Brutal Honesty and Kindness

I’m a little late to this conversation, but I think I’ve finally pulled my thoughts together enough to write something cohesive. I’m sure that many of you have seen the video that was made by Nicole Arbour titled “Dear Fat People” and if you haven’t then I’ll just give you a quick rundown of what it said. This video was essentially a hate letter to “fat people” that was then played off as “humor.” I’ll be honest, I was pretty upset after watching this video. The thought that someone who has so much influence in the social media sector could just go and spew hate all over the internet and that it could get over six million views.

What I did think was amazing was the overwhelming number of responses to this video where people were speaking love and truth. I really loved what Tessa Violet had to say on this topic. Check out her video below.

What Tessa talks about is why we should choose kindness. And the position that she represents is not “Eh, we should choose kindness because, why not?” But she poses the question “Is there really any reason that we should not choose kindness?” And I think this applies to so much of life.

Since we were freshman in high school, Meesh has always told me:

I will never tell my kids to be nice, they will learn to be kind.

And that is something I will remember for my whole life. You see, kindness is not just an action, kindness is an indication of how you view and respect other people. When we look as all people as individuals and when we choose to respect them we cannot help but be kind. Kindness can be as simple as showing regard for someone’s feelings. Kindness is not always sunshine and roses, but kindness is always best. I read a lot of horse books when I was growing up (every little girl goes through a horse phase, OK? Mine was just longer than a lot of people’s) and there were many times when a horse was injured so bad that it had to be euthanized. The thing the vet would always say to the crying heroine of the book was “it was the kindest thing to do.” And this comforting, fictional vet was right. Kindness was the hardest choice to make, but it looked at the feelings of all those involved and decided what was best.

Whether or not we acknowledge it, we do this every time we speak or act. In a split second we catalogue the effects of what we’re about to do and then we decide. I know, sometimes you think before you speak (I am endlessly guilty of this), but typically we know what someone’s reaction to our words or actions might be before we do them. And here’s where I want to talk about Brutal Honesty.

Carrie Hope Fletcher did this amazing video on this topic.

Carrie’s main point is that there is almost never a time where you need to be “brutally honest” with someone. Now, there are a lot of people who have spoken truth into my life (often when I least want to hear it) in pretty straightforward ways: my mom, Meesh, Cindy, Penelope, Grace. And even though it has sometimes been hard to hear those truths I’d be willing to say that it’s never been “brutal” because I have always know that these truths are coming from a place of love.

Honesty should always be rooted in love. If what you are pointing out to someone is not so that you can see them become a better person or because you are honestly concerned about them then it’s not being honest, it’s being a jerk. It’s one thing to pull someone aside to say they have their skirt tucked into their tights (the number of times I’ve nearly walked out of the bathroom with my butt hanging out is ungodly) and another thing to yell it loudly across the hallway. Maybe you’re right in both situations, but one of them is showing kindness and the other is being an ass.

No person is perfect, and I know that I’ve been guilty of being hurtful in the name of “honesty” but this is something I have worked really hard to not do because I’ve seen just how damaging it can be. Maybe it’s really naive of me to think that all people should be in the business of building one another up, but that’s not going to stop me from trying to live like that. So the next time you go to say something “brutally honest” stop and ask yourself why you’re saying it in the first place.

Love you!

Abby

A hard day. 34 to go…

Today was the hardest day I’ve had in a long time. I don’t have days like this very often, but sometimes I am held down by the weight of my depression and I physically cannot make myself get out of bed. I haven’t questioned my desire to continue to exist on this earth in a long time, but today I couldn’t convince myself that living was really worth it. I stayed in bed until mid afternoon. I sat in the shower and cried because I could feel the physical ache of my sadness in my stomach. I couldn’t make myself eat anything or drink anything. It’s so hard to explain to someone who has never felt this way but it’s as though I was fighting with myself to keep breathing.

I fight it every day. The hopelessness, the loneliness. I have to shake it off every day, but some days it just gets the better of me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the worst part of feeling like this is that nothing set me off. Sure, life is stressful and things are hard right now, but that wasn’t the problem. So on top of feeling like death I’m frustrated with myself for feeling the way I do. I feel like my heart is breaking and my bones are hollow and I don’t know why. I know that I’m deeply loved, I know that my life has meaning, I know that the sun still shines.

This inability to explain my feeling often leads to me isolating myself. I have a deep fear of being too needy in my closest relationships and driving people away from me. I also live in a sort of constant fear of people seeing what a mess I am and deciding that I’m too much to handle. So I don’t talk about it. I just try to manage it myself and end up feeling even further away from the people I love. I’ve been really struggling to remember the words Meesh said to me this summer:

this is not your fault, this is not some weakness that you have, this is just a hard thing in life that you are going through

I’ve been trying to remind myself of this, and I know it’s true, but it’s so hard to believe some days. I can’t help but look at the people around me and wonder why I can’t be happy and functional like them. I can’t help but wish that I was different. It feels like a weakness. It feels like just one more way that my body is failing me, and this time it’s my mind. It’s just one more thing to scare people off. It’s just one more reason that I’m undesirable. It’s just one more way I’m not good enough.

I did get out of bed today. It took everything in me, but I did it. I got up, I showered, I ate something, I washed some dishes, I talked to my roommates, I wrote this. I was able to find the will to keep going. Yea, it was a hard day, but I did it. And I’m slowly learning how to hate myself less and how to find the motivation within myself to go on. It was a hard day, and I’m tempted to say that it was a bad day, but I know it’s days like today that are making me better. I’m learning from days like this and I’m growing from them. They’re teaching me to see hope. They’re reminding me that I’m still loved and still alive. So I’ll ask you to stick with me through the hard days. Stick with me when I don’t know if I’m going to make it to tomorrow. Because you’re helping me get through these days. You’re reminding me that there is hope. You’re reminding me that you still love me and I’m still alive.

Maybe it was a hard day, but it wasn’t a bad day. I’m getting better.

Love you!

Abby

The best summer. 42 to go…

So it’s my last night of summer. Part of me is really excited for school to start again, I’ve been back at school for five days and I’ve really been enjoying that, but part of me is really sad to see this summer end. It’s been an absolutely amazing summer. I made new friends, I went on adventures, I fell in love. It’s been great. It’s the sort of summer I don’t want to end. So I’m going to reminisce.

I had the distinct pleasure of working with four lovely women this summer: Laura, Ashley, Ali, and Keely. I seriously could not have made it through this summer without these girls. They listened to all of my stupid drama, they laughed with me, they helped me up when I fell, and they just did life with me. These girls made work and life so much sweeter.Friends80Ali, Me, Keely, Laura after we all went out for dinner one night.

The highlight of my summer was my week-long mental vacation that I took back in July. I spent some time at two different camps, observing, speaking, sleeping, and relaxing. I was so blessed to spend time with some very dear people and to have some time to just rest and pray and put my life back in order.

20140724_153329This is me and my dear friend Cindy at the beach at the second camp I went to.

I got to spend a good bit of time with my gorgeous best friends this summer. Penelope, Meesh, Rachel, Nicole, Karrisa. I don’t know what I would have done without them to keep me occupied and crazy this summer. I love them all so dearly.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetPenelope, Me, and Ben at the Ren Faire dressed as Amy Pond, The Tenth Doctor, and The Eleventh Doctor.20140720_121747Meesh and I being cute as bagels, cause that’s what we do.

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My girls Rachel, Karrisa, and Nicole. What would I do without them?

I’m constantly blessed by the family I was put in. It was not always easy this summer, but I know that I can always count on these five people. I love them more than I could ever say.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
Dad, Me, Jonathan, Daniel, Mom, Kayra. They’re just the best.

Lastly, I fell in love this summer. I fell in love with a boy who makes me laugh, makes me feel special, teaches me knew things, makes me blush, and makes me so incredibly happy. A boy with gorgeous eyes, and strong shoulders who thinks before he speaks and is wickedly talented. A boy who’s hand fits perfectly in mine and who makes me feel comfortable in my own skin. A boy who I could write about endlessly. I’m so thankful for the joy and excitement he has brought into my life.

I really didn’t have high expectations for this summer, in fact I was prepared for it to suck. But it was so full of joy and learning. It’s the sort of summer I want to remember forever. The summer of 19. It was a good one.

Tell me about your summer! What did you do? What were your highlights? I want to know!!

Love you!

Abby

Making room. 44 to go…

Have you ever read something at 1:42 am that changes your life?

“This year taught me that my loneliness has more to do with myself than anyone else. The loneliest I will ever be is when I don’t have the strength to love myself.”
-Marianna Paige

I’m sitting here crying over a boy because I’m frustrated and confused and hurt and oh so unsure when I scroll past this on my Tumblr feed. It might as well have been a giant finger pointing at me, a giant neon sign screaming at me:

YOU HAVE NOT HAD THE STRENGTH TO LOVE YOURSELF AND THIS ISN’T YOUR FAULT

I’ve been really low, like, really low. I’ve been depressed, unmotivated, and confused. Honestly, I’ve let feeling like this convince me that there was something wrong with me. That I have some incurable illness, or that I’m some freak, or that I’m just weak and therefore less than others. But I’m starting to get it. I haven’t had the strength to love myself. Honestly, I’ve had the strength to do very little for a long time. I’ve been trying to find things to fill this deep lonely hole in my chest: my friends, this boy, a banjo, work, my siblings, Game of Thrones, late nights, my parents and so many other things. I haven’t given myself space to love myself.

I can’t keep living like this. I feel like I’m dying. I need to breathe again.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to stop listening to happy music and start listening to good music. I’m going to read a book. I’m going to sleep. I’m going to get out of bed before noon. I’m going to cook. I’m going to pray. I’m going to go to church and listen. I’m not going to wear makeup. I’m going to go to the beach and listen to the waves. I’m going to cry if I need to. I’m going to laugh. I’m going to talk to my mom. I’m going to go to the doctor. I’m going to play my banjo. I’m going to clean my room. I’m going to journal a lot.

This song is healing me right now. “Life is not the mountaintops, it’s the walking in between.”

I took a couple of days off of work this week to go on a mini vacation and sort my life out. I’m going to be selfish this week. Maybe I won’t love myself this week, but I’ll make room to try.

How do you get your strength back? You rest and then you take it one step at a time.

Love you!

Abby

One perfect day. 51 to go…

If every day were as beautiful as today was I would die from over exposure to beauty and love.

I went to church with my two dear friends David and Meg. The sun was shining, the breeze smelled like summer, the trees were blooming, the birds were singing. All was beautiful. The worship at church was beautiful and uplifting and encouraging. They showed a beautiful video about mothers for Mother’s Day which made me incredibly homesick, but also deeply thankful for my beautiful and kind and wonderful mother. After church we decided to go to the lilac festival which is happening this week.

We parked at Meg’s house and walked a good ways to the lilac festival. We all held hands and walked in stride and marveled at the beauty of our little corner of the world and laughed together. Walking around the festival there were so many beautiful people in happy little dresses and gorgeous long skirts and Meg and I couldn’t help but point out all of the stunning people we walked past. There was so much to see and so many people so we just explored a little bit before our hungry stomachs got the better of us and we had to stop and eat. We sat down on a grassy hill and listened to this incredible group called Driftwood. The female vocalist had this slow and sultry voice that just drew me in. We listened to them for a while and watched all of the people around us. There were all of these wonderful people in long skirts who were dancing and just thoroughly enjoying the music.

Driftwood finished up and while we were waiting for the next group to come on my mom called me. I’ve been missing her so much and it was so good to just talk even for a little bit and laugh about all of the silly things that have been going on. Good heavens, I love her.

Between the two groups David, Meg, and I just laid in the grass and enjoyed the sun and then David said “just sitting in the sun with two of my best friends. This is great.” I just stopped and looked at both of them and was filled with so much happiness. It’s not every day that someone tells you that you’re one of their best friends, and it’s not every day that you realize that they’re yours. I’ve spent almost the entire weekend with my lovely friend Katie (who took my side bar picture, aint she great?) and David and more and more I’ve been realizing that they’re some of my best friends and that I love them both so much. I’ve been so blessed by Meg and her kind heart and encouraging attitude. Sitting there made me realize that she’s been the big sister I’ve never had and I was so grateful. More and more I’ve just been looking at my friends here and thinking that I don’t know what I’ll do without them for three months. They’ve come to be such big parts of my life over the past couple months. Grace, Kelly, Mike, David, Katie, Meg and so many more. I just love them all so much.

The second group that got up to play was The Adam Ezra Group who were also fantastic. They sang all of these great songs about beautiful women who live in the mountains and don’t wear shoes. My kind of people! Then in the middle of one of the songs the lead vocalist started improvising and I honestly can’t remember all of what he said, but it was beautiful. It was all about the Sunshine and good friends and happy music and love and joy and peace. He said the most beautiful thing: “I don’t know what I did to deserve this perfect day.”  I was overwhelmed with how incredibly happy I felt. I just sat there hugging Meg and thanking God for the friends he’s given me and for the Sunshine he’s placed in my life. I was reminded of all the ways in which God has provided good things for me this semester.

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David, Meg and me at the lilac festival. Not gonna lie, we’re kind of adorable.

Today has been a little vacation from the four week funk I’ve been living in. Maybe I’ll feel horrible tomorrow, but days like today serve to remind me that the sun still shines even if I can’t see it. It gives me hope that this funk will end and things will be good again. For just today, everything was perfect.

Love you!!

Abby

PS- I used the word beauty/beautiful 11 times in this post. There are just no other words for how great everything is and for how much I love my friends. Everything is just so beautiful! (Make that 12)

54 to go…

I keep hoping he’s going to walk into this coffee shop and see me and smile, he’ll sit down and ask how I am and what I’m writing about and I’ll tell him that I’m fine and I’m writing about a wonderful boy who I like a lot but who doesn’t like me back, he’ll say he’s sorry and I’ll say it’s OK and that I’m used to it and that I’ll be fine. I will be fine, but right now I’m not.

It’s one thing to have a Crush and to hope that maybe the other person feels the same. Every little thing they do makes you giggle. Every smile, every touch, every text, every kind gesture, every stupid joke, every gentle word, everything. You’re somehow better when they’re around, they make everything brighter. Every thing they do holds a special kind of potential. But all of this hope, all of these beautiful dreams die when you catch them looking at someone else the way you’ve looked at them. You catch his glance lingering on her and suddenly you know, it isn’t you. No. It isn’t me. It wasn’t me. It never is.

i won’t say that i
loved him
because all too often 

love is misplaced 
and misunderstood 
and i didn’t know him 
well enough 
to love him
but i loved his laugh 
and his ease 
and his eyes 
and his passion 
and i loved the way 
i felt 
around him

I want to write all sorts of stupid, angsty things about how this pain is a “special kind of devastation,”  and about how “my heart is drowning,” and all sorts of other ridiculous thing. But it’s true. To quote the marvelous John Green, “It hurt, and that is not a euphemism. It hurt like a beating.” It does hurt. It hurts so badly to not be liked. Every time it’s her and not me I hear the words “you are not good enough” over and over again in my head. It’s a constant reminder that I’m not enough. That I, once again, don’t measure up.

I feel so stupid for feeling like this, I had no right to want him in the first place. I had no right to let my heart pretend that things were going to be different. I had no right to hope in the first place. There’s no one to blame but myself.

i asked a question
whose answer i didn’t
want

now i know

you love her

“of course he likes her
everyone knows that”

i’m such a fool

it’s not that i didn’t
see it
it’s that i didn’t
want to

i see the way you
look at her
like she is the most
beautiful thing
you’ve ever seen

and she is

she is so
beautiful
kind
funny
talented
graceful
artsy

i just hoped that you
were looking at me
like that
when i wasn’t
looking

but i guess not

I meant it when I said that I was OK being single, I do feel good about it. I feel whole and complete, and I know I don’t need him. But he is so wonderful and I care about him a lot. I almost feel guilty for wanting a relationship just because I am so happy being single, but I know that this is different. I didn’t want him to complete me, I wanted to know him and to learn from him and be close to him. Even though I’m happy and fulfilled on my own, this still hurts so deeply. So, so deeply.

I saw unrequited love defined as “Its like drowning but you just won’t … die.” I’m pretty sure that this is  the saddest, but also most accurate thing I’ve ever read in my life.

So now what? Now I guess I just go on pretending everything is OK and I try to get over it and try to kill these stupid feelings before they burrow any deeper and make this any harder. Now I just sleep a lot, drink tea, listen to sad music, write angsty poems, pray for peace, and cry. Cry a lot.

Love you!

Abby

Love is not an if-then statement. 78 to go…

Last week, as I was sitting in Cru and the speaker was talking about cleansing in the Old testament, something hit me. I don’t know what he said specifically that made me think this but I pulled out my phone and wrote myself a new note. Nothing detailed, just a couple words:

Love is not an if-then statement.

I haven’t had time to think about it until now, and I think I know what I meant.

True love is not an if-then statement.

The love does not depend on someone living up to certain expectations, or about being enough of anything. It’s not about fulfilling someone’s needs. It’s not about perfection. Love is not about happiness or satisfaction.

The amazing thing about love is that it’s barely about you. Sure, love can be a huge benefit to you, but love is about both people. Whether this is a romantic love, the love of a parent or love between friends, you both benefit from love. You learn and you grow and you’re changed for the better because of it.

That’s what love is about. Love is about caring about one another and about being a better person because of it. Love is about being challenged and sharing your life with someone you care about. Love is about letting someone truly know you. Love is about showing someone the ugly parts of who you are. Love is about knowing the ugly parts of someone and still caring about them. Love is a promise to continue to care about someone and take care of someone and be there for someone and to not abandon them.

Love, it’s not an if-then statement. Love is a promise.

I love you!

Abby