three things i learned from counseling.

I just left my last counseling appointment.

Mind you, this is only my last counseling appointment in this season of life with this particular counselor. My counseling journey isn’t over, by any means. But for now, as of 5PM today, this chapter of my journey has come to a close.

So. What did I glean from the past few months of counseling? A couple things. Let me share them with you! Sharing is caring, after all… especially when mental health is at stake.

1. I am not broken.

I’ve written about this before, but it deserves a second mention because it is so important. A lot of people associate counseling or therapy with the notion that you are in need of “fixing”. Sometimes, I guess that could be the case. But for me, it isn’t. And hasn’t been. I am not broken. I just need help processing things in a constructive and objective way.

2. I’m pretty well adjusted even though, by all accounts, I shouldn’t be.

According to my counselor, my upbringing should have yielded me a permanent residence within an insane asylum with my very own padded room and straight-jacket wardrobe. However, in the words of Dr. Maki, I’m “really put together”. Holla at your healthy boo.

3. Being open and honest about what struggles I have has been a huge asset.

I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it again — no one, including you, benefits from you hiding your hurts. Opening up about the things I’ve dealt with, to not only counselors but also mentors and friends, has been more effective in my growth and health than anything else. And yes, that includes medicinal treatment.

So. I’ll say it again. If you are considering counseling but are afraid of any stigmas attached, take it from me: do it. See a counselor. Invite an unbiased professional into your life to help walk you through what you’re going through. See how it changes you for the better!

Have you ever gone to see a counselor? How did it work out for you?

i am jonah.

If you’re like me and you grew up reading and listening to stories in the bible, you’re probably aware of the story of Jonah. And by “aware of” I mean you know that it vaguely involves a dude named Jonah and some giant fish-whale-thing that eats him for a couple days then spits him out and God is praised or whatever.

On the surface of this short, four-chapter book in the bible, that is essentially what happens. But there is so much more to the story than that.

In a bible study I’m doing with a couple friends, we recently read it in its entirety, our Sunday-school understandings notwithstanding.

For all of you who grew up understanding Jonah like I did, and for all of you who have no idea who/what Jonah is, Here’s the New Lindsay Translation of the book of Jonah in the bible:

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh, a place that’s filled with all sorts of debauchery and horror, to tell the people there something like, “Hey! You! Stop being jerks because God is real and it’s, like, annoying!” But Jonah’s all, “No, God, not me, I don’t want to do that. That sounds scary. I’m going to run away instead.” So he goes and jumps on this boat with a bunch of people and is all, “SAYONARA SUCKAAAA” but God’s all, “Not so fast, Jonah, I’m God and I can still see you.” So God causes a huge storm to happen, and the people on the boat are like, “Dude, who pissed off their god and made this happen?” So Jonah’s like, “Oops, my bad, that was me, y’all. Just throw me overboard and the storm will stop.” So they do. And it does. So the people immediately begin to praise God. But after Jonah gets tossed overboard a huge fish is like, “NOM” and swallows Jonah. Jonah hangs out in there, not exactly knowing what God’s plan is or what he wants, but he prays and praises God anyway. Finally, God gets the fish to upchuck Jonah and so Jonah’s like, “FIIIINE GOD OKAY I’ll go to Nineveh.” So he does. And he tells the people that they should, like, rethink their life choices and stuff. And they actually hear him and listen. And they mourn. And they repent. And God forgives them and saves them. But then Jonah pouts because he doesn’t believe the people of Nineveh deserve forgiveness. But God gently tells Jonah that he knows those people and loves them and that he wants to keep them. 

After reading this story, it became clear that Jonah is actually a big brat. Also, I realized that I am Jonah. 

jonah

In recent months, my husband and I have done a lot of praying and talking about our current financial situation and the care our baby boy gets as a result. It’s lackluster, to say the least, and something had to change. Finally, after a lot of prayer and consideration, we both agreed that what was best for our family (our son, in particular, and his future siblings) is for us to move to central Florida to be closer to my family.

And I am sad about this. Very heartbroken.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and am so excited to be closer to them. But I have created a life here in the last nine years that is going to be so hard to leave behind. (My TILT list from last week probably makes more sense now.)

But here’s the crazy part — our lease is up April 30th. Neither of us have jobs lined up. If we don’t get jobs in central Florida by the time our lease is up, we’ll just move in with my mom until something materializes.

Yep. That’s right. We quit our jobs in an economy that is, um, less than stable. And we have a little mouth to feed. Everything about this just screams, “WHY IN THE F-WORD WOULD YOU DO THIS?”

I don’t know. It’s just what people with faith do, I guess.

And here’s how I’m Jonah. Without getting too spiritual, I know God is calling us to go. That is undeniable. But I don’t want to. I’d much rather scoop my husband and baby up and run away to find the nearest boat out of this place and hope God doesn’t see.

After coming to the realization that I am Jonah and, therefore, a big brat, I spent a couple days moping about it. I was mad at myself for doubting God and for throwing random tantrums whenever my husband tried to get me to have logistical conversations about our upcoming upheaval. (“I DON’T KNOW IF WE SHOULD SELL ONE OF OUR CARS TO HAVE MONEY TO MOVE OKAY WHERE’S THE BOOZE I JUST CAN’T DO THIS SOB SOB SOB.”)

Not my finest hour for sure.

But now, as the news of our departure is public, I am starting to look for the redemption in my story. Just like Jonah was redeemed.

Even though Jonah ran away, the sailors on that boat came to know God as a result. And even though Jonah went to Nineveh unwillingly, he still helped to save a nation of people.

There is a lot of hurt in this move, for sure. Hurt for us because we’re leaving, and hurt for the ones who we are leaving. But there will be light and redemption, too. Even if we don’t see it now.

I’m excited to look back on this in a few months and be able to point to all the ways we were blessed by this. I anxiously await the clarity that will come once this big-ass bandaid is finally ripped off.

But until then, sorry if I smell a little weird. I’m currently sitting in the belly of a giant fish. I don’t know when I’ll be spit out or where I’ll land. But I know that, during this time, I will praise. I will pray. I will trust.

Here’s your chance to throw all your central Florida connections at me.

things i love thursday! (february 7, 2013)

My life is great. My friends are awesome. My family is baller. Ergo, my week ruled.

hufflepopple

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • Hours-long text conversations that are comprised entirely of Clueless quotes.
  • Also, text message conversations solely written in ERMAHGERD speak.
  • ERMAHGERD TERXT MERSERGERS.
  • Spontaneous lunch dates.
  • Morning cuddles.
  • Watching my baby boy laugh.
  • Spending the day emailing girlfriends back and forth all about Harry Potter.
  • New Girl, The Mindy Project, and Parenthood marathons.
  • Bath time!
  • Not having to do the chores for a whole month! (Sorry babe!)
  • #Hufflepopple
  • Celebrating birthdays.
  • Chili. Lots and lots of chili.
  • Eating a grilled cheese sandwich. Nevermind the absolute HELL we had to go through with Dax after that but. Seriously. Grilled cheese. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? #longlost
  • Chocolate.
  • Dax’s pediatrician.
  • Geeking out over new music.
  • Finding out that Dax is ticklish!
  • Popsicles!
  • Coffee.
  • No but seriously. Coffee.
  • Coffee in my reusable Starbucks cup. Discount, YA HEARD?
  • Trying figure out Vine. (Follow me? I only have two followers because I’m a n00b.)
  • Mangoes.
  • THIS <— Being a writer, as told by The Oatmeal.
  • I PUT ON PANTS YESTERDAY.

What do YOU love this week? Be grateful — it’s easy, I promise. Life can suck sometimes but at the same time, it is so forgiving with each new sunrise.

things i love thursday! (january 31, 2013)

Happy Thursday, friends! It’s the last day of the first month of 2013. We are 1/12 done with this year already. Wrap your brain around THAT mess. Anyhooooo…

Look! He’s so cute!

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THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • The #overcomethelie Twitter party last night. We had so many participants spreading the truth about self-love. It was amazing! We ended the night trending at #4. Incredible.
  • Lionhart. I’ve been doing volunteer work for this organization for a while now and I couldn’t be more ecstatic about the things happening there. It’s amazing. Check it out here and spread the courage around!
  • Amazing and encouraging lunch meetings with friends and mentors.
  • Talking music, art, and the like.
  • Expanding my culinary expertise by way of pureeing my son’s baby food myself. (See also: humility.)
  • Watching good friends play live music.
  • Dax’s new “go-to” face. Not sure why he’s really into chewing on his bottom lip right now but it’s tres adorbs.
  • Reading lots and lots of books.
  • Tickle fights and laughter with my husband.
  • “Sesame Street” on Netflix. (YEAH I KNOW American Pediatrics Association, no screen time until Dax is two but can’t we please make an exception for Elmo?!)
  • Also football? I mean the SUPER BOWL is this weekend, you guys…
  • Emails from good friends with the phrase “TMI” in the subject line.
  • New babies! ACK!
  • Pretending to be a stay-at-home mom.
  • Ministry over coffee — both from me and TO me.
  • Nerding out over fonts.
  • My best friend.
  • My family.
  • My town.

What do YOU love this week?

the worst lie i was ever made to believe.

“You’re so lucky you’re with me. No one else would ever put up with you.”

My high school boyfriend’s squinted green eyes were pointedly affixed on my sunken face when he said that. I burst into tears and lowered my head to the ground while I sobbed because, in my shame, I believed he was right.

He uttered the same message to me every day for two and a half years. Maybe not in the same words. Maybe not even with words at all. Maybe he’d just use his body to say those things. But, regardless, the message was clear.

Looking back at 15-year-old me who, for whatever sad, desperate reason, decided to give this guy a chance, I wish I could slap me. I must have been blind. This guy wasn’t attractive by any means. He was tall and awkwardly lanky, with unruly reddish-brown hair that was usually styled with heaps of goopy Pomade into some horrendous version of a mohawk. He had braces that held together a cluster of visibly decaying teeth and the gauges in his ears reeked so bad I couldn’t get close to him without wanting to vomit.

But he had a voice in my life. A voice that lied to me. A terribly influential voice that penetrated through to my malleable core.

I felt so trapped in that volatile relationship. I wanted so badly to leave, but I feared that, were I to muster up the courage to finally break free, I’d first get the snot beat out of me and then, ultimately, be alone forever. That’s what he made me believe — that I was unworthy of love and that he was doing me a favor by being with and abusing me daily. How noble.

I never actually broke up with him. He ended up breaking up with me because he slept with one of my friends (which was probably the best thing to ever happen to me, for real). And though the ties to him were severed, the emotional damage was done.

The lie he told me made its home within my fragile heart, a cancer that would eventually spread throughout the entirety of my spirit. It wasn’t until a year into my marriage that I learned that the lie I’d been told so long ago wasn’t true.

Every morning when I roll over and see my husband I am reminded that I am worthy of love. 

Every time my son reaches out to me begging to be nursed, I am reminded that I am needed. 

Every time my eyes fall upon Mark 1:11, I am reminded that I am God’s beloved, in whom He finds great joy.

These are truth. These are reality. 

These are the lifelines to which I hold tight, despite the atrocities of my past. These are the truths that have helped me overcome this lie. 

What lie do you need to overcome? Join us TONIGHT at 8PM Eastern for our Twitter party to celebrate the truth! You are loved. You are important. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Here’s a link for more information.

You can overcome the lie

overcome the lie.

A quick Google search tells me that the average person can see up to 5,000 advertisements a day. That’s a little more than 208 an hour.

Whoa.

That may seem unrealistic at first, but if you think about it, it makes sense.

In the morning, your alarm clock rouses you. You get up, take a shower, and get dressed. Already, you’ve seen the brand names of all your shampoos, body washes, and clothes you wear. While these products aren’t currently trying to sell themselves to you, you’ve already bought them. Your brand loyalty is being cultivated.

Then, you get into your car and drive to work. On your way, you pass billboards, signs, and placards all vying for your valuable consumer eye. Then you get to work, sit down at your cubicle, and open up your Internet browser to check your email. The page you’re blankly staring at recycles a handful of ads based on your past web experience.

At the end of the day, you get in your car and go back home and plop down on the couch to relax.  You flip on the television and scroll through channels while flickering ads quietly trigger the firing off of millions of synapses in your brain. You consume an hour or two (maybe) and then hit the hay, all to wake up the next day and start it all over again.

If the average person sees that many ads a day, how many lies do you think the average person is told a day?

Now, I’m a communication major. I have a lot of friends who, after graduating college with me, went off to be very successful advertisers. So I’m not about to bite the hand that feeds me. But if every coffee company claims to have the best coffee out there, like they all seem to say in their ads, at least one of them has to be lying, right?

We are told so many lies each day.

“Wear X brand so you’ll be sexy.”

“Buy Y makeup because it will make your skin flawless.”

“Your looks are the best part about you.”

“Your looks are the worst part about you.”

The truth? You are fearfully and wonderfully made just how you are. 

It would be so nice if we could get society to stop lying to us. To stop telling us that our worth is found in outward appearances and things we buy. But that will never happen; we live in a broken world.

But we can’t sit idly by as this happens. We’ve got to take action. It is our responsibility to overcome the lies we are told each day.

I’m asking you to join me, along with Lionhart (a non-profit organization I work with), and The Story Project, to OVERCOME THE LIE.

overcomelie2

Next week, we’ll be teaming up to encourage one another and women all around the globe through inspiring blogs, Facebook posts, and tweets and we want you to join us.

Check out the Facebook event for more information or The Story Project blog.

I’m so excited about the change that is about to happen in so many women’s lives. We, as women, have overcome so much throughout history. Now, it’s time to overcome the lie.

to be known and, yet, loved.

I think it’s safe to say that there are few things in life we want more than to be totally known and still loved at the same time. If you were to break down each and every insecurity I have to its bare bones, you’d probably find this deep-seated desire.

To be known and, yet, loved.

This blog has been the vehicle by which I achieve self-love. By being honest and vulnerable in my writing, I’ve learned how to look myself in the mirror — through my reflection as well as at it — and be fully delighted in the image before me. (Well, for the most part. We never really arrive, do we?)

But, as far as letting other people love me, I’m not entirely sure I’m there yet. I still seek it. I still crave it. I still wish to, whether it be romantically, familially, or relationally, be surrounded by a small, yet fierce group of individuals who know every deep, dark, twisted ingredient to my soul and still find me worthy of love. However, despite this burning passion (which, as I learned recently, comes from a Greek word that actually appropriately means “willingness to suffer”) to be known and loved, I still find myself holding back out of fear.

I’m just so scared to let many people get close enough.

They get kind of close, I guess. Pretty close, even. But not that close. Not close enough to “smell my farts”, if you will. (Confused? Refer back to this post.)

I lamented over this desire to a friend over lunch last week. As I clumsily poked at my thai noodle soup with my cheap, splintery chopsticks, swirling the chives and roasted duck in a deep brown broth, I breathed my fear into the steam rising from the bowl.

“I’m just so worried I’ll get found out, you know?”

And there it is.

You begin a relationship with someone and, at first, everything is perfect. Everything is coming up roses, as they say. But, as time passes, you get “found out” — the roses begin to wilt and droop, leaving behind a soggy soil of past regrets, hurts, and insecurities. That can be scary. It is, at least, for me.

“When I first met you, I knew you were a hot mess,” my friend replied.

Well, okay but tell me how you really feel?

“But that’s not you anymore,” he clarified. “And those who really know you know that.”

A statement almost as comforting as thai noodle soup. Almost.

The story isn’t over when the roses wilt. If the soil is still there — albeit quite messy — beautiful things, lovely things, can still spring from it.

Allowing someone to get close enough to you to bend down and work their fingers through your dirty soil also allows them to plant seeds of life — beautiful words of encouragement, trust, and, yes, even love can foster the growth of a gorgeous garden of a real life worth loving. A real relationship with a real person worth celebrating.

The ability to be known and, even still, adored.

things i love thursday! (december 20, 2012)

“You never laughed like this when you had Mirena.”

That’s what Dan said to me Tuesday night. He was so right.

Sorry to keep harping on it, but I’m so thankful I got that thing out. I’m also thankful that my life is so amazing that I have so many reasons to laugh and smile.

dax_bath

THINGS THAT MADE ME SMILE THIS WEEK:

  • Bibleinanight Night.
  • The smiley poop Emoji.
  • New pregnancies. New births, as well! #babyfest
  • Tearful worship.
  • A birthday hair treatment.
  • Quick but jam-packed bible studies over coffee.
  • Lunch with Sydney at T-Flats and the hilarious conversation that always takes place with her.
  • Spontaneous tickle fights on the floor of E3Kids. (My husband is the best.)
  • Haphazardly planned breakfasts at Cracker Barrel.
  • Playing with Dax at bath time. He is so fun!
  • Dan and Dax visited me at work! For no reason! (Typically it’s because Dan needs to bring something to me/get something from me.)
  • Great music.
  • Naps.
  • Serendipitous run-ins at Redeye Coffee.
  • Seeing my awesome primary care doctor and my counselor back to back.
  • Using art to heal.
  • Raw, honest, candid, and enriching conversations over iMessage.
  • Giving Dax sorbet for the first time! (He wasn’t impressed, but it was funny nonetheless.)
  • Walking from my work to my lunch destination to give me the illusion that I was living in a big city again. (It also helped that the weather that day was mimicking that of London and Chicago in the fall.)
  • Texting a friend all morning and then running into them on my lunch break.
  • This, particularly in the wake of the horror that took place last Friday.
  • White elephant gift exchanges, especially one in which a Justin Bieber toothbrush made an appearance.
  • gChat.
  • Harry Potter-themed insults.
  • Hearing someone say, and I quote, “You need to write a book next year and self-publish that SOB.”
  • Margaritas.
  • My non-blood family.

What do you love this week?

active listening: “crossroads” by sarah mac band.

smb_staticsignals

I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s something voyeuristic about consuming art created by your friends. I never know how to really navigate it. It’s like you go over to their house while they’re on vacation and rummage through their memory boxes and try to fill in the blanks on your own. It’s beautiful, and raw, but also super sketchy. (Hey, many of you may feel the same when you read my blog! Like, isn’t it weird that you guys get insight into my life without actually hearing it come out of my mouth? Come on, admit it — how many of you stalkers have never actually met me but know my kid’s name? No judgement here, y’all! Just keepin’ it real.)

Anyway. Today’s active listening comes from a band which is comprised of three (sometimes four, when the need for violin or SLEIGH BELLS arises) of my friends. Because I’m creepy like that. This song, “Crossroads” on the album Static and Signals by Sarah Mac Band, has wrecked me since I first laid ears on it. (Don’t be a chump — drop some cash for the album here because OH JUST DO IT, IT’S WORTH IT, I SWEAR.)

Most of the lyrics speak to a younger me, a me that was, for lack of a better term, a hot f-ing mess. And while I’m not there anymore, there are elements of my hot f-ing mess of a past that have weaseled their way into my otherwise completely well-adjusted present and have reminded me of the “crossroads” from whence I came.

I was too young to consider such things as a healthy dose of caution and fear /

I was set on an adventure and how my life would change by things bound to happen there

Five years ago I was standing at a crossroads. I could go one way, a way of the familiar hot mess, or go somewhere completely different and just kind of see what would happen.

So I chose the adventure. I randomly moved to a foreign country.

Sadly, it was not, like the song later suggests, to “save souls for Jesus”. It was to, ultimately, enhance my academic career and, um, oh yeah, mendmyverybrokenheartBUTWHATEVERwedontgottatalkaboutthat.

I knew it wasn’t a financially sound decision; I had my college education paid for (for the most part) by scholarships and grants and would need to take out a butt-ton of loans in order to do it. But something deep within my soul screamed out, You have to do this! You have to go! Don’t ask why now — just go! You’ll know why later. 

I didn’t know it then, but packing “my shit” (a lyrical mention, both in the literal and figurative sense) and hauling my butt across an ocean for a time would end up being the best thing to ever happen to me. The girl I was before I left — heartbroken, reliant on others for validation, battling an eating disorder — died a quiet death on the stoop of 99 Great Russell Street in the heart of London. Her scent is still heavy in the dark tunnels of the tube, but she is but a distant and, thankfully, faded memory.

Fast forward to today: I have a perfectly full heart, a beautiful family, a steady job, a strong community… and all of these things are pretty solid. Pretty stagnant. I’m not really at a crossroads anymore. Rather, I’m on the freeway using cruise control. But others around me, others very close to me, are standing at their own respective crossroads.

New relationships.

New opportunities.

New jobs.

New locations. 

So much newness. So much uncertainty.

But if there is one thing I know, it’s that the refrain of the song is so true.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

Five years ago I intentionally chose to embark on a journey wrought with isolation and uncertainty. That, in and of itself, is beautiful. But it’s what I unintentionally chose that is even better.

Health.

Rebirth.

A fresh perspective.

Self-love.

And so, dear friends. I urge you to not be afraid of the crossroads at which you find yourself. I’m certain that, even if you don’t know it yet, the direction in which your heart tugs you will be the one that offers up the best possible scenario for you. Even if you don’t realize it until years later.

It’s funny how we don’t know then the weight of what we’re choosing at the crossroads.

active listening: “shelter” by jars of clay.

A few of my blogger friends write about the songs that influence their lives on a daily basis, so I thought I’d give it a try today because this song has been the fragile thread holding me together for the better part of two weeks. I’ve written about this song before, but it tends to be my go-to tune to pour into my brain whenever I come into times of self-doubt, loneliness, and fear. I’ve been violently thrust into the throes of these emotions lately, and so I’ve been trying to actively seek refuge in art to effectively surf these unrelenting waves of pain.

Monday, I believe, I pulled this song up on my iPhone, stuck my earbuds in, and pressed the “repeat” button and let myself fall into it.

When I got into my car, I plugged my phone into the auxiliary port and turned the volume all the way up and actually worshiped. Like, for really real worshiped. In my car. With my eyes closed (only at stop lights, of course) and hands raised.

willowfilter

It’s now Thursday, and I’m still here in this space, running down my phone battery in the name of spiritual health.

The melody is simple, but I wouldn’t call it catchy. It’s not a song that, in my opinion, is easily “stuck” in your head. I think you have to intentionally put it there (as opposed to the likes of “Call Me Maybe”, for example) and I’ve been trying to do just that. The words are small, uncomplicated, and unobtrusive, but extremely powerful in times of defeat.

To all who are looking down / holding on to hearts still wounding
For those who have yet to find it / the places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you’re wearing / set aside the names that you’ve been given
May this place of rest / in the fold of your journey / bind you to hope / we will never walk alone
In the shelter of each other / we will live / we will live
And Your arms are all around us…

God has given us each other / and we will never walk alone

Whenever I discover a really great record, I listen to it to death. I remember when Plans by Death Cab for Cutie came out, I put the disc (what is this “disc” I speak of?) in my dashboard CD player and listened to it whenever I drove for the better part of eight months. The boy I was in love with at the time found this irritating.

“You always listen to the same songs,” he lamented. “You’re so boring.”

Maybe he was right. Maybe I’m boring. But I’d like to think that, as a writer and a musician, I happen to understand the power of words and music and that I intentionally expose myself — albeit repeatedly — to the good stuff because good art has the ability to, if you let it, seep deep within your DNA. To become a part of you for the rest of your life. There are still pieces of Plans, for example, that, whenever I hear them, bring me back to that time when I was “boring”. With the opening riff of “Soul Meets Body” I can still feel the hot, sticky summer air flooding my Mazda 626 and I can still smell the mold in my tiny student apartment. I can remember what it felt like to know that my soul and my body were, in fact, different things and I can remember being in love and not exactly knowing why.

By listening to the simple, repetitive, beautiful words and music of “Shelter”, I can feel hugs from my husband and scruffy, hasn’t-shaved-in-a-few-days forehead kisses. I can see encouraging text messages from my pastor. I can feel a smile creep across my face at the sight of any one of my amazing friends. I can feel the warmth of God’s embrace. I can actually feel grace. I can feel this grace I read about and know that it is real.

Our tears aren’t ours alone / let them fall into the hands that hold us.

Let them! Let them! 

And Your arms are all around us / and we will never walk alone.

The last words of the song are “never walk alone”, not preceded by the “and we will” part.

To someone who is listening to that song for the first time, it may seem that it is one last mention of the very repetitive refrain. But to someone like me, who has listened to the song so many times that it is almost white noise  — someone “boring”, I guess — I see it as an intentional call to action by the lyricist.

Never walk alone.

Yes, God gives us a shelter. He gives us community in which to do life. But it is up to you to seek it out, to intentionally grab people in your life and boldly ask them to walk alongside you. Even when it is hard. Even when you are hard to love, you have GOT to let yourself be loved because, damnit, that’s what this grace thing is all about.