December is always weird for me.
It’s one of my absolute FAVORITE months of the year, yet it’s also the month that a little part of me dreads.
I LOVE all the holiday magic, tree lightings, Christmas music everywhere, celebrations, and that the whole world seems to be a little more cheerful.
But December is also the month of my birthday and the last month of the year.
It kinda feels like a ticking time bomb.

I’m really big on starting each year writing out goals I plan to achieve, milestones I want to hit that year, and big miracles I’m believing with all my heart for God to make happen.
And as November and December start approaching, amidst all the holiday excitement, I also start to well up with a ton of pressure and worry.

Like, “Oh gosh, self, hurry up and get your life together before the clock strikes midnight on the 31st, or else you can consider this year a flop.”

Ever since high school, I’ve had this picture-perfect image in my head of how my life was supposed to pan out–Graduate college by 21 or 22, be in love and financially independent by 23, married by 26, be building an amazing ministry or career by 27, have kids by 28 or 29…and so far, every December, each milestone expectation that I’ve put on myself–that I’ve put on GOD–has been flung out the window. And each year as December rolls around, I’ve felt just a little more disappointed in myself…a little more disappointed in God.

But I’ve decided this year will be different.

It’s like something clicked and my eyes are being opened to how life actually works. This year I’ve noticed no one is actually living the life we think everyone is living.

As often as I tell people, “Don’t compare yourself to others,” and as many times as I’ve seen, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” in cute hand-lettered writing on Instagram, it’s like I’m actually finally getting it.

Maybe you do this too, but I realized I’ve taken bits and pieces from lots of different people’s lives and adopted them all as my own mental timeline.
Like, “That guy from high school got his Masters Degree by 23.”
And, “That girl was financially independent from her parents and had her own place at 22.”
And, “Worship-leading became her full-time thing in her mid-twenties.”
And, “That married couple is my age and already has a kid…”

It’s created this pressure in the back of my mind to make it all happen, but the truth is, none of them are even “making it all happen.”

The guy who got his Masters at 23 moved back home to start paying off student loans.
The girl living on her own at 22 was able to do so because she decided not to go to college and began working full-time.
While that singer started recording albums at 24, that other woman’s ministry exploded in her 50s with her husband.
The married couple with a kid has moved like 4 times this year and then back in with their in-laws to save money.

No one is actually doing EVERYTHING all at once, and yet each of those lives are beautiful! So why have I been holding myself to this impossible standard of living a perfect life?

No matter how perfect you think someone’s life is, or how cool it looks on Instagram, the truth is we’re all just living REAL lives. You can see what’s been captured on the outside, but you can’t see what’s going through their minds on the inside. The people you’re subconsciously comparing yourself to also have worries, areas they feel like they’re falling short in, insecurities they’re trying to cover up, maybe relationship drama, family drama, maybe a painful past they’re running from, or breakthrough they’re desperately waiting for too. We’re all human.

Life is only as fulfilling as you think it is. It’s in our heads.
So I’m working to change the narrative in mine.

Just like I admire things that other people have, there might be parts of my life that make it seem like everything’s perfect. But the truth is, I’m just trying my best to figure things out too. I’m super thankful for opportunities I’ve gotten as a young adult to discover and start living out some of my passions. But the flip side is there are a lot of other areas of my life I feel like I’m “failing” at. Well, until now. I’m 25, graduating this weekend (!!!), college took longer than planned because I invested so much time doing unpaid things I love, I’m currently living with my parents, trying to figure out what career path to take, trying to become financially independent, single, and I have big dreams that I am trying to work hard towards while also trusting God with them.

While I’ve spent so much of the past few years beating myself up for things not turning out like I had expected, I’m learning to say, “Hey, it’s okay! In fact, it’s perfect. I have followed God’s leading, and this is the story He is writing for MY life. And all of His ways are perfect. So who am I to waste time being disappointed when I should be CELEBRATING all that He’s doing?”

I’m doing great.
You’re doing great.

Where you are is right where you’re supposed to be.
Everything you’ve gone through up to this point was meant to grow you and build you into a stronger, more whole person than you would’ve been had your life turned out exactly like you planned.

I’m seeing that life is made up of maybe 10% massively life-altering days and like 90% small, gradual change everyday.
No, the way your life looks today isn’t how it’s supposed to look for the rest of your life, but today is perfect for today. And tomorrow will be perfect for tomorrow. And over time, you’ll see that every day added up to growth and life change.

So life will keep moving.
It won’t be today forever.
So while it is, enjoy it.

Love,
Angela

P.S. – If you’re waiting on a promise, God is not confined to our calendar year. To Him, the difference between December 31st and January 1st is just another day. So just because you didn’t see your breakthrough this “year” does not mean it isn’t coming. You’re closer to it than you’ve ever been, friend!

“If God is so good, then why have I been so hurt? Why do good people go through horrific things? Can I really trust Him, or will I be left disappointed?”

As a kid, life was pretty much just rainbows and butterflies as far as I knew. But as I’ve gotten older, lived more life, experienced heartbreak for myself, and seen tragedy strike some really wonderful people, it’s made me confront some difficult questions.

This life is imperfect, so we’re going to face pain and disappointment at some point.
If we’re not careful, we can let disappointment skew our idea of who God is.
Here are some of my thoughts and encouragement in case you’re looking for some perspective! 🙂

I haven’t had a ton of time to write lately, but I had time to do a quick unedited video in my car, so here ya go!

Love,
Angela

Out of the 7+ billion people in the world, picking 1 to spend the rest of your life with can feel like a really daunting decision to make.

I totally get how confusing it can be trying to navigate through dating and relationships in search of finding that one person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

“As soon as we locked eyes for the first time, we just knew!”
“We were friends for years, and then over time we realized we liked each other.”
“I wasn’t attracted to him at first, but as I got to know him I realized he was everything I wanted.”
“I just knew he was going to be my last first date!”

As if falling in love didn’t seem ambiguous enough, there are so many different stories out there of how it happens to other people. So how do you know when you’ve found someone worth holding on to?

I’m not married yet, and am still in the process of trusting God to lead the right person to me. But I once heard someone talk about these 4 things to look for in a good match. This advice has brought so much clarity in helping me decide where and with whom to invest time.

Soooo I give you what I call the 4 C’s of Dating:

CHARACTER, CALLING, CHEMISTRY, and CONFIRMATION.

When trying to decide if the person you’re getting to know is a good match for you, look for how you both line up in these 4 areas.

  1. Character – What is their character like? Do they have integrity? Are they honest? Are they selfless? Do they treat you respectfully and make you feel special? Do you share core values? Can you trust their character, and not feel like you’re always “carrying” them along morally, emotionally, and spiritually? Do you have confidence in their personal relationship with God? Really examine and get to know their character to decide whether or not they have the kind of heart you want to tie yours to.
  2. Calling – Are your lives headed in the same direction? What are you passionate about, what are they passionate about, and are those things complementary? You don’t have to both be working in the same field, but if they want to devote their life to living and feeding starving kids in a third-world country, and you want to spend your life teaching at a school in the suburbs, for example, it’d be extremely tough to build a life together. Be with someone who wants to chase your dreams with you, or will be your biggest supporter, and vice versa. I believe a relationship and marriage should make you even better than you were on your own.
  3. Chemistry – Chemistry is so so important! This is what I’ve found separates a friend from a romantic interest. How do your personalities click? Is there attraction? Do you have fun together? Maybe you really like hanging out with this person, but can’t bring yourself to get into a relationship with them and you’re not sure why…It could be a chemistry thing–you can have friend chemistry, but lack that romantic chemistry. I personally like to keep introversion/extraversion in mind too. For example, if you’re super outgoing and thrive off of going to social things, will this person enjoy doing that with you? Or are they the homebody type that would rather get their teeth pulled than have to be out often? Obviously no one will be a 100% match in every area, but be with someone you can find a happy medium with, and can see yourself getting the most out of life with. So don’t downplay the importance of chemistry. Find someone you click with, that you’re attracted to, can have fun with, can get deep with, and that you WANT to spend your time with!
  4. Confirmation – This is key! Ask God for confirmation. He’ll make it clear. 🙂

I hope keeping these 4 C’s in mind helps you navigate dating and relationships with more clarity. Obviously there’s no magic formula to falling in love. These are just 4 important factors that can serve as a solid foundation for a thriving relationship. I know there’s someone super special for you! And it’s going to be such a beautiful, powerful force to be reckoned with when you two get together.

Wishing you the best!

Love,
Angela

I know this seems like such a common-sense thing, but it’s actually not! As I’ve lived more life and jumped into new communities, I’ve experienced firsthand and heard from so many others how hard it can be to make new, real, DEEP, LONG-LASTING friends.

We all want those friends we can experience life with, laugh with, who will love us despite our quirks, who we trust enough to be there at our absolute lowest and will celebrate with us in our highs.

And I totally understand what it’s like to not always have that. Throughout my life, I’ve definitely had those weird, lonely, transitional seasons where I wasn’t sure who my “people” were.

Maybe you just moved to a new city, or you’re at a new school, job, church, or maybe you just let busy-ness get in the way of having a social life. Maybe deep down you’re afraid of getting hurt or disappointed, so you keep people at a distance. Whatever it may be, you’re NOT ALONE and we’ve ALL been (or will be) there at some point. But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way forever!

I want to encourage you with 6 practical steps I’ve learned about making those real, authentic, long-lasting kind of friends:

1. You’re gonna have to get out of your comfort zone – Shut down your Netflix, get off the couch, and go to some social events. Think of the kind of people you want in your life, and then put yourself in environments where those people are likely to be. You want selfless friends in your life? Sign up for some community service projects. Love playing sports? Join a rec team! Personally, church has always been a primary source of community for me, and about two years ago I started attending a new one. I didn’t really know anyone and it felt weird and awkward at first, but I knew I didn’t want to stay feeling lonely like that. So I committed to going to every event I could (even when it was scary because I had to go by myself and didn’t know anyone). But I kept pushing through and kept putting myself out there.

2. Making friends takes initiative – I was shy when I was little, and my dad used to always tell me, “Angela, you can’t wait for other people to come up to you. If you want friends, go out and make them.” It’s simple, but so true! Is it nice when you’re at a party and someone comes up to you and makes you feel welcome? Yes. But is that actually the norm? Unfortunately, no. If you want new friends, go out and make them! Step out of your comfort zone, go up to people, introduce yourself, show yourself friendly. If you find someone you want to get to know a little better, exchange numbers and make plans to go out to coffee or something!

3. Vulnerability bonds us with others – I learned in one of my psychology classes, “People will admire your strengths, but CONNECT with your weaknesses.” Be REAL. Life’s too short for surface-level conversations. Sure, it’s nice getting to know the other person’s opinion of the weather today or what they did this weekend. But find out what’s REALLY on their mind. Ask about their life story. What are they passionate about? What are their dreams? What are their struggles? It’s those real convos from the HEART that build the foundation for deep connection.

4. God’s got you. – Simple and true! A few years ago when I knew I needed some more close friends, I simply asked God to connect me with who He knew I needed in my life and who needed me in theirs. I made a lot of wonderful friends in that time, and felt like I was going on a zillion coffee dates every week. As time went on, I just naturally found myself and a few girls hanging out more and more. One night I was out at dinner with two of them and they just straight-up asked me, “Do you want to be best friends?” We laugh now about their straight-forwardedness (is that a word?), but it truly was God answering my prayers super literally. He came through and blessed me with some of the best friends. Which brings me to my next point…

5. COMMIT to connection – Commit. Commit. Commit. Taking someone from acquaintance to friend to close-like-family takes INTENTIONALITY, LOYALTY, and TIME. Life can get busy, but when you’ve made a good friend worth keeping, make plans to hang out often! This is especially important when building a new friendship. Commit to opening your heart up. Commit to trusting (even if it’s scary). Commit to being there for them. Be there to encourage. Share what’s REALLY going on in your heart. Be the kind of friend you want to have.

6. Don’t run when things get messy – The closer you get to someone, the more of them you’re going to see. That includes their best and their worst. You’re going to see their flaws. You’re probably going to get hurt. But if they’ve deemed themselves a good friend, do NOT let things drift just because some things about them bother you. If anything, it’s kind of an honor to see the imperfect sides of people because that means you’re close enough to see their whole selves.

The key is to TALK. COMMUNICATE. Get in the habit of being honest! This was a hard one for me, because I’m the type of person that would rather brush things off for the sake of keeping peace. But I’m learning how important it is to tell your friend when they do something that rubs you the wrong way. And let them be honest with you too. Honesty builds trust, and being able to talk through things with each other even strengthens the relationship. So again, COMMIT to connection.

So if you’re in a spot where you’re not sure who your “people” are right now, don’t stress. This season WON’T last forever. Promise!

Honestly, you’ve got this! Don’t overthink all of this. Don’t put a ton of pressure on yourself to make best friends right away. It’s going to happen SO naturally when you put yourself in situations to meet good people. Remember to be the kind of friend you want to have.

You’re amazing! You have so much to offer. And you’re never ever alone!
God’s got you, and feel free to reach out to me if you ever need an extra little push of encouragement!

Love,
Angela

 


P.S. – These fun pics were taken by the amazing Justina Burns @ http://instagram.com/justinalanaephotos ! I needed some group shots and these gem-of-friends agreed to help! Some are pictured and some aren’t, but I want to give a thank you to ALL of my best friends (pictured or not!) for loving me so well. Thanks for all the fun adventures over the years, wisdom, and for being my heart’s home in many ways. Y’all make life more rich.

The uncertainty of knowing when or if you’ll ever meet “the one.”
Feeling the need to be at every social event so you don’t accidentally miss out on fate.
The nights of crying in frustration because you’re so over being single.
Having to navigate through dating (that’s a whole other blog for another day!).
Feeling the pressure to look good enough to attract someone.
Third-wheeling.
Feeling so awkward during wedding season.
Feeling super happy but also like something’s a little wrong with you when your friends, one by one, leave the single club as they fly off into relational bliss…
SINGLE LIFE. Trust me, I know the struggle. But I want to bring you some good news:

IT WILL ALL BE SO WORTH IT ONE DAY. PROMISE.

Here’s my story. “What would your life look like without any fear?” These words woke my heart up about 4 years ago. At that time, I had my future all planned out: I was going to finish college, marry the guy I was with, get a good job, and settle into a normal little life. I mean, what else was there to do? But that day, I felt God say to me, “What’s the difference between those that live an average, status quo life and those that make history? Fear. I’m a God of the IMPOSSIBLE. I have plans for you beyond your wildest dreams, but you’re going to have to trust me with your WHOLE heart for me to take you there.”

I had never taken the time to be happy with just myself. For me, relationships always represented stability, safety, and protection from loneliness. Giving up the relationship I was in was literally me giving up everything—my life plan, my security, and my comfort. But I started to burn for more than just the comfortable little life I had planned out. So after some back and forth with myself, I took the plunge and became single. There have been different guys here and there since then, but nothing has quite worked out yet. Has it been hard, stretching, and overwhelming at times? Yes. But I’ll tell ya, I’d go through all of that again in a heartbeat if I had to, to gain what I have now.

If you’re single and just over it, I want to encourage you with what I’ve learned.
Here are 5 reasons why being single is so so important:

1. Singlehood teaches you who you are There’s really nothing like having time in your life where it’s just you and God with no other person involved. With a boyfriend, I was always thinking, “Okay, how can we better love God together? How can we keep Him the center of our relationship?” But I had never taken time to do that on my own as an individual. And that is CRUCIAL. I remember there were some nights where I’d lay awake in bed crying, feeling anxious and lonely as heck, and I had no one else but God to talk to about it. It was in those helpless, emotional moments that the peace of God filled my room and heart like never before. I finally experienced PERFECT LOVE from the very Creator and epitome of it. Loving and being loved by God teaches us who we are.

2. It taught me my life’s purpose The possibilities of what your life can become are literally limitless. When you’re single, God has the space to do anything He wants in your life without it affecting another person. Being single has given me the freedom to discover what I was created for. I discovered my passions for writing, speaking, worship-leading, and a fire ignited within me to use all those things to help make the world a better place.

3. Being single builds confidence It’s forced me to get out of my comfort zone in SO many ways. I was so used to always having a boyfriend to go to things with. If I wanted to, I could sit back and let him be the social one, or we could feed off each other’s energies, or whatever. Not having that made me learn to be my own person. I became confident in my voice, my personality, and the qualities I bring to different environments.

4. These days are just as valuable as any other season One day you’ll be married to the person of your dreams, and your days will be full of chasing after kids, working, running a household, date nights, and all the other fun stuff that comes with marriage. But as for right now, how freeing is it to be able to do as you please? Want to take a spontaneous roadtrip with friends? Go for it! Travel to a part of the world you’ve never seen? Do it (it’s way cheaper now than it’ll be paying for your kids someday). Want to move to a new city? Nothing’s really stopping you. EVERY day is a beautiful blessing! Let’s not waste this precious season wishing for the next one.

5. Your value isn’t determined by your relationship status.

6. Being single lays the foundation for your future marriage – I’ve heard it said that marriage isn’t two halves making a whole, it’s two wholes coming together for a greater purpose. If marriage, (the union of two people) is the house, then both people making sure they’re individually healthy and ready is the foundation. I would not know how to lay my life down for another person if I didn’t first lay my life down to God. I wouldn’t know how to properly love my future spouse without first experiencing the true, perfect love of God. I wouldn’t have good self-control had I not surrendered my whole life and learned my value in God’s eyes. I wouldn’t know who to look for without understanding who I am, what I’m called to, and what God has called me to do with my future spouse someday.

So PLEASE go through the hard stuff to get to the REALLY GOOD stuff.
Friend, I promise you, the dream is worth the wait. Keep your eyes on God. The singleness, all the confusing dates, the uncertainty of when or if your special someone will ever come along…it will all be worth it. Pray for your future. Pray for the person God will bring into your life. And when you’re so in love and fixated on the Lord, and He knows the timing is right, He will plop the most amazing gift right into your lap.

I’ve heard it said, “God takes a long time to act suddenly.”

You’re SO loved, and I’m praying for you! God sees you, He knows what your heart longs for, and He also loves you too much to jip you of the growth and refinement process you deserve. The choices you make now lay the foundation for your future love. So don’t just endure being single, ENJOY it! It’s one of the most special times of your life!
Praying for you!

Love,
Angela

Btw, all of these pics were taken by the amazing Sarah Schweyer at sarahschweyer.com!