She dives into crystal blue water, fit, toned and rocking her #bestlife bikini. She works from exotic locations, with her perfectly pedicured feet in the warm sand. She sips espresso on the beach, with her laptop handy. She reaches every dream and for just a small fee…she will tell you just how you can do the same thing. Reach, reach, reach, hustle and grind your way to your #bestlife…right? Then hustle just a little more on the side. Tick tock, tik tok…here’s all my tips on how to attract the #bestlife job, the #bestlife relationship, the #bestlife home, the #bestlife bank account, the #bestlife bod. Or not. Have you found yourself incessantly stumbling upon this idea there is something better you should be reaching for and doing anything less is somehow dooming you to mediocrity? While the girl with everything living her #bestlife is amazing, smart and killing it, I’m going to play angel’s advocate for a minute. What if your life is actually already great, today? What if what you do, how you look and how you show up in the world right this minute is actually #goodenough?

Each time I am challenged with the task of attracting everything I ever wanted in my “dream reality,” I find myself thinking the same thing- that’s not me. My goal is not to have better, more, now, now, now. But instead, to find contentment…now. While dreams and goals are a normal part of our lives and it’s a beautiful thing to achieve them…there is something almost delightfully rebellious about appreciating where you are today and not always striving for something better and greater. Loving your body just as it is. Loving your life, even when it’s not everything you ever dreamed of as a kid…that kind of thing. There is strength to be found in appreciating the simple things in life and counting your blessings today, having gratitude for this moment, however imperfect. It’s somewhat of an uncommon sentiment. We are challenged at all times, to overcome the mentality that if only we had a certain goal achieved, we would be happy. Or that we couldn’t possibly be happy as we are today because we haven’t reached some theoretical “level” that we need to keep racing toward. When in fact, happiness is just a state of mind that can be achieved at any time and is not dependent on external circumstances, which are always subject to change.

The more we associate happiness with our present circumstances, the less happy we are likely to be. The more we compare our lives to the lives of others, the less we appreciate our own unique story. God makes us each different for a reason and we aren’t all going to be in the same “season”. Where someone else seems to have it all going on, they may be struggling in ways no one is aware of. Public images and personas create perceptions that don’t always tell us the whole story. We never know what someone else is going through no matter how positive or negative their life appears to be. I realize how easy it is, telling people not to compare themselves to others but the reality is, our brains go there. Young people, in particular, are clearly impacted by the images and opinions they encounter on the internet and in media that points to what is “ideal”. If we could just say, “don’t compare yourself to others” and that actually worked, then statistics would not be pointing to a lowering of self-esteem and an increase of self-harm. While I can’t change anyone’s brain chemistry or the effects of popular culture on any of us, I just want to say one thing today…

You are so good. Your life is good. Your job is good, whatever you do. Your hair is good, even when it’s messy in the morning. Your skin is good- the level of your glow is completely sufficient. Your body is good. Yes. IT IS. Because, I hope, it works. It does the needed tasks like breathing and processing nutrients, getting your soul around this lovely globe, right? Your brain is good, your mind is sound. Your heart is good, it loves someone out there. I like your outfit. It’s good! Don’t forget, your feelings, your thoughts, your opinions, they’re good- it doesn’t matter what they are because your feelings are valid. You know what’s the best? You are! Did you know that you are just like 99.9% of the other people who are on their phones, or the internet or iPads or whatever, that are also NOT reading this or any other article from a cabana, in a tropical setting, while looking “flawless” in a bikini? It’s true. It really is.

Maybe the combination of pandemic effects and natural disasters we’ve seen increasing of late, can potentially redefine a few things for us, like, #bestlife, means…alive! And since we’re alive today, why not like ourselves? I don’t mean to encourage anyone not to have goals or want to be successful, in any way. The question I would pose is, how do you define success or greatness? Who are your role models, and why? Success and greatness are relative terms, based on your perspective. You get to define what makes a person great or successful, for yourself. If you rely on the internet to tell you, you very may well come away thinking your greatness is defined by the shape and size of your butt in ratio to the circumference of your waist. So come up with your own equation. Better yet, let God remind you of His definition. Whenever the web tries to catch me up in believing that my level of greatness depends on my appearance, the number of degrees I have, my career status, my level of productivity and so forth, I go back to Jesus’ sermon on the mount and I remember the greatest of us don’t come to be served but to serve others, sharing good news and healing. I remember that God has a really different definition of what #bestlife means, compared with how it’s typically defined in popular culture. I find healing in focusing more on God’s definition of what is best than what I see on Instagram or Pinterest.

Jesus teaches us the greatest blessings and attributes are counter-intuitive to how many in the world would define success in modern times- to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to be meek, righteous, merciful and pure in heart. We learn that to make peace with others, to be reviled and persecuted on account of God is to be successful. Jesus said whoever becomes as humble as a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. How do these things measure up with what you might see in an average day on Instagram, on Tik Tok or what you hear in pop music?

When I am bombarded by image after image and post after post that want me to believe that my #bestlife is only achieved when I am sipping champagne on a terrace in the Mediterranean, while watching the sunset in a form-fitting dress, enticing my attentive partner with my hourglass figure and glowing tan, while dripping with jewels and celebrating my latest achievement, God inevitably sends me the following message:

How do you define what is best for you? And where is the messaging coming from? Could it be that much of what we are sold as the image of perfection, success and “wealth” is really just tempting us away from being content with our unadorned selves, in our PJs, making breakfast and thankful there’s breakfast to make? I hope that today, you will go look at yourself in the mirror, with no make-up on, messy hair and a stain on your t-shirt and say, “HECK YEAH. I’M GOOD ENOUGH.” Humbly, of course. Because God made you and loves you just the way you are today. You never have to be more beautiful or successful for God to love you. So why do you need to be “more” or “less” than what you are right now, to love or like yourself? What could you possibly need to do or prove, to be worthy of God’s love if you know God already loves you? What could any of us possibly need to do or prove to anyone else to be worthy of their love or respect, if we know it’s our spirit that makes us who we are, not our achievements or others’ opinions? Since God knows our minds and hearts, here’s a few goals I set for myself every day.

I pray for you to achieve whatever dreams or goals you may have, while finding contentment in this moment. May you humbly accept yourself as worthy of feeling good enough, even when life isn’t the #best and find a blessing to count, no matter what today looks like.

Love: A Superpower

Love is the sacred flame that burns in me. It cannot be extinguished. Like everyone, I’ve been through heartbreak, disappointments, break-ups and even a divorce. Yet, love still very much lives in my heart. God blessed me with many people to love but mostly, with His. Without God’s love, what would I be? When I think about love, I don’t really think about relationships or romance, specifically. I think of love as the Holy Spirit. When love moves in you, the Holy Spirit is moving in you. I think of love as energy that can improve every area of our lives, including our relationships, if we allow it to.

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his spirit.

The Holy Bible, NRSV: John 4.11-13

As my relationship with God grows deeper, and as my faith has matured, I have come to see love as the most sacred possible gift…an energetic frequency, higher and more powerful than any other. No energetic force has more capacity to heal, restore and transform our lives. No matter what happens in the external circumstances of life, we can choose to focus on maintaining a loving spirit. This is true worship.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us. Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

The Holy Bible, NRSV: John 4.16-21

When our dear fellow humans come at us in less than loving ways, think of it as an opportunity to grow the love within yourself. Hatred, bitterness and grudges have a way of hardening the heart. When we focus on past hurts, betrayals and traumas, these are types of friction that create a hardening or callousing of our heart. God wants to demolish the callous that separates us from loving others. But really, it seems to me that God predominantly wants to remove the barrier that keeps our love from Him. We can move past thinking of love only in terms of relationship to the other or even self. I am thinking of love in this way- your very own energetic well that exists within you that is your connection to the divine. Regardless of your relationship status or past relationship experiences…or how drained and dried up that well may feel, God can refill it. God is the source of love that we give and receive among each other. So even when we are alone, maybe even for long periods of time, God’s love can sustain us. When we abide in love, we are never alone. God is with us and working through us.

Recently, I saw unconditional love referred to as a “toxic relationship trait”. But really, it’s people who have toxic relationship traits. Unconditional love is not a license to harm or be harmed, by any means. When we really love others, we prioritize being honest, correcting gently when needed, setting healthy boundaries, openly communicating needs and frustrations. If our boundaries are repeatedly violated and we choose to limit or end a relationship, we can still choose to go about it with the most loving possible approach. If others are not able to co-exist with us in a loving, respectful manner, we can still choose grace in the face of these challenging relationships, praying for them instead of cursing them. Sometimes just choosing not to air someone’s business, gossip about them or engage in an argument with them is an act of love. No matter what someone else chooses to do or say, I am responsible for my own thoughts, words and actions. When I choose to be loving, I rise above and don’t fall into any enemy snare.

Just as forgiveness is a skill we develop through habit over time, so is love. When I look at the world, I see the devil working overtime to kill any iota of love that exists between us, desensitizing us to everyday hatred, taking over the TV and radio with drama, chaos and meanness. It’s hard to flip through radio stations without coming across a bitter breakup song. Not many songs say, “Hey, you know, it didn’t work out but I still 100% wish you the BEST! I know we weren’t a good fit but I ain’t mad at ya! In fact, I love you!” Because of this, I endeavor that much harder to eradicate any dark, hidden, bitter root within myself. Because I don’t think the devil needs one more foothold.

God draws me back to love more automatically every time I get frustrated or sad. When anger comes up, God brings me back to calm, back to peace…reminds me to tame my tongue, helps me express myself with more and more grace over time- all lessons on loving more perfectly. I can testify, I NEEDED Jesus in this area. My heart callous removal required heavy machinery; I’ll be the first to admit. I am always a work in progress, as I believe we all are from birth to death and beyond. There is no limit to our growth potential. Who will not benefit by learning and practicing loving more, loving better…more gently, more purely, without the expectation of return on investment or at the very least without vengeance?

When I see someone treated unfairly who responds with love and grace, they shine like a lighthouse, in my eyes. If we all loved like God wanted us to, what would this world look like? If love was the superpower, we each prayed to have, I think the world might look more like Paradise than ‘End Game’. The Lord reminds me there are times for war and times for peace, times for love and times for hate. But I am convinced that if we want to work for the highest good of all, in a harmonious, peaceful and civilized society, love is in need of love today (Stevie Wonder knows things). Love is the key. Don’t be afraid to show someone love today, whether it’s smiling at a stranger, being kind to someone grumpy, being patient with someone difficult, calling a loved one, lending an ear, hugging your kid. One thing we know is, tomorrow is not promised, so why not find a way to show up with love today? Even just by sitting and focusing on love, breathing peace and love in and out, you are doing more of a service than you realize. We all live in one big energy pool, what do you want to fill the pool with?

Many blessings of peace and love to you and yours. If you would like to ask God to bless your heart with more awesome love power, here is a prayer for you.💕