Sunday, September 7, 2014

The power of #yolo

Hey readers; it’s been awhile. August was a heck of a month for me. I got pretty sick, and then I went to the beach to pretend I wasn’t sick, and then I moved to Washington, D.C.

Wait, what? Washington? I'm here? Somebody pinch me.

My Washington journey began last fall, when my professor started pushing me to do this journalism program. I was scared to death. I’ve never been far from home. And politicians scare me.

But yet I’m here, one year later.

As I drove into the city limits 12 days ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The Washington Monument on my left, Capitol building to my right. Men and women in suits walking with purpose, traffic easing its way through the city.

I'm here. This is it. This is Washington.

Since my arrival, I’ve walked around the national mall, opened up a Library of Congress card and studied in the main reading room (National Treasure, anyone?), found a super great macaron and cupcake shop, and taken the bus and Metro so many times I can call myself a public transportation pro.

365 days ago, I was sitting in my room panicking about this place, hiding from the future God had planned for me. Tonight, I'm sitting on the roof of my apartment building, watching the sun set behind the Capitol building.

This place and this group of people I’m living with have already challenged me so much in such a short amount of time. My political stances have been questioned, my beliefs have been tested, and my mind is spinning in circles.

So naturally I had to have a panic attack to let it all out. And then I sat back and thought through a lot: why I’m here, what I want to do with my life, what I believe, and the list goes on. “Why is this all happening at once?” I keep asking myself.

It’s because I’m growing up. I’m away from the comfort and security of familiarity, and I have to make my own decisions.

Sometimes God places us in uncomfortable situations because He knows it's what we need more than anything.

I came here with a set plan of what my life was going to look like after college, but of course, God came in and wrecked all my plans. Surprisingly, I’m not mad about it. I mean, He knows best, right?

If you’ve hung around me long enough, you know I say “yolo” at least once every five minutes. It’s pretty much my slogan. Cheesy, right?

I normally say it to justify doing something crazy that probably won’t go well, but I’m beginning to learn just how much that annoying little phrase has impacted the decisions I’ve made. This past year I’ve learned how important it is to leave what’s comfortable, and how important it is to stretch myself and to step into new challenges every day. If I ever want to get anywhere in life, I’ve got to tear down these walls I’ve built and force myself to be uncomfortable.

So here I am, letting everything go. I haven’t the slightest clue of what I’m doing with my future, but that’s totally okay. Because God is taking me to places I can’t even imagine, and they’re going to be crazy awesome.

I'm pumped for the challenges and surprises coming my way this semester.


Monday, July 21, 2014

And so I walked.

“What if I forgave myself even though I'd done something I shouldn't have?” 
-Cheryl Strayed, Wild

This summer I've been on the hunt for a great book. I finally found one that caught my attention and kept me turning pages until the very end. It kept me on the edge of my seat, either having to put the book down to think, or having to pause in the middle of a sentence simply because I couldn't stop the tears from welling up in my eyes. The name of the book was Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.

Strayed tells the story of an adventure she went on when she was 26. She hiked the Pacific Crest trail, which stretches from California to Oregon. Strayed had decided to give up the mess of a life she had, and she devoted a summer to hiking this trail. With nothing but camping supplies and a few books, Strayed set out on a journey that would challenge her both physically and emotionally. 

On her trek, Strayed did a lot of pondering on the life she'd been creating for herself. She beat herself up for the choices she'd made: from cheating on her husband and ultimately ending her marriage, to carrying the burden of her mother's death everywhere she went. Strayed learned something: she couldn't change what she'd done, but she could certainly learn from it.

And boy I needed to hear that. I am constantly looking out the rearview mirror of my life, focusing on every little thing I've done and said. In fact, up until a couple months ago, I used to hate myself-and I reminded myself of that feeling daily. "I hate myself," I'd say with a little laugh.

I'm learning what Strayed learned when she went on this crazy expedition, only luckily it hasn't taken me an entire summer of being in the woods to figure it out. I'm learning that try as I might, I can never change the mess of a life I had not too long ago. But I can certainly decide who I am becoming. I don't have to live by the past I have; God saved me from that trash.

As simple a message this is, so many of us have a hard time really applying it to our lives. I think what has helped me most is recognizing that I can take my thoughts captive. We have power over our minds.

So to all you battered and broken out there, recognize that you don't have to live by who you were. Don't let your past cripple you, because it will only consume you completely.

I'm learning not to see my past as the person I am, but to see myself the way Christ sees me: fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm a child of The King, and so are you.

So here I am. I'm all in, stepping onto the trail; always walking forward. And I'm never looking back.

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 3:13-14

P.S.-Ever heard Paul the Apostle's story? He's got a pretty rough past, and God radically transformed his life. You should check it out: Acts 8-9

Music Mondays

Way Back When, Kodaline