Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

When You’re Feeling Left Out, Unloved, and Lacking

Jul
30

photo: Tobi Dami

The faces in the photo were overcome with joy, smiling big. Four girls leaning on each other, one in a wedding dress. A ton of Instagram hearts below solidified its status as a joyful memory and a lovely photo. But looking at it made me want to cry.

A little over a year ago, I traveled to Uganda with a group of total strangers. Though none of us knew each other before the trip, and we had nothing in common beyond saying “yes” to flying across the world to serve together, we all quickly bonded over our shared experiences in this new place and became fast friends. We worshipped together, cleaned up a library together, planted fields of grass together, ate together, and danced with girls rescued from trafficking together. We were a team, leaning on and learning from each other, and I flew home to Missouri with a deep hope that, though we were all from different states and places, we would somehow stay connected as friends.

I later learned that several of them had the same idea. A handful of times over the past year since we returned, I have seen photos pop up on social media of several folks from our trip getting together at conferences, events, or just because. It hurts to admit this, but I have never been invited to any of these get-togethers. The first few times, I tried to brush it off as coincidence and not take it personally. Later, I tried to reach out in a positive (not a whiny) way and say things like, “So fun that y’all were able to get together! Let me know for next time – I’d love to see you again!” Once, one of the other girls and I actually did make a plan to get together in her hometown, but she later cancelled on me. No big deal…things happen. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.

I blinked down at this new photo that had just popped up on social media. It was a handful of the girls from the trip celebrating at one’s wedding. It appeared that they all took part in the wedding as her bridesmaids, while I wasn’t even invited at all. To be fair, I fully support her right to have whomever she wants at her wedding. I just didn’t understand why they were all included, and I was left out…again. I thought we were friends, too.

I wish I could say the biggest emotion I felt upon seeing this photo was pure happiness for my friend getting to marry her sweetheart. Instead, tears filled my eyes and my heart cracked open, prayers spilling over. It wasn’t the wedding, it was all of it. All the times I’d been left out by these girls over the past year bubbled up all at once, and all I could do was cry. Lord, I sobbed, I believe you have to be a friend to have a friend. I have prayed over these girls, texted with them in the middle of the night, encouraged them, tried my best. So it really stinking hurts to realize that I have been left out and left hanging these past several months. The only common denominator here seems to be…me. Did I do something wrong? Were we not as close as I thought? Have I not been a good friend to them? Did they just forget about me?  (more…)

When Father’s Day is Hard

Jun
11

photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán

My first father was Danny Tanner. Kind but firm, wise, and good at cleaning up messes both physical and emotional, he was who I sometimes pictured as a kid when I thought about what fathers were like. In case you didn’t grow up in the 90s watching basic cable after school, I’m talking about DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle’s dad on the TV show Full House. He always had the answers when his girls got into trouble, and even when they really screwed up, he always let them know he loved them and would always be there for them. This was a far cry from my own father experience. Maybe I gravitated toward Mr. Tanner because my own concept of what a father was was blurry and ungraspable, sort of like trying to remember what someone looked like in a dream. I had a vague outline, but the details never came together. Mr. Tanner was a concrete figure, an example that made sense. (As a little girl, I thought he was a real person, a real dad, so you can imagine my shock later in life when I watched Bob Saget do some standup and my beloved TV dad evaporated into thin air.)

I’ve never met my biological dad. I think the first time I remember realizing this loss was in kindergarten, when the time came to make Father’s Day cards and crafts. Everyone around me had a dad to make something for but me. I don’t say this to get you to feel sorry for me, but to get you to understand that this is when it hit me that I was different from the other kids in this way. I knew what a dad was, I guess, but I had never really thought about where mine was until that point. I went home and asked my mom, and after a long pause, she told me he “ran away.” I’m sure she was just trying to find simple words to explain a complicated thing to a little kid, but I remember thinking, from what? I began to internalize the idea that I was something to run from, or at the very least, not worth sticking around for. (more…)

Our Home // Unstuck

Apr
09

photo: Matthew Henry

Like many women who live a life on planet earth, I have questions. Why do people want to eat every day? Like, I just made dinner last night, and now you’re telling me you’re hungry again today? Calm down. Also, why does my apartment hate me and refuse to stay clean? I JUST mopped the floor like three months ago. CAN I LIVE? The worst part is the shame. Social media, I’m looking at you. It can be really easy to feel like my life is a pile of garbage when I have my eyes on a constant feed of lovely homes that look like Joanna Gaines comes over every day to tidy up and put muffins in the oven. I have spent so many days looking around at my space thinking about what a failure I am at this whole cooking/cleaning/home/life thing. I know I’m not alone in this, either, because I’ve heard the exact same thing from so many women. But – just guessing here – I’m reasonably sure a spirit of defeat and failure is not what God wants for us.

The secret truth is that just about everyone struggles with keeping their home to some degree, even if it doesn’t look like it on Instagram. Lack of time, lack of motivation, the presence of other people who share our space and mess it up again once it’s clean (we love them, though, just keep repeating to ourselves that we LOVE THEM)…all of these can easily derail us and make us feel like we’ll never have a nice home or have our ish together. (more…)

Day 30: Together // 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness

Oct
30

photo: Miguel Constantin Montes

Hi there! This is day 30 of a series I’m writing this October called 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness. You can find the entire series here: 31 Days of Hope in Brokenness.

It’s 4:00 AM and I should be asleep, but instead I’m cleaning the toilet. Fix it, Jesus. Why would I trade precious sleep for the dirtiest job in the house? Let me regale you.

It’s been stressful around here lately and it seems like wherever stress goes, mess is its BFF. The livability of my apartment is directly correlated to how much energy I have and how I’m feeling. On a scale of Netflix to exercise, I’d say cleaning is about an 8. I don’t completely despise it, but if there’s anything more fun I can be doing instead, I’ll probably pick that and put off the cleaning for another day. The problem comes when another day doesn’t come for a while. I feel like people don’t talk about this much, but I’m just gonna say it: how dare things get dirty so quickly after I JUST cleaned them three months ago! THE NERVE. You’re telling me there are some people who wash, dry, fold, and iron their clothes all in one day? Don’t even get me started on more-frequent-than-biannual mopping. The real question: It’s the year of our Lord 2017. Why hasn’t someone invented the smart house from that Disney Channel Original movie yet, that magically vacuums everything up INTO THE WALLS when you press a button? This is the only technological advance I care about. Get on this, science. I just want a house that will clean itself, for the love. (more…)