Raise the Damn Bar

Last fall I sent one of my friends a text. It was about something a guy had done to get my attention and I had thought it was cute. But it was also a bit of a lamentation that the smallest amount of effort seemed worth celebrating. I realized the bar was set too low. And I don’t just mean in my dating life, but in so much of my life.

It really got my thinking about raising the bar in the way that allow others to treat me and in how I treat others, because of course you should treat people the way you want to be treated. Cheesy, but true.

Minimal effort was no longer good enough either way.


One of my favourite poets, Tonya Ingram, has a poem that goes;

“You are not hard to love. A mountain does not become small for those who cannot climb.”

I’ve thought about these words a lot in the last few months. The idea of space, of being allowed to claim and take up space is something I talked about a lot in theory during my undergrad, but I hadn’t really taken it to my real life or applied it to my relationships.

The feminist scholar Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, iconically quoted by Beyonce in the song Flawless***, says in her book We Should All Be Feminists

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.”

Now I know this isn’t quite the same thing, but bare with me. Adichie is talking about breaking systemic barriers of sexism, and I’m trying to apply that to my own interpersonal experiences. It’s different, but similar concepts.

I think it’s okay to take up space. I think it is good to know your worth and that you are worthy to take up space. And the people you choose to have in your life should be respectful of you, your boundaries and the expectations you have set about how you want to be treated while you live your authentic life.

“When you know what you deserve red flags become deal breakers” – Hayley Ringo

For me, sometimes this means embracing if I want to be a little extra and not letting people shame me for wanting to take a lot of photos or have really girly girl’s nights. When I talking about raising the bar, I mean that people should let you be your most vivacious self without feeling bad about it. They should let you take up space. They should respect and value your interests, your passions, your ideas and opinions. And most importantly, they should not make you feel like you are hard to love.

My favourite quote from We Should All Be Feminists is;

“I’ve chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femininity. And I want to be respected in all my femaleness. Because I deserve to be.”

It’s not just femaleness, it’s whatever you identify as you, you deserve respect. You are worthy of that. You are worthy of time. Of patience and time and all those other good qualities. In the season two finale of This Is Us a character said “choosing our people is the closest thing we come to controlling our destiny”, and I think that is really true. So be intentional about choosing people who will show you they care.

Moral: You can take up space. You are not hard to love, you are not too big. You get to ask for what you need. Do not shrink yourself.

If you think this sounds entitled, I’m not saying that you should run around demanding people treat you with respect and then play games with them. This is a two way street, and one of the best ways to set an example of showing people how you want to be treated is to treat others that way.

Set your boundaries, have high expectations, and hold yourself accountable to living up to them. Raising the bar isn’t just about the way others treat you. It’s about you growing to be a better person too. It’s about you treating people the best way you can. If you don’t want people to walk all over you – start by being empathetic, understanding and kind.

Don’t make excuses, take responsibilities for your actions, know your worth and be the best you that you can be.

 

Advertisements

Life Moves Pretty Fast

I usually set small, monthly resolutions instead of one for the year because I like to change things up. It also means you get to reset each month if you stopping going to bed early or meal prepping three days in.

This year is the first in a while when I actually set goals for the whole year*. I guess these days I’m thinking more about long term growth, planning ahead and thinking about what I want to achieve in the big picture.

I learned so much last year. Life moves fast, but not quite as fast as we fear it does. You’re not running out of time if you’re making the most of what you have. For me, those things look like doing things that matter, encouraging others and telling the people I love that I love them.

In 2018 it felt like I had two overarching conversations with people in my life a lot.

The first with people my own age who we’re having an existential crisis about getting older. The should’s , the ‘I haven’t achieved enough yet and it’s already too late for me to have a baby by 30 and I don’t know what career I wan’t to be in and maybe I got the wrong degree and why is everyone getting married and why aren’t there more zeros in my bank account and should I have an RRSP yet and should I go to grad school” and it goes on and on.

Wondering if we’re already failing. Wondering if we aren’t doing enough.

The second kind of conversation I’ve experienced a lot lately are with people who are 30+. Family members, older co-workers, mentors. People who have lived and seen so much more life than I have. People who know the path isn’t always straight. People who know that life is full of ups and there isn’t anything we should be doing.


For my birthday and the start of the New Year this year, I went to visit and stay with some friends in the United States. What started as a chill trip to Virginia and Washington turned into an adventure filled week and a spontaneous road trip to from little Roanoke, VA to New York City.

One of the highlights for me was that on my birthday we hiked a mountain trail in Virginia. I’d never really seen mountains up-close before, let alone climbed one, and it was a pretty great way to ring in my twenty-third year of living.

While we were hiking up the mountain I was thinking about learning to focus less on small moments when we slip up and to look at things as a big picture.

I am the type of person who can get very stuck on the negative. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing most things right – if I mess up it’s all I focus on. I don’t think I’m alone in that type of thinking. But here is the thing; we don’t need to get so hung up on the small slip ups. People aren’t watching to see if you trip once or twice on you way up the mountain, they are interested if you keep going and make it to the top.

The small steps, the everyday trials and how we handle them dictate if we get to the top of the mountain. Even though the challenge and goal is the summit – our biggest stumbling block could be the first step.

Don’t let fears of not achieving enough haunt you – there isn’t anything you should be doing.

Chase the dreams you have right now, be the best and kindest person you can be right now, do the best with what you have in this moment. Our lives are big pictures, made up of these moments – so don’t live it feeling like you should be doing something or being something better.

Setting goals and making New Year’s resolutions? Love it. Do it, plan for the future. Work on your growth. But don’t let the hope you have for who you will become take away from loving the person you are right now and the small steps you’re taking today to get you where you want to be in the future.

 

 

 

 

* If you are interested in what my resolutions for 2019 are they include:

  • Not bringing my phone to bed (I’ve already slipped up on this many times, but I’m still trying)
  • Only buying one item of clothing per month (trying to simplify and pair down in general, but especially in my closet)
  • Learning to be a better ally (This is something we can all work on, and the more I learn – the more I realize how much room I have to grow)

 

 

Christmas Blog

In the last few weeks at church I’ve been listening to stories about advent. Hearing over and over that anticipation is good. That waiting is good. That patiently finding hope in what is to come is good.

And to be honest that really resonated with me in where I’ve been at in my life lately. December hasn’t just felt like advent. This whole fall has felt like advent. And the waiting game has been hard.

You know in the movie Click, where Adam Sandler skips over parts of his life? I have had many moments where I wished I could just skip to the part where I know what I’m doing. Where I’m not in the middle part of the story full of growing pains and waiting and hoping for what is to come. Where I have a plan and the goals I’m dreaming about and hoping for right now are already accomplished.

But also, I cried like a baby when I watch Click because he skips over his whole life and misses all the important moments and gets to the end wishing he had appreciated the middle bits so much more.

Even though Click is most definitely not a Christmas movie at all, it relates to how I’ve been feeling about Christmas this year. Our lives aren’t about skipping over the anticipation to get to the future. We need to take our time to enjoy the seasons of waiting.

I realized on my way home from the mall the other night that I really was missing the point of Christmas this year. Many of us know the cheesey phrase “reason for the season” but it truly hit me as I was panicking about wether or not I had good enough gifts for my family that I was realllyyy missing the point.

This season is not actually twinkle lights and watching Home Alone and baking cookies and buying the best gifts we can for the people we love. Those things are great, but it’s not the point. We give gifts at Christmas as a symbolic reminder of the best gift we’ve ever been given and could ever give.

And when you remember that, the panic induced “I wish I could afford to spend my entire paycheque on my parent’s christmas gifts because they deserve it” fades away because newsflash *no gift you give is better than Jesus being born*.

This is a season to remember what happened, and honour that and be as generous with the people we love as we can. It is not a season that should be focused on the gifts under the tree. And it is a season to be reminded that it is good to wait.

Gift giving is also difficult for me because I suck at surprises (on the giving and receiving end). I am the type of person who would love a surprise party thrown for me, but also love planning so much that I would never not plan a party. I tend to micromanage, I like to feel in control and when the holidays come I’m the queen of planning and Christmas shopping and trying to have everything purchased and ready to wrap by the end of November.

And y’all that didn’t happen this year. I didn’t wrap my gifts until Christmas Eve and I felt like a hot mess. And it felt like a very close to home metaphor for life lately. But why is that? An easy answer, control. As humans we like to be in control. We like feeling like we have knowledge and power. We like feeling like nothing can get past us. And what happens when we crave control we can’t have? Anxiety.

But maybe that’s the lesson here, we can’t always micromanage our lives. We can’t always be fully in control. We need to find joy in the waiting for what God has waiting for us. In the trusting that good things are coming. December is the season of advent, but maybe it’s not the only season of advent me or you are experiencing this year.

You might be reading this thinking … Kaitlyn… Christmas was yesterday. Why are you posting this now. Well because maybe this is a lense we can use to look at our lives. Maybe the posture of reveling in the anticipation can be something we carry into the other times when it would be easier to fast forward in our lives.

It is normal to crave control, to stress out when you don’t have it, and get restless in the stagnant seasons of waiting. But keep waiting. Stay faithful. If you’re in the same boat as me, keep trusting that good things are coming and stay present to appreciate the moments that you’re in while you wait.

Breakup Survival Guide

Okay, so here is the thing, one time I wrote a breakup survival guide because I went through a rough breakup, and subsequently about seven people I really care about also went through rough breakups. So I put all my advice together as a care package of advice to honour their grief and help them along to the other side. I never posted it because it felt too vulnerable and it was more of a “I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way let me send you the link to my google doc survival guide” that I didn’t write with the intention of posting – but people really appreciated it so here we are.

Recently I stumbled upon the guide while going through a different season of grief- and I realized the advice is still good. And maybe I just care less about being vulnerable or maybe I just see the silver lining of heart ache is that I get to empathize better with others and maybe my experience and advice can help your heart feel seen. I said to my friend the other day that I feel like maybe positive side of grief is that when you get to the other side you can turn back and help call your friends forward through their own.

So here we are; my breakup survival guide.

I think often times when we are going through breakups or heartache it can be exhausting to be around people. We’re using so much energy to wake up and get our butt’s out of bed and through the day that sometimes we don’t want to be around people. Isolating yourself isn’t good, but forcing yourself to be with people when you don’t have the energy to be social isn’t either. So you have to find that balance. But the great thing about books is that they can be a voice of encouragement and hope to you and you can read them from the comfort of your bed in your sweatpants and a cup of tea.

Some books that have helped me through heartache, that I’ve shared with my friends are:

  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • If You Feel Too Much by Jamie Tworkowski
  • Love Does by Bob Goff
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott
  • Scary Close by Donald Miller
  • Rising Strong by Brené Brown

My breakup advice doesn’t stop at a book list. There are a lot of ways you can help yourself mend a broken heart. Like I said, isolating yourself isn’t good and I believe spending time with people who love you and make you feel good. I love the expression “people who feel like sunshine”, and I truly do have those friends who after I spend time with them I feel like I have a glow. Reach out to those people and let them love you.

Along with spending time with friends is having fun with friends. You might think, but Kaitlyn, isn’t that the same thing? No, not always, especially not if you’re going through a rough time. So once the sadness starts to pass, have so many fun nights with your friends. Go to your best friend’s house and lay on their floor while they make you brownies. Eat more ice cream than your lactose intolerant stomach can handle. Drink rosé on the beach and laugh too loud and remember all the wonderful surprises life has in store for you.

Journal, make art, find ways to express your thoughts and feelings so you can process them and then let them go. Buy yourself a plant, love it, tend to it, watch it grow, and remember that progress, growth and healing is a slow process. You won’t notice things change day by day, but month by month you’ll notice little changes and developments. Grow with the plant.

The most comforting thing I was told by my friends was that there is no rush to feel better. Which is pretty fucking liberating to be honest. You get to be sad for however long you need to, and you get to process for as long as you need to, and there is no deadline to feel ‘better’ (also can someone explain to me what ‘better’ is?). If you only need to be sad for a week that’s awesome but you can also still be figuring out where you are at months and months later. The top of your Breakup Survival To Do List should be to feel everything you need to feel.

Along with some book recommendations, I have some song recommendations for you too. Because a breakup isn’t a good breakup without a playlist to go along with it – right? Here are some of the tunes that got me through one of mine:

  • Literally every John Mayer song ever written, especially the album The Search For Everything ALSO the album Battle Studies (specifically The Edge Of Desire)
  • You’re Such A by Hailee Steinfeld
  • 11 Blocks by Warbel
  • Saved by Khalid
  • Once by Maren Morris
  • Gonna Get Over You by Sara Bareilles
  • Tired of Talking by LEON
  • You & Me by G-Eazy
  • Think About You by LEON
  • Latch by Sam Smith
  • Over You by Zak Waters
  • What’s Love Got To Do With It by Rose Cousins
  • Let You Get Away by Shaun Frank
  • Drunk Girls Don’t Cry by Maren Morris
  • Best Thing I Never Had by Beyonce
  • Too Good by Drake
  • Yesterday by The Beatles
  • If You Ever Want to be In Love by James Bay
  • Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself by Jess Glynne
  • Let It Matter by Johnnyswim
  • I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me) by Whitney Houston (this will inspire you for the love to come)

If you want more tunes you can just listen to my hysterically mellow-dramatically sad breakup playlist on spotify, because why not.

The two themes to get out of this post are that it’s okay if you feel crappy, there is no need to pretend like you don’t when you get your heart broken. But it will get better and one day you might even be able to see silver linings to having gone through this. And secondly, don’t be afraid to lean on people. Let your friends be there for you in the sadness of the day and in the happiness that is waiting for you tomorrow.

I was given a lot of advice and encouragement from people in my life and I want to close by sharing some of those words with you;

“Don’t lose confidence in yourself, what you can do, who you are, and the reasons why so many people love you. Hold on to those things and the joy that makes you, you” – S.M.

“All I can tell you right now is that eventually, things will get better. Just take your time to get back to what you feel is normal. Be sad for as long as you need to be, take your time to heal and grow. Surround yourself with family, friends and things that make you happy. If it feels like nothing is helping, pray. Talking to God always helps when nothing else does.” – D.M.

“You need time. And to take that time and live through it. This time doesn’t have to be bad. This is life. And life is beautiful even in sadness.” – C.G

“Resist the feeling of wanting to fast forward through your life. You are capable of finding happiness every single day. You are the sun.” – C.G.

Posting this is kinda one of those “oh my gosh this is uncomfortably vulnerable” moments, because talking about heartbreak and admitting what cheesy sad songs I listened to means sharing a bit more of myself. It reminds me of the puffy-eyed, stoic girl I was for a few weeks of 2017. But I’ve been told by friends that this advice helped them. And maybe you are going through a hard time, or maybe your best friend just got blindsided by a breakup and you have no idea what to say. So this is for you, this is for anyone who’s ever had their heart broken. This is me, sanding on the other side of grief telling you that it’s going to be okay.

Falling Apart Together

I was riding in the car with my family last weekend and my brother and I were playing around with the idea that commiserating with people is a bit like being “co-miserable”. The act of commiserating with friends when life feels like it is unravelling is a sure way to bond with people.

The stressful moments of dress rehearsals when things are going wrong before opening night.

Seventeen and eighteen year olds who have no idea how to survive their first round of midterms – but get through the allnighters together.

Friends who, due to serendipity or dumb luck, simultaneously go through seasons of grief or heartache and play the role of shoulder to cry on together.

These aren’t particularly easy things to go through, but when we survive them with the support and love of friends we are able to manage better. And sometimes even look on them as happier memories because we shared them with others.

There are some memories that I remember so fondly even though living through them was difficult. There was a day when I was living in Florida when all of the women I was living with were having a bad day. Homesickness, trouble with boys, school stress, the general grind of life; we were all going through our own issues, but we shared the feeling.

We gathered in the kitchen, it started with just a few of us talking while making dinner, but eventually all our roommates joined in. The six of us sat around the kitchen island on bar stools and chairs from the dining room table. We shared mac n cheese, cheesy mashed potatoes and our stories.

These were women who went from perfect strangers to close friends in a matter of months – but a lot of that bonding came from honesty and vulnerability with each other. It came from walking through life together and being able to say when we weren’t having a great day. It doesn’t need to be earth-shattering, but knowing you have permission to say “Can we go get Del’s and drive around listening to Sam Smith in your car?”

We often won’t have the power to fix the problems of the people we love – but we have the ability to show up and create space where it’s okay to not be okay. Where we can admit that life can be heavy sometimes. A place where we can fall apart together – and build each other back up. If that’s not community, I don’t know what is.

The courage to be vulnerable isn’t easy to summon, sometimes it’s 72 hours of a roommate-ship before you’re spilling your biggest secrets and sometimes it’s months of consistent Tuesday night bible studies before we share when we’re having a really bad day.

We build relationships differently with each person we meet, and whenever it feels like you’ve built that appropriate trust, having the courage to be honestly and authentically you is so invaluable.

Since that car ride with my brother I got coffee with a friend and we talked for nearly four hours. It was a beautiful and refreshing feeling to sit with someone and genuinely just share our struggles and triumphs of the recent months. Socially it’s maybe not that common to get so vulnerable with feelings in a coffee shop – but to me that is the heart of friendship; knowing there is space to be honest. Having people in your life who allow you to feel comfortable and supported enough to share the parts of you not everyone gets to see.

There are going to be times in life that things fall apart a bit and life feels like it is unravelling – things just happen and we don’t always have control. But having community makes those times easier.

Maybe it looks like getting Taco Bell in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep, maybe it’s honest phone calls, maybe it’s having the worst day ever and wandering around Target with smoothies, maybe it’s friend’s who come to your rescue as soon as they hear your terrible news, maybe it’s driving around listening to Sam Smith and venting about your feelings, maybe it’s tearing up over London Fogs after you admit to someone who cares that you’ve been having a hard few months – however you cope with the unravelling of life I hope you do it with friends, you can be co-miserable and look back on it later as something that wasn’t so bad.

To Remember Is To Work For Peace

I promised myself I would get to church early this morning, because the last two weeks I showed up noticeably late and had to sneak in the back. But on my way through Uptown I got stopped at a light where there was a police car parked. This happened to me a few weeks ago when a race was holding up traffic. I got a little frustrated and looked around, trying to assess how long I would be held up.

And then I remembered – it’s Remembrance Day. The police car was keeping the intersection clear so that, for a few moments, a procession of veterans could march down the street.

Funny enough, I was actually held up by a second, completely separate, Remembrance Day procession and was late to church again. But I’ve never been so grateful for being held up in traffic. It gave me some additional moments to think about what Remembrance Day represents and how thankful I am for the men and women who have made huge sacrifices.

I’ve been thinking about the price that was paid to strive for peace and freedom today. Remembrance Day is about more than pausing at 11 am for a moment of silence and going about our day. Mennonite Central Committee Ontario has coined the term “to remember is to work for peace” around this day – and I like the idea that we are not only remembering the past, but we are working towards building peace in the future.

It’s easy to want to rush through the solemn moments of silence on Remembrance Day straight to Christmas cheer or American Thanksgiving – but I want to take more than a moment to pause and remember. We cannot forget what happened in the past and let it become the future.

As a child I didn’t understand the impact of the world wars or the magnitude of loss that was felt during them. The cost of lives lost in WWI and WWII was over 100 million combined. Obviously I wasn’t there, but I have a history minor, so you can trust me.

I don’t often get too political on here, but if you don’t know I’m a Jesus loving feminist who dreams of equality for all no matter one’s race, sexual orientation or socioeconomic class – I’m probably not doing a good enough job as an ally.

We need to keep pushing forward and working to build and preserve peace. To honour the sacrifice of soldiers who died in hope that war would never be necessary to solve the worlds problems again.

Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed when a car drove into a crowd during a protest against white-supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia last year, had a Lisa Borden quote as her final post on Facebook before the protest. The quote was;

If you aren’t outraged, then you just aren’t paying attention”.

Working for peace is so much more than acknowledging and respecting sacrifices made once a year and then going about business as usual. It also means thinking about what is currently happening in our world and identifying what inequalities exist that need to be made better. In her book, Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown wrote:

“Anger is a catalyst. Holding on to it will make us exhausted and sick. Internalizing anger will take away our joy and spirit; externalizing anger will make us less effective in our attempts to create change and forge connection. It’s an emotion that we need to transform into something life-giving; courage, love, change, compassion, justice. Or sometimes anger can mask a far more difficult emotion like grief, regret, or shame, and we need to use it to dig into what we are really feeling. Either way, anger is a powerful catalyst but a life-sucking companion.”

Striving for non-violence, social justice and social equality is something we probably won’t stop striving for anytime soon. My question is this, what do you get upset about? What social inequalities are on your heart? How can you take this day and let it inspire you to take action on the next 364?

We can be tempted to believe we can’t make a difference – but this is simply not true. We must continue pursuing rights, inclusion, safety and validation of all our fellow humans.

The magnitude of loss and sacrifice being remembered today is nearly impossible to imagine, especially if you’ve also been lucky enough to only ever live in a peaceful country. Remember that much of our world and people living in it have not had that luxury and continue to experience violence and upheaval today.

As excited as I am to jump into celebrating holiday joy, join me in taking time to be thoughtful of how to continue striving for peace everyday in our communities and around the world.

What can you do to work for peace to honour the memory of sacrifice? How can you be an ally? How will you vote when elections come to positively shape our communities and countries? Please wrestle with these questions today, and think about how you will use your actions today and tomorrow to honour the lives lost.

It’s A Choice We Make

I think the two reasons relationships fall apart or ‘fizzle out’ is that we can be too proud or too busy to make them work. I’m not just talking romantic relationships here, I mean all kinds of friendships too. When our feelings get hurt or we experience conflict, sometimes our egos and pride get in the way of making choices from a place of love or kindness. We prefer to be right rather than to let people off the hook, and when we get busy we let ourselves off the hook instead of showing up for people when they need us.

The “I’ve been so busy lately” line works, and most of the time it’s very sincere, but I think it’s also a symptom of not prioritizing things. Being too busy or too proud is often not intentional – we don’t mean to stop investing in people – which is why it’s important to be thoughtful about how we engage with our friends, family and significant others. If you stop showing up for people they will stop expecting you too, and that is where breakdown occurs.

Pride

We can’t let the feeling of “they should be texting me first or reaching out or pursing this friendship” get in the way of the fact that we have an equal responsibility to show up for our friends, family and significant others.

I had an experience a few months ago that I felt God was using to teach me about loving people. A dear friend of mine and I got into a fight. It was a dumb fight, fuelled by a lot of emotions on both sides. It was a difficult situation because it was someone who I love quite a lot and we ended up not talking for a few weeks.

She asked for space and I was playing the waiting game.

After a few weeks I heard a sermon at church (Nexus in Down Town Kitchener, if you’re wondering) about reconciliation and fixing broken relationships. It emphasized a point that resonated with me deeply, we aren’t meant to walk away from relationships. I believe that we should stay in worthwhile relationships and keep building them and loving people when it’s not ‘easy’. [This isn’t a generalization including unhealthy or dangerous situations, in which case I defer to people making choices about what healthy boundaries they need in their lives].

Sometimes when we meet new people or make new friend’s it’s easy to feel like “wow I never fight with this person” or “this person has never let me down” – but honestly if you feel that way about someone y’all probably aren’t that close or haven’t known each other that long. All long term relationships have rocky patches and that’s okay, what matters is working through them rather than walking away.

“I don’t feel like calling them.”

“I don’t feel like putting in the effort.”

“I am just giving them space.”

These words are all excuses I have made to ignore conflicts or put off reconciling with people who have hurt me at some point. What I have been learning lately is that it’s a lot better to drop the excuses than drop the relationships.

There will be times in your life when you get hurt and times when you’re the one who messed up. I know that when you’re in the position of being at fault, you kind of just wander around with your fingers crossed hoping that things will be okay, but if you have the opportunity to be handing out forgiveness – give out as much as you can.

Before things with my friend got sorted out, I confided in someone that I was pretty torn about the situation and didn’t know what to do. Do I call? Do I give her space forever? I just didn’t know. But the advice I got was this: no matter what you do, make sure you’ve completely forgiven her before you see her. Don’t let any of those hurt feelings linger, and don’t make her jump through hoops. Forgiveness sometimes comes when people apologize, but I think it is also important to come without the apology.

A lot of conflict comes from honest mistakes, miscommunications, and hurt feelings. Don’t let honest mistakes end meaningful relationships.

Busy

Loving people and making an effort in our relationships is a choice that we must keep actively making – so why don’t we always choose that? Because it takes effort to check in, to invest in people, to be supportive during their challenging seasons. It’s way easier to say we just naturally drifted or other things came up. And sure, sometimes things do fizzle out naturally, but I think a lot of the time it happens because we don’t feel like investing.

Nothing makes me feel worse than trying to make plans with someone and saying I’m totally booked – the extrovert in me tries to double book my evenings after work and triple book my weekends to see people (yeah, that doesn’t leave time to rest or grocery shop or shower or sleep – that’s a different blog post). But I love having time – time to make plans, time to invest in people, time to be available. Busyness masquerades as a chic thing that makes us fancy and unattainable. I don’t want that. I want to be free for Saturday morning coffee and to be able to answer the phone when someone is having a bad day.

Busyness is the worst excuse, but one that we all make. Yes, life is busy, and yes if you’re juggling a lot of responsibilities it can be hard to connect with people. We all have different things going on that make our lives busy. But the bottom line is that we find time for the things that matter to us.

I heard another sermon more recently at that same Downtown Kitchener Church, and the pastor said we all know community has positive long term benefits but it takes hard work and, since human nature leans towards immediate gratification, we often don’t want to invest or build those relationships. I think the same can be said for why so many of us shy away from conflict. Those painfully awkward conversations about how someone hurt our feelings, or the vulnerability of admitting we were wrong are just as hard as those first interactions of trying to make new first in community.

Our lives reflect our choices – and we have the power to choose to be too busy to be vulnerable.

Making That Choice

Life is messy, relationships are messy, people are complicated and emotional, and sometimes it takes work and awkward conversations to get along with the people we love. But I wholeheartedly believe every bit of that hard work is worth it.

Investing in others takes budgeting that time to be available and intentional and it’s not always easy – but showing up matters. So – what if you don’t feel like showing up? Show up anyway. Be kind anyway. Know that loving people is hard, but do it anyway because the people who love you are also showing up when it’s not easy. And that is what makes it love.

There is this lyric I love in the song Javert by Penny & Sparrow that goes:

“WELL FUCK HOW I FEEL

IT’S A BAD GAUGE OF REALNESS

AND I WOULD LIKE LOVE WHERE

FACTS ARE IN PLACE”

I love this line because I am a very feelings based person. I’m a two on the enneagram and my Myers Briggs has me at eighty-six percent feeling. So yeah, feelings are a big part of my life. But more important than momentary hurt feelings are valued relationships.

Its not always easy to show up or repair damage. I get it, I’ve been on both sides of the conversations; getting over my own pride to be forgiving, or realizing I might need to reach out to someone rather than waiting on them to come to me, I have been both the friend saying I wish we spent more time together and the person hearing that I’m hard to make plans with because I’m so busy.

The truth is, in long term relationships with friends, family and significant others we will go through challenging seasons with people we love. But if we think of those hard seasons as merely a chapter in the stories of our relationships rather than the ending, then I hope you’ll be able to look back and reminisce with many old friends about the good times you’ve shared throughout your lives.

In the last year I’ve been reminded over and over again that working through miscommunication, conflict, and hurt feelings is worth it to continue building sturdy relationships. Pride can get in the way of reaching out but also in the way of reconciliation – and that is just silly. Sometimes, we need to over look our feelings, or let go of grudges, to forgive others so that we can love them. The facts are that nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, we all hurt and get hurt – often unintentionally, but loving people can always be a choice that we make.