dear man in the mall.

dear man in the mall who started walking beside me in order to tell me that I was sexy…there is a difference between a compliment and harassment. here is what you did:

  1. You started to follow me and walk in step beside me. It was disconcerting to say the least.
  2. You at first told me you liked my style. I said thank you (politely) and sped up. You then proceeded to match my pace and followed me to tell me you thought I was sexy.
  3. When I asked you to kindly not go there (while I was still walking away from you) you started calling after me that you only wanted to compliment me.

A compliment is meant to come from a place of respect. It is not meant to make someone feel uncomfortable or unsafe. What you did sir, was harassment.

It is hard being a woman in a culture where men feel free to stare, catcall, and debase women (heck, our own president endorses that behavior). It is difficult to be a foreign-looking woman who can understand EVERY WORD being said about her in the local language. It is grating to think, that for a second, I considered what I had done or WORN to merit your harassment. That should have absolutely nothing to do with it (for the record – I was wearing jeans, flat boots, and a turtleneck). Was I not wearing my patented “resting bitch face”? I had hoped that would deter unsavory types like you from approaching me.
If you really want to pay women compliments, you need to realign your understanding of the differences between genuine praise and harassment. Please don’t make it any harder for me to simply BE a woman than it already is.

For more information, here is a helpful article: 6 Essential Differences Between Compliments & Sexual Harassment

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the pains of humility.

Note: The past two days have been a study in humility. In choking down my pride and in accepting correction.

Valentine’s Day. The last Valentine’s I had I was in a relationship and I received a plethora of jewelry from my now ex-boyfriend. It was not expensive – but it was a thoughtful gift. He had made sure that each piece would fit my personality. Two months later it was over.

This Valentine’s Day I was emotionally raw. I had tried to share my feelings with a close friend. I was hoping for some comfort. And, like the true extrovert I am, I was hoping for some company. Only to learn that my friend had been invited to another Valentine’s event by a mutual acquaintance – one I was not invited to. It was hard not to feel somewhat betrayed. Logically I know my friend had nothing to do with my not being included. She has no say over who attends this event. She did not even plan it. It was not the lack of invitation that I felt hurt over. I could not explain why I was feeling so hurt until it hit me. I was hoping for some expression of sorrow – and of comfort. I wanted so badly to hear “I’m sorry you weren’t invited, I would have liked for you to be there.” Even if it was not up to her. But my friend is an introvert. And to an introvert, silences are most comforting when one does not know what to say. To an extrovert however, silences are understood as a lack of care or feeling. So here I am, struggling to be logical while my heart and emotions pester me to continue to be hurt. But, I had made another discovery as I sat alone on my unmade, stripped down bed. I discovered that at times, I can be a spoiled, indulgent, entitled child. I am someone who expects every day to go perfectly. And when a day somehow veers out of my control or goes awry I swell up in (what I believe to be) righteous fury or I wallow in despair. Certainly I am not the first woman who has had to spend a Valentine’s alone. Certainly this does not mean that I am not well-loved. My friend has spent the last four Sundays with me, patiently being a quiet comfort while I cry and rage at God. She sends me encouraging texts every morning and night. She invites me in even though I know I often invade her precious time and space. I know our friendship has forced her out of her comfort zone and yet she plods through, putting my needs above her own on many occasions. If that is not an assurance of love I do not know what is. I must remember that a painting is the sum of it’s brush strokes – and not simply as good as it’s last one. A book is formed by all of it’s chapters – not merely a paragraph at the end. Humility Lesson #1.

Then today, my dearest friend in the world – the person I consider as a sister of my heart and soul – informed me that a mutual friend of ours had sought her out for a project. This friend of ours had introduced her to a person she would be working with. That person (as our mutual friend well knows) is someone who has hurt me considerably. She has hurt me so badly that we have not spoken in years. And here she was, daring to communicate with a member of my family. I again felt the sting of betrayal. This time directed to the friend who had acted as a bridge between who I consider most precious to me and who I would rather forget exists. Why did she not inform me? Was this the only project she could offer my friend? Again, I had to swallow my pride. This is a wonderful opportunity for my friend. I think the hurt stems from being kept in the dark – not being consulted or forewarned. But then again why do I feel entitled to being forewarned? No one owes me any explanations. Though I still admit to feeling a lack of care in the handling of the situation that pokes at my insecure heart, I can also admit that this is not about me. This is about my wonderfully talented friend – and another friend who saw fit to provide her with an opportunity. Humility Lesson #2.

I also need to admit I felt a certain sting that my dear friend was still willing to work with this person. That she did not immediately say “well now I will never work with her because she hurt you!”. Even as I logically told her (and myself) that she would be remiss to pass up this opportunity. I am a flawed emotional human being. And I badly wanted to hear some assurance that she was hurt on my behalf. But why should it always be about me? Can I not simply revel in the fact that someone who has supported me and loved me through my darkest hours is getting a wonderful opportunity to shine? Oh, it is not fun to be an adult and learn that you have the capacity to be as petty and immature as a child. Humility Lesson #3.

It is so hard for me to accept that my feelings might be out of place. Because, I have had a lifetime of learning to marshal my feelings – always trying to be perfect and proper and above all else, logical. Because of this, I resent any suggestion that my feelings might be pointing me to believing untruths. I have an insatiable need to be in control of my feelings and I do not like when my emotions get the better of me. I do not like that I feel hurt. I keep telling myself I do not have the right.

But perhaps – having the right to feel hurt – is not at all the same as being right because of your hurt. In other words, they can be mutually exclusive. I am hurt – and that is not wrong. But it does not mean that I am correct in my assumptions that I have been wronged. Perhaps I can acknowledge the feelings, then move on without attempting to control the world around me or have it suffer for (in my eyes) failing me.

Learning humility is a tricky business.

1 am.

What am I doing at 1 am? I am recovering. I am saddened and burdened by the weight of my sins. I did not notice the slippery slope of sin until I was at the bottom – surprised I had fallen so far.

1:10 am: I am searching for a way out. For a lifeline. For God to say He still loves me and I am forgiven and one day I will come to myself. This is not who I am. This body, these feelings, this utter lack of control. This is not what is truest about me.

1:20 am: I am uncomfortably reminded of God’s grace. “Uncomfortably” because I have not earned it. I am undeserving. A worm. The lowest of the low. That He chooses to forgive – more so – to love. It is inconceivable. And yet it is so. I twitch in my seat. How can I accept this gift?

1:30 am: I am saddened. I know my response to His great gift of love and mercy will be to ignore it. Not today – but some other day in the distant future. I will be careless with His bleeding heart. I will look at His precious gift and say “hmm. I will choose to do what I want to.” And oh how I will hurt Him.

Some days I lack the hope. But His mercies are new. Nothing can separate me from His love. Not my hopelessness, not my sin, not demons nor angels, not His hurt, not my callousness, not my own will. I cannot escape Him. And how glad I am for that. That He is relentless for me. Where no one will chase me He will follow. He will pursue. My God is not a watcher. He is not an observer while I drift farther and farther away from Him. He will hem me in, behind and before, side to side. He is power and love all at once. He is the good shepherd. He will seek out the 1 unworthy lost sheep. I hold these truths to my heart. This is real. This is true.

notwearied

because bravery.

A brief introduction to this blog post…I wrote this a year ago when I was starting to see the cracks in my relationship with my ex. It’s bittersweet to read now – knowing what I know – that my wishes and dreams and hopes have turned to ash and dust. But in spite of that, I am so very proud of how brave I was. Brave enough to love and to risk my heart. My good friend Isa Garcia said it best (in her book Found: Letters on Life, Love, and God)…”only the vulnerable heart can love rightly”.

One of the best compliments you’ve given me is to tell me you see an inner core of strength in me. I wish you could always see that. Sometimes it hurts when I hear you voice your concerns. Concerns about me being fearful, loving routine, not taking risks. I wonder if you see my desire for stability and security and safety as a noose around your neck. The truth is you probably don’t feel that way. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if you do. The fact that it concerns you must mean something. Maybe it isn’t a big deal at all but it must mean something. Otherwise it would not be a concern.

I wish you could see me being brave every time I open up to you. Every time I let you in. Every time I open up a wound or a scar and expose myself so you can have a bit more of my heart. These are all moments of bravery. Because I do not know the ending to this story. I do not know if it will be worth the sacrifice and the risk I am taking with my heart. I do not know if I will give you pieces of me only to have to watch you walk away with them. Yes, I am fearful. I am human, and risking your heart is one of the scariest things you can do. But I wish you could see the bravery in every fear I face with you. I wish you could see how valuable that is – to find someone who will face their fears with you, instead of someone who has no fears at all.

Maybe you do see that.

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these many little deaths.

A lot has happened in not-quite-a-year. The long and short of it is I found myself in a relationship, I fell in love, he broke my heart. A sad but familiar tale…and I am still reeling from it.

The first part of my year-long relationship was filled with highs. I felt loved, cherished, wanted and cared for. I resolutely ignored the red flags because there was just so much good. And there truly was…The Guy was so thoughtful and considerate most of the time that I overlooked his reticence to define the relationship, his habit of being triggered by my teasing jokes, and his reluctance to get to know my friends. The second half of our relationship was an emotional rollercoaster filled with really high highs and really low lows. I found myself in a relationship where the physical intimacy had escalated considerably (we fell short of going all the way). I take full responsibility for my part in letting that happen…but…I was in love. And that aspect of our relationship seemed to be the only way we could truly connect (Red flag). Unbeknownst to me, The Guy was having doubts the entire duration of the relationship. Ultimately, he broke up with me (3 days before his birthday and 4 days before our anniversary) because he felt we were too different. He thought my passions in life were shallow. We were vastly different on what we found important in life – he wanted to serve in a grand way and I wanted to affect my inner circle. Something that I had brought up several times and he had reassured me was “no reason to break up”. Oh the irony.

I cried for the whole day when we broke up, and a week later I cried through a more rational conversation on why we were breaking up. I shared my grievances and thanked him for the good times and thought – at least we’ll have ended gracefully.

A month later, he emailed me. He had been thinking about our relationship and wanted to talk. When I emailed back to ask what he wanted to talk about I got a cavalier “just want to see what’s new in your world” reply. This was more painful than the actual breakup. The fact that it seemed he had moved on so quickly tore at my insides. I politely worded an email thanking him for the breakup and for having the courage to do what I couldn’t and that I would be willing to speak to him if he had something he wanted to discuss but that I didn’t think it was healthy to “just say hi” to the man who broke my heart. He succinctly responded with “this was a mistake, I won’t contact you again”. I cried another million tears.

4 months later the scars are still fresh – although I can stare at them without crying all the time. I miss him still. You don’t stop loving someone just because they’ve hurt your or behaved badly. Your heart needs to heal and to patch itself up slowly. I miss his gravelly voice, being able to reach out and feel his scruff. I miss starting and ending my day talking to him and Skype sessions over the weekends. I miss the security I had knowing he found me utterly beautiful even without a stitch of makeup on.

Now I feel like an insecure shell of the person I was in that relationship. I struggle to hold on to that belief and security that who I am matters. He broke something in me by breaking up with me. I feel like perhaps I have nothing worthwhile to offer a man. That I am not interesting or intelligent because I didn’t have a grand vision for my life like he did. I feel stupid for having loved him (and at times, loving him still) even though it was clear he was holding back. I struggle all the more with sexual sin because I am trying to recapture that feeling of being cherished and wanted. Even though he and I “messed up” it was still less than how I feel I am “messing up” now! I feel so far from God – it is a struggle daily to read my Bible and it is even more of a struggle to remain pure of heart and mind. Its as if I am stuck in quicksand and the harder I struggle the more entrenched in the bog I become.

I hold on to the hope that I have in Christ – that he will ultimately be the one to drag me out of this. That there is grace upon grace available to me. I have never felt more undeserving of it. Maybe one day I will wake up and the fog will have cleared.

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Disclaimer: at his heart, my ex is a good person. he has some faults (as do I) and there is blame to share for how this relationship progressed. this post is only detailing my side of the story and my own feelings and interpretations of our breakup

this discontent.

In 2 days it will be my birthday. I will be 1 year older. In the space of a year so much has changed. Early in the year I went on a grand adventure hoping to find myself. Instead a door closed. I went back home feeling like I needed to stop wishing and hoping and dreaming. Soon after I went home I met someone. Unexpectedly I found myself in the middle of a long-distance dating relationship. The word “dating” is an important qualifier. We are not together-together. But we are getting to know each other exclusively and tentatively seeing if this is worth calling a “relationship”. So surprise surprise. I find myself wishing and hoping. And trying to keep the dreaming to a minimum. These are all important milestones in my life. But they are not everything. I find myself wishing and hoping and dreaming of something more. Something bigger than myself and bigger than my dreams. Something to fill the God-shaped hole in my heart.

I spent the day unshowered, reading a book about a dark fairytale (aren’t they all dark though?) and feeling depressed and alone and unloved. I knew it was not true. but I also knew something was wrong. I had not talked to God today. I had not talked to God, really talked to Him in a while. Well that’s not true. I talked to him about my life, about my feelings, my relationships…but I had not talked to him about myself. The deepest part of my heart that longs for something only He can give. I don’t think it is love – because I am certain I am loved. I think it has to do with purpose. About who He says I am and what I should do with this life should I be lucky enough to get another year to live it.

I feel as I have always felt – that I am not doing what He planned for my life. That I am still having days where I am unshowered, reading books till the late hours of the night, eating McDonald’s and leaving the paper bag and wrappers on the floor. A mess of a human being. When will I ever get it right? When will my life look like what I imagine it should be? A crusader who comes home after a long day of being Jesus to people, loving the unlovable, helping the weak and downtrodden. I don’t have a family of my own, I don’t have anyone to take care of. Can’t I use the time I do have to bless the less fortunate? To offer them my care and time and attention? I don’t know why it is so hard to do. Is my heart so closed off?

I feel like a fraud. Like a failure of a person, like a failure of a Christ-follower. I still worry about bills even as I purchase items for my upcoming holiday trip. I still question God’s grace and goodness even as I realize that I am getting to go on an all-expenses paid trip holiday trip around the world with someone I am coming to care for deeply. I can still see all that is lacking in my life even as I can see all the undeserved, unmerited blessings I am receiving.

What is wrong with me? I know what my friends would say. They would tell me that I am amazing, kind-hearted, and caring. I know what the man in my life would say. That if I want to do something to change my life I CAN. I know what my family would say. That I am an overthinker who is perpetually discontent.

I do not know what God would say. So on my birthday – this is my wish. To hear his voice. For Him to turn my head to the direction I should go and forcefully say – “Here. Do this. Be this. I will show you how. Chase after it with all that is in you. This is what I am choosing for you.”

Is that too much to ask?

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different needs.

As I continue getting to know the man I’m dating I’m finding it trickier to navigate our relationship. We both believe in really taking the time to get to know the other person and building a safe space while we do that. But I’m starting to feel like I’ve hit a wall as far as growing this safe space. We are dating exclusively – somewhere in between casually getting to know each other and being in a committed relationship. And I find myself liking him more and more and sharing my vulnerabilities and secret parts of myself. I am beginning to wonder – if this doesn’t work out, will I regret having shared so much of myself with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend?

When I talk to him I get the sense that he needs to feel that he has really gotten to know me before he decides whether he wants to take it to the next level. He needs time. But, when I search my heart, I’m starting to realize that I need that commitment to feel safe before I continue to share even more parts of myself with him. I don’t think either one of us is right or wrong. I think we just need different things.

And it’s not only the internal things. It’s also the physical side of the relationship. I was never the girl that wanted to save her first kiss for the altar. But at the same time I had never imagined feeling so connected, physically, with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend. I don’t regret experiencing those things with him but at the same time, a part of me questions whether I would regret it if we don’t ever get to a relationship.

It’s not an issue I can force. I can’t twist someone’s arm into giving me what I need at the expense of his own needs. I can, however, make decisions as to how much I do share or how much I am willing to do physically. I just worry that the boundaries I place on myself, particularly about sharing parts of my internal world, will make it harder for him to get what he needs – which is a deep sense of knowing a person.

It feels like a catch 22 sometimes. And I don’t have the right answers. At some point, I think someone has to bend. But how do you bend in such a way where you both feel you are still standing firm on your convictions? Or where you feel like a conviction has genuinely changed because you see the other person’s viewpoint and understand it, as opposed to changing because you want to give the other person what they want?

Tough questions to ask myself. And tough questions I’ll have to ask him eventually. In the meantime, I’m praying that God works in both of our hearts and minds to reveal the next steps He wants us to take.

This is hard y’all.