Tuesday, December 6, 2016

To Let Go of the Ugly

I am not sure when a child begins to become less of a child to their parent and more of a protector. I've never NOT needed my mom. She is the voice of reason when anxiety personifies into a cloaked lurker prepared to shed the meager ounces of security I possess. She is willing to run to the grocery story when I'm out of coffee creamer and can't make it there myself. She has always been my protector. If my mom is near, if I can smell her gardenia perfume or hear the squeal of her giggle, something within me mends.

But lately I find myself stepping into a role I'm not entirely familiar with. My mom is strong. She isn't afraid to use her voice and she never loses her cool. So when my propensity is to scream until I'm hoarse in anger or heartbreak, she has the ability to pull someone near and very calmly say what's needed without ever getting red in the face. Recently someone hurt my mom. Someone who has relied on my mom's selflessness and kindness, someone who has been capable of doing things themselves, but instead asked a woman who already caters to far too many people, myself included.

Someone hurt her and it  broke something inside her - I witnessed it with my own eyes. And as something broke within the woman who has always picked up my broken pieces, I realized I was done.

I do not understand unkindness. I do not understand a lack of empathy, the void of sympathy. I am not  familiar with blinding selfishness - to the point of being incapable of understanding other people are walking through fires.

I do not understand.

I cannot.


This time of year really is my favorite. I love Christmas. For the magic of a newborn Savior. For the twinkle lights and the smell of a fresh evergreen. For the gathering that happens within warm homes. I love this season.

But my heart feels so heavy these days.

My Bible sits next to me now - and I can feel its pull. I need to open it. To read through devotions in this season of Advent - to understand the all-consuming grace that comes with a King taking the form of a human. I need to be consumed by this story, this grace.

But something rages within me.

I don't often feel bitterness. Sadness and I are regular dance partners. And anxiety lives beneath my collar bone - it nestles in between the discs of my spine and keeps my back rigid. But bitterness isn't a flavor I am acquired to.

I can't brush my teeth enough to rid this bitterness circling my taste buds. I don't like the residue it leaves in the back of my throat.


I don't know that there's an uplifting message to be found at the conclusion of this, friends. I believe in vulnerability and raw emotion - it's become the binding of my story. And in that belief, I think sometimes you just have to say the ugly things so they no longer reside within you.

Sometimes, in the middle of a season you've long held wonder for, you're reminded this world, and the people breathing within it, are broken. So there will be people who cut deep with their words. Your heart will break because you finally realize the one you always hoped would eventually be what you wanted and needed them to be just isn't capable. Some people just aren't capable.

In the weeks before your favorite holiday, before the Christmas tree is up at your house, you'll understand joy and heartache can, and will, coexist in a heart. You're living it out just now as you type this and bite your lip to keep the tears in.

At some point, in the middle of a rain drenched day that soaks cold to the marrow of your bones, you'll realize the only healthy option for your story is to protect the woman who has always stood in front of you and to let go of a relationship you never had to begin with.

Sometimes, when you've always pushed through, forgotten how you've been hurt, and continue to hope something will change, you have to settle for walking away.


This is heavy and cryptic. Forgive me for the darkness. But I would vulnerably ask for prayer, if you are reading this. This heart needs prayer. Know I am thankful for you. So very thankful.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

To Me at Eighteen

There's a road I drive down sometimes in Dayton - it's the quickest route to the grocery story I go to. It's lined with really beautiful trees that, when the season is right, are a host to the most beautiful, buttery yellow leaves.

I drove down the road a couple days ago and the tree was losing its leaves. The wind was smart that day - fast and sharp against your skin . . . one of those days in which, I can imagine, nearly every woman thought to herself, "why did I even do my hair today?" The wind was hurriedly rushing the sunshine leaves off the trees on the road. And normally, I don't feel too strongly one way or another over trees losing their leaves, but these yellow leaves - as they fell and blanketed the street - were mesmerizing. I found myself, in childlike wonder, wanting to go lay in the pile on the ground and let the rest fall on me. There was something . . . magical about the ease with which they fell and the pool of liquid warmth they created on the street.

I didn't, of course. I kept driving. But then I started to think about those trees and the leaves they were losing.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. -Matthew 5:4

I remember when I read this verse for the first time. It was written in hand on a journal page that had been given to me by a woman I've respected and looked up to since junior high. It was January. My family had just experienced, collectively, the most devastating blow - we were all in the midst of coming back from the slap sting that occurs when breath is cut too short. But, you don't ever really come back from that then, do you?

This verse, though, was written on the page, along with others. This was before I really knew Jesus or understood the comfort that can come from a knowing God who I can't physically sit with each day over coffee. Janet had handwritten verses of comfort to me, with a small note about the wonders of heaven and how safe Nick was now. I will be honest and say the comfort I felt from that note was less about the promises in the verses and more about that a woman I loved had taken the time to write them down.

But I have come back to that verse so many times since then. I've shared it with others and I reminded myself of these very words when the woman who first wrote them to me went on to meet her King. It makes my heart warm to consider perhaps her and Nick share a porch swing every now and then.

I am familiar with mourning in the larger sense. When you lose someone the same age as you before either of you have learned how to legally drive a car, something within you shifts and it doesn't return to the original placement. Life becomes a string of measurements between what is safe and what is popular - and you hope like hell some of them fall on the same page. Adventure becomes a calculation of risk and whether or not it's wise to dance with the risk.

I understand mourning.

When I drove by those trees, again, nearly all the leaves had danced off. This verse was in my mind because I'm studying the Beatitudes and I began to wonder if trees mourn when they lose their leaves. Like a woman with long, beautiful hair, do the trees start to furrow their brow when the first leaf falls or do they think plenty more where that came from.

Do they mourn?

At 29 years old I imagine sitting down with my 18-year old self to try to describe to her what is to come.

Hey, kiddo. Are you ready? The blue eyed boy you love won't be a part of the coming pages for too much longer, but it'll work out well for the both of you. You're going to say yes to some things you cannot even fathom right now - push through the fear and please don't even consider saying no. You will make some decisions that, for a season, will come to define you, but I promise you'll rise out of the hell hole you've decorated and called home. You'll end up with a career that is more challenging and incredible than your current mind is even able to imagine. But tread through the jobs that drain more than they fill up, okay? Because it'll all lead to this.

But here's the big thing. Are you listening? Things are not going to turn out the way you want. You will get to 29 years of life and you will have so much. But the house you dream about now and that wedding you're planning and not wanting to admit to planning? It won't be a part of the history. More surprisingly still, it will not kill you.

You're going to learn how to live fully on your own. You're going to learn who your real friends are and who to hold at a distance. You'll navigate living a full life with sometimes crippling anxiety, but you'll make it. And you're going to learn that, if this particular life - with no weddings or shiny rings - is what is to be, you are going to be okay. You will be okay. In fact, you will thrive.

I imagine I'd have more to say, but this feels the most important. Because life is not a string of events that you perfectly planned at 18 coming to fruition. That is not typically how the story goes. And while I think mourning belongs largely to this big losses and hurts, there is something to be said about mourning what you thought you'd have all along.

Maybe it's the baby you can feel in your arms before they're there yet. It could be the wedding you've been planning since you got your first kiss. Perhaps it's the career you worked diligently for all through college.

Mourn what's missing.

Maybe you don't have your own space yet and are wondering when it might happen. Possibly it's the feeling that you're still not known and heard or seen in a role you most certainly should be. It might just be the feeling of loneliness and confusion because who you chose to do this life with somehow ended up not being who you wanted them to be.

Mourn it.

I guess what I'm saying is - I battle myself a lot over not wanting to feel what I need to feel. I guilt myself into feeling foolish because I'm sad over something I've never had before.

But isn't that the point?

If all along I felt sure I'd have this at almost 30, then can't I mourn not having it yet, a little?

I will not lose my life or be less of a person as a result of not having something I expected to have at this moment. But I can mourn it.

And then I need to pick up the hurt and name what's good and count hope over my story.

Let's live grateful and count hope over our stories, okay?


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Surprising Reminders

It may happen subtly. You won't be expecting it as you sip a beer you've never had before and think about what you'll do tomorrow - convinced this whole thing is simply friends gathering and that's all it'll ever be.

You won't be entirely wrong.

On a random night you'll take a drive, trusting the safety within the four doors because that's what you do - you trust without asking questions - and assume something regrettable will happen and then you'll get over it.

You will be wrong about that.

You'll spend nights, trying to fall asleep - fitful in your dance with the sheets because they're not cool enough to your skin - and you'll wonder just when you became an adult who actively made decisions instead of allowing things to happen. You've spent much of your time thinking about how much you long for things to happen organically and just when you stopped talking about it your life got to be about it.

Organic happenings. Who knew such a thing still existed.

In the age of internet dating and paying an uber to deliver your dinner for you, you can forget that sometimes, right outside your door, there are actual breathing beings who enjoy interaction apart from a keyboard that autocorrects so you sound smoother than you actually are.

In the age of internet dating and paying an uber to deliver your dinner, you'll step outside your door and meet someone you've "known" for a while now -- and you'll find you actually enjoy them, even in the midst of making a fool of yourself, allowing your tongue to get twisted and trip over your own words.

Who ever really liked eloquence anyway?

The realization that you had something to learn from an arrangement that was jokingly deemed a "contract" will hit you only after flames have taken over those hard and fast lines you insisted on drawing.

You'll close the door, deadbolt it for good measure, and sit on your couch before you realize how freeing honesty can be. You'll lay your head down on that colorful pillow you still admire after owning for two years and realize that some things have to end because there wasn't much of a beginning in the first place. And you will feel mostly okay about all of it.

Because at some point in this whole adulthood thing, you are beginning to learn that true friends don't dress the way they used to in high school. That sometimes, heavy eye rolls and inappropriate jokes can bind two people before anything deep is discussed.

You'll consider what has transpired these last months - in the midst of your international travel and figuring out how to creatively contribute to a global organization, you ended up finding a friend who taught you things you didn't think you needed to learn.

In the middle of you not accepting compliments and letting people now how long you go without washing your hair,  you started to consider that here might actually be something worth sticking around for.

Who knew this person could teach you that?

You flirt with crying over something that feels lost, but was never found in the first place. Then you'll pull your hair up and sit before the keys and pound out something only mildly comprehendible.

Here's the thing -- I don't know that anyone else needs to get it but you. And you finally do.

You are okay.

You consider that you always assumed these lessons would be learned in some sweeping love story. Maybe you always hoped for it to be that way, anyway. But you'll be wrong.

In the unexpected places - in the middle of ordinary conversations about books and religion and cracking a mildly inappropriate joke, you'll come to realize that those fairy tales were bullshit and Disney lies a lot.

Ain't no prince charming on a horse going to save anyone or restore any broken pieces of a heart you should've been wise enough to protect to begin with.

It'll happen without you even realizing it. They'll come in and surprise you with their intellect and charm and their incredible wisdom. They'll come in and you'll be convinced it'll be the way it's always been.

Only you'll both look each other in the eye and recognize there was something worth saving and so you cut shit out to be healthier for yourselves, not each other.

You'll be spending all your time waiting for someone to ride in looking to rescue when all you needed to realize is you were a wildfire that just needed some water and someone to remind you to chill.

There's no need to burn alive, dear.

Monday, November 14, 2016

On Learning

One of my favorite writers/bloggers, Hannah Brencher, has long been slaying me and putting me in my place with her encouraging words and calls to action. This morning she wrote about what she's learned in the last year and asked her readers to respond to her email with what they've learned this last year. I thought I'd share my response with you here. What are you learning this year, love?


After I read your email I sat for a while at my desk. I sat at the desk I write at everyday, looking  into the eyes of the orphans I get to share stories for. A lot can happen in a year.

 A girl can grow from the bed of miserable she's built for herself over being single and nearly thirty to some sort of flourishing she never knew existed within her. You see, I've written you before - about the sadness that built up within me like plaque on a tooth. It grew harder and harder with time, refusing to crack and brush away from the surface of my heart or from underneath my collar bone. It clung tight - making the air thicker and more difficult to breathe. And then, almost like whiplash, I realized I'd spent a lot of years praying for something - for someone - and I wasn't entirely sure it's what I wanted in the first place. And now I am here, feeling okay about my current status - feeling welcoming at what may come, but confident in the fact that this life thing is manageable and enjoyable on my own.

A girl can start a new job. She can work for four years with an organization that is making a difference and and changing lives, and yet never feel fully "fitted" for what she's doing. And then that degree she was convinced was wasteful, ended up getting her a job she never could've hoped for. She gets to work on the behalf of vulnerable and fatherless children around the globe - raising her voice for those who don't yet know they possess one.

And those are both major things. I have learned so much in this last year - about waiting and praying. About what I see for my life and what the Lord knows for my life. About pocketing dreams, assuming they've expired, and my world being flipped upside down while God says, "It's expired when I say so, kid. And that ain't just yet. You with me?"

But the biggest lesson I've learned is likely this -- home is places. 

I used to think the farm I grew up on was home, and always would be. And it's certainly a piece of my home. But how can one location only ever be your whole history? Sure the yellow walls of that childhood bedroom know about the first crush I had and how fun that first slumber party was. They remember how loudly my heart was beating when a boy came into my room for the first time. They know about the little girl who grew to be a wild weed and then figured out how to find some middle ground to avoid sudden death of emotion and recklessness.

But the dirt on a campus in India knows about the moment my heart willingly broke to beat across oceans simultaneously. The open roof of the girls' home knows of the salt in my tears as I begged my Father to stay, to just stay right here. Why did I have to go back? The clattering of dishes and the rise and fall of songs in Telugu know of the moments when a girl recognized the woman in her and whispered, "Thanks for showing up here, for this very moment. I think we're gonna be okay."

The little two story on Morton Avenue knows about the joy that is found in solitude; the walls covered in syntax and gentle reminders know about the coming of age that occurred when a girl who hated to be alone finally started choosing herself.

And then there are the people who have come in and chosen to stay - time and time, again - who make any place home.

So, home is places. This is what I've learned. A heart can stretch far and wide and still remain faithful to the people who have, and will come to be, pages in a history. Each place I call home always reminds me of where I come from, who I've become, and the beauty in recognizing that being willing to bend often stops some of the breaking.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What Loss Does to You

You'll wake up on a Monday to a text from one of your best childhood friends. She'll have taken a photograph of a lined journal page with handwriting that is still trying to figure out who it's going to be.

October 14, it will read. I love Nick Duff.

She will share it with you -- talking about how she rarely wrote in it, but his name showed up. And so did yours. And she wanted you to see it.

You'll wake up on a Monday to a text from one of your best childhood friends and realize that you've been apart from her more than you've been beside her in the last ten years. But she may understand your spirit more than even you can sometimes.

And something inside you that's felt loose flirts with feeling grounded for the first time in a long time.

You'll answer her - he was so easy to love, wasn't he?

And it's true. Because he was.

You'll think about the trajectory of your life since that cold, January day when you weren't asked if you were ready to say goodbye, but just said it anyway - the finality of the compound word weighting your tongue down in a way that left you deciding you didn't want to ever speak again, if it meant you would have to utter it more than just this moment.

You'll think about all the days between that one and now - the girl you were and what she believed in. You'll think about the relationship that flourished as a result of a life cut short and you'll feel conflict rise underneath your collar bone - because how can the most difficult experience of your life also have been the event that led you to getting to know your favorite human?

You'll think about the boy who wiped your tears as they laid your beautiful cousin in the ground and have to bite back a laugh at the knowledge that those two people would never know each other the same way ever again.

Because that's what loss does to you. It breaks off pieces of who you were mere seconds before the life you once knew detonates. Every moment following that is deciding whether you have the time to budget and the energy to spare to get to know the people who held you up when everything crashed, again.

You'll think about that boy - Nicholas - and his now nephew who looks and acts and speaks like him. You'll think about the growing boy you never see enough, but love more deeply every time you do, and you'll pray high and hopeful he will one day hear Nick stories that make him giggle and want to know more.

He was so easy to love, wasn't he?

You'll think about the boys since that day - friends and lovers and boys dressed like men who sling stones of ignorance at beating hearts. You'll forget the ones who didn't deserve your love and then you'll ponder those who were easy to love like Nick was.

You'll look at a picture of a blue-eyed man who took you to Dewey's on your first "date" and then somehow became your best friend and person and complete confidant. You'll feel a pull in your chest because he is the easiest to love, but your story - you and his - they don't play beside each other in the same zip code any more. But he makes your life more rich than you ever knew to ask for.

You'll think about a brown eyed boy - growing and getting to look less like a boy everyday - who calls the other side of the world home. Your heart will physically ache - daily - because the story called you two into the same narrative, but a God who knows better is asking for you to be comfortable with the distance. He is a selfless kind of love you didn't believe existed within a heart torn and ragged like yours.

You'll wake up on a Monday to a text from a childhood best friend and you'll realize that time changes everything - feelings and intentions and the very souls our skin folds around in this world begin to transform and disfigure. You'll start coming to terms with the fact that there are relationships and moments in your life right this very minute that are morphing and there isn't anything you can do to get them back. So you lean into the hurt and trust that it'll be okay. You'll wonder how easy you are to love and then roll your eyes. You are difficult. And that is that.

You'll wake up on a Monday to a text from a childhood best friend and you'll think about her wild, curly hair and the ways everything is picked back up right where you left off every time you're together. You'll consider that the two of you - your spirits of wild and wandering - are far more alike now than they ever were when she wrote that little note in her journal so long ago. 

You'll wake up on a Monday and realize loss is simply a part of the storyline. Time and distance will require adjustment. Annual trips will help to make whole years apart easier and so sweet. You've said goodbye before - you are not immune to the mortality or finality this world requires us to shoulder.

You'll wake up on a Monday and get in your car. You'll drive to the first place that was home - simply to find footing in a season that feels unsure and scary and untethered. 

You'll admit you feel lost. 

You'll confess that sometimes you like it. And other times you're convinced it will surely choke the life right from your chest.

You'll wake up on a Monday to a text from a childhood best friend and, without even realizing she's doing it, she'll pull you back down.

She'll pull you back down.

You'll wake up on a Monday and you'll allow it.

Monday, September 26, 2016

On a Case of the Butterflies

I am a big believer in butterflies. The ones lying dormant in the lining of your belly - waiting, just waiting, for a reason to explode into thousands of quick, tight movements. You know the ones.

When's the last time you had butterflies explode in the pit of your stomach?

There was a time in my life that I was convinced only boys could provide those butterflies. I remember the first time I ever went to a movie with a boy... his name was Taylor Bryan. He was tall and blonde and had blue eyes I wanted to coast in for the rest of my life - way before I ever understood the fundamentals of 'the rest of my life' or that heartbreak wasn't just something they wrote about in songs. We saw She's All That and I remember his pinkie finger grazing the top of my hand and I. thought. I. was. going. to. explode.

Because there's just nothing quite like getting your hand held for the first time. I've held many a hand since then - I actually really love holding hands, in transparency - but no other hand holding moment has ever lit my skin on fire the way his did in that darkened movie theater (where my mom was sitting two rows back, chaperoning.)

And then there's your first kiss, right? You watch people on TV and in movies and they're locking lips left and right and, because I came out of the womb analyzing, I could not stop thinking about my first kiss. The hand on the face and the swelling music and let's hope I can figure out how to breathe when all this damn magic is happening without snotting on him.

There was no swelling music. And if I remember correctly, our hands were both at our sides because we were sweaty pre-teens who had no clue what they were doing. But good LAWD it was magic, if I've ever felt it.

So for most of my high school and college career, it was boys who gave the butterflies. And then a four year relationship ended and a season of singleness set in and I spent, am still spending, hours and days and months slowing admitting to myself that butterflies from a dude are cool, but there's a whole lot I'll be missing out on if I keep waiting for the next swell of them to erupt over some guy who wears flannel and knows how to maintain a beard.

Who said a girl has to be confined to butterflies in her ribcage because someone wants to know what her mouth tastes like?


I have this print on my wall in my living room. It was one of the first things I ever bought for myself as I was moving into my house in Dayton. It's a dictionary page that has a ribcage stenciled onto it in black and white and just beneath the ribcage - where the proverbial belly lies - are colored butterflies. I remember scanning Etsy, looking for art for my new, all my own, home and when I saw this particular print, I obsessed over it until it arrived in my mailbox. It remains one of my favorite pieces in my entire house.

I think at first it was aesthetically pleasing to me, but the longer I live here - within the mustard yellow walls where I burn cinnamon candles year round - the more it becomes a reminder of what I should be expecting, what I should be looking for, for my life to be.

I believe this life should be a continual case of butterflies.

When I get to sit on my back porch with wine and a book to devour, my skin should rise with goosebumps.

When I get home from work and Addy is waiting at the door for me, my cheeks should hurt from smiling at her joy.

When my brother texts me at 8.30 at night and says, "hey, stepher," elation should be written on my hands.

I spent many years getting lost in people who told me I was pretty and wanted time with me - sometimes for all the wrong reasons - and my joy sprung from that. That girl - the one who waited with bated breath for his attention or affection - she didn't know the dirt in India was going to one day be what beckoned to her heart.

She hadn't yet figured out that the crinkled pages of a brown Bible would center her in a way nothing else could.

She wasn't aware that a road trip with the oldest friend of her life, on a random weekend in October, would make her dizzy with excitement.

She didn't know. She couldn't have.

There are parts of me that so badly want to go tap that girl on the shoulder and tell her to say yes sooner, get out of that relationship faster, get on more planes - now, now, now - because she is missing out. Because life is happening while she's stagnantly waiting.

But timing really is everything - I learn that more the more time I spend breathing on this planet. And I think she had to figure out how to get out from under the thumb of thinking she needed to need someone in order to be someone.

Hey, guys? We are someone. Right this very minute, each one of us is a someone. With dreams worth fighting for and injustices to raise our voices over. We, each one of us, is a someone. Who get to travel, who come to understand that time zones don't matter when a heart feels home for the first time in a life. You are a someone. With hair that needs to be let down and a right to believe that you're worth it - even if every fiber of your being says you're wrong. Hear me, now. You are worth it.

We are a someone.

And you don't need a mortgage or a baby or a husband or wife to be so. You don't need a passport or a full tank of gas or the job of your dreams to believe it.

You don't have to have it all figured out. And you don't have to be happy every second of every day.

You are a someone. 

What's giving you butterflies these days, love? If it's a relationship, then I am so thrilled for you. But I think we all need reminded that there are corners of this world that have our names stamped on them - and they are just waiting to be discovered by the lens of our eyes.

There are corners of this world with your name drawn on a back, dirt road just waiting for your feet to plant down.

There's a song waiting to be heard and a book that's worth the reading.

There are pieces of yourself, parts of your life, waiting to become known by you.

I hope you find them.

I hope you sit down in corner coffee shops by yourself and become acquainted with her.

I hope you drive too fast down an unlined country road and learn to laugh with him.

I hope you discover new flavors and sounds, unwrap foreign colors and flirt with wearing them around for a while.

I hope you get a little lost trying to decipher who it is you were made to be.  And when you leave behind the skin of who the world told you you should be, I hope you feel something ignite within you.

I hope you come to realize home is relative, family isn't always blood, and that you are good company to be around.

I hope you choose yourself.

I hope you know you are someone.

I hope you learn how to chase the butterflies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On Colors

Everything is blue
His pills, his hands, his jeans
And now I'm covered in the colors
Pull apart at the seams
And it's blue
And it's blue
Everything is grey
His hair, his smoke, his dreams
And now he's so devoid of color
He don't know what it means
And he's blue
And he's blue

Anyone who has known me for any amount of time will tell you I can become frantically obsessed with music. I'll be watching a season finale of a show and the beginning chords of a song will play, one or two sentences crooned across the speakers, and I am a Google'ing frenzy - who sings it, when was it released, and for goodness sake, can I buy the song yet? (See Rivers and Roads by the Head and the Heart.) And then I want to share the music with everyone I know. Friends will receive random, middle of the night texts that simply say "Let's talk about - - -" or "If you know what's best for you, check out - - -" (See She Burns by Foy Vance) I feel music, as I feel most things, deep and viscerally. I remember songs from certain times in my life - snapshots of moments that have been freeze-framed in the lining of my heart's memory; I can hear the beginning of a song and instantly be in a yard surrounded by people I grew up with, releasing balloons and whispering rushed prayers - convinced they would only be heard as long as I could see the tail of the ribbon I had just let from my grasp. (See Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World) So it's no surprise when I was listening to music the other day and a song came through my ear buds that made me type the same word three times in a row because I was so distracted by the lyrics being sung. Halsey has the type of voice that can unnerve you. It's throaty and cutting, which coincides with the words she's singing quite nicely - many of her songs have language that isn't considered clean - so if you're easily offended by language, maybe Halsey isn't for you.. BUT, you should definitely check out the song that made me type the same word three times in a row... because anything that stops the flow of words from someone who writes for a living has to be worth at least a listen, right? (See Colors by Halsey)

She begins to sing about a man - presumably someone who was once her lover - in the shades of color that represent him. He is blue, like his pills, his hands, his jeans; he is grey, like his hair, his smoke, his dreams. He was red - and she was blue - and then she becomes lilac and he decides purple isn't for him and there is something electric about this, to me. I started to think about colors and people; I began to consider my "persons" and what colors they were in my life; I began to try to identify myself as a color and then became incredibly disheartened at the range of color I so often feel within a 24 hour span of time.

As it turns out, my emotional range can lend itself to me feeling like that grayish/brown blob that develops when, as a child, you attempt to mix two or three different colors to create a new, original color exclusive to you. You start out imagining the words inventive and extraordinary and unprecedented will be applied to your mad color mixing skills, but when it's all said and done you're left realizing that sometimes yellow and purple and that mint green color you want to lick like ice cream don't look much like anything, mixed together,  other than what you imagine the color of the pit of your stomach is when your heart's broken for the first time.
So I don't know if I'm blue or purple, green or orange; I want to believe I am the softest, warmest shade of butter yellow, but my anxiety rings in at an alarming red and the depression I unsuccessfully try to kick to the curb sits steadily at the most bland shade of brown. 
I'm not always warm. Or inviting. I'm not always laughing. Or wanting to talk. And I'm learning that's okay. The people pleaser in wants to apologize even when I don't need to, to make sure everything is okay, even when I know for certain there's no reason for things to not be okay. And slowly - the warm yellow that wants to give light feels sucked dry and begins to resemble more of the dried sweat stain on that white t-shirt you used to wear all time.
I guess what I'm trying to say... what I want to leave here on the page . . . is that we cannot continually be everything to everyone - and we should not expect it of others. It's not realistic. In fact, I'd argue it's harmful - both for those of us who expect that consistency and to those we are consistently expecting it from.
This is something I'm learning, y'all.
We cannot always be the one being checked up on. Sometimes we need to reach out and do the checking in. We cannot always be the one expected to bring joy. Sometimes the joy needs filtered in to the grey spots.
I think grace needs to be a shade we extend much more often than we do. This is something I'm working on. I cannot tell you how many times I've said to myself, in the last month, 'get out of your head, Duff.' Are things hard right now? Do they feel heavy? Do I feel a little more lost, relationally, than I have in a long time? Sure. But I cannot walk around in a constant state of puke green, feeling sorry for myself. There comes a time when ya gotta let the light in.

Let's let the light in, love.