How to Catch All Those Fish in the Sea

There are plenty of fish in the sea…

Haven’t we been told about all the fish in the sea for years? You get broken up with. “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” You do the breaking up. “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” You have been single for two years. “There are plenty of fish in the sea!” You’ve never dated anyone. “There are plenty of fish in the sea!”

So how do you catch a fish?

It seems like some people have the bait that all the fish like. And some people aren’t getting any bites at all.

Try to follow me here because I’m about to dive in (dive in, get it?) to my thought process, which can be very scattered.

A friend of mine took an Old Testament class in college last semester and she told me about how the Jesus fish symbol came to be. In the days of persecution of Christians, those who were Christians had to keep their beliefs a secret. So, when they would meet someone and begin a conversation, they would make a curve in the sand with their foot. If the other person was also a Christian, he/she would make another curve, completing the symbol that we now know as a symbol that represents Jesus.

A few days ago, a younger girlfriend of mine told me about this guy she wanted to set me up with. Every time someone wants to set me with someone, I’m usually pretty skeptical because it almost never works out. However, this guy really seemed to be a great match for me. The first thing that really interested me was that he was a strong Christian. Because of our common beliefs and interests, I was interested in meeting him.

That got me thinking. There are literally millions of guys out there. There are a lot of them I could really get along with and be pretty happy with. So why is it so hard to just find one out of those million that I have things in common with?

I started thinking of it as being one of the Christians under persecution. When we meet someone, it’s like we draw a symbol in the sand. Whatever that symbol may be, we wait for the other person to complete the other half of it. They might draw a totally different symbol in the sand. If our symbols don’t match, it’s a pretty good indication that we don’t match.

Interests and hobbies and goals and passions are so detailed and so specific. All the things we love and want in a partner narrow down that pool that we’re fishing in. It doesn’t make us any less desirable or worthy; it just makes us intricate, which is how we were created. When we ignore that intricacy and try to simplify ourselves, we settle for a pretty simple symbol to draw. We allow someone else to easily match our half of the symbol.

Whether it’s looking for a fellow believer or someone that enjoys sports or someone that likes Harry Potter, it’s important to cast your bait where you know you’ll catch a fish you won’t want to throw back.

Fisherman usually aim for a certain type of fish. If they catch a bass instead of the carp they wanted, they’ll throw the bass back. We can’t just settle for the bass. We have to keep fishing for the carp.

Draw your symbol. Make it unique to who you are. When you find that one person to match it, reel ’em in.

Show A Little Skin, Make A Little Love

Be your own you and make your own love… 

Showing skin seems to be all the rage these days. I’m not much of a “skin shower” myself, but some girls (and guys) rock the look. More power to you, but sometimes I just wish we could all wear really long poodle skirts and collared shirts again. Maybe I’m the only one, but I think it’s a fun little look. 

A few weekends ago I was out in downtown Nashville with some friends. We were at one of the many locations downtown just listening to a band and hanging out. As we walked through downtown I couldn’t help but feel awfully insecure. I was wearing jeans and a tank top and a cargo vest that I made fun of myself several times. Friends assured me I looked great, but I felt like I should be fishing. I had enough pockets to carry everyone’s lure and bait. One of the girls in our group was very tall, very skinny, and very pretty. She was also wearing a white crop top and tight black pants. She looked “hot.” I mean, she really turned all the guys’ heads. 

I can’t even say I was really jealous, I was just doing that thing where I kept wondering “What is wrong with me?” Not one guy tried to talk to me or my other friend and I was honestly just so embarrassed of my mom jeans and cargo vest. I felt AWFUL about myself. I kept wishing I was one of those incredibly gorgeous girls that guys just flocked to. The girl I was with even got asked for a picture with these men while I stood there like the UGLY STEP SISTER. I could have crawled under the stage where the band played and never came out.

Then I did start talking to a very nice, very attractive guy. We had the best conversation. He even told me about his girlfriend! How neat.

I could have just stood in the middle of the room and yelled and cried. I bet I still wouldn’t have gotten any male attention.

Then it really hit me. I was being so incredibly superficial. WHO CARES if a bunch of random guys don’t drool over me? I would never want someone to come hit on me because my stomach was showing. I mean no disrespect to this girl, or any girl, that chooses to wear revealing clothes. I can’t say I wouldn’t be tempted to if I didn’t have a perfect body. Thankfully that isn’t a temptation for me since I haven’t been hitting the gym as much as I’ve been hitting the kitchen. Anyway, I don’t want a guy to want me for my clothes or my body or my hair. I want him to want my heart and my mind. I like to think both of those are my greatest assets. I may not ever have the hottest body around but I hope my brain and my soul really knock some guy off his feet. 

The right guy will likely approach me somewhere I least expect (or in church or a coffee shop if my wildest fantasy comes true). And when he does, I hope we’ll have a pretty cool conversation. I hope I’m wearing my favorite t-shirt and jeans that cover everything up. 

But that’s not what I learned that night. I know outer appearance isn’t all that matters. Duh. We all know that whether we acknowledge it or not. What I really learned is that I have to own that. I can’t dwell on the attention someone else is getting because of his/her decisions. I have to know what’s important to me and be confident in my walk of life. I certainly have to show a little skin– a tough skin, a confident skin! I have to love my skin enough to cover it up and never let it get to me. The most important thing I should wear is my heart on my sleeve so that others can see inside it. 

That night, I learned the real meaning of “to each his own.” I say it all the time, but I really grasped it that night. I had to let go of my insecurities and make my own love right there all by myself. I had to stop acting awkward and insecure and uncomfortable. If I didn’t love myself in that moment, no one else would! So I made my own love and my own fun. I ended up meeting a really cool guy that was in a band in England. He didn’t hit on me nor did he comment on my weird cargo vest. We just talked about life and got to know each other’s hearts. I’ll probably never see him again, and that’s okay. His last name was Bird and I found a lot of symbolism in that. He was really free as a bird and that single conversation that night really set me free from so many worries and insecurities. 

There might have been thousands of girls in Nashville that night showing some skin and getting lots of love and attention from many guys, but I showed myself some skin and some love and let go of a lot of negativity. What I thought was one of the worst nights of my life turned out to be one of the best. It’s just a shame that I didn’t figure that out until a few weeks later. 

I can’t wait to attract the kind of guy I’ll share my heart and my life with. Hey, maybe I’ll even be wearing that green cargo vest. 

InstaLife

And we make what people think our number one concern…In a world that is consumed by what’s on a screen 

It’s no secret that social media has taken over. I mean, it has seeped into pretty much everything in the world. 

So how much has it seeped into your brain, your life? 

The answer is most likely: A LOT. At least that’s my answer. And there are a million articles about the negative and positive effects of social media, reasons you should put your phone down and look up, and the way our generation lives through the internet, but what about the quality of life that is at stake here?

You’re lying if you say you’ve never posted something, a picture, a status, a video, to get “likes” from your followers. You want them to like your post. You want them to like you. If someone likes my picture, that means they like me, right? Is that what the world has come to? We are basing our self-worth off of the number of “likes” we get on an Instagram picture. 

Worse than that, we are followers of lives that are not our own. We scroll through pictures to see what everyone else is doing with their lives, and if it seems better than what we’re doing, we feel sorry for ourselves. NO. Just no. We cannot let ourselves become envious just because someone posts a pretty picture. Instead of obsessing over the lives of the people in our network, we need to be focusing on ours, focusing on the moments we’ll NEVER get back. If we are busy “stalking” someone else’s Facebook, how will we ever create the moments that we’ll post on our own Facebook? 

There are moments that can’t be summed up in a tweet or a picture. There are moments that resonate with us forever and build us and mold us into the person we are. That’s what we have to seek out in other people. Those characteristics that make them them, not the pictures from their trip or their big event or their new workout regime. All of those things are great. All of those things take part in making a person who they are, but the things in life that weigh the most can’t be found on anyone’s social media; they can only be found in face-to-face conversation and really listening to that person’s story. If we don’t want to be judged solely on our social media sites, we can’t judge others like that either, whether good or bad. 

So don’t worry if you never have 2,000 twitter followers or 600 likes on a status or a picture. How much love do you have around you? How much have you grown spiritually? How truly happy are you with who you are? Those are the questions that will matter. Those are the things you will take to the grave and that will live on even after that.

No one puts their Twitter name and number of followers on their tombstone anyway. 

Angel Mocha Latte

He sends us angels and He sends us to be angels…

I think God gives us angels here on earth. They aren’t always necessarily our family or very best friends, but they leave handprints on our hearts and give us a peace that can only be from God. 

I have a friend that I don’t really get to see a lot, but every single time I see her, I just feel great. If I’ve had a bad day, she immediately makes it better without even knowing she does. 

We go on coffee dates every couple of weeks. It began last semester as just an “every so often” kind of thing. We later found out that we had both gone through a lot of stuff that matched up that semester. We had never discussed anything we were going through; we always just talked. We talked about life. We talked about scripture. We talked about God. She encouraged me in a way I had never been encouraged. She told me all the beautiful things about me that I rarely heard. 

I cherish her more than she knows. I do a lot of listening when we meet up and I love that the most. She’s helped me grow and helped me learn how to love myself. 

I had such a bad yesterday. Nothing terribly bad happened; I was just so down because of some discouraging things said about me on a petty social media site. I knew it was so stupid, but it made me sad nonetheless. I invest a lot in words, so the words of others have a strong effect on me.

It’s easy for me to tell someone else to focus on God’s words rather than others, but I can’t seem to do it myself. 

Right after I had read the rude comment, my friend walked in the room. It’s like I wasn’t even controlling my mouth or words. I immediately asked her to go get coffee without even thinking. I was so comforted by her presence. She said yes, of course, and we met for coffee as planned.

As soon as I sat down, she said, “How are you? You look stressed.” I smiled and told her I was fine, but I knew she knew. Although I had planned to immediately tell her about the petty drama bothering me, I didn’t. She immediately went into scripture. She read me verses about being adopted into His kingdom and living in glory that we have been chosen for. She said it was so cool to be known as God’s daughter. And I think it is really cool too. It’s the coolest thing about me or anyone else I know. I love that. 

Just like my parents brag about me, God brags about His children. He thinks I’m great even when someone else might not, even when I might not.

My friend kept encouraging me to live out my position in Christ. She expressed her awe of His giving of this position and how spectacular it is that his love is never stagnant; it’s always being given. I teared up while she talked and she didn’t even notice because she was so into His word. It was beautiful. It was a rare moment that I will never forget.

I eventually told her what was bothering me. I started crying because my feelings were still so hurt. She looked so sad for me. She looked so sad that anyone would be that mean ever. I felt her compassion from across the table. 

She told me something she tells me so often. “There are so many beautiful things about you that completely overpower any of your flaws and God handcrafted you just like He handcrafted everyone else specifically. You are so loved and bring love to so many people you meet without even knowing it. You mean a lot to a lot of people and you have something about you that makes other people feel comfortable and important. So, don’t think about what some jealous person says. Think about what God says about you.” She then told me I needed people to be that audible voice that relays His thoughts of me so that I could rest in that every day.

She didn’t even realize that she was that voice. She is always that voice. He has given me her encouraging voice to keep pushing me.

I cried and thanked her for always being that person for me. I told her that although I have low self-esteem anyway, maybe the comment was just another tool to humble me.

She looked almost angry and said, “Don’t let Satan lie to you. Humility is not low confidence. You can’t listen to Him. I want you to get down on your knees and get desperate for God’s thoughts and words and stop making the thoughts of others a god.”

It was so honest and so loving and so true. We dwell so much on what everyone thinks about us– if we are good enough, pretty enough, cool enough, skinny enough, or popular enough. No matter what it is, it’s never enough. Luckily, God is enough and we don’t have to be.  Living for the majority can be an idol–a dangerous idol.

Within 15 minutes, she had encouraged me, showed me my struggles, taught me, and made me feel beautiful all at once. She was an angel in that moment and she has been in so many other moments. 

I am certain that God sends people to us to be our angels. I am certain that He sends us to be angels to others, and we may never know when we have served as one. 

Always be prepared to be someone’s angel because you never know who you’ve been assigned to.

My dear friend has been assigned to me, and I am so thankful. We might not talk every day. We might not go shopping together or stay up all night talking about boys, but we share something special. 

We share a coffee table, we share words, and we share love. 

I sure am glad my guardian angel likes lattes as much as I do. 

That Girl

We’ll always be searching for that if we don’t stop and learn to love this…

We spend our lives trying to be something. Everyone wants to be a different something but we all work day in and day out to be that something– to be that teacher that everyone loves, to be the preacher that brings everyone to God, to be the most popular person in school, to be the CEO of the best firm, to be the hot mom that everyone wants to be, to be the best football player in the state, to be the best server at the best restaurant…the list goes on. 

Unless you’re Beyonce, someone will always be better. How discouraging is that? You will NEVER be good enough. That’s what I’ve always lived by, and I think the majority of the world is right there with me. No matter how great I am, I could always be better. I could always act better, look better, weigh less, have prettier skin, have better clothes, make a better grade, and just be a better person.

I’ve just always wanted to be “that girl” — that girl that everyone loves, that girl that every guys wants to date and every girl wants to be, that girl that is always kind even when it’s hard, that girl that has the prettiest figure and hair and eyes and skin etc., that girl that has it so easy all the time, that girl that no one every says a bad word about, that girl that’s friends with everyone, that girl that wakes up looking like a model, that girl that’s so mysterious that everyone wants to find out more about her, that girl that shows her love for God and others at all times, that girl that shows confidence and humility at the same time, that girl that doesn’t care what anyone thinks because she loves every detail of her life in its entirety. 

That is a long list of requirements to be “that girl.” I’ve realized that every single person has a different list. Every single person has a different “that” that they wish they were. Everyone wants something they don’t have simply because it’s different. Everyone has flaws they dwell on and inner turmoil they deal with. That makes us all the same. And isn’t that beautiful?

We think we’ll never be good enough, but the good news is we never have to be because there is no such thing as “good enough.” 

There will always be someone that is “that” to us  no matter where we are in life. It has been a constant since pre-school and it will always remain so. The best we can do is embrace “that” and find “that” in everyone we meet. To find a “that” characteristic in everyone that crosses your path helps you grow and improve and helps you find beauty in everyone and everything. 

There are people you will meet that break you down and make you wish you were anyone but you. Those people are running the hardest from who they are. They most likely think of you as “that” and want to pick you apart to find that you really aren’t all that great. Those are the people that need the most love from you, and that will grow you more than anything in the world ever could. 

At the end of the day, there is no such thing as “that girl” or “that guy.” The girl that seems to have it all most likely does not and even the perfect couple has their fights. Even the people that really have it together wish they were a little better. If you’re quiet, you wish you were louder, and if you’re loud, you wish you were quiet, but God dispersed the outgoing and the introverted evenly throughout the world on purpose. Embrace your personality and the way you look because there is no one else in the world that can compare. So, it’s really a waste to wish to be someone else because it can absolutely never happen. 

I’m writing this as much for myself as I am for anyone that reads it. It’s exhausting to try to fight the person God intended you to be. He intended you to be exactly how you are and THAT is all that. 

We have to stop searching for that and learn to love this because this is always the best it will ever be and that’s something to celebrate daily. 

I Love My Ex Boyfriend

Love isn’t always warm and fuzzy…

You know that feeling you get when your ex calls you? Their name pops up and you just stare and think about whether or not to answer. Well, I answered.

I didn’t even want to talk to him. I never even think about him anymore. He’s really just a memory, but I felt like this was going to be important, so I answered with an uninterested “Hello.” 

He rambled for ten minutes, as usual, without letting me get a word in, and as soon as I was tuned out thinking about how glad I was that we weren’t together, he changed his tone. 

He apologized and thanked me…at the same time. I remained silent and let him explain. 

He told me about the new girl he was dating, which didn’t sting me like it used to. He told me how great he was to her. 

Wow, thanks for letting me know how much better you are to her than you ever were to me.

Then he said he was sorry. He said he felt terrible for never giving me the love I needed and for treating me so terribly when all I ever wanted was love. He said the reason he was so good to her is because he loved her the way I always wanted him to love me. I immediately started crying and let him continue to spill his heart out.

He said I taught him how to love, and how to show his love. He thanked me for getting him to this point in his life. It felt so good to hear that after all this time. 

Helping someone else find love might be even better than finding love yourself. Allowing it to all come full circle to see the big picture God painted allows the heart to heal and the pain to make so much sense. It was all for a purpose. I helped him fulfill his purpose, and I know one day I’ll look back and thank him for helping me fulfill mine. 

When I finally decided to speak, I choked out THE question: “Is she pretty….what is she like?”

He began to describe her and I cried so hard. Not because I was jealous, but because I couldn’t wait for someone to describe me like that to someone. He told me about her features and her hobbies and how much he wanted it to work. I was heartbroken in the best way. 

I knew in that moment he had found her. I was his last stop before the love of his life. I don’t think he knows she’s the one, but I do. 

I also thanked him for showing me what I never wanted in a man. And I didn’t mean that in an ugly way, I am sincerely thankful that God gave me time with him to learn about love and learn about myself. I know if I got over him, I can get over anyone and patiently wait for the one I’ll never get over. 

I sincerely loved this guy at one point, and all the feelings were real, but I was so bitter towards him when it was over because of the pain he caused me. 

This year, I have learned how to apologize. And this was the first real apology I’ve received in a while. He meant every word he said with so much love and change and passion. I’ve never loved him more. 

I’ll never ever be in love with him again. Those feelings came and went and changed me forever. For me, once the “in love love” is gone, it never comes back. Even though I’ll never be in love with him again, he changed my mind about him that day. He became my friend again. I became so genuinely happy for him and this beautiful girl that I carefully stalked on social media. (I told him I approved and that she was his perfect match). 

So while I’ll never be in love with my ex boyfriend, I’ll always love him. 

At the end of the call, (it happened just like a movie), I said, “Thanks for calling,” and he said, “Thanks for picking up.”

Sarcastic Love

I love him but I don’t have to like him…

You have to love your neighbors, but you don’t have to like them, right? Well is that really love at all?

Okay so I’ll paint this picture for you. A small studio room downtown. No lights on. Only the sound of the guitar and voices singing praise to God are audible. People sitting in chairs, on a couch, and in the floor. Every once in a while, between songs, someone would speak.

A boy I had never seen started talking. “We’ve always heard that we have to love people, but we don’t have to like them. God loves us AND likes us. So how can we say that we don’t like people, but we love them. I guess you could call that…well…sarcastic love.”

A light bulb went off in my head. I had done that my whole life without meaning to. People that were mean to me or made me feel bad about myself–I loved them because I had to, because I was commanded to, not because I really loved them. And that is sarcastic love. Loving them almost as a joke. Loving them to make yourself look like a good person. Love is only real when you truly find something about that person that you admire and adore. Everyone has SOMETHING to love, so find it and like it.

Sarcastic love boy talked about the construction workers he worked with. He said some of them were “rough guys that would curse you out when you messed up.” He said, “I said I loved them but I didn’t like being around them. So, I learned to really love them and love to be around them because what comes out of them won’t rub off one me, what comes out of me will rub off on them. My light will shine on them when I truly do love them.”

What he said changed my life forever. Now, when the girl that gives me dirty looks walks by, instead of pretending to love her, I will make an effort to find something to love and show her my love. Sarcastic love is not God and God IS love. He loves us AND likes us and that is very cool. We have to do the same in order to love like He does.

Sarcastic love boy at the impromptu worship service, thank you. Thank you for changing my life and my heart. Sarcastic love will be no more. After all, isn’t there truth in sarcasm sometimes? I’ll find the truth in any of the sarcastic love I’ve ever poured out so I can turn it into compassionate, genuine love.

Hopeless Romantic With an Emphasis on Hopeless

Hopeless romance can be the best or worst thing depending on your outcome…

Girls age 5 to 85 are all hopeless romantics. Even the ones that say, “I hate Valentine’s Day and lovey dovey anything,” are really hopeless romantics. We were made from love so we are all after the one thing that will make us complete. But even with all the romance novels, movies, quotes, books…it just seems really hopeless.

I see Instagram posts at least once a week from new engagement. I see Pinterest boards full of fairytales. I read endless quotes about finding true love. But that’s as far as it goes. My romance begins and ends with blog posts and tweets. It all just seems hopeless. The chance of romance seems hopeless to me. I have a hunch that I’m not the only twenty-something that feels that way. 

We walk around waiting to meet the love of our life. Hoping he will walk into the coffee shop. Hoping to bump into him on the street. Praying he will fall out of the sky and into your life. But then it doesn’t happen. Or it does and ends up being terrible. Either way, where is the romance? Where are the fireworks?

I am always such a hopeful person, but I am beginning to really put the hopeless in hopeless romantic. Like underline, bold, and italicize the word because I am just hopeless. Maybe that’s the answer. Maybe when I get completely, hopelessly hopeless, he will come around and spark the romance in my life. We invest so much into movies and shows that spew with romance. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have become household shows that set us up for relationships filled with extravagant dates and roses galore. While that is a lot to expect from someone, I still dream that my prince charming will come along unexpectedly with a dozen daisies and a picnic basket. In reality, we need to know that love doesn’t have to be extravagant. It can be simple. Simple is good. Simple is beautiful. When all of the extravagance is taken aways, love is simple. All of these expectations we have just fuel our hopelessness. 

While I’m becoming more and more of a hopeless hopeless romantic, I think that maybe there is still just a little bit of hope. Maybe there are a few good men that seek the love of God and use that to love women. Maybe there are a few guys that want to show a woman the beautiful simplicity of love. Maybe not all hope is lost for us hopeless romantics.  

In Love With Me

And I began to fall in love with myself…

I am completely aware of how weird that sounds.  But these days, we don’t love ourselves. We don’t find ourselves attractive or worthy of any type of love. I have heard the saying, “You have to love yourself before anyone will love you,” my entire life, and it is finally starting to make sense. Being in love with yourself doesn’t mean being obsessed with yourself or being conceited. It doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It’s quite the opposite. It means you think of yourself less often because you aren’t so wrapped up in how you look or act. It’s like when you’re in love with someone and you don’t mind any of their flaws. You disregard the weird, embarrassing things they do or say because you’re so in love. You don’t worry about their looks unless you’re admiring the beauty of their uniqueness. So when you love yourself, you’re content with being you and you’re finally ready for someone else to love you like you love you, or even more than that. Much more than that.

I don’t think any young adult is completely satisfied with themselves, but I think some of us are finally getting it. It’s about giggling to yourself when you do something dumb your future husband/wife will probably think is cute. It’s smiling when your hair is pulled up in a mess because you know that will be his favorite way to see you. You start appreciating all the things you have always hated about yourself because they are the things that make you you and that will make someone fall madly in love with you one day very soon. 

 

All Out

Go all out. That’s my philosophy on life. But don’t ever regret going all out– not with emotions, not with anything because then it doesn’t count as all out anymore. 

 

When you wish you could go back and change the way you felt, the things you said, the way you acted, remember that that’s what you wanted at that time and that’s what made you feel alive. You don’t have to regret it because it was the right thing at the right time that somehow lead you to the present time. You’ll act on emotions at least a thousand more times before you die, or at least you hope you get lucky enough to do so. Acting on emotions means you have emotions. It means you have a heart. It means you love deep and hard and that will be such a beautiful thing to one really beautiful person one really beautiful day.