Dead Horse Beatdown

Good Morning, friends.

gethip

I am listening to “Jealous” by Nick Jonas and sipping some Sumatra coffee out of my Anthropologie “K” mug. It’s Friday, so my mind is on all the good stuff going on in my world right now as opposed to all of the negative. But I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that’s been popping up, over, and over, and over in my life.

This concept of Forgiveness.

I know I sound like a broken record. I know you’re sick of hearing about it/reading about it. But I truly think it is the most important thing we can ever do, and the most beautiful gift you can give to yourself and another.

So which side of the dodecahedron that is Forgiveness has been landing face up, these days?

I’ve been obsessed, as of late, with trying to decipher when to forgive.

Let me preface this. One of my favorite soccer players (they’re all my favorite, really, let’s be honest) really disappointed me, not too long ago. Ryan Babel, who formerly played in the English Premier League for my brother’s favorite club, Liverpool (and therefore has been being followed on all social media platforms by yours truly) made an uh-oh. But… actually, it wasn’t an uh-oh. Let me explain.

He decided to respond to a less-than-positive tweet from a female fan by telling her that he doesn’t speak to females about football, and to “go get her dad or brother,” or something like that.

Obviously, the feminist volcano in me began to bubble and I couldn’t believe what I Just read. What I later discovered, after following the impending train wreck, was that he really meant what he said.

In an attempt to “cover his tail,” Ryan began offering a bunch of follow up tweets that just dug him a bigger hole. Saying things like that he doesn’t have anything against women and appreciates his female fans… but only a man could truly understand the ins and outs of football.

Obviously, as a die-hard football (soccer) fan, I was mega offended. Especially being an American, where “football” only means one thing. I’m always, always, always the only girl in the room who can tell you anything about what’s going on in Europe in regards to “football.” It’s the only sport I follow, the only sport I watch, the only sport I keep tabs on, the only sport I like, the only sport I attempt to still play. So for Mr. Babel to dismiss my intelligence, or capacity to be knowledgeable of it, because of my vagina… well it pissed me off.

So what does this have to do with forgiveness?

Well, at one point, Ryan Babel finally got ahold of his publicist, (or maybe some common sense), and gave a sincere-sounding, heartfelt apology. He was sorry to all he offended. That wasn’t his intention. Blah blah blah.

So here’s the question. DO I HAVE TO FORGIVE HIM?

 

Now, I know Ryan didn’t attack me, personally. I know he didn’t call me, personally, and ask me for forgiveness. I know I have never met this guy and I can’t decipher what his true feelings are in the situation. But based on the evidence I do have—I don’t believe he’s really sorry. I don’t believe he didn’t mean to offend anyone. I believe he’s a misogynist. I believe he ran wild with his “freedom of speech” and is trying to recover from the damage his true, ugly feelings caused.

So if he’s not really sorry, do I have to forgive?

 

I’ll examine another event that, perhaps, is more relevant.

When I was younger, my parents, so graciously, gave me a cell phone. T-Mobile. It was a red flip phone. Maybe Samsung? I was just happy it was mine.

We had a family plan. I only had like 100 texts a month I could send. Something crazy like that. But, consistently, every month, I would go FAR beyond my texting allowance. Every month it was the same thing. I would stalk the mailbox. When the bill came, I would attempt to intercept it. But, obviously, my parents always found out. I’d get in colossal trouble. Get grounded. Get my cell phone taken away. I’d put up a front like I had learned my lesson and I was sorry and yada, yada, yada.

But as soon as I got my phone back, I was right back to living like we had Unlimited Text Messaging.

But my parents always forgave me. Always gave me another chance. Always let me try to prove myself again.

I wonder if they knew that I wasn’t really sorry for texting, but just sorry I couldn’t intercept the bill in time and somehow, magically pay for it before they saw it. They had to have, right? So why choose to forgive me when I was never really sorry? Here’s what I think:

  • I think they knew I didn’t have the brain capacity to truly understand what I was doing. Yes, I was 15 or 16, or however old I was. I knew what right and wrong were. But as a stupid, little, insecure, teenybopper—I was completely consumed with myself; wholly obsessed with me and my world. The epitome of selfishness. And not because I was this terrible soul… but because hormones and high school and drama, ya know? And to some extent—I would have to accept a punishment for my actions. It’s not like they just turned the other cheek and let me do whatever the hell I felt like doing. But they always chose to see the best in me, and believe that I could rise above my own self-centeredness.
  • They were overwhelmingly concerned with setting an example for me. So here I am, a teenager. I can’t drive yet, but I’m about to be at that space in my life. But when your mobility is restricted like that, your UNIVERSE is in your home. It is nothing like it is now, where I am never at my house, and never see my roommate, and probably spend more time in traffic than I do within my own apartment. I was always, always, always at home. Everyday. Everynight. Surrounded by these people that looked just like me and kept buying me stuff. So, since I’m in this terrarium of my parents and Colin (older brother responsible for my soccer-affections) they had an insane responsibility to make sure that terrarium was a colorful, happy, responsible, well-sustained one. Because one day, I would bust out of it and have to run my own little ecosystem. And I’m sure they knew I would look back on instances like these for guidance.
  • Their hearts. Something happens when you grow up. This earthquake happens, one day, and your parents are no longer these towers of safety and protection and security. That idea topples and they become the same height as you—in all senses of the word. You become peers. You start conducting yourself in a similar way and you realize that they are not infinite sources of wealth and wisdom. That they’re human. And that you’re human. And those insecure thoughts you are constantly having may not actually ever go away. That they had and still have the same thoughts. That they don’t have it all together and that you are more alike than you are different. And in those moments, I examine how closely our hearts are synced. And how these intricate peaks and valleys in my personality are just as much from them as my nose and my earlobes are. And I realize that this pensive mindset I always exist in is probably the same one they lived in. And this compassion I feel when I take the time to reflect was probably passed down to me. And that all the grace and goodness they showed to me was integrated in their DNA—in our DNA. And that they were just so good to me because they are simply good people.

So I’m still left with the question, when do I forgive?

Do I wait for, what I deem to be, a sincere apology? Do I wait until the behavior changes enough for my liking to offer true forgiveness? Or do I dole out forgiveness as freely and generously as possible? If Forgiveness is truly this precious gift—does it deserve to be handed out willy-nilly? Just because you spit out the words “I’m sorry” or hang your head when you speak to me—just because my heart leans toward compassion as a response… does that mean you are worthy of my forgiveness?

As much as my fingers want to type, “No,” and to tell you to be stubborn about when people wrong you—I simply can’t. Forgiveness, at its core, in its nature, is a willow tree. It does not wait for a specific breeze to begin dancing—it just dances.

So to Ryan Babel – I forgive you for saying those crazy things you said. Truly. I still think you’re an incredible footballer, and I will try not to hold this against you in my soul.

And to my parents – I’m really sorry I was so crazy when I was a teenager.

And to everyone who I will seek forgiveness from in the (probably near) future—if I don’t look like it at the moment, or I don’t sound like it, or I’m hard to believe—please know that I am truly sorry. Sorry that I’ve put you in the headspace to question whether or not I am worthy of your forgiveness. But please know that forgiveness is not something that we dole out based on who is or who isn’t worthy; who is or isn’t really sorry. It’s a practice. A state of mind. A lifestyle.

So when do I forgive? Always. Everyday. No exceptions.

Try Not To Fuck Up,

-K

Advertisements

1Girl Gala: Fashion, The Event, Networking, and More!

https://soundcloud.com/kelseagunner/1girl-gala-fashion-the-event

Hey friends. Long time no blog. That’s because I’ve been a busy little mofo. But I’ve got some time to blog a bit so here we go!!

Print

On Wednesday of last week, I attended the Second Annual 1Girl Gala in downtown Columbus. It was a pretty perfect evening for a couple of reasons. The first being that I was with the two loves of my life, my dapper Wesley, and my counterpart in all things Nonprofit/Columbus/Networking, Tonnisha. I’m noticing how important these two are to my confidence and my success. I don’t think I’ve ever actively shared those things I consider to be my “passions” with someone I’m romantically involved with. It felt amazing to share that part of my world with Wes. Having him by my side, learning and understanding about this amazing organization felt like I was letting walls down and really letting him into my world. That was a big deal to me.

Secondly—Nish and I have kind of developed a one-two punch at events like these. Even if we didn’t work together, I would’ve been certain that I would’ve run into her at this event. She’s been amazing about introducing me to her contacts and it seems like most of them expect to see us together. This is good/important for a couple of reasons. When people see me, they usually ask me about Tonnisha, (and hopefully vice versa) which means we’re doubling our exposure in the community. Also, who doesn’t love to see two black, young professional women united in the front of networking and charity?

Back to the deets.

11889961_10208068988749230_6420172504100957895_o

FASHION: I wore my new classic LBD. It’s a black, fitted maxi dress from Express with a high slit in the leg. The neckline is cut in a particularly interesting fashion that I think compliments my short hair and collar-bone well. It’s reminiscent of the 90’s (in my mind) and reminds me of something Rachel Green would wear on a date—which is probably why I bought it, as I’m almost all the way through FRIENDS On Netflix. (Baby Emma is soooo presh!) I paired it with simple black Bebe close-toed pumps, as it’s starting to transition into fall and my toes weren’t done. I’d typically do a strappy heel with this, especially considering the slit—but I didn’t think it would be weather appropriate on this particular evening. And, luckily, because I’m so short, my shoes/feet are rarely visible in this dress.  I went with a pair of gold leaf drop-earrings I recently purchased from Icing because I’m obsessed with the Black/Gold look. I threw some curls in my hair and straightened my side-swept bangs. I did pretty basic makeup with matte-cherish lipstick from MAC, topped with a rose-colored gloss from Express. It seemed to be a successful outfit.

12006413_10208068986189166_3041026685370379504_o

THE EVENT: So, I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned 1Girl in this dear little ol’ blog before. Here’s what you need to know: 1Girl works on the back of pre-existing after school programs in Central Ohio (Toledo and Michigan, too, I believe) for middle school girls (5th-8th grade). Basically, the mission of 1Girl is to teach/impart concepts and ideas like conflict resolution, problem solving, time management, public speaking, confidence, etc. All of the important life lessons that you don’t always learn at school and may or may not be learning at home. I learned, earlier this year, after attending the Keyholder event held by The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, that an average girl’s confidence begins to decline at AGE 8!!! Can you believe that?! A typical girl will feel the best about herself, at the tender age of 8. 3rd grade. Crazy! Ever since I heard that statistic, a fire has been lit under my butt to do something to change it. Because it’s simply ridiculous. Nish introduced me to 1Girl and I reached out to the owner to find a way to get involved. I signed up to become a facilitator (which I will get into later) and also joined the Event Committee to help set up for this specific gala.

Wesley and I arrived a little after 6:10-ish. It was held at the Columbus Anthenum, which I had never been in before. It’s a pretty cool venue and Wesley even noted it would be a cool place to have a wedding. We immediately got name tags which stated our involvement in 1Girl and our “VIP” status. We decided to head to the bar—but noted the set-up of the gala on the way. There was a silent auction set up with some cool stuff up for sale, including some baskets full of different themed prizes and even some locally made décor pieces and business services. There were a few round tables with seats around them, that I later learned you were expected to pay for (which I was not made previously aware of) and then some smaller, round, standing tables. There was a small stage with a projector screen behind it. Wesley and I grabbed some Pinot from the bar and mingled until the event started.

A facilitator started the event by sharing her experience in 1Girl. This was followed by a short video that featured some interviews with some of the girls in the program as well as some of the facilitators. I was happy about this video because I’ve tried to explain 1Girl to a lot of people, (including Wes and his friends) and I feel like this video explained the program and its benefits and importance, to him, and all the other newcomers in the room better than I ever could. So I was super thankful for that!! After the video, the founder of 1Girl, Shelby, spoke for a little bit and sent out some thank you’s. Then we were dismissed for drinks and food and fellowship.

12006577_10208068986309169_512726243483487670_o

NETWORKING: So I definitely purchased tickets and attended this event because I believe in the cause and am passionate about making young girls confident creatures instead of statistics. Don’t get it twisted. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also attend for the networking opportunities. Think about it from a completely heartless, business-minded perspective: You are dressed up, at a Charitable event, sponsored by local businesses, with a semi-open bar. This is a cesspool for networking. Lucky enough for me, my fellow Columbus Ambassador and Networking Counterpart, Tonnisha English, was in attendance as well. As mentioned, she and I have developed a one-two-punch at these events that have proven beneficial. Not to say that we have a scripted routine or anything—but both of our outgoing personalities and similar passions bode well for networking. We tend to talk each other up and draw conversations into a positive space. Por ejemplo, she and I attended a cocktail hour that she had stumbled upon simply because the name sounded cool. It turned out to be the very first Bad Bish Network event, and turned into us becoming a part of the website launch and memorable contacts with Columbus Socialite and Philanthropist, Erin Scott. My mom has told me since I was ten years old, “If you’re not networking, you’re not doing anything.” And this has proven itself true, time and time again.

So when a petite brunette with a super sharp pixie cut wandered our way, Nish and I extended a greeting and invited her to stand with us and our guests. She turned out to be the director of a non-profit I’m super interested in getting involved with: Girls on The Run. Before the night was over, I had her business card and she had connected with us on social media outlets. Bada bing, bada boom!

THE AFTER: Wes and I decided to duck out of the event after the last speaker had wrapped up, (partly because I had already reached my limit of two glasses of Pinot and was feeling mighty fine) and decided to head to the mall!! Ha! It turned into a pretty fun night, considering we were running around a practically empty mall in formal attire. Wesley had broken his Ray Bans and we were trying to find a Sunglass Hut to fix them. This led to us trying on Sunglasses, obviously, and just some pretty fun little moments. I was in a cloud of pure affection for this man. Partly from the Pinot, but mainly because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to find someone who supported me fully like he does. He continues to surprise me with different layers of his personality—but I have never known him to not truly make an attempt and an effort to make me happy. And, at the end of the day, what more can you really ask for?

All, in all, a pretty fun Wednesday. Check out the links within the post to get more information on 1Girl, Girls On The Run, Tonnisha, The Bad Bish Network, and more ways you can NETWORK!

Love and hugs.

-K

How Do You Sleep?

My room is the complete embodiment of everything that makes my heart sing.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I was lucky enough (and by “lucky,” I mean, fortunate enough to be the loving recipient of some divine intervention. S/O to God!) to snag a completely updated, two bedroom condo in a mega quiet neighborhood in Hilliard, right off the river, with my high school bestie, Elizabeth. She and I have inhabited the space since the end of June—but have yet to truly finish “moving in,” unfortunately. Our kitchen and living space are pretty sparse…

But the one place I have unleashed my creative magic on has been my boudoir.

I had the brilliant idea, a little over a year ago, to craft a bed made out of pallets instead of purchasing a tradition bed frame. It came after the realization that my ex had held onto every piece of furniture I had ever purchased in my adult life and that I didn’t own an actual bed. Further—I didn’t want to drop $300 on a new one.  I posted this idea on Facebook, and one of my friends who works in construction immediately stepped up to the plate. He picked out the nicest looking pallets he could find at work and laid them out into a bed-shape. He snapped a photo and sent it to me, and a couple of weeks later, was unloading the neglected pieces of wood into my, then, basement bedroom. I love my pallet-bed, dearly, because it’s so unique and speaks to my very eclectic taste…

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

But also because it has a story behind it and represents a specific time in my life. If you’re thinking of crafting your own pallet-bed… please consider the following:

It takes getting used to. I pride myself on being one of those people who can sleep anywhere. A loveseat. A futon. Fetal-position-with-a-blanket-on-the-floor. I’m not hard to accommodate. But, the pallet-bed took an adjustment period. It creaks and squeaks and I do take the time to “rotate” the pallets to make sure they’re all wearing, evenly. Also, mine is low to the ground and makes it weird to climb out of. Once you get used to it, it’s muscle-memory and no problem. It’s not a traditional bed, so don’t expect it to be. Mkay?
You will stub your toe. I am still, to this day, stubbing my toe on this damn thing. My pallet-bed is almost platform-y? So it extends out past my mattress and takes up quite a bit of space. Oh, and it’s 100% wood… so… when the lights are off and I’m drunk-crawling into bed… my toes, often, have to pay the price. Ouch.

Splinters. You can avoid these by sanding your PB down (and maybe even staining/painting it?) but the pallets my friend provided were very new and clean and nice and I didn’t think sanding was necessary. 14,000 splinters later, I’m re-thinking that. Not to say that I just roll out of bed in the morning with a million splinters in my body. But when I’m barefoot and walking all over the pallets to change my sheets or to reach something tall… a rando-piece-of-wood likes to find its way into my skin. Sand, sand, sand!!!

Not everyone will love it like you do. I was pretty geeked about my bed once it all came together. I was Instagramming the shit out of it and I got a lot of positive feedback from friends. But, occasionally, I would run into someone who would mention that they saw I was sleeping on pile of wooden slats or “popsicle sticks.” Your pallet-bed is a very inexpensive option and has a rustic look that your haters will be very quick to spin into you being broke af. I counter this with dressing my bed up with décor pieces and comfy/colorful linens. Make your pallet-bed look like it was custom made for your space and your haters will have no choice but to shush!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

So that’s it, friends. I keep my room bright and colorful cause it makes me happy. Simple as that.  I have photos of the people I love everywhere you turn so that I remember to give thanks for them and to give them the attention and love they deserve. (And because their smiles are the best décor!!)  There are a lot of random pieces that have kind of come together on their own, in my room, that all tell the story of Kelsea. From Target finds I picked up on a late-night run with Brittnee, to thrift-store pieces my Mom and I would collect on our weekly shopping trips, to a hand-made, clay vase that was a Christmas gift from my best friend’s Mom.  But the largest thing that screams ME is my functional, comfy, rough-around-the-edges, unconventional, attention-getting Pallet Bed.

-K

On Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of those concepts I do not think too deeply on until I am in need of it. Much like a parachute. When you need it—you hope it’s there and functioning and a legitimate, credible, real thing. But we live and conduct our lives hoping it is something we will never need. Further—when I am the one who is fortunate enough to be in a positon of doling out the aforementioned forgiveness… I am too busy in ideas of self-righteousness and pride to truly understand what I am truly doing.  I am too proud of the mercy I am showing to really understand what a heavy, precious thing I am really giving away.

Forgiveness is a tricky, weird, oblong thing. It doesn’t happen easily. It isn’t done swiftly. It doesn’t always taste right and it hardly ever comes as a first thought or reaction.

My second favorite author and thinker, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has written too many works on the concept. The only one I’ve actually read is his latest: The Book of Forgiving. It’s almost a step-by-step guide on how to forgive and how to make peace with your enemies. True peace. Not… self-righteous civility or pretentious cordialness. Peace.

I’ve recently found myself in the excruciatingly humble position of seeking forgiveness. What a gross place to be in. I cried a lot in this place… which always speaks a lot to me. There’s something so crazy to me in the idea of crying. Of being moved to tears. Of feeling so much emotion that your physical body has no choice but to react. In the way yours eyes sting afterward and all you feel is fatigue. In the way your nose runs and your breathing changes. It’s all very dramatic and wild and silly—but everything you are crying about seems so monumentally important and severe and world-altering.

In this over-dramatized, depressed state of humility I was existing in, I would’ve settled for non-forgiveness. For civility. For cordialness. For fake-peace. But in retrospect, I see that my soul was so pained because I knew what it was I was truly asking for. Possibly the heaviest thing you can ask of anyone. I was asking for true forgiveness.

“Forgiveness says, ‘Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.’ “ – CS Lewis

In Lewis’s essay on forgiveness, he notes the difference between forgiving and excusing. He says that when we seek forgiveness from God… we are usually asking God to simply excuse us. “Excuse” in that we are not really accepting too much actual fault for our actions. I was born into this sinful nature. You know I struggle with this. Everyone my age does this. This wasn’t really all that heinous of an act. Etc. Which is a much less heavy load for anyone to carry. No one is to blame. It is the way the world works and I am simply asking for a pardon. Probably a pardon I have asked for previously.

But to truly seek for forgiveness—to ask to be forgiven—is to do nothing but become as humble as the act that has brought you in that space to begin with. To take ownership for the dirty deed. To accept that your very confident and well-put-together self could do such a thing, and to ask for mercy. Further, to truly own that act in the sense that it is one you will never commit again. That you will harness it before the thought even enters your mind to re-do it. To truly seek forgiveness is the kind of blatant act that moves one to tears.

Silly, dramatic, nose-running, eye-stinging tears.

And further—to extend true forgiveness is, probably, an even more unashamed, deliberate act. But one of the purest form of love.

So, today, I am immersed in gratitude for the forgiveness that’s been shown to me over my life. By my Heavenly Father through his Son. By the ones whose emotions I chose not to consider in certain moments, but who still thought enough of mine to extend this great gift. And by the ones who I will hurt, upset, or pain in the future.

CS Lewis ends his essay on forgiveness with a cringe-worthy truth. That forgiveness is hard. And that it may not always be so difficult to forgive someone, one time, for one thing… but to forgive the daily injustices that are done to us. “the bossy mother-in-law, the bullying husband, the nagging wife, the selfish daughter, the deceitful son” he notes. I would argue that seeking forgiveness is just as much of a challenge, in a similar way—not because the act of actually speaking the words ‘I was wrong’ is so painful—but because of the everyday task of not letting that sin that you are seeking clemency for reenter your world. So that the ‘I was wrong’ never has to escape your lips for the same thing.

So I would urge you, as I will urge myself as one who has been shown an abundance of forgiveness, to eagerly dole it out. Daily. To allow it to be your reaction and your first response. To become the soul who is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Just as I would urge you to save part of your paycheck and get renter’s insurance. Because when you are truly in need of it, and drowning in your own tears at the utter weight of what you are truly asking for—you will wonder what you would do if you were on the opposite end. Perhaps it will even be asked of you. What would you do if you were me?  How would you handle this?  And I want us both to be able to say, without hesitation, that we would choose love.

-K

Come Autumn

If ever I needed to write through something… it was today.

I had a foggy drive to work this morning. Beautifully foggy. The weird fog that’s translucent enough to let the sun decide its color, but opaque and misty enough to be sort of haunting. Cool enough outside to have the heat on low in the car which was kind of comforting, as well. I had NPR on and the low, soothing tone of the speaker was nice. I stopped for coffee and that, obviously, comforted my soul as well. It had been a very weird weekend so this foggy-fall-like drive to work felt very normal. I felt very much like I had been here and done this before and I appreciated that feeling so, so much.

I’ve been sitting in a kind of limbo for 24 hours, or so. I imagine this limbo to be the purpose of “time-outs” or why drunk people get thrown in jail for a day. Just this suspended space where you have no choice but to be completely alone with your thoughts and yourself and air and space and breath. Where you’re supposed to think about what you’ve done and how you’ve acted and what your next move is. Just a big pause, button.

I didn’t want to press pause. I hate pressing pause. I live my life on fast forward, most of the time, but will settle for play. Pause is the enemy and rewind and I do not speak. Rewind is a jerk and a loser and, in my eyes, PAUSE is just way, way, way too close to Rewind for my liking.

So, here I am. Sitting on pause. Thinking about everything. Connecting dots. Analyzing. Calculating. Making decisions. Changing my mind. Crying. Eating. Not eating. Sleeping. Not sleeping. Just existing in this limbo that I’ve been shut up inside of.

But during my foggy drive to work… when I couldn’t see the cars in front of me, and I couldn’t see the stop lights ahead… and I was nervous… I thought about the fact that I could still see the sun. That light was permeating. That the fuchsia glow the fog had was visible even though nothing else was. That even though I hadn’t pressed pause or put myself in time-out… that I didn’t have to stay there. That I was allowed to move forward.

Here’s to moving forward.

Very Important. Very Pretentious.

I had a random thought enter my head, this morning. And, as all my thoughts do, it looped its way around a strand of thoughts I’ve previously concocted.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

Walk with me as we follow this trail of “how God communicates with Kelsea.”

I was at Wes’s house the other night and we were watching some show about the Houston Texan’s training camp. Being wildly desperate to find any connection to anything during this program, I paid close attention to the wives and girlfriends of the players, the fans and the families. I noted the Coach’s dimple in his chin and wondered how much money each of the players being shown was being paid. Luckily for me—the camera spent about 10 seconds on a rookie, whose name I cannot remember, who was unloading his suitcase in the room he would be staying in during camp. Instead of showing his “lucky” Underarmour shirt or a photo of his child/girlfriend, like they had of the other rookies, the camera focused on this young man’s book collection—which happened to feature nothing but CS Lewis titles.

I, obviously, shrieked and slapped Wes. “The Screwtape Letters!” I don’t remember him responding.

Shortly after, the show ended. The night ended. Life went on.

This morning—I am experiencing an incredibly overwhelming sense of gratitude. I have received good news from my friend, in regards to some plans we have for the future. I am texting my mother who, randomly, expresses pride in myself and my accomplishments, and Wes throws out a cute text or two that transform my muted smile into a toothy grin.

So… what do I do when I’m feeling grateful? I pray… silently. Throw God a quick “preesh!” But I also search for words to effectively convey how I feel. And where do I search for these words? In the one author who seems to always know how to say what I have always thought but never been able to convey: CS Lewis.

So I’m googling CS Lewis quotes and my mind recalls the moment from the previous evening. I decide to narrow my search to “The Screwtape Letters” which is a book he wrote from the perspective of a demon in Hell who is writing letters to his fellow-demon-nephew to help train him to become a better demon. The book refers to God as “The Enemy,” if that helps give you any perspective.

I don’t necessarily think this particular work by Lewis will be overflowing with quotes to describe how joyed and blessed and humbled I currently feel—but I am compelled to revisit it.  I come across a quote that I had never noted before—even from reading the book. Perhaps because it didn’t mean much to me when I read it before. Perhaps because I read it too quickly. For whatever reason, this particular excerpt is an unavoidable light, this morning.

“A woman means by Unselfishness chiefly taking trouble for others; a man means not giving trouble to others… thus, while the woman thinks of doing good offices and the man of respecting other people’s rights, each sex, without any obvious unreason, can and does regard the other as radically selfish.”

My stomach does that kind of drop it does when someone tells you about yourself. “The convicted churn,” I call it. That pit you get when you’re sitting in church on a Sunday and the preacher decides to go on a rant about how ‘people’ need to stop going out and getting drunk all weekend, or stop gossiping, or stop having sex before marriage. He’s talking about you. This is specifically for you. So tailored for you that your physical body reacts to it. That’s the feeling I get after reading this quote.

I begin to think about every time I’ve ever, disgustingly, pinned the label “selfish” on another. How pretentiously I’ve played the victim of selfishness. How angry and entitled I’ve gotten at these occurrences. And how self-righteous I’ve felt at being The Most Unselfish In All the Land. Every time he didn’t think to invite me out with his friends. Every time she pitched a fit because we weren’t doing things HER way. When my father would “vent” to me. When my mother would be unsatisfied with my very best.

Suffice it to say, my rainbows-and-lollipops mood of gratitude and thanksgiving has faded, now, and I just feel unreasonable. Subsequently, I feel MORE selfish, (that wretched word), for not seeing it from another’s perspective. For deciding my definition of “unselfish” was absolute. For being critical of people behaving the way they were wired to behave. The way God created them.

My gratitude melts into conviction which boils into a sort of drive to be a better person. A better girlfriend. A better sister. A better daughter. A better friend. To shed any sense of pride I get in feeling thankful or humble or unselfish… and instead to consider that in those moments, to another, I could be appearing the exact opposite.

I say another silent prayer—and ask God if He would’ve led me to this conclusion without having met Wes, and going to his house that night, and watching that stupid show, and seeing The Screwtape Letters. And I thank him for having a plan and always knowing how to get my attention.

Mega humbly yours,

-K

Taking Notes…

“Furious” is easy

Anger comes on strong

Like bricks, a dime a dozen

Building up a wall

Silence is easy

My thoughts aren’t all too loud

Drown them out in music

Whose lyrics make sense now

Distractions are easy

They pollute my atmosphere

But shield me from the burning sun

I am  safer under here

Growing up is easy

Be as cautious as you can be

Tread lightly, behave wisely

Figure it out by twenty-three

Love, for sure, is easy

A pretty face, a glowing smile

Butterflies and heavy breaths

Make the pollution worth while

Happiness is easy