an enneagram explained

If you’ve been paying attention to anything I’ve said, written, or posted on social media the past few weeks, you’re probably wondering either 1) what the heck the Enneagram is, and/or 2) why I have this newfound obsession with the Enneagram.

For those of you outside Lee University culture or who might be unfamiliar, the Enneagram is an online personality test. There are nine basic personality types, and most people identify a little with each type because we are complex beings. However, each person identifies most dominantly with one type, and your wing number is the second type you identify closely with– your wing will either be the number to the left or to the right of your dominant type (ex: if you’re a type 6, you will either have a 5 or a 7 wing). The test takes about fifteen minutes if you’d like to take it here. You can also read all the type descriptions here. If you’re uncertain with your results, I would encourage you to take the test two or three times. I’ve taken the test twice, and both times I got the same results: type 2, wing 3. 

But what does this mean?

Type Twos are referred to as “The Helpers” or “The Givers”. Twos are known for being generous of spirit and time, helpful, caring, and affectionate. It is also characteristic of twos to be people-pleasing and manipulative. Twos are driven by their love for others, desiring to help and impress genuine care on their friends and family members. While twos are usually associated with positive personality traits, we are actually much the opposite toward ourselves. It is second-nature for twos to give and give and give, showering compliments and encouragements on others; however, when twos are alone amongst our swirling thoughts, we experience difficulty awarding that same love to ourselves.

like a force to be reckoned with
a mighty ocean or a gentle kiss
i will love you with every single thing I have
like a tidal wave I’ll make a mess
or calm waters if that serves you best
i will love you without any strings attached.

–Lyrics from Atlas: Two, a Sleeping At Last Enneagram song 

Type Threes are referred to as “The Achievers”. I don’t know quite as much about threes because it is not my dominant type but rather my wing. I do know threes are typically driven by success, take pride in attention from others and their achievements, and are image-conscious. Threes often crave perfection and can be incredibly competitive. I’ve seen my three-wing appear most audibly in the way I desire success in my relationships with other people. Not only do I myself desire this success, but I want other people to see I am socially successful based on my circle of friends and romantic relationships.

maybe i’ve done enough,
finally catching up.
for the first time i see an image of
my brokenness utterly worthy of love.
maybe i’ve done enough.

–Lyrics from Atlas: Three, a Sleeping At Last Enneagram song

Each personality type has a basic fear and a basic desire. As a two, my basic fear is going unnoticed and unable to be loved, therefore my basic desire is to feel loved. A three’s basic fear is unworthiness, therefore their basic desire is being worthy. It makes perfect sense that twos and threes fears and desires would go almost hand-in-hand because oftentimes we associate our worth with how much love we are receiving from others.

When I first got my enneagram test results, I didn’t see myself as a two. It wasn’t until I read a two’s basic fear of going unloved that I felt called out. The paradox of being a two is that we cannot love others authentically if we do not love ourselves first. How can anyone take our compliments if we cannot take them ourselves?

I considered this idea as I stepped into a position of leadership this year. I was given the opportunity to serve my hall (Sharp First WHOOP WHOOP) as a co-floor leader; floor leaders lead small group on the hall. Our team is compiled of: the Sharp chaplain, two FLs from Sharp First, two from Sharp Second, and two from Sharp Third. We meet weekly as a team and have weekly individual meetings with our chaplain. Funny enough, every person on our team is an Enneagram two except one girl (she’s a seven). I’ve discovered how easy it is for us to love and build each other up, but many of us struggle to love ourselves inwardly with no strings attached.

The Enneagram doesn’t put you in a box. It shows you the box you’re already in and how to get out of it. –Ian Cron, from The Road Back to You podcast

I’ve experienced difficulty loving myself throughout the course of my life, especially in the tough conversations, mistakes, and disappointments– and trust me, these are all in great abundance once you take on the responsibility of leading others.

Tough conversations: When conflict arises, it takes everything in me to take a step back and evaluate what the best solution is for the problem and all the parties involved. It is my first instinct to attack the problem and overapologize so long as it means avoiding awkward encounters. I want to be able to love people without “faking it”, so I feel the need to fix everything as quickly as possible.

Mistakes: When I mess up, even in the slightest possible way through poor word choice or not saying something I should have (or saying something I shouldn’t have), etc., I beat myself up over it relentlessly. I have trouble accepting I cannot go back in time and change things, and that the world will keep on turning. I overthink, overanalyze, and worry. Realistically, I realize I am not the center of the universe and that most of the things I worry about others may hardly consider.

Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. –Kahlil Gibran

Disappointments: When the possibility of a new relationship hovers on the horizon, I leap into it blindly. I naturally seek the good in people, and when their unfavorable characteristics outweigh their favorable ones, I usually dismiss the red flags because I feel such affinity and loyalty for the person. This almost unfailingly leads to heartbreak and hopelessness when I discover a guy I was interested in is actually a rather unpleasant human; I was choosing not to see him in honest light the whole time because I was so in love with the possibility of being loved.

you treat them as if they have a heart like yours

but not everyone can be as soft and tender as you

you don’t see the person they are

you see the person they have the potential to be

you give and give till they have taken everything

out of you and leave you empty

–rupi kaur

Thus the tragedy of twos.

The great news for twos, though, is that when we are at our best and healthiest, we are able to show the love of God to others and accept His love in our own lives. I’m learning to love myself better every single day and committing to believing the promises God’s given me. It is only through this process that I can open up my heart to being loved by my peers and truly believe it. 

I take so much joy in knowing that whoever and wherever my future husband is, he is going to be so incredibly loved by his future wife someday. I hope he already knows how much our Heavenly Father cherishes him because I will never be able to love him with the force and brevity that God loves. However, I can imitate Christ’s love, and I am so tremendously delighted to adore, admire, and support my man one day.

I would not trade my Enneagram results for any other’s; I love being a two. I love love, and I love encouraging others. The more I study, learn, and engage in conversation about the Enneagram and specifically being a two, the more I’m able to recognize the beauty and complexity with which God created humans. If the world were full of twos, we would all be emotional messes. If the world were full of threes, we would all be in desperate competition with each other. God designed each and every one of us differently so that we would balance the personality scales of life and work toward living in harmony with one another.

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

–Romans 15:5-6

(If you wanna, comment with your Enneagram type!)

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commitment

hello again!

it’s been a minute.

college is far more demanding than they said it would be– or rather, i chose not to listen when they said it would be difficult.

we often do that as children into our young adult years, don’t we? we choose to listen to things we want to hear instead of the wisdom our elders impart to us. i think that’s how it’s supposed to be– others can share stories and lessons learned, but it comes down to the individual to learn that lesson for him/herself.

i feel like college is one big trial-and-error– if one class doesn’t suit you, you can transfer to another. if a date with someone doesn’t work out, you don’t have to see them again. you can change your major (theoretically) however many times you want and you can go to as many different clubs’ meetings as you wish. you can party, if that’s your thing, and enjoy basking in your youth. college is a place that is, to a certain degree, separated from commitment.

 

it’s so ironic because a good life is nothing but commitment: commitment in matrimony, commitment in career, commitment in finances, etc. college is the one point of time in your life that you don’t necessarily need to make big commitments. (obviously, don’t completely take this idea to heart– you at least must commit to your academics if you want to end up with a degree in four-ish years).

fun college story: at the beginning of the semester, i went out on a couple dates with this really sweet, considerate, good-looking guy. we got coffee and talked about life, but at the end of the second date i told him i just wasn’t ready to commit to a relationship with anyone yet. truthfully, as great of guy he is, our personalities were just too similar (introverted, reserved, old soul). i just didn’t see myself being able to commit to a long-lasting relationship with him as a freshman in college without at least meeting other guys first.

however– the one Thing that i catch myself finding a commitment to in college is God. even so, i wrestled with Him at the beginning of the semester. i still question and doubt His Presence in my life when i don’t see immediate results to the labors of my prayers, when i sit in patient wait for the next move, when i struggle to approach relationships with patience and grace, when i agonize over getting a stupid boy’s attention…when, when, when. my thoughts have gotten the better of me some days, and others not so much.

through these experiences, i’ve learned and i still am learning this: God is one-hundred percent committed to me. 

isn’t this such a wonderful thing to ponder? how much God loves, cherishes, and forgives us when we struggle to find such commitment anywhere else?

God sees us making choices, good and bad, and yet He loves us anyway. He gives us guidance, wisdom, and parables in His Word, but we have to be the ones to learn why He directs us in the ways He does.

i’ve learned so many lessons the hard way. i’ve fallen too quickly for romantic prospects that weren’t blessed by God and ended up hurt and brokenhearted. i’ve searched for my worth to be found in social media likes and followers and ended up feeling hopelessly alone amongst all my “friends”. my problem was that i was searching for a lasting commitment in things of the world rather than looking to filled by God and God alone.

the beautiful thing, though, is how abundantly God gives grace. of course He desires for us to take His advice and heed it completely. but i believe God also realizes the depth of our humanity– He often brings holiness through the broken cracks in our stories. we learn the hard lessons so we can go forward and live more fully in His plan for our lives. He recognizes our imperfections and loves us anyway.

God’s just so cool like that.

i think the secret to commitment in life is first committing to Jesus. I promise, everything else will then fall into place. not that it will be easy or without hardship, but you will be filled by the love of Christ in a way the world simply cannot attain.

 

count it ALL joy!!

Every time I sit down to write with the intention of writing about college, I never really know where to begin.

Many of you have heard my Lee story, and if you haven’t, I’d be more than happy to share it with you anytime– just ask! Truthfully, I feel as though I’m still living it– and rightly so.

I’ve posted lots of pictures of all the fun I’ve been having the past three weeks at college, from literally chasing waterfalls in Signal Mountain to a free Colony House concert to joining a women’s ministry group called Delight. I have more friends than I deserve, and there are few times like these in my life where I’ve felt so authentically loved by the people around me. I’ve been blessed with a roommate who I can rant to and pray with and two equally amazing suitemates who encourage me daily.

There is an overwhelming sense of acceptance that you can feel when you set foot on Lee’s campus. It’s so difficult to describe– you just have to experience it for yourself.

Among all these undeserved blessings, however, I still find myself struggling to keep my head above the waves.

Two weeks before I moved to Cleveland, I was overcome by petrifying anxiety and doubt. I couldn’t see past the present moment– I felt heartbreakingly sad for no apparent reason. After all, the day I’ve been waiting for close to a year has almost arrived! I’m only moving an hour and a half from home, and I can see my family on weekends. What’s there to be depressed for? 

For three or four days, my appetite was nonexistent. I forced food down my throat and faked a smile at family events. It’s as if, without any warning at all, my world was being thrown widely off-balance and I could not find my center.

I believe this anxiety had been settling in beneath the surface for several months– I just couldn’t see it among all the excitement and anticipation. Before this happened, I wasn’t worried about moving from home at all. I was certain I could handle it– after all, I managed two weeks in Europe without my family, and truth be told I didn’t want to come home.

Unlike many of my friends, who still gripped a bit of healthy fear at the idea of moving from home, I hadn’t felt that fear until those two weeks before departing on the journey of the rest of my life. I was idealistically optimistic, and in my weakness, it brought about a swift and frightening downfall.

During those two weeks, I searched for God desperately. I accepted Him into my heart as a bright-eyed seven-year-old, but throughout my life have dealt with periods of doubting. The last doubting spell was probably when I was about thirteen or fourteen years old, and by the grace of God, I was able to overcome it with repeated Truth. In the present moment, I had a tiny ray of hope that I could overcome again because of His love in the past, and the great thing about His love is that it never fails– even when ours does. 

Coming into college straight out of a period of anxious desperation, I realized how much I needed God at every moment of every day, and that even if I didn’t feel His Presence, He is still with me. My desires for a boyfriend or a place to call home disappeared as God gently reminded me that I can make it another day without man’s affection, but I cannot make it through a single day without Him. 

I’m not trying to paint a perfect picture of restoration, because I don’t feel like I’ve overcome this battle quite yet. Each day brings its own anxieties and frets, but the beautiful thing about God is that I don’t have to do anything to earn His grace or even a seat at His table. He’s waiting for me, and you, and anyone who wants to belong. 

He never promised this life would be without its trials. I didn’t understand that completely until I was brought so low that I couldn’t see anything but Jesus. And when you’re brought low, there is nowhere else to go but up.

Today, a friend of mine posted on her Instagram story this much-needed reminder:

“Count in all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

-James 1:2-3

Something I missed the last few times I read those verses is the word joy. ‘Joy’, much like ‘intentionality’ and ‘fellowship’ (among many others) is in the family of words we as Christians like to toss around in conversation. They’re beautiful words, but how often do we really mean them when we casually throw them around?

Do you, precious friend, have true joy today? Are you confident in the Lord to bring you out into a spacious place once again, as He never fails to do? I ask myself this question just as I am asking you. Do I have true joy? 

Life seriously sucks sometimes. Like, seriously. Satan is trying his hardest to wear us down and convince us Jesus is not strong enough to lift us out of our deep, sinful pits, and that we are unworthy of God’s forgiveness. The Enemy will attack from every angle and every sliver of light, tearing us down and causing us to doubt everything we know to be true.

But fear– he is a liar. 

You and me– all of us– are worth infinitely more than the world tries to convince us. We don’t need to prove anything to anyone. And if you think for one second that your problems and worries are too small and insignificant for God to heal, think again. 

Literally two days ago, on Wednesday, I had an encounter with the Lord in the sense that I could see Him parting the waves and making a way in a situation I believed was too beneath His line of work. I’d been worrying about this particular situation ever since moving to Lee a month ago, but I was afraid the hype in my head was more than the actual situation and that nothing Divine needed to happen to sort through it.

BUT MY LORD, being unfathomably more patient and merciful, broke through my dark clouds of doubts and formed a perfect path to restoration and closure with this person.

My dear, precious friends: Nothing is too small for God. To even consider something beneath His provision contradicts His loving character.

Again, my friends, I do not have my life together. I’ve cried more times than I can count this week, and some weeks are just like that. I’ve learned that there’s no reason to be ashamed of my weaknesses because in Him I am strong. Our bodies and minds grow weak, anxious, and hopeless, but we can find rest in His Presence.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

-Psalms 73:26

 

the west wind’s reassurance

The past several weeks (more like months, if we’re being completely honest), I’ve felt stuck in a spiritual lull. It seemed like I could only give a 60% effort in my walk with the Lord, and only recently did I truly acknowledge this was because of a severe lack of faith on my part.

I’ve spent the majority of the past two years of my life asking God for things.

Asking Him for a boyfriend.

Asking Him for guidance in friendships.

Asking Him for direction for my future.

Asking Him to take things away, like worry, anxiety, fear, doubt, sickness, discomfort, etc.

But the times I’ve spent thanking Him and showering Him with my prayers pale in comparison to all my requests.

In fact, I cannot tell you the last time I truly thought of my relationship with God as something that belonged to me.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I grew up in a Christian home, church, and a Christian school. I never really felt like the odd religious girl in social situations, considering most all of my friends at least called themselves Christians. I never needed to stretch my faith, or even when I did it wasn’t all that far.

It was all too easy to let myself fall into a “rhythm of religion”, fitting right in with my other classmates singing along to “Set A Fire” in chapel.

Even after I graduated and immediately fell in sync with my new classmates at Lee, I felt the same. Numb. 

I accepted Christ into my heart as a bright-eyed seven-year-old. Truthfully, I don’t remember much about the experience. Christ kept knocking and eventually, I answered.

I often go back to that night that my life changed forever, wondering if it really happened at all. I was so young, and I’ve strayed so many times since then that I wonder if I’m really a part of God’s family, or rather a border staying in His house when I please.

I believe the Enemy knows my history with anxiety, so much so that he uses it to draw me farther from God. The devil plants seeds of doubt in my mind, and especially on nights like tonight when I’m emotionally burdened with fears for the future, those seeds sprout swiftly.

Tonight, I was overcome with warring thoughts of both uncertainty and those of peace. I struggled to grasp what was real, and what were lies.

As I was voicing these nervous thoughts to my mother– who is probably the only person apart from Jesus who understands my anxious mind the best– she ran to the kitchen and came back with a book. She awarded this book to me with a bright smile on her face, saying I should read it.

I went back to my room and curled under my covers, still feeling hopelessly alone. I stared at the book for a few seconds before I finally opened it, and after reading the first few lines, tears came streaming down my face.

On the Wings of the West Wind is a children’s book by Joni Eareckson Tada. If you aren’t familiar with Joni’s story, she became a quadriplegic– someone who is paralyzed from the shoulder down– after a diving accident into the Chesapeake Bay when she was eighteen. Today, Joni is the founder of the organization Joni and Friends, which exists specifically for the disabled community in order to make Christ known more prominently. She is also the author of several books and a songwriter. Not to mention, this woman underwent chemo after she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2010, coming out in 2015 cancer-free.

Tell me God isn’t amazing and can’t use anyone. I’ll wait.

Joni’s book, On the Wings of the West Wind, is, yes, a children’s book– but it is so much more than that. I enjoy literature and deep books where you have to search for the meaning– I think it’s fun (dorky, right?). But I can also appreciate the simplicity of a children’s book from time to time because their purposes are simply stated.

In the case of this particular children’s book on this particular night, I stopped in my tracks. This book is about knowing the truth and letting the truth set you free. It centers around a slave named Marcus who works in a field, chains digging into his wrists, for a terrible master. All Marcus wants is freedom.

Every now and then, Marcus would get a whiff of freedom in the form of the west wind. One day, a messenger comes in on the wings of the west wind to deliver a message from the good King.

“Do you wish to be free? 

Then you must leave your chains behind

Know the truth. It will set you free. Come and follow me.”

Marcus is then shown the way to freedom in a kind, loving King from the west. When he arrives in the King’s Presence, the King says to him,

“And don’t forget, you now have eyes to see the truth and ears to hear my word. Never forget that.”

Even still, Marcus is lured back over to the evil master’s side of the fence. Marcus becomes confused and lost in all the whispers, losing sight of the truth in the midst of his fear.

Marcus, overcome with emotion and frozen in despair, begins to obey the evil master’s wishes again. Something Marcus notices, though, is how his old master cannot touch him but with words only.

Realizing his strength comes from the good King, Marcus rises to the occasion and looks his Enemy in the eyes, saying, “You are the one who is a liar, and you have no right to boss me around. I belong to the King, and my place is in his green pastures.” The old master falls away, leaving Marcus along for now.

Marcus is welcomed back with open arms to the King’s pastures. Marcus knows he will be taunted and teased again by his old master, but the King reminds him at the end of the book,

“Believe me when I say that although you can never change back into a slave again, you do have the choice to act like one, to live like one. The chains have no power over you that you do not give them. The power is in what you choose to believe.” 

This book touched me so deeply tonight. My heart needed a heavenly reminder of what Christ did for me eleven years ago. I lost sight of His splendor in the depths of my endless worrying.

For the first time in years, I feel like my faith is truly my own. I want everyone to experience a relationship with God, and I want God to use me to make a difference in this life. If not for the world, then maybe just for one person.

The thing is when God decides to set up camp in our souls and we let Him in, He is not in the business of leaving– ever. I believe we could all agree that He is the only houseguest we don’t mind having around forever. And the best part is, He’s not even a guest.

He’s already moved in, and guess what? He’s our Father. Our true, adopted, Heavenly Father.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

(John 14:6)

 

one day, someday

I’ve spent a lot of time picturing the day I meet my future husband.

We’ll both be shopping in a bookstore and reach for the same book.

He’ll be working as a barista in a coffee shop and write his phone number on my cup, sending me off with a wink and a promise of tomorrow.

I’ll be hurrying across campus at Lee and bump into him. My books will go flying everywhere, and he’ll reach down to help me pick them up. Our eyes will meet just as he’s handing me a book, and that’s how our epic love story will begin.

It’s fun imagining the future. I know it probably won’t happen in a way even remotely close to how I dream up in my head, but I know God’s way will be even more magical than my own.

Even still, I wonder.

I’m not one of those girls who’s been planning her wedding since she could walk. I don’t have a color scheme picked out or a dream wedding venue. I guess it’s always been the groom that is of the utmost importance to my wedding.

If you keep up with my blog, you’ll know I’m not the most experienced when it comes to relationships. I went to a small, private Christian school K-12th grades and the dating scene was scarce. But I did manage to graduate with several lasting friendships and a list of qualities I took notice of from various relationships and circumstances that I wanted to look for in my husband someday.

I believe these qualities are not only subject to my future spouse, but to every individual within every friendship and romantic relationship we make. These characteristics are both biblical and necessary to build relationships that will last. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fair share of relationships that haven’t survived over the years. I’m not saying it’s because of a lack of any of these qualities, but there is something to be gained from spending a little time examining our hearts and asking God to show us how we can be more purposeful people.

Vulnerability: 

Let’s just be real for a second: How many of us fall short of honesty every single day?

The answer is everyone. We’re all deceptive sinners.

I find it rather exhausting when I try to keep up appearances and convince everyone around me that I have my life together when I’m actually a mess. And not only is it exhausting, it’s also painfully unfair to the people who love me to shut them out of my mess.

But wait– isn’t it unfair to drag them through the dust alongside me?

This, my friends, is the paradox. 

The way I see it, we can choose to live double lives– one in lonely, littered, and silent exile and one in a room full of people, feeling utterly alone as we scramble to cover up our clutter.

Or, we can choose to live one life, despite our disarray. We don’t have to introduce our messes as problems to people– we can just be honest. No secrets, no lies, and nothing to cover up our brokenness. Only the truth.

“I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.” (Bob Goff)

We cannot be afraid to be vulnerable with each other. This is how relationships deepen and strengthen– we lean on each other’s shoulders and help each other grow. It’s a continual give-and-take. We only have to be willing to give a little truth.

Patience: 

You hear those stories on TV and read about them in books about people waiting with quiet persistence for their future spouses. I actually read one a few days ago in the book Love Does by Bob Goff (pick up a copy at your nearest bookstore and read one chapter every night– you won’t regret it). Goff writes in chapter 7 on this same kind of persistence when he describes waiting for his wife.

He recounts how he would leave peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches under her windshield every day, sometimes including sweet notes. He pursued her for three years because to him, she was worth the wait.

“That’s what love does– it pursues blindly, unflinchingly, and without end. When you go after something you love, you’ll do anything it takes to get it, even if it costs everything.” (Bob Goff)

My heart melts every time I read Goff’s timeless love story. It makes me almost envious, knowing I probably won’t have a story like that. But that’s okay– I know my love story with my future husband will be perfect in the sense that God ordained every bit of it to fit both our personalities and to glorify the Lord.

You see, in today’s “ring by spring” culture (you can thank Lee University for that one 😉 ) and marriage by 23, everything has a time limit. If we don’t meet those time limits, people assume we’re doomed to be spinsters or bachelors the rest of our lives.

Ladies and gents, it’s a good thing we’re not bound by the standards of the world.

Patience doesn’t mean aimlessly waiting for something that may or may not arrive.

Patience means waiting for God to give you what you need in HIS timing.

Consideration: 

This one’s near and dear to my heart. I find it so incredibly touching when someone pays attention to my interests, namely when it comes to writing. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and my biggest ambition is to one day publish a book. I’ve always imagined it would be fiction, or maybe a memoir.

I find it incredibly difficult to verbalize this dream to people. I don’t know many other eighteen-year-olds who want to publish a novel. I hesitate telling people about my dream because I guess I worry they won’t understand why I want to write stories for the rest of my life or that they’ll think I’m a huge nerd (FYI: I am a huge nerd, especially when it comes to books). I guess this means I don’t have a ton of competition? It also means I get pretty lonely in my dreams sometimes.

I like writing stories because I like stretching my imagination. It’s fun to live in a world of your own creation, even if it’s just for a little while. If anything, books have taught me that my life is pretty fantastic and I don’t want to live in another world right now.

Yet, I still get stopped cold in my tracks when people ask me what I want to be when I grow up. The harsh reality of it is that rarely ever do people follow through with their dreams. I used to be so determined to be the one that actually did something big with her life, but now I feel my strength being sucked away with every new responsibility that comes my way.

Actually a couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a coworker about dreams. He was asking me about college, and I told him I was planning on minoring in writing. Normally when people ask each other about majors, we each give answers and move on to a different topic. I didn’t anticipate that he would care one bit to ask me why I wanted to minor in writing (I’m used to getting responses from people in the form of polite head-nods and “Oh, that’s cool”).

However, he kept peppering me with questions like “Why writing?” and “What do you want to do in that field?”. Eventually, I admitted to dreaming of writing a novel someday. He asked me what genre, I inwardly panicked because I guess I wasn’t expecting this kind of question and instead of saying “fiction” I said “I don’t know”, and he said simply and with a giant smile, “I think that’s awesome.”

“I believe it’s true that the right people can say words that can change everything. And guess what? We’re the ones who can say them.” (Bob Goff)

The difference between this guy’s simple response and the responses of those who only asked with minimal, passing interest is that his genuine enthusiasm made me feel like my dreams were worth something for the first time in I don’t know how long. 

I believe God sends people our way in small doses to give us renewed energy and zeal for life. I think He knows sometimes we just need a little push to get us going again in the right direction. Sad as it may sound, I believe we’ve lost our sense of consideration in today’s culture. We ask questions like How are you? and What’s your major? merely to pass the time, and we immediately forget the other person’s answers because we didn’t really care what they were in the first place.

I feel so convicted of being passive in my relationships. I don’t check in with my friends authentically like I should. The thing is, we all need somebody to ask us how we’re doing and expect a true, completely honest answer instead of looking for an easy “I’m fine.” A little intentionality goes a long way, and you never really know what your words are going to mean to somebody– even if you don’t think they mean much.

I don’t know what your love story looks like or will look like. But I do know who the Author is. I hope you do too.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12: 1-2

come alive

I’ve started writing like three different blog posts about a plethora of incredible experiences I’ve had during these past two weeks at Lee University’s summer honors program. Because I’m having difficulty compiling all my thoughts into something cohesive and insightful, I’ll just start at the beginning and see where my keyboard takes me.

Okay. So.

I didn’t even know summer honors existed until Lee Day back in April. I knew high schoolers sometimes went to summer college programs, but none of my friends had ever gone to something like this before. I wouldn’t have ever even considered going to Lee’s program for rising high school seniors and rising college freshmen had it not been for my roommate and a group of other new Lee friends that would also be attending this summer.

So I sent in my paperwork, signed my waivers, and received my letter of acceptance about three weeks later.

And thus began the rest of my life.

Being here at Lee for two weeks is like getting a glimpse into what the next four years of my life might hold. Refreshing friendships. Compelling classes. An entirely unfamiliar city. Potential romances. It feels like an impossibility to wrap my brain around the idea that everything I’ve been accustomed to for the past eighteen years of my life is about to be thrown out the window.

I can say with complete certainty that I have no idea what is going to happen next.

And, surprisingly enough, I can also say with complete certainty that I am okay with the unknown.

Divine affirmation came to me yesterday afternoon once I opened up my neglected copy of My Utmost for His Highest. The book had been sitting on my shelf since I moved in about ten days ago, and for whatever reason I decided to pick it up and read yesterday. The verse at the top of the passage I left off at read, “He went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). 

It continues to blow my mind how God will use us in the moments we feel most useless, pulling our attention away from ourselves and toward His guiding hand. I wasn’t sure (I’m still not sure) where He was leading me these two weeks, but I was carrying burdens I desperately needed lifted coming into summer honors.

Conveniently enough, the theme this year at summer honors is called “Come Alive.”

Come alive. It means something different for everyone.

To me, “coming alive” means waking up from a life spent chasing after things the world tells me I need in order to be fully satisfied. Examples of these tempting desires include a boyfriend (still right there at the top of my list), a perfect Instagram profile, a successful blog by the time I turned 18, a distinct style, trendy surface-level friendships…you get the point.

And so I sit here, my flesh still trying to convince me I need all of these shallow things right this minute so I can keep up with everyone else while living a life spent closing up my cracks so my insecurities won’t leak out.

And I felt lonely.

I didn’t expect to glean much from “Come Alive”. Yes, it’s something to consider, but I wondered how much one person could actually change in a span of two weeks. How can I flip my perspective so drastically and so quickly while interacting with 200+ other people who could be in the exact same sinking ship as me?

The answer was right before my eyes: 200+ people in the same sinking ship as me. My wonderful RA group and I connected our broken pieces– because we’re all broken in some way– to create the most magnificent masterpiece. We discussed the ideas of rolling away our stones and becoming stone catchers for others. I discovered that the more myself and others began to let our guards down, the easier it was to catch each other’s stones. By becoming vulnerable with each other about past regrets, past relationships, past scars, and past heartbreaks, I specifically learned two things:

  1. Vulnerability is not weakness. Vulnerability is strength– these precious new friends certainly summoned their strength from Christ in order to reveal their deepest, best-kept hurts.
  2. Our stones, once rolled away, can more easily be left in the past.

Sometimes all it takes is one gentle nudge to give us the courage to share our stories and scars with each other. And once we do, the healing can truly begin.

It’s really easy to feel either singled out or completely isolated in a gigantic group of people, especially at summer honors. Since I arrived at Lee eleven days ago, I’ve almost felt frozen in the midst of the rocking waves of introductions and constant social interaction. My initial instinct is to raise my guard up higher than ever before because of my desperate desire to be accepted by my peers.

HOWEVER. This type of inward isolation simply does not work in our relationships with others. Summer honors at Lee is one of the only seasons in my life so far where I didn’t know a soul from my hometown and I was being forced out of my comfort zone.

In order to survive in college (and in life), you need a community of people who will rally by you, grow spiritually with you, and love you for all your flaws (and vice-versa). For whatever heavenly reason, God grew the most amazing community out of my summer honors RA group and no doubt led me to friends I will keep throughout college.

But even if I hadn’t made any friends at summer honors, I honestly believe I would’ve still felt at home at Lee. There’s always a friendly face just around the corner, even if I don’t know the person’s name.

Here at Lee, people unashamedly chase Jesus with their whole hearts. Here at Lee, spreading the Gospel is a priority, and that mission starts right here on campus to each and every individual.

So if I bug you incessantly about the unbelievability of Lee, this is why.

 

 

dear class of 2018:

I’m a few weeks overdue in saying these words to you all, but I’m so thankful for you twenty-three lifelong pals.

I was not valedictorian of our senior class (duh); not that I expected to be or desired to be.

Really, the only thing I would’ve jumped at the opportunity to partake in was a speech.

How dreadful, right? Both our class valedictorian and salutatorian are close friends of mine, and I know how much they agonized over writing and giving their speeches. (They were both impeccable works of literature that made everyone cry. In a good way).

Language is, in my humble opinion, the most powerful of all tools God placed in our toolbelts. Not many things come naturally for me, but piecing words and phrases together actually does. If you keep up with my blog or know me at all, you know writing is my niche.

So, this post is about the future, and the things I would’ve said to my friends and classmates were I given the opportunity to give a speech at graduation.

(Momentary pause: Future speechwriter, perhaps?)

(Unpause).

Let’s begin.

My friends and peers– though truthfully, I consider you all friends, and I can say this with complete sincerity of heart.

Four years ago, there are many of you I felt isolated from. Not because of your personalities, but because of mine.

Four years ago, I would never dare to start a conversation first with anyone other than my best friends. I was still soaking in the deep waters of social anxiety, isolating myself from being bold and seizing my moments.

It took me four years to realize what stellar people walked among me, and for that, I am so terribly sorry.

A mantra I live by now is carpe diem– “seize the day.” I’ve always appreciated the Latin phrase and how its meaning is relevant in nearly every situation, big or small, every single day. I waited until my senior year to authentically begin seizing my high school days, once I realized how little remained.

I know many of my fellow seniors resonate with the idea of moving on to bigger and better things. I felt restless almost every day of senior year once I decided to attend Lee this fall 2018. But as restless as I felt in precalculus and US government day in and day out, I could not snuff out the little voice in the back of head, warning me that I was going to miss out something incredible if I did not stay focused on the present.

Little did I realize the incredible somethings I was about to miss out on was the class of 2018 themselves.

Not a single soul that genuinely knows Berean Christian School would disagree that the people are what make the school so extraordinary.

The people.

They say your college friends are the friends that you’ll remember and keep in touch with, but I don’t think that’s completely true.

Four years ago, I worried so much about what you all thought of me. I cared so deeply to give the illusion of perfection simply so I wouldn’t stick out (not that any of you were fooled into thinking I actually had my life together).

Four years later, I still care about what you all think of me. Not because I’m trying to blend in, but because I’m trying to stand out. Stand out in love. Stand out in kindness. Stand out in authenticity. I wanted to have a positive impact on you all before we parted.

You twenty-three seniors I will graduate alongside tomorrow: You all stand out in the best ways to me. I’ve traveled across Europe with many of you and the high school hallway with the rest of you. We’ve all seen each others’ scars and broken pieces. We’ve shared laughter at senior roasts, tears in junior year chemistry class (just…RIP), and with some of you even memories all the way back to kindergarten.

I see exceptional qualities in every single one of you (yes, all twenty-three of you). To name a few: joyful hearts, fearless spirits, witty charm, driven devotion, bright minds, leading natures…you all contain goodness that is beyond measure. I feel so tremendously blessed to have stories and memories to share with my children someday about all the people behind the signatures in my senior yearbook.

My friends, please live deliberate lives. Don’t allow others who seem older or wiser to make your decisions for you. Do things that scare you, things that test your faith and light your fires. Take risks. Don’t be afraid to pursue a path that doesn’t immediately lead to money or success if the path is what you are passionate about. I say all these things in the hope that I, too, will be bold in my future.

Listen to God. Life brings so much white noise, but don’t chase distraction. Chase your futures, and chase Him.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately,

to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,

and not, when I came to die,

discover that I had not lived. 

-Henry David Thoreau-

best wishes, much love, and lots and lots of sunny days, class of 2018.