I’m Consumed By Thoughts of People I’ve Never Met

Before we start, I want to sincerely thank you for coming along with me on this weird and wonderful thought process.

I always try to explain this to people, and even though I’m never successful, I’m going to try again. Every morning, before my feet hit the floor, it hits me how small I am in the grand scheme of the world. I wish I was joking, but I literally wake up thinking about that. I think about how many people exist in my town, my state, and my country who live entirely full and beautiful lives that I don’t know about.

It’s hard to explain, because most people look at me and say, “yeah, duh, of course there are billions of people you don’t know.” But the point isn’t that I don’t know them. The point is that I don’t even think about them — ever — while I constantly think about myself. To me, my life is the center of the universe, which makes sense because I’m the one living it. I’m only experiencing my own life. To you, your life is the center of the universe because it’s the grand total of things you experience every day. But there are billions of people who don’t care about my life or yours, and we admittedly don’t care much about them.

Follow me for a minute. Somewhere, right now, there is a girl sitting at her kitchen table feeling so stressed about her math homework. You never think about her, but she exists and she feels pain and she’s living a full and beautiful and complicated life, somewhere, right now. There’s also a boy on his way to soccer practice, there’s a woman whose husband just asked for a divorce, and there’s a young couple anxiously awaiting the arrival of their first child.

Right now, someone out there is feeling the exact emotion that you are feeling. Even if that emotion is complete loneliness and you’re convinced that no one in the world could understand, I’d be willing to bet that someone does. Somewhere in the world there is a person who has faced the same demons as you; there is a heart that’s been shattered just like yours; there is another pair of hands holding on for dear life.

But there are also people celebrating the same triumphs as you: a new job, a college acceptance letter, an answered prayer. There is someone overcoming the same fears, letting go of the same complicated past, and thanking someone for the same generosity.

Don’t you see? There are literally billions of us who, right now at this moment, are living complete and complex lives right alongside one another. Some of these people are the ones we walk past in the grocery store; some are the ones who cut us off in heavy traffic. They’re all dealing with something — they’re all afraid of something. We are all navigating the same choppy waters as we attempt to make something of our lives. And it’s time we discover how much change we can create in the world if we realize this and do something about it. 

I’m not sure why I’m constantly thinking about people who never think about me. I mean seriously: this topic never leaves my brain. I cannot walk through an airport without dreaming up possible lives for the people coming off the plane. I cannot sit in the car on a road trip without asking my mom, “what do you think the woman who lives in that house does for a living? Do you think she has kids? Did she just find out she has a terminal illness?”

I’d call it a blessing and a curse to be this consumed by thoughts of people and their stories, but the truth is: it’s not a curse at all. Thinking about other people — thinking about the intricate and captivating lives they live and stories they have to tell — actually helps keep my feet on the ground. It not only reminds me that am I not alone in this life or in the hardships I face, but it allows me to put my problems and complaints in perspective. How can my stress or anxiety be that big if I am so small? For that matter, how can anything be so bad if we’re actually all in this together?

We’re all cohabiters of this same life. We all exist in this same moment — this same chapter of history. And I fiercely believe that our chapters — although residing within different books — are being written at the same time for a very specific reason.

Our culture today is vertically-focused, meaning that everyone sets their sights on what’s ahead and what’s above. What does the future look like? How can I climb the ladder to success? Our line of sight is so linear — so one-directional.

But there are so many people in this world — the ones we never think about — that exist right beside us. And if we’d look around once in a while — make our line of sight more horizontal — we’d see that we have so much to learn from them. 


Let’s Get Real About How We Treat Each Other

If that title caught your attention, you’re in the right place. And I’m glad you’re here.

I had a plan for this blog post. I was going to be really open and vulnerable with you — all of you — so that maybe you’d know how okay it is to be vulnerable, too. Then something happened: I started to chicken out. I started worrying about who could stumble upon this post — what if I didn’t want them to know some of this? What if I didn’t want them to see my brokenness?

Um, hello, earth to Michaela: the whole point of vulnerability is to connect with people and allow them to be vulnerable, too — to give them the freedom to be without fear of rejection. Who am I to decide who is and is not deserving of that freedom? Instead, I’m going to pretend for a moment that you and I are sitting in a coffee shop having a conversation, just the two of us. Hi, nice to meet you, my name is Michaela.

Have you ever heard someone say they have a “complicated history” with someone else? You know, a certain name comes up in conversation and they’ll say, “oh yeah, we have a kind of long history — it’s complicated.”

Well, I myself have a complicated history. I don’t mean with anyone in particular (that’s for another day), I just have a complicated story all my own.

To sum it up: I was the overachieving people-pleaser who, for 20 years, found her identity in being the “good girl.” I pushed myself to be the perfect daughter, the best girlfriend, an excellent student, and a first-class friend. I didn’t realize it along the way, but all of that pressure (combined with my general must-fix-everything demeanor) was destroying me from the inside out. It wasn’t until last year that I finally came to terms with the fact that who I am and who I want to be do not have to be the same person — that who I am right now is enough.

Think about this for a moment: what if someone saw the Google Search history from your entire life? You might be thinking, “oh, that’s not that bad, there’s nothing embarrassing in my search history,” but I want you to really think back here. If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked Google about some weird bodily function or, in your early years, looked up the meaning of pretty sexually explicit words you heard in class.

If you’re not like me, then I guess I’m the only one embarrassed here, but I’m counting on the fact that someone reading this has a pretty humiliating search history, too. How awful would it be if someone saw that entire search history? I’m low-key convinced that I could never talk to that person again.

Why is that?

Is that just human nature? Is it normal to assume that we’ll be judged for the weird things we ask Google? I guess so.

But what about the other things we’re ashamed of? Should we just preemptively hide those things from people because we know they’ll judge us?

I don’t like that. I’m not okay with it. And I’ll tell you why.

Hiding things from people gets me into trouble — consistently. I have a tendency to hide the truth about how I feel from the people I love in an effort to protect them, to keep the peace, or to maintain harmony in all of our lives. If I’m upset with you, you won’t know it. If I’ve ever been upset with you, you probably don’t know it. If my happiness rests on you stopping a certain behavior, I definitely won’t let you know. Even if something you said made me go home and call my mom and cry my eyes out, I’d never tell you. Basically if it’s between my happiness or yours, I’m always going to pick yours.

But I’ve realized in the last 3-ish months that I do everyone a disservice by hiding my true thoughts and feelings. I’ve finally gotten on board with complete openness and honesty — even when it causes some momentary discomfort or uneasiness. So I’m not at allokay with living in a world where I have to hide certain pieces of myself in order to remain loved or free from judgment.

So here’s my question: why aren’t we better at loving people?

There’s so much widespread hatred and insecurity right now — I can feel it festering even from my tiny corner of the world. And since I can’t physically open someone’s mind to see another point of view, I decided to counsel those who will listen on something we can do to offset the hate: love.

But here’s the truth: everyone knows that. Here’s some more truth: it’s not enough, because too many people love conditionally. They preach a message of love, and they love others pretty well — until it gets uncomfortable. They love people until it stops feeling good or until the crowd stops watching. They don’t love people through their mess, through their brokenness, through their ugly. They don’t give that fierce, relentless love that everyone deserves — the kind of love that moves you.

I’ve seen firsthand the impact of a relentless love. I’ve seen the way it changes people, the way it fills in places they’ve been broken and rattles their soul so much that they want to go out and love others in the same way. Humans are complex; there’s no cut-and-dry formula to help you figure them out. Loving people isn’t supposed to be easy (and sometimes it can be really freaking hard), but it is always worth it. Hence what makes it so beautiful and so worth fighting for.

Think about what you’re doing! You are literally peering into someone’s scariest places, recognizing their flaws, looking in their eyes and saying, “I’m choosing you in spite of — no, because of — your mess. Because I have a mess, too. Because I am a human, too. And maybe your mess and my mess can combine to be one big mess that we commit to tackling together, as cohabiters of this life.”

So freaking love people. Just do it! Love them fiercely. Love them until they love themselves. Love them until they have so much love in their hearts that they have to go give some away. Because once you do that, you’ve started a chain reaction that could quite literally change the world.

We Need To Talk About Deleting Instagram

Hi, I’m glad you’re here. I deleted Snapchat and Instagram five weeks ago, and I would feel so selfish if I didn’t tell you what I’ve learned. I think you might relate to something that I’m feeling (or something that I used to feel), and if you do, I want you to know you’re not alone.

Quick disclaimer: This post was inspired by my friend Lindsay’s post about why girls should delete Instagram, so please click here to page-hop over there to show her some love. 

But then come back!! It’s important to engage in lots of self discovery!! Don’t leave me forever!! 

Let me give you some quick background information: I am (was) addicted to social media. I mean truly addicted. I’d be awake for an extra hour+ every night looking at my phone — sleep was not an option until my eyelids were too heavy to keep open.

But mornings looked something like this: wake up, roll over, check in with my apps.

Open Instagram, scroll through my feed until I run into the last post I checked before bed (usually time-stamped “7 hours ago”), close Instagram. Open Facebook, scroll through my feed until I get bored, close Facebook. Open Snapchat, watch a few stories, close Snapchat. Re-open Instagram, realize no one has posted in the last 12 minutes, close Instagram again. Get out of bed. 

I mean, what? What kind of wake-up-call is that? It’s not quite the “good morning, sunshine!” I think everyone deserves when they open their eyes for another day.

It’s actually more like, “Good morning, here’s a feed of things to make you insecure! See, photographic evidence that you missed out on a fun night last night with those girls. And a stream of photos of tan and skinny people reminding you that you need to be tanner and skinnier. I bet none of them ever feel insecure or stressed or lost or lonely. No really, you should look at all of this before you start your day. It’s fun. Do it.”

To tell you the truth, I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate social media. I love the idea of being able to connect with people from all walks of life in one place. It’s actually my life’s mission to facilitate connection between people in order to create mutual understanding and acceptance. I don’t think we give connecting with and relating to people enough credit.

But social media doesn’t only create a place for connectivity and meaningful conversation. Unfortunately, and more often than not, it creates a place filled with insecurity and misrepresentation.

Think about something for me: your last Instagram picture. Why did you post it? Really — why? I’ll go first: my last Instagram post was an attempt to give people a glimpse into my sister’s island wedding. But the pictures I uploaded in that post were carefully chosen, carefully edited, carefully placed into the perfect order, and carefully captioned.

Sure, I’ll go again: I put all of that work into my post so that it would get a lot of likes. I wanted my followers to think that I looked pretty in my bridesmaid’s dress, and I wanted to show off the incredible views on the island. In fact, the motivation behind almost all of my Instagram pictures (with the exception of birthday shoutouts) was that I thought it was a good picture, and I wanted my followers to see that good picture so that they’d think more of me. I wanted to keep up with those seemingly perfect lives I saw in my “explore” page or in my feed; I wanted to showcase my own “perfect” (lol) life.

And while I’m on a roll here… most of the photos and videos I’ve posted on my Snapchat and Instagram stories over the last few years have been because I want people to see what I’m doing. Sure, sometimes I just wanted to share a cute or funny moment for people to enjoy, but more often than not, I was competing.

I was competing for attention, for likes, for approval, and for affirmation.

So — your turn. What’s your motivation behind posting your pictures? If you’re one of the few who enjoy posting for the pure and true purpose of sharing a moment with people, I am very envious. But if you’re anything like me — crafting your posts because deep down you want people to see how pretty you look or how artsy you are and you’re secretly disappointed when people don’t leave really sweet comments — then let’s chat.

You are worthy of more than what social media can give you — so much more. Sure, likes and comments and followers and retweets are really nice, but why do they matter so much?

Why do we care if people — some we barely know — double tap our picture? Why does receiving a disappears-in-7-seconds photo and maintaining a “streak” make us feel sufficiently connected to someone? And why on earth do we talk about struggling with comparison when the key to freedom lives in our phones?

Comparison is the thief of joy. We see excessively edited pieces of people’s lives, and in order to keep up with them, we present to the world our own excessively edited content. Even worse, we convince ourselves — sometimes subconsciously — that our unedited realities aren’t good enough. We use filters to improve our original picture; every photo editing app on your phone right now is designed specifically to remind you that your reality isn’t enough.

Social media literally gives us a never-ending stream of material upon which to compare ourselves. Sure, we can talk about how unfair that is and tell our friends how much we struggle with comparison, but do we really have room to complain? Do we really have the right to open up to people about insecurities while we’re absent-mindedly scrolling through Instagram and obsessively refreshing Snapchat?

Honestly, I don’t think we do — at least not until we take charge of our own happiness. If you feel like you struggle with comparison or insecurity, or if you have a tiny suspicion that social media might be consuming your life/thoughts, it’s time to do something. It’s time to peel your eyes and thumbs off the smartphone and refocus.

Stick with me for a minute here: imagine that you’re terribly allergic to mold. And imagine that there’s mold growing all over your house. What would you do? Would you call your friends and tell them that you’re really struggling with breathing lately? Would you purposefully spend time in the rooms with the mold? Would you keep the house wet and warm to feed the problem?

Of course not. You’d use mold cleaning products (real life equivalent: deleting apps), you’d avoid the mold-infested rooms (real life: force yourself not to look at them), and you’d call a professional to assess the damage if need be (real life: see a counselor if your mental health is suffering).

You might think it would be crazy to tell your friends that you’ve been struggling with “breathing” while helplessly sitting in your house full of mold, but it’s no different than opening up about comparison with the source of your struggle sitting in your hand. You know without a doubt that you wouldn’t spend time in the rooms with the most mold, but you spend hours aimlessly scrolling through your feeds. And you probably wouldn’t induce humidity to feed the problem, but every carefully crafted Instagram post and Snapchat selfie you retake 4 times feeds the misrepresentation that’s currently crippling our society.

“Did she just say social media is crippling society?”

Yes! She did! 

Think about it! No matter where you are, you are never more than 3 clicks away from cheating on your significant other. You are never more than 3 clicks away from copyright infringement, porn, nasty comments on youtube, an argument on Facebook, an Instagram post that your friend never commented on, or an opened arrow on Snapchat reminding you that your crush hasn’t replied in 11 minutes. 12. 13. Refresh. 14. Refresh.

Smartphones and social media applications have added a whole new meaning to the phrase “immediate gratification.” You could say that every relationship — be it romantic, familial, platonic, or the relationship you have with yourself — is currently hanging on by 3 clicks.

So here’s my call to action: stop it. Delete the apps for a few days; give yourself a break. Wake up, stand up, stretch, make coffee, and watch a morning show before you pick up your phone. Read a chapter of a really good book before bed instead of scrolling through all of the things you missed over the last 2 hours.

I can’t disconnect from the world completely (seriously — can anyone?), but I’ll tell you something: the past 5 weeks have been some of the most vibrant and fulfilling of my adult life. Not once have I felt 2-inches-tall because of insecurity. I’ve been more focused on the moment and less consumed by the pictures I’m taking of it. I haven’t thought about writing a caption, reaching a certain number of likes, or having a lot of comments. I’m finding my affirmation in myself, in my faith, and in the people I love.

And maybe one day I’ll re-install the apps, but only when I feel like I’ve grown enough to use them in a way that adds joy to my life rather than anxiety. Until then, I’m happy to be checking in with Facebook only every few days.

Give yourself a break from the constant, unyielding stream of comparison. You deserve it. You’re too good for insecurity.  

Don’t let a tiny, pixelated box on your screen influence the real, beautiful, full-of-possibilities life that exists about 10 inches north of the smartphone. You control your worth and your happiness — it’s time to realize it. 

Casual Fridays: Growing-Apart Pains

Hi — I’m glad you’re here.

I’m calling this series Casual Fridays because the concept of a casual Friday has always appealed to me: dressing down the day before the weekend. For 13 years I wore a uniform to school every day, and I remember how euphoric it felt having an out-of-uniform day on a Friday. It made classes go by faster, everyone was in a better mood (even the teachers), and I just felt so much more comfortable. 

Feeling comfortable can be a really powerful thing. I think comfort at work generates a more positive atmosphere, and studies show that a happy workplace translates to higher levels of productivity. Comfort with people fosters a spirit of openness and vulnerability — it lets you settle in.

Well here we are on a Friday, and whether you’re feeling comfy or had a really awful day, we can be casual here. We can all take a deep breath and let go of our discomforts — settle in and stay a while.


When I was little — first or second grade — I had a best friend. And every day at lunch, I sat at the table with my lunchbox firmly planted on the bench beside me to save her a seat while she went through the line. So on this particular day, there I was, munching on my turkey sandwich, when I saw my best friend walking toward me. I picked up my lunchbox and waved at her.

Except on this particular day, she didn’t wave back, and she didn’t come sit with me. She looked at me, put her head down, and took a seat at the other end of the lunch table. I remember feeling so confused — what had I done wrong? Was she made at me?

After lunch, on our single-file walk to the playground for recess, my best friend informed me that she couldn’t sit with me on Thursdays anymore. Apparently, Thursdays were now her day to sit beside the popular girl at lunch. When I say “her day,” I am indeed referring to “her day” on the written schedule that was created by the group to organize all of the people that wanted to sit beside the most popular girl. To minimize the fighting, naturally.

The most popular girl in the first (second?) grade was also one of my best friends (and she’s actually still one of my favorite people to this day), but since I wasn’t present during the creation of the schedule, I wasn’t given a designated “day.” When I approached her to ask if I could be included in the schedule (I’m appalled with my child self), she didn’t even know what I was talking about. The group of girls fighting over her forgot to tell her that they’d created a daily seating chart.

When I asked the girl in charge of the project, she told me there weren’t any days left.

I had lunch with a new crowd for the rest of the year. And I wasn’t close with the seating chart gang again until middle school.

My point with this story: I was introduced to the trifecta of girls, friendships, and politics very early on in my life. I am no stranger to the miserable feeling that arises in your stomach when your friends find other friends, when your people become other people, or when you feel like you lost a game you didn’t know you were playing.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, I envy you. But if you have even the smallest memory flashing through your mind, Hi, I hear you. 

So here we are 15 years after my first best friend found a new crowd. And even though I no longer sit at a lunch table, the reality of growing apart from friends or feeling ousted from your people never changes.

I know it can be really hard to accept when your friendships are changing — to feel as if someone who used to know every detail of your life has no idea what you’re currently going through. I know it feels wrong when you see them commenting on everyone’s Instagram pictures except yours, when you watch their Snapchat stories and realize how much fun they still have without you, or when you find out about big news weeks after it happened and wonder why no one told you. Trust me, I have been there, I am still there, and I’ll be there again.

The truth of the matter is that two people can without blame or grand betrayal become strangers.

But here’s some good news: growing apart from people doesn’t discount the moments that you grew side by side. I whole heartedly believe that each person you love — hell, each person you interact with — over the course of your life leaves something with you when they go.

We kind of pick up pieces of one another along the way — tiny sacred moments, phrases no one else would understand, and lessons learned together that imprint on our hearts. These little pieces shape who we are.

Sometimes people aren’t meant to stick around forever, and that’s okay. Sometimes the people we think we’ll do life with become people we do “right now” with, and that’s okay, too! We need certain personalities to influence us at different times. Is it easy when we invest in the long-haul and only get the right-now? No, absolutely not. But it’s normal. It’s necessary. Growth can’t always happen in the midst of your happy place.

If you’re feeling growing pains right now — whether your romantic relationship is changing or a certain friendship feels different — you’re not alone. And there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Because even though not every person is meant to stick around forever, some people are.

Some relationships and friendships are for keeps. And the best part about allowing yourself to feel those growing-apart pains is that you have a deeper appreciation for the people that continue to choose you every day. Cherish them! Choose them back.

I’ve been lucky enough to find a handful of these long-haul people, and the experience of being their friend has changed my life. A seemingly insufficient “thank you” to these humans for giving consistency to the future.

And to all of the right-now people from my past — to my childhood friends, my first love, my one-season-only crowd, my high school boyfriend, and everyone in between: thank you for shaping the person I am today and for lending me a tiny piece of our memories.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” -Miriam Adeney

This Is For You. Yes, You.

This one goes out to each and every person who feels undeserving, unworthy, unlovable, or unseen. Hi, nice to meet you.

I wanted to come out of the gate with these uplifting words — something to instantly draw you into the rest of the piece and give you a preview of how much love I am about to throw at you — but I decided against that. Instead, I want to call out everything inside of your sweet heads causing you to doubt how inconceivably special you are.

So, with that being said, give me all of it. Give me the insecurity about your weight, the acne on your forehead, and the scars from your surgery. Give me the google searches about nose jobs, the cardigans you wear in the summer to hide your arms, and the discouraged hours you spend shopping for something that fits and fits well. Bring me the saved text messages from an ex-boyfriend, the tears shed in the car when that song comes on, and the countless nights you go to bed feeling like you’ll never recover. Bring them to me.

Give me your nightmares, your anxiousness, your paranoia, and your shame. Hand over the guilt you feel from treating someone poorly, the worry that your parents will really split up this time, and the moments you spend walking the halls wondering if anyone feels as lost as you do. Bring me your loneliness, your hiding places, your stress about the future, and your never ending to-do lists. Give me the secret you’re keeping from everyone, the lies that you can’t seem to stop telling, and the trust issues currently keeping everyone at arm’s length. That conversation replaying over and over again in your mind — the one where someone tells you you’re not enough, rejects you, embarrasses you, or makes you doubt yourself — I want to take it from you. Lay it at my feet.

I want to hold these burdens for you, because I don’t want you to hold them anymore. These things I’ve mentioned weigh on your heart in a way that you wouldn’t believe, and you don’t deserve to carry that weight anymore. Let me carry it for you. Rest, you deserve it. 

You deserve freedom. And sunlight. You deserve the freedom to walk in that sunlight, look up, and feel the warmth hit your face. I want that for you.

Peace should not be a foreign concept. Rest should not be unknown. You are worthy of love and care, and you deserve that love and care in abundance. You deserve a shoulder to cry on, a place to call home, a worry-free mind, and a life full of grace — grace that overwhelms your heart and fills in the places you didn’t even know were broken.

Believe that; chase that. Remind yourself that you are spectacular, and you serve a purpose here in this world that is unique to only you. There exists a corner of the world — a tiny patch of earth — that belongs solely to you. Plant yourself there, cultivate your soil, take root in good people and big dreams, and grow. Grow boldly; grow far and deep and wide in the abundance of grace and love that you boldly and fully acknowledge you deserve. Help others when they face uncertainty, and give back to those who gave to you. Water the patches of earth around yours so that others may grow as full and as confidently as you. Inspire someone else to do the same.

There is nothing holding you back anymore. You’ve given me your fears, your insecurities, your doubts, and your shame. I took your guilt, your secrets, your stress, and your grief. All you have left is the authentic and marvelous you that you lost underneath all of the pain. The world tried to bury you, but I took the weight away and gave you room to breathe — to grow.

So breathe. And grow. And flourish. And inspire.



(through the words of Michaela)

(because I love you, too)

(just… not as much as He does)

“Cast all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. 

I Am Tired of Praying for Cities

I’m tired of this.

Aren’t you tired of this?

Brussels, Belgium. Paris, France. Orlando, Florida. Istanbul, Turkey. Dallas, Texas. Nice, France. Countless other attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, and cities around the world — all of them, terroristic or not, brought on by hatred.


How many more cities; how many more lists of names? How many more people have to lose their lives for it to finally be enough? For how many more days will I be expected to live in fear of traveling — in fear of going to the movies — in fear of stepping outside?

This will be the second time in 8 months that the hashtag #PrayForFrance trends worldwide — let’s just let that sink in. Eight months lie between two of the deadliest attacks in recent world history, killing 210 people combined (and counting as I type this). 50 innocent lives were stolen in Orlando, Florida this year out of nothing more than hatred. There were dozens of innocent Americans gunned down by corrupt officers, and 5 noble policemen killed by hatred.

Is that not enough to wake us up?

Every night I lie in bed and pray for peace. “Grant us Lord peace in our days, peace in our hearts, peace in our families. Grant us peace in our country and peace among nations. Make our lives a prayer of peace for the world.” Every single night. 

And (what seems like) once a week, someone looks up from their phone and tells me about another attack, another mass shooting, another act of cruel violence. Needless to say, it feels like my prayers are not being answered.

But when my heart aches for the hate that exists in the world, I am reminded that the only thing I can use to combat hatred is love. 

So even though I don’t want to, I will pray even harder for yet another city. Even though it feels unfair and unjust, I will pray even harder for peace and for strength. Except this time, instead of praying for an end to the destruction, I will pray for more love. I will ask for light to completely consume the darkness; I will beg for love to captivate our hearts and fill in all of our cracks and brokenness.

Humanity is an interesting entity. We sometimes feel as if it is spiraling out of control, and we point out all of its problems, forgetting that humanity is not an “it” or a “they” — it’s an us. We have the power to create change, we have the potential to turn the whole thing around, and we have the capacity to so fiercely love one another that the world can finally take a breath.

It was through love that we were created and by love that we were saved. Wouldn’t it make sense that love can save us again?

Grant us Lord peace in our days, peace in our hearts, peace in our families. Grant us peace in our country and peace among nations. Make our lives a prayer of peace for the world.

Praying hands

I’ve Never Been A “Skinny” Human Being

I joke that I came out of the womb a size medium; I bypassed the “small” stage completely. I didn’t notice it very often when I was really young — our school uniforms made us all look the same for the most part. It wasn’t until our end-of-the-year pool party in fifth grade that I really became aware of it. This was the first time that my entire grade, boys included, would be together for an event outside of school, and it was definitely the first time we were all together in our bathing suits.

I showed up with my best friend Kyle, and for the first time in my life I was wearing a two-piece bathing suit. I bought it just for this event, and even though I knew I was not as skinny as seemingly every girl in the fifth grade, I loved that pink bikini. I walked in, hugged my friends, and jumped in the water. Only twenty-ish minutes had gone by when one of the girls called my name and motioned me over to her. I hopped out of the pool and walked proudly toward what would be my first real moment of insecurity, as she looked at me and said, “you should not be wearing that bathing suit — either cover up or call your mom to come get you, that’s just embarrassing.”

I nodded, hung my head, walked to the bathroom, and hid until it was time to go home.

Let’s fast forward ten years to last week. After learning about healthy eating habits, getting active, and growing approximately 18 inches taller, I was back in a pink bathing suit, and I was on the beach with my mom, my sister, and her fiancé. I posted a picture on Instagram with some silly caption, and I didn’t think about it again.

But I got some text messages that night at dinner, and oh my have I thought about it again.

The messages were from a boy that I know who works for a christian organization, and he was out-right shaming me for posting this picture on Instagram. He told me that I wasn’t a good role model for young girls; he mocked me by insinuating that I’d never heard of a one-piece bathing suit. He scolded me about my immoral behavior, and he implied that I wanted the world to see how “attractive” I am and get the attention of every boy who sees me.

I’m sure you can imagine how immediately overwhelmed and offended I was by these allegations.

But after taking some time to process it all, I had many words for him:

First of all, I try with all my might to be a good role model for younger girls. Do I sometimes (often times) fail and try again? Absolutely, but I do not consider this picture a failing on my part. I consider it to be a fun moment on the beach that I was lucky enough to capture on camera and share with my friends. The content of my character, the way I respect others or treat them with kindness is not determined by what I choose to wear on the beach in 95 degree weather.

There was a significant period of time in my life when I would not attend a pool party, I would not go bathing suit shopping with my friends, and I wouldn’t even look in the mirror during the summer months because I wanted everything covered. You’re talking to the girl who not only knows what a one-piece bathing suit is, but would only be seen in them out of fear and insecurity. The fact that I have arrived at a place where I can wear a bikini on the beach is something that should be celebrated, not judged. I want people to look at that picture and see a young woman —  who respects herself and who is most definitely not a size 0 or 2 or by any definition “skinny” — confidently wearing a bikini and enjoying herself on the beach.

The reason this hit me so hard is because this is a young man who’s had no hesitation in the past telling me how he feels about my “bikini bod” (lol I hate that term as much as you do), but if, God forbid, I feel the same way about my own self and dare to be confident publicly? I am suddenly worthy of judgment. I am suddenly a terrible role model. This is a young man who leads high school boys in their faith, teaching them how they should respect and treat young women, meanwhile he is demoralizing me for wearing a two-piece bathing suit. Most of all, this is a young man who will, one day, have a wife who feels this same sense of confusion and insecurity about her body. She won’t know when she is allowed to feel confident or feel good in her own skin. She’ll always worry about causing a fight when she puts on an outfit, because she will never understand the double standard he upholds. She will look to him for physical validation instead of believing in her own self worth and beauty.

I want to stress this point the most: ladies, you are allowed to be confident, wear a bikini — and yes! — post a picture on Instagram while maintaining a strong love for Jesus. You are allowed to feel good about yourself and be an upright, honorable young woman. You can boldly and fearlessly be and go, while still deserving the utmost respect from every individual. You never deserve judgment.

You are so loved and so worthy of good things.

A Panorama of a Woman Jumping for Joy on the Beach at Sunset