Because it’s nice to be thought of sometimes

Because I really love people and am fascinated by their stories and personalities, I sometimes I listen in on their conversations that don’t necessarily directly involve me.

Especially in elevators.

One day last week, I was on my way back up to the office after lunch, and the two women in the elevator with me were talking about a little note that her husband had written her and stuck in her purse that morning without her knowing it. It was simply a quick “Go kick today’s a$*. I love you!” note, but it seemed like a really sweet gesture to me. The woman’s friend agreed and said something that stuck with me.

It’s always nice to be thought of.

This is way old, but I love these sibs of mine.

As I stepped off of the elevator, that phrase resonated with me for a bit. She’s right—it’s truly comforting to know that someone out there is thinking of you and lets you know about it. I recently had something I had to face that gave me a bit of anxiety, and the morning of that day, both my brother and sister texted me to wish me luck and to let me know that they were thinking of me and love me. It touched my heart more than they likely knew, and it helped to ease some of my worries knowing that I had their love and support from afar.

As humans, we’re pretty sensitive creatures, so the opposite is true, as well: It can hurt when people don’t think of us or don’t reach out to show us that they care. Whether it’s our friends or family members or coworkers or those for whom we have deep feelings, the individuals in our lives can impact our moods and our hearts when it feels like they don’t truly care about us simply because they aren’t investing time and energy into showing us how much we mean to them.

I was so sad when Ashley moved to Nebraska, but I’m so thankful for our weekly phone dates.

I believe that you make time for the things that you want to make time for in life, and I think that’s why it means so much to me when people reach out and show that they care—because they’re taking time to remind you that they were thinking of you. They’re taking time to remind you that it’s nice to be thought of, and they want you to feel the joy from that. They’re taking time to stop whatever they’re doing to remind you that you’re loved.

And they’re taking time to invest in you.

I know that I sometimes need to be better about this. I try to check up on people as often as I can, but I want to make sure that I’m doing more to show them that they are thought of and that they matter. It’s such a big and crazy world, and it’s easy to feel like you’re lost in the shuffle and just yet another face in the crowd.

But please remember that you’re not just anyone or anything—you are unique you, and you are valued and loved, no matter how many people remind you that they’re thinking of you.

My sister gets me.

That’s certainly one thing that I’ve had to let myself focus more on over the years, because people are not always going to reciprocate my thoughts and feelings. There have been a number of guys who haven’t felt the way I feel about them, and they didn’t exactly remind me that they were thinking of me—probably because they weren’t. And that’s OK.

Yes, it’s always nice to be thought of, but it’s also not a requirement to my identity and sufficiency.

I hope that people remind you that they’re thinking of you, and I hope that it brings a smile to your face each time. But I also hope that you find joy and an immeasurable amount of smiles in the fact that you are already loved more than you’ll ever know.

I was running on the boardwalk recently, and this guy on a bike came alongside me and said “it’s a lot easier on a bike.” I kind of laughed and said “right, sometimes. I like a challenge. Also, you’re very attractive.” And then I picked up my pace and wove through the suddenly crowded sidewalk as he got a little trapped. (So I guess it’s not always easier on a bike, huh?) The fella didn’t chase after me, and I never saw him again.

I took this after running from the guy I called attractive.

After I did that, I laughed a little because I never would have been so candid like that years ago, which led me to reflect again on the notion of being thought of by people, specifically guys in my past. I normally didn’t immediately express my feelings of attraction for them, so my little confession to the biker prompted these thoughts of how I used to place way too much emphasis on what they thought of me and how often they would text me or talk to me or whatever.

As I kept running, I kept reminding myself that none of that actually matters, and it still won’t matter with any guy in the future. My worth isn’t in those guys or their levels of interest. Whether they think of me and let me know or not really isn’t that important. If they don’t care enough to show me, well, I think Ariana Grande said it best: “Thank u, next.”

And, while it’s always nice to be thought of, you’re enough as you are with or without those affirmations.

Because our backflips are all different

I’m thankful for the people in my life whom I don’t know who remind me of the important lessons in life.

Especially when those people are little kids who are way smarter than they even know.

On a recent walk on the beach, I saw a girl doing backflips of a tiny sand ledge that had formed naturally near the water. She was ridiculously good, and as I walked by, I made sure to let her know. When I told her, a little boy with her (I’m assuming her younger brother) yelled “watch me!” before performing what I can only describe as one of the most uncoordinated front somersaults I had ever seen combined with a turbo roll of some sort.

When he got up, he looked at me and smiled before shrugging and saying a statement that I wish we were all saying as comfortably and confidently as he did.

“Mine’s a little different.”

Yes, that was the perfect word for it: different. What was so wonderful was that he wasn’t ashamed of that at all. In fact, he was pretty darn proud. He had made it a point to have me watch him perform his own version of the tumble his sister had perfected, and by most people’s definitions, his was so much worse. To him, though, it was worthy of showcasing.

I told him that it was beautiful, and I wasn’t lying. Sure, when I first saw it, the word “ugly” probably popped into my mind. But when I realized what it was to him and how he had actually tried, my perspective changed entirely. You see, what this precious little boy has already learned at such a young age that so many adults still haven’t seemed to grasp is so simple: Our lives are going to look completely different from other people’s, and that’s perfectly fine. We don’t need to shy away from who we are and the things we can or can’t do as well as other people.

Because beauty looks different for everyone.

It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the comparison game—suddenly we’re not smart enough or pretty enough or fast enough or thin enough or strong enough or making enough or talented enough or dating enough or experienced enough or traveled enough or social enough or whatever enough. It seems that someone’s always doing a backflip that’s better than yours, while you’re following with an uncoordinated somersault combined with a turbo roll of some sort.

But what if, rather than getting frustrated or feeling embarrassed that the things in your life look different from those in everyone else’s, you embraced those distinctions and were proud of the things you’ve been able to accomplish and were happy to say that you’re still trying. What if, when you started comparing some aspect of your life with someone else’s, you stopped for a moment to say “mine’s a little different” and were OK with that?

As a single girl approaching my mid-30s (IT CAUSES ME GREAT PAIN TO SAY THAT), I have to do a lot of that in my life, especially around the holidays. I’ve definitely embraced it in terms of making my own Christmas cards that look quite different from most of the ones I receive with families and couples and pets on them. Mine features only me—and sometimes a superimposed orca whale jumping over me—but hopefully someday you’ll get a card from me with my lobster (but the Friends version of a lobster and not an actual lobster, which I realize might be confusing based on my previous statement about the whale).

At church over the weekend, we were setting up for all of the Christmas Eve services and were creating a photo setup so that people could take their pictures in front of a pretty lit-up backdrop with a wreath in the background and trees on both sides. We were trying to make it the perfect size for families to take pictures. I understand why, but I also had a soft spot in my heart in that moment for all of the people who would be coming to church by themselves. I took a picture by myself in the setup right after I had just taken a picture of a precious couple followed by a family all together. When I looked at my photo, I couldn’t help but think of how different it looked from the ones I had just taken. For a second or two, I started to feel sad, but then I remembered the little boy on the beach, and I reminded myself that different isn’t bad. I didn’t need to look at all of the extra space in my photo and see emptiness—it’s merely extra room to welcome in more people in my heart and give more love.

You don’t have to be like everyone else. You won’t be. And you shouldn’t. Your life doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s. It won’t. And it shouldn’t. You may have a pristine backflip, or you may have one that resembles that of the turbo-rolling little boy on the beach. Either way, give yourself a little grace for simply getting out there and trying.

Because, either way, you’re enough being you, regardless—and especially because—of how different you are.

When you believe that crazy things aren’t so crazy

I love the honesty and genuineness that kids bring to pretty much any situation.

Even when their truthfulness stings.

I was asked to help out in the children’s ministry at church on Sunday morning, which I definitely didn’t mind. I lead a group of high school girls and sometimes speak for the junior high kids, so I figured I might as well work with the younger ones at some point, too. I love kids, so I knew it would be fun.

And apparently truth-telling, as well.

I was making bracelets with two sweet girls named Aubree and Riley and asking them questions about their lives. They liked saying how old they are, so more than once, Riley told me that she’s 7, and Aubree reminded me that she’s 8. When Riley asked me how old I am, I told her, and she replied with something that stung a little, mainly because I wasn’t expecting it.

“You’re older than my parents.”

Oy. When I used to babysit and teach swim lessons and work at a daycare center, the parents were always older than I was. It’s weird now working with kids who could easily be my kids or whose parents could be my younger siblings—or are even young enough that they could be my former students. (It’s crazy to think that some of my former students are in their late 20s or have already hit the big 3-0.)

Aubree then told me her parents’ ages—34 and 35, so at least I’m not completely ancient yet—and asked me if I have kids. I said no and that I wasn’t married, which was followed by what those precious little unfiltered mouths always seem to ask.

Aubs: Why aren’t you married?
Me: Just hasn’t happened yet.
Aubs: You should find a husband.
Me: Thanks for the advice. I’ll get right on that.

I believe in being yourself at all times, even if that means stopping to take pictures like this.

Honestly, I love the way kids’ minds work. They don’t necessarily always factor in logistics or reality—they simply believe that essentially anything is possible. I mean, take Jack, for instance. When I asked the kindergarteners and first graders what they want to be when they grow up, he said that he wants to be a “donut seller” and charge $20 per donut so that he can be rich. That’s ambition. That’s hope. That’s a dream. Granted, it’s not practical, and his likelihood of success with that price isn’t great, but he doesn’t care. Right now, to him, anything is possible, regardless of any outside factors.

What happens as we get older that makes us think that things are less likely to happen for us and to us? What is it that kids have that we don’t that allows them to let their hopes soar so high that they’re those high-in-the-sky-apple-pie hopes? Why do we lose that childlike faith as our age number ticks up a notch each year?

Here’s the thing, though: We don’t have to lose that kind of faith.

I haven’t accomplished all of the things in life that I’ve set out to accomplish. There are some goals I have that are floating out there that I still want so badly to become part of my story. For whatever reason, though, they aren’t yet. But that doesn’t mean that they never will be.

For Jack and Aubree and so many more of those kids, it’s so simple—you want something, and you’re going to make it happen. There are no doubts. There are no fears. There are no hesitations. There are no questions or anxieties or discouragements or logistics or factors or anything that we eventually start to use as determinations of whether or not the desires we have are practical enough or not.

For those believing kids, nothing matters but the fact that they know that something is possible, and that’s that.

It’s not too late to make your dreams realities. It’s not too late to set new goals. It’s not too late to become the person you’ve always wanted to be. If you want to be like Jack and be a donut seller and charge a ridiculous amount, you do you (and good luck to you).

Your story is just that—yours. You aren’t required to justify or make excuses or apologies to anyone else for being the person you are. So be you. Go after the desires of your heart. Love people in big ways without caring about what you’ll get in return.

And never let go of that childlike faith that once let you live more boldly than you ever knew you could.

Because your skills don’t define you

I know that it’s not good to compare myself to others, but I have to admit that sometimes I still let myself fall into that trap.

Especially when escape rooms and dog surfing competitions are involved.

I went to my first escape room last week, and I would like to commend the creator of these things because they’re definitely a unique way to have fun with a group of people. But I was running kind of late and was slightly frazzled when I got there, so I didn’t hear all of the instructions. When we were locked in the room, I sort of felt like I didn’t know exactly what was going on, but everyone else seemed to know what to do.

Clearly a room full of geniuses

People started finding clues right and left, while I sort of stumbled upon one or two by accident. At one point, I was just kind of walking around the room and feeling almost useless. I used to read a lot of Nancy Drew books, and I watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine on the reg, so I was a little disappointed to realize that the only really somewhat intelligent thing that I did was know that one of the clues meant that we needed to look through the peep hole of the door.

One thing that I did notice, though, was just how different each person’s skillsets were. Our brains are all wired differently, which isn’t a bad thing by any means. And that definitely proved to be a huge benefit for our group in the escape room because people’s different perspectives and thought patterns all collaborated well together.

We ended up making it out of the room with a little more than nine minutes to spare, and I quickly got over the fact that I didn’t feel like I did much because I looked around at the people surrounding me and couldn’t help but smile—they’re my people, and they love me whether I’m more of a Sherlock or a Watson (though I still think that I could be more like a Sherlock).

And not having certain skills doesn’t make you any less of a person.

I love this crew, and we love watching dogs surf.

Surfing dogs further reminded me of that over the weekend. I mentioned last year that I went to a dog surfing competition that essentially changed my outlook on life. Once again, this epic event didn’t disappoint. We watched the talented pups ride the waves in either with their owners or other dogs on their boards. It’s one of the most entertaining things you’ll ever see. One thing that I absolutely love about this competition is how much the dogs simply don’t care about what the people think of their performances—whether they stay on their boards all the way to the shore or crash and burn, they gleefully trot back on the sand and wag their tails, excited to go back out in the water for more runs.

Because they know that one setback or one flaw doesn’t mean that they’re not good enough.

She’s quickly become one of my best friends and favorite humans ever.

We all have our gifts and passions, and they’re not going to be the same as every else’s. And they shouldn’t be. There are many skills that I lack that I enjoy seeing other people have in abundance. I like knowing that my friend Amanda is always going to ask me the hard questions and make me address my feelings and emotions when I don’t want to. I love that my friend JP will sew up my shirt I put a hole in for me so that I don’t have to staple it. I appreciate that my friend Michelle could tell me about anything and everything going on in the political realm if I wanted to know. I’m thankful that my sister knows how to bake pies and stuff so that there are always enough dishes at Thanksgiving, and I can just show up empty-handed or with something store-bought.

Just because you can’t do something as well as someone else doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of some pretty wonderful things yourself. (After all, it’s for the best that we’re not all lining up to be on The Voice.) Your skills matter, and they can be used in incredible ways if you’re not constantly focusing on the ones you don’t have, instead. So don’t forget to remind yourself every once in a while that you are talented, and you do bring value to others.

Because you’re capable of much more than you know when you actually believe that’s true.

When you stop believing the lies

Like many individuals, I’m not a fan of lies and the pain they cause people.

Especially when those lies are things we believe about ourselves.

I lead a group of high school sophomore girls at my church, but on Sunday evening, we had some leaders out of town, so I took all of the girls for the small group portion. The topic of discussion was lost hope and the feelings of rejection, and I went a little bit off script and decided to make all of the girls acknowledge and dismiss some of the lies in their lives. We went around the circle, and they all shared the lies that they’d either been told about themselves or that they believed about themselves.

These are some of my precious gems, and I couldn’t adore them more.

As each girl shared, my heart broke a little bit more. I felt so defensive of them as I heard these beautiful and precious young women share that there were certain things about their looks and talents that didn’t make them good enough, that they were “too much” of this and that, and that they were “useless” in certain regards. It truly hurt to hear these sweet treasures say that they felt ugly and not valued.

We discussed why these were all lies and addressed each one individually. I then went back around the circle to have each girl say “I am [name]. I am beautiful, and I am enough” and then asked her if she actually believed it. And I hope that they all genuinely know that those words they repeated are true.

It’s pretty easy not to feel valued in this world, regardless of whether or not you’re dealing with the emotional rollercoaster ride that is adolescence. Life isn’t always going to go your way, and whether you like it or not, rejection is something you’ll likely face at some point or another. I can’t really think of a more dignified way to say it right now, so I’ll just say this: It sucks. It might make you think that you’re too much of something or not enough of something else. That’s not necessarily the case, though—sometimes you simply aren’t meant to do what it is that you thought you were supposed to do.

We’re all so different, which is a good thing. Those differences don’t make us better or worse than one another—they simply make us uniquely made. Life would be ridiculously boring and predictable if we were all essentially clones of one another.

I love the movie Hitch. Yes, it has a great storyline for Hitch and Sara, but Albert Brennaman really makes that movie what it is for me. The man does his own thing, and he learns to be unashamed of who he is. Hitch tries to tell him to act a different way, but Albert reverts back to his actual personality and demeanor. I love what he says when Hitch questions his dancing: “That’s just a lot of me being me.”

I hope this little homegirl always knows how valued she is and never loses her spunk.

And that’s what we should all be doing—a lot of us being us.

Albert spills mustard on his shirt while sitting in floor seats at a basketball game, and it doesn’t faze him. He kisses Allegra Cole and ignores the instructions Hitch had given him regarding how to act when doing so (the dramatic toss of his inhaler was perfect). He dances the only way he knows how (which, as he was told by Hitch, was very badly) without caring about the opinions of those around him. He lives life his way, and he doesn’t let the lies that could potentially hinder him keep him from going after what he wants. He doesn’t even believe that he isn’t good enough for Allegra.

And guess what? He gets the girl in the end.

People might ridicule you or judge you or make you feel like there’s something about you that makes you inadequate. It’s also possible that you believe those lies about yourself without the help of anyone else making you think them. Stop believing those lies, and start reminding yourself that you are worth the investment in yourself to believe that you are capable and worthy of what your heart desires.

Lies are destructive, so remind yourself of this truth: You are enough.

And please believe it.

Because it’s what you believe about yourself that matters

Over the years—and it seems like even more so lately—I’ve learned that what I think about myself and believe about myself has much more value than other people’s opinions of me.

Especially guys’ opinions of me.

I talk quite a bit about how I have struggled in the past with my confidence when it comes to the fellas. It’s easy for me to be assured of myself in essentially every other area of life, but it’s another beast entirely when it comes to how I’ve tended to see myself in terms of being attractive to guys. There’s more than one reason for this, but the big one is because all of the previous rejections (and the indirect rejections) I’ve faced made me believe that I simply wasn’t enough for anyone.

It’s a complete lie, but some lies have a tendency to engrain themselves in our minds in painful ways.

Not too long ago, one of my friends gave me the number of a guy she thought would be a good match for me. While I would have preferred for him to have my number, instead, he apparently knew that his friend was giving me his number and that I’d be reaching out.

I thought about not texting him, but then I remembered that dignity is overrated, and I honestly had nothing to lose by sending a text to some guy I had never met. What ensued was one of the most boring conversations known to man. When I reached out, he replied and then sent a selfie so that I could “put a face with a name.” I thought that was a little interesting, but maybe it’s normal or something, so I sent him a picture of me with my nieces (and clarified that they were my nieces). After that, there was not much said at all. I get that it was kind of a weird situation, but he did know about me from his friend, and he easily could have kept the conversation going. He chose not to, though.

I then had a choice to make: I could get upset at the realization that he had seen my picture and decided that he wasn’t interested, or I could say “meh, oh well” and get on with my life.

Thankfully, I chose the latter. If this had been years ago, I probably would have gotten upset about homeboy not thinking that I’m pretty and started to feel uglier than I already believed myself to be. Sadly, it’s fairly easy to fall into that trap. But I’ve spent too much time trying to figure out why I’ve been single this long, and I don’t want to do that anymore. I’d rather continue to trust that this ever-long season (or lifetime—whatever) of singleness is with purpose and that I’ll meet the man I’m supposed to love and be loved by forever when I’m supposed to meet him.

This just seemed like a good spot for a photo.

The past heartaches don’t have to have a grip on me if I don’t let them. What people think of you or don’t think of you can’t influence the way you think of yourself if you don’t let it. As the remarkably feisty Detective Rosa Diaz (if you’re not a Brooklyn Nine-Nine fan, please rethink your life decisions) once said, “you can’t let other people’s opinions get in the way of what you want, especially because other people suck.” While the second half of that quote might be a bit harsh, she makes a valid point about not allowing what other people think dictate the way you live.

I’ve mentioned before a guy who shattered my heart and made me feel more emotions than I knew I had and how he made me feel like I wasn’t enough in a lot of ways. And I let him. I let what he thought of me (or what I thought he thought of me) and his words and actions heavily influence the things I believed about myself.

I’ll never forget the conversation I had with my cousin Rachel (whom I’ve mentioned I admire and respect in so many ways) at Thanksgiving almost two years ago. The broken heart was still very fresh, and I stood in front of her on the verge of tears in my aunt’s and uncle’s driveway and uttered four words that no woman should ever ask herself or anyone because of how some guy made her feel: “What’s wrong with me?” And I’ll never forget how, before wrapping her arms around me, Rachel made me look her in the eyes as she reminded me that nothing is wrong with me, and I should never let anyone else make me feel like there is.

I think of that moment often because I know that she’s right. It’s not what someone else thinks of me that’s important—it’s what I think and believe about myself that truly matters. If I don’t believe I’m worthy of love, that’s a much bigger issue than some guy thinking I’m not attractive enough to be his type.

Don’t let other people control your own view of yourself. You were made uniquely and purposely to be the person you are, and you don’t have to be ashamed of or defend yourself for being who you’re meant to be. I can tell you firsthand that it’s so freeing to be able to be comfortable with who you are rather than constantly trying to figure out what you need to change about yourself to be more acceptable. It’s a waste of your time and energy, and you’ll enjoy life so much more if you simply embrace who you are and invest that time and energy into pursuing your passions and loving others as they are.

The same way that you should be loved.

When you realize that you’re not inadequate

I think we can all agree that being an adult is sometimes (or a lot of the time) tough.

Especially when you have to acknowledge self-improvements that you need to make.

I used to race a lot—like a lot. I think there was one year when I ran at least one road race a month, and three or four of those races were half marathons. I developed a love for running long ago, and there was something about racing that caused me anxiety in a good way but also helped grow my confidence in a number of ways, as well.

Then 2017 happened.

This will always be one of my all-time favorite racing memories—and all of my people were there for it (even sweet Olivia was there in Katie’s tummy).

At the end of 2016, I started to have weird (and pretty much constant) internal pain and frequently had blood in my urine (sorry if that’s TMI for you). I had been training for the half marathon that I ran every December in Dallas, and I was excited for it because I felt more confident than ever going into it. But around Thanksgiving that year, that pain I’d been having escalated. I ran the eight-mile Turkey Trot and didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, and a large reason for that was because I was in so much pain.

When I woke up the morning of the half marathon, I could barely walk and knew the race was out of the question. I later went to multiple doctors, and months went on before it was finally determined that I needed to have kidney surgery. I had a total of three kidney surgeries in 2017, which meant that racing was, to quote John Crist, a “for sure no.” There were quite a few periods of time that year when I was thankful if I was even able to run—it’s certainly not easy or pleasant when you have a stent in you.

It’s been a tough journey since then, and it’s not like those surgeries ended all of my issues with kidney stones. Though I’ve been able to train much more than I did last year, I haven’t been racing at all, and I’m honestly nervous about getting back out there.

Amanda has become one of my best friends, and I love that she always speaks truth and asks me how my heart is.

My dear friend Amanda and I were talking about this the other day and why I feel such a need to do well when I race. Aside from just being a competitive person, why is it so important for me to feel accomplished when I cross the finish line? We talked about it for a bit, and it definitely runs deeper than simply wanting to win or achieve my goals. (By the way, Amanda is freaking amazing, and if you ever need a life coach or counselor/sage, she’s your girl.)

I started thinking about this more later that day, and it became pretty clear: In the past, I let winning races or running fast times make me feel like I was enough. There are more than a few areas of my life in which I don’t always feel like I’m adequate—I had a really rough time in college and trying to figure out where I belonged; I’ve had multiple careers and don’t always feel like I’m excelling in them; I’m 33 and am just now in the process of getting a passport (meaning, I’ve never even left the country); I’ve never been in a relationship, which certainly makes me feel like a failure in more ways than one; and so many other things. But when I crossed those finish lines and had accomplished what I set out to accomplish, I was good enough. When I didn’t, I wasn’t.

My friends, those were lies.

It’s great to have goals and passions and to pursue those goals and passions, but it’s also good to realize that you aren’t going to hit the bullseye every single time you aim for it. One day last week, I cut a tag out the side of the inside of my dress because it was really bothering my leg. But when I cut it, it was even pokier and worse. So I cut it where it was threaded in, and the next thing I knew, there was a hole in the side of my dress. I don’t have an emergency sewing kit (and, even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to use it), so I stapled my dress. I also spilled a large amount of water—not once but twice—all down the front of that same dress on that very same day. And those were the good things that happened that day. Obviously, I was killin’ it in life. But I survived the day, and I wasn’t less of a person because of it, just like I won’t be less of a person if I run a race and am slower than I want to be.

You just have to take one look at my hair to see how much of a mess I am. But that’s just part of my story.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter how many races I’ve won. It doesn’t matter how successful I’ve been in my career. It doesn’t matter how many dresses I’ve ripped holes in trying to cut out tags. It doesn’t matter how many staples I’ve used trying to patch them back up. It doesn’t matter how many dates I’ve had (or, in my case, haven’t had). It doesn’t matter how many guys have looked my way. None of those things holds value in my worth. I can’t let deferred hopes or unattained goals make me feel like I’m not good enough.

Because I am enough—just as I am. I was made in the image of Christ, and I don’t have to be someone else or put a bunch of W’s in the win column. I don’t have to pursue this type of perfection that I’m never going to obtain. I’m going to lose. I’m going to rip clothes. I’m going to have my heart broken. It’s just part of life.

But it doesn’t change my worth.

At the Brett Eldredge concert at the OC Fair, there was a sign that said “TEXAS-SIZED,” so I obviously had to take a picture in front of it.

I might be in love with Brett Eldredge. I’ve always loved his music, but I recently saw him in concert, and I fell hard for him. He has a song called “Somethin’ I’m Good At,” and he mentions a ton of things that aren’t really parts of his skillset, but he is able to love well and put a smile on the face of the girl in the song who has captured his heart. I’d like to be like that—if I fail at all other things in this world, I would like to be able to love people well. I won’t always be capable of doing everything I want in life, but I can always show love to others. We all can. People need love, and they need to know that they are enough.

And so do you.

Because your heart is stronger than what people think of you

More and more in life, I’m starting to realize that people try to define who we are for us.

And more and more in life, I’m trying to remind others just how not OK that is.

I was at the grocery store one day last week, and there was a man in front of me who was very loud. That’s not necessarily always a bad thing—it was simply drawing attention to him, though. So, naturally, I started listening to what he was saying.

He was telling the cashier (don’t get me started on this store not having self-checkout) how he is filled with joy. I thought that was good to hear, but then my positive attitude toward this man was quickly diminished.

He went on to say that he’s not from around here (join the club, bro) and that everyone in this area is “so nasty.” (Umm, excuse me?) He said that, at his church back home, everyone is filled with joy, and you’ll never see someone not praising Jesus for life. Then he kept going on about how he carries joy with him everywhere, but the “people around here don’t know what joy is—they’re nasty.”

Sir, I think you need to get to know people before deciding you know them.

I was about to say something when he turned to me and said, “See, she doesn’t have joy. Nasty!”

Mr. Joy, you don’t know my heart.

He turned and bolted out the door before I could even say a thing to him. It’s probably for the best—I’m not sure I had a ton of nice things to say in that moment.

You can judge me, but you can’t define who I am. I’m enough in Christ. The end.

I wasn’t upset about the fact that the man called me nasty—he can think whatever he wants about me—but I didn’t like that he was going around calling an entire county nasty simply because not everyone here lives their lives the exact same way he does. I don’t want to judge him for his words or actions, but I do pray that he realizes how powerful love is and how people need love more than they need to be called nasty. There are some tremendous people with beautiful hearts here and everywhere throughout the entire world, and there are also people who might be a little more rough around the edges. Let’s not judge them; let’s love them, instead.

The next day at work, some of my coworkers were having a conversation and joking around, and one of the guys said that it’s pretty bad if you’re older than 30 and still not married, “especially if you’re a woman.”

Say what?

I was not able to remain silent in this moment, so I invited myself into their convo. He didn’t realize that I was listening (or that I was older than 30), so then he started trying to backtrack and win me over by saying that I look younger than 30.

First of all, thank you for saying that. Second, let’s talk about what you just said.

Mr. Chatty Coworker, you don’t know my heart.

It’s challenging enough sometimes knowing myself that I’m in my 30s and haven’t been in an actual relationship, so I don’t really need people reminding me and claiming that it’s basically pathetic to be my age and still this single. I go through seasons of being OK with it and seasons of feeling lonely. I feel like I just transitioned out of that lonely one into one that’s more comfortable, so maybe the enemy was trying to make me feel discontent again—who knows?

Regardless, I can’t let people’s words and opinions of me change what I think or say about myself. And I hope that you won’t let other people’s words and opinions of you change what you think or say about yourself. They cannot define who you are—unless you let them.

We don’t know what everyone else is struggling with or what storms they might be facing in their lives. Instead of judging others or assuming you know them, perhaps give them a little grace, or even take the time to get to know them. You might find that your attitude toward a person can change when you actually take time to learn more about him or her with a heart perspective.

We’re not all going to live our lives the same way, and that’s a good thing. People don’t have to express joy the same way you do. People don’t have to have the same relationship timelines that you do. People don’t have to spend the same amount of time at their jobs or in their hobbies as you do. People don’t have to like all of the same movies or foods or pastimes or whatever as you.

And you don’t have to be like everyone else, either. It’s important to be genuine, to be real. People can’t know the real you and your heart if you aren’t being who you actually are. If they judge you for being you, then so be it. Your identity shouldn’t be the result of what someone else thinks it should be. That goes for all types of relationships—with strangers who know nothing about you, with family members who know everything about you, with your friends who are your ride-or-die lifers, with acquaintances, with people you might look at as enemies, and with the person whom you love or are dating.

Be authentically you—it’s harder for people to know your heart if you don’t truly know it yourself.

Because sometimes you really do need to check your heart

I didn’t know that a comedian’s words that were meant to be a joke could have such a strong impact in my life.

Especially when they relate to me being so single.

Every week, my dear friend Amanda and I go on a walk on the boardwalk and talk about all things life. Last week, we made a whole afternoon/evening of it by also putting together her wedding invitations. On our way to the beach, we made a pitstop at Joanne’s to get some more ribbon, and there were huge bubble wands on sale for 75 cents right by the checkout area—and I’m a sucker for things like that.

I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a random photographer so much. Also, you can sort of see the bubbles in the air.

As we were walking and chatting and letting the bubbles soar through the Pacific air, we got on the topic of my heart and how it feels when I’m surrounded by couples. Honestly, at this point, I’ve gotten used to it—but I’ve never really checked my heart.

I love John Crist. He’s absolutely hilarious (you should follow him on the Insta if you don’t already). He has a bit he does in which he makes fun of something by saying “check your heart.” For instance, he might say something like “when the self-checkout at the grocery store skips an item, but you just bag it and keep going—check your heart” or “ever skipped church to watch a football game—check your heart.” (It’s funnier when he does it. I promise.)

While his stuff is just for fun, I’ve actually been thinking a lot lately about checking my heart from time to time. I mean, it’s a rather important part of me, after all. So when Amanda and I were talking about my heart in terms of being single in the midst of couples, I was thankful to have people in my life who care about me enough to ask those types of questions.

The truth is that I like being able to spend time with couples and families, even when I’m the only one there who is flying solo. It makes me feel included and loved in spite of my status. I think it would hurt more if I knew that people had purposely not included me because I would be the only person not part of a couple.

One of my former coworkers and his family were in town over the weekend, and he invited me to a get-together with his family and friends. It was another one of those situations in which I was somewhat of an outsider, but I didn’t feel like an outsider at all—I felt like I was part of the family.

And I love that family feeling.

I might be biased, but I think it’s a good idea not to forget about the single people in your life. Everyone is different, so maybe someone you invite won’t show up to something where it will be mostly couples and families, but at least the invite is there to show that he or she is always welcome. It’s important for those single people to know that they are enough as they are.

Perhaps one day I will take a picture on a ferry with the guy who’s my guy. Until then, this is what you get.

I was recently having a conversation with someone I had just met, and he asked me why I’m single. That’s always a tough question that I’m never quite sure how to answer. I still don’t know, other than that it’s not part of the Lord’s plan for me right now. Yes, I would love to love and be loved by the person who is meant to be my lobster forever, but that’s not where I am in life right now—and that’s OK.

Because being single can actually be a very powerful thing.

I’ve been given so many opportunities lately to love others and to invest in people God has placed in my life. Yes, I could certainly still do this if I weren’t single, but it definitely feels special to me right now because it reminds me that the Lord is always looking out for me. Even when I’m as single as can be, He’s going to make sure that I never feel alone, and He’s going to find ways to show me that He makes me capable of so much more than I could ever imagine and that He’s given me certain passions and dreams for specific reasons.

If you’re single, I hope you that you let yourself feel comfortable being surrounded by couples and families, and I hope that you let them invite you in and love you as you are. Check your heart, and be honest with yourself and those who care about you.

And know that, whether you’re single or dating or engaged or married or whatever, you are enough.

When the guy at Sprouts thinks you’re hitting on him

I don’t think I’ve ever been rejected without actually being interested in someone first.

Until now.

I was in Sprouts the other day, and I was trying to process what had been a really rough afternoon. I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail about it right now, but my current work situation has not been good. At all. I was hoping that the rest of the evening would not involve any instances that would make me feel just blah.

But it turns out that my wish for a Pollyanna ending to the day would have to wait.

I was getting some gummy bears out of the bin things there, and some fella was in the same area. He made a comment along the lines of “that’s a lot of candy for someone your size” (to quote Kelly Kapoor and Dr. Mindy Lahiri, “how dare you?”), and I told him that I am just really passionate about gummies. But then I felt the need to promote the Sprouts gummy bears. People, if you haven’t tried them, please do so soon. Then I also recommended that he try the penguin gummies at Trader Joe’s because their tummies are filled with a gooey center. I made sure to remind him, though, that the golden bag of HARIBO bears always win in the end.

Let me get one thing clear here that you might already know about me: I love talking to people. I tend to strike up conversations with strangers on the regular, no matter where I am and with whom I’m talking. I just really like people.

Apparently this one thought I liked him a bit too much.

“Thanks for letting me know. But before this conversation goes any further, you seem sweet and cute in your own little way, but I just wanna say that I’m not really looking for anything right now.”

Wait, what? Complete misunderstanding, bud.

I said the first thing that popped into my head that wasn’t insulting: “Good to know. But I’m not really looking for anything right now but good gummy bears.”

I’ve been rejected before, but at least I usually made efforts in those instances. All I had to do for this homeboy to kick me to a curb I had no intentions of encountering was make mere conversation about one of the best candy options out there. Really, guy?

Oh. Hey, ocean. I heart you.

If this had happened years ago, I think I would have been more bothered by his immediate response to turn me down, especially with the whole “cute in your own little way” comment. That didn’t really get to me, though—I was more disturbed by the fact that I couldn’t even have a conversation with a guy without him thinking that I was hitting on him. I suppose I should appreciate his honesty, but perhaps he should have waited to make sure I was actually interested in him before telling me that I’m not the one who can capture his heart.

(By the way, I will say that this fella was attractive, but I wasn’t attracted to him. Trust me, it makes sense.)

I know that my level of singleness hasn’t changed since I was in the womb—and that can be a bit defeating at times, especially as everyone around me continues to get married and start families—but that is certainly no reason to get upset about yet another guy not wanting to pursue me. I mean, I need someone who is actually going to care a little bit more about my love for gummy bears, anyway. He’s not that guy.

It made me think about someone I thought was that guy, though.

For a while, he cared about the things I liked, and he cared about what I thought about him. He cared about me (or so I thought), and I cared about what he thought about me. I don’t like caring what people think, though I know we often care about what the people we care about think of us (that was a mouthful). However, there’s a difference between caring and letting those opinions change your own opinions of yourself or help to define who you are in any way.

When the guy I actually had feelings for suddenly didn’t seem to care about me anymore, I immediately wondered what was wrong with me. I don’t particularly like admitting that, because I don’t particularly like that one person had so much influence on the way I saw myself. I am enough as I am, and no one’s opinion of me or treatment of me can change that at all.

Ever.

The water was cold, but we actually (sort of) got in it.

When my friend Hannah and I were on our way home from Laguna Beach on Saturday, we were singing Disney songs at the top of our lungs in her car. I’m not even close to being a good singer, but that didn’t stop me from singing as if I’m actually Mariah’s soul sister. Hannah doesn’t care about that, though, and that’s the way it should be. We should be comfortable being ourselves at all times—whether we’re on excursions with our friends or in a room full of people we don’t know yet. I don’t have to win my friends’ hearts, and I don’t need to try to win any guy’s heart, either.

He should want me to have it for free.

I hope you never let someone else’s words or actions toward you make you feel like you’re not enough. No matter what anyone else thinks, you’re worthy of love and capable of love. Please don’t forget that.

And please don’t let that determine how many gummy bears you get at Sprouts.