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Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category

I had just graduated college with an English/Creative Writing degree, when I landed a job at one of the largest banks in the United States. It was an entry level teller position, but I fell in love with the company’s core vision. I spent hours reading about what they stood for before my first group interview. They valued their people. They valued their customers. They stood for honesty and integrity. I felt personally drawn to those values and decided I wanted to be a part of that story.

I spent almost four years dedicating my time, my heart, my tears, and my stress to a company I thought would be my long-term career. In that time, I had earned three promotions and was waiting for an opportunity to the next.

When I lost my job, I was the number one Service Manager in the district.

I didn’t realize then losing that career would turn out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

In the desire to climb the corporate ladder, I had lost track of who I was. I had immersed myself in a culture no where close to that of which I had read about before applying. Every day was full of new stresses, every day was another deadline of sales goals, every day I came home feeling like it wasn’t quite good enough. We had to be the best. I had to be the best. And, I was. But, it came at a cost. The cost of not realizing life is a lot more than a means to an end. If your people are who matters most, then that means valuing who they are before what they can do for you.

I lost my job, and felt as though who I was meant nothing. My success did not matter. My ability to lead a team did not matter. My time did not matter. My honesty did not matter. I was as replaceable as any other person.

But the truth is, nobody is replaceable. Every single one of us has dreams, aspirations, personal triumphs and struggles. Those characteristics make us who we are, influence how we work, and determine our futures. It is the heartbeat inside of us, not the amount we’re getting paid, that makes us strive for more.

I may have lost my job, but that’s all it was. A job. It was doing nothing to better who I was as a person or encourage my heart. Day after day, I came home feeling like I could barely breathe. I was constantly stressed. And I complained about it all the time. The saddest part is, I felt like it was worth it. To be the best. To make the money. To influence others to do the same. In reality, it was harming my personal happiness, my real dreams, and my heart.

Since moving on, I have had countless people tell me how much happier I am. How I’m like a completely different person. I have also had other friends move on from the same company to other avenues only to be told the same thing. Funny isn’t it? How you can be so bought into an certain way of doing things that you forget what matters most.

Managing where I am now, I have the opportunity to hire people based on who they are and the personality they add to our team, instead of how much I think they can sell. I have the privilege to interact with customers and get to know their story because I want to, not because I have to in order to uncover a clue leading to another product sale. It’s still a business, and it’s still necessary to sell things to make a profit. But I get to do it in a way that feels right. My boss genuinely cares about who I am, my well-being. And in turn, I get to care about my employees personal lives in addition to our work relationship.

And, isn’t that what matters to all of us? To be known for who we are. To have the opportunity to do what we do best every day and feel like it matters.

Yesterday, I found out that I got a writing position with a private magazine.

The amount of gratitude I feel is beyond words. I now have the privilege to follow my dream as a writer, on top of already loving what I currently do. The craziest thing is, I never would have ended up here if I had stayed where I was.

I believe God allowed me to lose my job in order to find something so much better. The loss, as hard as it was, was not near as great as what I have gained because of it. Not only for my career path, but my own personal well being.

I am not just as good as the day. I am not the worth of one accomplishment. I am not the product of one promotion. I am not the value of one sale. I am a human being. I am the desires of my heart. I am my dreams. I am my aspirations. I am my hopes for the future. I am whoever God wants me to be.

So, thank you to the individuals responsible for my loss of a job. You gave me my life back.

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Over 100 people lost their lives today in Paris, France. Over 100 people that were just out trying to live life, enjoy things they love. A stadium. A restaurant. A concert hall. Regular activities for regular people who didn’t know tonight would be their last. My heart goes out to them. Their families. Their friends. Their co-workers. My heart goes out to the entire nation in this treacherous act of terrorism. How many times has this happened in our world’s history? And how many times do we begin to understand why? The answer is none. And it is in these unfathomable circumstances, that you realize life is a lot less complicated than you make it out to be. We are all just people. One human to the next. Trying to live our lives the best way we see fit. And yet, in these moments of injustice, we realize the world is not our own.

Still, we create it out to be. As a twenty-something growing up in modern day America I will admit that we are a selfish generation. We are a generation that thrives out of get it now satisfaction. The tabloids scream that you can have it your way… be as pretty as you want, as rich as you want, as skinny as you want, as tech savvy as you want. Get it now. Feel something. And, if you don’t like it, there will probably be another option on the marketplace shortly. You don’t have to live with your choices for long. We have become a generation capable of buying things because we want them, not because we need them. In turn, we have shaped who we are and how we encounter life.

We feel so entitled to the privilege of choice, we too often forget those choices can be taken away from us.

And, now, for a moment, we remember. Over 100 people lost their lives today in Paris, France. It was not their choice. Somebody else’s, maybe. But the life we so often take for granted can be gone in a blink of an eye.

Then you realize it is not about the get it now lifestyle. Maybe then our lives can become more than a moment of temporary gratification. If we stop for a second, we could see that our problems are often so small in comparison. We have the ability to choose life each and every day. To appreciate the world around us, and everyone in it. There will always be other opportunities out there, other adventures. There will always be another thing to spark your interest, another fad to try. But it is the simplest things that take up the most room in your heart. The people that love us. The people that have gone out of their way to show us we are not alone. The roof over our heads. The food on our plates. The gift of today.

May we live today for all those people who no longer have a tomorrow. May we stop for a moment to think about all the people who have impacted our lives, all the ones near and dear to our hearts. Thank them. Hold onto them. Fight for them. Life is too short to give up on those we love. We think we have all the time in the world, but sometimes, we don’t. These moments remind us time is a gift. One we so often take for granted.

I may only be twenty-six years old, but if I could do a few things over I would. Give more time to the people who have proven they care, and less time to the people who don’t. I would try to remind myself every day that there are no guarantees. I would try to remind myself to embrace every chance I’ve been given. To make life less complicated. To enjoy the simplicity of treasured friends and family, and the moments shared that will never be forgotten. The memories that shape us and carry us through when times are hard.

It is a privilege to be alive. May we make the most of the days we have, so that we leave no regrets for tomorrow.

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There is a difference between flaws and warning signs. The way he leaves clothes all over his room, and snores so loudly it wakes you up. Those are flaws. The way he criticizes you on your appearance or your tendency to over think things and the way he flirts with other girls. Those are warning signs. The sooner you allow yourself to accept the difference, the sooner you will save yourself a lot of heartache. You should be the only one on his radar, and you should be enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. Kind enough. Spontaneous enough. Smart enough. Fun enough. You should be worth fighting for. Every minute of every day.

And, even in the rough moments, the moments of doubt, he should still be committed to you. To working together to make it work. That moment you find out he went downtown with his friends and ended up with a bunch of other girls when you weren’t invited. Leave. That moment he calls you too emotional and doesn’t care to ask you why you feel the way you do. Leave. That moment you’re laying in bed with him and realize there’s something missing. Leave. That moment you feel like you’re the only one putting in one hundred percent. Leave. The first time he kisses another girl. Leave. The first time he makes you feel inadequate or question who you are. Leave.

It takes two people to build a relationship. A good one will never be built on lies and deception, on comparisons to other people and a blatant disregard for who you really are. You will never win when he has his eyes on you and everyone around you. You can’t change someone, as much as you want to believe you can. They have to want to change themselves. And, they can say everything you’ve ever wanted to hear, but their behavior will tell you the truth.

I know you can’t see it, because you’re in love. Or, at least you think you are. But love doesn’t leave you questioning your self worth. Love doesn’t cause you to fear whether or not they’ll stay another day. Love doesn’t stay on the surface. Love is not selfish. Love is not conditional. Love is not disrespectful.

Your friends see all of those things. And, they’ll tell you over and over again how much better you deserve. Listen. I know you think no one knows him like you do, and he is different with you, and all this other bullshit. But, do you really want a man who isn’t that way all the time? The people who truly care about you can see his true colors shining through. Pay attention. Even when you can’t. I know you have to figure it out on your own, but trust the people who know you and know him. I promise the truth really will set you free.

Most of all, believe in you. I know that’s cliché and we say it all the time like a song you know all the words to but wish you didn’t. But, it matters. You matter. Take a step back and look at all the factors. You have to be your own before you can be someone else’s. And the minute you become dependent on someone else is the day they win. You are no longer secure enough or confident enough to leave. Maybe you don’t want to be alone. Maybe he pays for a lot of things. Maybe you are just naive enough to think he’ll be who you want him to. At the end of the day, you are only cheating yourself.

You are beautiful. Any guy would be lucky to have you. You are intelligent. Which means you’re smart enough to know this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. You are brave. Remember the last time you lost someone? You’re still here. And you can walk away from this too. Life is too short to make excuses or to ignore the warning signs for the wrong kind of love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son… What would he sacrifice for you? Will he love you selflessly? Will he choose you over every girl, today, tomorrow, and always? Can you trust him? Does he respect you? Does he love you for who you are, inside and out? Does he care about every desire of your heart? Will he protect you? Will he stand up for you even when you lose your way? Would he choose you over his job, his money, his self?

You deserve the kind of love that moves the mountains. The kind of love other people can see when they’re around you. The kind of love that God created.

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

May you believe that.

Always.

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Every day we wake up and wish for something more. We wake up wishing for something extraordinary, something normal, something meaningful to happen to us. All the while we’re simply trying to make sense of what life is and who we are. But it’s impossible to do. Life is like a thunderstorm that’s rainy and sunny all at once. It will never make sense. But we’re so caught up in the facade of what we should understand or who we should be that we miss what we already are — human.

We make mistakes, and we hurt people. We ignore text messages and phone calls and cancel plans, all because we’re too busy caught up in our own bullshit. We destroy relationships and get in fights over things that don’t really matter. We let the things that do really matter tear us apart, until we’re alone trying to figure out how we got there. We’re petty and selfish and mean. We expect people to treat us with respect when we’re not willing to treat them the same. We sacrifice what we believe for what we want. We give up what we want to find out who we are. We compromise who we are for people who never cared. We all believe we are the victims, but we also want to be the heroes. That is how we become fighters — ignorant and brave all at once.

And, we are lovers — full of passion and naivety. We are all searching for life to be more than ourselves. We want to know we’re not alone in this. That someone believes in us, and we believe in them. We hold onto relationships that will break our hearts, if only to risk feeling something genuine. To find a connection that rocks us to our core, shatters what we thought we knew and changes our futures. We love without expecting anything in return, because it gives us something to hope for. Someday, someone may do the same for us. We hold onto people with our hearts, wrapping around them with all that we are.

We thrive on conversation — the sharing of intellect, the debating of viewpoints, the revealing of our most treasured memories and darkest secrets. We construct words the way we construct our lives, with plenty of care and recklessness. Sometimes we think before, and other times we just do. Either way, we sit up all hours of the night thinking of what’s been said and thought, because maybe we missed something. Or, maybe, we wish to relive it all again. The exchange of a moment when we felt alive.

We’re searching to find something — a career, a place, a home, an adventure, a change — that makes us feel as if we have arrived. This is what we were made for. This is the moment when life really begins. Because, if we’re honest, we are all still waiting for more. We want to do more than live life; we want to be filled with it. To be someone — a traveler, a parent, a lover, an inventor, a dreamer, a doer, a person who makes a difference. We want to be more than we are, in hopes that the world will notice us.

We want to share life with others. We let people in to see all the mistakes we’ve made, invite them to watch us make more, and love us because of it. We let people in to help us find ourselves. We fight for and destroy the relationships we have, while we look for more. We make our life puzzle more intricate, yet we also make it more significant. To explain the parts of us we don’t understand, to add perspective, to share in a life we are all trying to create something from.

Life is like a thunderstorm that’s rainy and sunny all at once. It doesn’t make sense. And that’s what makes it beautiful.

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I was recently asked what I would do with a billion dollars. I’m a thinker, so I couldn’t answer the question. And as I sit here, thinking about it again, I realize it’s not about the money. It’s not about material things. It’s not about what you can buy for yourself or other people. It’s about relationships and how you can impact a heart. Impact someone’s life. Change their world. Come in and make them believe in something again. Even for a moment. To stop the pain, or the stress, or the worry and say — Everything little thing is going to be alright.

All I really want is time. Enough time to reach every person I know, and all the ones I have yet to meet. To have enough patience to listen, enough love to change, enough wisdom to encourage, enough generosity to touch.

I don’t have a billion dollars. And I don’t ever feel like I have enough time. But I do have words.

So this is for you. Whoever you are, wherever you are.
Maybe we’re already friends. Maybe we’re barely acquaintances. Maybe I’ve never met you. But, this is for you all the same.

You matter. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Don’t try to mold who you are to please people or to fit in. The people who really care about you won’t ask you to change or make you feel like you have to. They’ll accept you where you’re at. They’ll love in you in spite of your weaknesses, because of your weaknesses. They’ll come alongside of you and encourage you to be all that you dare dream. And, eventually, you will change. Because they will have impacted your life in such a way that you want to. Surround yourself with people who mold you into the best version of yourself. To be better. To live a better life. To embrace possibility. Surround yourself with people who build you up instead of tear you down.

You matter. I know you don’t believe that. Not all the time and not in matters of the heart. Especially when you’ve been used, and broken, and left out to dry. But believe me when I say you deserve respect. You deserve to be treated right. You deserve to be happy. And, anyone who doesn’t help that does not deserve you. Fight for you. Don’t let anyone stand in your way. You should never be someone’s option. You are an amazing individual. You should be someone’s priority. Be with someone who sees that. Someone who believes in you. And, don’t ever think the past should dictate your future. Maybe you’ve made mistakes. Maybe you’ve hurt people. Maybe you’ve taken advantage of love. You still don’t deserve less. Life is full of second chances. Give one to yourself. Allow yourself to be happy with someone who makes you happy. Don’t ever settle.

You matter. All of the dreams you’ve built since you were little, matter. Don’t stop believing in yourself. Don’t stop believing that it can be done. The greatest obstacle you face is yourself. If you go after what you want, you never know what might happen. Dream big. Take risks. Leap even when you’re unsure where you’ll land. Even if you don’t end up where you wanted, I promise you’ll learn something and be stronger on your next attempt. Embrace cliché phrases and shoot for the moon. Life is too short not to try.

You matter. The pain you feel, the struggles you face, the questions you have — matter. Don’t be afraid to let people in. Life is not always smooth sailing. People know that. Truth is, we all want to know that we’re not alone. So don’t feel like you have to be strong. It’s okay to break down. It’s okay to show your emotions. It’s okay to feel something. Don’t ever be embarrassed or scared. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing. Ask the questions you want to ask. Be open and honest about how you feel. Let people see who you really are, even when your life is not all flowers and rainbows. Those who want to be there for you in those moments are the ones who will be with you for the long haul. They’re the ones who care about your well being, your happiness, your heart.

You matter. Life is too short to take for granted, to take yourself for granted. Believe that you are valuable. That you deserve all the happiness you desire. That you deserve the genuine relationships you crave. That you deserve to be who you want to be in spite of what the world may tell you to be. Embrace you. Fight for you. Believe in you. And in those moments that you lose sight of hope, hold on to the people who see you for who you are and who are willing to help you see yourself again.

Because You matter. I believe that with all my heart.

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We accept the love we think we deserve.

It’s true isn’t it? One of the most profound statements in literature strikes a chord in all of us. Love. It is what drives us, haunts us, inspires us, ruins us. It is the back drop to some of our deepest regrets and fondest memories. Someone, one day, made us believe something about love. Maybe it was more. Maybe it was less. But, we have never been the same since. And, every person from that moment on, impacted our ability to love — each other and ourselves.

Maybe, it was the first middle school party you ever attended. You were that awkward kid in the corner who didn’t really belong. Or, perhaps one of the most popular. The story plays out the same. Everyone is playing Spin the Bottle, and all you want is to fit in. You don’t know what it means. You don’t even really like the person you land on. But, you do it anyone. Because everyone else is. It’s harmless and fun. Your first kiss dies in an adolescent charade, bringing any hope of a perfect love story down with it.

Or, perhaps, it was your first best friend of the opposite sex. You talk about everything together. Music. Religion. Sex. Politics. Life. Relationships. You spend so much time together, people swear you’re dating. You cuddle during movies because it’s just the way it is. You laugh and joke about the way you are together. But, somewhere along the way you fall. Hard. You compare every person you date to your best friend. Whoever they date is never good enough. But, turns out, you weren’t either. You spill your heart. It gets broken. And, suddenly, the one person you would entrust with your life has destroyed the reality you believed in.

Maybe, it’s the broken family you grew up. Divorced parents. Siblings set aside as outcasts. Extended members you’ve never even met. It’s in the uncertainty of relationships meant to be guaranteed. You find out nothing can be counted upon. No one is worth trusting. Your family members love other people and other things more than they will ever love you. You are constantly trying to prove yourself — to be better, to be worthy, to be enough. But, nothing ever is. You are just someone, devoid of the love you so desperately desire.

Maybe, though, it’s something much worse. One of those unspeakable cruelties of the world. The kind that sneaks in your bedroom late at night. The kind that finds you in a strange place. One day someone takes something from you that you never wanted to give. Someone tears pasts your boundaries and compromises any belief that respect exists. Let alone love. You are now just another sob story, a victim of nights gone wrong. The kind of the thing that leaves people speechless. You are left with secrets and doubt. Who will love you now?

Or, perhaps you spend so much of your life compromising for other people that one day you wake up and realize you don’t really know if you believe in “better.” You’ve let go of your happiness for so long, you no longer know what makes you feel alive. It exists for others, but for you it is just a story. A fairytale. And, none of those come true. You lost faith years ago. Love is a game, and you’re sitting on the bench. That’s the way it’s going to go — one shitty relationship after the next until you decide you’re sick of sitting and settle for as good as it gets.

But, maybe, you keep one small flame burning — Hope.

That no matter how lonely it gets, or how many times you’ve been pushed around and screwed over, you choose to believe there is more. More love for you to find. The kind you’ve deserved from the start.

You pursue the fairytale. Not the make-believe kind with glass slippers and magic carpet rides. The real kind. Where love is enough. Where someone fights for who you are, not what you’ll do or compromise on. Someone who loves you even when you don’t deserve it. Because, that’s the kind of love we all deserve. The unexplainable, unconditional, happy, selfless kind. The kind of love that makes all the bullshit worth it. The kind that makes you believe again. The kind of love that rises above your past to prove it was worth waiting for.

So, this Valentines Day, I hope you believe in love. If you’re in relationship, I hope it’s one that makes you better. One that makes you believe in yourself and the world around you. I hope that person makes you feel like the only one in the room. May they never take you for granted. If you’re single, I hope you don’t feel alone but rest in the truth that love is out there. It’s in your friends and family. It’s in your faith. It’s in your dreams. It’s in someone you have yet to meet. Keep your flame burning bright. You never know who may need to see it.

For all of you, I hope you believe you deserve the best. You are special and worthy of love. The kind you want, not just the kind you may be given. Never settle for less. Accept the love made for a fairytale — the one meant to be written just for you.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The hustle and bustle of buying gifts. The excuse to listen to every Christmas song ever recorded, good or bad. Indulging in too many baked goods. Celebrating in the form of ugly sweater parties and holiday drinks. Time set aside for friends and family. The anticipation of snow. Lights. Trees. Movies. Traditions. It’s the time of the year to celebrate all we have been given, and in return, give to others in whatever form we see fit. Peace on Earth, good will to men.

But did we really take all the good tidings of comfort and joy? Did we really only have one Christmas wish? Did we all get to be home for Christmas? Is Christmas really the most wonderful time of the year?

As I get older, or maybe as reality becomes more prevalent, I think Christmas becomes less of what it used to be. I miss the innocent anticipation of Santa, the hope in something that never existed. The privilege to play make-believe. Gone are the long holiday breaks spent only with family and friends. Reckless abandon. Carefree play. Joyful adventures. I miss the ability to spend time with loved ones who are no longer around. Hours in the kitchen with my Aunt Karen making cut-out cookies, cookies I now bake alone. The privilege of unlimited time. Christmas hasn’t been the same since, will never be the same. Instead, I see the future of more loss. Family members get older, and you realize you must cherish every moment you have. Time is not unlimited. It is growing shorter by the day. I miss my bubble of safety, being young and naive. The privilege to think everything is going to be okay. Our world is crumbling in front of us. Every day another news story screams of lives lost. Christmas comes in the midst of heartbreak and unanswered questions, and with it, some of the hope disappears.

How can we celebrate when so many are having Christmas devoid of loved ones? How can we feel joy when our lives are a mess? How can we give gifts when we aren’t whole ourselves?

It is the most wonderful time of the year. But only because there is a reason for the season. A hope given and sustained when we have none. A light shining brighter than any Christmas decoration. A gift given that cannot be taken away, that will never depreciate in value, that can be given to all who wish to receive it. It is the most wonderful time of the year because Jesus came to Earth as a baby so that we may be saved. Innocence restored. The lost given a place to be found forever. An answer for all the questions. A restored heart.

He is the only reason I can hold onto hope this Christmas. Even though sometimes it is really hard. Lately I feel as if I’ve been walking around in a haze, trying to comprehend what our world is coming to, trying to deal with the loss I already feel, trying to distinguish a path for the future. It’s hard to celebrate the spirit of Christmas when you feel as if yours has been crushed. But I know that no matter what, He is there. Waiting. Fighting. Pursuing. Saving. You. Me. This Country. This World. We may not see it. We may not feel it. But, I promise, He is working – in the hopeless, in the questions, in the darkness.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

May your hearts be glowing with the telling of Christ’s eternal cheer.

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