blank slates (not an ode to Taylor)

What a day to be alive, guys.

We made it to Tuesday again, and having only cried once since I last wrote (because of a movie about love and death and Jim Sturgess wearing suspenders in 80’s London), I am none the worse for the wear.

Truthfully, I had half of a blog post already written, but with all the self-awareness of a seventeen year old on instagram, I clicked out of my tab on WordPress, reminding myself of why I normally compose my blogs in a Word document first.

My unparalleled struggle right now.

At any rate, I was going on about how I felt very “me-ish” this morning. I’ve been playing the game so well at work lately that I have to consciously pull myself back to my roots the few hours a week I’m not present at the salon. Today, it was effortless; leggings and a plaid shirt, messy hair, minimal makeup and, praise the Lord our God, my moccasins.

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After an impulsive expenditure of $35 at 7:45 am at some gas station outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico en route to LA back in 2012, it’s a safe assertion that these little babies have become a part of who I am. I love how I feel like I’m walking on clouds when I have them on. I love that they don’t have any grip on the bottom so I can actually feel the ground beneath me in an intimate way when I walk on any surface. I love that I’d never seen anyone else wearing this exact pair and I love the beading on the front of them. I’d had moccasins before, but never ones like these.

When I look at my feet now, I see myself on walking up the hill and through isolated clumps of retiring snow just to catch a glimpse of the Grand Canyon with my best friend from college. I see myself running during the one rainstorm we had in LA, holding my dear little babies under my shirt, splashing barefoot down Wilshire trying to make it to class on time. I see that final bonfire on the beach where I put on the performance of a lifetime: acting like my heart wasn’t torn in two by another relationship I tried to force and disguise and justify. I see my first few months at home, disillusioned at being a graduate living at home and the late nights and emotions and drives to Walmart. I see them neatly wrapped in a plastic bag in my suitcase in Tanzania—who knew that they’d only be practical a few times a year during the dry season?

They’re just shoes.

And yet, look at all the memories that have attached themselves to these Minnetokan treasures.

Then there are those things I don’t quite remember having purchased.

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That pink scarf with the flowers I wore constantly back in 2009, or those coral chandelier earrings from God knows where that I though matched with everything or even my gauchos, which were glorious and awful and ever present during senior year, which may or may not speak volumes about my dating life during that time.

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“Are those shorts or a skirt?”                            
“They´re gaucho pants. I got them on sale.”

We amass things all the time without realizing it, and before you know it, you’re adorning yourself with things whose origin you can’t quite identify. Those things become staples of our daily life just as much as our intentional, calculated investments.

Our mindsets and attitudes are basically the same way.
See what I did there?

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There are countless examples in my own life that I could use, but let’s get personal and talk romance for a minute.

Used to be I had this unwavering belief that if anyone got to know me, the “real” me (whatever in the world I meant by that), that no guy would be interested in dating me. This was seasoned that with ideas that I was meant to be alone, and that people liked the idea of me, but not me myself. I looked fun and exciting, but I was actually an emotional mess that “no one would want to deal with”. I apologized for the space I took up by hiding behind clothes and deflecting any kind encouragements that my friends made with humorous retorts that only barely masked my rampant self-depreciation complex. Relationships, in turn, failed because of my melodramatic self-fulfilled prophecies and the circle turned ever on.

We rarely stop to ask ourselves where we got these things, we just kind of cling to them as realities that dictate our lives. How often do we take time to evaluate our patterns of thinking after collecting them haphazardly from experiences we have and things that we see?

Why do I think this about myself?
Why do I react this way in uncomfortable situations?
Why do I react this way in when it comes to romance?
Why do I believe this?

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Imagine my surprise when I realized that I’d become every girl I’d ever idolized so much in all the quirky and offbeat indie films that colored my teenage years. I believe they’re called Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and I won’t talk much about that, just throw out the question of which came first: the MPDG or the indie film? (Technically Clementine & Summer reject the whole troupe, but for the sake of all my gifs, let’s continue).

So we have ideas of things.

And then we experience life through the lens of these ideas.

When you’re primed to respond with the “I always hurt people”, when the conservative guy you’ve been crushing on for two years asks you to change your shorts to “stop distracting him”, it’s just reinforcement that your naïve heart doesn’t need. I corrupt good guys. I need to stay away. Then suddenly there’s a guy who doesn’t have to divert his eyes from your face when he looks at you, and he’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to you. He isn’t afraid of me, so he must be good for me. It doesn’t work, mostly because you know the Jesus stuff is the right answer and he doesn’t and there’s not much depth past that, but you still solider through that choice. Now you’ve compromised your standards and are damaged goods (thanks again, Josh Harris and every Silver Ring thing conference I’ve been to).

You’re at a new college and a big deal for five minutes because no one has seen you before. It’s not you, it’s new meat. You’re not that special. You have new guys friends who are great and some even are interested and you must like them because you’re friendly (and probably too much so) and then you find out that it’s difficult to be friends when they want different things than you. Better shut people out before I’m shut out.

I could go on, because there’s more, but all that is really enough to examine the attitudes I’d collected and carried with me forever. My tumblr a few years ago can attest to my insipid spurts of consciousness:

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Unfounded or not (and it’s my case it’s really probably not), there it is, in all it’s obnoxious glory.

We all have stuff.

We always had to hold it together and be strong for our families so we can’t show weakness now. Our parents divorced and now we don’t believe in marriage. We tried something out of our comfort zone and we failed and now we don’t ever try new things. We already have made mistakes, so let’s keep making them because that’s what everyone expects of us. We stood up for someone and got mocked, so we don’t say that anymore. We were part of a nasty church split and now we don’t believe in the institution of the Church anymore or even Jesus because people were sucky to us. Marriage is going to complete us, like all the other shiny couples on instagram. Our lives only matters if we sacrifice in a big way, so we feel bad in our day to day lives because it’s not “radical” enough.

We all have our stuff.

I guess that’s what all that “taking every thought captive” thing is about. I guess I’ve never really done it until recently.

I don’t have to accept every thought that tumbles into my head as gospel truth. I don’t even have to accept things I’ve experienced in the past or accept things my friends have experienced and let that dictate my attitudes towards things. I have an out because I know who I really am, and a God who loves me enough to clean up my past and present me with a blank slate (not a T. Sweezy reference) of a future where I get to try again. I’ve heard this for years and years and years from everyone good in my life and their moms as well. My Baker St girls will remember out little sticky note coined by our baby Birdy: “Change your tape!” that adorned our dorm wall our whole semester together.

But it takes Jesus making it a reality in your life, making it an experiential reality that you don’t really have to have whatever you’re currently stuck on be your “thing”. It doesn’t have to be your identity. There’s a lot of monotony and references to Joyce Meyer and intentionally fighting old mindsets and it takes a lot of time.

But then one day you realize you don’t have to fight for the idea that you’re worth it and you’re valuable, because just like Jesus himself believes, you really believe it to be true.

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I imagine I’ll always be learning this in a fuller and newer way, but thank the Lord for the birth of this understanding back in May last year and for the miracle that he’s worked in me since then by deepening the awareness of His mercies. I love that. I really do. So I celebrate that today, this Tuesday in November 2014 with one of my favorite, happy photos:

tumblr_mxmhypAvQF1sgi9njo1_500Hallelujah.

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