Your Words Matter.

I’m not sure how to say this without it sounding like a rant. Because I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated by the ridiculously large number of people who have discredited my opinion based on my age. By my lack of experience, supposed naivete, youth, whatever. Like my college degree doesn’t matter. Like my personal life experience thus far doesn’t matter. Like my opinions and beliefs don’t matter.

Hey, I don’t care how old you are or what stage of life you’re in. Your voice matters. Your experiences matter.

I hate being told that my educators brainwashed me like I’m unable to make my own decisions on what I do and don’t believe. I hate when people assume that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That I’m just spouting off useless information that I mindlessly agreed was fact.

No. I have spent time researching and forming my own opinions. I continue to learn and shape my beliefs now, after I’ve graduated. No one forced me into this. I chose my major. I chose my classes. I chose which side to take (and my teachers almost always offered all sides).

I try to make sure every single one of my beliefs are based firstly, off the Bible and secondly, reliable research. I’m not an idiot.

I know what I’m talking about, and I’m tired of people telling me I don’t. Yes, sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I don’t know everything about a topic. Sometimes I get lost and confused. Sometimes I change my mind.

But some things I know a lot about and when people (who haven’t studied what I have) tell me I don’t, it makes me angry. Actually, it makes me sad. I just want to shout “HELLO. I HAVE A DEGREE IN THIS. I KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. WHY WILL YOU NOT LISTEN? CAN YOU EVEN HEAR ME?” I feel invisible.

Because most of the time, it feels like whoever I’m talking to doesn’t even want to listen. They just sit in their own mindset refusing to just listen to a different side. I’m not trying to convince you or force you over to my side. It’s not red rover. I just want you to hear me out. Listen. Just count my side as valid. Instead of counting it out before I even speak. It’s more like the telephone game.

I feel like the older generations think millennials are clueless and dumb and out partying and protesting and have no idea what the “real world” is like. But I wish they’d see what I see. Millennials are wise and passionate and strong and brave and powerful. We know what we’re doing (as often as they do, anyway). They just refuse to listen or look or pay attention. Yes, we’ll love to learn from them. But they can also learn from us. We can all learn from each other. Let’s sit around a bonfire together.

If you’re reading this… even if you can’t read it, your words are important. I spent so much of my life not speaking the words that I wanted to say. Out of anxiety and fear. I still do it all. the. time. But we have to remember, our words matter. Even if no one listens. Even if no one cares. Even if no one agrees. They matter. You matter. Regardless of what your beliefs are.

So listen. and speak (in whatever language you want). and learn. and keep pushing forward. keep advocating. keep writing. because it matters. it all matters.

Make your voice be heard.

Trust me, someone sees you. I see you. God sees you.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Side thought: Maybe we protest so much because others refuse to listen during actual civilized conversation and we long for our voice to be heard somehow.


The Importance of Listening

Because I want America to look like this.

I think it’s safe to say that we all love a good story. Whether it’s a cheesy, love story like a Nicholas Sparks book, an action adventure movie like Lord of the Rings or a funny, light-hearted TV show like New Girl. We love them. We laugh, we cry, we gasp, we sit on the edge of our seat. We become emotionally invested in them.

So why then, since I know that we all love a good story, do we completely disregard the stories of the people sitting beside us?

Because don’t real live people matter more than Ronnie Miller, Frodo Baggins and Jessica Day? It’s an easy answer on the surface… Of course real people matter more than fictional ones. But sometimes I find it kinda hard to believe. (This coming from a girl who named her puppies Luna and Pippin.)

But ponder this… how many times do we prove by our actions (or inactions) that we care more about fictional characters than actual people? We never question or second-guess the people on TV or in the books. We may disagree with something they say or do, but we usually still love them, right? And we actively want to know how they are doing and what they are doing. I’ve even almost prayed for people who aren’t real before (honestly, what is wrong with me).

So obviously, we care quite a bit about the lives of characters. But when it comes to those actually in our lives…

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has: asked someone else how they are doing just so I can tell them how I am, had my response planned out in the heat of an argument or discussion before the other person even says their opinion, or completely ignored or disregarded another person’s experience as valid or true just because I have never had that experience.

I do those things more often than I’d like to admit, and I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you have too.

So, I think it’s time, past time really, that we all sat down and actually listened. It’s as simple as that. Sitting down and listening to our family, friends, acquaintances, strangers… people we like and people we don’t, people we agree with and people we don’t, people who look like us and people who don’t.

Instead of shouting “You’re wrong!” or “I don’t believe you!” or “That’s not true!” Why don’t we sit down, close our mouths, place our full attention on someone else and listen?

Because the truth is I cannot speak for the male experience. I cannot speak for the black experience. Or the gay, transgender, poor, mother, elderly, married, just to name a few. Because that’s not who I am.

I cannot speak for anyone’s experience except for mine. Except for Mikayla’s. I can relate to the straight, white, Christian, single, 22 year old, recent college graduate woman. But even then, I cannot speak for every person who fits those categories. Because each person lives their own unique lives differently.

Each person has their own story.

At the root, this is why it’s problematic to ask the only black person in the room to speak for their entire race. It’s why it’s problematic for white people to say that black individuals aren’t unfairly targeted by the police. Or why I can’t claim to know exactly how an LGBT person feels.

Because the truth is we don’t know how anyone else experiences the world except for ourselves. We could change that, though, if we listened.

Even when we know we’re going to disagree with someone’s opinion, let’s listen.
Even when we don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle or choices, let’s listen.
Even when we have a hard time believing that what they are saying is true, let’s listen.

It’s a choice. You don’t have to listen. You can easily choose not to. But you know, I think listening has the ability to create a more peaceful, just, loving, graceful and good society and world. Because instead of fighting, arguing, ignoring, resisting, forgetting and not caring. We would be sitting down, having honest conversation, opening up and listening.

This doesn’t mean we compromise our beliefs, opinions and ideas. It means we listen first. Then tell the one across the table (who is hopefully willing to listen now that you have listened to them) what you think. That’s it. You don’t have to end the conversation in agreement or with changed beliefs. But you can and should end the conversation in love, peace and respect and with some new insight and knowledge.

That’s the first and most important step, I think. But listening could also go as far as going out of our way to talk to those with completely different experiences so that we can learn more about diversity. It could mean, if we are in a place of higher privilege than the one we are listening to, advocating on their behalf so that their experience can be better. It could even mean something as simple as being a listening ear for a friend who has had a rough day. I would challenge all of us to do all of those things and more.

Ultimately, listening like this could mean a lot. It could be world changing. World shattering, even. I think it could even solve all the world’s problems… maybe. Combined with a whole lot of Jesus, probably.

But my point is, let’s listen. Every person’s story is important and worth hearing.

And I think we can all agree that we can never get too many stories in our lives.

So, I’ll say it again. Listen. Learn. Be a good human. And hug someone different than you.

Until next time.

Have Courage and Be Kind


“Have courage and be kind” has been the quote on my lockscreen for a while now. I initially thought that it was a random saying, but I realized five seconds ago that it was said by Cinderella in the new Cinderella movie. I’ll confess that I haven’t seen the movie, but I love the quote regardless. I’ve almost changed my wallpaper a few times since it’s been there, but every time I stop myself by remembering how much I need the reminder to be kind and have courage on an hourly basis.

Have courage. Courage is admittedly something I lack. I have an anxious, self-conscious and shy personality. My confidence in myself, my words, my thoughts and my decisions is low. This directly affects my courage to do anything from speaking up in class discussion and starting conversations with new people to going somewhere or doing something I’ve never done before. My courage to step out of my comfort zone is something I’m consistently working to improve and consistently something I beat myself up over for not being courageous enough. It’s something that those closest to me push me to do better at, and I’m glad they do because I desire to be bold. To be bold in sharing my faith, telling others about my passions and standing firm in my beliefs are things I long for.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Be kind. I struggle slightly less with kindness, but I’m not immune to hateful thoughts and angry outbursts. Being kind to everyone including those you disagree with and those who hurt you is hard, but it’s something I’m passionate about doing. In a world full of hatred, social media full of negativity, and a society full of horrific acts, being kind is a rarity. The thing is I, we, can have kind hearts. We do have kind hearts, but when we don’t act upon that kindness, that’s when we don’t succeed. I’ll be the first to fess up to the fact that I don’t act upon kindness very often, and I should.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

You may not think that courageousness and kindness are the most complementary traits. Because when you are courageous for your own benefit, the last thing you are is kind to others. You’re only kind to yourself. Selfish courage can lead to name calling, violence and greed. All things I think we can collectively agree are inherently bad things.

But in my experience if you use courage for the benefit of others, it can be an amazing thing. We have to have courage to truly act upon our kindness. If we don’t have courage, we won’t pay for the person’s food behind us in line. If we don’t have courage, we won’t go across the world to help those in need, we won’t help the homeless people down the street. To have courage and use that courage for others is kindness.

I’ve been particularly convicted lately about not acting upon kindness to produce justice. I long for justice and equality for everyone, and I can talk about it all day long. But if I don’t act, what have I done? I’ve potentially informed you about something you don’t know about, which is something I am passionate about, but have I really contributed with my own hands? How can I really make a difference if I don’t take action? The answer is I can’t. The last question on my Holocaust final was “How will you help bring liberty and justice for all?” One of the things I wrote was that I didn’t want to be a bystander which is exactly what I have been doing for 21 years. It’s time to change that.

Jesus was the ultimate example of selfless courage and bold kindness. He loved and showed kindness to the despicable, the hard to love. And He didn’t do it without action. He physically healed and provided for the ones He encountered. And He did it all with courage. He showed the most courageous act of kindness that’s ever occurred by taking on our sins and dying as a sacrifice to save our souls. That’s something I don’t know if I’d ever be kind or courageous enough to do. Thank goodness, I am not God. Thank God that He is so brave and so loving.

The realization that Jesus is the ultimate example and God is the ultimate giver of kindness and courageousness is magnificent. Not only do we have someone to look to for guidance on how to show courage and kindness, but we have someone to give us courage and kindness. We cannot produce the amounts of those qualities needed to be like Jesus on our own. We can only do it with Him.

I pray that God will give us more courage to be kinder.