He Asked!

ring-wrapY’all.

He ASKED.

Well, he didn’t ask, if you know what I mean. But he asked.

Seth and I were talking about ring wraps for class rings because his sister has one, and I’ve been thinking about getting one. It was an innocent enough conversation – he was just telling me about the process of having the wrap uniquely sized for the class ring.

And then he asked my ring size.

It was of course in the context of talking about class rings, but y’all. Not only did Seth ask for my ring size, but he did it smoothly and then moved us along in the conversation to something else.

I’m choosing not to read too much into it. I don’t want to be that girl. It probably doesn’t mean anything. But it was kind of nice to be asked all the same. And now he has that information… you know… should he ever need it in the future… 😉

Authentically Aurora

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Operation SLR

BeTransformedEver since my conversation with Diana last week, I’ve been working on re-framing my thinking to be more positive. I want to “not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of [my] mind” (Rom. 12:2) and “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). I want to “beat my body and make it my slave” (1 Cor. 9:27), exercising discipline and self-control over my thoughts so that I am not ruled by my emotions. It’s ironically discipline that often results in freedom. 

I’ve even come up with my own acronym (and you know it’s getting serious when acronyms get involved)! The acronym I am starting to speak over myself is SLR. I’m a camera girl, so to me, this has traditionally meant Single-Lens Reflex, but I’ve rebranded it in my brain to mean: Stop. Laugh. Roll it off.

Every time something happens that causes me to begin feeling upset (or mad or frustrated or frazzled or anxious or stressed – so, basically, everything), I want to SLR: Stop, Laugh and let it Roll off my shoulders. I started implementing SLR last week and, naturally, as soon as I decided to not let things bother me, it feels like everything has been going wrong. The instant I decided to actively exercise discipline over my thoughts in an effort to moderate negative emotions, life went haywire.

On day one of Operation SLR, a maintenance crew came to do work on my apartment. But in the process of window repair, they moved my heavy queen-sized bed, making it off-center from the paintings I had just nailed into the wall the day prior. Upon arriving home from work, I also discovered that one corner of the bed frame had been placed on top of my pajamas when the maintenance crew moved the bed.

I tried rescuing my pajama pants on my own – and then tried moving the bed on my own – all to no avail. I started to get really irritated (why can’t anyone ever just do their job right?!) when I remembered to SLR: Stop, Laugh, and Roll it off. I took a deep breath and called my apartment office. The maintenance crew was back within the hour to right the situation. It was a non-event. And I was glad I didn’t allow myself to get more worked up about it.

On days two through five of Operation SLR, I missed the mascara tube with the wand, getting black goop all over my left hand while running late for work; felt isolated, ignored and rejected at a social event; had another driver try changing lanes into my car on the freeway again; experienced double standards in the workplace and had my song suggestion shot down at choir rehearsal. Each time, I had to ask myself, “Is your frustration helping or hurting the situation?”

Diana made the comment to me that a difference between her mindset and mine is that I tend to think, “Why does everything happen to me?” But, according to Diana, “All of those things happen to me, too. I just choose not to focus on them.” So, in addition to SLR, I started trying to pick out the positive events in my week: a man helped me carry heavy boxes of donations to a shelter; I was selected for a solo in choir; I made a new friend at church and an acquaintance took the time to teach me a new software program.

On Sunday, rounding out the end of my first week implementing the power of positive thinking, I was determined to finish strong. So, of course, when I backed out of my parking spot on the way to church, the re-bar protruding from a parking block caught under my front bumper and pulled it off. I just sighed, got out of my car, and walked around front to examine the damage.

It’s going to cost between $700 and $1200 to repair my brand new car, and my insurance agent said that my premium may go up since “you are responsible for not having a collision with a stationary object.” Right. Because the protruding re-bar was totally my fault. Thanks a lot, insurance guy.

I got through Sunday by looking forward to a dinner I’d planned for Wednesday night. A fancy restaurant in town is offering a discounted menu for charity, and I made a reservation for six with a group from church – a group that includes Bo, much to the delight of my giddy inner girly girl with a mega crush on this dreamboat of a man.

But on Monday morning, I was awoken by an early morning text message from Bo: “Hey… sorry to have to bail on you for dinner… but I just realized it’s on Wednesday night… and I have a standing date that night for accountability/discipleship with my roommate. Have fun and eat an undercooked steak for me!”

I definitely Stopped in my tracks. And might have Laughed a low, embittered grunt. And then I Rolled over and pulled the covers back over my head.

Being positive is overrated.

Authentically Aurora

Cultivating Contentment

Contented HeartSometimes we have to pause our Pursuit of Happiness and take the time to just Be Happy.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is just let a situation be what it is instead of what we want it to be.

Sometimes we have to do what we can, with what we have, where we are.

So this week, I am thankful for my church. It has taken me years to find a church where I experience God’s presence every single Sunday, but finally – finally! – I have a church home again. It’s far from perfect (you know, churches being comprised of sinners and all that), but the worship is powerful, the people are authentic, and the sermons are both convicting and encouraging.

Our worship band is full of talented musicians who choose songs with lyrics straight out of Scripture, and every week as I sing along, I close my eyes and experience God’s love and peace in ways I rarely do throughout the rest of my week.

Our people are servant-hearted, with a significant portion of the congregation volunteering as greeters, nursery workers, prayer partners and more. There is even a group of young adults that stand at a booth outside in the heat to make iced coffee for people as they arrive in the morning.

Significant portions of our tithes and offerings are poured back out into the community. This is a church that believes it is more blessed to give than to receive, whether the resource in question is money or time.

This week after church, I went out to lunch with a group of new friends, and our conversation was full of life and light. My heart felt full. My heart felt happy.

God is moving in this church. And I am so thankful to be a part of not only this church, but also the greater purpose: His Kingdom work in this city. “God, who am I, that You have brought me this far?” (2 Sam. 7:18)

Authentically Aurora

Stuff it, Team Happy

April LudgateI wrestle with depression. Not only does this dysfunctional brain chemistry run in my family, but life has handed me some tough rounds over the past few years.

Notice that I chose the words “I wrestle with depression” and not “I suffer from depression.” I am struggling against it. I think being depressed is about as fun as being force-fed horse droppings while hanging upside down in freezing rain. I don’t want to be this way. I am not choosing to sit idly by while depression devours my joy. So I’d appreciate it if Team Happy would cut me some slack.

Some individuals are better equipped than others to sit with people in their sadness. If I open up to someone and their first response is any variation of “There are people much worse off than you,” I am immediately clued in to the fact that they are not emotionally equipped to understand depression. They might be someday, once they have experienced some traumatic loss of their own, but when I’m struggling to maintain an even keel of my own emotions, I don’t also have the emotional energy to help others learn how to deal with me.

Depression can bring with it a component of feeling trapped in your own head and at war with yourself, which can be perceived as a form of self-centeredness, causing the uninitiated to the Dark Night of the Soul to respond with comments like, “Why don’t you just fix your attitude?” Yes, I’ll get right on that. Go-go-gadget-attitude-fixer! What? I’m still depressed? Darn!

I have been accused of being overly self-oriented, but this trite response to my emotional seclusion belittles feelings that I do not know how to control or manage. Comments like this make me feel badly about feeling badly. So stuff it, Team Happy. I already feel badly about feeling badly without your condescension.

Often when people are uncomfortable, they throw out platitudes like, “Just stay positive!” (with the implied accusation that I am failing miserably at something that comes naturally to them). It always amazes me when Team Happy tells me, as if it had never occurred to me before, to “Just smile!” Platitudes don’t cure depression. They trivialize depression.

Here are my Top 10 Favorite (least favorite) Platitudes for all my fellow depressed homies out there:

  1. Fix your attitude.
  2. Happiness is a choice.
  3. It’s all in your head. You’re as happy as you make up your mind to be.
  4. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
  5. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
  6. I think you want to feel this way.
  7. Cheer up! It’s a beautiful day! Go out and have some fun!
  8. When you’re down on yourself, you’re not much fun to be around.
  9. You have so many things to be thankful for. Why are you depressed?
  10. You can make the choice for or against depression; it’s all in your hands.

Here’s to making the choice not to strangle the next person who tells me to make the choice to be happy.

Authentically Aurora

Hard Truths Spoken In Love

beauty girl cry1. I don’t think you’re happy. I think you keep yourself busy to stay distracted from thinking about your unhappiness.

2. People say both that you’re stoic and overly emotional because you don’t show many of your positive emotions but you show all of your negative emotions. You’re stoic when you’re excited and emotional when you’re upset.

3. You’re not a fit for Corporate America. You’re frustrated, and that’s leaking into every other part of your life.

4. You’re depending on Bryan for your happiness, and he’s undependable.

5. You have a lot going for you, but you don’t appreciate it.

We weren’t guaranteed to be happy this side of heaven. But we are commanded to be joyful.

I am neither.

AA

Your Happiness: My Responsibility?

PedestalYesterday Bryan called me on his way home from work. He was stuck in traffic and feeling irritable as a result. “Perturbed” was his exact word, actually.

Wanting to be helpful and encouraging but feeling powerless to do much to remedy his situation, I asked, “What can I do to cheer you up?”

Bryan said, almost in passing, “It’s not your job to make me happy.” And then he was on to another topic, but I missed some of the rest of the conversation because I was mentally transported back in time almost exactly a year ago to a very different conversation with my ex-fiance.

“I thought you would make me happy,” he told me, looking distraught and confused. “No matter what was going on at work or with my health or anything else in life, I thought that if I was with you, you’d make me happy. But you can’t. You can’t make me happy.”

I remember feeling hurt and rejected but also shocked and concerned that this 30-year-old man was just having the realization, a month into our engagement, that putting the responsibility of his happiness firmly on my shoulders was too much of a burden for anyone to bear.

I’m glad you thought so highly of me, but no one can stand up under that kind of expectation. Get me down off of that pedestal. And he did. Quickly. Weeks later. By asking for the ring back.

So thanks, Bryan. Thanks for being mature, insightful and grounded enough to realize: “It’s not your job to make me happy.”

Authentically Aurora