As we put the exclamation point on all things 2016 (or maybe just a cold, hard period, depending on circumstance) I’m sitting here thinking about all the ways in which my life has changed this year. Last December, as we approached this wild ride, I was hopeful and optimistic, which isn’t a place I spent a lot of time in the last several years. I had been faithfully camped out in cynical, jaded, and discontent for a variety of reasons, but heading into 2016 felt exciting. It really was a new feeling for me. And honestly, the year didn’t disappoint.

I’m in Hawaii right now, just minutes away from beautiful beaches and roaring ocean – a place my heart does feel very much at home. I feel like all things come into perspective when you stand there staring into miles of deep blue. A couple of years ago, I stood on the coast of California, looking over the beaches of Malibu and under a foggy picture of coastline, I captioned, “No one is impressed with themselves when they stand at the edge of the ocean. No one looks out at its immensity and marvels at their own greatness.” They aren’t my words, but I feel the truth of it in my bones. I don’t know what does it for you – what puts all of life into glaring perspective, but for me it has always been the ocean. So I’m thankful to be here now, looking back on a year that made me feel seen and loved in ways I’ve never known before, but also reflecting on the ways in which I am still just a small piece of a larger story. A tiny speck in the span of eternity. The littlest grain of sand on the whole stretch of beach.

Maybe for you 2016 was a little bit of what it was for me. Exciting. Fun. Fresh. Challenging. I know I have grown a lot this year. I’ve been pushed in new ways both in relationship and in my own heart. I have worked through obstacles and roadblocks that I had previously just pushed to the back of my mind and my heart and preferred to pretend weren’t there. I took timid steps into a relationship that blew my heart wide open and while I started this year single, I end it engaged to be married to a man who loves me both fiercely and graciously. In 2016 I opened myself up to vulnerability, especially here on these pages with you and that has offered a wide world of growth and opportunity. There were new chances to build bridges and be courageous. My own vulnerability has allowed others to be brave in their lives as well, and I don’t say that in a bragging way, I’m just telling you the facts because of the messages I have received after each new post. I’m so thankful for the small ways in which I have been able to speak to others, though I think Flannery O’Connor said it best when she wrote, “If I ever do get to be a fine writer, it will not be because I am a fine writer but because God has given me credit for a few of the things He kindly wrote for me.” Amen and amen.

However, I know many people who feel that this year was by far their worst. They are willing to crumple up this year of their lives and throw it into the fire, watching it burn down to ash and blow away in the wind. It hurt too much. It cut too deep. The moments seared into your memory for all of time. Some of you felt that this year and I wish so much that I could hug you enough to make the pain go away. That we could all say the right words or do the very thing that heals that wounded place. I have not experienced great loss in the form of death, but I have felt the sting of heartbreak and the ways in which it will forever change the shape of your heart. I have spent years in the throes of discontent and hurt and being a victim of my own circumstance. That pain will trap you and hold you hostage. That kind of grief will rip away all the days in front of you forevermore if you let it. And sometimes that’s just what you want it to do because you can’t bear the thought of another day like the last. It would be just very alright with you if you didn’t have to feel this way anymore because the days are dragging on and on and the pain just won’t subside. The salve offered in words and hugs just doesn’t seem to close up the gaping flesh wound on your soul. And over that I pray that 2017 is a year of healing. A year of soul mending. A year of baby steps forward, even as you might stumble and fall. I pray for you right this very minute that you would feel your little heart held in the hands of a very big God who knows and sees and understands. I pray you courageously walk into your new normal, walking with a limp, maybe, but still walking.

But whatever 2016 was for you, there is only one day left. And to be honest, the dawn of 2017 is not going to change anything. I hate to break it to you if you’re the type that waits for the coming of the new year to feel new and different - like midnight on January 1 is going to bring a new sense of stamina and resolve to whatever it is you wish to do away with in 2016. It might for a little while. But it won’t feel different or be any different if you don’t do anything different. It’s just another day on the calendar unless you’re willing to finally do some real heart work. If you finally lean into the pain and walk through it. If you reach out with a heart of forgiveness and a desire to reconcile. 2017 will be just the same as 2016 unless your own heart steps up to the plate and says it’s ready.

I think the most important thing you can do in whatever season you find yourself in is to work on your own heart. Open your ears and close your mouth. Listen - to God, to others. Dial in to where you need to mend some hurts, declutter your soul, bring new things to light. I read the other day that if you’re the same person you were six months ago, you’re not trying hard enough - or something along those lines. If you’re the same person – if you’re not pursuing growth, if you’re not pursuing new things and questioning your own convictions or asking the Lord where he would have you grow, you’re really just wasting precious time in your current season. What are you doing to grow and become? Don’t hear me say that we constantly have to strive to be more, but I do think there is always heart work to be done, some area where God is pushing you in your own sanctification if you are willing to listen.

The thing is, it’s easier to curate your Instagram feed than cultivate your heart. Like it’s easy to post a selfie or a photo of you and your person or a thing you did and make it look fancy and perfect, but maybe you’re ignoring some areas that need some work in your own life. No one sees internal heart work – at least not in process. No one can comment on it or like it or give you a flame emoji confirmation that you’re looking great that day. Heart work happens in the quiet moments, the unseen, the seemingly unnoticed. Heart work is hard work. And it seems that if transformation of heart and life takes more than three minutes in a microwave oven, we’re out. If the instruction manual is longer than a tweet’s worth of text, then too long; didn’t read. But don’t bow out because it’s hard. If there’s anything I can tell you to do, it’s lean in. Call that friend. Make an appointment with a counselor. Throw out the junk food. Kick the habit. Reconcile with your family to the best of your ability. Read your Bible and figure out how to stay in the story. Offer forgiveness. Seek to be a person of compassion and empathy. Resolve to live worthy

I guess I just don’t want to be stagnant. That’s what I want for 2017. I want to pursue growth and open my heart to change and if you know me at all, that’s a scary sentence for me to write. But the world needs more than a bunch of people sitting comfortable in their dormancy and unwillingness to see areas where they need to grow. One of the ways I’m pursuing my own growth is attending a writer’s conference in February and then, of course, marriage is going to change everything. Also, the fact that I might be moving for the first time in 32 years? Eeek! It feels a little daunting when you look at it from 30,000 feet. My mom had to often remind me when I got overwhelmed with homework to just take it one thing at a time. Don’t look at the whole syllabus. Just look at the next day. So let’s take 2017 one step at a time and see where we might be led.

I read recently about Dr. Helen Roseveare who was a missionary in the Congo in 60s. She just went home to Heaven not that long ago, but she was single for her whole life, completely devoted to helping others and sharing Jesus. Even after being raped and imprisoned, she continued to wring her life out for the sake of the gospel and if that's not something to aspire to, I don't know what is. Helen was well-acquainted with acute suffering but even in the midst of it she heard God ask her, 

"Can you thank Me for trusting you with this experience even if I never tell you why?"

Her words pierced my heart. God will ask us to walk through some things in the coming year that we might think we can't handle. He might ask us to carry something we don't think we're strong enough to carry. But he's trusting us with an experience that is ultimately for our good. The bigger story we're a part of, the real meaning in all of it, is his story of redeeming and reconciling all things to himself. When I stand on the beaches here in Hawaii, I remember how small I am and how much I can't control. But there is one who tells the waves where to break. He holds back the ocean from dry land. The waves and wind still know His name. He holds the seas and he holds your heart. 

I think it was Maya Angelou who said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” I just want to do better this year. Pursue the things I feel called to pursue and let go of all the rest. Let’s walk together into this new set of days as people willing to stretch the bounds of comfortable, embracing vulnerability and courage. Take a minute today to get away from it all and get some perspective. Stand at the edge of the (real or metaphorical) ocean. Remember that you are small but mighty and you were made to do great things. Trust that God will walk you through it - that he's trusting you with each new experience laid before you. Let's make the necessary changes we need to make and stop waiting for tomorrow. Let this be the year. 


On January 25, 2016, I wrote in my journal that for some strange reason I couldn't explain, I felt like Aaron might one day be my husband. 

On November 11, 2016, Aaron asked me to be his wife. 

WHAT! I know. Crazy, right? This year, let me tell you. It has been nothing I could have ever imagined - more than I ever knew to how to ask for from God. And needless to say, the last two weeks have been especially exciting and highly emotional. Like even right now, I just feel a little bit like crying and I don’t know why!

But before we get to the proposal, I just have to back up so that I can always, always remember the way those two weeks transpired. Because just over a week ago Aaron proposed to me, but a week before that he surprised me by even coming to Nebraska in the first place! Aaron and I last saw each other in August when he came home for a couple of weeks and then the next time we planned to see each other was this December when I fly out to Hawaii after Christmas. We were patiently (and some days, not so patiently) counting down the days to when we could actually be together and not just stare at each other’s faces through our phone screens. If you don't know, the time difference between Nebraska and Hawaii is, most of the year, five hours. So we are at completely different points in our day ALL OF THE TIME. I know there are more difficult relationship hurdles, but trust me, this is not ideal... unless you're trying to surprise your girlfriend by flying across the ocean overnight.

The day Aaron surprised me by showing up at my office, I was under the impression that he would be getting up early to go boogie boarding with his brother-in-law. This seemed exactly zero percent suspicious to me. They had planned it for over a week and I assumed that I wouldn’t talk to Aaron until after he got to work that day, which was 1 pm central time.

Just after 1:00, Aaron sent me a message to let me know that he made it to work. We talked briefly before he said he had to head off to a meeting at work that “shouldn’t be more than an hour.” Meanwhile, Heath (his brother-in-law) posted a photo of Aaron on Instagram that appeared to be Aaron heading into the water, boogie board in hand. See?

The afternoon went on and I didn't talk to Aaron too much. He got out of his "meeting" (which I later found out was a flight from Minneapolis to Omaha) but he kept telling me what a busy day it was at work and that there were some urgent things to get done. Late in the afternoon my own boss called me into a meeting. I had been sick for the entire week, even stayed home from work for two days and still barely had my voice back, so when I'm sitting in the meeting and started to feel like I might cough, I had a minor panic attack because I knew it wouldn’t be a dainty little throat-clearing. So I excused myself and headed back to my desk and I’ll just let the video tell the rest of the story.

So, Aaron pulled off an epic surprise! People keep asking, "Did you have any idea?" None. He worked with my family, my boss, my friends and his family to make sure I had no idea he was coming to Nebraska for my birthday. It was amazing! I still don’t really have words for how I felt when I turned around and he was there in my office! A moment I will never forget.

The rest of the week was really normal. We talked about what we might do for my birthday, made dinners together, spent time with family, and since I had no vacation time, I went to work and he met me downtown each day for my hour lunch break. I mean, how sweet is he? Yikes. I don’t know if I have the words. 

On that Friday morning, the day he proposed, Aaron brought me coffee.

"Oh, babe! It's 11/11," he said. "Make a wish." He acted like he just realized the date, but this was his whole plan, you guys. Don't let him fool you.

He doesn't know this but I didn't make a wish. I just said a silent thank you, being ever grateful for this sweet man who made me feel so special.

That morning I went to work thinking it was just another day where he would meet me for lunch, but when lunchtime rolled around and I hadn’t really heard from him, I sent him a text and asked if he was coming. His response was to ask if my boss was still in the office. "Yes?"

Apparently he had already talked to my boss that morning (AGAIN!) and worked it out with her for me to leave even though we were short-staffed and it was a super busy time of year for us. What a dreamboat! Jailbreak from work for a super delicious birthday lunch? Yes please! So we head to lunch and when he keeps checking his watch, I ask if we’re in a rush and he says we have somewhere to be at 1:30 but wouldn’t tell me where we were headed. Eeek! Can you tell that he loves a good surprise?

Next thing I know, we arrive at a spa where he says I’m getting a manicure, pedicure and a massage. WHAT! I started crying as we waited for my appointment. I have never, in the history of Lyndi, dated someone who I felt like remembered or cared about my birthday. Honestly, one guy waited until 11 pm to even acknowledge that it was my birthday and the guy before that never said anything. (Wow, hi, my name is Lyndi and I don’t know how to get a clue. *Hiiiiii Lyndi*)

So Aaron leaves me at the spa and says he will pick me up at 5:00 when my appointments are over. I spent the next three hours in the lap of luxury.

Clearly, I was having a terrible time.

By this point I had added to my Snapchat story several times and a few friends were snapping me back with things like “WHAT! Nails done? You’re totally getting engaged.” I denied it and really, truly believed myself. Getting engaged was maybe 1-2% on my radar. Do radars work in percents? Maybe. Anyway, I told them I wasn’t and this was just all for my birthday! Of course it was! It was birthday weekend!

My massage finished up and I head out to the reception area to see if Aaron was back yet, but the woman at the counter handed me my car keys. "These are for you!" she said, smiling. I walk out to my car to find this:

I mean, is this a dream? When I was telling the cute girl who did my nails the story of how Aaron surprised me by showing up in Nebraska she said, “Wow, I feel like that kind of stuff only happens in the movies.” And I’m sitting there like, “RIGHT?!”

Now I’m in my car with a bunch of roses and the sweetest card that says to go home and get ready for dinner where attire is “fancy to fancy-schmancy.” So I head home to shower and get ready and next was a flurry of texts between my mom and sisters as they helped me decide what to wear. I'm still amazed at how casual everyone acted at every point in all these surprises. Oscars for everyone!

When Aaron arrived and I opened the door to see him standing there I about melted into a Lyndi-puddle. He was wearing a new shirt and tie and a new leather coat and ohmygosh. Dead. The only thing I had in my head was, “Wow. Best birthday ever.” As we're walking out the door, my sister texted and said she wanted a picture of us together, and because we're the sassy people we are, we sent her this one: 

So we go to dinner and talk and laugh a lot over crab cakes and wine and steak and salmon. Aaron and I have never had a problem coming up with things to talk about and this dinner was mostly just reminiscing on the last year of our lives from my last birthday to this one and how much had changed. At one point, it was also almost about my literal death, because I choked so hard on a potato that I was one half of a second from needing the Heimlich. I don’t try to cause a scene *everywhere* I go, but I like to keep it interesting, you know?

So we both live through dinner and to my knowledge we are headed back to my apartment, until Aaron takes a different street and we wind up in our church parking lot. I thought we were possibly showing up at a surprise birthday party? I didn't know. That was the only thought in my head on this day full of complete surprises.

Aaron told me previously that he first saw me when he was in high school. As he tells it, he was too shy to talk to girls and I was “a tornado.” I still don’t know what he means by that since I’m so quiet and shy and introverted, but maybe I’ll figure it out someday. So Aaron pulls up next to the building on our church campus where he saw me and retells the story of his first sighting and then we walk toward the main building of our church. I said, “Babe, these doors are going to be locked,” just as he magically pulls open the far left door. Do the surprises ever end?

At this point I was still oblivious. I thought we were maybe going for a post-dinner coffee in the coffee shop where I work but rather than up the stairs to the shop, he leads me into the main auditorium. The lights were low except for the stage. He walks me down the aisle where I usually sit for church. This also happens to be the place of our very first face-to-face conversation last November. “Remember when I came down and talked to you and your friends?” “Uh, yeah, and I thought you were SO CUTE!” I really did. He was and is so stinkin’ cute.

Aaron walked us both down the aisle and up to the main stage. It was at this point, and ONLY at this point, that I was finally thinking, “Wait… is this?... is he?...” He was holding me close and smiling so sweetly and I wish I could remember what he said but I remember thinking, “Oh, this is happening, wow, this thing that I never ever ever thought would happen is happening right this minute. Be here now. Hold on to this very moment that you never thought would come.”

And then I wept. 

When Aaron came into my life more fully earlier this year, it was like my heart started to wake up and dream again about what it might be like to not live my whole life alone. Throughout our relationship I really felt God pushing me and asking me to take these next steps in a relationship with him even though it was scary for me. My relationship history is riddled with some trial and lots of error because I had no understanding of myself and God's plan for me. But over the last year, each of us kept taking baby steps forward as we felt led and, gosh, has it been so worth it.

Last Sunday night, the church I go to had a celebration service for the fact that we are now completely debt-free for the first time in 53 years. One of the quotes I read in the program for the evening was, “Where there is no risk, there is no faith.” Isn’t that so true? Where you’re so comfortable and sitting inside your little circle of safety, your faith isn’t required. There won’t be moments when you’re hanging on by a fingernail and yelling for God to show up because why would you need him when you’re cozy and comfortable and safe?

Relationship involves risk. There is always risk when you’re saying to another person, “Yes, I’m with you, whatever comes.” What if they break your heart? But what if they add more joy than you ever knew possible? Aaron and I had previously talked about our fears in relationship and marriage and I asked him about that after we got engaged and he said, "Sometimes you just have to do it afraid." Which, wouldn't you know, has been my own motto for years as I walked through my own scary things. "Where there is no risk, there is no faith." 

Our friends and our family have celebrated us so well these last couple of weeks and we just want to say thank you. We're excited for the faith journey that this will be together and the way we will be led to take the next steps forward in our relationship, which we have always felt to be of God and for him. 

A lot of people have recently reminded me how I used to say I would get married on the 1st of Never. I get it, I was annoying in the refrain I taught myself to believe. But, wouldn't you know, I guess 'Never' finally rolled around. What a dream.

Calling all dads.

When my older sister started kindergarten, my dad decided he should go to college. He had been working as a carpenter since graduating high school, but knew he needed something more. He was 28 years old with three (soon to be four) tiny kids and a wife and bills to pay.  So, he packed his backpack with his books and got on his bike and peddled down to the University for his very first college classes. He sat there with a bunch of 18 year old freshmen, most of whom lived in the dorms or a fraternity and had no cares in the world about feeding babies or loving a wife or being a provider for anyone but themselves. My dad was a full time student and then after class he came home to drop off his books, grab his red lunchbox packed with leftovers, and head to his full time job making circuit breakers on an assembly line. Second shift at a factory owned the rest of his day. Sometimes we went to see him on his lunch break, and by that I mean my mom loaded us up in the station wagon, four kids under six all in our footie pajamas, and my dad came out to the car for 30 minutes - long enough for him to say hi and remind us that he loved us. When he got off work at midnight, he would come home and fall into bed, long after we were all asleep, and then get up the next day and do it all over again.


My childhood was not extravagant, but I don’t remember ever feeling like I was going without. We always had shoes on our feet and our teeth brushed and ponytails pulled back so tight it made our eyes squinty (per our request, I’m told). Those were lean years – my parents will tell you that now. But they would also tell you that this is nothing remarkable. It was hard. They were tired. But they knew it was the only way. "We did what we had to do," they would say. My dad knew that sacrifice was the only way to make life better for his own children.

This story about my dad is the story of a lot of dads. Not in the same way, of course, because each has their own road, but the underlying theme is that every single day dads are giving of themselves in order to provide for their families. Men everywhere are making sacrifices and doing hard and holy things for the sake of their little tribe at home. More than anything else, they keep showing up. And showing up is hard. Showing up is selfless and sometimes thankless and usually unnoticed until you stop doing it. Dads around the world are the silent, steady, guiding light that sometimes go unseen, or instead, are only called out for the things they don’t do instead of the things they do.

But dads, man. Their hands are dirty in the mess of parenting and loving and living with passion. Dads wake kids up in the morning and feed them breakfast and send them off to school. Dads change diapers and wake up in the middle of the night to grab the bottle or pat that baby’s bottom until she falls back asleep so mama can get an extra hour. Dads go to work and make hard decisions and feel the weight of being a provider, and while less common today than ever, sometimes the sole provider of the family. Dads aren’t idiot "babysitters" who mismatch the kids’ outfits and come within inches of lighting themselves and the house on fire while mom is gone. Dads build forts and put on superhero costumes and have fake sword fights. Dads play Barbies and dress up. Dads feel the gravity of knowing those little eyes are looking up to them every single day. Dads are the sanity and saving grace for mama – her safe place to land and the arms to fall back on. Dads aren’t Homer Simpson or Phil Dunphy or whatever other moron way they are portrayed in media. Dads are compassion and strength. They teach us honesty and integrity and respect. The maker of mac and cheese and the reader of bedtime stories. The rescuer of the pacifier from behind the couch. The helper of homework at the kitchen table. The giver of advice and listener to teenage (and grown up) drama. The one who takes off the training wheels and, in what seems like moments later, is teaching you to drive a car. Dads are equal parts nurturer and protector. They are partner and lover to one and friend to many. 

I was listening to the radio and they were talking about this study of millennial dads and they found that 9 out of 10 dads say they feel like they have to be perfect. In a society that's constantly changing its mind about what it means to be a man, they start feeling like they have to be equal parts William Wallace and Tim Gunn and Chip Gaines and Danny Tanner. We see a lot of articles about moms (or maybe I do because I’m friends with a lot of them) and they talk about how moms are done feeling like they have to be perfect, how they are going to be "real" and "authentic" about what motherhood is really like, about how messy their house is and how their kid had a screaming fit in Target. Moms are allowed to be messy, but dads? Do we give them the same courtesy? Dads put a lot of pressure on themselves and I wonder if we recognize that as much as we should. Hey, dads, this is your permission slip to stop feeling like you have to be all the things all the time. Aren't we all just a crazy wild mess trying to raise more little humans to not be a crazy wild mess? 

Maybe you hate everything I’ve said so far because you don’t even know your dad or you feel like he doesn't know you. Either daddy walked away or just never really showed up in the first place. Maybe you fall asleep at night wondering why you weren’t worth it for him to stay. Maybe he made an idiot decision that cost him everything. Maybe he really IS a moron who can’t be helped – I don’t know. I’m not saying he didn’t make bad decisions or leave a lot of casualties in the wake of his own selfishness. I have yet to meet a perfect dad, my dad and grandpas included. And hear me say this, if your dad is/was unsafe or unkind or uncaring in any way, I’m so sorry for that and I will always advocate for healthy boundaries with people - family or otherwise. Daddy wounds can cut deep and I don’t make light of that today.

But, if it’s possible, what if we start looking at our dads as simply people who did and are doing the best they can? What if you looked at your dad in the most generous light possible and for whatever he did or didn’t do for you, what if you let him off the hook? What if finally forgiving him is the best thing you can do today? What if it’s for your own sake and not for his at all? But what if you both benefit from that and it’s a chance to start fresh? 

So, to the men who are biological fathers and adoptive fathers and father figures, we celebrate you today. If your dad is amazing - everything I have described and more - celebrate him today. For the man that he is and the man that he is still becoming. If you don’t have your real daddy but you’ve got a man in your life who kept showing up for you – a teacher or a mentor or a stepdad – celebrate him today. If your dad has gone on to Heaven, celebrate him today. For the man in your life who has been your father in one way or another, send him a text or write him a card or call him this afternoon. Thank him. Encourage him. Pray for him. Love him extra hard today and try to let that spill over into the other days too. Dads work hard and play hard and love hard and for all the things we hear about dads who don't show up, I just think we need to keep encouraging and celebrating the dads who do. The ones who are examples to others. The ones who love their families so well. I know so many men who faithfully serve their families and they deserve our gratitude.

To my dad, thank you, today and always. For your sacrifices of time, energy, effort, love. And to dads everywhere, do not grow weary. This is our plea. We see you. We need you. We celebrate you and ask you to please keep showing up. The world is desperately hungry for more dads who keep showing up. 


I have always loved kids. My mom will tell you that I have just been obsessed with babies since I was young and I played with dolls for an embarrassingly long time. So, you can just imagine how elated I am that I now have seven nieces and nephews, ages five and under. They are equal parts squish and squeal and, of course, they're THE cutest ever because they're mine. All my baby dreams come true, you guys!

The thing about having little kids around is they allow you to see the world in a fresh way - things adults take for granted are brand new to these curious little eyes and you remember, again, what it’s like to be filled with wonder over the seemingly small and ordinary. But, my very favorite part about little kiddos is when they start to find their voice. At first it’s baby giggles and cooing, little sounds, and then s l o w l y one word, two words, small sentences. Language acquisition has always been so interesting to me. I took a couple of linguistics classes in college that left me wanting to learn more about language and dialects and how our tongue, our teeth, and our lips all work to make these sounds that make words that make up communication. One of my nephews, Sam, just turned two and over the last six months he has picked up so many more words. Like suddenly overnight he was telling us colors and calling people by name, although in his stage of development the name Jude (his brother) sounds like Jooba, and the word orange actually sounds like jornge. It's hilarious.

Before he could speak in words, Sam, like all tiny ones, could only speak with his emotions. Crying, laughing, a tantrum, excitedly pointing. Even as kids begin to use words, they sometimes revert back to these emotional charades to get what they want. When we can’t figure out what they want from a wild display of emotion, a phrase a lot of moms tell their kids is, “Use your words.” Tell us what you want, buddy. We can’t figure it out from what sounds like a hyena and throwing yourself on the floor. Use your words.

A couple of years ago I was kind of talking to this guy in the weird way we do now where everything is a guess as to what’s actually going on. We had been talking for a while, hung out a couple of times, texts, Snapchat, you know the drill. It came in waves and lulls on both of our parts but there was a lot of wondering involved, at least on my end. Am I bothering him? Does he like me or is he just bored or am I just an option? He likes me, right? He wouldn’t have done ____ if he didn’t. Am I crazy? These are the mental gymnastics that surround meeting someone and possibly dating them. This post on Instagram that my friend sent me just yesterday actually sums it up. It’s exhausting. 

So at some point we have to get exhausted enough to quit. At least I did. One night when I was done with the games and the guessing I ticked out a text message that said something along the lines of, “Hey, I like you and I kind of thought you might like me too. If you don’t, that’s okay, but now you can’t say you didn’t know.” Or something like that. We had a short conversation that didn’t end in my favor, but that’s okay. At least then I had the freedom to move on instead of sit in the halls of uncertainty.

We tell little kids, “Use your words,” but it’s time to start saying that to grown-ups too and maybe with more urgency. So often I have conversations with people and we're trying to guess what someone else might be thinking or feeling and, instead of asking, we fill in the blanks for that other person. We come up with a response for them instead of let them be responsible for their reaction and it stops us from moving forward or moving on in the relationship. I read one time that we don't see people as they are, we see them as we are. We assume what they must think/feel/believe and let that dictate our actions. This is true in relationships and friendships and basically everything involving humans.

I think what holds us back from using our words is mostly fear. What will they think? What will they say? We all know what we hope the other person will say. We’ve come up with the script and we’ve seen the movie play out in our heads a million times. The problem is we never get on the stage. We just rehearse it over and over again, letting it drag on, letting the questioning and the wondering keep happening until we’ve driven ourselves nearly crazy. Well, I don’t want them to think ______. I don’t want them to feel _______. We torment ourselves with these kinds of worries.

Not only is it a fear thing, it’s a control thing. If we keep the script and the emotions to ourselves, there’s no way they can hurt us with their words or respond differently than we plan. The script in our heads is working out just fine where they apologize to us/fall in love with us/make the choice we want them to make, thank you very much. Of course that’s easier. I was talking to my cousin the other day about relationships and how they require such vulnerability and she said, “I just hate having my feelings attached to something I can’t control at all.” We laughed about it, but isn’t it true? Like we’re so afraid to feel something so it’s best to just stay in limbo. Instead of the possibility of feeling something uncomfortable or unpleasant, we make ourselves busy, push things under the rug, divert, distract, avoid. And then we wonder why we’re all so hungry for real connection and relationship.

I’m still bad at this, but I’d like to think I’m getting better. I’d rather you know how I feel and think I’m crazy for it than just pretend I don’t feel it at all and hope it goes away or magically resolves on its own. Clue: it never resolves on its own. It festers and spills over into other arenas, comes out in other ways. It makes us bitter and passive aggressive and behave in ways we might not otherwise behave.

I think a lot could be solved if we all learned to use our words. It’s going to get sticky – relationships are that way. But rather than assume what someone is going to think or say or feel, let them be responsible for their response. My mom used to always tell us, “Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Worry about what you’re doing.” That’s all you can really do – your part. But at least say something. Put the words out there. Set aside your self-preservation for three seconds and say what you need to say. That’s a John Mayer song I used to listen to on repeat hoping this one boy would say something to me – I love you would have been preferable, but you know, we don’t always get what we want. 

The other side of this is that our words matter. We’ve all heard, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. Well, I heard a new version recently that resonates so much more: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can crush my soul. We all have defining moments in our lives which involve the words someone else said to us. Words that stuck. Words that pierced deep or words that healed. Words we can replay in our heads, conjuring up the specific memory - the exact sights and sounds of that particular moment. Words that brought joy and words that brought devastation. Words matter. And they might stick with someone so much longer than you think they will. So use them carefully. Use them wisely. But use them.

All that to say, I’m tired of the guessing and the wondering. If you ask me what to do in a certain situation, I’ll be the first to say, call them. Talk to them. Get them in front of your face and spill your guts. Stop filling in the blanks for them. Do your part.

It’s time to drop the script. Use your words.