Because anything worth doing is difficult at first

I love when people remind me of truths that I need to hear right when I need to hear them.

Even when those people aren’t even actually talking to me.

Hey. Let’s hang out.

When I was in Texas last week for Thanksgiving, I went to this huge lights display at the Rangers ballpark (I refuse to call it Globe Life) with my aunt and uncle and my cousins and their boys. While we were standing in line for ice skating, a woman and her daughter walked by, and I only caught one line of their conversation (something the mom said to the little girl)—but it was all I needed to hear.

Anything worth doing is difficult at first.

I have no idea what the context was, and I honestly don’t care. That kind of statement could be said anytime and anywhere and still be chalked full of nothing but truth.

I started thinking about all of the things I’ve done in my life that have been worth the risks or the pain they caused. Moving to California is obviously up top on that list—I endured some of the most challenging few months of my life as I tried to adjust to living in a brand new place with no familiar faces and suppress all of my tears the entire time (though I failed pretty badly at that in a few unforgettable moments).

One difficult thing about living in Cali is being so far away from this one.

Running and racing are also pretty high up there. There’s a crap-ton of training that goes into getting yourself ready enough to toe that start line with confidence, and the miles and workouts along the way certainly aren’t always walks in the park (like, literally, you can’t walk through training if you want to win).

Honestly, though, I think some of the things that have been the most difficult but worth more than I ever could have imagined are the chances I’ve taken that didn’t end the way that I wanted them to end—because they’ve helped me to become the person I strive to be.

A little more than two years ago, I poured my heart out to someone who had been toying with my emotions for far too long. He clearly didn’t care about me the way I cared about him, and he was able to walk far, far away from the situation while I stayed behind and tried to clean up the shattered pieces of my heart without letting the tears that wanted to leave my eyes get the best of me. My heart had never hurt so much, and I didn’t know what to do with all of the emotions that I wasn’t used to letting anyone see.

And this one.

If I had to rewind time, I’d still tell him all over again, though.

I don’t know when I’ll meet my forever guy or if I ever will, but I do know that I’m not willing to sit back and watch chances pass me by. It took a lot of years and a lot of pain to get to this point, but I know now that I’m worth the risk of letting my heart lead and trusting that, no matter what happens, my identity is not found in any man, and my worth does not depend on whether or not he chooses me out of every other girl in the entire world.

Because I’ve already been chosen by the only One who will never let me down.

I started a book that asks you to pray for your future husband for an entire month—31 days of praying for a man you’ve never met before. It was weird for me at first and, if I’m being perfectly truthful, a bit discouraging. You see, I’ve always had complete and unhesitant faith in everything I pray for with the exception of one thing: someone actually loving me and wanting to spend the rest of his life loving me. I’m not trying to throw a pity party—it’s simply something I’ve struggled with for years that I’m praying through often.

This is Carly, one of my favorite college volleyball players ever. She’s amazing and is learning more and more each day what it means to be brave.

My identity is in Christ, and it is certainly possible for me to be fully known and fully loved (especially because I already am). God has a plan for me, and it’s a plan that I need to trust and pray about without any doubt or reservations. As my sweet almost mother-in-law (well, she’s my brother’s mother-in-law, but I’ve adopted her, too, because I love her so much) reminds me, “it’s up to Him to decide if what you ask for lines up with what you need. But never be afraid to ask for it all. He loves for us to come BOLDLY to Him.”

I’ve been trying to live boldly in every aspect of my life, so why should prayer be any exception? Why should I not be praying for someone to love me and then praying for that actual man? Reflecting upon that has really helped me through this devotional book. The first few prayers were pretty weak—I was basically asking God just to let me think that it’s possible for me to be loved but that I was still struggling. My prayers have changed now, though. Instead, I’m asking boldly for God to bring a man in my life who can walk through the rest of it with me.

Someone who knows everything about me and still loves me. Someone who wants to celebrate my victories with me. Someone who wants to comfort me after the losses. Someone who wants to be known by me. Someone who lets me love him for who he is and is perfectly comfortable being his true self around me at all times. Someone who makes me laugh and appreciates my quirks. Someone who loves that I eat Wheat Thins at every meal and doesn’t get embarrassed when I bust them out at a public restaurant. Someone who carries ketchup packets with him for the times when we’re at a Mexican restaurant, and I’ve run out or forgotten mine for my quesadillas. Someone who will watch sports with me. Someone who will pray with me and worship with me.

Someone who will give me his heart and not give mine back to me in thousands of tiny pieces.

It may not happen exactly as I hope, and it may not happen at all, but I’m still going to pray boldly for it. It may have caused me heartache along the way, and there may be more to come, but that’s a risk that I’m willing to take.

So take those chances. Chase those dreams. Know that YOU ARE WORTH THE FIGHT. Let yourself believe that those things are possible, even when they seem like they aren’t.

Because anything worth doing is difficult at first.

Hearts and love, not swords

Guys tend to run away from me.

And that even includes my own family members.

Both of my cousins have all boys, and I don’t get to see them that often, so the five precious little ones were a bit shy at first when I tried talking to them on Thanksgiving. They are all still pretty young–from almost 9 years old to 3 or 4–and so they don’t necessarily remember me all too well from past holidays and whatnot.

But that shyness quickly transformed into something else.

I don’t even know how it all started, but the boys began pretending to be “spies” while I was peacefully watching football near the warm fire. I joined in, and soon I found myself hiding behind corners and trying to surprise attack them before they could do so to me. The next thing I knew, we were all upstairs with foam swords in our hands and beating one another senselessly. (Well, they were hitting me, and I was just using two swords to ward off their ambush.)

After probably too long–we were causing quite a ruckus in the house and possibly got in trouble for running through the kitchen–I finally told the boys that we were calling a truce. One shouted, “I don’t even know what that means!” I explained it and essentially forced them to agree to a truce. Except the oldest. He couldn’t be fooled into peace.

Yes, I own one…

I went back downstairs and plopped myself in front of the game again, but it wasn’t long before I had five or seven (I think some had two) foam swords pounding me on the head and in the face.

Apparently I needed to re-explain the meaning of the word “truce.”

I started telling them I was not going to fight them–I would only support hearts and love. I put my hands in a heart shape, but the boys immediately began attempting to break it with their swords. And then they ran from me when I tried to hug them. So hugs became my new form of weaponry, apparently.

This proceeded for a long time until both sets of boys’ mothers noticed what was going on. They informed their adorable (they are still so cute even when they’re being mean) sons that boys are not to hit girls and that they needed to hug me. Then all five of them, a few begrudgingly, gave me hugs. From that moment, the true truce began, and we were friends again. We were family. They were sweet to me the rest of the evening, let me help them get food and stop a nosebleed, and all willingly hugged me again when I left for the night.

I can’t exactly speak for the boys, but I’m going to, anyway, and say that we were all happier when we were being kind. And I learned a few things from those boys that night:

Love warms the heart. I’m not going to lie, even though the boys turned on pretty much everyone (except for their moms and dads, my aunt, and my mom) and used their swords against my brother, my dad, and my uncle, I still didn’t like being attacked by them. And it wasn’t just because they were messing up my hair. But their hugs were so sweet that they made me forget all about the previous war atmosphere, and when the youngest kissed me on the cheek, my heart melted.

It’s better to know people than show people. When you’re trying to show people that you can outsmart them, you aren’t helping anyone. But, when you’re actually able to talk to people you can get to know so much more about them. It’s hard to have meaningful conversations with others when you both have swords in your hands, and you can absolutely have a deep, quality chat with a young kid–even if it is about desserts.

Love always wins. When the boys were reminded by their mothers that they need to be kind and loving to people, their demeanors completely changed. Love sure won that battle pretty easily. No shocker there.

I’ve said it many times before, and I will never stop saying it: I love love. It’s just such a wonderful thing, and it truly changes the way we make people feel. When we are hurtful to others, it causes hearts pain, and I can’t imagine how it could truly make anyone feel joyous about treating someone else in such a negative way. But, when you love, there’s a genuine warmth that can’t be chilled. Sure, it’s often challenging to love people, but I just don’t see how it can ever be the wrong choice.

Hearts and love, people. Hearts and love.