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. 


If you talk to anyone who has known me over the last ten years (or more!) they would tell you that they’ve heard me say some version of this rehearsed lie:

“Yeah, I’ll get married on the 1st of Never.”

Ha! It’s true. I have proof. This is a text exchange I just had recently with a friend of mine:

Her text actualIy made me laugh because I was already in the middle of writing this post. Clearly I was like a broken record when it came to dating and marriage. I basically told anyone who would listen: “I’m never getting married.” “I’ll probably never have a husband.” "Just waiting to find that blind, deaf guy who wants to date me."  I was constantly reminding myself and others that there was no guarantee this would happen for me - trying to make sure my hopes didn’t get up too high. Maybe you know someone like this. Maybe you are this person, repeating the same stale phrases. But, do you know what I was doing? Self-protecting. Shielding my heart because, you know, Proverbs says to, “Guard your heart,” and they told me to do that a lot growing up in youth group. What would it need protection from more than the devastating heartbreak I felt over being single?

I used to tell myself I wasn’t getting married because I was cushioning the blow to my own self. If I never did get married then at least people wouldn’t feel bad for me, they’d just say, “Well, she always knew she wouldn’t. I guess she was right.” Instead of something like, “I wonder why she’s not married?” “She must really suck for no one to want to date her.” “I can’t believe she’s still alone.” I didn’t want people to pity me and I didn’t want them to talk bad about me - especially my exes. Gosh, how quickly they all moved on with their lives and got married while there I was, still alone, feeling like a loser.

But the problem is, when you tell yourself something for too long, you start to believe it and you start to live it out in different, perhaps subconscious, ways. Like I started to embrace my "single forever" identity.  I convinced myself I wasn't worth dating, which caused me to never seek anyone out, even if I liked them. Then I scoffed at anyone who showed the slightest interest, because, see reason #1, I wasn't worth dating and I knew they'd figure that out soon enough. Super fun and helpful to your emotional well-being, right? I know.

Another way to deal with disappointment in one area of life is to find other areas you can control. Like you can work like crazy to have the perfect house. You can be the perfect friend. You can be the perfect daughter/sister/volunteer/employee because at least you can control that aspect of your life. That’s what I found myself doing. I would grip tightly to control some other area because I knew this one wasn’t happening for me and I felt so useless and rejected. Gosh, this smells an awful lot like pride.

Remember a couple of years ago when the book The Secret was a really big deal? (And by a couple of years, I mean 11 because I just looked it up, and by "a really big deal" I mean I think Oprah latched on to it, so whatever.) I never read it but from what I hear it talks about the law of attraction or “like attracts like.” According to the easiest of Wikipedia searches,

The Secret posits that the law of attraction is a natural law which determines the complete order of the universe and of our personal lives through the process of "like attracts like". The author claims that as we think and feel, a corresponding frequency is sent out into the universe which attracts back to us events and circumstances on that same frequency. For example, if a person thinks angry thoughts and feels angry, the author claims that said person will attract back events and circumstances that cause them to feel more anger. Conversely, if the person thinks and feels positively, they will attract back positive events and circumstances.

In this case, my negative attitude about dating was attracting negativity. It left me sitting in complacency and discontentment and actually embracing my identity as "single" even though I actively hated it. Have you ever heard that phrase, "Your vibe attracts your tribe"? Unhealthy people attract unhealthy people. Negativity attracts negativity. To be clear, I think this whole idea of sending frequencies into the universe leaves a glaring God-sized hole in what ultimately determines the path for your life, but I still believe there is some legitimacy to the thought. When I let go of my assertion that I would never get married, when I focused on other things, got involved in other areas, really focused on obedience to God in different areas of my life – my general attitude about life changed and I stopped focusing on what I didn’t have. And that’s precisely when Aaron walked into my life.

I’m not saying this is a magic bullet. I’m not saying that you’re going to find health, wealth and happiness if you just think positive thoughts as often as possible. If you’re positive every single day, bad, awful, wicked things might still happen in your life. And that is the result of living in a broken world. But I can tell you that positivity and a grateful heart will at least help the level of joy you experience in your day to day. I can tell you that finding other areas of your life to focus on - other ways you can serve and love and give back - will cause you to be less concerned with and have less time for self-protecting.

So if you find yourself saying, "I'm never getting married" or any other "never" phrase in an effort to self-protect, please stop. Even if you're joking. Don't say it. Stop yourself from rehearsing those lines. Focus on a better dream and tell yourself the stuff you WILL do. I will buy a house. I will have a baby. I will join that group. I will start that company. I will start working out. I will get married. I will finish school. I will ____.  That's a much better use of your time. I know it’s hard to hope in the midst of loneliness. I know it’s hard to get your hopes up only to have them come crashing to the ground over and over again. I know that it’s hard to pray for good things when it seems you’ve only been given a double helping of heartbreak. But find people who will hope for you. Find the people who will lift up your prayers when you can’t. 

I just don’t want you to grow weary. I know weary well. But I heard the verse again last week in a sermon I was listening to from Levi Lusko. Do not "grow weary in doing good..."  Don't grow weary in waiting for your dreams. Don’t grow weary. I read a quote from Elisabeth Elliott that said, “God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.” Yowza! I know I always felt like I knew what I needed and I knew how I felt and, “Come on, God! Don’t you think it’s my turn now?” But instead, we need to find some better dreams. Find some truths we can rehearse. Put them on sticky notes in your car, on your bathroom mirror if you need to – tell yourself the things you’re going to do instead the things you will never do. Tell your friends to help you remember.

I want to speak confidently of what I know my God can provide. I want to be sure of his faithfulness and speak it with conviction rather than shrink back in self-protection. I want to believe for certain that whatever comes will be exactly what I need and at the most perfect time. He knows all your dreams and desires and plans and wishes and hopes. He put them there as he carefully fashioned your very heart. So stop doubting and start declaring. Stop doubling down on what you’ll "never" have and start proclaiming the truth that he will provide ALL that you need. Not all that you want, but all that you need and I find that to be much more comforting than someone who gives me all that I want because my wants change by the hour.

I wish I would have shut up about never getting married because here I am about to get married.  And now I feel like my tantrums and cries over singleness were so silly. I know they weren’t – I know God doesn’t feel that way either. But they feel kind of dumb now in light of all that has happened in the last year. So I’m sorry if you heard me at any point in my life say, “I’m never getting married.” It was birthed out of a tightly-held insecurity that maybe I wasn’t worth marrying. And that was something I needed to deal with in my own heart. Maybe you do, too. What are you telling yourself you won’t do and why? What’s the reason for not believing he will provide at exactly the right time? How are you holding yourself back from all that God has for you?

He'll provide all you need. If you don't have it yet - you don't need it yet. Go boldly into the world today believing that truth over any lie.


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.