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Honest Conversations.

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…

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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…

Honest Conversations.

When Will the Stories Stop?

When I was in sixth grade, a boy named Richard carried around a journal in which he wrote the things he wanted to do to me. I was completely unaware until a friend of mine saw it and said, “In Richard’s journal, it says he wants to rape you.”I remember sitting next to my mom in her bed that afternoon with knots in my stomach.Should I say something? Should I not?I went back and forth and back and forth until, finally, I looked over and asked, “Mom? What does “rape” mean?” (I can only imagine the thoughts that flooded her mind in that moment.)My sixth grade story is mild in comparison to the stories other women could tell you. Stories about unwelcome hands, obscene gestures, and crude remarks. Stories about shame, loneliness, and judgement for things they did not ask for. When will the stories stop? When will Twitter threads filled with stories of assault cease to exist?When will we stop saying “boys will be boys”?Do you know what boys will be if we expect more from them? MEN.Do you know what women will be when boys become men? Respected. Loved. Safe…

Honest Conversations.

“I Love You” Through Gritted Teeth.

Believe it or not, Jacob and I don’t always get along. We had incredibly different upbringings, our priorities differ here and there, and our personalities don’t always mesh perfectly. There are days when these things – among others – make it difficult to live in the same house without going crazy.In the midst of these crazy days, I try really hard to make sure I tell Jacob I love him. When I’m frustrated, when everything he does seems to make my anger grow stronger, when not having my own life is overwhelming, I do my best to vocalize my love for him. Both as a reminder for him after I have acted in unloving ways, and as a reminder for myself, as he acts in ways that I don’t like.Don’t be fooled, though. While I think it’s important for “I love you” to be said in these moments, it does not sound the same as when it’s accompanied by the warmth of loving feelings. No, this “I love you” tends to be shoved through gritted teeth and, though I still mean it, it certainly does not feel warm to either one of us…

Honest Conversations.

Faith that Limps.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only person I know who doubts my faith. Like everyone else around me has it figured out, and they’re all waiting for me to catch up.On particularly bad days, I can feel them looking at me and thinking, “No doubts, just belief. It’s not that hard.” They have clearly learned the secrets to success.And then there’s me. I have more questions than ever. I don’t post perfectly positioned pictures of my hour-long daily quiet time, not because there’s anything wrong with that, but because I’m impressed with myself when I read through a 5-minute devotional on my phone between classes. At times, I wonder what I’m doing here. I wonder how I can possibly fit with these people who have faith figured out.Lauren Winner succinctly states how I feel in one of her books when she says, “Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt, or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith.” When I’m thinking rationally, I know that it’s silly to think I’m the only one with questions. I am…

Honest Conversations.

The Voices That Do Not Matter. 

I do not listen well. I put up walls as defenses to keep people at arms’ length.I am too witty and not serious enough. I am making excuses for a decision I chose to make.These are the things someone I know told me about myself recently.When I went to bed that night, their negative comments relentlessly bounced around my brain. Beating me up. Keeping me up.It’s no secret that I can easily fall into the habits that were mentioned. For as long as I can remember, my mom has been helping me learn how to keep myself in check, and I have found out through first-hand experiences what happens when I don’t. I work incredibly hard to combat these parts of me.So hearing someone tell me that I do these things – these things that I have systems set up in my life to prevent – was a tough blow mentally and emotionally. (I’d like to submit an official request to never experience that again.)Unfortunately, this kind of experience is simply part of life. People will always make claims about who we are and how we measure up with the world. There…

Honest Conversations.

Why I Won’t Lie About Sex.

We all remember the talk. We remember who gave it to us, and if you’re like me, you remember the awkwardness you felt. Here’s what I remember most: I remember sitting in a classroom with all of the fifth grade girls as we started the “Family Life” unit that introduced us to the differences in the male and female anatomy. I remember being mortified that my older sister told my mom she should talk to me about sex before that unit began. I remember reading “And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity” in my ninth grade small group. I remember two youth group leaders in particular talking about how fantastic sex is.But you know what I don’t remember? I don’t remember ever being told, “Sex is good, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging at times.”Everything I had been taught about sex led me to expect no problems, just enjoyment. No one told me that after a year of marriage, my husband and I might find ourselves sitting on our couch at 12:30am saying, “Sex is hard. It’s not like the movies.”When we’re not…