Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Drive (my first narrative I wrote)

This is a narrative that I wrote a few years ago and finally decided to publish on my blog website for everyone to read. Enjoy! 

People say that a good laugh and a long nap are the two universal cures for almost everything. However, I have my own method. I drive
Where I drive and for how long depends on three things: How much gas I have, what song is playing, and my state of mind. I drive for all kinds of reasons. I drive for my issues. I drive for every person who tries to break down these high walls i've built around my heart. I drive because of vulnerability. I drive to clear my head. I drive to make important decisions. I drive because i'm scared. I drive when I have no clue what i'm searching for in this life. 
But tonight, I drove for closure
I had just arrived at my home on Deakle Lane and gotten out of my car. As I was walking inside, I passed the spot where we shared our first kiss. You know the one. The small patch of grass beside the driveway sits shaded by the pecan tree above. I glanced at it, and I immediately felt it. The all too familiar pain of our memories came flooding back and ached like a twisting knife in the heart. I'm over you, right? The memories shouldn't still be here to haunt me. And I knew right then.. I needed to drive. 
The night was biting cold as I struggled to hold back my tears and make it back to my car, where I spent what seemed like ages fumbling with my keys until I finally felt the unlock button. I climbed into the driver's seat. It took a minute for me to move. I sat there instead with my hands on the wheel and my forehead pressed against it, taking in deep breaths of the cool air that was slowly becoming tolerable. Sitting up, I wiped my eyes.. though it was as useless as trying to stop a river from flowing. I had nowhere in particular to go, but somehow driving seemed like the only option.
I pulled out of my drive way and headed toward the main road. At the stop sign, my heart was aching to tug my wheel to the right. The right that would've brought me to your house in two and a half minutes. But instead, I went left. 
That left turn took me through a flashback of every memory we made in this small town, and I could hardly handle it. The pain was excruciating, and I couldn't understand why. 
The first place of significance that I passed was the Bayou La Batre Community Center. You used to play basketball there for fun every wednesday night with a random group of guys. You would beg me to bring you a gatorade but told me not to dress cute because "the other guys would stare at your girlfriend". I routinely went to the BP next door and brought you a drink in the middle of your game, but you didn't care. You would come home from those basketball games so frustrated sometimes, but we'd always find a way to brighten your mood again. 
After waiting far too long at the first light, I took a left at the CVS when it flashed green. I then passed Sonic. Our Sonic. The first time I ever went anywhere with you, you brought me here. You paid for my milkshake, we talked for a while, and you brought me back home. You were so nervous. Well, we both were. As I passed the location of our "first date", I saw it all play out, and through the tears, I smiled thinking about how awkward we both were at first.
The next place I passed was Hardee's. Our prime breakfast place. In the mornings, we came here. Mornings when we didn't come here, you were hand-delivering my egg and cheese biscuit and cold orange juice straight to my bed to wake me up with a kiss. The lump in my throat got bigger, and my chest felt like someone had dropped a cinder block on it. The pressure was overwhelming. 
With the drawbridge in my view, I passed Little River Road. The Levy was always our go to place for everything. Anytime we were fighting or just needed to get away from it all, The Levy was our beautiful escape. You could see every star in the night sky from our spot. The ache worsened.
My crossing over the drawbridge led me to pass the "Pack-a-Sack" gas station, as you called it. They always did have the best Icees. You taught me that the first Icee you get from the machine doesn't taste near as good as the second. I never understood this concept, but for some reason, it was always proven.
I took the scenic drive down to the Bait Shop and had flashbacks of all the fishing trips. There's nothing quite like the early morning sunrise over the Bay. It was always so breathtakingly beautiful. 
You know how the scenic drive goes. The bend takes us past your Dad's business, and then my Dad's shipyard. It's a drive we made more times than I could ever count. The spotlight was on at Rodriguez Boat Builder's. We fished under it several times and caught a few "special trout" while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. The next flashback I had is what broke me. I glanced over at one of the half finished ships sitting on the yard, and remembered the first time I brought you there. My dad had just finished an enormous jack up barge. I walked you all the way to the top of it, and we stood there and kissed while we overlooked the entire Bayou under the midnight sky. 
I couldn't do this anymore. Normally, driving is a solution. Tonight, it was a problem.
Until I turned around. 
I needed to get back home. I needed to heal in some other way besides allowing all of the memories and hurt to flood back in. But somewhere between "All Too Well" by Taylor Swift, and "Kiss Goodbye" by Little Big Town, I was fixed
When I passed back by Little River Road, it wasn't as beautiful as it once was. A large industrial building has overtaken the area, and it's so lit up that you can't spot a single star in even the darkest of skies. It had changed since it was ours. Strange, I thought. Why hadn't I noticed this on the drive in?
I passed Hardee's again and realized the sign was gone. It's closed. When did it go out of business? I wondered. And why hadn't I noticed it before? 
Sonic slowly dragged past my passenger side window, and it looked so dreary. All of the windows were boarded up, the sign was gone, and it looked abandoned. It was almost sad to see how vacant one of my old favorite spots now looked. 
Minute by minute, I could feel myself getting relief from the chest pain. The lump in my throat was subsiding. What was happening to me?
I took the right onto Deakle Lane, pulled into my drive way, and parked my car in my usual place, right under the glow in the dark basketball net that still hangs delicately where you placed it for me so many years ago. I wasn't ready to face the spot again. The place beside my driveway that made me ache in the beginning and caused me to drive. But I did it. I got out of my car. The cold wind burned my face, but when I closed my eyes, I could almost swear it was your warm breath brushing against my face again. I could almost feel your skin against mine. I could hear you whisper those three words.. those eight letters. And then, I bravely glanced over, and I realized something. The tears were gone. The place in my yard that was once so significant to me, looked different. The grass we had made memories on, was no longer beautiful. It was ugly and brown and withered and had obviously lost the magic it once possessed. It didn't look like the same place where I shared the first kiss with my best friend. Just like everything else I passed on my way home from my drive..It, too, had changed.
I almost laughed at the irony of it all. Every place I passed that night, every memory that crossed my tangled mind.. died when I realized the place itself had actually become insignificant. The only reason we hold onto memories so tight, is because memories are the only things that don't change.. even when the people in them do. Tonight, I drove for closure. I drove to forget you. I drove to love myself again. I drove to leave you behind along with every memory associated with you. I drove to start fresh and make new memories in the same places with someone else. 

and I'll never drive for the same reason again

Praise Him in the Hallway

We've heard the phrase "When one door closes, another one opens" more times than we can even count. But what happens when one door closes, and another doesn't open immediately? You experience a waiting game and aren't exactly sure how to deal with it. You constantly fear what happens next..Or you sit and ponder on your changed situation, wishing you could go back to "how things were." Stop.

If something in your life goes opposite than as planned, don't expect a better opportunity immediately. Patience is key. Instead, until this "new door" is opened, praise Him in the hallway and believe that it's all in His will.  It may not be tomorrow. It may not be next week, next month, or even next year. But God has a plan with your best interests in mind. You can't open your hands to what He's trying to give you next if you're still holding on to yesterday's junk. 

Stop waiting for that guy to call. Quit wondering why you weren't good enough to get that job. Forget that one mistake that you made four years ago. Don't beg him to stay. Quit stressing so much over financial difficulties. Don't worry, a baby isn't the end of the world. You will make it. If you didn't get in to nursing school, medical school, or some other program, maybe this is your opportunity to try something else or push yourself to work even harder to achieve your goals. Stop wondering what you did to cause someone hurt you. You aren't the problem. They are. Normal people don't go around destroying other human beings. Stop waiting for the day that your ex will come back. If they left in the first place, they aren't the one. You'll fight through this illness. Our God is a healer. Believe that. Not everyone is going to like you. Keep your close friends close and forget the others. Life is too short to be in the company of someone who genuinely doesn't want you there. I know you thought you'd end up with your high school sweetheart, but don't worry, you'll meet the one you're truly meant for when the time comes. Stop regretting words you've said. You said them. It happened. Move on. Stop worrying so much. Don't try continue things that were ended for a purpose. Don't put a comma where God specifically placed a period. You're going to make mistakes; the wrong career, the wrong major, the wrong boyfriend. Everything happens for a reason. You'll learn something, recover, and come back better than ever.

I know you can't see it right now, but during these tough times, God is twisting you, molding you, and strengthening you. You're going to come out of this difficulty stronger than you've ever been. 

Sometimes there are things in our life that aren't meant to stay. Sometimes change may not be what we want, but it's what we need. Sometimes saying "goodbye" is one of the hardest things you'll have to do, but it's for the best. Sometimes change seems like too much to bear, but most of the time change is the only thing saving your life.

Let go and let God. I know that it's hard to accept this fact, but you are not the author of your life. Your story was written far before you were even brought into this world. Know that when something is taken away, He isn't trying to ruin your life. He is saying "I took this away because it isn't right for you. Move on. Try something else. Grow. Change. Strengthen your heart and mind." Your life may not be going as you planned it, but it is going exactly the way God planned it. 

Hope Rodriguez

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Advice for Upcoming College Freshmen

High school is SO different from college. When you make the transition from being a high school senior, to being a college freshman.. there is so much that you have to learn, and completely on your own. Now that i'm an upcoming senior in college, here are a few things I wish someone would've told me before I began.

1. Learn to Manage Your Time
People will try to drill this into your brain a billion times and you still won't do it. You MUST, MUST, MUST decide what is important and what isn't. Partying isn't important. Let me repeat that: PARTYING ISN'T IMPORTANT. Buy a planner. Color code your classes in a different pen color. I get this weird invigorating feeling when I complete something and I get to highlight through it in my planner. I'm kind of an OCD dweeb when it comes to my planner. Like I actually use white-out in it. Another super nerdy thing that I do: Every night before I go to bed, I write out a schedule for the next day. Like "8:00-Wake Up. 9:00-Leave For Class. 10:30-Pathophysiology class 12:00-1:00 Lunch Break.." etc. That way, every day when I wake up, I know how much free time i'm going to have that day (or how much I won't), and I won't forget to do something. You don't have to be this nerdy and picky with your schedule, but it helps SO much. Don't put things off until the last minute. If you have a paper due, start on it over a week ahead of time. Do a paragraph per night and that way, you can rest the night before it's due, and it won't sound like complete crap. If you have a test coming up, don't just cram the night before. You have to study periodically in order for the information to transfer from your short term memory to your long term memory. If you're trying to take a test with information stored in your short term memory, excuse my language, but you're going to be screwed. I know because i've been there. I'm a major crammer. Time management is so important because it shapes your entire college experience. 

2. Remember Your Reason For Being There
Ahem. I'm going to step on my soap box for a moment. 
You aren't in college to have fun.
You aren't in college to see if you can join the best sorority/fraternity on campus.
You aren't in college to find a husband.
You aren't in college to see how many beers you can funnel in one minute. 
You aren't in college to win homecoming queen. 
You aren't in college to attend all of the hottest parties. 

You're in college to build your career. 
You're in college to shape your future.
You're in college so that you can help support a family one day.
You're in college because someone, somewhere has made that sacrifice for you.
You're in college to learn, to improve, to better yourself.

So many people forget the true reason why they're in college. That's when they start going out too much, missing class (or going completely hungover and half asleep), and failing. Please, please, PLEASE remember why you're there. It's okay to have fun. Just prioritize. 

3. Get Along With Your Roommate(s)
Oh my word. I'm speaking on this from experience. First of all, do not, and I mean DO NOT choose to room with your middle school/high school best friend. You will ruin your friendship. You may not think so, but it happens way too often. Room with someone that's a mutual friend, someone you barely know, or do roommate matching. If you don't get along with your roommate(s), you're going to be miserable. You'll fight over the thermostat, you'll fight when each other has company over, you'll fight over dish duty, you'll fight over one of you eating the other one's food, you'll fight over who's making too much noise while the other is sleeping, you'll fight over your pets, you'll fight over almost anything. Living with someone isn't easy. I know first-hand. Just be careful. Set ground rules from the beginning about having friends over, cleaning, etc.

4. Get Involved.
No, I don't mean frequent your local college bar so much that the bartender remembers your favorite drink. Get involved in clubs. Volunteer. Go to your local animal shelter and ask if they need any volunteers or help with adoption days. Join clubs that interest you. Play on an intramural team. Make friends. Make at least one friend in every one of your classes so that you have someone to call when you miss class or need help.. trust me, this is SO beneficial. Just make sure it's mutual and that you offer to help that person as well. Improve your resume. Volunteer hours and involvement in clubs/extracurricular activities are so important. 

5. Fight The Freshman 15
I didn't gain the freshman 15. I gained the sophomore 7 when I went off to Tuscaloosa for a year. The worst part about this is, most of you won't even realize you're gaining weight. I surely didn't. I also didn't have a scale. It was hard for me to stay healthy when our Jimmy Johns in Tuscaloosa delivered 24/7. I was calling in a number 4 with no tomatoes at about 2am most nights. A little tip for you is: Eat a healthy breakfast and don't eat after 9pm. Avoid white bread and fast food. Park farther away from your classes and walk. Or if you live close to your classes, walk the whole way. If it's a nice day, go for a run around campus. You have free membership at your campus recreation center..take advantage of that. Carve out an hour of your schedule everyday to workout. I PROMISE you won't regret it.

6. Find Cheap College Text Books
Amazon and Ebay are life savers. End of story. 

7. Manage Your Stress Positively
I was the worst at this. If I got one bad grade, I would beat myself up over it for weeks. I would literally cry. If you fail a test, study harder for the next one. If you don't do well on a test, email the professor to set up an appointment so that you can review your test. That way, you know what you missed and you're able to learn and interact with your teachers. They'll LOVE that you're putting in an effort to improve. Nothing worth having comes easy. A's make you feel SO awesome, but if you want A's, you've got to work hard for them. Let me repeat that... Nothing worth having comes easy. Make your parents proud. Don't beat yourself up over a mistake. Go for a run. Take a relaxing bath. Go buy yourself a new outfit. If you stress, it's only going to make things worse. Stay positive :)

8. Get To Know Your Professors
I know, this sounds stupid.. but it's so beneficial. On the first day of class, if it's a huge class of people in a lecture hall, go up and introduce yourself afterwards. It's important for your teacher to know who you are. If you have questions, email them. Talk to them. If you see them outside of class, go up and speak. Also, ATTEND CLASS. At the end of the semester when you're on the border of being one letter grade up.. they aren't going to want to offer you extra credit if they don't even know your name or they never saw you in class. Be a suck up. You'll appreciate it at the end of the semester when you need a little boost. My anatomy teacher bumped me up an entire point and a half at the end of the semester when I needed it simply because I was in class every day and asked questions. 

9. Choose The Right Major
If you're anything like me, you'll change your mind a thousand times on "what you want to be when you grow up." I went from Nursing, to Pre-Med, to Criminal Justice, and now i'm back into Nursing and i've just started Nursing School this semester. Choosing your major is actually quite simple. Do what you love. If you love science and the human body, go into the medical field. If you're artsy or a great writer, and creative, do something that relates more to that area. If you're interested in the legal system and politics, go into that route. Here is the most important tip relating to your major: DO NOT CHOOSE A MAJOR BASED ON YOUR FUTURE SALARY. Yes, your income is important. But if you choose to pursue a career in the medical field because of your future paychecks, then I don't want you taking care of MY family. Major in something you're PASSIONATE about. Nursing interests me. I have two nieces who were in the NICU for a long time before being able to go home and a grandfather who passed away in the hospital with pancreatic cancer. The nurses reached out to my family, cared for my family members like they were their own, and were so passionate in their job field. I want to be that way. I want to make a difference. I want to be the person to hug the family members when their mother or father or child doesn't make it. It's my passion. Find yours. If you're doing something you truly love, you won't feel like you're truly "working" a single day of your life.

10. Don't Ever Forget Who You Are
This is the single most important thing on my entire list. Don't lose yourself when you get into college. If you join greek life, don't lose your originality. And if someone won't accept your originality, you shouldn't compromise who you are in order to satisfy them. Do what you love, be who you are, and be proud of it. Don't ever let anyone dull the shine that God gave you. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner

The stares. The look of disbelief and disgust blatantly showing on your faces. The whispers. The judgement. The exile. You've done it all. You've looked at a person, simply looked at them, maybe even gotten to know them, and thought "wow, they really have some issues." Or maybe someone in your life messed up. Someone you thought was the perfect image of Christ, finally showed you that they, too, sin. What did you do after that? You pushed them away. Far out of your overly righteous sight.

I think the problem with some of us Christians today is that we're too focused on fleeting away from anyone who sins differently from us. If they do something other than the "quiet" sins we're used to such as lying and gossiping, we distance ourselves. What some of us don't understand is that our role as followers of Christ isn't to separate ourselves from those who are lost, but to save the lost. If you're afraid these so called "lost" people are going to rub off on you or influence your salvation if you get too close, then it's YOU, my friend, that needs to work on their relationship with God.

Question: Are you a friend of sinners? Do you spend time with people who don't know Christ? Do you reach out to those whose lifestyles may be offensive to you? Those whose reputation among the "saved" like us, is an embarrassment and even a scandal? Do you love sinners, care for sinners, reach out to sinners?

If you answered no to any of those questions, you're doing it wrong.

It isn't our job to judge what is right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable, just and unjust. This is going to burst a few people's bubbles, but we weren't put on this earth to condemn people to hell who aren't like us. We need to stop walking around thinking we're too holy to be seen or affiliated with those whose lives are a constant shipwreck. We need to realize that we, too, are in desperate need of God's mercy.

If you know the bible at all, you know that Jesus was a friend to the sinners. He reached out to three groups of people in particular: 1) the unlikely, 2) the undesirable, and 3) the spiritually unhealthy. Look at a few stories in the bible, get to know the characters, and ask yourself two questions: With whom do I most identify? Am I loving and serving sinners like Jesus? To reach the lost, you have to actually BE with the lost. Bigotry of whatever sort is always sad, ugly, and pathetic. It is further evidence of our sinful and depraved hearts that desperately need the grace of God in our own lives. Don't ever look at yourself and believe that you're too righteous to ever fall short. It's so easy. Back sliding isn't always a slow process, either. A little here and a little there, and the next thing you know, you're so far from God you look around and wonder how you got there. You are always being tested. God constantly watches your response to problems, success, conflict, illness, disappointment, and people. Love leaves a legacy. How you treated other people, not your wealth or your accomplishments, is the most enduring impact you can leave on earth.  Do you want to be remembered as someone who turned their nose up at other sinners? Someone who judged the homosexuals, the prostitutes, the alcoholics, the adulterers, the thieves, the drug abusers, and the murderers.. instead of reaching out to them? When is the last time you invited a lost individual to attend church with you? Are you too ashamed to be seen with them? Are you too afraid they'll taint your "white as snow", "sin free" life style? Get a grip. No one is too bad to be saved. And you, certainly, are not so good that you don't need saving. We need to realize that we are all sick sinners that need the grace of God. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave..." He GAVE. Love means giving up-- yielding your preferences, comfort, goals, security, money, energy, and time.. for the benefit of someone else. In the bible, Paul tells us "Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again." Reread that sentence. Did he tell us to distance ourselves? Did he tell us to avoid sinners? No. Dig deep down into their hearts and pull them back to Jesus Christ. It's sad that in God's flock, the greatest wounds come from other sheep, not wolves.

None of us are immune to temptation. Given the right situation, you and I both are capable of ANY sin. God knows this, so he has assigned us as individuals the responsibility of keeping each other on track. "Mind your own business" isn't a christian phrase. The bible tells us to "encourage one another daily, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." We are called and commanded to be involved in each others lives. Did it specify what kind of people or what kind of sins? No. If you know someone who has wavered spiritually, what are you waiting for? It is your responsibility to go after them and bring them back into fellowship. James tells us "if you know people who have wandered off from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back." Think about these things the next time you see someone whose life is a little off course. It's better to admit you're a sinner, than to make people believe you're without fault. The empty can be filled, but if you're so self-intoxicated.. you have no room for God. 

I'm a friend of sinners. I'm a daughter and a sister of sinners. I'm a lover of sinners. I seek sinners. I make an effort to save sinners. Why? Because I am one. And so are you. I'm not a saint. I'm a sinner that keeps on trying to be more like Jesus, and let his love shine through me. 

"I want to leave a legacy.
How will they remember me? 
Did I choose to love? 

Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? 
I want to leave an offering.
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically 
And leave that kind of legacy."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

People Aren't Lists

As most of you already know, I recently did a survey to find out what specific things (inwardly and outwardly) attract males and females to the opposite sex. I honestly didn't expect to get as many responses as I did, and they were pretty interesting. Here are some of the results:

What attracts Females to Males:
Outer (Physical Appearance)- 
Good Smile (15)
Pretty Eyes (10)
In Shape (8)
Tall (6)
Good Hair (3)
Facial Hair (2)
Tan (1)
Inner (Personality)- 
Good sense of Humor/Can make me laugh (19)
 Godly (11)
Responsible (8)
Outgoing (6)
Kind (6)
Intelligent (4)
Romantic (3)
Selfless (2)
Not controlling (2)
Country Boy (1)

What attracts Males to Females:
Outer (Physical Appearance)-
Good Smile (11)
Pretty Eyes (8)
Good Hair (4)
Cute Butt (3)
Nice Legs (2)
Blonde hair (2)
"Doesn't matter as long as attraction is there" (2)
Inner (Personality)- 
Good sense of Humor/Can make me laugh (11)
Confident (9)
Godly woman (7)
Intelligent (5)
Laid Back (4)
Not Fake (3)
Country girl (3)
Not afraid to be herself (2)

So, as you can tell, girls and guys are both attracted mostly to people with good smiles and the ability to make others laugh. But the truth is, even if someone has a good smile, and makes you laugh.. you're going to find something wrong with them. These two qualities alone aren't going to persuade you to date someone. So, let's say someone happens to have an incredible smile and is the most hilarious person you've ever met, but they have chronic acne and scars or thin brittle hair or they aren't really outgoing or they have an annoying laugh. They may have a few of your "qualifications", but their features on your "turn off" list will completely cancel out their perks. For example, say you're a girl.. and you meet a guy. He has this awesome personality, beautiful blue eyes, he's muscular, he loves the Lord, and he's not controlling. This same guy smiles and he has messed up teeth that are a slight shade of yellow, and occasional bad breath. BAM! You forgot about all of those other things as soon as I said that, didn't you?! Or let's say you're a guy, and you meet this sweet southern girl with a gorgeous perfect $5,000 smile, she's confident, she's sweet, but she's overweight and isn't very smart. Now, you not only have a qualifications list.. you have a turn off list as well. The truth is, we're too picky. If a guy treats you perfect, is a man of God, but doesn't look like a Calvin Klein model.. give him a chance. If a girl is an absolute sweetheart with a good head on her shoulders and a woman of God, but doesn't look like the girls in the Victoria's Secret magazine, give her a chance. People can surprise you, and you'd be shocked to see that what you thought you wanted.. actually isn't what you need. 

After asking everyone else what attracts them to the opposite sex, I got the same question several times. They would tell me their response, and then ask "Well what about you, Hope? What makes you attracted to a guy?" The truth is, I don't have a list. Everyone makes all of these lists in their heads about what they want in a lover. Like brown hair and a sweet voice. A sharp mind and a soft heart. A sense of humor that actually makes you laugh like you mean it. This and that. And it's all complete crap. Because people aren't lists. People shouldn't be compared to mental lists. I've always wanted to be the person who made someone realize that. I want to come across someone with a list in their head that is nothing like the person I am, and I want to show them what they didn't even know they were looking for. People who think they know what they want are fooling themselves. Nobody really knows what or who they want; not until it's right in front of them. 

"who are you, 
you are not a name
or a height, or a weight
or a gender
you are not an age
and you are not where you are from

you are your favorite books
and the songs stuck in your head
you are your thoughts
and what you prefer for breakfast 
on saturday mornings

you are a thousand things
but everyone chooses
to see the million things 
that you are not"

"That's always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they're pretty. It's like picking your breakfast cereal based on color instead of taste." -John Green

People are not their bra size, nor are they the width of their waist, nor are they the slenderness of their calves. They are not their hair color, their skin color, or a shade of lipstick. Their shoe size is of no consequence. They should NOT be defined by the amount of attention they get from males, females, or any combination thereof. People are not the number of sit-ups they can do, nor are they the number of calories they consume in a day. 

You are the content of your character. You are the ambitions that drive you. You are the goals that you set. You are the things that you laugh at and the words that you say. You are the thoughts you think and the things you wonder. You are beautiful and desirable not for the amount of attention you get from the opposite sex, but for the spark of life within you that compels you to make your life a full and meaningful one. You are beautiful NOT for the shape of your vessel, but for the volume of soul it carries. 

I think you could fall in love with anyone if you got to see the parts of them that no one else gets to see. Like if you followed them around for a day and saw them crying in their bed or singing to themselves as they make a sandwich. Or you saw the way they look when they wakeup and they've forgotten their surroundings. Or you saw the gasp they make when their favorite character dies in a movie. I think, after seeing someone at their most vulnerable moments.. you wouldn't be able to help falling in love with them.
So, forget your list. Be open minded. Enjoy the person that's in front of you. Give someone a chance that you normally wouldn't. Because people aren't lists

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tough Times Don't Last, Tough People Do.

When we're going through a tough time, no matter what it is, it feels easy for us to say no one understands how we feel. We often say that no one has been through our situation, no one has ever felt this low, and that there's no way things will ever get better. But I promise you, it does get better. It may not seem this way right now, but the pain will subside and you will smile again. I know how you feel.

I've been back stabbed by a best friend. I've lost loved ones. I've had my heart shattered into a million pieces by a guy I thought was in love with me. I've struggled with learning to accept the way God made me. I've compared myself to others far too often. I've failed a test. I've forgotten to do homework assignments. I've been lied to, used, and verbally abused. I've been hated for by sharing my opinion. I've had a huge crush on a guy who wouldn't even look twice at me. I've gained weight. I've said things I should've kept to myself. I've hurt other people on purpose simply because they hurt me first. I've had negative numbers in my checking account. I've fallen short of someone's expectations.  I've misplaced things and never found them again. I've forgotten deadlines. I've apologized to someone and not been forgiven. I've ended friendships that I felt were poisonous for my life and the way I want to live it. I've dated a guy whose parents would never accept me.  I've been faced with decisions that will hurt someone either way. I've been cheated on. I've had someone steal from me. I've cried myself to sleep. I've apologized for something that wasn't my fault.  I've wrecked my car. I've struggled while trying to balance school and work.  I've fought with my parents and my sisters. I've been led on by a guy with no intentions of loving me. I've been my own best friend. I've had people stop talking to me and give no explanation. I've been rejected. I've gotten drunk to side-step the pain. I've chosen not to apologize when I should have. I've been stressed out. I've worried about my future. I've gone down the wrong path. I've missed people that I pushed out of my life. I've been denied a second chance. I've made decisions that seemed great in the moment, but they've come back to haunt me later.  I've had days when everything has gone wrong. I've had regrets. I've made mistakes. I've sinned. 
But then again, haven't we all
You just read the above paragraph and made a mental checklist of everything you've been through. You're probably thinking "Wow, she understands!" I do. And once again I'm here to tell you, it WILL get better. After your troubling times have passed, you'll feel relieved and wonder why you were so depressed before. 
Let me remind you that Jesus was the most persecuted person during his day and time. 
When you're feeling alone and betrayed, think of yourself being improved.. Not beaten down. You're getting stronger. You're learning. You're developing a better YOU. The people who are your true friends and want the best for you, will still be there through it all.. Helping you up when you fall.. Encouraging you.. Pushing you forward on days when you feel useless. We need to stop thinking we're alone, and realize that we're ALL fighting our own battles, some even similar to others. Here is a relieving thought: Life on Earth was never meant to be perfect. Life on Earth is meant to be LIVED.. Through the good, the bad, and the toughly taught lessons. God would never give you something you weren't strong enough to handle.
 People say that the best way to get through something difficult is to remember that someone else is going through something much worse than you. But I disagree. I believe the best way to get through a hard time is to stay positive. Don't allow yourself to keep reminding yourself of the "what if's", but keep reminding yourself that this difficult time is making you stronger, wiser, and more equipped for future struggles. Everything will be okay in the end, and if it's not okay, it's not the end. 
So, forgive your friends that backstab you. When you lose loved ones, remember they've been welcomed into the arms of Jesus. If someone breaks your heart, thank them for making you stronger, and move on. Don't compare yourself to others. You were carefully thought out and created by God; remember this fact when you're hating the color of your eyes or the width of your hips. If you fail a test, study harder for the next one. When you're lied to, don't be so quick to trust that person next time. When people hate you for your opinion and how you agree and disagree on particular things, remember that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. Remember that people disagree with things that they believe as well. If you have a crush on someone who doesn't give you the time of day, move on. They aren't worth it. Someone else is wishing you'd notice them, too. Think before you speak. Don't hurt people just because they hurt you. Don't try to retaliate. According to Gandhi, "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." Don't worry so much about your weight. People come in all shapes and sizes. If you apologize to someone who doesn't forgive you, move on. You've done your part. Give them time and space. They may need it in order to heal properly. If you feel like a friendship is poisonous to your life, leave it behind. You should be surrounded by people who truly love you and desire the absolute best for you. If you date someone whose parents don't approve of you, stop wasting time trying to make them. Move on. Remember that if you marry them, you marry their family too. When the time is right, his parents will adore you. Don't spend time with people who genuinely don't want you around. If you fight with your parents and siblings, apologize. Be the bigger person. Don't let your selfish pride get the best of you. Don't get drunk to feel better. Alcohol and drugs may suppress the pain, but it is only temporary. You need a permanent fix. This comes from healing your heart and your mind. Substance abuse is not the way to heal. Don't worry about your future, it's in the hands of God and he will not betray you. If you miss someone you've pushed out of your life, let them go. What's done is done. There is no turning back. If you have days when everything is going wrong, remember that it's just a bad day.. not a bad life. We all sin. We all fall short of someone's expectations. We all live with regret. We all feel like we'll never be happy. But happiness is a mood, and it's only temporary. It's like being tired, or hungry, or angry. Happiness is here, and then someone pulls out in front of you on Airport Boulevard and it's replaced with frustration. It's that easy. Don't minimize the pain, acknowledge it. Keep your head up, remember you're not alone, and most of all
Don't ever let anyone dull the shine that God gave you.
"In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33