Monday, June 29, 2015

A Little Bit Brave

For the last few months, I've felt God calling me to start a blog.

But I was afraid.

Up until a couple of months ago, I didn't see any girls close to my age doing things like starting blogs about living for God. I knew teenagers with writing blogs, and I saw a lot of blogs written by women in their twenties, but in my heart I knew that I needed to write to other teenagers about living from a love for God.

Yesterday, I got to reading some of Annie Downs' writing. Her book Let's All Be Brave is technically supposed to be for adults, but I still read the free excerpt because I love Annie's writing.

That little excerpt is all I've read of the book, but even that touched that space in my heart that keeps trying to push me forward, into unknown, uncertain places. And I listened.

Sunday morning at church, the sermon was given by a woman, something I was super excited about. Then she, Holly Wagner, started preaching about bravery. Again, that space in my heart whispered be brave.

Bravery isn't easy. Bravery means facing danger and fear. I looked up a definition, and the top result was "ready to face and endure danger or pain." I'm not really agreeing with this particular definition, specifically that word ready.

I am not ready. I am not ready to share my heart with the world. I am not ready to reach out to other teenagers. I am not ready.

Yet here I am.

I'm not coming into this with a tool-belt filled with the right words and witty phrases. I don't have a guidebook telling me how to have an awesome blog that gets tons of shares and views. But I knew God was calling me here. And I said yes. Only it was more like murmuring well if you're sure, then I guess I'll do it.

I spent too much of the first day of this blog's existence trying to come up with a name I didn't steal from a Francesca Battistelli song. Even after I got myself to settle on a title, I wasn't satisfied. Until I wrote this post, I didn't know what I really wanted to name this blog.

I realized while writing tonight that being a little bit brave is what this blog is about. It takes a little bit of bravery to live honestly, gracefully, and confidently right now.

A little bit of bravery can lead to a late night conversation with a friend about the fear in your life. A little bit of bravery can lead to living a life of freedom. A little bit of bravery can lead to your greatest dream.

Being a little bit brave means taking a step towards uncertainty, unprepared and a little (or a lot) scared.

I am not ready. But I am tired of waiting.

A little bit of bravery can lead to trusting that God will use this tiny corner of the internet to touch someone's life.

So here I am, trying to be a little bit brave, and hoping to help you do the same. And that's what's up.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Comparison Kills Confidence

"all the world's encouragement to "be yourself" is defeated from the get-go when we use other as the measure of who our "selves" should even be." 
 -Phylicia Masonheimer 

"I wish my hair were straight like her's."

"If only I had the fashion sense of my best friend..."

"He speaks so much better than me."

"I can't dance like them."

{~}~{~}~{~}~{~}

I stare at the dressing room mirror, sucking in my stomach and standing on my toes. Trying clothes on is a huge pain already, but when you throw swimsuits into the mix, I can hardly stand a glance at that mirror without tearing up.

My hair is frizzy from spending six hours in the car. The florescent lighting turns my skin a pasty white, making my acne scars practically glow. If I only had her skn, her legs, her hair. Everything looked wrong in that mirror. My legs too big, my skin too pale, my shoulders too wide. Too much and not enough.

When we look around it seems like everyone else has it figured out. We see our friends who always know what to do, siblings who make friends without effort, debate partners who win speaker awards time after time, and we wonder how they manage to be so together.

This is where the problem begins. We start looking at the state everyone else is in, and we start believing that's what we should be. I should have better hair. I should have more friends. I should be skinnier, or curvier. I should be more athletic. I should be a better speaker. We compare ourselves to other people, celebrities or our friends, and all too frequently, we don't measure up.

But we can also take comparison a different direction. You can look at other people and say to yourself, "at least I'm not [XYZ] like that person." And instead of wishing you were like them, you judge them, all in an attempt to feel better about yourself. Any sort of confidence that comes from this is temporary.

||When we measure our worth by what other people look and act like, we miss our true value||


It's easy to point out the flaws and inadequacies in ourselves, while simultaneously looking at all the perfections in our friends. She doesn't have legs as big as mine. He doesn't rush through everything he has to say like I do. Suddenly, my legs and my speaking habits aren't the problem. The problem is my failure to measure up. The problem is that I'm not good enough.

Comparison tells us what we should be. Comparison tells us what we are isn't enough. Comparison kills relationships.

There's a lot that confidence contains, but we can't reach any of that when we base our worth on what we see in other people. First Samuel 16:7 says that "God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." When we base our 'confidence' on the outward appearance, on the smiles and flawless faces, we miss what God sees: the heart. When we measure our worth by what other people look and act like, we miss our true value.

Our true value comes from God. It comes from His grace and love, from the heart He has given you. You were not created to be your best friend, your favorite celebrity, or your debate partner. You have been given a unique set of gifts, and when you strive to instead be someone you're not, you rob not only yourself of those gifts, but the people around you who could impact. While comparison is trying convince us of what we should be, confidence is knowing who we are and who we can be.

I could go on for thousands of words about confidence, but I want to start at the beginning: confidence begins when comparison ends. Until we stop comparing ourselves to others, we cannot have true confidence.

{~}~{~}~{~}~{~}

When I stood in front of that mirror in that swimsuit, a thousand images of perfect bikini bodies ran through my mind. A thousand images of what I "should" be. I was so wrapped up in those picture perfect ideals that I lost sight of where my worth comes from.

Comparing myself to other people didn't affect my value, but it affected my view of myself, and consequently my confidence. The insecurities I felt that evening didn't fade until I began believing that my worth isn't defined by what I should be, but by how God loves me, and how He has created me. 

Comparison kills confidence, and that's what's up.

Monday, June 08, 2015

What Tangled Taught Me About Life

Tangled is one of my favorite movies.

I honestly don't remember what I thought of it when I saw it for the first time when I was eleven. I just remember sitting in the second row of the theater, craning my neck, and wishing we'd decided to sit on the stairs instead. But now? I love the characters, the writing and dialogue, the plot, the music. I've seen it a few more times than the average sixteen-year-old.

If you've never seen Tangled, 1.) You should go watch Tangled, and 2.) Here's what you need to know about the movie for the sake of this blog post:

Rapunzel, who is about to turn eighteen, has spent her whole life in a tower in the middle of the woods. Every year, on her birthday ("only on my birthday.") a bunch of floating lights appear in the sky. Rapunzel doesn't know exactly what but she "just feel[s] like they're meant for [her.]" But her mother (well, not her mother. The woman who kidnapped her when she was a baby and has pretended to be her mother for going on 18 years) won't let her leave. There are ruffians, thugs, poison ivy, quicksand, the plague, and other horrid things in the outside world. (#ShelteredHomeschooler)

But Rapunzel has been dreaming of going to see the lights for years. Now that she's turning eighteen, she's worked up the guts to ask her mom to go see the lights. Really, though, she's been waiting for her whole life begin. Which explains the song with the title "When Will My Life Begin."

Then Rapunzel asked her mom to see the floating lights. And her mom took a whole song to say no. But that didn't stop Rapunzel. She took her life--and a frying pan--into her own hands. Yes, she had some help, but it was her waking up to the fact that she controlled her own life that set her on her journey.

I have this tendency, and maybe you do too, to look at some future age or situation as the moment when my real life begins. When I was younger it was each new birthday. It was becoming a teenager, turning sixteen, then eighteen. Now it's college, marriage, career. For Rapunzel, it was her eighteenth birthday.

Maybe we need to stop waiting for our lives to begin and just start living.

Maybe we should use each year, each birthday, as a reminder that our lives are happening now. That we can follow our dreams now. I mean, yeah, there are some things you need to and should wait for. Relationships, for instance, or college. But we shouldn't put our relationship with God on hold because we're still young. We shouldn't wait to start working towards our dreams because we're teenagers and can do, like, whatever we want.

I could go on for a long time about how awesome Tangled is, but here's the point: live your life now. Don't wait until you're sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one, or whatever. Instead of posting photos on Instagram about your "relationship goals" or whatever people post on Instagram, do things with your life that people would post as their goals on IG.

(But seriously: Rapunzel + Eugene = Relationship goals.)

"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity." 1st Timothy 4:12

In other words, live a Christ-centered life right now. Don't wait for some magic age to start living for God.

In summary, Tangled is great, life is now, and I wish I had an Instagram. And that's what's up.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

What Else to Do

I didn't expect to feel different the morning of my 16th birthday. I figured it'd be like every birthday ever. People would wish me happy birthday on Facebook, I would eat cheese cake with my family, maybe watch a movie.

The thing is, I did feel different.

*Gasp!* I know, I know. I wasn't really that much older than I had been last night. Nothing had physically changed. I didn't magically have a drivers license. I certainly didn't grow (haven't grown since I was thirteen). I didn't wake up to balloons and confetti and people screaming "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!" at me. That would've been terrifying. I probably would've cried.

Instead of waking up feeling the same way I did the night before, I came to a realization: I have a life. Like, I'm a person. Who is alive. And breathing. And I can use words.

As I reflected stereotypically over the last year of my life, I realized I was tired of waiting for my life to begin. I'm not Rapunzel from Tangled (as much as I want her hair). I haven't been sitting in a tower for sixteen years, waiting for my mom to let me see the floating lights. (Speaking of Tangled, I See the Light just came on my Spotify and feeeeellsss.)

I realized I have a lot of dreams. College, marriage, etc. My big dreams, though, are more along the lines encouraging others with my life, living confidently in who I am, and glorifying God through all I do.

So after about eight attempts at choosing a name, here's this blog. *Cue confetti cannons.*





I want to, like I said, encourage other people. The topics I write about will range from friendship/relationship advice, stories from my life, my opinions on Christian living, etc. Knowing me, I'll probably post about the dark path society is going down one week, and Tangled the next (I really love Tangled.)

Something I've learned is that I love people, and that's where my dreams come from. When I am able to encourage someone, it gives me so much joy. I want to be able to do that my whole life. I don't always know how to show people I care about them, so this is like my message to literally everyone: I really love people, including you.

I don't want to pretend to be someone or something that I'm not. I believe that living confidently means being who you are, where you are. It's a choice. I'll talk about confidence and being who you are a lot on this blog, But I want to be clear that I'm no expert on any of this. I just want to honestly share what I've learned

I guess my goal is just this: to live and write honestly, gracefully, and confidently right now. And that's what's up.

~HG