Honesty hour: From & for the one who’s always had it “all together”

Dear New York City,

You have been “home” in my heart ever since I moved here for the first time three years ago. I fell in love (almost instantly) with your beauty, your freedom, your people, and the sense and feeling of significance you gave me. I convinced myself that I needed you like I needed air.

I moved back to be with you again three months ago. Quietly and noncommittally (two suitcases worth of clothes, a temporary agreement to continue my job remotely to keep me afloat financially while I looked for a new job, and a sublet expiring at the end of May), because truthfully, I didn’t actually know for certain that it was the right decision for me. What I did know, was that some part of me still loved you, and hadn’t quite learned how to let you go. Similar, although different, to how a breakup with very little closure feels. So I chose to step out in faith to figure out exactly what it was that made something in my heart so desperately want to be with you — knowing that Jesus would be with me (regardless of whether or not it was the “right” thing to do) and that I’d either fall easily back into stride and feel affirmed in my decision and called to stay, or that I’d hit a quick and painful dead-end, and realize that it was finally time for me to let you go. With peace and assurance  — not fear, doubt or hesitation… like the last time I left you. I was praying for the first set of circumstances. Praying hard from the moment I decided to move back that you’d open doors that would make it easy for me to stay. Not really believing, because I loved you so much, that the second set was even an option.

But sometimes, when we’re brave enough to take big leaps, we forget (or we’re blinded by things like pride or excitement) that we’re risking even bigger falls.

Here’s my honesty hour, friends…

I fell.

Hard and painfully, and without remembering to protect myself at all. I searched for every single small sign that I was meant to stay here, but came up short.

Just three months after moving back, I’m about to leave you. Again.

I’m moving my stuff home to Michigan on Monday, transitioning out of my job next week (without a new job lined up), and trying to make sense of why I walked myself into this season of unstable uncertainty in the first place. While to some (and to me, when I’m not careful) it may look like admitting defeat, the beauty of knowing Jesus is that when we hit (what we think is) rock bottom, He meets us there in good and beautiful and powerful ways we never saw coming. And starts to rebuild something in our lives and in our hearts that’s so much greater than what we were building ourselves.

So this time, when I leave, it’ll be with peace and confidence and assurance (but also, rightly so, with lots of fear). Because what I want more than anything, and what has been revealed to me since moving here (and truthfully, what I think only moving back here with fresh eyes really allowed me to see) is for Jesus to move into and take up residence in the space of my heart I let you live in for three years. I still love you, New York City, and probably always will, but I love Jesus more. And always will.

Although my life feels like a mess right now — and for those who have been walking with me for the past few weeks, I can’t tell you how much and how deeply I appreciate you holding me in ways I can’t hold myself — here are the things I know. Because when you’re in such an intense season of uncertainty (and if you’re anything like me), it helps to make a list of things you know for sure. (Believe me, if you’re hurting and wanting answers, this helps.)

Jesus is good. He always is and always will be. He works for my good. Always. He chooses me even when I don’t choose him. Over and over again. He forgives me for things I struggle to forgive myself for, and He works in those things to help me grow closer to and lean into Him more. He knows my heart and my desires because He created me. He takes my heart very seriously and never intentionally taunts or teases me. He wants the ultimate, eternal best for me, always. I may not get the privilege, right now, of knowing or seeing the big picture story He is writing, but at the end of the day, I can have confidence that He’ll never stop fighting for my heart. What a beautiful assurance.

Because of Jesus, I am freed from any and all guilt or shame or embarrassment I could ever feel about moving back here, only to leave again three months later. I’m free to admit that I hit a painful dead-end, but that it’s far from the end of my story.

I’m free from the pressure to “explain” myself to anyone. Sure, I get that people may be confused. (I am too.) And that moving three times in the course of three months is a little crazy. (Why can’t she learn to stay? Why isn’t she content and what is she looking for?) But what I do know is that because I know Jesus, I get to walk in freedom… knowing that although it seems crazy to most people who aren’t me, the only true opinion that matters is what Jesus thinks of me and my heart. And if I’m taking steps that lead me into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him, that’s all the affirmation and hope I need. *I say this not to dismiss myself from processing with people I love and accepting wise counsel and criticism (I’m doing lots of that too, believe me), but because I think that’s something we all need to be reminded of. Especially when we live in a culture where we’re expected to “announce” new jobs and “prove” ourselves and our accomplishments more than ever before. At the end of the day, Jesus’ opinion and my pursuit of Him is the only one and the only thing that really matters.

I’ve never felt so hungry for more of Jesus. I’ve never experienced a season where I want to know Him more intimately. I’ve never felt Him in the real and tangible way I feel Him holding me in the palm of His hand from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. Praise God for revealing more of Himself to me not because of what it will produce, but simply because He loves me with a kind of unconditional love I can’t even fathom.

God isn’t calling me to be awesome, He is calling me to be faithful. He is awesome, He is magnificent, He is writing the story, and He invites me to play a small, but extremely meaningful, part of it. What an honor.

In all my questioning and confusion about what’s next for my career and where I’m supposed to live, I can find comfort and clarity in knowing that I have been called, above all else, to love God and to love people. That’s it. I’m still wrestling with what that means and what the Lord is revealing to me while I lean into that more… But what I do know is that it’s become pretty clear over the past few weeks that Jesus wants me deep in the trenches. More than ever before, I am so confident that I’m meant to be in the business of broken hearts. Deep in the stories and hearts of young women, helping them seek and know and love Jesus more. Loving and revealing to them, just as He has revealed to me, how much He loves them and how faithful He is in healing broken hearts and broken stories. (That gives me chills.)

I have a plan for the month of June, and then after that, I get to lift my hands and trust God to open doors and opportunities that allow me to love God and love people as a full time job. For the next few weeks, I get to hop from New York to Colorado to Arizona, and then overseas to Ireland/England/Scotland (!!!) to spend time with people I love and in beautiful, sacred places where I’m hoping the Lord will speak even more into my uncertainty and questioning. I’m trying to learn how to be ok with letting myself rest and enjoy. For someone who always has it “all together,” (and also never jumps without a million + one back up plans), not having a long term plan is absolutely terrifying. But what a cool opportunity for the Lord to work in really awesome and healing ways. I’m choosing hope over fear and leaning into this time as a chance to slow down and refocus.

–  I want to write. Lots. Words are pouring out of me so fast, that even I can’t keep up with them. I can’t wait to see what that means.

So that’s it, friends. The truth and all the ways that Jesus is showing me that He’s the answer. And as much as I’m craving to know what the Lord has in store for me, as much as I want to move somewhere, call it home for a long time, and learn how to stay (so desperately), I think the Lord is asking me to sit in this season for at least a little while longer. We can resist the pain and brokenness and uncertainty, or we can let it help us kick out the stuff (and places and people) we’ve been letting grow in our heart that Jesus wants to take the place of instead. The hard part, for those of us who struggle with patience (I wear a bracelet everyday with the word patience on it), is recognizing that we don’t reap a harvest in the same season as we’re planting new seeds. So when we let Jesus plant new seeds in those spaces, as exciting as that is, we have to be ok knowing that we’re not going to see fruit over night. We have to give Him time and space to work in us and in our hearts. So that’s what I’m hoping the next few months become. Growing time — giving me a chance to rest and have faith in Jesus and His plans for me, but also time for Him to work in new and exciting ways.

Thank, thank goodness, friends, that we get to spend our lives falling madly in love with a God of new beginnings! And that He is much more concerned with who we are becoming than what we are doing or announcing on social media.

Lots of love, and all my prayers if this meets you in a similar season. God is holding you and your future so delicately in the palm of His hand, and has so many great things in store for you. Love God, love people, show up and do the next thing, and that’s all you need to do.

XOXO
Meg

A love letter for when your dreams feel too big for your body.

I’ve got emails and love notes sitting in my inbox right now from a wide array of creative, ambitious, beautiful, bold and brave young women I admire — all confirming that there are specific things about life as a young & ambitious Christian woman that need to be talked about more.

Oh, what I’d say if I could take every single one of you out for a giant cup of coffee… Every single mover & shaker. Every recent college grad. Every big dreamer. Every girl with a huge heart to love & serve others. Every creative thinker. Every girl who’s ever been told she’s less than breathtaking. Every girl who thinks she’s too [fill in the blank] to be loved. Every single middle, high school or college girl who’s ever walked into a Young Life club, and all of her leaders & friends, too.

First of all, I’d look you in eye and tell you (multiple times, until I got teary myself) that your ambition is not a burden. It’s not something you need to hide, disguise, or be ashamed of. Your ambition is a gift. The dreams that feel too overwhelmingly big for your body… [Yeah, I know, I have them too. And my heart hurts just thinking about how big and bold and uncomfortable they feel]… those are a gift too. And that worry you have about never meeting a man that’s not intimidated by that [Yep, you’re not alone]… by your ambition and dreams and independence? Allow yourself to let it go. One day you’ll meet one who tells you over and over again that’s what he loves most about you.
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Then, I’d tell you that it’s possible to be a great leader AND a humble servant at the the same time. With complete transparency, I’m still figuring that one out, too. But I do know that it’s possible. Just look at Jesus. I think it has a lot to do with passionately pursuing the things deep in your heart that align with His design and His plans. And trusting that He will work in us and reveal the ways we can serve more and love deeper. More on this, coming soon. Because as much as I love pretty language like that, I also know that you want and need something that leads to actual assurance that those things in your heart are His design and His plans, and not your own. [That’s the less pretty part that no one likes to talk about.]

Then, we’d split a sugar cookie and I’d break out the hard stuff. I’d tell you, and also tell myself, that you’ll never find contentment & identity in most of the places you’re looking for it. Not in your major, your grades, your career, your relationships, the city you live in, the people you date, or the likes you get on social media. The answer is Jesus, and you know that. But how you say that with confidence, and believe it wholeheartedly, and live that out, is the trickier part… I know, believe me. It’s easy to say and hard to put into practice, right? Because the truth is that some of those things can make us happy. For a season… until they go away, or you give them up. Aren’t you tired of finding a new path to happiness and contentment in every new or challenging season of your life? I listened to a sermon podcast the other day where the pastor said, “Contentment is the cultivation of a satisfied heart. The capacity to be fully alive to God and fully alive to other people, in the here and now. To experience deep joy and deep peace even when we don’t have what we want or are in a situation we didn’t ask for.” Be fully alive to God, and fully alive to people. Right now. I’d look at you and say that until you realized that’s all you had to do. It’s that simple.

Then, I’d repeat all the truths you already know, but struggle to believe. You have nothing to prove. You’ve already been bought, with a price. You are worthy. You are set free. You are forgiven. You are blameless. You are breathtaking. You are adored. You are pursued. You are enough. When those dreams encourage you to step three feet further than you were planning to go, and all of the sudden you’re caught in a whirlwind of “what did I do and why did I do it and how am I going to be ok?” I’d tell you again and again … you’re always, always, always enough. And you’re definitely going to be ok.

I love you passionate, ambitious dreamer! You are a gift to the world and a gift to the kingdom! Your story is important and you are not alone.

Last thing — It’s ok to let someone fight for those dreams with you. To let someone love you past the surface level stuff. To let them into the spaces that feel weak and disjointed and broken and imperfect. If I know you, I know that’s not an easy thing to do. But life is so, so much better when we realize we don’t have to think and dream and fight alone. I promise.

XO
Meg

2016: What if we choose confidence in who we already are, instead?

A year ago, I took a really deep breath and told you about my struggle with an eating disorder. Specifically, I talked about how this time of year—a time that is often full of reflection and goal-setting and resolutions and new diets and pressure to “reinvent” ourselves—can also be full of guilt and shame. It’s true for most of us, although it’s (I believe) even truer for women who struggle with body confidence and disordered eating.

We don’t like to talk about it. It’s way more fun and way more impressive to talk about the killer side hustle we’re planning or the promotion we’ve got our sights on. But for women who are hypersensitive already to their gym and eating habits (because even if they’re “recovered,” they’re still terrified of letting things get too far out of control), when the entire world starts to focus on eating better and working out more and weighing less, it can be a quick, downward spiral into a well of intense shame. Because all of the sudden we’ve convinced ourselves we’re not good enough. And even though we may do a good job of disguising it on the outside (thanks, social media), for someone who’s fighting a constant inner battle for self-confidence, that’s a very, very slippery slope.

When I was at my darkest, I clung to just a few words and verses that I taped to my bathroom mirror, and read to myself every morning. I still have some of those words taped on my mirror. Strong, beautiful, loved, adored, desired… Words I constantly repeat to myself when I’m battling that girl in the mirror or the number on the scale.

So instead of pointing out failures and resolutions I never kept, or telling you how I plan to change myself or my life this year (because chances are, you’re reading all that stuff and already feeling inadequate, like me), I thought I’d share some of the things REAL women—women you know and love—wish they told themselves while looking in the mirror every morning. Not things they wish to change about themselves, just simple reminders of truth and grace and love that often get lost in a whirlwind of promises to lose weight and make more money and, and, and.

Your life is a beautiful, imperfect, but perfect mess.

Believe in butterflies. If they can fly a thousand miles, think what you can do.

Don’t be afraid to laugh so hard today that your double chin shows.

Don’t apologize for being yourself today. Never apologize for being yourself. Own it!

The world needs more big ideas. The world needs YOUR big ideas.

Discover what the world needs that you believe in with all your heart. Do that.

Be intentional, be present. Just be. {James 1:22}

Cherish good people, including yourself.

Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

You are everything that you need to be today.

You are naturally beautiful, just like your momma. You don’t need makeup, a curling iron, or a straightener.

You overcame what you thought was the hardest year of your life, so you know that success and happiness is in your future. Things happen when you least expect it, so life can only get better.

Nobody is going to hold your hand and make sure you’re doing what makes you happy. Only you can decide that for yourself.

To do lists don’t define accomplishments. {Jonah 2:8}

You don’t have to know all the answers. In fact, it’s more fun when you don’t.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I’ve surrounded myself with confident, passionate, inspiring women (and men!). I have so many friends that I look up to because of how confident they are in themselves. How much they love their bodies and their curves and their intelligence and their drive and their sense of humor. For the first time ever, I met a guy this year who was confident enough to ask me point blank about my feelings for him. (If there are any guys reading—I hope there are!—this pretty much blew me away. I still look up to him so much and love this about him and who he is.)

I’ve always said that I look up to both of my sisters because of how confident they are in themselves. We’re all so different, and it’s hard as an older sister to admit there are things about your younger sisters you wish you were better at yourself, but that has pretty much always been true. For as long as I can remember. I admire their confidence more than almost anything. They’re not perfect (no one is), but they don’t care what anyone else thinks of them. They walk with a special air about them. They’re not afraid to fall on the floor laughing. The dance without any underwear on. Sing at the top of their lungs and convince you that they are meant to be on center stage. Because they believe in who they are and how beautiful and desired and talented they are. And always have.

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And so instead of focusing on what needs to be fixed this year, I’m taping one word to my mirror and making it my mantra.

CONFIDENCE.

Confidence in my body. Confidence in my career. Confidence in what I believe about myself. Confidence in what men think about me. Confidence in relationships and friendships. Confidence in dating. Remembering, however, in every thought and every decision and every new “goal” I set to be less expectant of myself and more expectant of God (thanks, HB). Trusting that He will fill me with all the confidence I need, and more. Hoping that He’ll make his voice clear when I start to believe lies about my body. Knowing that He’ll teach me to be confident in who He created me to be. Confident in the dreams and talents He laid the groundwork for.

What’s your word for 2016? (Write me an email or a letter, I want to know!) Whatever it is, know that there is nothing about you that needs to be changed. Approach the throne of God’s loving grace with all the confidence in the world this year, and He will change you. Open up your eyes, show you how beautiful and loved and appreciated and adored you are.

Wishing you so much love and confidence this year. You’re going to own it. Let’s be pen pals so you can tell me all about it. I love exchanging love letters more than anything else in the world.

XOXO

Meg

For when you realize how much you miss what you left behind.

“You’re in the valley,” she said. “You’ve seen the high highs and He wants you to learn to walk in the everyday.”

I stared at that text for hours. Wishing it said something like, “You’re not built for the everyday. Go after the high highs…” instead. But it it didn’t. If you know me, you know I’m built for go, go go. You know I’m a mover and a shaker who loves to make big waves and do big things. You know I get bored if I’m sitting still for too long. The ones closest to me also probably know that the “everyday” scares me more than almost anything else in the world. I run from boredom, just like I run from the everyday. In fact, you’d probably say it looks more like a sprint.

I moved to Colorado over 7 months ago. And for the majority of that time, things were new. Exciting. Adventurous. Beautiful. So different than anything I have ever known. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen a lot of those adventures. You’ve seen me smiling and excited and full of joy. And none of it was a show, I promise. Pretty much the day I moved here,  I was welcomed into an incredible community with open arms. I wound up with the best roommate (& pseudo roommate) I could ever ask for. We’ve traveled together. Laughed a lot. Cried over boys and missing home. And for a while, all that stuff distracted me from something deeper. Something that’s not quite as exciting to talk about on Instagram. Something that scares me and follows me to bed at night.

My heart aches for New York City.

I miss it so much. I miss the people. Central Park. The way the streets shine at night and make you think that anything is possible. The few sacred moments in the morning when it feels like everyone in the city is still sleeping. The feeling of walking out of your apartment, not knowing where the day is going to take you. Strangely, I miss public transportation. I miss the freakin’ subway. I miss walking to work. Walking under the Christmas lights in Columbus Circle. I miss starting my day with a coffee from JOE. I miss running all the way from the Upper West Side down to Battery Park. I miss watching the sunset over the Hudson. I miss ordering a bacon, egg and cheese from the bodega on the corner and eating it in bed on a Sunday morning. I miss the friend who’d come over with a pint of Talenti whenever one of us had a bad day. I miss the bargain bin of wine on my walk home from work. I miss my favorite local book store. I miss pretending I actually enjoyed “going out” in the East Village. I miss invigorating and intellectual conversations with people who are much, much smarter than me. I miss hanging out with our Young Life kids at “the commons.” I miss buying them all pizza and watching their faces light up. Oh, the pizza. I miss the pizza. I miss the feeling that no matter how hard it is, at the end of the day, everyone is proud to live in New York City. It’s one of the fiercest, smartest, most driven tribes there is. I miss being part of that tribe. So, so much.

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“I’m scared of being forgotten,” I told her. “I’m scared of falling behind all the other movers and shakers and big dreamers in that city. I’m scared of being normal for too long. I’m scared that being here means letting those big world-changing dreams of mine go. Of watching people in New York City chase them instead… The valley feels like it’s going to last forever. I’m scared He’ll never let me go back. Am I not just allowed to go back?”

“You are allowed,” she said. “But are you ready to leave?”

Every year on January 1, I write myself a letter. I seal it and on the envelope, I write in big, bold letters, “DO NOT OPEN until January 1 of the following year.” As much as I love writing that letter, the best part about the tradition is actually opening an old letter on that same day. Reading advice and encouragement, hopes and dreams, praise and frustration from the year before. Knowing that even I couldn’t have predicted everything that happened over the course of that year. Talking back to the girl in the letter, “Oh, if only you knew. If only you knew what was in store for you this year.”

Earlier this week, I was cleaning out my room when I found an old letter. A letter I wrote on 1/1/14 and opened on this past January, on 1/1/15. Reading it back, the paper stained with water, it was (in all honesty) hard to hold back tears.

“Meg,

Wow. I am so proud of you. You did a heck ton this year. You live in NEW YORK CITY. You have your DREAM job. Count your blessings, love, you’ve got it all. I encourage you to be courageous this year. Open your heart, take risks (no, I mean it, really take risks, BIG risks). Make people fall in love with your spirit, your zest for life, your faith, your strength, your love, your attitude, your positive outlook. It’s incredible how much a little prayer and positivity can do. Reconnect with old friends this year, pray daily, be HERE and NOW, always in the moment. No regrets, no excuses. So much love to you.

XOXO,

Meg”

The girl in that letter feels almost like she’s a million miles away. Like she’s living a different life, in a different place, with different people by her side. But in a lot of ways, she’s the same too. Sure, she lived in a different zip code, walked miles in flats over jumping in a car and taking the express way, but at her core, that girl is still very much the same.

She’s got a big heart. She knows she struggles with vulnerability and things that come at her unplanned. (But hey, she’s making progress. She did move across the country, so I’d say that’s a win in the risk-taking book.) She’s a planner. She’s got the next five steps figured out before she’s thinking about taking even one. She cares about people. She chases those big, crazy, outrageous, and sometimes challenging dreams of hers. She looks forward instead of gazing back at the past. She knows life isn’t going to be easy. But she’s got a plan, and a Father who’s ready to hold her when she can’t hold herself. When she’s done all she can and that still isn’t enough. When she doubts a major decision, her heart aches for something she walked away from just a few months ago, she can take comfort in knowing that leap and that risk would be just a very small story in a chapter book full of adventures. She knows His plan is better, and He wants the world for her. And she trusts that He’ll never leave her high and dry. That He’ll grant her all the desires of her heart one day.

“Babe, God isn’t a feeling,” she said. “He’s with you-no matter where you choose. He won’t leave you broken. He’s more than New York City.”

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Even though life looks WAY different than that girl pictured it would two years ago, this letter (and that text) gives this girl a little bit of hope. Because that girl knows what she wants. She’s focused on all the right things. She’ll get to where she needs to go. She’ll find “home” again. She’ll make it back to that place that lights her heart and soul on fire. She’s confident in that. She’s confident that even though sometimes He’s hard to find, He won’t ever leave her side. He’ll teach her things, invite her on stage and ask her to make big choices.

He’ll look at her and say, “Pick one. We’ll figure it out together. It’s going to be hard and messy and may not look like you think it will, but it will also be beautiful. Stay in the valley, or leave the valley, but more than anything else I want you to know that life is about more than the high highs. So much more.”

She’s changed, and she’s grown, but she still believes in herself. And as hard as it is to live with a deep sense of longing, He wants her to sit in that feeling. But He wants her to long for Him, above all else. Above the lights and the commotion and the energy of the city. Even if she ends up back there, He wants her heart, first.

XOXO

Meg

For when you feel like the story you tell on social media defines you.

I used to tell people all the time that my favorite place in the entire world is the airport.

Something in me just loves the feeling of walking up and down the terminal looking at people waiting to travel all around the world. It’s romantic and exciting and full of adventure. Add to it that each of those people at each of those different gates brings with them a different story, a different reason for sitting in that specific chair, waiting for that specific flight. Sometimes I even make up stories for people. Thinking specifically about the people waiting for them on the other end. Who are they and how long have they’ve known one another. The mom who’s been waiting for years for her son to come home. The wife who waits patiently for her husband who travels for a living to come home. The significant other who shows up with a bouquet full of flowers when it’s finally his sweet fiance’s turn to come home. Because people are it. I’ll say it until I can’t say it anymore. People matter most, so they get the starring role in stories, always. And they’re almost always just coming home.

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But if I’m being honest, here’s why I really think I like airports…

Airports to me represent this crazy addicting feeling of and belief in being unrooted.

In a sense, the kind of way I envision living the majority of my twenties. Like I simply don’t need to have my feet settled anywhere, just yet. Like I can just pick up and leave and go wherever I want. Like I have all the options laid out before me, and all I have to choose is which plane to get on. Like I can choose whatever destination I want, and once I’m in the air, I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself.

Sometimes, though, I think I convince myself that I’m the girl who belongs in the airport.

The independent, restless one who likes knowing another adventure is always just one gate away. The girl who likes knowing that she can do anything and everything she wants. That she’s got the world at her fingertips. That she’s got all the freedom to live by her own terms chase all the adventures she wants to.

Which sounds great, in theory.

But remember that piece about people I mentioned earlier?

The truth is, that it’s really hard to love people when you’re the girl who feels like she belongs in the airport. Or to let them love you.

When your feet are always off the ground. When people realize they can’t, or don’t want to, keep up with you. And they let you go off on crazy awesome adventures and chase dreams and do things you probably couldn’t do if you were married or had a family of your own. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. And so right for this time of life. And most of them smile and cheer you on from a distance, but some of them start to get married and buy houses and then you start to question if you can really love people well from above the clouds.

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Can you invest in people when you’ve only got one foot on the ground or you’re not home enough to let home actually mean something?

It’s funny… I think I strategically, but without really knowing it, booked myself a full travel schedule for this fall, thinking that it might help cure this deep sense of lonely I’ve been feeling lately. It’s not the usual kind of lonely that I know pretty well… the kind that all my friends have heard about in relation to boys and dating. Oh yes, I know that kind. And this isn’t it.

To me, it’s starting to feel like the kind of lonely that comes from the numbness of social media.

And the hollowness that is “likes” and “comments” and all the other crap we think is going to fill us up but actually leaves us feeling really empty. And comparing ourselves and our lives and our timelines to everyone around us.

For some reason, I’ve developed this belief that my worth is somehow dependent on what people think I am or think I do based on my social media profiles. I’m starting to feel it more and more, and the weight it carries on my self-esteem and self-acceptance. It’s almost like a false belief that people love me simply because I’m always “up to something” or “traveling somewhere fun” or “doing or accomplishing something cool.” Not because of who I am.

And so I thought by traveling all fall, I could somehow make that sense of lonely disappear. But here’s the hard truth I’ve already learned (just two trips in). It’s not going to. In fact, it’s already hard to see my friends at home doing life without me there. All the travel is just a band-aid on a bigger issue.

The fact that I’m lonely and it’s really hard and I can’t fix it myself.

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But here’s the cool part… when we take that stuff to the Lord, our direct and honest thoughts unfiltered by what we post on social media or the image we think we want to portray to people, He brings us back to what’s most important. People. So because He knew I was trying to distract myself from the lonely, He managed to work the important people in my life into my trips. All the family and friends and places I love deeply. People and cities he knew would be life giving.

People and places I don’t have to “show off” for. People who loved me far before I ever started posting on Instagram and people who would love me just as much if I shut down all my profiles today.

He orchestrated all those trips and all those people to remind me how much I’m loved outside the stuff online. How much that stuff pales in comparison to having people. He did that for me, and now I’m just sitting back and thinking about how lucky I am to have a God that loves me that much. Who knows me that deeply to know exactly what I need, exactly when I need it.

All to remind me that at the end of the day, the plane tickets don’t mean anything if you don’t recognize or appreciate who’s waiting for you at the airport.

I sometimes laugh when I think about how ironic it’d be if I ever got engaged in an airport one day. First, because everyone has seen all those crazy cliché proposal videos in the middle of airport terminals where the guy is waiting at the end with roses and sappy music… And I bet you’ve cried during a lot more than you’d be willing to admit (because I definitely have). But second, because I know and believe deep down, that one day, some guy’s going to come along and convince me that keeping my feet on the ground can be worth it, too. That being rooted isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That, for once, I don’t need to be scared of sitting still. That it doesn’t mean I can’t take adventures, but that it might be fun to do that with someone next to me, too.

Because in all honesty, I think the thought of sitting still and being rooted somewhere kind of scares me to death.

Deep down, I think a lot of us have that piece inside ourselves. That desire to feel like you’re free enough to travel to Seattle one day and then London the next. The belief that you can fill up your life with crazy travel and plane tickets and adventures to this place and the next. That if you’re lonely, you can fix it by keeping yourself busy. By locking yourself in the plane and hoping it’s delayed in the air a couple more hours. Just so you don’t have to face the reality of what lonely really feels like down on the ground.

Because as much as you’d like to believe it, “busy” doesn’t cure loneliness. It’s a band-aid for the bigger issue.

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Here’s the thing. Airports are a nice place to visit. And they’re fun and they really are full of promise and stories and exciting adventures. But you weren’t built to live life entirely in the airport. You were meant to live it with people you love and places you decide to invest in.

Hear that again… you weren’t built to live life entirely in the airport. You were meant to live it with people. The ones who loved you before and will love you far after the screen shuts off.

Those people? They’ll make you way happier than any plane ticket ever could.

I promise.

XOXO

Meg

For the independent girl who’s scared to admit she’s frustrated about being alone.

It’s been a few months since you’ve heard from me (sorry about that!). But I’ll just start by saying that life has been so good lately. Full of family and travel and summer sunshine and all the sweetness of starting over. I thought I’d write more often after I moved out west, but for some reason, my head and heart were too overwhelmed with newness to make any string of words make sense, much less sound pretty. But I’m back, which feels really, really good. And this is a heavy one, so get ready. I warned you early.

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I’ll start by saying that I love it here. I really do. And that’s really hard for me to admit. Which sounds funny, but just hang with me for a second.

Secretly, I kind of wished that I’d hate it. That I’d get to this point, four months in, and realize that I made some huge mistake. That there’d be this huge hole in my heart that New York City once filled, left gaping and open. That there’d still be tears when I pulled the covers up at night. I think I wished that, because I was (and am still) scared to let it all go. Scared of eventually cutting the cord. Because if I was sad enough, that would make going back that much easier. It’d make sense. People would understand. I wanted to let New York City still lay claim to a small piece of me. Because that felt safe. Like I had an unspoken backup plan or something.

In a lot of ways, leaving New York City felt like a really bad, messy breakup. And that’s not totally fair, because I don’t technically know what that feels like, but if I had to imagine it, that’s what it would be. This aching, empty feeling that you can’t quite describe. A constant state of anxiety and nerves. Feeling like someone rejected you because you weren’t quite good enough. Like something in you just had to give up. Like it was easier to walk away, but all you wanted after it was over was to go running back to whatever you just left. Like it’d be the hardest thing in the world to finally say goodbye. To untie the last few knots that were still holding you together. And that’s why I think I wanted to let New York keep that small piece of me. That little piece of hope that was really just an excuse not to go all in. To keep Colorado from having all of me. To admit that it’s pretty incredible here. That the mountains still give me chills when I see them outside my window every morning. I thought it’d be easier to hold a grudge. To smile and post pretty pictures on Instagram, but inside to know that New York City was still my safe place. The place life made the most sense. (Which is funny, because sometimes I think New York City is the most senseless place in the entire world, but hey.)

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But here’s the reason, I’m learning, that moving isn’t the same as a really bad breakup. New York City isn’t going anywhere. And unlike that guy who treated you really poorly, but you’re still really attracted to for some reason (yep, happens to all of us), I don’t think I have to delete that city from my contact list. I don’t have to turn my back and pretend it didn’t happen, that it doesn’t exist. I don’t have to be afraid when I see its name pop up in my missed calls someday. Because honestly, those couple years were some of the most beautiful and transformative years of my life. And I love that city. I still love that city. Some of my best friends still live there. And I’m not saying goodbye to them anytime soon. And the cool thing is that I can admit all that, but also admit that this new season is pretty special, too. That the mountains are teaching me new things about rest and stillness. That I have new (awesome) friends pouring truth and life into me every day. (Thank you, Jesus, for that.) That I enjoy waking up and watching the sun rise, sipping my coffee a little slower and not rushing into work. That life is sweet here in new and different ways. Sweet and good and hard and confusing, just like life is supposed to be anywhere.

I’ve had a busy few months. Busy in a really good way, but also in a way that made me realize just how easy it is to get distracted by all the “stuff” and to lose focus and vision for the important things. I spent a week in Minnesota documenting a week of Young Life camp on social media (sidenote: I never knew it was possible to have so many “dream jobs,” but that, friends, was definitely a dream) at Castaway Club, one of Young Life’s premiere camp properties with some of the most gorgeous sunsets you’ve ever seen. Then I spent a week in Maryland, with a couple day “layover” in New York City, at camp with my middle school kids I volunteered with while I lived in the city. It was hard in a lot of ways, but really beautiful in others. Lots of closure and excitement to start spending more time with kids again in the the fall. Those couple days in the city were great, too. Great because I realized that as much as I missed it, I missed Colorado while I was there, too. Then I spent a week in Michigan celebrating the Fourth of July with my family, which was a blessing and such a good reminder of something I’ve been preaching to myself for years… “People matter, Meaghan. Places will come and go and you’ll be all over the place for a few years… But those people, they are going to be the thing that matters most. The people that remember to send you a text every once and a while just to make sure you’re doing okay. Hold on to them. No matter where you go. Those people matter more than anything else.” And then, just before flying back to Colorado, one of my best friends got married in one of the most beautiful ceremonies I’ve ever watched on the shore of Lake Michigan. I cried lots of ugly tears that day. For her, of course, and the beautiful love story they share, but also because it hit me hard that day just how fast life is flying by. That it’s that time in life where friends get married and start families and land really impressive grown up jobs.

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And here’s where things get hard. And real. Because as much as it’s been fun posting highlights and smiles and laughter on my Instagram page, there’s some tough things going on, too. Things that don’t necessarily make for a good caption. Things that feel vulnerable and hard to talk about out loud. If you’ve been here before, it’s no secret to you that I’ve been struggling for a while with feeling like it’s never going to be my turn to be pursued. Fought for. And while sometimes it might seem like I’m the most confident and independent person in the world, that’s not always the case. As much as I wish it was. There’s something in me that would really love to be a two-some, for once. To learn to trust someone with the hard stuff. To let someone get close enough that I’d be comfortable letting them see me cry. It sounds silly now, but when I first moved here, I kind of expected to meet someone pretty quickly. To fall for someone who’d take me on ice cream dates and adventures through the mountains. Being honest, I kind of felt like leaving New York City was the Lord’s way of opening that door for me. That somehow, it’d be easier or it’d just happen. That it’d finally be my turn and the right time in my life to figure out what it means to be in a real relationship. And that hasn’t happened. So that’s hard. And I don’t really have a pretty way to phrase it. It’s just hard. It’s also hard for me to admit that’s something I really want. Badly. Maybe more than I’ve ever wanted it before. Because I’ve always been the independent one.

But here’s a truth that I think a lot of independent, adventurous girls need to hear. (And guys, too, for that matter).

You can be as independent and adventurous and ambitious as you want to be and still want to be loved. And pursued. And fought for. And to date. And to feel like you don’t have to do it all alone for once. To have someone by your side at your best friend’s wedding. It’s okay to want that. It’s okay to shed the “I can do it all myself and I’m fine going it alone for a while” attitude. It’s okay to admit that you want a relationship, too. It’s okay to be frustrated when it seems like all of your friends get their turn (multiple turns, even), and you’ve been skipped every time. It’s okay to flirt and let people in and let them see the messy stuff, too. The stuff you’d rather hide. Because the right one is going to love you despite that stuff. They’re going to love you and your big heart and your big dreams. They’re going to love that you don’t take no for an answer. That you think anything and everything is possible if you work hard enough. They’re going to love that about you.

And guys, know that the independent girl wants to feel wanted, too. She’s just like all those other girls. She wants to be fought for. Despite the fact that sometimes it seems like she’s going a million miles an hour, she wants to slow down sometimes, too. And she’s not going to stomp all over your dreams or your passions or your goals. She wants to be your teammate, I promise. And she’ll be a good one. She’ll be a heck of a good one.

It’s like that Hunter Hayes song. We all want to be wanted. God designed us that way. And he wants your love, first. But he made us to love others, too. So it’s okay to want that. You’ve got permission.

More soon.

xoxo

Meg

On being the “new girl”

Hey, Love… No one ever said it was going to be easy.

*A note to begin: I wasn’t sure that I was going to make this post public. In fact, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to. But then, after I sent it out in my newsletter to family and friends, I got this gut feeling almost immediately that there was something special inside it. Something that just might help the next girl who’s afraid to pack up and drop everything for something new and different and scary and exciting. So I hit publish. And I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. I’m still terrified to say most of these things out loud. But that’s the double-edged sword of being a writer. You get the privilege to share your heart and change lives and impact people, but you also feel like (and I don’t know where this comes from, but I’m convinced it’s because I’ve been a writer for most of my life) you just have to tell the truth. Because people start expecting you to be honest about the hard stuff. And that’s awesome and terrifying and wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time. But it’s also just. plain. beautiful. So here, goes. Here’s the hard stuff.*

So let me preface by saying I broke a promise to you. I told you I’d write. I told you the second I stepped off the plane, I’d start sharing the things that were making my heart do somersaults and my head spin like crazy. I told you I’d tell you about the beautiful things. The new discoveries, the grand adventures, the times I’d have to pinch myself just as a reminder that this was real life. I promised to share the hard stuff, too. The nights I sat on my couch and cried because it was all I wanted just to be invited somewhere on a Saturday night. The times the phone didn’t ring and the texts didn’t come in, and life all of the sudden felt like it came to a screeching halt. I told you I’d tell you about it all.

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I was even a little bit sure I could turn it into a decent idea for a book, maybe. Help other people realize that cities and places and people don’t define you. That you really can pick up and move and redirect your entire life, and come out okay in the end. But most of all, I was sure I’d write. Even if just in my own little journal, I was sure I’d have more than enough to tell you.

But here’s the thing.

I had friends tell me it was going to be hard. It was going to be lonely. That yes, they knew I was strong, but that I’d have to give myself grace for a little while. It would take some time. And while I sat there and shook my head in agreement, I don’t know if I really let that reality sink in all that deeply. The voices told me, “You’re strong, social, outgoing, you’ll be fine. You’ll have a group of friends and community and a social calendar in no time.”

And the problem with that?

Reality hit me hard.

And I discovered that yes, while I am strong, I’m also human. And it’s hard to feel alone. It’s hard to come home to an empty apartment with an entire evening planned with no one but yourself. And cable (which, by the way, is moderately life-changing, but also intensifies that “do I really have nothing better to do” feeling). It’s hard when someone asks you what you have planned for the weekend, and all you can say is, “not much.” While you wish, with everything you have, that you had “things to do” and “people to see.”

And so I don’t think I was ready to write for a while. In the frenzy of the first few weeks, when everything was new, I was busy and preoccupied with moving boxes and texts and calls from friends back home asking how everything was going. I was distracted with road trips and Target and Ikea shopping sprees and visits from family and adventures to new places. So it was all good. And exciting. But I just didn’t have the right words to tell you just how major this is. Just how life-changing it might be.

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But then, last week, the dust started the settle. I hit my “month-aversary” and realized (maybe for the first time) that this isn’t just temporary. I’m not on vacation. As much as it may feel like it (and believe me, when you have a pool for the first time in your life, it surely does), it’s for real. And it’s hard. And it’s going to be hard for a while. And you’re going to feel like the new girl (which is fun, for a short time), but that’s going to be hard, too. And it’s going to be hard to feel like you don’t know anything, or that you’re not first on people’s plan-making list. And you’re going to miss New York. Like crazy. Girl, you’re going to miss it. Your heart is going to ache to be with those people again. But all you can do is just let yourself miss it. And grieve it for a while. And while I know you don’t love to be the girl who cries at church, that might just be you for a few weeks. And that’s ok.

I’m not saying it’s all been hard. This past month, I’ve been to the tops of mountains and made new friends and driven my Jeep deep, deep into the Rockies and through Breckenridge. It’s a beautiful thing to wake up and feel like you have extra time in the morning, an entire evening at night. To really be able to feel the hours in a day, not just rush through them. To look forward to work in the morning, because you know someone will stop by and ask you how you’re doing. No, not your work. You. How are you, really? It’s a beautiful thing to be behind the wheel again, to feel the Colorado sunshine (sans humidity) on your face, to sit with a glass of wine on your patio and watch the sunset over the city. Those are all the beautiful things.

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But they almost make the hard things that much harder.

And so, before the thoughts and emotions drove my head and my heart crazy, I knew deep inside I needed to tell you that I get it now. I do. I get it and accept that this year is going to be a tough one. And while I’m not the best at giving myself grace, or accepting the grace and love of others, I’m going to work on that.

And I think the Lord is pressing pretty clearly into my heart, and whispering,

“I’m the one who’s going to fill the loneliness, I’m the one who’s going to make you feel worthy. Loved. That’s me. Not some city, not some new crush of yours, not a new job. That’s me. So just trust me. And lean in close. And let me wrap my arms around you. Because I’m here, I promise. I see you. If I could call you up on a Saturday night just to chat, I would. In fact, let’s do that. Give me a call. I’m on your speed dial these days anyway.

No one ever said it was going to be easy. In fact, most people said it’d be really, really hard. And that while you’d enjoy yourself, there would also be those nights where you’d scroll through Instagram and wonder what you were thinking when you said yes that day. There would also be those times where you’d drive through fields full of tumbleweed, in the middle of nowhere, and laugh just thinking about how different this is. Than anything you’ve ever known. There would be that time where you’d trip over pavement because a family of deer was posted up on your running trail. And you’d fall and shatter the screen on your phone because you were just that shocked. (Yep, that happened).

But here’s something a good friend of mine told me the other day. (Have I ever told you how important people are? People are everything, y’all. And this person, she’s pretty wonderful.) You may feel lonely, love. But you’re never, never alone. And you may just have to realize that God’s plan for you is a little different than what you thought it was a year ago. And that’s ok. And it’s ok to cry and let yourself be sad and angry. Because your emotions are valid, and true. But just remember that God didn’t forget you. He sees you. And he hears you. And he’s jumping up and down and cheering you on and leading you and preparing you for a life more wonderful than you could ever even imagine. And no new job, new city, new boy, new friend group is going to fill that hole in your heart that you so desperately want to fill. Because Jesus already filled it. Don’t you realize that? And he thinks you’re pretty wonderful and brave and worthy just as you are. Jesus just might be up to something pretty beautiful in your heart, love. He might be breaking down more walls than you thought possible, teaching you about love from an angle you’ve never seen before. Given you the time and space to feel, to question, and to be honest with yourself.

Time to remember what it feels like to love yourself like so many others do.

Time to be brave and strong and vulnerable and real.

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Yep, He’s definitely up to something pretty incredible.

But until you know exactly what that is, just rest. And find your peace and comfort in me. And the people who love you. And the ones who will always pick up the phone when you call. No matter where you are or what you’re doing. Lean on those people.

xoxo

Meg

On leaving New York City.

This post has been a jumble of words and sentences and tears and stories for weeks now. Every time I sit down to write, I either get 1) too confused or 2) too emotional or 3) too angry or 4) too sad or 5) too excited or 6) a really weird combination of all five. I start with a few words, and then all of the sudden it feels like my mind and my heart get all tangled, and the words come to a screeching halt. Or they just sound like gibberish.

And after a while, I get frustrated, because it somehow feels like I can never really find the right words. Words that say “goodbye” and “thank you” and “it’s been fun” and “that was really hard” all at the same time. Words that give New York all the credit it deserves, but don’t over-glorify either. Because for every good and magical day [and there were plenty], there was at least one hard or crappy one, too. But you don’t see those ones on Instagram, so life here can look pretty quickly like a glamorous highlight reel. Like every day was straight out of the movies. And while I loved it [believe me… I loved this city deeply], I think part of me was worried all along that someone might find out about all the hard things. That they’d realize that there was this piece in my heart that really, really missed long car rides and patios and quiet mornings and fresh air.

And I think that’s a truth I’ve been struggling with for weeks… that while I love this city, I think it’s possible for me to love other places, too. And I think I have to let myself have that chance to love other places. Because how else will I know?

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If you would have predicted this moment a year ago, I would have told you that you were crazy. I had plans for this city. I was all in. And that’s the part that hurts the most, I think. Feeling like something I love is being ripped out from under me. You know that feeling, don’t you? That feeling when you start to realize that it’s not really the thing at all you’re scared of giving up. It’s control. You’re terrified of losing control.

When I moved to New York City, I had every intention of staying here for a while. A long while. (If you don’t believe me, ask my parents. Or my closest friends. They know, just like I do, of the stars in my eyes when I moved here two years ago.) I saw myself here. I envisioned raising a family. Life made sense among skyscrapers and Central Park sunrises and dreamy Saturday afternoons walking down Madison Avenue. You had to be brave to live in New York City. I liked that label. I chased that label for a good while.

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Part of me would light up inside every time someone made mention of my life here. I was proud. I secretly loved when people seemed impressed that I figured it out so quickly. Like I had cheated the system somehow. Like moving here was easy for me and that I “had it all together.” It just happened. Like a movie, only better, because this was real life. Somehow, as it does with most transplants, New York City quickly became part of my identity. The first question out of anyone’s mouth whenever we’d reunite would be, “So how’s the city treating you?” “Still liking it up there” or “How’s New York?” “I’ve been loving following your life on Instagram. Sounds like you’re living the dream.”

And over time, every time I heard that question, I got a little more frustrated. It’s like the inside of me would scream, “CAN’T SOMEONE ASK ME HOW I AM. NOT THE CITY. THE CITY WILL BE FINE. WITH OR WITHOUT ME. CAN YOU JUST ASK ME. MEAGHAN TAYLOR O’CONNOR. HOW ARE YOU? REALLY, HOW’S YOUR HEART? HOW’S YOUR SOUL? ARE YOU TIRED? ARE YOU HAPPY? HOW’S LIFE, REALLY?”

I remember the moment that I finally figured out that is was ok for me to leave. I was walking to work, the Monday after I got back from my interview/trip to Colorado, and I was on the phone with a good friend. She could sense that I was excited about it. But she could also sense major hesitation. She knew that my heart was wrapped around this city so tightly, that it’d hurt like hell to let it all go. That it’d probably break me. And upset some people. And that the logistics were hard and overwhelming to think about. But she listened, anyway. And then she told me, “Meaghan, I think you’re waiting for someone to give you permission to go. You can go. You have permission. Not from me or from anyone else. But you have it. So you can go.” And I’m pretty sure in that moment I felt this weird sensation of fog lifting and really intense anxiety. I didn’t need permission.

I wanted someone, anyone, to tell me what to do. I wanted God to hire a skywriter and script in beautiful lettering, “It’s time, Meg. Trust me.” Mostly, I just wanted someone to whisper straight into my heart, “It’s ok, Meaghan. You can leave. You can take this job. You can do this thing that seems crazy right now. Yes, you can do it. And you’re going to be ok.”

For weeks, I convinced myself that I was torn. But I wasn’t. Because there’s a difference between being torn and being torn up. I was torn up, yes. Because I knew whatever I chose would hurt. A lot. But I wasn’t torn. God have given me peace back in Colorado. Seconds after my interview, in fact. I knew in my heart what I was going to do all along. I was just waiting for some type of confirmation. There were tears—and lots of them—but I guess I just figured they were “you’re going through this really hard thing” tears. Not “you’re going to make a decision that’s going to rock your world so far out of orbit it’s going to feel like the world’s biggest punch in the gut” tears. And the reason it hurts so badly? You know what you want. And it feels kind of like jumping into a rabbit hole with your eyes closed and hoping you find ground at the bottom. And you’re a little bit angry, too, because it feels like New York City quickly became a rug that was torn from under you. Without even two weeks notice. And that hurts. Really, really hurts.

But while you process all that, and while you’re hurting a little bit, I promise you that New York City is going to whisper, “I’m going to be here. I’ll always be here. But it’s time for you to go do your thing. Don’t worry, I’ll be here. If you need to come back, I’ll be here.”

Because here’s the thing. You can choose to leave. Or you can choose to stay. Or you can choose to move across the country. Or you can choose to keep on fighting, clawing your way up. Or you can choose to chase the sunrise. Whatever it is. You can choose. With God’s love and direction, he gives you that power to choose. You don’t actually need permission. And you know that. Deep, deep in your heart you know that. So go believe that. And trust that the Lord is going to be there when things get really hard. And you start to second guess yourself. And you wonder, “Did I make the right choice?” Did I screw up?”

So when those doubts creep in… here’s what I want you to remember: I wish you could see yourself like those friends on the sidelines do. The ones who call themselves your cheerleaders. Your best friends. The people you love most. Because they see something deeply, deeply special inside of you. I can tell by the way they look at you. And talk about you. They think you’re pretty incredible. And brave. And beautiful. So why don’t you believe that. And they know, just like you do too, that you don’t need New York City to be brave and beautiful and successful and happy. Because you’re a world changer, love. And you can change the world from anywhere. Colorado needs you, too.

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The truth, and something that’s been revealed to me slowly, is that this city—whether you can admit it to yourself or not—is never going to love you back. As much as you put into it and work like a crazy person and strive and reach and climb. It’s just never going to love you back. Because it’s a city. That’s all. It’s a city. Sure, it’s going to give you those moments you feel like your heart is on fire, the ones you feel most alive, the ones where you have to pinch yourself just as a simple reminder that you’re not actually living inside a script of 13 Going on 30. But you’re also going to wake up some days and feel really, really sad that you can’t just hop in your car and drive to Target. Or you’re going to look at your checking account and cry a little bit every time you see rent come out. And you’re going to watch people push themselves to the top and step all over one another on the way up and you’re going to think, “Is this really me? Really, is it?”

Here’s the hard thing about change, though. And part of the reason I am so thankful to have an abundance of older and wiser women in my community who keep reminding me how important change is. The hard thing, is that in order to come out on the other side, I’ll have to let myself grieve a little bit. I’ll have to let the weight of change fully sink in, otherwise it’s going to hit me a lot harder when I step off that plane on Saturday. So while I’ll definitely be putting on my brave face, I also know that the next few days are my time to get excited and to mourn at the same time. To mourn saying goodbye to good friends and a place that’s taught me more than I’d ever thought possible about love and life.

But I also know, and of this I’m sure, that when you love something, you’re supposed to let it go. You’re supposed to look it in the face and say, “Best of luck to you. I know you’re going to change the world someday. And I can’t wait to sit back and watch. And to play a tiny little character in your incredible story.” I don’t know if that’s me saying that to New York City, or New York City saying that to me, but I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is right. And that change — while it sometimes hurts more than broken bones and broken hearts — is when we learn the most about ourselves. The most about life. And so I’m going to go with that. And I’m going to hope and pray that when it is finally time to say goodbye, I’ll be able to look back and say, “That was even harder and more beautiful than I ever could have anticipated. But I did it all. And I went all in. And I’m so, so glad I did.”

So here’s where I borrow a few words from my friend Hannah Brencher (who just wrote a real, actual book, y’all!). Because sometimes, we look for truths and they just come right out and hit you straight across the face.

“There is no time to ask why. Only time to do. You don’t want to miss what is going in here… This life is not about holding on too tightly, it’s about sending people where they need to be.” [If You Find This Letter]

So mourn. And say goodbye. But know that the people you love are sending you out on your way because they love you that much. And they know it’s ok to say goodbye for a while. And also know that your time here wasn’t for one second a waste. You made an impact. Just look at the imprint you made on so many people’s lives. Don’t be worried about that. Don’t be worried about people forgetting you. [Because yes, I know you’re worried about that, too.] You chose to live. That’s the best part. You weren’t afraid to let people in. You weren’t afraid to live life and grasp on. Don’t you for one second be worried people are going to forget you. They won’t. I promise. Your hands are sketched all over their hearts.

And here’s what they’re saying, on repeat.

You go shake the world, girl. Wherever you are. Go shake the world.

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So to the girl who wants more than anything else to follow her heart, but is scared and terrified and out of her mind about it, know that it’s ok. It’s ok to walk away from something great for something that could turn out so much greater. It’s ok to believe you’re capable. It’s ok to believe you were made for so much more. Because you were. It’s ok to doubt and question, but to also live in peace amidst those doubts and questions. And it’s ok to dance. And smile. And laugh. And enjoy. Because you get one life, friends. And those are the things you’re going to remember. Those times you put your heart on display for all to see, that time you chased your dream so ferociously it led you away from one of the most magical cities on earth. That night you cried so hard you just had to let yourself sink deeply into your best friend’s arms. Those, those are the things you’re going to remember.

xoxo

Meg

Twenty-Two Things I’d Tell My Twenty-Two Year Old Self, by Emily Freeman

*This post is the first in a series of guest posts written by women in my life I have a deep, deep admiration for. Women who have invested in me [in more ways than they will ever realize], whose words and actions I look up to, and who live life with a passion for grace and speaking bold & beautiful truth into a broken world.

I’m so, so deeply honored to share this post, written by one of my favorite authors, Emily Freeman. Thank you, Emily, for sharing this with my readers and for reminding me time and again how important it is to slow down, recognize our own smallness and understand the importance of Tuesday mornings.*

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It’s tempting to tell my twenty-two year old self one thing and one thing only: Please, for the love of mothers with muffin tops everywhere, enjoy your body now! Do it!

But this seems terribly shallow.

Instead, I’ve thought of how most of what I would want to tell my younger self can be summed up in these wise words from my Dad: “Wherever you are is a good and important place. Start there.”

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At twenty-two I vaguely felt like I was waiting for something – life, greatness, beauty, confidence, and love. Everything felt ahead of me and some things felt behind me. But I didn’t have a good grasp on the present.

I think that’s why Dad’s words ring so true when I think of myself at twenty-two. It was hard to imagine the present as not only okay, but as “good and important.”

With that in mind, here are twenty-two thoughts I wish I could whisper to my twenty-two year old self:

1. You are never going to feel like a grown up. Not when you get married, not when you have kids, not when you get a real job. In the deepest part of who you are, you will always feel like you’re waiting for the grown ups to show up and take care of things. This is normal and fine. You’re going to be okay.

2. Speaking of the deepest part of who you are, you were made by the hands of an Artist and you are a co-creator with Christ on earth. That is a fancy way of saying you are an artist and you were born to make art. Throughout your life, you’ll do this in a million little ways.

3. There is no one right way to be human. There is only you, being yourself, walking with Christ into the lives of other people.

4. Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it. Sometimes you’ll be asked to do something you might do very well but they are not your job. Release it.

5. Just because you’re terrible at something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Sometimes you’ll be asked to work within your weaknesses and this will be your sacred assignment. Embrace it.

6. We are all wounded. Be kind.

7. Forgive yourself. For everything. In this, be swift and relentless.

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8. Let yourself be quiet. You know that pull you feel to be by yourself sometimes? That scatterd-ness that comes when you don’t have time to stare out the window? Listen to it. It isn’t a character flaw and there isn’t something wrong with you. Your soul needs space to breathe. Let her.

9. Don’t apologize for crying. Your tears are kind companions, tiny hints to where your heart beats strong. Listen to them.

10. Find your brave yes.

11. Fight for your strong no.

12. Make friends with change. She isn’t going anywhere.

13. Embrace the shadows you find in your faith. I know right now they scare you, but they don’t scare God. Walk into the fog if you need to. It’s okay if your soul needs a little space to sit quietly in the shadows before she’s ready to embrace the light.

14. Stop waiting to be picked. Pick yourself.

15. The best way to sabotage your own success is to compare it with someone else’s. Her success doesn’t take one thing away from you. There is room at the table for you both and we need what you both have to offer.

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16. Release your obsession with building a life and trust in the life Christ is building in you.

17. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. It’s tempting to toss aside your own concerns because you’re afraid they aren’t as bad as someone else’s. You worry if you acknowledge the hard parts of life, it somehow exposes you as ungrateful. The truth is, grief and gratitude can (and often do) coexist.

18. As much as you can, hold on to being a beginner. It might seem like everyone else has it all together but they don’t. The sooner you realize this, the more you’ll be free to enjoy the beauty of beginning and the humility, adventure, and openness of learning something new.

19. Learn to rest well. Your future self will thank you.

20. Look up at the sky as often as is possible and remember your own smallness. Let this not be a discouragement, but a gift. You are not in control of all the things and you don’t want to be.

21. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but friends and laughter make them easier to face.

22. You are loved and you are safe.

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Isn’t it true that the things we would tell our younger selves are really things we need to remember now? That’s how it is for me. Twenty-two or thirty-seven, it doesn’t really matter. We are all longing for connection, acceptance, security, and love. In Christ, we have these I know.

Some truth takes a lifetime to live into. Let’s be patient with ourselves.

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Emily P. Freeman is the author of four books, including A Million Little
Ways
: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live
 and soon to be released Simply TuesdaySmall-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World (Aug 2015).

She believes the soul is often forgotten beneath the demands of everyday life and considers it part of her life work to create safe spaces for your soul to breathe. You can find her writing and Chatting at the Sky from North Carolina where she lives with her husband, John, and their three kids.