Twenty-Seven Things I Learned At Twenty-Seven

“Women have minds and they have souls as well as just hearts. They’ve got ambition and they’ve got talent as well as just beauty. I am so sick of people saying that love is just all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it! But—I am so lonely.”-Little Women

1. It’s gone, babe. It’s gone and it’s not coming back. Don’t focus on what was. Focus on what is and lean all the way in. Don’t obsess over spilt wine.

2. Even when you feel bad about yourself, you still have the ability to hurt the people who love you. Don’t let depression convince you they don’t care about you just because you don’t.

3. Christmases after two deep losses are lonely. Keep looking up. What’s dead is just an opportunity for life to begin all over again. It always does, somehow.

4. Her being beautiful too takes nothing from you. Not a damn thing. Find what you have in common and connect even though you’re itching to compare and beat down because you’re afraid.

5. (Insert deep breath here.) You’re not dragging people down to hell. You’re not responsible for anyone but you. Drop the shame, babe.

6. That thing you thought God’s love couldn’t cover if you ever did it? Try him. Go ahead. You will lose when it comes to how wide and how deep God loves.

7. You don’t have to be the good girl. The world will keep on spinning without you nit picking every step you take. God doesn’t need you to police anyone.

8. Kiss a stranger in the middle of a road in the middle of a pandemic. Is it smart per se? No. But go on, girl. You’ve been trying to do it all perfect far too long.

9. If you focus so much on romance, you’ll miss a hell of a lot of good friendships with your own expectations. It won’t be the flowers you never got or the lips you never kissed that will haunt you, but the void where there used to be laughter and a platonic, but beautiful, friendship.

10. That relationship you wanted so long won’t complete you. He will let you down. Give grace.

11. But…when you know deep in your gut that you’re falling in love with an idea and the reality of the situation is…you’re doing all the work in the relationship…leave. You know what to do. Trust that.

12. Forget the damn scale. How does eating healthy make you feel? How does eating nonstop junk make you feel? Sometimes being kind to yourself is eating the cake. Sometimes being kind to yourself is doing the cleanse. It’s up to you to find the balance and there’s no shame in mistakes. You’re learning.

13. You’re allowed to tell someone to leave your home when they’re mistreating you. You don’t have to take it.

14. You’re not nine any more. Get up, girl. Say no. Draw lines in the sand. Leave. Stay. Don’t listen to them.

15. Do your own research. Fight your own battles. Don’t let your self-worth or your base of knowledge be contingent on anyone else.

16. Say yes to dates at Irish pubs. Say yes to dates at sushi restaurants, even when you’ve never had it and have to choke down a hunk of yellowtail.

17. Being drunk while tubing down a river is a terrible idea. Being drunk and getting out of your tube to pull the group away from branches is an even worse idea. Welcome to being 27 and young and stupid.

18. Don’t wait until you collapse to ask for help and communicate your needs. You’re worth getting help.

19. God can use every mistake to propel you forward in the right direction. He’s resourceful and good.

20. The people who love you the most shine the brightest when your world goes dark. Let them help lead you back home.

21. Sometimes you find the best people in the darkest situations. Don’t let someone’s current situation influence your love for them.

22. For the love of God, don’t let anyone treat you like a motel. You’re a damn mansion. You don’t let just anyone in the door. Make them earn their spot. There’s no revolving door to your life.

23. When you know what you need to do, do it well and do it with grace. Do it with integrity and deep conviction that it’s what’s right for you, no matter what everyone else says.

24. Press publish and breathe. Your work matters and someone will give your words a home, no matter the sales.

25. Don’t deal with the DMV two days before your license expires. Bad idea, my friend.

26. No one’s going to chase you and make you whole. No one’s going to do your work for you. Stop being a brat and suck it up.

27. Your mama will respond to the fourth tattoo the same way she did the first three. And mama don’t care if it IS your birthday.

i’m not a christian

“So are you a fake christian or a fake nonbeliever?” she questioned me after I told her that, no, I wasn’t going to subscribe to her line of thinking just because she said it. “It’s God’s word,” she would have insisted had I said that, her blue eyes fiercely locked with mine. It’s the classic christian way of winning an argument, by quoting something likely out of context and then stacking the deck against you. Because, you know, the Bible’s never EVER been misinterpreted.

“I’m not a fake christian,” I said, not sure of how to defend my position. How do you explain that you’re just…doing what’s right for your situation when suddenly the God of the universe is being used to squash your opinion? It’s intimidating as hell.

Christians, y’all want to know why people are leaving? Comments like that right there. Telling people if they do something it’s indicative of their most personal, intimate relationship with God. No one-NO ONE-has the right to tell anyone else how their relationship with God functions. Not a damn person. I don’t care if they’ve got the book of Leviticus memorized and tattooed on their arm, no one has that right.

Tantalizing. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about my upbringing. I think about the time I cheated in school and turned myself in. I remember never feeling comfortable even speaking to a man in case he thought I was trying to seduce him. I remember feeling ashamed of my body, my desires, my failures, or anything that wasn’t perfect. A messy room was a heart issue. A bad attitude was Satan. A bad grade was a result of disobedience. Anything bad that happened that was normal was chalked up to a spiritual problem because American christians STILL don’t know that you can do everything “right” and still have bad things happen. What if…now bear with me here…God permits things to happen as a natural result of free will, but his only role is that he doesn’t leave our side? What if he never comes to our rescue but he gives us hope that all the bad isn’t for nothing? What if he’s working in the mess to redeem what we can’t? Isn’t that…the gospel?

Jesus isn’t your damn MLM. You don’t get stars for bringing a quota of people “back to God.” You don’t get a badge for knowing JUST the verse to put that heathen in their place. God doesn’t operate out of a box. And people don’t have to change to be part of the kingdom. The kingdom has every sort of person imaginable in it and God loves them all the same. So if thinking like that makes me a fake christian, yeah okay. I’ll take that label. I’m not a christian. I won’t subscribe to the narrative any longer.

Quite frankly, if heaven is going to be filled with shitty, narcissistic pharisees…y’all can have that.