Dear Darcy: Memoirs from a Twenty-Something

19 Aug

The other day I found writing I began 3 years ago to my future hubby.  It wasn’t a “start and finish” piece, but rather it took years to wrap my heart around rawness of what I was feeling at the moment.. so over time, as I was thinking through the book I wanted to pen about love in my generation, I felt that I really wanted this piece in it but didn’t know where it would smoothly fit in.  I loved the memoir feel to it — the transparency — the ‘penny for my thoughts’ vibe but I knew that my first book would not be a memoir and so I found that this would become a very sincere dedication piece. 

Just a very small glimpse of what’s to come… 

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I always envisioned my life at 25 married with children, singing like a pop star and saving the world, one orphan at a time.  Success was a part of my plan and distractions were not.  It would have been nice to be warned in my teenage years that life does not unfold like a teenage dream.  Katy Perry was wrong.

I have a track record of going after the “wrong men” – the types I know that are not good for me.  They are appealing to the eyes and ears, but damaging to the heart.  They grieve the Spirit.  I run head-first without thinking at times.  Emotions strong.  Heart on my sleeves, expecting the same in return.

It doesn’t happen that way, does it?  Transparency is a rare attribute found in people today.  And so I find myself writing to you in raw verbiage, wondering if this will ever even be read.  I wish I was more articulate, but all I know to do is think and speak.  In my words.  Most of the time, choppy.

Jane Austen did some serious damage to my heart at a very early age.  She trained my brain to believe that there is a ‘type’ of man out there that is too good to be true, that he can only be deemed fictional.

He pursues.  He battles.  He cherishes.  He conquers.

Every story-book tale unravels as such.  I find myself swooning with the millions of young women around the world.  Where is this man?  European accent. Tall physique. Exceptional build. Dreamy eyes. Goober smile. Youth. Nerdy intelligence. Not a ‘bad guy’..but a bad guy.

I’m twenty-seven, right?

Clearly, I did not get that memo.

My emotions and my imagination are my worst enemy at times.  I spend more time fighting it than embracing it.  I grow so weary from the day-to-day battle that I end up giving up. Always.  My wall goes up and I distract myself with the things of this world.  Enticing things.

Any genre. Any field.  This list is end-less.  I pull out my favorite attributes from each man and I create my own Darcy.  If he’s in my head, no one can take him away, right?  Yet another lie society throws in our direction.  So, I’m left detoxing the sin from my thoughts and wonder what is left to work with.  I repent more than there are fingers and toes.

Somewhere in my head, beyond the name and fame, I know that one day this will be read.  You will surpass everything my ‘4-page list’ required and it’ll make complete sense that you clash with my list, and that has become a sweet realization.  As young, Christian females, we have been advised to have these infamous lists.. but I found myself hiding behind them.  They have done more damage than good.  I wonder how I would feel knowing I could never make it on your list of ‘options’ because I never met your ‘wifey requirements’.  So, here I am.. with a heavy heart and realization that I have been doing this to you for years.  Why, you ask?  It was safe for me and it fit within clean black & white lines.  You do not.

I’ve tried to write our story many times.  So many times.  Each time I found myself grabbing the eraser.  I don’t understand why it’s so easy for Taylor Swift to write the “story of us” and here I am wondering why it is so difficult to pen ours.  Could this actually be something beyond me?  Does this reveal to me my innate desire to control situations?  Yes.  Do I hate emptying my hands for a God I cannot see?  Yes.

Do I love this God?  Yes.  In ways that don’t even make sense to myself.  I love Him more than I could ever even begin to start loving you.  That is why I am here with a heart full of repentance wondering why I’ve bought into all of these glamorous lies for years.  The battle for my heart continues.  I submit to His plan for us.

I look forward to the day when I get to see your face.. till then, I will wait.  I will hope and believe that He who began a good work in my life will complete it.  He began our story.  He will finish it.  On that day ..we will see Him face-to-face and be made like Him.  Oh what a day that will be!

“…those who endure to the end will be saved.”  -Matthew 24:13

Confusion on Route to Emmaus

12 Aug

So, this screen has been blank for quite some time now.

I’ve been in this strange “I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling” phase for longer than I would like to be.  It’s frustrating and absolutely uncomfortable.  I’m grateful for spontaneous, intentional phone calls from good friends that steer your wandering heart right back on track.  Thanks Nena for inspiring me to press in and write again.. even just one more *smiles*

Here I am thinking through the passage in Luke 24 when Jesus meets with two disciples on the way to Emmaus.

They’re so gloomy and discouraged.

In the midst of their grief and ‘lack of hope’ banter — Hope arrives on the scene.  The passage says that “Jesus came near and started walking along beside them. But they did not know who he was.”  

I’m trying to wrap my mind around this: disciples of Jesus feeling disheartened and sad about what happened to Christ and not being able to see him alive .. and in the midst of their pain, Jesus draws near and walks beside them.  They are so disheartened by their circumstance that they completely disregard the One they ached to see walking with them.

How does this even happen?!

I’ll tell a crack at it..

A broken and hurting heart can lead us down very dark roads.  A road where hope and joy and truth are banned to enter.  Instead, we find ourselves walking alone.  On the ‘good days,’ when you can muster an ounce of energy to cry out to God asking where He is and why He refuses to show up.. your heart deceptively covers the Truth.  The Truth that the Lord has come near in our pain and that He is walking beside us.

The heart really is a deceitful thing when it is not anchored in the hope of Christ.

So, I’m thankful for a couple things:

  • God created my heart.
  • God is the keeper of my heart.
  • God is greater than the lies of my heart.
  • God is faithful even when I am faithless.
  • Christ is near, intimately near, walking with me on my journey to the destination.  The ultimate Destination.  Home.

Take some time to reflect on the above.

Those Truths surpass whatever you are feeling right now.

Remind yourself in moments of chaos and confusion, that God is for you and that He is always, always, always working everything out for your good and for His ultimate glory.  Rest in that love.  It’s unreal.  You won’t be able to find that anywhere else.

Currently Listening: “I Shall Not Want” by Audrey Assad

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Nena, This one’s for you love.
Let’s admit it, you’re my only reader!  *smiles*
Thank you for pushing me to write.. to dig down deep to uproot Truth..
..and for loving me as we walk together to Emmaus.
You are kind. You are beautiful. You are inspiring.
I love you.

Fantastic Chandler Interview

12 Aug

Fantastic interview by Pastor Matt Chandler from The Village Church for Blaze..

Continue to pray for the work happening there and for all the leaders God has placed in your own life.. The struggles are real.. Let’s learn to live life with others more better than before..

Be intentional.

Be uncomfortable.

Be authentic.

Be compassionate.

..and above all, LOVE.

Matt Chandler Interview

Week in NYC & Life Lessons

26 Jul

I spent the entire week in NYC as my cousins just had twins and they’re in the process of moving.  It’s been a busy week to say the least.  A lot can be learned when you spend a week with three children under the age of 2.  People were not kidding when they say sanctification at its finest occurs through marriage and parenthood.  Spending the week with these kiddos taught me a few things about myself: I’m impatient, too easily frustrated, selfish, and a sleep snob.  How about those lessons?  Not fun to chew on.. especially when the vessels God chooses to use are absolutely adorable and edible.

Funny things happen (..and by funny, I mean so not funny) when you’re running low on sleep.  You say and do ridiculous things.  I won’t go into detail because I think there’s too many to count and let’s be honest, I’m not proud of them, ha.  As I’m wrapping up my trip the Lord has really been convicting my heart of all that’s in there.  There’s a lot.  Trust me.  Gross, really.  Two things: (1) it’s so frustrating humbling seeing your own sin magnified and it’s (2) so relieving knowing that the blood of Jesus completely covers over all of that sin and I’m somehow being made more like Him in the midst of the awareness.

I guess that’s what Christ meant when He said that we can’t enter the Kingdom without being like ‘one of these’.  Children.  There is a purity of heart, simplicity of faith, and complete trust and dependence.  I’ve never seen anything like it honestly.

I’m grateful for the love of God. . the fact that He is so slow to anger, abounding in love, and ridiculously rich in mercy.  There’s much for me to learn.  So much.  I love Him.  After this week, I’m even more aware of that desperate love.  I can’t seem to do life right without Him.

Hot mess.

Sometimes, the things that hurt the most make us more aware of our need to cling to the Cross and His grace.  And so here I find myself, barely hanging on, but somehow hanging.
You know I can’t end this blog without showing you my week in pictures.  I love my niece and nephews.  They are an answer to many prayers and a means of grace in our lives.

Naaman Jacob, Matthew Philip, and Amelia Madhuri Varghese.

photo (5)Tons of selfies were taken by this little man

photo (6)Naaman and I went on daily walks about the city and fun trips to Central Park

photo (7)Yup, bed head and sleepy faces every morning!  Nothing like it. 
On another note, I didn’t wear one ounce of make-up all week!  When you’re chasing kids around like a headless chicken all day, there really seems to be no point.  I didn’t miss it one bit.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetI woke up to this face every morning.  Sometimes, I would simply just watch him while he was still asleep.  Borderline creeper, I know.  I cannot help it!  I would lay my hand on his back every morning and pray that the Lord would open His eyes to the Gospel and that all he would remember looking back was a life in step with Christ.  Time moves too quickly for these moments not to be cherished.  Every single one.
Naaman, Sheryl Aunty loves you so much.  There are no words to describe how much you make me want to be more like Christ.

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Mornings with Matthew were every bit special.  I love this boy’s personality, even now.  Unlike his twin sister, there is a calmness and laid back ‘boy-like’ quality to his demeanor.  He is an observer.. constantly looking around.  I absolutely love holding his hand in mine.  There’s a contentment with it.  We became quick buddies.  Matt genuinely makes my heart very happy.  I can’t wait to watch him grow up and see how he takes ‘middle child’ to a whole new plateau.

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Putting my little lady to sleep everyday was a highlight.  She would cuddle into the crook of my neck and I pretty much melted into a puddle on the floor.  Every time.  Amelia’s middle name ‘Madhuri’ means ‘sweetness‘ in Sanskrit.. and she is simply that!  She also has sass for days, even at 1 month.  She is every bit dainty and lady-like.  She’s the baby in the family with 2 big brothers who have their own unique personalities.  I don’t doubt one bit that she can and will be holding down her own quite well.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetThey say hello.. and goodnight friends!

Building Walls and Painful Love

25 Jul

Ever felt wronged by someone and find yourself building the Great Wall of China around your heart because you’re too worked up to allow yourself to see clearly?

Worked up may be an understatement.

Frustration turns to legitimate anger.  Anger turns to unhealthy silence.  The silence leads to feelings of betrayal, bitterness, and un-forgiveness.

You can be at this state of reclusion and frustration for days weeks if someone doesn’t love you enough to forcibly pull you out of it.

Oh wait, you don’t have this issue?  Sure.. I don’t either..

Let’s just say I do.. for the sake of writing this blog.. *smiles*

The heart is a very delicate thing.  Maneuvering around it is one of the hardest things to do.  When cracks begin to form, the ground might as well have split in half, because often times that’s what it feels like.  You lock and chain it because vulnerability is not fun.. easy.. and can be uber humbling.  What makes you feel more small than having to take the lock and chain off the heart and expose yourself to hurt over and over again.. and find yourself repenting more than you have fingers and toes?

Sometimes I wish loving people was easier, like snap-of-a-finger easy.. instead of pulling teeth painful.  It’s uncomfortable.  Awkward. Makes your thoughts go into overdrive so you find yourself blogging just shy of midnight, simply to get it all out of your system.  If someone warned me as a child that being a Christian required death to myself constantly, I probably would’ve thought through the decision of following Christ till I was blue-in-the-face before actually deciding to make it.  The hardest thing for me to do in moments of hurt and pain is to allow death of those feelings to occur.  I would rather dwell on the feelings and get into my shell because it’s a ‘safe place’ where no one is allowed to enter unless invited, and let’s be honest, no one gets invited to that place.

As I find myself working through these feelings, I’m blown away by God’s love for me.  He sees the depths of my heart and doesn’t run away.  You know, the ‘safe place’ where no one is invited and somehow He’s always the uninvited guest.  Mind BLOWN!  I can’t get over that love because I have never seen anything at all like it on this side of Heaven.  As I think about Christ’s physical death because of the Father’s stubborn love towards me, it makes me wonder how much dying to self is simple really when it comes to our relationships with people.

The love of Christ should compel us to love others instead of draw us to hate others and love ourselves.

Relationships are so difficult.  Can I get an amen?  We’re broken, messed up sinners constantly needing grace upon grace to simply get us through conversations.  We love our own glory and run from making His greater.  So, I’m really grateful for the Holy Spirit and his constant push in our lives towards holiness, the resounding conviction we feel when we know how sinful our heart is and how Holy and loving our God is.  I’m thankful that God chooses to work through broken, messy people.  Through this dynamic, I’m blown away by how much greater love is than hate.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  And then some.

This same love breaks down ancient walls.  Now you begin to realize that man-made walls don’t protect, they in fact destroy.

Love protects.

Love guards.

Love cherishes.

Love covers.

…and it never, ever fails.

I’m trying to think past the feelings of pain and think upon love.  Wanna join me?

“Friends, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”  -Philippians 4:8

Intimate Strangers

26 Jun

Navigating through these survey responses sometimes makes me feel like a stranger in my own home.  Out of place at times.  I’m trying my best to navigate through them without feeling the need to grab a pint of Häagen-Dazs and eat straight out of the container.

The affects of the hundred crunches I did this morning tells me to refrain from it and I begin to pour through the responses.

Something clearly sticks out to me.

Ladies in their twenties find intimacy to be a scary thing.

They use words like “nervous” .. “scary” .. “frightening” .. “cautious” 

In a world where sexuality is on full blast, intimacy is often pushed under the rug.  How can we be so comfortable yet so uncomfortable?

- – -

Observations on Intimacy: 

(3o0 ppl. surveyed)

(1) Twenty-something men generally think of the act of physical sex as intimacy.  Simple response.  Black and white, really.  Sex was the most common word that came up in their responses for their thoughts on “words that come to mind when you think ‘intimacy'”.

(2) Twenty-something women described their feelings when they thought of words describing intimacy.  They shared their fears, doubts, reservations, and insecurities.

(3) Men describe intimacy in clear-cut lines, tangible black and white categories, while women are not able to disconnect tangible affection from the emotional. There is a lot of room for gray and color with them.

(4) Brokenness in intimacy among twenty-somethings is the common elephant-in-the-room.

- – -

In many ways, the difference between men and women in terms of intimacy is vast and loud.  I can’t help but wonder what are some of the experiences that women have felt or have seen that cause genuine fear.  Where’s the disconnect?  Relationships and marriages often involve intimacy, but for many, one or both individuals approach it as strangers.

Can you imagine.. intimate strangers?  

Everything in me wants to close the gap.

I’m going to put this on pause for now.. giving us some time to chew on the above.. and I’ll share more of my thoughts on intimacy among twenty-somethings in a little bit.

Think & Chat: How do we bridge the gap between strangers?  How can we perceive intimacy through a lens that is restored, healthy, and pure?  What are some external factors that change the perception of intimacy today?  What are some things that come to YOUR mind when you think about this idea of ‘intimate strangers’?  Let’s begin to talk these things out..

Can you Have Your Cake and Eat it Too?

18 Jun

Eat Cake

They want to have their cake and eat it too.

This is the trend I’m beginning to notice with men that I’ve had conversations with recently.

Everything in me wants to scream in frustration, but I put aside my temper (to match my ‘what should be red hair’) and I listen.  I stop conjuring up a response in my head and simply listen.  There’s something to be said about choosing to be slow to speak and being quick to hear.  Conversations tend to go a LOT better.

Four very different men who wouldn’t label themselves as ‘practicing Christians’ chatted with me on this concept.

They want the ‘good girl’.  

What’s the good girl?  The girl who is kind, loving, responsible, family oriented, no drama, intelligent, beautiful, funny, and has morals.  The irony in this is they find themselves attracted to girls who follow Jesus.  They interact with them at work or in school or even through friends every day.  Funny how that works right?  They spend so many years avoiding the one thing that is now beautiful to them: the work of Jesus in the life of a messed up person.

They want ‘the bad girl’.

What’s the bad girl?  The girl who is feisty, takes risks, isn’t waiting to always be led but takes the lead sometimes, doesn’t think about consequences, lives out the here and now, mysterious, and open-minded in all things sexual.

This is the struggle.  They cannot imagine relationships not revolving around their physical desires.  This leads them to temporary solutions. They’re always wanting more.  Always. They have one foot in the door and one foot out the door.  So begins the downward spiral of rebound relationships, broken hearts, hooking up, and one-night-stands.

Hip hop artist, Drake, has a song that is titled “Hold On We’re Going Home”.  The entire song is about this idea of a man spotting out a woman he is drawn to that is genuinely a ‘good girl’.  On the surface, she is exactly like the other girls, but he finds her to be different.

That’s the pattern I find with these conversations I’m having – they want the good girl, but they also want the bad one.  A Jekyll and Hyde thing really. They want to have their cake and eat it too.  Can it be done though?  Does it truly satisfy?  I’d have to say no.  Sure, from the eyes of a young Christian lady, all that I see is through the lens of the Gospel, so I could be accused of having a major bias — which is why I ask those who don’t currently have the same lens if it’s possible to be done and be permanently satisfied.  I’m yet to receive a ‘yes’ response.

In a world where we tell ourselves we can have our cake and eat it too, let’s think for a moment..

Religion and belief aside.

Race and ethnicity aside.

Gender aside.

Socio-economic status aside.

Does this way of thinking and living bring you long-lasting contentment?  Does it truly work?  What compels you to want both?  Is there something deeper than what your eyes can see?

Go deep. 

There is one who has all of the answers to your questions.  He is the answer.  I can promise you one thing: if you seek Christ – you will find Him.  If you find Him, you will realize that nothing on earth compares to knowing and loving Him.

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Let’s chat: What do you think about this emerging trend?  Do you agree or disagree with the ‘have your cake and eat it too’ policy with relationships?  Grab a cup o’ Joe and share your thoughts.. I’d love to hear from y’all!

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