Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

I was at church for Easter on Sunday, and I couldn’t help but smile as I watched a four-year-old child dance in the aisle as music played. He was jumping up and down, turning in circles, raising his arms, and smiling while doing so. Around me, people began to nudge each other and break into a smile when they saw his energy; it was infectious.

I see his reaction to Jesus’ resurrection, and I wonder why it is not also mine.

I think we all ought to dance a little more often. I think we need to celebrate new life with a little more passion. I think we need to express our gratitude with a little more abandonment.

I think it would be a beautiful experience to walk into a church and see a congregation dancing, raising their arms, and singing loudly. I want to see joy. I want to see surrender. I want to see new. I want to see Jesus be celebrated.

Easter is a great celebration. This life is a glorious celebration. Each new day, each new opportunity, each new breath is a divine celebration.

So let’s dance it out.

xo.

Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

13 Reasons Why You Are Valuable

Cliché and unoriginal, but I feel it’s important. It’s been ten days since the series launched, and it’s already captured the attention of many, simply because it is applicable to many. I think it’s an important reminder of the value of life, and that’s one of my favorite things to remind people of. So below lies 13 Reasons Why your life is valuable.

1. You are you.

And there is no one else like you on this planet. No one can fill your shoes. No one laughs just like you do, and no one can be everything you are. You are unique, and you are special. You are alive, and you are breathing. You have left footprints all around this earth, and no one else has walked your specific path. You have your own perspective of the world; you are an individual. As Dr. Suess once said, “there is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

2. You have purpose.

Your breath proves this. You are alive, you are here, and you have purpose. You are continuing to breathe and live, and you have purpose. It may seem obscure, it may seem little, it may seem nonexistent at times, but you have purpose. Your life alone gives you purpose, and your experiences further shape your purpose. And hey, sometimes your purpose changes along the way. Sometime you have a flawed misconception of your purpose. Sometimes you need to define your purpose.

I once read a blog post called “How to Discover your Life Purpose in about Twenty Minutes.” In it, the author gives a simple exercise: open a blank document, write the words “what is my purpose in life?” at the top, and begin writing until one of your reasons makes you cry, or rather sob. The author listed over 100 before he found himself emotionally moved, and he noted a few reasons along the way which also resonated with him deeply. Maybe it won’t take you twenty minutes. Maybe it will be more like a week, a few months, or even a decade. You have purpose.

3. You are talented.

I wish I could tell you each individually how talented you are. Some of you are talented leaders. Some of you are talented at being bold. Some of you are talented at speaking out and standing up for your beliefs. Some of you are incredibly talented at loving others individually and often. Some of you are talented at serving relentlessly and bringing awareness to needs. Some of you are talented at guiding others and being someone they can rely on. Some of you are talented at art, music, drama, singing, and dancing. Some of you are so talented at making food. Some of you are talented at always being loyal and dependable. Some of you are talented in subjects like chemistry, physics, math, english, history, economics, psychology, and writing. Some of you are amazing at memorizing things and making people feel special when you remember little details. Some of you are so talented at listening and caring for others. Some of you are talented at remaining calm and bringing peace into situations. Some of you are talented when it comes to athletics. Some of you are talented at bringing joy with you and making others around you laugh. Some of you are talented at telling stories. Some of you are talented at knowing where you are and giving directions. Some of you are talented at understanding others and having empathy for them. Some of you are talented at asking questions. Some of you are talented photographers and snapchat users. Some of you are talented in being with different groups of people, like children, high schoolers, or the elderly. You are talented in so many more ways. I promise.

4. You are a blessing. 

You are a blessing to me, you are a blessing to those around you. I am thankful for you, and I am not alone in that. My friends, you bring unique qualities to the table. You bring “new” into my life and the lives around you. You bless others with your story, your presence, your passions, your talents; you bless others with you. Because you, just you and nothing more, are a blessing to many.

5. You are absolutely irreplaceable. 

You are a beautiful masterpiece. You are uniquely special. You are one-of-a-kind, a hidden gem, a precious treasure. You are precious, and your life is irreplaceable. Your life has such value simply because it is yours. Your life is not an accident; it is not to be lightly lived. You only live once. Your life has irreplaceable, incomparable value.

6. You are loved.

Oh, how you are loved. You are so loved. You are loved by me. You are loved by people in your life. Sometimes, it’s hard to feel loved. It’s hard to respond when people don’t react the way we expected or show love in ways we are not responsive to. It’s hard to feel loved when it seems that you are the only person reaching out. It’s hard to feel loved when you are alone. Trust me, I’ve been there. However, I assure you that you are incredibly loved and cherished. If you ever, ever doubt this, reach out. Send me a text that says “love me.” I’ll do my best. Talk to someone. Write down moments when you felt loved. Do not doubt this, because, oh, you are so, so, so loved. Words cannot express.

7. You are enough. 

I’m going to remind you that your life is enough. To put it simply, you are enough. You are strong enough. You are smart enough. You are good enough. You are pretty enough. You are thin enough. You are brave enough. You are funny enough. You are creative and good and organized. You are open enough. Your love is enough. My friends, you are enough. You are not perfect, and neither am I. But you, just you as you are, are enough. You are enough for me, even if you don’t think you are ___ enough.

8. You are an inspiration. 

Golly, I wish I could express how much everyone around me inspires me. So many of you inspire me to be a better person. I am constantly inspired to be more present. I am inspired to serve and listen attentively. I’m inspired to study more and laugh more.

I think we don’t tell people that they inspire us enough. Today, I was scrolling through social media, and I paused on a post of a girl who went to my private school. She’s five years older than me, and she was my book buddy when I was in first grade. Many years later, I watched her lead songs in chapel when she was a senior in high school. I watched her create community and make beautiful music. She’s been someone I’ve strived to be for the last twelve or so years. The post expressed an organization’s gratitude for her, and in the moment, I got consuming chills like never before. For some reason, I started tearing up and smiling huge because I knew for a fact she was changing lives. In that moment, I reached out to her and essentially told her “hey, you inspire me a lot, and God is doing something cool in you.” Sometimes, we don’t know the impact we have on people. I’ve admired her character from the distance for a majority of my life, and I’ve never brought it up until today.

I guarantee you inspire someone. My internet friends, you inspire me to blog more often and write better and be vulnerable. My friends back home, you inspire me to work hard and love well and create a community here at school. My friends at school, you inspire me to laugh more and make music and be me. My leaders and mentors, you inspire me to lead and listen and return the love I have been given. You all inspire me more than you will ever know.

9. You have passions that impact others. 

Your life is valuable because you have individual talents and desires. You have such distinct thoughts and values, and your passions have the capability of helping others. For those of you who want to go into health services, you have immediate impact on lives. For those of you who participate in #blacklivesmatter and women’s marches, you have the potential to impact lives around you. For those of you who desire to volunteer, you can bring hope. Passions as simple as music, sports, travel, food, exercise, animals, you name it, impact lives. Maybe you’re an inspiration to someone. Maybe you bring immediate hope. Maybe you spark passion in the lives of others. We shape each other, and your passions are capable of influencing the lives around you.

10. You have a voice. 

Your life has value because you have a voice, and this voice should be heard. You have stories and thoughts and ideas unique to you, and sometimes sharing your story is one of the best things you can do. Your voice has the ability to bring hope and love through the words you speak. You can encourage others and make them laugh. You can have deep conversations about the world. Your voice has the capability of bringing about new inventions and thoughts. Your voice deserves to be heard, not stuffed away and disregarded. You can use your voice to impact others. Do not be afraid to use your voice, because your voice matters.

There is something freeing about using your voice. It gives you a sense of belonging and contributing to society. Freshman year of high school, I didn’t talk all of first semester. At home, I wrote in my journal obsessively and refused to share my thoughts with others. Halfway through high school, I started this blog, and it became a way for me to indirectly communicate. Later, I became more comfortable sharing my thoughts and engaging with others. Through this url, I’ve seen just how much words carry value. Sometimes, certain sentences have spoken to people in ways I would never imagine while writing. Since then, I’ve learned using your voice is important. I’ve learned your thoughts have value. And my friends, your voice is important, and it gives your life value.

11. There are so many little things about you.

I love learning about people. I love being “compassionately curious,” as one of my leaders would call it. I love to ask people what their favorite scent is. I love to know how much ice you like in your water. I love to know what you’re passionate about and what you would do if you were more bold. I have a list of 60 questions on my phone to ask people just because I want to learn about them. I genuinely love learning about your quirks and story and the little things that make you you. These preferences and attributes give your life meaning. They shape you as a person, and they bring value into relationships as you begin to learn about one another.

12. You have a beautiful opportunity to change opinions. 

You are capable, and you have just as much potential as Abraham Lincoln did. Promise. I think sometimes we set our expectations too high. We expect that we can bring about world peace or create a extremely influential organization. Sometimes, we don’t need to do that. Sometimes it matters in the little moments and in your immediate community. You can make others feel loved by refuting common negative opinions about them. You can change outlooks on the world; you can bring hope and joy. You can give others a reason to live.

Last month, I was volunteering in a three-year-old room at my church, and there were about ten three-year-olds and one six-year-old. This six-year-old had down syndrome and was at the functioning level of a three-year-old. I was playing with one of the three-year-olds, and our conversation went a little bit like this:

girl: i don’t like when she’s here. she’s mean and doesn’t share and doesn’t listen to the rules.

me: hey now, did you know that sometimes she has trouble understanding what the rules are? just like how you’re learning to read, she’s learning the rules in the classroom. sometimes, we mess up, just like you mess up in reading, right? she’s still learning.

girl: she’s not like us though. she looks funny and acts mean. 

me: what? well first, i think she is still learning the rules and isn’t trying to be mean. she just doesn’t know what’s right or wrong yet! (girl: oh). and hey, i think she looks a lot like you! (girl giggles). how many eyes do you have? (two). how many ears do you have? (two). how many noses do you have? (muffled “one” among more giggles). 

This continued until the girl looked me in the eye and said “I’m going to go play with her now goodbye.” And for the rest of the service, she sat by her and played with her. Whenever the girl would hit her, she would say in a soft voice “that’s okay,” and proceed to give her a hug. 

You don’t have to change opinions about big things. You don’t have to bring every single person in the world hope. You don’t have to create unity of political beliefs in America. You don’t have to stop wars. You don’t have to be the next Socrates. That might not be completely attainable in the time you have here. Instead, be realistic. Focus on what you can do. You never know what you are capable of. Find value in influencing others and impacting the world.

13. Lastly, You are called son or daughter by the King of the World.

I’ve waited until now to bring Christ into the picture, because I want you to believe your life is valuable even if you don’t believe in Jesus. I respect that, and your life matters equally as much as the lives of people who do believe in God. You are valuable. Extremely valuable.

When we bring Christ into the picture, our value starts to come from Him, instead of from our own selves. He is the one who made us. He is the one who gives us purpose, and His purposes give us life. He gives us talents to use for Him. He calls us a blessing and promises to care for us. He made you unique and wants you to be His son / daughter. He loves you more than you are capable of understanding, and He will love you unconditionally with a perfect love that is incomprehensible. He says you are enough and you don’t have to do anything to earn that title. He gives you the capability of inspiring others. He places others in your life so you may impact them. He created every little quirk, passion, and desire of yours. He created the world, and He created you in it intentionally. He is the reason you are here, and He is the only way you will find joy, grace, and love in this life. All good things come from Him alone.  He is the reason you are here. He is the best reason for you to live your life.

So tonight, if you are searching for answers or value, seek Him. I love you all dearly, and I hope you will always remember that your life has incomparable value.

xo.

13 Reasons Why You Are Valuable

College Mems S1 E7: Jumbled Paragraphs

Hello, hello. I’m sorry it’s been so long. I’ve just made it through two weeks of absolute chaos. Utter mayhem. In the past two weeks, I’ve had to register for next year’s classes (which is still in shambles, I’ll expand later), choose next year’s rooming situation, take eight quizzes, take five exams (four in one week), give a ten minute presentation, attend two flute lessons and six rehearsals, write three papers, and give two concerts. But I’m here. And I’m alive and not too sleep deprived, but even so, I haven’t had much time to stop and just be.

However, throughout this disorganized season, I’ve been constantly reminded of God’s presence. If you know me, you know I love clouds. I absolutely love clouds. I don’t really have one specific reason why I love clouds. I think they’re beautiful, I like how they are always changing, and I see them as a tangible way to imagine God’s presence. Sometimes, it’s strong gusts of wind to grab our attention; other times, He speaks in soft, gentle breezes. Almost three years ago, I wrote about how God is like the clouds, constantly moving in everyday life though we rarely slow down long enough to notice. If you focus upwards for a minute or so, you’ll notice the clouds are gradually dancing across the sky and changing shape, sometimes color. God is always moving, but we’re often too busy to stop to acknowledge His presence. These last two weeks have been extremely busy, but I can honestly say I’ve been reminded of His presence so often. I’ve woken up to snapchats of clouds from friends. I’ve looked out the library window to see a sky overflowing with clouds. I’ve gotten up at ungodly hours to go watch a foggy sunrise. It’s been a beautiful reminder of His peace and perfect nature covering and overcoming my stress and shortcomings. I’m including some of my favorite cloud photos, simply because they are lovely.

 

In my spare time (ha), I went back and read through some of my older posts. This will be my seventy-second post, and it’s amazing to go back and compare old thoughts and habits to who I am today. This url has absolutely changed my life. It’s given me the opportunity to encourage others. It’s become a release. It’s taught me the value of vulnerability and community. It once gave me an opportunity to speak to over three thousand people about how cool God is. I’ve made some really amazing internet friends, and it’s sparked conversation. Occasionally, I get “you made me cry” texts, and honestly, I just want to let you know I am thankful. I am so thankful for your love and support, and I’m just really blessed.

A few weeks back, I was scrolling through a textual study of 1 Corinthians 13, and I really liked this:

 “Love says that I am, essentially, exactly what every other human being is. On the universal scales, there is no difference at all.  None. My soul is just as putrescent, just as sinful, just as corrupt as every other soul. In the realm of identity and difference, there is only identity. God alone is different. The subtlety of my arrogance is to not see my identity with all that is human. And when I do not see my identity, I cannot recognize the difference. Love reminds me that the chasm between my Creator and myself is infinite, but the chasm between me and every other human being is insignificant.”

Sometimes, I find myself forgetting my status as a human. And I just thought this was a beautiful, well worded reminder to constantly love. We’ve been talking about the five love languages (quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch) in my Communications class, and I’ve been reminded of the importance of loving people individually. Not everyone’s primary love language is the same, and some people may express their loves in ways which don’t coincide to your personal primary love language. I’ve been constantly reminding myself of this, because deep down, I want to be a person who expresses my love for people in extremely individualized ways.

I’ve been realizing how poor I am at adequately loving people. Especially in the past two months, I want to acknowledge my disordered priorities and my impeding bitterness. Ever since I’ve gave up instagram, I’ve realized how shallow a majority of my relationships are. There haven’t been many times I’ve felt this alone. I’ve been learning that my expectations for others are unattainably high, and I become disappointed when they aren’t lived up to. I’ve been learning that I try to live up to others’ expectations and I often fail. I’ve been learning that I often find my self-worth in others. If I am not good enough for him, I must not be good enough. If I cannot be what they need, I must not be needed. I’ve been learning that I am an incredibly selfish being at my core. I love serving people, but sometimes I serve people to gain their praise, their friendship, their affirmations. Deep down, my motivations are imperfect, even if my actions bless others. I’ve also been learning that I get incredibly annoyed when my standards are not reciprocated. Annoyed may be lightly used. I was mad this week, incredibly mad, and I honestly don’t remember the last time I’ve been “mad.” I don’t get mad. I don’t let myself get mad. Usually, I’m able to laugh things off and call it a new day. If I’m being honest, I’m still mad. I’m mad because I don’t feel loved by those I try the hardest to love. Lastly, I’ve also been learning that it’s okay to let people walk away, even if it’s not what I want. And as they walk away, it is important to be present when they finally walk back. I’m learning. I think it’s a good spot to be in, but parts of me just want to skip ahead to the “I learned” phase.

On a brighter note, I’ve truly been finding community here at college. I’ve been asked to lead a band next year, and I’ve been continuing to meet new people and learn about them. I’ve started eating dinner twice a week with a wonderful group of people, and overall they’re really just a blessing to me and it makes me happy. I’m really happy here, and I’m happy I can say that with confidence.

A few months ago, I asked a lot of people what they would do if they were more bold, and it was really neat to see people be challenged when giving their honest answers. I love learning about your thoughts, your drive, and your unique opinions. This month, I want to ask people what they are passionate about and why. I want to remind you of purpose. So comment, be involved, speak your mind. Don’t just be a bystander.

Happy Palm Sunday!

xo.

College Mems S1 E7: Jumbled Paragraphs