Tag Archives: twenty six

26 to 26: It’s not your responsibility to make everyone happy

I often say that I am a people-pleaser both by nature and profession. My natural tendency, impulse to make people happy makes me pretty good at my job and pretty hard on myself.

This next one is a hard lesson to learn:

It is not your responsibility to make everyone happy.

creative commons; efleming

creative commons; efleming

I’ve been seeking other people’s approval for just about 26 years but I’ve been doing it as my full time gig for just over two. I’ve had some frustrating interactions with ministry leaders, parents, and group members but they don’t usually shake me.

Until a few months ago.

Until a Hispanic woman berated me in the lunch line in her broken English and made me cry. All over a few baked potatoes. I didn’t cry in front of her, of course. I’m too proud, too stoic for that. No. I waited until she had said her peace and I had nodded and I’m sorry-ed myself out. Then I went to the basement and bawled.

Her group leader saw the whole thing and tried to intervene. She had consoled me with Don’t listen to her. She’s crazy.

But they didn’t matter. Again, I nodded and smiled and said that it was fine, fine, fine.

This woman’s words shook me not because she upset with the situation but because she was upset with me. She made it clear how she felt about me. I was unqualified, immature, and impolite.

And the haunting fear: I’m not enough, I’m not enough, I’m not enough.

There will be people to whom you cannot say yes and you will have to say no.

There will be people who don’t like the things that you say, the jokes you crack, the stances you hold, the questions you ask, the answers you give.

There will be people who whisper about you behind your back.

There will be people who say hard things to your face.

There will be people who do not like you.

And that’s okay. That’s actually kind of normal. That’s actually kind of good.

Your life’s purpose isn’t to make people happy. Don’t let that scare you. Your life’s purpose is way bigger than that.

Keep your eyes up and your heart open.



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26 to 26: Rest

It’s okay to rest. I mean, rest is good.

Sometimes rest is hard. Sometimes rest means facing the facts and looking at yourself, really looking at yourself. Sometimes rest means quieting yourself from to-do lists and overbooked schedules to listen. Rest is hard when you just want to run.

But sometimes, rest comes easy. Like today.

Like a day when you woke up at 4:30 am and spent 5 hours in the car and then proceeded to spend six hours awkwardly chatting with strangers and sitting through a lecture on youth ministry in the church even when you don’t work in a church or often in youth ministry.

And that’s okay. It’s okay to rest. It is good to rest. It is gift to rest.

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26 to 26: Growing up & knowing that you’ll never be grown up.

creative commons; veganbaking.net

creative commons; veganbaking.net

Your mid-twenties are weird. I’m only half way through but I’ll tell you what I know.

At some point you start talking to your best friend about cutting sodium of your diet because you feel bloated.

You start putting flax seed on your oatmeal.

You realize that your parents’ actually know what they’re talking about and this prompts you to listen to their advice.

You start finding gray hairs. Not just one hair. Several.

You lose your ability to stay up late, wake up early, and still function normally.

You use clichés like, “That’s for the birds!” And find yourself wondering, “WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?! AND WHO AM I, MY GRANDFATHER?!”

You begin to refer to college freshman as “babies” because 18 is sooooo young and they’re so naïve and don’t they know how good they have it?!

You start worrying about health insurance and how many cavities you probably have.

You start saying things like, “I really need to start saving for retirement,” and, “I need to establish some credit.”

You start watching HGTV and thinking, “I should buy a fixer-upper while the mortgage rates are still low!”

And then, at some point, you stop saying things like, “When I grow up…” because it hits you—like  a brick to the face, like a kick to the gut, like a —that you are indeed “grown up.” You have a job and people actually trust you enough to give you responsibility over things, important things and you’re buying your own toilet paper and probiotics and coconut oil because it’s supposed to be good for you, right? and you just adopted a dog and what were you thinking, embracing this growing up thing?!

It’s just a really weird place to be. You’re only 10 years from 16 but you feel like you’re 46 pushing 106.

But then again, being grown up, you start to realize that you’re never really fully “grown up.” You’re still uncertain of the future, still unsure of yourself.  You’re still a little scared of the dark and all of the scary things out there at night. You still long for adventure and passion and love. You still want to laugh and be silly and shed all of that responsibility on a Friday night.

You still spend time thinking, “What if, when I grow up…”

But, you know, it’s actually better. It’s actually nice to know your credit score and buy yourself something nice with the money you’ve earned at the job where you’ve proven you’re responsibility. Or just to sit in the home that you’ve made for yourself with your little dog and your hand-me-down furniture and that coat rack that you hung yourself. I don’t think I’d trade it. I don’t think I’d go back to the simpler, naïve.

There’s some peace in the process of wisdom. There’s some strange beauty in the knowing. There’s something charming about growing up and knowing that you’ll never be grown up.

Ah, the mystery, the intrigue, the flax seed. You’ve just got to go with it.

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26 to 26: No one is thinking about you in your bathing suit.

creative commons; jonny2love

creative commons; jonny2love

I’ll be honest. This is not a post about my bathing suit.

In fact, I’ll be doubly honest: I haven’t shaved my legs since some time in late September. I am definitely not thinking about swim suit season.

Truthfully, this has nothing to do with my bathing suit and everything to do with the fact that I live my whole life as if people are staring at me, judging eyes wide open.

We all think that people are looking at us, when really we’re just looking too hard at ourselves.

I read a book this summer, Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. I loved it for so many reasons. I loved it because I am a person of Bread & Wine—a Believer in a Jesus that offered up broken bread and broken body; poured out wine and poured out blood. I’m also a person of bread & wine—a lover of food and table-side community. But mostly, I loved it because Shauna was bold and honest and funny and raw. She was ruthless with herself and transparent with her readers.

She shared this story about spending summers on the beach and missing out on memories and moments because she’s consumed by what people might think of her in her swim suit.

She said:

“But my friend Sara always reminds me, on one’s actually thinking about me often as I think they are. Probably my friends are not actually counting the days till summer to see if I’ve finally turned into a supermodel. Probably they’re thinking about their own lives or current events or any number of things that have nothing to do with my chins.”

I have to laugh because we all think this way. I think this way. Too often, I think that all eyes are on me.

All the critical eyes gaping open, refusing to blink lest they miss it—my failure.

“Shame whispers to us that everyone is as obsessed with our failings as we are.” –S. Niequist

The truth is that no one is paying that close of attention. No one is as critical of you as you are of yourself. It’s time that you stop projecting that onto other people. It’s time that you stop desperately clawing at approval and recognition.

Everything is not about you. The world is not spinning in motion around you, orbiting around the circumference of your fears and failures.

Trust me, no one is thinking about you in your bathing suit.

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26 to 26: This is not the end.

I’m already a day behind on this. Figures. Such is my life. Always one step behind.

I’m fast approaching my 26th birthday—25 days out to be exact.

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with November 29th. I love it because cake is my favorite food. I hate it because I can feel the minutes, years slipping away, ticking by so quickly this cold, dark month of fading fall. Every hour, closer to the wrecking day when my age expands another notch larger.

Birthdays, for me as a critical-cynical-pessimistic-realist, are really more about looking back than they are about looking forward.

Sometimes this looking back is a time of seeing God’s hand at work. Sometimes everything seems bright and clear, beaming with life and promise. Sometimes everything feels beautiful and right. And then again, sometimes not.

Sometimes, times like now, things seem dark and unfamiliar and downright terrifying. Sometimes it seems like the dawn isn’t breaking, the dark isn’t fleeing, the spring isn’t coming, the fear isn’t ebbing.

Sometimes, it feels like the end. Of something. Of nothing.

Of so much yet so little that I can’t fight to tie it down, pull its mask off, and finally see what it is. The mystery haunts me.

It’s days, months, years like this the need a little hope. Sometimes we can only see that hope when we gaze back, even if it is into utter darkness.

Because this is not the end.

Some friends and I made the trek to Quincy to see Gungor perform last Friday. Miranda always used to say that their music made her too emotional. For the first time, on Friday, I understood it. As they sang, I mumbled along and felt as if I needed this. I needed to believe it.

This is not the end, this is not the end of this.

Eyes are opening wide. Lungs are breathing in. Chapters are closing. Pages are turning but it isn’t over. Whatever it is, it isn’t over.

And even if it was, even if this was it, it would have been enough.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this. Wisdom is good with an inheritance, an advantage to those who see the sun. For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it. Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?” –Ecclesiastes 7:8-13, ESV

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