Monday, February 29, 2016

Ten things that shouldn't need explaining regarding sexual harassment.

1. When you sexually harass someone, you don't get to complain when you get reported.

1a. If you continue to bug the person you harassed about reporting you, that, my friends, is continued harassment.

2. It doesn't have to be actual touching.

3. It isn't something you have the right to blow off as "just a joke." If you harass someone, it is very real to them and you don't have the right to pretend that it isn't.

4. Men can be victims of it same as women can, even though it just isn't as frequent in this society.

5. That said, their experiences are just as valid and real as those of women.

6. No, sexual harassment is not even in the same ballpark torment-wise as actual sexual assault, but the fact that you didn't rape or molest someone isn't an excuse for you to harass them.

7. Each and every person on this earth has inherent dignity and worth, two things that you don't have the right to take away or damage just because you are bored or turned on or any other adjective.

7a. Don't give them value because they are someone's "wife/mother/daughter/sister" or "husband/father/son/brother." Give them value because they are a person, created in the image of God as His greatest treasure.

8. Do not dare invalidate the feelings of someone who has had to deal with being sexually harassed, particularly by someone in their day-to-day lives. The feeling of being seen as nothing more than someone to be used or objectified is disgusting and damaging.

9. I know we will likely all do it at some point, even to a small extent, and I know that it's far too common in this society, but that doesn't make it okay in any way, shape, or form. It is not excusable. End of discussion.

10. It can be stopped. It doesn't have to happen. We can stand up for each other and stop it when we see it. We can do better. We can be better.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Ableism sucks.

Today I had a Skype call with my Professional Development Seminar professor.

Based solely on the fact that I had a seizure that was out of my control (flickering light in the bathroom at work) a few weeks ago before his class, he told me he doesn't think at this point that I'll be able to sell myself to get a job after graduation.

He doesn't think I can do what I need to do to succeed because I have a seizure disorder.

He doesn't believe I'm good at my job and my education (yes, he literally said "I don't believe you").

And then he excused all of this by saying "I'm just trying to be objective. You may be good at getting good grades, but getting a job isn't like that."

I'm so tired of people doubting my abilities or determination simply because they know I have health problems, especially ones who don't have a clue about how I live or all that I've fought through.

But I suppose that it'll just make it that much more fun when I prove him wrong.

Prejudice in all forms sucks, y'all. The golden rule isn't that hard.

Be like Ellen. Be kind to one another.

And please, for the love of all that is good in this world, don't doubt the abilities of people who are different.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When you fall in love...

There are things you don't think about when you fall in love with the wrong person.

You don't think about the danger.

You don't think about the chances of them hurting you.

You don't think about what'll happen if the whole thing crashes to the ground and you can't do anything but watch your greatest dreams crumble like an avalanche.

You don't think about the fights, and you forget about the pain, because when you fall in love, no loss can outweigh that gain.

It's all butterflies and heart eyes and racing hearts and suddenly you're not so smart, because when you fall in love, all common sense goes out the window like a bird let out of its cage.

Flaws don't matter, because your love is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. They're the greatest thing since sliced bread, but when you fall in love, you forget that even the best made bread can get stale.

When you fall in love, no one can convince you it's bad news. The whole world outside of this love gets hazy and it's not until you realize you're going crazy that you start to think maybe your friends were on to something.

Rose-colored glasses put it all in a great light, but the great light covers up the warning signs. The lines from where you are to where you will be safe get lost even though you'll eventually wish they had stood out.

When those rose-colored glasses come off, you'll start to wonder how they were ever on to begin with. You'll be stuck wishing you could turn back time, and as the heartbreak rattles in your rib cage like a prisoner in a cell, you won't see the benefits of the lessons you've learned.

When you fall in love, you think it will last forever, and when you get your heart broken, you can't imagine that burning ache in your chest ever going away.

You don't think about the possibility of things changing when you least expect them to, but the truth is that even the people you think you know best can surprise you. And when they do, it's hard to imagine that knife working its way through your chest will ever leave you. It feels like the only things that leave are the good feelings and the hopes for a future that doesn't end with you sitting on the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's wondering where it all fell to pieces.

When you fall in love, it's easy to think that this might be your happily ever after. You hear their laughter and think "I could listen to this for the rest of my life." You don't think about what you'll do if you're wrong and the good days come to an end. You don't think about what will happen if you break instead of just bend or how you'll pick yourself back up when life has to go on and people have other things to do besides help you.

When you fall in love, you don't think about what could go wrong.

You think about the feeling you get when you lay in their arms and talk all night long and how their touch makes everything seem okay even when it's not.

You think about how their eyes shine like fireworks and how just mentioning their name makes you feel like you're smiling all the way down to your soul.

You think about how their smile lights up your whole life and makes you believe that no amount of strife could ruin that giddy feeling you get in your belly when you look at them.

And for every time you're left behind to pick up the pieces of your shattered heart, you get more and more afraid and wonder if love could ever last.

But then, you find that one person who fights for you like you fight for them. That one person who sees you and loves you enough to accept you but also loves you enough to not leave you as you are. You grow to be better together than you ever were apart.

Eventually, you realize that all the mistakes you made and all the heartbreak you felt led you right where you were supposed to be. There, with them, the person you choose to love and who chooses to love you, even when it's ugly and messy and hard. And that promise for future you is enough for present you not to give up and hide away.

Jesus promises that you don't always know what's happening at the moment, but later you will understand. Your life to the fullest doesn't always look like you think it should, but have faith that he'll lead you to love far better than you can imagine.

Hold on, child. It will all make sense one day.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016


I don't know why I don't have much to say these days.

Maybe I'm just tired.

Maybe I'm just overwhelmed by life.

Maybe I just don't feel so comfortable putting my life out there anymore.

A lot of things have happened in the past year, and recently especially, that have made me seriously question who I can trust. And when I can't trust people, putting my whole heart out on the internet seems like a bad idea.

I'm reevaluating a lot about my life and the people I have in it.

Some days, I just feel like withdrawing from everyone because it seems like Clayton is the only person who isn't going to break my heart. It's ridiculous to think that, I know, but he's the one who is always here and has never done anything to shake my trust in him. I get things wrong and I make stupid mistakes, yet he is the one person in my life that I know is never going to hold it against me.

I don't know what I'm going to do from here. But what I do know is that with someone like him in my life, someone who teaches me more about God than any church service I've ever been to and understands 1 Corinthians love better than anyone else I've ever met, it's all gonna be okay. Because I know that no matter what happens with the other relationships in my life, I don't have to face any of it alone.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Way You Live

Today is the birthday of one of my brothers. Naturally, I called and sang for him. I even made an Instagram post for him because he was one of the first ones Bryce introduced me to, and thus was one of the first ones to integrate me into the group. He knows that he's always been very dear to me.

My boys are all very aware of the fact that I am a) very sentimental and b) very open about my gratitude and love for them. And lucky for me, they all seem to appreciate it, or at the very least, they accept me just as I am and don't expect me to change. So this particular brother and I have been texting throughout the day today because he originally sent me a message to thank me for the song left on his voicemail and the IG post. One part of the exchange said this:

Me: If you ever need a friend or just someone to listen, I'm here for you anytime. There's not a thing I wouldn't do for my boys. You guys saved me.
Him: That means a lot. And the same goes for you! And don't say that. You saved yourself. You're a lot stronger than you think, Mal! Keep bringing positivity!
Me: No, see, here's the thing. I'm strong because I have people like you. That year was harder for me than I let on. I genuinely don't know if or how I would have made it to graduation without you boys. When my seizures came back as frequent and hard as they did, it was a battle not to let my depression win. But being around you guys with your infectious, bold, silly personalities, you guys made everything seem okay in the world any time I was with you. And the way you guys accepted and believed in me, that kept me going on the days I felt like giving up because it helped me remember that I could do anything. I pushed myself to go to your games because you guys brightened up my whole life. Even when I was too sick to leave my dorm, I knew that you guys were with me every step of the way. You guys made me your sister when I was scared to trust you and wasn't even sure I wanted you to. Now, I can't imagine my life without you in it, and I hope I never have to.

Yet again, these guys have proven that they don't understand just how much they did for me. And in a way, I get that. There weren't a lot of outright actions they did that made them so special. But that's the thing - they didn't have to do things.

It was just the way they lived and the way they loved me that saved me from the darkness and saved me from giving up on myself.

It was the way they made me feel accepted and normal, two feelings that haven't been so frequent in my life, that reinforced the lessons I've been struggling to learn about what I'm worth and what I deserve.

It was the way they made sure I knew they were always there for me to talk to, the way they listened, that kept me from thinking I had to do everything that year on my own.

It was the way they asked me how I was feeling any time we saw each other that kept me from forgetting that people genuinely cared about what I was struggling through.

It was the way they kept me smiling without even trying that helped me remember that the bad days wouldn't last forever.

And now, looking back, because there weren't a lot of specific actions they can point out, they underestimate the power of the way they lived their lives, and that's why I'll never stop reminding them of all the good they are capable of without even trying. They saved me from the darkness and from myself just because of who they are and the way they lived. Because of that, any time I tell my story to people, they have always been and will always be a part of it because they made me a stronger person and a better friend.

I know they're not the only people like this, but they are the most obvious example of it in my life.

To me, it seems like we're surrounded by so much bad stuff in the world that we forget the power of choosing to care, choosing to listen, choosing to be present, choosing to love, especially when other people don't or won't. These are things you can't always put words to, but they are the things that can radically change lives. They are the things that beat the darkness. They are the things that can save people from themselves. That there is often the best gift you can possibly give someone.

Two years later, and my boys are still teaching me about what unconditional love looks like. To this day, I have my soccer ball sitting on my desk that serves as a constant reminder of the army of brothers I have at my back every step of the way, as well as a reminder to pray for them. Hundreds of miles may stand between us, but those boys still help keep me going, and if I can just help them understand the power they have, then I feel like I have succeeded.

So if there's one thing I can say to those of you reading this tonight, it's this: the way you live holds great power. It can be used for greatness and help strengthen people, teach them, and change their lives for the better, or it can be used to break them and shatter already fragile hearts. Choose the former. Beautiful things will happen.

To my boys (because I'm hoping at least some of you will read this): You are more powerful than you know. You are capable of more good than you can imagine. I'm serious when I say that you saved me, and the gratitude and love I feel for you exceeds words, and you know how hard it is for me to be out of words. Keep being you, keep living the way you have since I met you, and mine won't be the only life you change. Trust me on that one. You are influential and mighty and fierce in the best possible way.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Already Enough

I want to be seen without being obscene.
I want to be special without being a spectacle.
I want to be pretty without being promiscuous.
I want to be safe without being sheltered, intelligent without being intimidating, nice without being naive, and fun without being a flirt.
I want to be accepted without being expected.
I want to be invited without being indicted.
I want to belong without losing myself.
I want to be strong without being controlling, and allowed to be weak without being a cliche.
I want to be challenged without being pitied.
I want to be kind without being a pushover.
I want to be stylish without being spoiled, joyful without being fake, and heard without being fixed.
I want to be honest without being rude.
I want to be patient without being indecisive.
I want to be simple without being plain, and sassy without being, well, you know...
I want to question without being judged, and I want to answer without judging.
I want to be loved without needing everyone to like me.
I want to be funny without being told I'm not allowed to be.
I want to be whole, even though, at times, I've been shattered to pieces.
I want to be held without being confined.
I want to be cared for without being controlled.
I want to be chosen without being claimed, and I want to be clear when I say, "Enough is enough."
I want to know my identity without having to adopt someone else's.
I want to see myself without the filters of what everyone tells me I should be.
I want to be comfortable in my own skin without feeling that I need to show it, and without feeling shamed when I don't hide enough of it.
I want to feel beautiful without anyone telling me whether it's right or wrong to want that.
I want to be amazing, and I want someone other than myself to remind me that I am.
I want to be captivating, because that's how I was made to be.
(I want to be seen without being obscene.
I want to be special without being a spectacle.
I want to be pretty without being promiscuous.
I want to be safe without being sheltered, intelligent without being intimidating, nice without being naive, and fun without being a flirt.)
I want to be seen without being obscene.


There's nothing like crying at 1 am because the words of a video hit you straight in the gut, is there? That's what happened to me when Jon released this last night. Why? Because this video, these words, they're exactly what I meant when I chose enough as my One Word for this year, and I didn't even realize it.

I just want to be enough. I want to be enough for people to love me. I want to be accepted just as I am without feeling like I have to try to get people to like me. That's why things worked out with my soccer boys so well; they were the first people in my life who never, not for one second, made me feel like I had to be anyone other than exactly who I was. They saw me - like, actually saw me - and without saying a word, told me that I was enough by deciding to love me when I wasn't even sure I wanted them to.

I know that. Please don't think that I don't know how much those boys love me. I do. I have a ball sitting on my desk every day to remind me that I have a whole crew of brothers with me. But after some things that have happened in the past year, there have been these voices ricocheting around inside my head trying to convince me that I wasn't enough for the people who left and that the people who are here now are going to decide I'm not enough for them, either. It's a constant battle for me to shut those thoughts down and believe that the ones who tell me they love me are telling me the truth, no matter what lies I've been told from other people. I want to believe that the way that I love people is enough, that it's not some curse dooming me to a life of those around me deciding that somehow I'm simultaneously too much to deal with and not enough to be their friend.

I want to believe that I am captivating as I was made to be and that my shattered pieces sown back together are enough to hold the relationships that I crave. I want to believe my friends when they tell me I'm amazing. I want my love for people to be enough to earn me respect without making me an easy target to be taken advantage of. I want to be seen without having to try so hard all the time. I want to believe that I am enough to be loved and accepted.

I know in my gut that I am wanted. I have people in my life who have loved me better than I could have ever imagined and taught me more about God than any church service I've ever been to. I just want to believe that I am wanted, so I can stop letting the voices of the lies I've been told gain control over my sanity. Knowing something and believing it are two very different things.

But there's something else Jon said in a previous video that actually fits perfectly here. It's from "The 4 Identity Myths":

So our decision today is: whose voice are you going to listen to? Are you going to listen to the voices of the world that are dead set on convincing you that you're not enough, or are you going to listen to the voice of God who continually tells us in His Word, through prayer, through worship, through community, and mostly through His Son Jesus, that in Him and in a relationship with Christ, He makes us enough?

Unfortunately, the world is never going to completely get it. We're broken people surrounded by other broken people who hold on tighter to the hurt than remembering what it feels like to be happy and loved, because negative voices are almost always much louder than the voices of truth.

A man's ego and pride will have him running through a red light. A woman's fears and insecurities will have her stopping at a green one. We're all so used to the bullshit and games that we don't even know how to genuinely connect with one another anymore. She got played so now she avoids getting close. He got played so now all he does is play games. We're more concerned with how we got hurt than we are with how to be happy. The only thing most are learning from the pain is more excuses. And some of us could be so great for one another if we'd just "man up" and face things. Love isn't hard. People are just difficult.
- Rob Hills, Sr.

A friend of mine posted that on Facebook yesterday. Humans, we're difficult creatures. We're difficult to love people and we're difficult to let ourselves be loved. One other thing that struck me about that video last night is the variety of people featured in it. I know I'm not the only with the feelings and fears I'm talking about here. But I think we're all so ashamed and afraid of being judged that we keep this stuff to ourselves when, in reality, so many of us are just dying to hear that someone else gets it, that we're not dramatic or crazy or overreacting. Imagine the freedom that we could find if we all just stopped playing games and told the truth about what is in our heads and hearts.

I think we all want to be loved and accepted and seen as enough so desperately that we forget the truth: We are not the opinion of the people who don't know us. We are not the opinion of the people who hurt us. We are not even the opinion of the people who love us. Our worth is found in who God says we are. We are masterpieces, created in the image of a perfect Father who makes nothing less than beauty. We are sons and daughters of the King. We are princes and princesses.

We are already enough.

"The single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and be loved." - St. Augustine

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Don't look at the mountain. Just climb.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't stopped drinking soda. Because I hate coffee and tea and MAN do I wish I had caffeine in me this week.

For some reason, even though I'm so tired at the end of the day, I can't sleep at night. Thanks, universe. It's not like I need to restore my energy levels or anything.

But I have no choice but to keep pushing through and stay on top of all the crap I have to do because graduation is 104 days away and if I get into one of these competitive Ph.D. programs, I need to impress them with my last semester.

It'll all work out and get done. It always does.

Just gotta take it one hour, one day, one week at a time.

I just hope I don't spend the entirety of the next 104 days in this sleep-deprived haze I've been in for the past 9.

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