Why I’m Doing My Own Wedding Makeup

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I never realized how much planning goes into a wedding until Joseph and I started planning our wedding together. There are so many little things to consider. Food, decorations, dresses, toasts, music, photography, readings….and that’s just the beginning. 

As the bride, there are so many fun conversations to have about wedding planning. I’ve shown countless people my wedding dress – from the girl who cuts my hair to students in classes I taught last semester.  Any time I mention that I’m getting married, strangers and friends alike love chatting about everything from wedding colors to Mass details.  But one question that I’ve gotten asked quite a bit lately is who is doing my make up on the big day.  

There are so many options. Hire a professional. Ask a friend. Comb through Pinterest and find the perfect, special occasion look. But despite all of the options, I’ve decided to do my own makeup on the big day. And I’m not doing anything different than what I wear on a regular day.  

To some, that may seem crazy. After all, marrying the love of my life is a pretty special occasion.  Shouldn’t I do something different and memorable? I thought about wedding makeup quite a bit – but it was only when I thought back on Joseph and I’s relationship that the answer to the makeup question became clear. 

When I met Joseph, I wasn’t wearing any makeup, and I had on a baggy t-shirt, and sports shorts. I spent the first week that we got to know each other covered in sweat, pancake batter, and paint chips as we worked on houses for the Prayer and Action summer mission trip.  We had a great conversation while picking up paint chips, sweating in the Kansas summer heat.  

Joseph proposed to me on top of a mountain nine months ago.  When he asked me to be his bride, I hadn’t showered in 6 days, my hair was greasy and stuffed under a baseball cap, and my eyes were bleary from waking up at 5:00 am that day.  And he thought I was beautiful.  

I don’t wear much makeup on a daily basis – but it seems to be on the days that I don’t wear much makeup that Joseph compliments me. So when I see Joseph on our wedding day, I want to look like that the girl he spent working alongside on a house two summers ago.  I want to look like the blissfully happy girl who said yes to climbing life’s highs and lows alongside my soon-to-be-husband.  (Granted, I’ll have showered that day.)

So often in today’s culture we focus on looks.  We filter our photos, airbrush our makeup and make sure our wardrobes are Pinterest worthy. But, despite all of our best efforts, our looks will change. Bodies stretch, smiles sink further into faces and set in as wrinkles, and what we consider beautiful shifts throughout the years.  

Audrey Hepburn said: “Happy girls are the prettiest.” What makes someone truly beautiful is joy. On the day of my wedding, I won’t look flawless. More than likely, I’ll have crinkly smiley eyes, a few (ok, let’s be honest, more than few) happy tears, and a huge smile that I can’t wipe off my face. I won’t look perfect or airbrushed. But I’ll look joyful…and that’s the most beautiful look of all.

 

 

 

 

The Girl in the Mirror

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I have always struggled with seeing myself as beautiful.  It wasn’t that anyone had ever told me I was ugly.  I hadn’t been bullied when  I was younger, my parents complimented us kids regularly, and my friends told me all about the things they adored about my looks and personality.

It was just that I had a hard time believing it.

The thoughts of actual disgust with my physical appearance and personality escalated in college.  I didn’t look like the world’s standard of beauty, and it was tearing me up.  My hair was short, my chest was small.  I couldn’t get a decent tan, I hated the shape of my legs.  I spent time at parties and social events nitpicking everything that I did.  Why wasn’t I more extroverted? Why couldn’t I have jokes to keep the whole room laughing?

The list went on and on – to the point where I struggled to see even one good thing about myself.  I had no problem recognizing the beauty in other people.  I had friends who I considered drop dead gorgeous, and I could tell you exactly what I loved about them.  Their curly hair, their welcoming smile, their toned body shape, their sense of humor.  Ironically, the things that I loved the most in the women around me were the things I loathed about myself.  I couldn’t stand the way my face crinkled when I smiled. But when I saw that same trait in the face of another, I appreciated it and saw its beauty.

I spent time chatting about our relationship with ourselves with some friends lately.  One of the girls in the group pulled out pieces of paper and passed them around to everyone there.  On one side of the paper, we were told to write everything we hated about ourselves.  My paper filled up quickly, and I bemoaned the fact that I actually ran out of space.

Self-centered…prideful…unhealthy…awkward…introverted…over-thinker…selfish…my legs…my eyes…my hair…too emotional…scatter brained…

After the paper couldn’t possible fit one more self-bashing sentence on it, we were told to turn our pages over, and then have people in the group write what we thought of each other.  We were encouraged to write compliments we’d never said out loud and things we admired about the other.

Before long, my paper was returned to me.  But when I turned the paper over after everyone had written on it, I found that the things that I hated about myself were not things people noticed about me.  In fact, they complimented me on the opposite traits.

You’re selfless…you’re beautiful….you’re giving…you’re a role model…you’ve got it together…I’m so blessed by our friendship….I look up to you.

I  realized that the side of the paper I had written on was truly how I saw myself.  The imperfect, awkward girl who couldn’t seem to grow up and become beautiful.  But the side that my friends had written on was how they truly saw me…and more importantly the way that God sees me.  Beautiful. Whole. Worthy.

When I got into my car the next day, For the first time since early high school, I caught a glimpse of my reflection out of the corner of my eye – and my first reaction was Wow, she’s beautiful. Not in a self-centered, narcissistic way – it wasn’t my eyes or my legs that I noticed and saw in a different way.  For the first time in a long time, I was able to see the quirks of my personality and sincerely appreciate them.

I saw the girl who hated fish, had phenomenal friendships, and loved heart to heart conversations.  I saw the girl whose short haircut spelled confidence, and whose sense of style revealed her old soul.  And I didn’t hate her. I liked her. And I smiled the whole way home that night.

If you’ve ever struggled with seeing that you are good, you are not alone.

But by consistently selling ourselves short we essentially are hating what God has made good.  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10).

And if no one has ever told you this – you are beautiful.

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

Chapter Chats: Caring for Creation

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There is nothing that I like more than a cup of coffee and a good book to curl up with.  This week’s Chapter Chat is Caring for Creation: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis.  The book is published by Franciscan media.

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Ever since the Pope’s inaugural Mass, he has lived out a mission to care for the earth that God has given us. From releasing Laudato Si to actively living a pro-life mission, Pope Francis truly aspires to his namesake.  The book is composed of the Pope’s personal writings, encyclicals, prayers, homilies and tweets that show his passion for God’s creation.

The introduction sets the tone for the book, saying, “Still, Pope Francis’s message is ultimately one of hope…Pope Francis’s words reveal that he believe we can move towards a new kind of conversion – a higher level of consciousness, action and advocacy that will spark a ‘bold cultural revolution'”. 

The book is divided into five chapters: God’s Loving Plan for Creation, Everything is Connected, The Roots of Consequences of the Current Crisis, Called to Protect God’s Handiwork, and Towards a Healthier Planet.

I’m definetly a Pope Saint John Paul II girl, as proven by my love for NFP, Theology of the Body and Babies.  However, when Pope Francis mentions the environment though, he is not diverging from the path that JPII showed the world.  Instead of viewing the environment as something that does not include human beings, Pope Francis examines the environment with a holistic approach that includes the humans that live on this earth.  He means to connect nature with society for a more appreciative view of the gifts God has given us.

We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full.
– Laudato Si’ 225-226. May 24, 2015

The book would make a great read for the New Year to accompany your New Year’s Resolutions.  We’re all called to a greater appreciation of the gifts that God gives us and Pope Francis’s words make a great companion on that journey.

 

Pick up a copy today and let me know what you think…and, can you pass the coffee?

Stop Thinking, Start Willing: The One Way to Improve Your Relationship Today

Disney movies, chick flicks and romance novels have led us to believe that true love doesn’t require much work.  You simply have to be in the right place at the right time, look attractive, smile nice and big, and everything will fall into place as if it were meant to be.  Yet the reality of romantic relationships prove that actually this isn’t anywhere close to what happens in the day to day interactions with the one you love.

Who we look to as a source for relationship advice can play a large role in what the goals, dreams and reality of our relationship looks like.  We’re are not called to relationships that are the mirrored images of Hallmark movies or the latest season of the Bachelorette.  Instead, we’re called to the relationship with the goal of becoming saints together.  So we have to take some advice from the saints themselves.

To love is to will the good of the other. (Thomas Aquinas).

The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; and so, do that which best stirs you to love. (Teresa of Avila).

So, the one way you can actively start improving your relationship is to began to will the good of the other.  Not to want the good of the other, but to will it.  Yes, that subtle word change makes an incredible difference in the outcome.

Wanting someone’s good doesn’t necessarily require action.  You can want someone’s good and be caught in what Teresa of Avila calls ‘thinking too much.’  Just because I want to order in Thai food, does not mean that I’m actually going to get up out of my chair, get into my car and drive down to the nearest take out place.  Simply because I want an ‘A’ in my senior history class does not result in an automatic good grade going on my transcript.  And if wanting our wedding day to get here sooner actually did anything, I’d have been married a long time ago simply because of all the times I’ve wanted it to be here right now.

The word want means to crave, to feel the need or desire for something, or to fall short by a specific sum (the Thai Food was left wanting for spice, for example).  It’s not necessarily an action word – it doesn’t require you to do anything but stay sedentary and wish for something better.  So when it comes to loving another person, wanting someone’s good may not get us very far.

On the other hand, willing someone’s good requires action. To will and to love are action words- and love is a decision that moves you.  This is what Teresa of Avila is talking about when she mentions being stirred to love.  Stirring things causes them move, it brings things into action.

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So what exactly does it mean to really will the other’s good? This week has been a continual opportunity to love and will the good of the other in our relationship.  Joseph and I have both had rough weeks at school, and it feels like we’re constantly running from appointment to event to commitment.  Gone are the leisurely summer days of getting off from work and being able to have long phone calls or even meet each other during the week.

What would happen if I simply wanted his good this week? Sure, I want him to do well in school and I want him to not feel over-stressed.  That sounds great.  But that wanting does not require me to do anything about it.  Maybe I’ll think about him throughout the day, wonder how his classes are going and eventually, when he reaches out to me, I can mention how he’s been on my mind.

Yet willing his good calls me to action, despite the fact that we’re an hour away and living crazy lives right now.  Willing his good requires action and communication.   And when those communication methods don’t work as well as expected, willing the other’s good means intentionally asking each other for ways to improve communication throughout the time apart.

Willing the good means a morning phone call to make sure each of us were able to get up and start tackling the work load of the day together. Willing the good means constant prayer for each other – not just a passing ‘I’ll pray for you,’ but intentionally remembering each other throughout the day and offering the other’s frustrations and struggles up to the Blessed Mother (that’s what Marian Consecration is for, right?) Willing his good is sitting in adoration, bringing the challenges of the week to the feet of Christ, uniting them with His suffering, and surrounding Joseph in prayer – which is sometimes the only thing that we can do for each other, but it is also the most important thing we can do for each other.

If you want to see a radical difference in your love life, begin by delving into a love that moves you, a love that calls you into action.  It is not easy, in fact, willing the good of the other as other is one of the most challenging things you can do.  After all, the greater your capacity for a love that moves you, the greater your capacity for suffering.  Yet our love for each other is to reflect the love that Christ showed His Church when he lay splayed open on the cross.  His love required action, and we’re called to that kind of love (Ephesians 5 have some great things to say on that subject).

So today, challenge yourself.  Get out of your comfort zone and begin to truly love others in your life – will their good.  

Love that Moves You

My passport is not stamped with a Polish stamp.  I don’t have pictures with new international friends.  I have yet to taste a pierogi.   But my heart is moved and full from World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow.

When I look at those pictures on Facebook, read the tweets, talk to friend and hear about the amazing adventures God had in the hearts of His children, how can I not be inspired in my Catholic faith?

It’s common knowledge that Europe is not the safest place to be right now.  Terror attacks occur frequently and a large crowd of people may have drawn conflict.  Yet Catholic young adults still flocked to get a glimpse of the Pope.  They still hiked 10 miles to camp out for a candle-lit vigil. They still fell to their knees in the rain to worship Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Why? Because perfect love drives out fear.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has torment, and he that fears has not been made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)

Love creates, it moves, it acts.  When you’re in love you have to do something – love requires action.  Fear, on the other hand, immobilizes.  Paralyzes.  The founder and creator of World Youth Day, Saint Pope John Paul II once famous said, “Be Not Afraid.”  What does that look like? How do you not be afraid, and how can you tell that you’re living this beautiful JPII motto?

If you’re not afraid, you’re in love.  And people in love do crazy things.

Love tells 3 million people to pack up clothes and rain ponchos in a backpack and board flights that last 10 hours.  Love pushes people out of their comfort zones and connects them with others who don’t even speak the same language. Love emboldens some to fundraise for years, take time off of work or a summer vacation, and sleep on a gym floor.  Love gets them up at 3:00 AM and doesn’t let their mind rest even when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

Love widens eyes, but more importantly it widens hearts.  It widens hearts to mercy, compassion and action.  It demolishes comfort zones and calls us out of sin and into grace.

The world has no need of couch potatoes” (Pope Francis)

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Pope Saint John Paul II)

Are you ready to fall in love with a God who loves you? Perhaps, more importantly, are you willing to let that love move you?

The Modern Day Saint Making Machine

‘Let my eyes stream with tears, day and night without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wounds.  If I walk out in the field, look! Those slain by the sword.  If I enter the city, look! those consumed by hunger…why have you struck us a blow which cannot be healed? We wait for peace, to no avail.  For a time of healing, but terror comes instead.’
(Jeremiah 14: 17-19)

‘When will it stop’ is the question I ponder every morning as my phone pings with news notifications.  At least 80 dead in a truck attack in Nice.  3 injured in a machete attack in Germany.  A priest martyred in France.  An unceasing, untiring parade of human anguish, sorrow and fear.

So we post inspirational quotes on our social media profiles, possibly send funds to the relief efforts, exchange sentiments over the coffee pot in our office.  Then we go home for the night, sigh, tuck littles into bed and bunker down for the newest tragedy tomorrow.

We have a wound that won’t heal.  We pray for peace but are greeted instead by the news of terror.  For the glory of your name, Lord, deliver us.

No time before now has evil been so accessible, acceptable and available.  Pornography is a click away on the internet, abortions are protected by the law and on demand, and marriage is now defined by legality and not morality.  The reaction that I had to a recent shooting was ‘Only 20 dead?’…life is a commodity and we fail to see the human lives that are slipping away from this earth due to human sin and despair.  The side-effects of our throw away culture.

The pain is on a micro-cosmic level.  The story of the shooter, and how he was bullied as a child.  The individual stories of the 49 victims of the Orlando shooting.  The vocation story of Pere Jacques Hamel, whose throat was slit as he stood at the altar for morning mass today.

The pain is on a cosmic level …each action that one human being does ripples and touches the lives of others.  The story of the grandmother who was embraced by the airplane passengers when she found out about the death of her grandson.  The first responders who pull up to the carnage of the latest mass killing and have to try to push the gory images aside as they return home to their families that night. 

But ultimately, it won’t stop this side of Heaven.
We have good reason for falling into despair as we bunker down for the next terror attack.  We can wonder when someone we know will be slain in the streets, or whether our body will ever lay discarded, slumped up and consumed with the effects of human sin.  
Dallas…Paris…Germany…France…Nice…

Day after day we are bombarded with evidence that the world is heart-wrenchingly broken.  Mothers murder their children, airports are riddled with bullets, human beings are objectified, priests beheaded, and our Lord in the Eucharist dishonored.

What better time to become a saint?

There is our alternative to despair….the realization that our desire for sainthood can very well be fulfilled at a much quicker rate than expected.  Each death toll is a string of notes, compiling in a unending ‘Dies Irae‘ reminder that this life is temporary and the next is eternal.

Before You, humbled, Lord, I lie, my heart like ashes, crushed and dry, assist me when I die. Full of tears and full of dread is that day that wakes the dead, calling all, with solemn blast to be judged for all their past. Lord, have mercy, Jesus blest, grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.

Each headline that comes across our Facebook feed or phone notifications reminds us of one thing: we are offered opportunities that saints who have gone before us have never had.  Evil has never been so accessible.  Neither has sanctity.

This modern day culture is a saint making machine.  Look at all of the evil that there is to stand up against.  Beautifully, thankfully, there is more grace and mercy in God than there is sin in humanity.

Tertullian once said ‘The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.’  Are you ready to be saints together?

 

5 Reasons Why You Can’t be a Feminist and Pro-Contraception

Feminism.  It’s a buzzword that I first really delved into last semester while taking a course on gender and communication.  The issue that bothered me towards the end of the semester was that modern feminism is often associated with fight for the pro-choice movement, access to ‘safe and healthy’ abortions and access to contraception.  Upon my understanding of the term feminism, meaning equality between men and women, I found that incredibly ironic and infuriating.  I am anti-abortion, pro-life and anti-contraception.  And I don’t think you can be a feminist and be for any of those issues.  Here are five reasons why you cannot be a feminist and be pro-contraception.

01. All on the woman
Feminism strives for equality between men and women in all areas of life.  This could manifest itself in the fight for equal pay for equal work, but in the sexual lives of feminists, contraception has squished any chances for equality.  When a woman is on the pill, or any other form of oral or surgical contraceptive, she is responsible.  It is up to her to make sure she takes the pill daily or schedules doctors appointments to install or maintain an internal contraceptive.  Meanwhile, men are not filling prescriptions for contraception, and are instead reaping the benefits of contraceptive sex without an investment in a relationship.

Dr. John Littell, an OBGYN, wrote:

“But now, it saddens me to see the effects of the Pill at play in unsuspecting lives. How often have I seen one patient after another frustrated by what has come to be viewed as a “necessary evil” for all women, if they ever hope to be a good wife, a good girlfriend, a good sexual partner. What is so “liberating” or “empowering” about feeling miserable, depressed, increasing one’s risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, blood clots, strokes, and heart disease, while the male partner has not a worry in the world?”

The answer to these issues is not the simply have men fill prescriptions for  male contraceptives.  Rather, a form of family planning that requires the effort of both men and women is the ideal solution.  In this way, both partners can know the health life of the other better and work towards a common goal side by side.  The family planning method that has proven to be successful in this area is Natural Family Planning.  The man and woman chart the woman’s fertility together, and the man becomes hyper-aware of the inner workings of the woman’s fertility system.  In this way, the shared goal of achieving or avoiding conception bonds the couple together, instead of having one or the other feel the weight of the responsibility.

02. Health risks
Feminism should never support something that harms the health of women.  This is why we should fight against the brutality and objectification of social problems such as pornography, sexual trafficking, and female genital mutilation.  However, we can add contraception to that list of issues considered normal in society that actually do great harm to women.

Take for instance The Pill.  In one small, white pill contains the side effects of vision impairment, yeast infections, blood clots, increased risk of strokes, increased chances of breast and ovarian cancer, mood swings and depression. Any of these side effects alone are alarming, but the problem is that any woman who takes an oral contraceptive is at risk for all of them.  The reason for this secrecy around the actual effects of the pill on women’s health is that pregnancy is considered a larger threat to a woman’s life than the issue that the doctor prescribed the contraceptive in the first place.  So while a woman suffers from a higher risk of strokes and cancer, doctors see the benefits of her low risk of pregnancy as a greater good.  

03. Freedom from Oppression 
Oppression results when there is a lack of choices.  When it comes to feminism, the desire for freedom has manifested itself in many ways.  The right to have a voice and choice in the political system through the suffrage movement was the first way feminism strove against oppression of women.

However, in terms of their sexual lives, women’s health is oppressed by the lack of choices that are presented to them in the average medical care center.  In today’s medical offices, women’s health issues are quickly fixed with a contraception prescription. In the visits that I have made to the doctor’s  office for issues such as acne, sever PMS cramping, and fainting spells, each time has resulted in another effort of a doctor or nurse to prescribe the pill.  This leaves women feeling like the only choice they have in terms of answers to their health problems is contraception.  This is oppressive – a lack of choice – since women are not only denied informed about the health risks of contraception, but also denied a conversation about the multitude of answers that could range from vitamin supplements and diet changes to fertility charting and NaPro technology .

Additionally, long-term prescriptions on contraceptives can ruin a woman’s fertility.  Without the ability to conceive children, simply because one has synthetically tricked one’s body into thinking they were pregnant for so long that conception isn’t possible.   This lack of choice in terms of conceiving a child ruins the pill for being pro-woman, and places it into a category of oppressive medication that fuels the anti-women and objectifying state of today’s culture.

04. Natural is Better
In a world where we strive to leave less of a carbon footprint by driving fuel efficient, cars, cleaning with non-chemical cleaning supplies and eating organic, we are still stuffing women’s bodies full of unhealthy chemicals simply for the convenience of sex-on-demand without the results of a pregnancy.

Essentially, when a woman takes birth control pills, she imposes synthetic hormones onto her fertility cycle which is most of the time simply naturally doing what is supposed to do.
Birth control contains estrogen levels.  This hormone tells a woman’s pituitary gland that she is pregnant – which explains a multitude of the side effects of the pill.  Fatigue, nausea, migraines, and general soreness are all experienced by naturally pregnant women.  In the case of women on contraceptives, their body is chemically pregnant but without any of the natural good effects of an actual pregnancy.

05.  Future Women

Although many will lean on the radical feminist and pro-choice view of “my body, my choice,” it turns out that the body of a conceived child is not a woman’s body to oppress.  Women have seen oppression in their political, active and sexual lives in the past, they cannot continue the vicious cycle of oppression (lack of choice) when it comes to the next generation of women.

If all humans, regardless of their sex, have the right to a choice, what about the choices of the unborn child in the womb?  If the unborn baby is a girl, her chances of dying from abortion are steadily climbing.  The contraceptive mentality towards women (in or out of the womb) is the reason for gender-decided infanticide.  For instance, in China, partially due to the one child policy, there are now 120-140 boys for every 100 girls despite the governmental ban on sex-based abortions.  And it’s not just China.  In 2014, The Daily Mail ran a story that claimed women are disappearing on the national census due to sex-based abortion.  They wrote,

“Official figures suggest as many as 4,700 females have disappeared from the latest national census records of England and Wales, raising fears that it indicates the illegal practice of sex-selection abortion has become prevalent in the UK.”

Contraception, and the resulting abortions upon failed contraceptives, are killing women.  Literally.  Both mother and their unborn children are suffering greatly from the effects of objectification of women in what Pope Francis has labeled the ‘throw-away culture’ and what Pope John Paul II talked about when he mentions a cycle of use due to viewing people as things.

No person who claims to be pro-woman and defines themselves with the label of feminism should be pro-contraception.  

I Went on a Dating Fast and it Didn’t Ruin My Love Life

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In January 2016, I went on a dating fast after listening to a talk at a SEEK FOCUS conference.  After multiple conversations with both women and men, I realized that I was fed up with the way that I treated the men in my life.  I was sick of getting caught up into the spiral of mentally stalking them, planning my wedding with them before they knew my name, and using them for my emotional benefit.  I realized that I wasn’t ready for a relationship if someone was to ask me out because I was so desperate for an eternal love that I was ready to stuff temporary, human love into my life to fill the gap in my heart.

Dating fasts are a pretty hot topic.  Some say you should avoid them at all costs.  Others recommend it at the first sign of relationship woes.  However, I benefited immensely from my five month dating fast and would offer a word of advice advice to those wondering about how good dating fasts can really be.  The success of your dating fast,and the success of your future relationships, will depend on your level of intentionality.

You cannot have an un-intentional dating fast and hope it ends in an intentional relationship.  If you do not put time into building the relationship between you and God, the subsequent human relationships will follow that lead.  Ultimately, you can have an intentional, God-filled dating fast or you can have a dating fast that disguises the fact that you just want to take a break from dating in general.

My dating fast was not a success because it ended with me meeting the man that I am now engaged to. My dating fast was successful because it helped me discern what God was calling me to in life. At the end of the five months that I took off of dating, I was a better version of myself and much better prepared for a relationship…and it just so happens that I met Joseph a couple days afterward.

“The greatest deception and the deepest source of unhappiness is the illusion of finding life by excluding God.” (JPII)

If my dating fast had not been 100% wrapped up in a desire for happiness from God instead of a human lover, it would have failed.  It would have gone on for months of sinking despair, wondering if I was ever going to find or be found by someone, and planning out my life with seventeen cats in a mountaintop cabin.

We’re made for more than what the world is offering us. I am tired of sweeping up the broken pieces of the hearts of people that I love because of the problem of use in today’s dating culture.  We’re surrounded by the hook up phenomena, bombarded with opportunities through apps on our phone, pornography on our laptops and attention at the bars. It’s easy to find someone to spend the night with in order to get a quick fix of the emotions of love.  It’s accessible to find someone to use.

To pursue someone’s heart with intentionality and clarity is challenging.  To form a relationship where there isn’t a shred of use is counter-cultural.  Maybe that’s why so many people decide to throw in the towel and abandon the idea of a romance that leads you to Heaven.

The relationship that our hearts yearn for is not perfect.  It takes hard conversations, immense and incredible vulnerability and trust.  There are moments of laughing so hard you think your heart will burst, and moments of soul-wrenching pain.  As a dear friend once told me, “The greater your capacity for the love of another person, the greater your capacity for suffering because of the other person.” But there is God in every moment if you let Him in – and not only let Him in, but make Him the center of your relationship.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how to date in today’s world.  No amount of google searches or relationship advice books or even blogging will prepare you for the human, messy, rawness of dating another person.  But the relationship that you can be assured of is your relationship with God.  Invest in Him first, put Him in the center and the rest will follow.

Dating fasts are not a quick-fix answer, nor are they right for everyone.  They should not be used to avoid dating, discernment or healing.  If done intentionally, dating fasts offer an incredible opportunity for your soul to be pursued by the ultimate lover  – God.  In doing so, your souls capacity to love will expand and effect how you treat everyone else in your life. Regardless of whether you decide to go on a dating fast or not, set your eyes on Christ and fall in love with the maker of your soul.

“The capacity to love is determined by the fact that man is ready to seek the good consciously with others, to subordinate himself to this good because of others, or to subordinate himself to others because of this good.” (JPII, Love and Responsibility) 

 

The Filtered Life

For my birthday, Joseph got me a new phone.  Among many great features that comes with this phone, (including a fiancee that knows how it works so much better than I do and is built in tech-support), this means my snapchat finally has filters.  And while that may seem to be an insignificant factor, I’ve had filter-envy for quite a while, since my old phone did not support the app’s filter features.

Filter Free

So I went to town and filtered the heck out of one photo. After a couple of swipes, I realized that what I was left with was a girl who was me, but not quite.  Her skin was smoother.  Her face was a little thinner.  It was like Chloe, the improved version.  And I didn’t like it.

I’m a perfectionist, and so I should adore the filtered life.  No one can see my flaws, my not-so-hot makeup application skills and that spot of acne that I’ve been dealing with this month.  But instead of falling in love with this perfected, digital version of me, I realized that the more I have become comfortable with who I am (imperfect flaws and all),  the less I want to see this “perfect Chloe.”

In some ways, the filters that I can swipe onto my photos remind me of how much I haven’t limited filtering just to my snapchat or instagram.  Often I find myself filtering my off-screen life as well.  I tell people that I’m “doing fine” and bury stress deeper and deeper in an attempt to make it look like I’ve got it all together.  I avoid heart to heart conversations because something may come up that makes me uncomfortable.

I’m guilty of this filtering.  A month ago, I decided to not accept my graduate school interview due to future dreams of being a stay-at-home-mom.  But when people ask me what my plans are for graduation, I usually offer them what they want to hear. “Well, I’m not quite sure yet.”  #filtering….why am I afraid to boldly state the truth? That I love littles and I’m looking forward to a day when I can see Joseph and myself in the faces of our kids? That graduate school was a safety zone for me, and not challenging enough for the radical life I know God has in store?

What would happen if we removed all those filters from our lives? If we lived fully and without the gauge of likes on our photos and comments of others?  How much our lives would change.  So my challenge today is not to post an unedited photo of yourself.  You can do that and not have a shred of change in your off-screen life. Instead, take off a filter today in your interactions with others.  Be vulnerable.  Admit fault.  Ask for help.  Because people are desperate to get to know you…the real you.  The Chloe who is desperately afraid of fish (I know, it’s an irrational fear), is on her fourth cup of coffee today and is turning off her snapchat filters is much more of an interesting person than that “Perfect Chloe” who can be posted to a snapchat story.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)