Final Reflections from a Dateless Year of Learning to Live Loved

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Three years ago I wrote an important email. 

Bits of it ended up in a sermon at my church. The entirety of it was read and discussed around our conference room table. If one's heart could be spelled out on a page, this email was mine.

A diatribe of my feelings on the church, this email spelled out my hopes, dreams and vision for the future. It described my passion for authentic, vulnerable community and expressed my desire to encourage others, serve those in need and partner with someone who was passionately in pursuit of doing the same.

So on this day, December 31, 2016, as I review this past daring dateless year and begin to grapple with what is (potentially) next, I return to this email.

At the time of sending it, I was in a serious, long-distance dating relationship and was contemplating what was next. This week, as I've had countless people ask what this year has taught me and what I'm looking for, I cannot help but re-read that email and see that not much has changed. Deep down, my heart longs for the same things. It longs to live life with someone who is passionately compassionate about changing the world and has an affinity to say yes to the adventure that is life in obedience to God's call.

Back then, the only response my essay-length email with all my poured out heart-stuff typed into Times New Roman was one word:


Noble was all he said. 

My passion, my dreams, my vision, my ponderings and questions received a single word. 

If it is one thing I've learned this year (and if it's one thing I can encourage you to do) it is to surround yourself with people who have the capacity and willingness to speak into your life with truth and faith and love. 

With three words, not one.

I see you.
I hear you.
I got you.
I respect you.
I believe (in) you. 
I love you. 

I can't imagine living a life stifled with anything less. What's disheartening is that I thought I could. We were created for so much more...and we need one another in order to accomplish it. 

Which brings me to some further reflections...


Okay I just had to get that out there.

One time I was on a date at my favorite pizza place and at the end, the guy literally reached across the table, picked up my remaining ONE piece of PIZZA, and put it in HIS to-go box.

I was dumbfounded.



#1..if you ask a girl on a PAY. #2...if you hope to date this girl or make any sort of favorable impression upon is NOT okay to put her leftovers in your box and say it's okay because you paid for it. Didn't the momma you likely still live with tell you that's rude and weird and sends flares into the stratosphere that you're cheap!?!?

Another lesson?

So glad you asked.


Anyone who was remotely interested in getting to know me this year was told the same thing. "I'm taking this year to intentionally step away from dating or being anyone's girlfriend but I'm open to building a foundation of friendship and not hiding away in a deep, dark cave."

Some stuck around and some didn't. Some that didn't I heard from this week, all seeking time to "catch up".


If someone isn't interested in getting to know you or your story without getting something in return, they are not worth your time. They are not the right person for you. Boundaries are important and there is of course a fine line between dragging somebody along and/or knowing what you're looking for and timing and blah blah blah but if that special girl or guy isn't willing to take things slow, get to know you as a person or pushes you to do things for which you're, run far away.


Whether it's because they're sarcastic and you're not, or because they're "as bland as quinoa without seasoning", it's the worst. Period. Life is hard. Can you imagine doing life with someone who you can never laugh at or with or because of!? Not me. Believe me, I've tried that too.

And last but not least...


I've spent way to much time throwing myself into relationships hoping things would get better if I only tried more. What I've always found, however, is that I've lost myself in the process and relationships are a two-way street and a two-person responsibility. 

People are changeable to a point, but it has to be self motivated and Holy Spirit initiated. You can't change someone. If you aren't okay with accepting who that person is, don't date them until you see the change you're looking for...and realize some of that changing likely has to do within you, too.

2016 and Daring Dateless has been an incredible gift to me for this very reason. All joking aside, all the above "lessons" are very real hurdles I've had to overcome...most specifically as it relates to honoring God through honoring myself. 

I've learned to accept who I am, what I like and who I want to be...and not changing to appease someone else so they like me more.
I'm learning how to let go of the need to make everyone else happy.
I've forgiven. 
I've stepped into and received healing.
I've become more self aware.
I've named what I value and have come to accept what I need and am no longer ashamed!

But most important?

I've been impacted by all of you.

This journey of writing has been cathartic for me. And hilarious at times. The most rewarding aspect, however, has been hearing from readers all around the world who say that my simple posts have impacted, inspired or challenged them in some way. That by some coincidence they stumbled upon my words and those words touched their hearts and made them feel they were no longer alone. 

Last night I received the following message and it warmed my heart to such a state of content and empathy I don't think I could begin to continue to describe in words.
"I’m about to leave for my family’s Christmas gathering and it dawned on me a little bit ago that this will be the first family gathering where all of my siblings and all of their significant others will be in attendance… I don’t know the right word to describe what I’m feeling right now. Scared/frustrated/nervous/anxious—none of those seem right because I’m going to be with my family, all of whom love me and I love very much. Maybe it’s just “Why?” If “why?” could be a feeling, I think that is what I’m feeling right now. I just needed someone to know that…I’m not in a place to be vulnerable in the way you have been with your blog, but I just needed at least one person to know, and as I racked my brain trying to think of who that could be, you came to mind"

This is why I shared. This is why I put myself on the line. This is why God (and others) nudged me to write.

I'm awestruck by the power of community and authenticity. Our willingness to be vulnerable with one another changes peoples' lives.

May your 2017 be that kind of year. 

Thank you for following, engaging, encouraging and laughing along the way with me!


p.s. You can continue to follow my journey and my writing right here... or until I come up with another witty blog title or write a GOOD book. Taking proposal ideas and leads starting at 12am CST... :)

To start is to be vulnerable

Overlooking Santorini from our cruise ship. October 2016.

23 Days.

***This post brought to you by the very fact that I was just eating caramel corn, drinking wine out of a bottle I stoppered with tinfoil nearly a month ago and contemplating how I got here***

You're welcome.

I am the first to admit that I've done a deplorable job of keeping all of you appraised, but I hope my summaries below will remind you that I'm still here, still single and most hopefully ready to mingle.

So. Let this serve as a countdown where you'll forgive me and we'll prepare to sing in this new year I continue to blog about singleness...because no doubt my caramel corn and wine habits aren't changing and there will still be a need in this wonderful world of ours for some real life talk.

Since I wrote you all last:

I started a new job.
I started my third year of seminary.
I started my own photography business...something I've dreamed for over 10 years.
I started the arduous process of learning New Testament Greek.
I started to feel like throwing up at the mention of NT Greek.
I became president of our seminary student body...somewhat, fully reluctantly. More on that later.

And last but definitely not least:

I embarked on my very first solo trip abroad for a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel Greece and Turkey for a footsteps of the Apostle Paul tour. Once there, I met up with a group of the most inspiring 48 individuals one could ever meet. Oh. And Christine Caine and Bianca Olthoff were there. With us. They hugged me. And because of this I am now fairly certain that my life in this eschaton is complete.

As I reflect on these last five months I've come to realize that they have exhausted the meaning of start. I'm not sure I've ever started so much in my entire life.

I've always liked to start things. Growing up, I was always starting new craft projects and coming up with new inventions and ideas on how to make our world a better place. Starting gets my little "Activator" heart all gooey on the inside. I love the process of starting new things and investing others in my ventures (i.e. you are currently reading one...)

But with all these starts have come other starts.

Alongside all these good things...

I started to doubt.

My call. My talent. My abilities.
My character. My looks. My age.
My worth. My last year. My next year.

In this season wrapped up in the adrenaline that comes to people like me who love "to start" came an equally powerful and all together debilitating season wrapped up in fear.

Am I really called to lead?
As a woman, am I (will I be) included, accepted...targeted?
Do I have anything worthwhile to say?
Am I good enough?

I know I'm not alone in wrestling with these questions. I know I've wrestled with them before and came out on the other side breathing and with all my limbs. I know "the answer" to all of them...and yet, I still struggle. Sometimes more, sometimes less. We all do in our own ways.

For me...

Every time our Greek professor calls my name I sense this surge of terror well up in my gut and feel my mind go numb. I just sit there, full of fear, staring at him like an idiot. I haven't won the prize for our class clown...although believe me I've tried. I'm not sure the guys in the room know what to do with me...and so I sit there...with my palms all sweaty and my blood pressure off the charts...believing the lies that I'm not worthy to be there. That I'm not smart enough. That everyone in the room questions not only my presence, but my abilities. I'm a a room full of boys...and I feel alone and siloed and not sure anymore that I'm called to lead like them.

For many weeks in a row this fall I was overcome with so much anxiety about attending church alone that I couldn't bring myself to go. I couldn't muster enough gumption to get out my front door. And so, I rolled myself up in a ball and cried.

The other day I met this guy at an event. He followed me everywhere. You'd think I had Doritos growing out of my back or something because anytime I turned around, there he was. Anyway. We were chatting and he did the sly "when did you graduate?" spiel that all of us know is just a ploy to get a rough estimate of one's age. Like clockwork, I witnessed all the blood drain from his face as he did the math...only to discover that his wife to be was 6 years his senior.

Sorry, man.

Sorry you think I'M OLD.

What does "looking 29" even freaking mean?!!!?

Just stop.

Stop looking surprised. Stop trying to compliment through your awkwardness that I have nice skin, "have done a great job keeping up with myself" and all the other shitty things you think are okay to say in that moment.

Needless to say, although Doritos guy was nice and well meaning. And although I know that I know that I know he didn't mean anything by his unintentional reaction. And although I know his surprise and (disappointment?) to the number of years I've lived on this earth do not define me or determine whether or not I'm anything other than what I still caused me pause.

When I think about it, starting is precipitated out of a willingness to be vulnerable. We can't begin if we don't take a first step, no matter how small.

When I started my photography business I was so nervous to make my work public because being public means you put yourself out in the world's eye to SEE YOU....and it may not like what it sees.

But you know what? I'm so glad I did it. Over the past few months I've learned more than I thought I ever needed to know as well as learned I will never stop learning. My style will always change and I will always be improving. The nature of the craft is that one does not stay static. As an artist, we are forever being transformed and our style showcases that transformation.

How true is that of our persons in general? Most specifically for those of us who believe that God's Holy Spirit is inside of our souls directing and guiding us toward the end result of Christ's beautiful character.

We will never be the same as we are today. We are forever starting and stopping. Growing and changing.

Which brings us back to this idea of vulnerability and its connection to our souls.

Our dreams, designs, ideas and what-have-yous may be birthed in the secret of our minds and hearts BUT they cannot become reality without action. Without the pen being put to the paper or the rubber meeting the road, our grand ideas will just sit where they were created until the creator will give them birth.

The same is true for our thought life. I may have been attacked while I was down (or as I would like to believe, because the devil is REAL afraid of me) but I allowed those icky lies and doubts to seep into who I believed myself to be and what I believed I was called to do. I allowed myself to become vulnerable to the negative ploys of our sinful world and the king of lies.

The creator of the universe is no different. He starts the world (ummm scary pressure much?! We're talking the universe here and everything that literally exists...and regardless of whether you're a YEC or Evolutionist or somewhere in the middle, I think it's safe to say that the universe STARTED at some point, somehow...I digress.)

As we are told in Genesis, God choose action by speaking his creation into existence. (Again...was he freaking crazy?! What a nuts and yet totally awesome, "I'm creator of the world" thing to do...)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said ..."
God said. He didn't just hover and he didn't just think. He said....He acted.

Not only this, but God created us. "Let us make man in our image, in our God created man in his own image." (vs. 26)

Think about that.

God created human beings all the while knowing that these same human beings could (and would) hate him and each other some day.

If that isn't pure vulnerability, I'm not sure what is. 

To create, to let your creation be seen and lived, all the while knowing it will reflect you but also may not be accepted or loved or used the way in which you intended...that take guts...and love for the greater good.

So. What are you wanting to start? What have you already started? Is it spreading love and joy? Or is it keeping you in doubt and in bondage?

Every form of action we take in our starts (whether they be of the new job or "why am I still not good enough" variety) is a step into vulnerability. And it's our prerogative to decide to what we will allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

For me. Let it be love. Let it be joy. Let it be peace. Let it be patience. Let is be kindness, goodness and faithfulness.



Why we need to stop thinking of singlehood as if its a clearance shoe rack

I stopped into DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) today hopeful to find a cute shoe on sale that would go well with basically every outfit I own.

Tall order, I know.

As I meandered the aisles, looking up and down each one, not one shoe caught my eye. In one last ditch effort, I took the walk of shame to the back of the room. Yes. I went to the clearance shoe rack; that dreaded back area of the store where all is fair in love and war and maritime law ceases to exist.

Strewn about in ordered chaos and nothing like the shoes on the floor displayed on their crystal pedestals, these shoes always dash my hopes and dreams. More times than not, I leave the store empty handed, wondering why my feet couldn't just be a size 4.5 so I could, you know, buy shoes on sale that don't look like they were made in the dark by ostriches with hands.

Shopping in the clearance rack is exhausting for this very reason. The shoes left over are the ones that are a hard sell. They're weird. Or shaped funny. And they're there because nobody wanted them...haphazardly thrown together in a large mass and marked down in the hope that some poor soul will take them home.

You may be 28 like me and with every passing second you hear the clock tick down to 30 contemplating how in the next year you're going to do everything you ever wanted before the end of your life.

You may be 33 and rolling your eyes at everything I write because you're annoyed that I'm annoyed that I'm single and only 28 and think my life is ending.

You may be 24 and really are thinking I'm an old hag and this year is a shot in my foot and I have seconds to live.

I don't know.

But what I do know, what I've wrestled with myself and am learning and seeing and hearing from so many of you, is the reality of the fact that many of us fear we are those shoes.





Not chosen (yet).


The wrong ______.

And although we may know that those shoes are NOT WHO WE ARE, in many ways I believe those shoes represent how many of us feel about ourselves and about dating.

Whether intended or not, we've been fed the lie that the good ones are already taken and that all that is left for us unintentional life-thrifters is to scour the clearance racks, swiping left or right in the hope of finding anything a step above ugly, weird and mass-murderer...and fast because those are selling off the shelves too!

Single adults. Hear me.


As single adults, we have to stop living into the clearance shoe rack mentality. There is more to who we are and who we were created to be than trying to pull a Cinderella's evil step sister over on our dating lives or project our fears and insecurities onto those whom we think we're destined to have to date.

Time is on our side.
They are not the last one.
You are loved regardless.

We have to stop seeing ourselves as less than our married or successfully relation-shipped friends. We also need to stop seeing ourselves as better, in an attempt to lift our pride and esteem.

We are a part of making up the culture in which we live. We are just as responsible for the lies we internalize as the people and systems in our lives, churches and families who instill them.

As single people, we can either choose to live into the stereotypes that abound, or break them. And we break them through learning to live free.

We haven't missed our boat. We are not too old for love. We are not subjected to a castaway lot of misfit, ugly, weird, annoying and awkward clearance rack future husbands and wives.

When all we seem to do is pick up are the 8" heels NOBODY CAN WEAR or the see the adorable size fives that someone else seemed to snatch up before us, even though we know our size nines would never fit, we must continue to push forward. We must continue to live lives or integrity, honor and truth, knowing that the Lord has a plan and that He loves us.

And for real, that plan does not include an ugly loafer...unless you like those...

I get it. I totally do. And I hate it...for both you and me. I know how frustratingly annoying it is to try and try again only to be let down. But fashionista, don't give up. Don't throw in the towel and settle. The blisters and corns aren't worth it.

Because sometimes...sometimes...there are those moments however glint, when you find your PERFECT fit and are ever so glad you waited. So put your Olympic-rated elbowing and bartering skills to rest, dear shopper, and keep your eyes focused on what is ahead.


But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. -Isaiah 40:3

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. -Lamentations 3:25-26

140 Days and Counting: An Update
I have 140 days left of this journey...a 140 in which I fully intend to soak each and every second out of. I love my life and I am learning to truly and deeply love and fully accept who God created me to be...which comes with vulnerability, sacrifice and a little bit of fear as I step into leadership roles and own parts of me I'd rather just hide.

Since I've written last, I've had two different men tell me they were not interested in getting to know me if it meant I wouldn't date them in the immediate...yeah...that really did happen.

I've also started a new job which I love, opened my own photography business (after 10 years of talking about it) and am about to start my third year (of five) of graduate school to complete my second masters degree...this time a Masters of Divinity. And yes, I mean it. So if you're against women leading or speaking in public, you need not apply to be my true love come January 2017. All snark intended.

The Participation Award: why it's not what you think

Hello June 7.

Sorry I haven't been here in awhile. Between work and graduate school and the happenings of which will be detailed in the paragraphs below, I just haven't wanted to write. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I felt like I had nothing remarkable or intelligent to say, no morsel of encouragement to share.

Today, however. Today is different.

Today pushed me over the edge. Today made me realize that I can no longer keep this secret.

Because you know what?  

Secrecy steals power it was never destined to hold.

But first, baseball.

The Minnesota Twins stink this year. They really do. And I feel a deep sadness at the pit of my being for them. Nobody likes to lose. I can't imagine what it must be like to be a professional athlete, someone who literally gets paid large sums of money to play the sport of which they've trained their entire lives, and lose... consistently...time and time again.

How hard would it be to stay "in the game" at a time like this? At a time when all your record has to show for itself is more lost games than the infield can count on their hands?

If you've read my former blog posts, you know that this whole "daring dateless" thing started with a dream and a budding relationship...proceeded by a lot of broken heartedness.  I wanted to write to give single people a voice. To let them know they're not drowning alone in the constant outpouring of baby and engagement photos as they wallow away in a deep dark hole desperately trying to rebuild their social network. Making friends as a single adult is like playing minesweeper. You just know it's a matter of time before that new friend gets married off and you need to start the friend-dating thing all over again.

So often I find that single-people-specific messages are written by people who are no longer wading through the messy loneliness that is being a single adult. It's not that their advice is wrong or their hearts don't mean the very's just loses credibility the moment they say "when".


When is of the past. When happened and moved on. When got what it wanted and left the building.

This past week I found myself remembering when. And I cried until all my mascara was pooled in a dark bubble at the bottom of my chin. A great party trick, try it.

Over the course of the last two months the ex-boyfriend, for which I moved across the country, got engaged; the most beautiful man on the planet (read here) got a hot Brazilian-based girlfriend; and that budding relationship I spoke of...yeah he told me today he's been seeing someone for MONTHS...and asked if I'd be interested in dating HIS BROTHER instead. Umm. NO. That's weird. And insensitive. And I thought you'd wait for me...

Our short text conversation ended with him saying he "appreciates me".


Why don't I get that engraved on a plaque and hang it next to my "you deserve better" and "its not you, its me" awards.

You see, I've got a trophy case full of these participation awards in love. I've got plaques on plaques on plaques and boxes of ribbons like the ones you get in 4th Grade track & field for running the mile-run and not falling over afterward.

I'm sick of the participation award.

I'm sick of showing up and "staying in the game" only to "lose" and not "win". 

You know what else I'm sick of, however? I'm sick of realizing that I continue to store up hope in people and things and relationships and hopes of relationships instead of in God.

"Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him." (Psalm 62:5, NLT)

Our hope (i.e. our BIG hope, our eternal hope and expectancy) is found in God alone. And in nothing else. Nothing.

Today made me realize that although I've committed to this year, I've soothed my worry and propped myself up with the hope of a rekindling of that budding relationship year-end in a poetic-romance-novel kind of way.

In essence: I can give my life...if it means I still think I'll get what I want.

"If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it." (Matthew 10:39, NLT)

We were not created to be God and judge his character, nor his plans. How often do we do this? Thinking we know better? Do you do this, this giving up to get thing? Do you give up something with a little something in your back pocket just in case?

This is my secret. And I didn't even realize it.

I'd been hoping in something that wasn't a guarantee and yet I made it one in order to make the disorientation and "not so sure what will happen" of this year easier to follow through on. This was keeping me, however, from fully placing myself in God's hands and trusting that HE would direct my path and bestow blessing and favor in his right and perfect timing...which clearly is not my own.

I want to be chosen. I think all of us do. We all desire acceptance and love and...appreciation. But I don't want all of that at the cost of losing myself in the process.

I refuse to believe the lies that came spilling in today, the whispers that said: "you weren't worth the wait" and "you missed your chance." Those are crap and just not true.

Our God is good. He desires good for our lives. He is love.

Is there an area of your life you need to fully surrender? An area that needs a God-hope versus an earthly one? I pray you find that...and that it doesn't involve an appreciation of your participation plaque to add to your wall.

May we continue to pursue to loose those things that keep us from believing and accepting that our God loves us and desires our good...and bind those things that help us to participate in the award of our eternal home.


Day 60-Something: This is Who I Am

After climbing Machu Picchu this March. This may look cool, but I really was just airing my armpits...


I so didn't want to write this.

I've been fighting this post for at least a week. Mostly out of fear...and maybe wanting to hide. But if I'm being totally honest, this post has been a long time coming and for whatever reason, today I have enough gusto to share it.

The other day I had the incredible opportunity to have lunch with a new friend. We'd only ever met in passing prior to the yummy hipster food hour that commenced but we share a mutual friend whom we both love, and long story short, this mutual friend shared this here blog and the rest is history.

Between laughs and kindred-spirit-moments she asked it.

" are you doing this thing? ... I mean, do you struggle? Do you wrestle with 'what ifs'?"



Yes to it all.

This past month has been a whirlwind of emotion, temptation and questioning my decision.

A whole year? 10 more months of saying no to dating someone? Did I make a mistake? He seems perfect now, what was I thinking! I lost my chance! What if I meet the man of my dreams and he walks away? What if he gives up on me when he finds out I've dedicated the next year of my life to reclaiming who I am and loving God and my myself and learning what I want to do in this world because I want to live for something greater??!

And. And! Of course I'd meet the most gorgeous man alive in month two who tells me I'm pretty and makes me instantaneously combust with happiness...and dread...because then I think about these 10 months again.

As I write this, I can already begin to see the ridiculousness of the worries I have harbored.

...welcome to my creative mind...

It is amazing the power lies from the enemy (and our society) have on us in the dark until we expose them to the light.

Writing this. Exposing it to the light...felt like the end-all worst thing to me over the last two weeks.

I've wrestled with ways to make this post private...or not post at all and write about the llamas I befriended in Peru instead, but I just couldn't do it. I've suffered major writers block...and it's because THIS is what I needed to share. This is what the Lord has on my heart. This is what is authentic and needed and good and unflinchingly raw...but I was afraid because...what if he/she/they read this and thinks I'm...[enter an adjective for strange/weird/crazy here.]

But, this is me.

And if it is one thing I've learned, its that we can no longer change our stories to suit someone else's need.

Sometimes I hide the fact that I love God...because I've wrestled with feeling ashamed of it. People don't always like you, or understand you. I've been the focal point of jokes. I've been forgotten. Rejected. Dismissed. Sometimes it seems like loving and obeying God keeps me from fitting in or getting what it is I think I want...and that...just hurts.

Evil loves this kind of stuff.

The stuff that can get us in a tizzy hating on ourselves and contemplating giving up and hiding in the shadows. This month has felt like the enemy and his minions are somewhere creating little man-bolts of distraction and lies to hurl my way. "Hurry! Hurry! We're losing her! Throw her that one! She won't be able to resist tall, dark and handsome!!! She can't possibly believe she's worth it!"

And those little jerks are right...kind of.

Because I haven't been perfect in this.

I may not be "dating" anyone but I can assure you that I've allowed my heart to get caught up in moments of infatuation or worry about it. Whether its been a call, a text, a special look, an ongoing conversation...or waiting. and waiting. and waiting for someone to respond to a message, I've given myself

my self-worth

my thoughts

my time

my attention

momentarily to story that is not about me and is not mine.

You see. When our hearts get caught up in our own plans and conjured narratives, we miss what is real. We miss the beauty that exists all around us both inside and out. We miss our good through the speckles of bad that can (and have been) wiped clean.

A woman I admire sent me a message the other day. This woman is a long-time, incredible friend who loves God. She is also the type of friend you just listen to because she is wise and hears from the Lord in crazy-cool ways. (She also once had a dream about me getting married so I automatically elevate her to prophet status in my life...)

Her message read, "I was reading Proverbs 4:25 and I thought of you and your year ahead. Hold steadfast, Steph. You won't regret it."


In the middle of my battle, in the most perfect annoying of timing, God used her to say this:

25 "Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you."

...and it continues:

26 "Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways. 

27  Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil."

What a dagger of sweet, beautiful conviction. I'd been momentarily diverted; caught looking back instead of ahead.

I'm learning that I still place much too much emphasis on what others think of me. I'm learning that I still struggle to trust that God has good for me, that I am not forgotten. That I cannot "mess" this up. That I am worth waiting for should someone come along...and if no one comes...I'm still worthy. And loved. I'm also learning how easily I can be deceived and distracted to curtail myself to fit a different narrative.

But. I'm also learning to fight.

I'm learning to look Satan in the face and say, "Not today!"

We are will never be perfect, but we can perfect the ways we allow ourselves to think about ourselves, our stories and our God. And this, this will affect our actions and reactions to every situation, temptation and story we encounter.

My prayer is that this somehow encourages you in your walk wherever you find yourself.

Maybe you're struggling to find new friends in a new city and it seems like no one likes you or cares. Maybe you hate the way you look. Maybe she broke your heart. Maybe he won't return your calls. Maybe you've lost someone, or a job. Maybe your kids are driving you up the wall and all you can think about is life before they entered yours.

I don't know your story or your struggles or the lies you tell yourself.

But I can tell you that the enemy is not creative. He uses the same stupid pick-up lines on each of us ...and we eat them up!

Where in your life do you need to give yourself the gift of grace and forgiveness for all the crap you've been believing...or delivering to others? What are your man-bolts, how do they cause you to look back instead of ahead? Stay strong, push ahead.

And if you don't believe in God, my prayer is that you would take a step...even if that step is solely to reflect on your current life narrative. What do you think about yourself? Do you see yourself as loved and worthy?

Because. You are.