on-letting-go-of-an-old-love

I spent my first year out of college working an office job. For 40 hours a week, I sat at a desk logging data, supervising employees, and making room reservations for guests. There were plenty of things I didn’t love about the job, but I was good at it. I did a good job finding solutions to complex problems. The students I supervised seemed to both respect my leadership, and enjoy working for me. The work was never-ending, but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to finish all of my tasks in one day. A student who worked for me recently asked if I would submit a reference letter for her. In her email she said, “Thanks again, not only for the reference letter, but being a great administrator for me to look up to.”I laughed when I read that line. Me? A “great administrator” for someone to look up to? Me? The person with ADHD who always felt like the plates were spinning slightly out of control and struggled to maintain composure while trying to keep up?If you had told me a few years ago that someone would call me a great administrator, I never…

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Empower Imago Dei.

That Box Makes You Look Dumb.

There’s a whole series of pictures of my high school small group in which my hair looks dumb. Seriously, dumb. We brought dresses to our last Fall Retreat with the plan of getting nice pictures taken, and no one told me that my hair was a hot mess the whole time. We’re talking fly aways all over the place, and don’t even get me started on the chunk of hair falling out of my bun that none of my dear friends thought to mention.I wish one of them would have taken me aside and whispered, “Hey, that hairstyle looks dumb on you today. Go change it.” (Maybe not in those exact words, but you get how the overall idea would have been nice.)Since I know what it’s like to look back and realize I looked dumb, I can’t sit by while you walk around like this. I can’t pretend that I don’t notice that that box looks dumb on you.  But I have a feeling you already knew that. You can feel that it doesn’t fit, but someone at some point told you that this is the box you get…

Lighten Burdens.

Teach Me to Rest.

This semester, I have been a full time student, a supervisor at work, an RA, the student liaison for the Presidential Ambassadors, a soccer player, a volunteer, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a writer, and a human being. Oh, and I have also been really, really tired.Yesterday, a friend of mine said that she doesn’t know how I do what I do.I told her that I’m not sure how I do it, either.Overall, I think it involves a lot of faking it. My plant biology class this semester? Faking it. The research paper I just wrote? Faking it. This cool, calm, and collected exterior? Faking it. You all already know I don’t have my life together any more than you do, so it’s pretty clear I don’t fake it for the sake of those around me. No, I’m faking it for myself. I tell myself it’s fine, I’ll make it through. I tell myself “This paper TOTALLY makes sense! It’s fine, just turn it in.” In reality, I’m not necessarily sure how I’m doing, but I know I’m not failing, so that…

Honest Conversations.

Permission to Feel.

My high school boyfriend and I went out for frozen yogurt exactly one time during the course of our relationship. It was a Saturday, and we walked around a weird, nerdy store I had never seen before after we finished eating.As we drove back to his house, we somehow ended up in a conversation that made me emotional. I can’t remember the exact topic, but I recall not being able to put more than two words together.I remember being embarrassed. Overwhelmed. Feeling dumb. I remember him sitting there, completely caught off guard by the intensity with which I had shut down so quickly.Back then, I thought emotions were best kept inside. Deep, deep inside, to be exact. I thought if no one could see them, I might get lucky and they’d disappear. But alas, we all know what happens with powerful things we try to hide: they explode.After all of the effort I put in to shoving my emotions down, they exploded and all I could do to contain it was crumble to pieces, and bring the conversation to an abrupt halt in the process. This was not the only time my suppression of…

Empower Imago Dei.

You are not Beautiful.

When we were freshmen at Johnson, one of Jacob’s friends said he “didn’t get” why Jacob thought I was attractive. (You can probably guess how much that helped boost my self-esteem.) There are some days when I still think about his comment. Days when I wonder what I could do to be more beautiful, and when I have to try extra hard to not let it get to me.If I’ve learned anything as I’ve grown older, it’s that I’m thankful I’m not known as Beautiful. I’ve learned that it doesn’t look at the whole picture. If you were to ask someone to describe me and all they said was “Oh, she’s beautiful”, you still would not know anything of value.Am I a hard worker? Do I like to dance in the car? Is it easy to talk to me? Can I laugh at myself? How do I handle pressure? What do I do in my spare time? How would you describe the essence of Julianna?Beautiful just doesn’t cut it, does it?That’s something I’ve always like about names – unlike simple descriptors, our names…

Honest Conversations.

The Hazard of Friendship.

One of the first things I saw on Facebook the morning after the election was a status celebrating Trump’s victory. The first person to comment wrote, “Can’t wait to never see your name again.”Ouch. I worry about the division this political season seems to have left behind. I worry because we are so filled with disdain for people with different opinions that we can’t even handle being friends with them on Facebook any longer.I worry that people will burn bridges in the heat of the moment without realizing their actions will leave a permanent mark. I worry we will look back in days, months, or years with tears in our eyes as we see the destruction we left behind us for the first time.I’ll admit, sometimes it is painstakingly challenging to interact with people who have opinions we disagree with. Sometimes it makes sense to walk away from relationships that bring more stress than joy. There are times when it’s clear that the bridge has got to go. I get that, I really do. But we also have to realize that it is highly unlikely that we will ever agree with another…

Empower Imago Dei.

To the Lonely Friend . . .

Earlier this week, I heard another person acknowledge the 4-word feeling I’ve been carrying in my gut for 21 years: “It’s lonely being different.”I’ve never really been one to call myself a loner. I’ve never found myself without friends, nor have I found myself unable to relate with those around me on at least some level. I’ve never fit the mold of a loner.I have, however, been one to call myself lonely. Surrounded by friends, doing typical teenage (and now early-20s) things, going to the popular places at the popular times…and yet, a deep loneliness abounds. Never feeling like I fit. Feeling like that piece of the puzzle that always lines up on three sides, but never the fourth. Feeling like I’m a bright blue chair in a world that ordered the black ones.I felt this most deeply in the 2012 school year. For five days a week, I was an official, full-time college freshman. But, on Sunday, I was a senior in my youth group. Both labels were accurate – I had graduated a year early, so life was dictated by my academic year on weekdays and…