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. 

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.


In the days following my last post about our engagement, Aaron and I both received messages saying congratulations and how sweet our story is and how it reads like some kind of fairytale. I’ll be honest – I agree! Ha! It’s been crazy beautiful, super exciting, the gushiest kind of love. We have had some of the very sweetest moments together and it’s easy to share those with you. But as Aaron and I talked in the days following, we were both really quick to want to tell people that it hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies and constant bliss. I'm not trying to squash this moment of joy, but I want to tell the truth of how this current sweetness was birthed out of gritty, dirt-under-our-nails kind of heart work.

Several months ago, Aaron and I came to a crossroad as we found there were things we had been keeping from each other. Certainly as we began talking back in January and got to know each other better, we revealed little by little the intimate details about ourselves, choices we had made, grief we lived through. As a friend wrote on Facebook the other day, as adults at 29 and 32, Aaron and I have seen some things. It's likely you have too. We’ve lived some things. Hard things. Great things. All the things in between. And intimate relationship requires - demands - honesty and openness and living in the light. But there were pieces of our individual stories that we had still held back from each other.

Have you ever had that experience where a thought or an idea or a phrase just keeps coming up in different circumstances with different people? I feel like those are the things we really need to pay attention to and see if there's anything to be learned because there’s usually a reason it keeps coming up. There’s a reason you can’t seem to escape it. A few months ago, Aaron and I started talking a lot more about the idea of being fully known and fully loved. It came up in one of our conversations and then came up in the book I was reading and came up in the sermon I listened to and came up again with Aaron later. After one of our first conversations on the topic I even journaled, “I feel like God is trying to teach me something here and I want to be listening.”

I realized shortly that I had those feelings for a reason. I was being prompted and pushed and constantly pursued by God to rip the lid off the box I had so securely nailed shut with all the parts of me I didn’t want anyone to see. The one where I had staple-gunned the edges just to be sure they were safe and hidden. I felt God was quietly asking me to drag that one out of the back of the closet and dump it out all over the floor in front of Aaron.

Maybe we all fear that moment. There’s the one thing you’ve kept safe in your heart. One thing you don’t want to tell anyone. One thing you’re worried about other people finding out. You think that if they know, they won’t love you. If they know, they’ll run away. If they know, then you’re out there on your own and you’ve done the final thing to tip the scales. Or maybe it’s not one thing, maybe it’s a lot of things, and they’ve compounded over the years, adding more and more to the top of your pile so the lid doesn’t even shut on your box anymore. Maybe the only thing people know about you is the façade you’ve presented – the one you want them to know and believe more than anything. It’s the version of you that you think would be best and safest and least messy for all involved because if they knew that you really thought ______ or did _______ or believed ________, then surely, surely there would be no one left by your side.

I realized over the last several months that I’ve never been fully known. I’ve never told someone all there is to know about the darkness of my heart and the places that still throb from wounding. I’ve never been fully honest with one single person about the things that really messed me up in my thinking about God and authority and sex and relationships. No one really knew the ways in which my heart was broken and then put back together piecemeal and jagged and no longer naive. I don’t know if I even knew the extent of it all. So when I decided to empty this little treasure trove of secrets on the floor and I was left feeling like a pile of bones and I realized what God was teaching me about being known and loved, it was like this tidal wave of grief and pain but also sweet relief.

While we looked at my junk, I told Aaron, “I think I’m the only one who is a wreck of a person.” Of course he laughed at me and said that was ridiculous. “Maybe other people are good hiders, too,” he said. Maybe they are - maybe we all are. But sweet Aaron, he looked at the junk dumped on the floor, then sat on the floor next to me and said, “I love you.”

I don’t know what I thought relationships were or how these bonds were formed but I can tell you that through the mess and the sorting of it all, we forged a bond that wasn’t there previously. There was no capacity in which it could form because our boxes sat stacked between us like this leaning tower of Jenga pieces and while we tried to reach around it and caught sight of each other in small glimpses, like peering through the peephole of a door, it was nothing like the moment of knocking the tower over and staring at each other, vulnerable and exposed, and saying, “Well, here it is.” We broke down the barriers between each other, between us and God, and between what we thought to be true all these years and what’s really true about who we are and where we stand.

What’s in the box? Different things for different people. Vices and addictions. Secrets and shame and self-hate. Sin and brokenness. Lies we’ve heard from others and lies we tell ourselves on repeat. Versions of the person we were and versions of the person we want to be but aren’t. All the ways we’ve held ourselves captive to guilt and rehearsed the reasons we are unworthy. God has been slowly chipping away at my heart over the last several years, trying desperately to help me to understand who I am and what I’m worth, meanwhile I’ve done a bang up job of not listening and putting my fingers in my ears like I do when I’m watching a scary movie. But when you’re engaged in real relationship, when you feel safe and cared for and heard, there will be a time when you must lay bare all the ways you’re scared and ashamed and the ways you’ve been running reckless for years. Ann Voskamp said in a blog post recently, “Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” And in those safe places, with that one safe person you have or the small tribe of people you know who can speak to you fluent in the language of grace and truth, let them shower you with a real love that is only possible once you’re fully known.

In the midst of the undoing, of untangling some of the knots we had tied successively in the rope of our lives over the years, Aaron shared some music with me from a friend he met on a missions trip to Sweden several years ago. The album will now always tell the story of that season in our relationship as I listened to it on repeat for the weeks following. In the song, Saved, the lyrics say, 

I’ve been afraid of being honest / Losing track of how I felt / And it will put you into boxes

You'll find that hiding the truth will put you in boxes - or maybe you'll just put yourself there. You’ll shove parts of yourself to the back of the closet and present a prettier version – one that you feel might be worthy of a little love. But what are you hiding? Where the places you feel unsafe and unheard and unworthy? How is that affecting you now, even when the box is closed and hidden in the back of the closet? What lies are you believing about yourself and who can speak truth into those corners of your heart?

I read the book, Wild and Free, and around the time that Aaron and I started talking about this, I got to the chapter on being fully known and fully loved (of course!) and it goes on to talk about how we don’t live in the freedom of being fully known because we learn to love our captivity like some kind of kidnap victim with Stockholm Syndrome. We know how to operate in captivity. We know what it’s like to live with the things we’ve shoved away into boxes and pretend they aren’t there. It feels safer to keep living with our wings clipped because we know how to function within those bounds. Why do we care so much for our secrets, checking on them every day and patting them on the head for being good and staying hidden, but don’t see our freedom as something to be chased after and cherished – something much more worthy of our care and attention?

The rest of the song goes like this:

I’ve been afraid of being honest /Losing track of how I felt /And it will put you into boxes /But if you’re born wild / You can’t stay there…no way… We all need to be saved / Sometimes

You can’t stay in the box. You can’t let your box of junk keep you from deep relationship with other people. You were born to be wild and free and live under a banner of light and grace. Find someone to talk to – find someone who is safe and will listen and stay when it gets messy. I can honestly tell you that nothing you could ever tell me will shock me. I absolutely believe that given the right set of circumstances, the right amount of despair or hurt or disbelief or disillusionment, we are all capable of anything. So while I might cry with you, I refuse to pull away or say, "How could you... I would never...". If we believe the gospel in any capacity, we should all try to respond this way. We should all rejoice when someone dares to drag darkness into the light. How and when you choose to do this is entirely up to you, but you do need to let someone fully know who you are and where you’ve been and let that uncovering, the dumping out of the box, let it free you from years of hurt and struggle and believing the lies that you are not worthy.

One of my favorite songs on that same album is called Faith. The lyric that makes me cry almost every time, the lyric that speaks the most truth to me right now, the one that makes me feel like we have so much to do and so little time and so much glorious life to live in the freedom that God is calling us to – the freedom that comes with being fully known and fully loved is,

What do we do with our feet on the ground when the sky's asking us to dance?

We have such precious little time to live and love and be loved. Don't squander it in hiding. Don't believe the lie that there is no redemption for you. I know that one. I know exactly how it sounds and the way it parades as truth. But, Aaron and I stepped into the light with each other and, gosh, it was like the whole earth shifted that day. It hasn't all been fairytale and we know it won't be going forward either, but we are willing to do the work it requires to live in the light of truth and join the dance and that's our only hope for you too, because honestly, that's where things have the potential to get really, really sweet.

Snail mail.

There’s something about the process of choosing thank you notes and cards that makes me excited. Maybe you're already thinking, "Process? What process?" Trust me. It's a process. There's so much to consider: it’s the font and the colors and the photo (if there is one) – the whole look of it that has to be perfect. It has to feel like me - fit my style. Some people collect shoes or coins or pogs (hey, you do you!) but I collect wrapping paper, tissue paper, and thank you notes. I always like to have something cute on hand, so I pick them up at the store now and then and before I know it I have a whole drawer full of ways to wrap up little gifts and cards.

All of this is because I love snail mail. In a world of full of text and email and staring at a screen, it's fun to receive something in the mail that you can hold in your hands, something that's not a bill or a past due notice that makes you want to have a stroke right there at the mailbox. I love to see people's handwriting – a little piece of them on the page. Handwriting is so personal, isn't it? When the only font we all operate in is our smartphone's Helvetica Neue, it’s nice to see the creativity of handwriting, pen to paper, there in front of you. Snail mail also holds to standards our digital world doesn’t quite hold anymore. You’re generally not going to find abbreviations for because or laugh out loud in a handwritten card – at least you won’t when it’s coming from me. Snail mail, the kind where you actually lick the envelope and buy a stamp and send it off, takes time and money and care that an email doesn’t. It requires that you’re not in the rush or the hurried fluster you are when you shoot off a text that says “Thx, g2g.”

My grandpa was a mailman for many, many years when mail still went to each house - when you put that person’s mail in their own little box. It think it's out of convenience for our mail carriers that most of us don’t have individual mailboxes anymore – we have these big metal squares somewhere in the middle of the suburban block that holds all the mail for the whole street. But I remember when we had our own mailbox and my dad took ours off the wooden stump it was on and painted the whole thing black except for the flag. The flag was red, for flair I guess, and maybe so the mailman could know for sure that we had mail waiting to be picked up. Remember when you had to do that - notify your mailman that you had mail to be picked up out of your box? Raise the mail flag! We've got mail in here! There was a time when you knew who your mailman was and maybe you left treats in your mailbox for them to pick up on a cold day. I don't know, but I hope you had to raise your mail flag for that kind of thing too and then when your mailman arrived thinking it was just another stack of letters, boom, a plate of sweets! Maybe people still leave gifts in their metal square of a mailbox, but the whole transaction seems to be less personal these days. With online shopping, banking, ordering, EVERYTHING, we have lost the relational aspect of a lot of life. Relationship is always the sacrifice on the altar of convenience.

Think about it: Microwaves, for example. We can warm our food up in three seconds and eat it standing at the kitchen sink, or in the car on the way to the next event because HEY! THIS IS FAST! But, what about meals at the table with your people, and the conversation that happens as you cook slowly in the kitchen? And the blessed Internet. We can look up ANYTHING really quickly and we never have to wonder or even think because we can just read it ourselves from a Google search that returns 628,000 results in .49 seconds. Do you realize you could sit at your house ALL DAY and do everything from the Internet? Order up your favorite food, buy something to wear, read the news, watch a movie, have everything delivered directly to your door and you never have to have a conversation with anyone. Ever! Such convenience! I’m not saying these things are bad. Common grace has allowed us so many wonderful things for the sake of convenience.  But, these conveniences do distract us and we now have to intentionally make space for relationships if we want to have them at all. They don't come easily in a world where we can hide behind any number of screens each day.

So, for all of these reasons, because it’s inconvenient and takes time and thought and going out of the way, mailing thank you notes and cards is my jam. It started when I was a senior in high school. There was a period of time where every week I picked out one of my friends, made them a card and stuck it in their locker. Texting didn't exist at this point (yes, I'm practically a fossil) so it wasn't unusual to get handwritten notes, but I wanted it to be separate from the notes we folded into those paper football shapes and only contained questions like, "What are we doing this weekend?"  I wanted them to know they were special to me and I was thankful for their friendship. The world is full of takers and I want to fight against that in the fiercest way possible. I don’t want to be a taker – I want to be a giver. I want people to know that they are appreciated. Maybe a friend saved a seat for you in the lunchroom. Or maybe they put you up at their house for the weekend. Maybe they drove across the city in the middle of the night to hold your hand when the boy/girl suddenly decided not to choose you or maybe you were in the depths of despair for another reason. I just think it’s important to recognize when people show up. I don't know if you realize this or not, but show up is basically the only thing I can say to you - the only thing I will say to you forever and ever. It's my theme song. Broadcast it over every channel. People need each other.

I told you about Hannah Brencher when I started my contentment challenge. We are from the same cloth I think because her whole career has been built on the mailing of letters. Well, one time she put out a request on Twitter and asked her followers to write letters to anyone who might be in the midst of heartbreak. She planned to use the letters as part of a digital project so that anyone could read them when they needed a word of encouragement. I took the time to sit down and write a letter, but then my letter never made it to Hannah or her project. So, as my own little snail mail letter to you today, in case you haven’t received a letter in a long time, or in case you don’t know just how worth it you are - if no one has appreciated you lately or you feel like the world is heavy and dark - here’s the letter I wrote to whoever might need to hear this today. I guess this kind of goes hand in hand with the last post I wrote about the importance of our words. So, here are some words for you or for someone you know and maybe they are the words a soul out there needs right now. And I encourage you this morning, on a regular Wednesday, to write a note to someone who needs it. Write a love letter. Write a thank you note. Be a giver of love in loud and intentional ways. 

Dear beloved,
Did you know that you are exactly that - beloved? It means 'treasured' + 'adored'. It means 'dearly loved' and you are just that. You are precious to so many, even though you may not feel it today. See, I have been there - in all of the ache and desperation. I've been there - in all of the tears on the bathroom floor. I've been there where the light escapes your eyes and the minutes of each day linger like their own separate eternity. I've been there in the depths of sorrow, swirling in the feelings of worthlessness and longing. But if I could shout one thing to you through that hazy fog of brokenness, it's that you are not alone. Do you hear me? Don't believe you are. Not for one second. These feelings will fade like the ocean pulls the waves back from the shore. And you will breathe again.  Crisp air in your lungs, you will live again. Hope again. Dream again. Keep fighting. Every day, it's just one second to the next. One foot in front of the other until one day you realize you're not counting the minutes any longer - you're too busy building something beautiful to care anymore for people who refuse to see what you're worth. Because what you are is BELOVED. Pure gold. Cherished with every beat of your fiery, fighting heart. You are worth every fierce second of your one beautiful life.