But you already knew that…

And our stories often intertwine to create relationships some deep and others superficial, but you probably already knew that too…

But I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately…

How everyone has a story…

And it caused me to reflect on the first seven months of this year — the first 7 months of my story called 2017—and if my 2017 story had a title, it’d probably be called Relationships. With a subtitle about being better in them or something like that. Because it seems like I’ve been constantly challenged to extend love when I don’t want to, or to be considerate when I wish a little more consideration was extended to me or to just simply forgive…

And oftentimes when I’m tempted to judge someone else’s story by the way that theirs impacted mine, I have to remind myself that simply isn’t fair!

Because if I was being completely honest, their impact on my story is just a small part of their story.

And their story isn’t finished being told.

And I don’t always have the privilege of having read the previous chapters of their story- of having seen how others impacted it.

And who am I to judge anyway!?

Because if not today, then possibly tomorrow, I may negatively impact someone else’s story with an unkind word or short response or inconsiderate action… And if I don’t want to be defined by my less than perfect moments, then I probably shouldn’t define others by theirs…

So these first 7 months of 2017 have taught me this simple lesson:

It’s unfair to define someone else’s story simply by the way theirs impacted yours…because if we were being completely honest, there’s more to their story…

…and I do so hope that the rest of their story turns out to be AMAZING!”

How’s your heart?

The question innocently asked by one of my dearest friends, that forever changed the way I lived life and understood my heart.  In that moment, I don’t think either of us understood the gravity of the question asked or the journey that I’d eventually embark on to try to answer it.

And now a couple of years removed from that moment, I look quickly backward and optimistically forward because that little question shapes my life EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

So how’s your heart? Yep, yours! How are you at the deepest part of you? The part that whispers the dreams and hopes you’d be embarrassed to say out loud. The part that knows all too well that sometimes you don’t feel qualified or prepared or simply enough… How are you there?

And what is your heart doing? Is it pushing you forward towards your dreams? Encouraging you to try harder? Or is it whispering words of doubt and discouragement? Telling you to just give up?

I’m convinced that our hearts help shape our destinies.  The condition of your heart will eventually reveal itself to everyone…they’ll have to look no further than your life.

So we want our hearts to be in good condition then, right?

I know I do!

But when I was trying to discover what a heart in good condition looked like, I got stuck at the idea of a guarded heart. Because for me it was almost impossible to reconcile a guarded heart with a heart that loves freely. We all have to reconcile for ourselves the dichotomy that exists between a guarded heart and a loving heart. Because our hearts should be both. Not just for our own sake, but for the sake of our relationships.

I believe real meaningful relationship happens when your heart is seen and understood by someone else. But allowing someone access to one of the deepest parts of who you are is as beautiful as it is frightening! We want what is most dear to us to be protected (guarded), but we also want it to be seen because w/o it being seen, can someone really know us?

If we give up on revealing our hearts, in an effort to guard them, then we give up on relationship and all of the benefits that come with being known, yet still loved.

But if we love recklessly w/ abandon everyone– our hearts will at some point be devastatingly broken. And broken hearts are no fun for anyone :/

But there is NO fear in love.

So if I’m loving someone, but at the same time worrying if they’ll break my heart, then I’m not loving right. And if I’m guarding my heart, only in an effort to prevent it from being broken…then I’m not guarding it right.

I think there’s this beautiful balance that can occur when we reconcile the dichotomy between loving and guarding. It’s the balance that happens when we love everyone…Love everyone uniquely.

A stranger I encounter has less access to my heart than my best friends do. WHY? Because there is a such thing as stranger danger and friendship does in fact have benefits 😉

So I refuse to give up on loving! But I’m not naive enough to do so w/o protecting.

I might get hurt, my heart may get broken, but I choose to make the safest, unsafe decision to love anyway….

Maybe I shouldn’t speak for you but…

Sometimes we’re not great friends.                                

But maybe that’s just me….and like I said maybe I shouldn’t speak for you… but sometimes I get that sinking feeling that seems to suggest that I wasn’t as kind as I could have been, or as considerate or even as fun (lbs). And sometimes I even forget to respond to text messages or choose alone time over hanging out…sometimes I don’t feel like I’m that great a friend.

But being a friend isn’t about a feeling or about being perfect- though our Instagram feeds may suggest otherwise. Being a friend is about being REAL! It’s about tears cried, apologies spoken, mistakes made, misunderstandings, and about deciding that in between all the laughs, inside jokes and perfect pictures posted the relationship is worth it.

So here are 3 ways I’ve found that have helped me to become a better friend:

1. Be Yourself.                                              

Because no one can be you! And before you’re tempted to try to be more like the girl w/ the perfect shoes or perfect outfit, just remember that you’re pretty awesome! And then take that awesomeness and share it w/ your friends!

2. Be Considerate.                                                

Our friends are often different than us. Some need more space, more help, or more encouragement…and that’s ok! Find out what your friend needs and then do that!

3. Be Loved.

This concept has literally rocked my world! In a world where being thirsty 💦 is frowned upon but love and acceptance is looked for knowing that you are already loved is amazing! And when you’re loved, you’re free to be considerate, free to be yourself, and you’re free to be a better friend!

So what are some ways that you found to be a better friend?! Comment below!