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Five Things I Learned This Summer

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

1. Making new friends isn't as scary as I thought.

I moved to New Orleans about 12 years ago. I was fresh out of college, about to start graduate school, and had so many feelings. I mean, I always have a lot of feelings. I'm an Enneagram 4, so don't hold it against me. I had made great friends in college, and moving to a new place was not appealing to me. I wasn't feeling it, and I didn't want to try to start over making new friends. And because of that, I unintentionally became more isolated, more difficult for people to get to know, and honestly, super lonely.

Making new friends as an actual adult looks so different than what it looked like as a young, fresh adult. I've quite frankly been scared of it for years, and I finally started allowing some people in the longer I lived here. And then God called us to change churches. Ten years of being a part of a church family, and God changes our direction. I had to start over, again. And I was scared. I was scared these people at our new church wouldn't like me, wouldn't want me to be a part. Isn't it weird how we still fear what we feared in middle school? It all comes back around, I guess. I was scared of not fitting in this new space, of people not wanting to know me. The real me. And we all want to be known if we're honest.

But something I've learned this summer? Making new friends isn't as scary as I thought. It's about showing up. Physically and authentically. It's showing up to some events, meeting people, making space for small talk (I know, gag), and being my genuine self (even if that's a bit more surface-level than my best friends see). It's allowing people to know how much I read fantasy novels (A LOT). It's laughing with my loud laugh and not holding back. It's asking questions and being interested in others' lives. And guess what? Showing up like that, one moment at a time, connects people to us.

2. Not all church leaders are bad.

Okay, I'm not spending too much time here, but for a while I've lad a bit of a chip on my shoulder regarding leaders in the church with all the articles that have come out in recent months (and the last couple of years) about men getting caught hiding, covering up, or doing inappropriate sexual things. And gosh, that's enough to make a a woman in the church want to take a hard left to the exit. Because the last thing we need is more objectification of our bodies and more situations in which we feel unsafe.

And I've also read a lot (also listened to stories) about narcissism with leaders, and that's another sure way to get a girl to peace out-- a bunch a narcissistic men. But you know what I'm seeing instead? Humble men willing to be honest and not hide, willing to let women lead alongside them, willing to even learn from women leading them. And I'm feeling hopeful. Hopeful that the church can be a safe place for women, too. That not all male leaders are narcissistic, sex-obsessed humans. Many of them are genuine and kind, and I'm thankful for that. More than I can say.

3. My dreams are changing.

This has been the spring and summer of grieving dreams that have died, or dreams that feel like they're dying. Many of that is too personal, too close to share with you, but what I can say is that as I watch dreams die and learn what it looks like to grieve that stuff, I'm allowing room for those dreams to change, too. And I think that's okay. Maybe it doesn't have to look like I thought, like I hoped. I can learn to accept that. And sometimes, I can completely say goodbye to a dream that's died. And learn to accept that, too.

4. All bodies are good.

Yep, even mine. It's crazy how many conversations I've had about body shame with clients and friends in the past few months. Body shame is one of the most common things people (not just women) struggle with, and it kind of breaks my heart. One of the first lies Adam and Eve believed was that their bodies were something to be ashamed of, and that lie never went away. We struggle with comparing- my body doesn't look like that body, so something must be wrong with it because the world says that body is good. Not bodies that look like mine. Our body shame comes from much of our own trauma and things we were told- told to cover it up, never show it. Told to change it, make it better.

And you know, what I'm seeing and learning is that all bodies are good. Not because of what they look like or how they function or how we take care of them. How they function has definitely been affected by the Fall. But no, it's not any of those things. Our bodies are good because they were made by the Creator of the universe, who said we were "very good" when he made us. So let's begin practicing telling ourselves that our bodies are good. We can take care of them and steward them well, but we can fight body shame by believing they truly are good.

5. Discipleship isn't what I thought it was.

This was inspired by a work lunch conversation, which are quickly becoming my favorite conversations during my weeks. I work with some incredible counselors and humans, but my friend Christi talked with her Instagram friends about discipleship, with a specific focus on males and females in the conversation, and it led to a great work conversation. It's honestly so interesting, but I think (like most of us), my idea of discipleship has been limited. I think about meeting regularly with a person of the same sex who is a few steps ahead of me spiritually. More mature, maybe older, wiser. Someone who can help push me in my faith, help me grow, help me mature.

But maybe discipleship doesn't have to be boxed so neatly. Maybe it can look like learning from a great author, listening to a challenging podcast, or sitting under people who are in all walks of life and at different stages in their faith journeys, and maybe even people of the opposite sex :). Maybe it doesn't always mean one-on-one meetings. Maybe it looks different than I thought. And I'm putting it in my list because I think it's important to allow ourselves to stretch our minds past our own experiences. I think we need to be willing to see things in new ways, ways we've never seen them before.

And I think that's honestly what every one of these is about for me. It's about seeing things from different perspectives, seeing things more completely, more fully. Stretching myself and looking for the gray when it always has looked black and white. It's challenging myself to think in new ways, and isn't that what learning is all about?

So here's to a Fall of learning. Of seeing. Of humbling and growing. Of being teachable and empathetic and understanding. Of asking curious questions and making space for answers that surprise us, that challenge us. That change us. Here's to showing up, being brave, being authentic, practicing the art of acceptance, and committing to change.

May it be so.

Where else to hang with me this Fall:

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Love you, great read!

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