the beauty in being unapologetically yourself

1 Peter 4:10

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Something I have grown to love to see in others is the ability to be unapologetically themselves. I have thought about this a ton over the last week and a half and it is something that over time I have come to admire immensely.

I used to be very stuck in my ways, and, self admittedly, I still am in a lot of aspects of my life. However, one thing I overlooked when I was younger was the beauty in being yourself. Now, there are a lot of people who are their own person and show it every day, but what there is a dearth, a scarcity of, is people who are proud to be themselves. The pride of walking into a day and knowing that it’s going to be a great day because, if nothing else good happens to you, you love the person you are and the person you’ve become and will become.

There are tons of people I disagree with. Religion, politics, music, social views, whatever it may be, I would be hard pressed to find someone with identical worldly views as myself. No matter what you think or the opinions you hold, I will respect someone who is passionate about what they believe and passionate about who they are. We live in a generation of people who are so afraid of being who they want to be that they try to be someone else. They wish they were someone else.

For a point of reference, there is a girl in my Fish Camp who is so unapologetically herself in every aspect of her life. It’s beautiful to see. This girl absolutely loves to live life and you can tell each and every day that she loves who she is. She loves to make crazy faces in photos, not caring how the heck they turn out. She loves to make everyone around her happy by doing the one thing she knows how to do best: being herself. And I absolutely love that quality in a person and this person is someone I consider a great friend. Sometimes I even envy that quality because I think being yourself and being proud of it is one of the coolest things you can do.

In conclusion, being yourself and loving it is heckin’ cool, man. There’s no other way for me to put it. People love being around people who they feel like are being genuine and feel like they can be genuine with. I know I do. I love the one on one conversations with these kind of people, I crave that. Learning what makes someone like that tick is fascinating to me and I know it is to plenty of others too. I love the idea of finding perfection in imperfections. The idea that those imperfections are what make us so great is incredibly beautiful to me.

In 1 Peter 4:10 the bible says the words, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others” and that is something I have tried to take in stride. We were all given incredible gifts from God, each talent different, unique, and important. We are called to use these abilities to serve the world around us. If you’re funny, go make somebody laugh and brighten their day. If you’re patient, go listen to the person, the friend who just needs somebody to talk to. If you’re caring, show it. Show those around you how much you care and be the positive influence in their life that they might not have had otherwise.

Use your gift and love your gift. First love all that you are and all that you have to offer so that you can then love the world. This is the beauty in being unapologetically yourself.

loving those who are the hardest to love

Luke 6:32

32 “If you love those who love you, but what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”

As I was going through my devotional this morning I came across the verse Luke 6:32. It talks about how easy it is to love those who love us because anyone can do that, it’s easy, it’s comfortable. But the part of the verse that stood out to me is where the bible says, “but what credit is that to you?”

It hit home because while I’ve improved upon it, I know I haven’t done enough of it. It is so easy to love the people who love you. The people who want to be around you. The people who look up to you and respect you. Your friends.

But what about the people who don’t love you? What about the people who despise you? The ones who hope you fail, who’s only desire is to see you fall. It seems almost impossible. To love the very people who irritate you, stab you in the back, and gossip about you.

In my devotional today, the author, Rick Warren, says, “If you only love on and off like a light switch, you do not love others like God wants you to love.”

After reading this, I honestly had to sit down for a bit and just think about what he was saying.

Once you come to realize the amount of love God has for us, a love so immeasurable, so boundless, and so unfailing, your focus begins to change. How can I, a child of God, come to despise another human being who has come into creation through the same means as me? How can you, even for that split second, come to think you’re better than that person who is different than you or doesn’t have the same outlook as you?

I’m a firm believer that in order to pour God’s love into others, you must first realize His love for yourself. Once you understand that, everything truly becomes so much easier. I will be the first to admit for the longest time I struggled and oftentimes continue to battle with the concept of loving those who hate me. It’s really hard to do. But God calls us to do this every day. He calls us to love like he loved, loves, and will continue to love.

The devotional asked three questions at the end:

  1. What does it mean to receive God’s love?
  2. How can you better understand how much God loves you?
  3. How should a Christian’s love look different to the world?

I encourage anyone reading this to ask those three questions to themselves and see where that leads them.

I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, it’s hard. It might be one of, if not the hardest, tasks God calls us to do. But it’s important. It’s easy to love those who love you, cherish you, and value you, but I challenge everyone to do the hard part and show God’s love to those who may not have that same love in their heart. Be their light. Be a friendly face.

It can make an incredible difference.

thank you God for making me a Texas Aggie

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I grew up a Longhorn, going to at least a couple Texas football games every single year. I grew up in the Mack Brown era of Texas football dominance. Some of my happiest childhood memories came from Vince Young holding up the National Championship trophy, Colt McCoy passing countless touchdowns to Jordan Shipley, and, more than anything just spending Saturdays with my dad, watching Texas football.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school, I was dead set on going to TCU. I didn’t think Texas was a good culture fit for me and I was excited to be a Horned Frog. I applied early decision to TCU, which meant if I got in, I had to go there. Early decision acceptance letters for TCU come out in early December, but one morning in early November, for the first time all Fall, I checked my A&M application status and it said I was in to Mays Business School. Within the day, I changed my mind entirely. I hadn’t even seriously considered A&M but there was something about the people, the town, the SEC, and the traditions that separated the school from the rest.

My senior year I spent focusing on one thing, learning what it means to be an Aggie. I would honestly just spends nights in my room singing the War Hymn and Spirit of Aggieland until I knew every song and every yell perfectly. Embarrassing, I know. Nonetheless, I felt like I was an Aggie. I felt like I was apart of something way bigger than myself for the first time in a long time.

After my New Student Conference, I got to Fish Camp, session D Camp Miculka green, and had the time of my life. From learning our camp’s yell, to meeting new friends, to dancing at mixers, there are few things I wouldn’t do to relive my freshman year Fish Camp experience.

Once school began, I attended my first class which was a huge change for me. Not in difficulty, but in atmosphere. Going to an all-boys private school my entire life, I had a class ranging between 10-20 guys. At A&M, it was more like 100-200.

My first semester academically went well with only what turned out to be a minor hiccup: missing my final exam in political science (it’s ok the professor ended up letting me take it and I got an A). But what I realized that deep down I already had known in my heart is that there is truly no place like home and home for me was College Station, Texas. I missed my family, yes, but I never wanted to leave A&M. The pure mass amounts of kindness, grace, friendliness, and acceptance of everyone I met was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I found a friend group that I consistently hung out with but it felt like walking around campus everyone was apart of the friend group. I found that no matter where you are on Texas A&M’s campus, there is always going to be someone who knows somebody else who knows you. It’s a huge campus, but I think there is something to be said about how friendly Aggies are. They make it not so huge. They make you feel welcomed. They make you feel like a member of the 12th Man, because you are. Aggies love Aggies. At the end of the day, I truly believe there is nothing as special as the way an Aggie treats a fellow Aggie.

It’s amazing to me how more than 60,000 college aged kids chose to go to the same school. So many different people with different reason for attending TAMU, different backgrounds, different stories, and different interests. But there is a spirit can ne’er be told in Aggieland. There is always someone who will listen. Someone who will take the time out of their day to hear your story, learn about your life. And to this day, that’s still so cool to me.

Being an Aggie isn’t always easy. From the school itself being difficult to the constant roller coaster ride that is Aggie sports to the struggles that a typical college kid endures. It’s tough. But it’s worth it.

There are plenty of aforementioned things that go into being an Aggie. The traditions, atmosphere, the town itself, I love it all. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. But the one thing that makes A&M so special is the people. It’s the mentality of helping fellow Ags by doing whatever it takes.

Think of Fish Camp. More than 2,500 students apply for an organization where they get to be a small part of a bigger story. These people fill out an application, do an interview, and work hard for more than five months just for the opportunity to get to spend four incredible days in Palestine, Texas welcoming 1/49 of the incoming freshman class who decided to register for Fish Camp. And they do it all over again often two or three times throughout their time at A&M. That’s amazing.

And the craziest part is that Fish Camp is just one facet of the many student organizations and people groups that make up Texas A&M.

I want to thank every single Aggie for making my Texas A&M experience what it has been. You all, whether you realize it or not and whether I know you personally or not, have shaped who I am today and given me an abundance of reasons as to why I love this school, because when it comes down to it, it’s more than a school. It’s a family.

Thank you God for making me a Texas Aggie.

learning to love your imperfect life

Imperfection

Romans 5:8

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I’m a very imperfect man loved and saved by a perfect Savior. I said it. I am imperfect. Seems obvious I know, but for the longest time I struggled admitting it. We live in a day and age where we see everyone’s best moments. What I mean is that on social media we are essentially looking at a bunch of human highlights reels. It’s something I have just scratched the surface of realizing. Every single instagram, tweet, snapchat, facebook post, it all is a compilation of our best moments. These social media pictures that get sent out are the prettiest and best looking pictures in the camera roll. The best moments of a relationship. The moments in our life that we feel best encapsulate our life as being a good one. No one posts the pictures where they look like they just rolled out of bed. The arguments, the fights in their relationship. They want everyone to think their life is perfect.

I will be the first to tell you that my life is not perfect.

I actually have come to grow a distaste for trying to convince everyone around me that my life is always so great. It’s been a long road. In fact, there are few people I’ve gotten to know well that don’t have a story of struggle and overcoming one thing or another. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, life is hard. There were points in high school where I fell to my knees and just prayed. I prayed for hours at a time sometimes. I wondered “why me?” more than I’d like to admit.

I was saved by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ my senior year of high school. I had always grown up in faith and have had incredibly supportive parents who took me to church and showed me an amazing love. But I had never “bought in,” so to speak. It wasn’t until those nights of praying for hours upon hours that I found my faith. I had my faith that I always turned to but I still just didn’t completely love myself. I honestly didn’t completely love myself until very recently, to be completely honest. I compared myself to those around me still, wondering sometimes why they had what I didn’t. But, one day recently I saw the impact I made on others. I love bringing joy to others, making them smile, making them feel good. I’ve found my passion in that and if I can spread the great news by doing it, all the better. I saw that I found my happiness in making others happy, making others love their own life and see the goodness within. I see so many guys and girls walking around with a lack of passion for life and it breaks my heart. So many beautiful people, inside and out, that wish they had the “perfect life” that they see from everyone around them. No one has a perfect life. No one. But the great news is that everyone has a perfect Savior that loves them more than they could fathom. Everyone sins, in fact we’ve all been sinners since before we were even born. But the incredible news, the thing that still amazes me all the time, is that no matter how much I’ve messed up, no matter how many mistakes I’ve made, God called His only son to die on the cross for all of it. That is a miracle. That is beautiful.

an open letter to the Christian girl in college who says she “hates guys” from a Christian guy in college

This is my message to the Christian girl who says she “hates guys” from a Christian man in college:

Over my freshman year in college, I heard so many of my friends who are girls claim that they “hate guys,” when talking about their boy troubles. “They just come off as so nice and you can never really tell what they want or what their motives are and they always just end up screwing me over. I hate boys.” “I’m just ready to find a husband at this point. I’m tired of this crap. Too bad there aren’t any guys in college who want the same thing as me at this point even.”

This is the point where I couldn’t stay quiet anymore.

In my short time in college, I’ve met more Christian men who want to pursue women with the right intentions than I have in my previous 18 years. Some struggling, some not. To be fair to the women, I’ve heard plenty of guys say the same phrase in reverse, “I hate girls.”

Being patient in finding your future spouse is one of the hardest things to do.

I get it.

But to the girl who says, “Where are all the chivalrous Christian men nowadays?” I just want to direct you to the big flashing arrows pointing down to ten of my closest friends who are incredible, witty, funny, and great Christian men that any girl would be lucky to meet. They’re just the tip of the iceberg. At Texas A&M, I live on a campus with about 25,000 guys roaming around, some pursuing Jesus, some not. I guarantee that out of that 25,000, there’s (at least) one Christian man, with the right intentions and goals in mind, who’s day would be more than made just to get the opportunity to take you on a date.

So, to the Christian college girl with all the right intentions who claims that she “hates guys,” even if you’re just saying it as a joke, don’t.

If you just came off a bad relationship and you aren’t ready to date again, don’t.

Be patient.

It’s one of the hardest things you can do in life, being patient.

Live your life and focus on yourself and being the best you and let the rest fall into place when it is supposed to.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My only request is to not discourage the Godly man looking to pursue great girls like you because he thinks he doesn’t have a shot.

God has a plan to give you that man that you want to pursue so badly, just don’t write him off before he shows up at your doorstep.

beauty in kindness

Kindness

Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
“A year ago going into A&M I was more nervous than excited. I was nervous because I didn’t know if I’d be social enough or maybe cool enough to have friends. In high school I didn’t have too many friends because everybody I knew in one form or another turned their back on me. It’s been like that my whole life, my dad did it to me time after time, and my mom struggled to raise me. Stability has never been a thing for me. But then I get to A&M and I met you brother and it led me to other guys. Which is why I’m always reiterating how thankful I am for you. You’ve taught me what it’s like to have a family, to have a brotherhood, someone to look out for you and care for you. You’ve given me stability in friendship. We aren’t even friends, we’re brothers.”
A text from one of my best friends a couple days ago.
I almost didn’t know how to respond. He poured out his heart to me and told me how much I mean to him. I didn’t even realize I had that impact on him. In fact, I almost felt guilty. One of the single most influential men in my life just told me that I had this unfathomable impact on him.
This man is one of the kindest guys, if not the kindest guy I have ever met. He consistently shows grace and compassion to everyone around him, even when they don’t deserve it.
Kind.
This word gets thrown around a fair amount but I had never really thought about it’s deeper meaning until the other day. People frequently use it when someone compliments them or gives them a gift saying, “Oh you’re so kind!” or something close to it.
I love this word.
To me, when I think of a kind person, I think of the people in my life who wake up every morning and choose joy. There are so many of them too. Choosing joy every single day is a hard thing to do. You truly have to wake up and thank God for giving you another day and singlehanded make the decision that you are going to go out into the world and be the best person you can be. I haven’t always been the best with this. I struggled with it throughout middle and high school a ton. It’s so easy to let the day drag on and stay in your own bubble and mind your own business. However, once I got to college especially, I saw so many selfless, kind people that our world has.
Beyond my friends (shoutout) that have shown me unbelievable amounts of grace, compassion, and patience, when I think of kindness I get brought back to a moment at the TAMU Rec Center at the very end of my freshman year. I had used all of my dining dollars for the year and was about to pay for a smoothie with my debit card and a girl behind me saw this and went up to me and offered to buy it for me using the extra dining dollars she had left. She went out of her way to be kind. She didn’t have to do it. She easily could have gone on with her day and not thought twice about it but she didn’t, and it was such a small gesture, but, at the time it meant the world.
My encouragement to anyone who is reading this is to choose that joy every morning. Life is a gift in itself and people say it all the time, but it is too short to not love this life day in and day out. Go out and be the kind person you appreciate having in your life. If you like somebody’s outfit or style, tell them. It’ll make their day, I promise. If there is a certain quality you see in your friend that you love, tell them. Be kind, be compassionate, forgive easily, be slow to anger. It’s hard, I realize that. But when it happens, there are few things as beautiful.

beauty in a breakup

Breakup

Psalm 30:5

5 For His anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

It’s kind of crazy when you think of it. That out of over 7 billion humans, we just want one. We just want the one person who makes us happier than anyone else on this earth. We crave them. Truly is crazy how it can be taken away in a moment. All the arguments, deep talks, and memories culminated into one final moment where we feel the most vulnerable we ever have, where it’s gone. There is something so raw about the next morning after separating from someone you love. You wake up in the middle of the night at 3 AM and are relieved that it was all just a bad dream. And then you realize it wasn’t. That hole deep in your body. There’s a void. It’s a physical pain. You break down crying, praying, doing anything you can to fill that void, but it lingers. It stays and I’m not totally sure it ever completely leaves. You’ll always love the memories. Their family. Their smile. The moment in the relationship you saw them at their happiest and felt like you were finally doing something right, bringing an immeasurable amount of joy to the person you want more than anything to bring joy to. It all floods through your mind and is beautiful. You think about what you did wrong. What you could’ve done better. However, I’ve learned you just have to take every moment in stride. Focus on the happy moments and realize that this is what needed to happen for now. Could you end up back together? Maybe. Maybe not. But I believe the greatest showing of love from one person to another is making the decisions that will make that person they love the happiest. That is real love. That is truly beautiful.

beauty in perseverance

Perseverance

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Lately I have been going to the gym once in the morning for a quick run on the treadmill and once at night for a resistance workout. I see the same guy. Every. Single. Morning. He’s a larger man, never says a word to anybody. He walks into the gym, goes straight to the treadmill, and walks. He walks and walks. I’ve seen him just walking casually at an incline for over one and a half hours at a time. Over the past month or so since I’ve been back from college and started coming to the gym near my house again, I’ve just admired this man. He’s consistent. One day at a time, one step at a time, he tries to better himself. Will he be the next Magic Mike? Probably not. However, I see him bust his tail off every single day to improve his life. That’s so admirable to me. In a culture of fleeting moments and seconds, this guy perseveres. Everybody is so impatient. “I want this, I want that, and I want it all now.” This man isn’t. He probably has no clue I know who he is. In a sense, I don’t. I don’t know his name, background, life story, anything really. But I do know him as the man who perseveres. He truly has inspired me. There are some days when it truly is so easy to just forfeit the day, to stick with the status quo, to not move the needle. But a day where you don’t learn something about yourself is a day wasted. Life sucks sometimes man. Plain and simple. But every single trial you’ve gone through should make you the happiest person in the world. It’s made you who you are today. It’ll shape who you are tomorrow, next year, ten years from now. Some people never change, but I believe the ability for people to suffer through the toughest of times and persevere through it all to come back and be the best they can be is truly one of the most beautiful gifts life has to offer.