing yourself to someone else. Shallow relationships will never get you there, but deep relationships will force you to expose some of the most vulnerable parts of yourself, and that’s part of what makes them hard but so worth it.

I learned that I could give all the love I have to someone else, and I think I did that to the best of my ability, but that doesn’t mean anything if I don’t know how to love myself. After all, how can I truly accept love from others if I can’t even accept it from myself?

“We accept the love we think we deserve,” right? I would encourage you to truly ask yourself what kind of love you think you deserve…

Does it align with the love you’re showing others?

Does it align with the love you’re showing yourself?

The Hardest Part

I have always had the mindset that getting started is the hardest part because that’s a cliche I’ve heard my entire life. But lately, as I feel my life slowing down, I’m starting to take on a different perspective.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been someone who’s had a difficult time “starting” things. More often than not, if I have an idea and I know what I want my outcome to be, getting started is pretty easy. Besides, beginning has always been much easier than mastering, but the path between the two is long and windy. With that being said, once the initial excitement that drove me to start fades away and life starts throwing in unexpected outcomes, that’s when things get difficult. That, to me, is the hardest part.

When I was in high school, my band director would always tell us “the devil is in the details.” She wouldn’t say this when we first got a piece and were learning the ropes, but rather, when we had spent months practicing and still had ways to go. Music wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if you didn’t have the details of crescendos and accents or any other musical elements. In life and everything we pursue, the devil is in the details as well. Just as the excitement of a new idea fades and the comfort of where we’re at sets in, the devil creeps around the corner to tell us there is nothing more that needs to be done. But just like those details in the music make it musical, it’s the details in life and our ideas that make them beautiful. 

Starting something is always easy once the “starting” actually begins. But like I said, it’s when the initial excitement fades into something normal and the ideas just become more paths to choose from that the “hardest part” kicks in. The reason getting started is easy is because our eyes are set on the big picture. But like my director said, the devil is in the details. So how do we move from the big picture to the details while still maintaining that level of thrill that pushed us forward to begin with?

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that one out myself. I’m doing my best to keep my life – my goals and aspirations – from coming to a complete standstill only because I have failed to keep looking for the details, but that is easier said than done. My advice to you (and to myself) is to never stop digging for something more. Even when you think you have it all figured out and the picture is complete or the song is perfected, keep looking. I would be willing to bet that there’s something more – something better – that you have yet to discover.

If there is a devil hiding in the details, hunt that sucker down.

New Beginnings

When I was preparing to come home for the summer after my first year of college ended, I cried knowing things wouldn’t be the same next year.

When I was packing to move back in for my second year, my mom cried knowing that me leaving this time was different.

When I was talking to a friend after a week or two of being at school, she cried knowing things felt different.

The routine and steadiness of this past year became so comfortable that the new beginnings everyone was experiencing became overwhelming rather than exciting.

But the problem didn’t lie in the newness of what I was experiencing, it lay in the comfort of what I had experienced.

The overwhelming sense of “new” that was surrounding my life as I left home to go to college where nearly everything had changed from the year before had sent a shock to all my senses. While I was consciously aware that things were going to be different, it didn’t register until I actually felt the differences. But as I was in class writing a reflection of my week I realized that this shock to my senses was exactly what I needed to get out of the content mindset I was in.

There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable, but there is some danger in being content. I had gotten so comfortable in my way of life last year that I had also become content, not feeling the need for or even wanting change. So much so that when change happened I didn’t know how to respond.

But the new beginnings that are taking place in nearly every aspect of my life have served me well and reminded me not only to be careful about becoming content, but to appreciate change as well.

I know that with all the new things I am experiencing I will continue to grow into the person I want to be and learn each step of the way.

I hope you learn to appreciate and see the beauty in change as well.

Extremes

I’m not sure what’s in the air lately, but I have a lot of friends who are going through the most extreme parts of life and experiencing things in highs and lows with no middle ground. Be it marriage or heartbreak, love or loss, loneliness or fulfillment, everyone I know seems to be experiencing so much. Once is a coincidence. Twice is a coincidence. But three times is a pattern. And this summer seems to have a pattern of extreme emotions.

I love to listen to podcasts to hear what other people have to say about life. One of my favorite podcasts to listen to is called “Ladies Who Lunch” (LWL) and while they’re no longer recording anything, I still listen to their old episodes somewhat frequently. A few weeks ago while I was donating plasma I turned on one of their episodes in which they talked about moving on and letting go and, while they said a lot of really great things, there was one thing in particular that stood out to me. They got a letter from someone whose father had passed away less than a week before, and the person in the letter was asking how they can move on from the hurt they were feeling. LWL gave the typical responses of surrounding yourself with friends and family who love you, doing things to keep yourself busy, etc. But after giving all of those suggestions they stopped for a second to let the person know that it’s okay to simply feel, and something about that really resonated with me.

Throughout the summer as I’ve watched my friends go through all different emotions (or even experienced them myself) I’ve noticed how we’re always trying to move on to the next emotion. If we’re sad, we want to stop being sad and feel something else. If we’re happy, we’re questioning our happiness and anticipating something else. Very rarely (particularly in moments of negative emotions) do we just let ourselves feel. I think this lack of accepting our emotions is another byproduct of our need to constantly desire more. But I also think it’s time for that to change.

If you’re sad, be sad. Let yourself feel. Let yourself hurt. Go through the motions and roll with the punches. I’m not saying you should wallow in self pity and go about life feeling miserable forever, but what I am saying is that sometimes it’s harder to move on from an emotion if you don’t fully understand what you’re feeling. Get comfortable with the pain so you know how to work through it. When you break a bone, you don’t just ignore it and hope it works itself out. You straighten the bone and look at x-rays and wrap it up in bandages and casts which will be full of pain and annoyance but by doing this, you’re understanding the injury so you can enhance the healing. You have to allow yourself to feel your hurt to understand it, and once you understand it you can heal from it.

The same goes for positive emotions. Stop questioning the way you’re feeling. Stop thinking the higher you go, the further you fall. Stop falling in love only thinking about the potential heartbreak. Stop feeling joy only thinking about the potential sorrow. Let yourself feel good. Even if the worst thing happens, at least you were able to truly enjoy some of the best parts of life.

We need to stop fighting things. Time is always on your side and it will keep moving even when you think you can’t, so it’s high time you just roll with the punches and enjoy the ride.