Aaron and I just started watching Friday Night Lights on Hulu. It originally aired in 2006 so it's decently old now but it's basically all about a high school football team in Texas. I watched the whole series a couple years ago, but Aaron hadn’t even heard of it so I told him we could watch the first episode to see if he liked it. Fast forward a couple weeks and we’re in season two now and it’s usually Aaron who suggests we turn it on. The best part is the way he has picked up a sporadic southern accent, calls Tim Riggins “Skeeter” for I don’t know what reason, and will now randomly offer up a Riggins-like toast to whatever we’re doing: “Here’s to God, and football, and ten years from now _________.” Fill in the blank with anything. All in a southern accent, of course. I love him.

The other night we were watching the show and if you know it at all, you know that Landry Clarke is desperately in love with Tyra Collette. He has done everything he can think of to prove that he loves her, and while she has sometimes reciprocated, it is a drama series, so it’s mostly unrequited love. If it were reciprocated, viewers would get bored. We love the drama, the uncertainty, the little bit of possible chaos. It’s what keeps us coming back for more.

So Landry is in love with Tyra and one night at a party he’s talking about relationships with another friend, Julie, and Julie has a little conflicted love story of her own but she has decided to give up on hers. To which Landry says, “You don't just give up, though. If you really care about something, you don't just give up. You do whatever it takes." And it took me a fraction of a second to respond out loud to the TV, “That's the dumbest advice I’ve ever heard.”

Here’s why: I used to live on that kind of dating advice. I used to follow all the rules of putting the other person first and not giving up and holding out hope, all in the name of love. I was interested in what they liked. I supported their hobbies. I jumped at the chance to cheer them on because, you guys, you don’t give up when it’s love! And you know what happened? Nothing. I just became the desperate, pathetic girl who thought of dumb things to say in the hopes of eliciting a response – ANY response. “Dude, you were in my dream last night, how weird is that?” I wish I could go back and tell myself to sit down and put my phone away.

But when I had the slightest inkling they were interested in me, I tried to do nice things for the boys I liked – ran errands, bought presents, left surprises for them to find, wrote notes, called, texted, emailed. I tried to keep it breezy, but honestly, it was never breezy. My heart was on the line 100% of the time, and 9 times out of 10 I received little to no response. The text went unanswered, the call unreturned. The gift unacknowledged until I asked about it and then, “Oh yeah, I saw that. Thanks.” Apparently that somehow translated in my mind to, “I love it and I love you.” Hahaha I am the worst.

So this was the entirety of my twenties. If it wasn’t one boy it was another. They offered me just enough of themselves to keep me hanging on and holding out hope, enough for me to think, “When you love someone, you don’t give up on them,” even though everything about the situation was a massive red flag. I wasted time and energy and love and tears on boys who were interested in one thing and it was not my heart.

But the truth is if they don’t love you back, you can’t make them. If they don’t love you, no amount of nice gestures or bending over backwards will make them change their mind. You have to let go of the notion that you are in some kind of romantic comedy or drama series where eventually he’ll come around and notice you. He usually won’t. And if he does, you better make sure he has made a complete 180 in his attitude, his heart, and his life before you ever let him in because otherwise you’ve just re-entered the same cycle. 

The book that changed my perspective on dating was The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler. It was this book that helped me see I was wasting all of my time on guys who did not like me, did not desire to see me flourish, did not want to see me grow in the Lord and pursue what was good, but rather use me for their own gain, their own ego, their own pride. I know a lot of women who can say the same thing. After putting their whole selves – heart, body, and soul - on the line, they realized his heart was never in it.

In the book, Chandler says, “If you are in a relationship where the other person refuses to acknowledge openly his pursuit of you, delight in you... then you are not really dating. You are being played. You are caught in a game in which your heart is going to lose.”

My heart lost enough to know this is true – enough days and years of my life to tell you that it’s legit. If he’s not openly acknowledging you, delighting in you, shouting from the rooftops that he’s with you, then goodbye. You are not a secret. You are not an option. You are not a side chick. You are not a possibility. You are more precious, more important, more valuable than that. You are not a burden, you are not in the way, you are not a hindrance. You are beautiful and worthy and you do not sell yourself short.

This is your permission slip to cut ties with unrequited love. It’s not sexy or romantic or cute. It thrives on chaos and drama and you are above that. When it comes to love and possibly marriage, you’re looking for steady, reliable, reciprocated, and lasting. You want durable, not dangerous. You want secure and devoted, not distracted. If you’re holding out for someone who is showing minimal interest in you, barely reciprocating, acting like they don’t know you in public but texting you at 11 pm, then you need to remember that there are seven BILLION people in this world and you are better than waiting for that one moron to realize your worth. This is not an episode of Friday Night Lights. This is your life.

Later in the book, Chandler writes,

“Those of you who are pursuing a dating relationship right now, if your attraction has given way to a relationship that’s making you miserable, a relationship that’s emotionally exhausting and spiritually compromised, a relationship that’s a culmination of mixed signals and tears and confusion, I think you ought to get out. If the relationship is wearying, life sucking, or lacks clarity and intention, or if someone is just playing games with you, I would hit the brakes hard. The harsh reality is that behavior in these kinds of relationships doesn’t get better over time; it gets worse. Familiarity will not breed better behavior.”

That might sting a little bit, but it's true. If it starts out bad or goes bad over time to where you’re justifying his/her bad behavior to the people who know you best, I would also advise you to take a step back. Dating should be fun, not confusing! It should be open and honest. He should be available and kind and seeking your best interests. He should want to spend time with you. And listen, I'm not trying to verbally beat up the guys I pursued. I have to believe we're all doing the best we can with what we know and they just didn't know any better. Neither did I and I was part of the problem. 

I’m about to step down from this soapbox, but before I do, let me just acknowledge that not all guys are like this. Some girls are like this and that’s a problem of equal proportion. Relationships require reciprocity on both ends. Commitment on both ends. While it might seem romantic for Landry to hang on to Tyra and hold out hopes for her, he’s wasting his time and his life and his heart. Are there times when it works out? Sure. But that’s usually when there’s a writer who is creating fiction for entertainment purposes. One of the reasons I knew it was finally right with Aaron is because he called when he said he would. He responded to my texts. He initiated. He pursued. He was interested and showed it. He asked what I liked or wanted to do and found ways to make it happen. No drama. No confusion. Because while unrequited love might be entertaining in a TV show or a book or make a catchy song (looking at you, Taylor Swift), it's not for your heart. 

So start praying against drama. This has been really helpful for me recently in other areas of my life, but it's even more important here. Pray that you would not seek it out or encourage it in your relationships. Ask for eyes to see where you might be allowing chaos to thrive and that you might be able to discern where and how it can be removed. Maybe that means walking away from a relationship. Maybe that means setting the right boundaries before you begin the next one. I know for sure that it means rehearsing the truth about your infinite, eternal worth.

Listen, we're not quitting the show over one comment by Landry Clarke. It's a great show. I love the relationship between Coach Taylor and his wife. There are little truths tucked into the show in some places and humor in others. But I will try to stop taking it so seriously to the point where I write ridiculously long posts about it. I just figured if I believed that lie for so long, someone else might be hanging on to it as well. "When you care about someone, you don't give up," except you do - you walk away when they're treating you like dirt because you are better than that. And I want better for you. I believe better for you. Believe it for yourself. 

Oh, and Texas forever. 


Not long ago I was doing some thinking in the shower, you know, where all the best thinking happens, and I decided that I should probably smile more. I don't even really know where the thought came from or why, but I do know that for the first time in my life I’m generally happy and content, so I should really exercise my face muscles more often. The corners of my mouth naturally turn down when it’s just sitting there minding its own business, but I got convicted recently that if I’ve got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart, then maybe I should actually let my face surely show it.

So I had been mulling that around for a couple of days when I had an interaction with a male co-worker. It was a pleasant exchange – polite, professional. We talked briefly about a project I was working on and I was given some instructions and then he left. And when he left I thought, “Gosh, I didn’t smile at all.” I could have at least looked happy about the project or given some indication that I wasn't mad/annoyed/upset. Why don’t I smile more often? Why don’t I smile readily and happily and automatically?

Just over two years ago now an article was published by The Huffington Post about women and this thing they do that men aren’t usually aware of and perhaps women aren’t aware they do it. I still remember it because it was so striking. It said,

We have all learned, either by instinct or by trial and error, how to minimize a situation that makes us uncomfortable. How to avoid angering a man or endangering ourselves. We have all, on many occasions, ignored an offensive comment. We’ve all laughed off an inappropriate come-on. We’ve all swallowed our anger when being belittled or condescended to… We learn at a young age how to do this. We didn’t put a name or label to it. We didn’t even consider that other girls were doing the same thing. But we were teaching ourselves, mastering the art of de-escalation. Learning by way of observation and quick risk assessment what our reactions should and shouldn’t be.

“Learning by… quick risk assessment what our reactions should and shouldn’t be.” Yes! We think to ourselves, 'How should I react right now? What is this person going to think? How do I keep this short and to the point?' And when it gets uncomfortable we minimize our situations. We de-escalate. We think, 'What can I say to get out of this in the least confrontational/awkward way possible? How do I back away from this politely so as not to be seen as rude?' I read this article and thought, “Oh, dang. I have done this for as long as I can remember.” And I realized in thinking through my interaction with my coworker that this is also the reason I’m slow to smile. Granted, he did not make me uncomfortable. He did not make me feel anything at all. But I’ve trained myself to hold back often enough that it comes more natural than smiling.

I don’t smile that often because I don’t want to give someone the wrong idea. Maybe this sounds conceited to you, but that is not my heart. I don’t think every man I interact with is interested in me. But too many of the wrong ones have been. Too often I had people tell me I was flirting with someone who I had no intention of flirting with because, apparently, I was really smiley and laughing too much. Too often I had men pursue me because they thought I was flirting when I wasn’t, I was just trying to be nice. Too often I had inappropriate comments made to me and about me because of the way I look. Too often I had other women worried that I was flirting with their man because I was smiling and joking around, so they would cut me down or make fun of me in front of others. Too often I had male authority figures in my life make comments to me that were outrageously inappropriate.

When something happens too often, when you sense a pattern, you either consciously or unconsciously learn how to deal with it. I think this is where all my smiles got lost. This happened so often in my late teens and twenties that I eventually made myself smaller so as not to seem like I was “too much” or “too flirty.” A couple of years ago a friend said that I carry myself with a general attitude of, “Nothing to see here.” But I think I just learned to become less – to go out of my way to make everyone else feel comfortable so that I don’t seem imposing or intimidating or flirting, especially with a man that was never even on my radar. Don’t smile. Don’t give him the wrong idea. Don’t give her the wrong idea. Become less. Shrink. Melt away if you can. Is it possible to vaporize at this moment? I wish. I think a lot of us have done this - become bearers of the message, “Nothing to see here.”

The article went on to say that when we’ve encountered a situation where we know we must de-escalate, “We go through a quick mental checklist. Does he seem volatile, angry? Are there other people around? Does he seem reasonable and is just trying to be funny, albeit clueless? Will saying something impact my school/job/reputation? In a matter of seconds we determine whether we will say something or let it slide. Whether we’ll call him out or turn the other way, smile politely or pretend that we didn’t hear/see/feel it.”

A few other things on my mental checklist are, “How well do I know this person?” “How will other people perceive this interaction?” And all of this happens within a flicker of a second. In the span of one awkward comment or one up and down look in your direction. But the problem with de-escalation is we're usually trying to be nice. 

I was raised to be a nice person. Say please and thank you. Listen. Obey. Respect authority. Put others before yourself. So I guess I just always felt like I had to be polite - especially to authority figures. Like that article says, we learn to “play along to get along.” Don’t cause a scene. Don’t be a problem. Be nice. So I never wanted to start a fuss but I’ve learned, more often than not, I should have started a fuss. And sometimes you don’t have to be polite. Sometimes you don’t have to put others first. Sometimes you can just say, “You know what, you need to run along. And don’t talk to me like that.” I look back on the whole 33 years of my life and there are so many times I should have stood up for myself, respected myself just a LITTLE bit and said, “Don’t talk to me like that.” “Don’t treat me like that.” In fact, the one time I did snap back and say that, I got fired. I told my man-child of a boss, “Don’t talk to me like that,” and a couple of days later, he fired me. But I didn’t care then and I don’t care now. I maybe could have said it with a little bit more tact, but for once in my life I stood up for myself and it felt great.

Maybe you've never felt the need to de-escalate a situation, but have you ever been asked to smile? Because that's a prime example. I have been asked/told this so many times. “You should smile more.” “You look prettier when you’re smiling.” And this has happened in all sorts of arenas – work, church, out with friends – but many times it happens with strangers – at the checkout of the grocery store, or even just walking by someone on the street. And in my heart my reaction is always, 'Are you kidding me right now?' First of all, I don’t even know you. Second of all, how do you know what happened to me that day? What if my mom died or something? Should I be smiling then? And third of all, what if we’ve all tucked our smiles away because we don’t want you to think we’re flirting? We don’t want you to come talk to us. We don’t want you to approach so we’re putting out approximately zero vibe on purpose. But, you know, we want to be nice. So we usually smile.

I’m walking a fine line here. I am aware of this. Like even as I type this I feel like I’ll get pushback from people who will say, “Wow, calm down. They’re just trying to make conversation.” Sure, but there are plenty of people who know how to do this without demanding something of me. Maybe something like, “How’s your day?”

And listen, I am not bashing men. Hear me say this: not all men are like this. Say it out loud to yourself if you have to: Not. All. Men. Are. Like. This. I have so many amazing examples in my life of men who take their calling seriously and show honor and respect to women in beautiful ways. But I also know that not all of us have the same experience. Maybe the men in your life have been horrible to you. Maybe you’ve had nothing but terrible interactions – men with wicked hearts who took advantage of you, hurt you, betrayed you. I know this. I know you’re out there. At times, I have been in that position. So I’m praying right this minute that a man who fears the Lord would enter your life even today. That one would step up to the plate and show you what it means to honor and respect you as a woman.

Because so many women have been put in these uncomfortable situations, or because they feel like they have to push back doubly hard against wicked men, our culture has created the idea that “The future is female.” I get the underlying feeling it’s trying to promote so don’t @ me, but I find it to be a little vapid because if we’re to have a shot at a future at all the fact is we need men. The future is men and women working together, living together, going to school and work and church together, cooperating, sharing, respecting and honoring one another. The future is strong women and good men. Our men are smart and endearing and funny and helpful and brave and we need them! We just need more of them to step up and be men, not weak little boys who take a rejection as a reason to whine and a girl not smiling at them as a personal affront. So yes and amen, let’s raise strong girls who are brave enough to say, “Don’t talk to me like that.” But let’s also raise good men who wouldn’t even think of talking to her like that in the first place.

I just finished reading Anna Kendrick's book, Scrappy Little Nobody. She's the actress from all the Pitch Perfect movies and I thought it would be a funny book but it's not really that funny. Anyway, the part I appreciated about it is when she talks about being nice. Especially as girls, we're raised to want to be seen as nice and,

"Lest we be besmirched with that most damning label (being called "difficult"), it feels imperative that we strive for "nice." When I'm put in an uncomfortable position or when someone asks something of me that I feel borders on taking advantage, the threat of "so nice" being snatched away from me hangs in the air. Should I stand my ground, or be a doormat? How many concessions would I have to make, how much crap would I have to swallow to stay a "nice girl"? ... Nice is different than good. Do you need to do whatever you're told to be a nice person? Maybe. Do you need to do whatever you're told to be a good person? Of course not! Man, woman, personal, professional - some people have a skill for persuading you the best thing you can be is obedient... [But] I gave up on being nice. I started putting more value on other qualities instead: passion, bravery, intelligence, practicality, humor, patience, fairness, sensitivity."

Amen. Let's stop worrying about being nice. Let's be wise, humble, compassionate, smart. But nice doesn't need to hold so much value.

I really do still feel like I should smile more, but not because I'm still striving for nice. I want to care less if you think I'm nice and more about being a ferocious woman of God, who cares deeply for people. I want to be steady and brave. I want to show mercy and grace. Let's raise brave girls who aren't afraid to stand up for themselves and kind boys who grow up to be men who don't put women in uncomfortable situations where they have to decide how to de-escalate. Listen, I get it, the waters of our current culture are murky. And I'm not a parent so I'm not even going to give you advice on how to raise your kids to be this way. But the fact is, we need each other, and the only way into the future is together. 

Blueberries or strawberries?

Lately when I sit down to write something I hear all the people in my head, the critics, the loudmouths, the ones who are just out to make fun, I hear them in my head saying, “Oh, here she goes again with her advice and stories about God.” “Now she thinks she knows everything, now that she’s engaged.” “Who does she think she is?” It’s so easy to be critical, isn’t it? Maybe none of you are saying that and I’m just telling myself an untrue story based on lies, but I think all creative people everywhere who dare to put their ideas out into the world – I think we all battle this same obnoxious voice in our heads.

But, in case you are that voice – in case you have that opinion about me – here’s the truth: I don’t think I know everything and I’m not pretending to know everything, but I do know some things and I know them because I’ve been through them. I just want you to learn from my ridiculous mistakes. I know that I wish someone would have taken me by the shoulders and said, “HEY, WAKE UP!” I know that I can look at my life right now and wish I had done some things differently – not wasted so much time on things that didn’t matter, not given myself away in many ways. So I don’t know everything but I do know a few things. I guess I could just start a blog series titled, “Things I Wish I Knew.”

Here’s one of them:

I wish I would have had a little more self-respect in the game and knew myself just a little bit better. I was watching an Instagram story from Sydney Poulton a couple of weeks ago and she was talking about how she wishes she could go back and have a little more self-respect in this one key situation where she felt she acted like a doormat. And I watched that and thought, “Same, girl. Preach.” I had little to no self-respect in high school or college or even until about three or four years ago, honestly. I was the doormat. The people-pleaser. The “I’ll-just-have-what-you’re-having” kind of girl so that I didn’t upset anyone or rock the boat in any way. I didn’t have favorites. I didn’t stand up for myself. I didn’t think I deserved good things. And that drove the way I acted with other people, how I acted in relationships, and it informed my general outlook on life. 

Several years ago I read this book called When Wallflowers Dance and you might think that’s a silly title but it’s about learning to be confident and if anyone needed a heavy dose of confidence, it was me. This part from chapter one has stuck out to me for years:

“Blueberries or strawberries?”
“Excuse me?”
“Which would you like, blueberries or strawberries?”
“I don’t know. Whatever you think.”
“It doesn’t matter what I think. Choose what you like.”
“I don’t know what I like.”

I was thirty-eight. A grown woman with half a lifetime of experience. Fairly educated and organized. But I couldn’t choose between blueberries or strawberries for dessert at a friend’s dinner party. We laughed off my indecision, and I sat at the table watching my girlfriend serve me a little of both, wondering, ‘Why did that just cause me stress? Why don’t I know what I like?’... It wasn’t just that I couldn’t make a decision about dessert; I began to realize that I really didn’t know anything about me at all. I had no preferences. No top fives. No particular likes or dislikes… I realized I always chose what I thought would make someone else happy.

Finally someone put into words what I was feeling. I read that and thought, “What do I even like? Who am I?” So I sat down and started a list of the things I liked and the things that were truly me and not just a reflection of what someone else liked or what they wanted. 

Not too long ago I had a moment similar to the one in the book. A friend of mine had a baby and I thought, “What could I just pop over there to surprise her with?” But I knew right away that this sweet friend loved popcorn, she loved cinnamon ice cream, and she loved putting Cinnamon Toast Crunch on top of that ice cream. I knew she liked tea. I knew she liked flowers. I knew what to bring to her because she wasn’t afraid to put a stake in the ground on who she was and what she liked and just be that person. She knew how to say, “No, I don’t like that.” Or, “Oh, that is my favorite!” I thought, “What would someone say about me?” I didn’t know! But I wanted to be a person with favorites, with likes and dislikes, with things that were truly me. I wanted to stop letting other people make decisions for me. It’s called an opinion. And it’s okay to have one.

I think this is a newer revelation for me because I thought I always had to be nice.  I was raised to get along with everyone. I was raised to follow the rules and obey. I didn’t ask questions – I did what I was told. Pile on top of that some misunderstood Christian principles like, “Love your neighbor” and “Always put those you love first,” and I was just a wreck of a twenty-something trying to please my way into getting a small scrap of love in return. Because not knowing who I was led me to being a doormat in relationships. I wanted to be loved and instead I got taken advantage of repeatedly and wickedly. I was putting people first because I loved them, meanwhile they did nothing to show they even had an ounce of love for me. I was being nice to people who did not in any way deserve my niceness or my respect. Sure, put that guy you love first, but if you find that he is continually putting you second, fifth, last, then he loses his position with you also. Oh my gosh, how many times I bent over backwards, contorted my will to fit, "Put those you love first," while he blatantly loved everyone but me. And you might think, ‘Gosh, Lyndi, did you have any dignity?’ No, because I wanted to get married more than anything else and I put myself as a sacrifice on that alter over and over and over again. Listen, treat others how you want to be treated, sure, but at some point you have to also respect yourself enough not to be their doormat forever. If there’s no reciprocation in that love, you need to reevaluate the relationship and your necessity to keep it alive.

Ladies, I think a lot of times we get into this deep sinkhole of wanting to be chosen by that cute boy we like, but goodnight, choose yourself first. Don’t let him use you. Don’t let him come and go as he pleases – popping in and out of your life at will. Don’t let him. If that’s happening now, put an end to it. You are better than that. Not one time has Aaron ever made me question his intentions, his feelings toward me, his desire to be in my life. Not one time did I feel like he was playing a game with my heart. The right relationship will not be a guessing game of, “Does he or doesn’t he?” Does he like me? Is he seeing someone else? Is he telling me the truth? Does he want to spend time with me? No. You will ask yourself none of these question in the right relationship. None of them. If you’re asking yourself these questions now, it is the reddest of red flags and I would urge you to end it. The same principle applies in other areas - especially those where you find yourself just trying to be nice to the extent that you are not even respecting yourself anymore. Sometimes it's okay to not be nice! 

All of this is really about boundaries. Knowing your likes and your dislikes is a boundary issue. Knowing who you are and not letting others take away from you is a boundary issue. Knowing what you’ll accept and not accept in a relationship is a boundary issue. Self-respect is a boundary issue. I had no boundaries. I existed for other people to take what they wanted and be who they needed until I felt like a used up pile of bones. But boundaries are a good thing – in work, at home, at school, in relationships. Boundaries are a statement about where you begin and someone else ends. And you know what I learned? Something this heart that just wanted to be nice could really fall in love with: setting boundaries is a NICE THING TO DO. It might not seem nice at the start. The people you set boundaries with might not like it at first. But setting boundaries will make you so much healthier and happier in the long game. Setting boundaries will allow you to be a steady, confident person who people can actually rely on and trust. So understand your boundaries and decide what is okay and what’s not okay.

I know a lot more about myself these days. I don’t like olives. I want a golden retriever someday. I like to write. I don’t like Chinese food or ramen or pho (I mean, what even is that?). I like to travel but don't particularly enjoy flying. I have a fear of sinkholes.

Who are you? Do you know yourself well? Have you asked God who he created you to be? Do you know where you stand on strawberries or blueberries? Listen, that seems so trivial but I think it’s indicative of a larger issue. Don’t be afraid to have opinions. You are not just here to please others and make sure that they are comfortable and happy. You’re here to please God. He made you unique and gifted and talented and you are not called to shy away from who you are in him but lean into it and glorify him through it.

That’s what I wish I knew then. Thankful to be learning it now.


A helpful resource in learning what it means to have boundaries in our lives is this book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.


After I voted in the election last month, I posted this on Facebook:

So we vote today and then we move onward and forward. Don’t let the choice of your neighbor or your coworker or your best friend change the way you view them. I’ve heard so often, “If you vote for _____, then I’ll really know what to think about you.” Believe today instead that everyone is making the wisest decision for themselves based on what they know and the experiences they have had that have shaped their beliefs. Believe instead that who your neighbor and your coworker and your best friend are to you on any other Tuesday is who they really are and the decision they make on the ballot is simply that – one decision. We are all doing the best we can with what we know and you are not better or smarter or more right for choosing a specific candidate. Don’t let today hold more weight than it needs to and don’t let today’s outcome drive you to despair. Today we vote and tomorrow we go on, continuing to live the way we have always been called – loving God and loving others and drawing people into community and life together.

I wrote it because of all the fearful rhetoric swirling around this election. I will admit there were times in the weeks and months leading up to it all that I felt a little bit anxious. I was vocal back in October about not being a fan of either candidate and that’s still the truth. But now that we have our answer to over a year of mud-slinging and fact-checking, it seems the world really only believed we could move onward and forward with Mrs. Clinton as president-elect, as evidenced by the level of mourning, lamenting, and gnashing of teeth happening on every social media front since the winner was announced. I wrote those sentiments fully believing that our nation would elect its first woman president, even though she would not receive my vote. And even in the face of that I still believed we would and could move onward and forward. 

But the news is still overflowing with despair and defeat. Granted, I'm only 32, but it seems people are crying and scared and lost in a way that I have never seen post-election. In an interview she did with Oprah, Michelle Obama said what we are feeling right now, this is the feeling of having no hope. Eeeek! Punch me in the heart! Is that what everyone is feeling? Maybe. But what is most astonishing to me is the number of Christians who appear to be feeling the same way and I just have to say, what are you doing? Did you have false hope in a presidential candidate? Did you push all your chips in where they didn't belong? Because that’s the only reason for this level of heartsickness. I can understand if the person who held the office was our only hope, but we know better! At least I hope we do. 

I was talking to Aaron about this and we both came around to the conclusion that if Donald Trump is the worst President we’ve ever had, it will still be okay. God knew this was the outcome before we did. He is not panicked this morning. He is not waking up to a chaotic world and wondering how it happened. He sees the next four years and the next four after that on into eternity and still breathes hope. It's like this illustration I heard recently:

Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, would say that to be human is to have your face pushed up against a stained glass window. You see some color, but you see a lot of broken glass. It is only given to God and those who are with him to be back far enough to see the whole window.

There is some reason for this election outcome, we just can't see the whole window. But maybe the reason is that this is our chance to really be the Church we’re called to be. What if this is our time to shine in the face of darkness? Like Queen Esther, what if we're here for such a time as this? The only thing we can do now is to pray for our President-elect, for his family, and for the people he surrounds himself with as he steps into a very weighty role. The only thing we can do is love our neighbors harder, make sure they know that we are behind them and for them and will do what we can to make sure that they feel included. The Church can and should step into that space. This is our calling. 

The election is behind us (can I get a thousand amens?) and now we go back to our communities and love well the people who are around us, working with us, living next to us. I think it’s easy to say that – to just love them. Everyone can get behind that sentiment. Love, love, love. But loving doesn’t mean agreeing. It means disagreeing and still choosing to come to the table. It means taking opposing views and still going in for the hug and saying, “You belong.” I was listening to a podcast and he was talking about how we don’t really understand the gospel until we can get in community with people we don’t agree with, get offended, and learn to give and receive forgiveness. This is the heart of what we believe. So in the face of much disagreement and division, there is no better time to look at our neighbors and say, “We’re in this together.” Get to know them. Build community with them. Stop reading the news and start listening to the stories of your neighbors. Find ways to get outside yourself and help others. Offer the hope weary souls are so desperately hungry to find.

I’m not fearful or worried about the results of the election because I think we now have a unique opportunity to step into the tender places and be love and light and bridge the gaps that have become so deep over the last 18 months. We might feel broken and we might feel defeated, but we do not despair and we do not add to the noise because we know that it is in the broken and the hurting places that we can point toward wholeness and healing. We know the way. Stop acting like we’re all lost together. Christian, I want to look you in the eyes and remind you that we’re not lost. Do you know this? Did you forget? Honestly, what hope do we have to offer if we’re reeling in much the same way as someone who really has no hope?

I just finished reading this super great book called Boundaries and this should be required reading on the syllabus for human life because I think we're all so guilty of not having healthy boundaries within our relationships, myself included. So I'm personally working hard on this. But one of the things the authors point out is the difference between a responsibility for someone and a responsibility to someone. As the Church, we have a responsibility to step into the sad and broken places and shout from the top of our lungs, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! We have a high calling to help people see the only safe place for their hope - the same place it was all along. How fitting for this time of year - the time when our very Hope came down to earth. Let's remember the words of our Christmas carols when we sing, A thrill of hope / The weary world rejoices. Do you know that we still have a reason to rejoice?

Rather than fear that our next president will ignite the end of all things on his very first day, rather than dwell on what may or may not happen, gather your people and speak truth and hope over them in fresh ways - preach it to yourself every morning. He is not our hope. The United States of America is not our hope. We move forward knowing that even if things turn awful and all the worst predictions come true, we do so with courage and a steadfast hope that these light and momentary afflictions are just that - light and momentary.

A couple of years ago now I journaled the words, “Jesus, be big!” Gosh, can that be our prayer today and tomorrow and into the next years? Be big today! Show up in new and significant ways. Be big and overcome the division, one conversation, one meal, one hug at a time. Be big in our hearts and quell the fear that seems to be running rampant. Be big in our world and help us to step into hurt places. Help us to remember we have hope to offer a weary world. You are our hope, now, at Christmas, on Inauguration Day, and always. 


P.S. It has been a couple of days now since this post and I would like to add that I hope you don't read this as a call to inaction. It is most certainly not. If, in the coming years, we have reason to protest on behalf of ourselves or our brothers and sisters because our liberties are being denied, then I will be the first to say that we should respond. Yes and amen! But even so, our hope lies elsewhere and we must do well to remember it.

Grace and love,