On Letting Be and Letting Go

I’ll be the first to admit it, I really really really like to hold onto things. I hold onto good things, like memories, emotions, moments, and silly little knick-knacks that remind me of a certain place and time. But I also tend to hold onto bad things as well… grudges, hurtful words, bitterness, and old aches and pains. I hold these things up for a “rainy day,” because you never know when you’ll need to find a reason to remain hostile towards someone or justify your mistrusting nature.

To me, holding onto things seems much easier than sorting through all the things that I need to let go. When someone hurts me once, I hold onto that so that if and when they hurt me again, I can tell myself that I should have known better. That’s horrible, isn’t it?

And much like a macbook, I’m finding that I’m running low on storage… I’m almost all out of space for new things – good things, because there are so many things that I can’t bring myself to let go of. There are folders and folders of emotional “stuff” that I need to sort through, deal with, then get rid of if necessary. And I’m not very good at that, but I am trying better to be… I have started the painful process of looking back at things that are far, far in the past, and making a conscious effort to really “deal” with these things – and let go.

This is what I have learned on:

Letting Go of the Hurt:

We are all human, we all make mistakes. And because of that, we tend to hurt others in the process of going about our lives, and we tend to get hurt too. There are so things that, to me, feel so brutal, so terrible that I can’t let it go. Whether that be painful words, gossip spread about me, or the pain of a messy break up, it’s hard to let go and replace those feelings with feelings of forgiveness.

But when you think about it, those hostile feelings really have no place in your heart. Sure, if someone has hurt you really bad, then naturally there will be a bit of distrust and hesitation that will result from their actions. But you cannot dwell on your hurt. I’ve found that dwelling on my hurt just makes it more difficult to find joy and peace in my own life and relationships separate from the person that hurt me. Focusing so much on the hurt has caused me to be unnecessarily closed off from people who genuinely want to know me and care for my heart.

Letting go of that hurt and replace it with a hopeful spirit. There’s a somewhat cheesy saying that has the phrase “love like you’ve never been hurt,” but it rings true. You’ll discover joy and peace when you learn to let those wounds heal.

Letting Go of What Wasn’t

I could write books and books full of the times I’ve said sentences that started with the words, “If only I was…” I can’t even count the times that I wished I was prettier, smarter, better at photography, stronger…you name it. It seems like there is almost something that I could improve on or that would make my life exponentially better if I just had that. 

While being stronger and smarter and better at some of my hobbies isn’t a bad thing, always feeling inadequate is. If I keep focusing my attention on what I am not right this second then I will never be able to focus on the steps I need to take to get better. I will never enjoy life for what it is right now, and I will certainly never find contentment.

There are so many situations that I wish would have worked out a little differently, a lot of friendships that I wish wouldn’t have faded. But those things are out of my control now, they’re in the past. And they unnecessarily weigh me down from focusing on what is in front of me right now and what is ahead. Let it go.

Letting Go of Friends

This one is hard. I have a lot of fond memories from high school, with some people that I’ll forever hold dear to my heart. But growing up changes those friendships, and going to college and moving from the place we grew up causes distance. It’s a natural thing, growing apart as we all grow up. But it can be hard, and sometimes it’s easy to feel replaced.

Other times it was my fault that the friendship faded, but still other times it was nothing I did – some people just chose to walk out of my life as if they were never there. Some people that were once your best friends are nothing more than strangers you pass on your way to class, or a name you see pop up on your facebook feed every once in a while. Sometimes the distance was just a natural thing, but other times there is pain and hurt that come with those broken friendships.

I’m struggling with this one in particular. I’m not perfect by any means, and I realize that I fall short in a lot of ways. I’m headstrong and reckless to a fault, and sometimes I don’t always see that my words have the potential to hurt so deeply. But no matter that, it still hurts to no extend when someone who you held close just decides to pretend like you don’t exist, or try to erase the part of their life that had you involved. And for me… I understand that I probably was wrong at times, but it still baffles me as to how someone could have such a big problem with me that they decided shutting me out was better than bringing things up. Now, the memories and the photographs are more bitter than sweet, and it feels like i can’t move on or process things for myself without being scrutinized. It’s difficult, to say it simply, and it hurts a lot. There’s nothing more painful than realizing that someone who used to do life with you doesn’t care much for you being in their life anymore.

But you can try and try and try to understand what you did or where things went wrong and not get an answer. Believe me, I’ve tried millions of times. While sometimes it is healthy to get closure and sometimes it is a good thing to attempt to smooth things over with that person, sometimes that won’t happen. And it sucks. But you have to realize that you have value even if that person doesn’t think so. And sometimes closure doesn’t come, as much as we hope it to. And sometimes that’s okay.

In these moments, it can be so easy to hold on tightly because we just have to find closure or find an answer to all of the questions we might have. But instead of spending countless hours going back in your mind to see where things started to crumble and how you could have done better and been better, you can move on.

Because as harsh as it sounds, they moved on. And you can move on too. Forgive them for the unanswered questions and the hurtful choices they made. Forgive them and move on. Choose grace when you could bitterness and resentment. Let go of that grudge, or it will consume you and make you into a hostile, critical person. Don’t let them have that much control of you.

You might never get the answers you hope for, but I promise that you’ll find the people who will be a part of your life for the long haul. You’ll find people who show up and don’t stop showing up.


These are just a few things I’ve learned during this “spring cleaning” of my heart. May you find the strength to let go of what you need to. I pray for your hearts to choose grace and peace in these types of situations in your life. Don’t be disheartened, because I have a long ways to go as well. But we will get there.

With love,

Erin Esther.

she was purple

A response to the prompt of the day: purple.

Oceans of blue trapped in her eyes.

The passion in her heart burning red.

Colors bleed together to form a vivid purple,

she weaves the lavender through her hair.

There are some people that you meet that are absolutely extraordinary in every way. You look at them and for a second you are in awe, in awe that such a resilient, beautiful soul can exist in such a dark world.

That, to me, is my best friend.

The stories she could tell you, the tragedies she’s seen would break even the one with the strongest mind. She’s been given more in her twenty years than most have been given in forty. Battles seem to come her way more than victories, and the mountaintops are few and far between the valleys.

Yet through all of the challenges and hardships her heart has stayed kind. The average person might grow bitter and callous from the trials, but she remains soft and kind to those around her.

She has been an inspiration to me and so many others through the way that she loves others and perceives the world around her. You can find her in the woods with her eyes wide open, taking in the beauty of the world. Or in a busy coffee-shop, sharing her heart with another to encourage them in their own life.

DSC_7778

How grateful I am for this purple haired, purple hearted friend of mine.

stay small, lift strong.

Today I competed in my first ever competitive lifting event. If you knew me in high school, you’re probably thinking, “Wait…what?” I wasn’t necessarily the strongest person in high school, and I weighed a whopping eighty-eight pounds. I wasn’t exactly athletic either, with competitive dance being my sport of choice.

So the thought of little Erin Mathews competing in my University’s Mini Arnold was pretty crazy.

I know I’ve written a bit in the past about my diagnosis with fibromyalgia and how that effects my life. It’s an extremely debilitating disease that effects me on a daily basis, with chronic exhaustion and extraordinary pain being just a couple of the things I have to deal with. It’s been a tough fight with fibromyalgia, but I’ve managed to treat it with medicine, muscle relaxers, and weightlifting.

I started lifting around September of last semester, at first just looking to strengthen my body to help with the chronic pain and fatigue. But I fell in love with weightlifting and this semester I began to power lift. And that led me to register for the Mini Arnold.

This morning, I was all sorts of excited and nervous and felt as though I was going to throw up a couple times. I didn’t come to win, but I did come to show myself that I am capable and strong.

At the end of the day, I didn’t place. In fact, I failed at the lift that I was most confident in and didn’t come close to the numbers that some of the other girls were able to reach. And at first, I was mad at myself and frustrated that my body wasn’t cooperating with me and that I wasn’t performing my best.

17264722_10212187780720738_1522805895588835852_n

But my friend reminded me of why I was there. I was there to show myself how far I’ve come, to beat fibromyalgia, to prove that I am capable and I am strong, and to prove to everyone else that a small 104 pound girl can lift big things.

And although I failed in some respects, I am not a failure.

I beat the girl that I was a year ago, who nearly had to drop out of school because of fibromyalgia. I beat the girl that i was six months ago, who never had touched a barbell before. I beat the girl that I was three months ago, by reaching higher numbers and improving my form. I beat the girl that i was a month ago, who laughed at the idea of herself competing.

And I’ve got a long ways to go. I still have PRs to hit and numbers to crush. I might not have placed this year, or even come close to it. But we’ll see what next year has for me.

My hopes for writing this is that you would be encouraged to try something new, to take on something extremely challenging to you. While there will always be someone who is better than you, you always have the opportunity to be better than the person you were yesterday. So get out there and kick some butt. I believe in you.

And for me? I’m going to, in the words of my good friend Josh, stay small and lift big.

17458112_10212189657967668_4803122324174764339_n

(shoutout to my homies at Fit University for the swag!)

a life update: semester progress + summer plans

Hello!

It feels like forever since I’ve sat done and written something about my life and what’s going on in my world. Admittedly, it’s been a crazy couple of months, with a heavy class load, a busy work schedule, and countless extra activities that I’m involved in. The semester is FLYING by, which has its pros and cons. Soon I’ll be finishing my second to last year here at Cedarville, and I am both terrified and excited.

I don’t really have much else to say about this semester, because it’s all very routine right now. My days are spent in class, at the gym, at work, and then doing homework with the occasional rehearsal thrown in there. I filled out my graduation placeholder card the other day, and it struck me how fast these last three years have gone by. Sometimes I still feel like little old freshman me, but other times I’m astounded at how far I’ve grown.

Gone are the days of staying up until 2 AM hanging out with the girls in my unit, or the nights my roommate and I would stay out until curfew. Gone are the days chasing boys and stressing about whether or not I was dating someone my freshman year. Gone are the days of playing campus golf more than studying or doing homework. Gone are the days of getting lost around campus or being intimidated by the library. Gone are the days of being a scared little freshman with no idea who she wanted to be.

I still am not entirely sure who exactly want to be, but I know that I am getting there.

Senior year will be here before I know it… but first I have an internship to finish!

I’m excited to share that I accepting an internship with Never The Same Camp ministries as the photography intern. I will be working with the media group at the camp, shooting and editing photos to share on the NTS social media accounts and during the evening worship times. We’ll be traveling for around 10 weeks to different states and campuses, and I’m so dang excited about it! Photography + visual communication is my passion, as is youth ministry. So I am SO EXCITED about getting to do something that fuses those two passions of mine.

This internship was one that I was praying for, and God has been so faithful to me by giving me the opportunity to pursue it. I can’t wait to see how He uses me and my story to impact others this summer, and I’m so excited to share Jesus with hundreds of students throughout the internship.

That’s all I have to update you all on as of now. Thanks for keeping up with me and reading my posts, you all rock!

With love,

Erin

 

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Pinterest!

Madeline Shoes: Review and Try On!

I’m super excited to announce my most recent collaboration with the online shop Madeline Shoes! They offer super trendy, cute styles at affordable prices – which is exactly what a shoe hoarder like me likes.

In return for reviewing the brand on my blog and instagram, they sent me a cute pair of caged heels in black! These heels are called “winning” and they are the PERFECT transitional shoe as we go from cold winter days to spring!

I really love the modern chic look that these shoes give, and they can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. For today’s look, I wore some black skinny jeans with a plain grey t-shirt and added a super cozy cardigan. This is midterms week, so I definitely wanted my outfit to be comfortable as I took a couple exams today.

My overall experience with Madeline Shoes was so wonderful! The ladies there were so helpful and kindhearted, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to collaborate with them! I highly recommend the shoes, as they are super cute, super affordable, and quality!

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset

Photo credit goes to my roommate Rachel! Follow her instagram here.

 

the post i never thought i would write

“Wait for the boy who brings you coffee after a long day…” “5 qualities you should look for in a guy…” “Why I kissed dating goodbye…” “Why I stopped pursuing guys and waited for the one to pursue me…”

Growing up in a youth group culture and ending up at a christian college, I saw posts with these titles (and many similar ones) on my facebook feed almost daily. Admittedly, I normally roll my eyes at these articles. I’ve always had a weird relationship with the culture of Christian dating, and I’ve seen many people get hurt through the pressures that dating (for Christians) often brings. I had many guy friends get lead on only to be dropped with the, “God told me I need to focus more on Him” line. (Admittedly, I heard that line once or twice too from boys in my youth group that I had been interested in.)

Once I got to my Christian campus, I only resented the Christian dating culture more. The pressures of finding your special someone while being on campus was crazy. The “ring by spring” mentality was realer than I ever thought it could, and even I fell into the pressure and started dating someone my Freshman year. It was the thing to do. And to be honest, I was clueless how to act in a relationship. For there’s so much emphasis on what a girl should look for in a Christian boy when it comes to dating, but I never heard what I should look for in a healthy relationship. No one ever told me how to identify whether or not I was ready for a relationship either – it was always reduced to a magical “you’ll know when it’s right” moment.

Needless to say, my freshman year relationship didn’t end well and I was even more confused about relationships than before. The pressure to figure out whether or not that particular boy was the one I wanted to end up marrying was absolutely suffocating. I felt awful that I didn’t know if I wanted to marry him or not 2 months into the relationship, and the pressure to decide that was unbearable.

After we broke up, I was pretty pessimistic about the whole relationship thing. I worried that I would never find a boy who would support me and my dreams and hopes and aspirations. I worried that any relationship would end in disaster like before. I worried that I would never find the guy that all the cheesy Christian blog posts talked about. I worried that it was all too good to be true.

But, as cheesy as it sounds, that all changed. 

I won’t bore you with details, but I ended up dating Kevin. And slowly I began to see the qualities that the blog posts I rolled my eyes at described. And I began to gain a little more faith in relationships, and I slowly began to feel that magical “i think this is really really right” feeling.

And now I’m engaged to my best friend, now I have a wedding dress hanging in my closet. Now I’m planning a wedding and a future with my best friend, my biggest supporter, my confidant, my favorite person in the whole entire world. I’m engaged to someone who wants nothing but the best for me and desires to lead our relationship in a godly way. Kevin reminds me every day of how loved I am and how grateful he is for me, and I get to do the same for him. We get to be a team and make decisions together and work together through the good things and the hard things. We get to dream together and make plans for our future together. We get to go to church together and seek to honor the Lord with our relationship together.

While we have our share of difficulties and hardships when it comes to our relationship, I can’t imagine being with any one else. Our relationship has been mostly long distance, but I would never trade it for a “more convenient relationship.”

And while I wish that I had been able to skip through all the bad relationships, all the heartache and pain, all the mistakes… I wouldn’t take it back. Because like it or not, the fact that I dated a few guys here and there led me to the relationship I’m in now. I might not have waited for the guy who would bring me coffee after a long day at work, but that guy did come into my life eventually. I might not have dated guys that always fulfilled the list of qualities I was told to look for, but now I’m with someone who is more amazing that I could imagined to be. 

And most of all, I’m really glad that I didn’t “kiss dating goodbye” or wait around for him to pursue me first…because if I had, I wouldn’t have went out on a limb and asked Kevin to get coffee that summer day. (and I honestly don’t know if Kevin would have been brave enough to ask me if I hadn’t asked :P)

Getting to date your best friend is one of the most wonderful things. It’s so cool to know that I GET TO DO LIFE WITH MY BEST FRIEND FOREVER. It’s so overwhelming to know that even through all of the bad luck and hurt, God was preparing my heart and my life for the relationship He had in store for me and Kevin.

I guess the reason I wrote this is because I want those who are frustrated with the “Christian dating culture” to know that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel like there’s too much pressure to find that special someone. It’s okay to ask the guy out first. It’s okay to go on a date even if you’re not sure if you want to marry them yet. It’s okay if you feel a little pessimistic towards relationships. It’s okay to take a break from dating if you need to. It really is okay. Because in the end, all of this will be worth it. When you’re standing across from your best friend on your wedding day, everything that led you to each other will be worth it, I promise.

20161008_ek-1120161008_ek-120161008_ek-27

#FitFriday – 5 Things I Did To Start A Fit Lifestyle

Being healthy and fit is a huge part of my life today. But it wasn’t always like that. The beginning of 2016, I set out to make my life more about healthy living. It wasn’t easy, with diet changes and making working out a part of my daily routine. But here I am, at the start of 2017 and at the healthiest that I have been in a long time.

So how did I do it? These five things are what I did to motivate myself towards a healthy, active, and fit lifestyle.

  1. Find A Fitness Enthusiast Friend

    The thing that kept me from heading to the gym at first was the intimidation. I wanted to get more into weightlifting and working with free weights, but simply walking into the gym felt scary to me. Not knowing anything about anything made me terrified.
    But one of my close friends showed me the ropes and helped me figure out what workouts work best for me and how to target specific muscle groups. She was patient with me, and was super encouraging. Her encouragement and support helped me get past the fear and anxiety that I had about going to the gym. And once I got to a point where I was comfortable and felt as though I knew I was doing, I started to go on my own.
  2. Join A Fit Community

    Since I started my fit journey, I joined the Fit University community. Fit University is a community targeted for college students who are interested in maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Fit University’s website publishes all sorts of articles, from work out routines, to fit inspiration/motivation, to personal stories from the Fit University team, to healthy and yummy recipes. I’ve found a lot of support and encouragement through Fir University recently, and it helps push me towards keeping up with my fit and healthy lifestyle. Plus, it’s fun to have a community of people that you can celebrate PRs and goals being achieved with!
  3. Figure Out What You Love And Do It!
    I love weightlifting, so that’s what I look forward to the most when I work out. I like to challenge myself and see my body grow stronger. By learning more about weightlifting and how I could target different areas of my body through different exercises, I’ve developed routines and schedules that work best for me and that I can have fun with as well.

    I really love leg day. I was a dancer in high school and spent a lot of time in the studio, so I naturally have pretty muscular legs. I used to hate that my thighs were a bit bigger than most girls my height, but now that I’ve started lifting I am grateful for my legs and their strength.

  4. Figure Out What You Hate And Do it!

    I hate cardio. I’m not much of a runner, and while I know it’s good for me and necessary for my fit lifestyle… it doesn’t make it any easier. Running is hard for me physically, being someone who suffers rom fibromyalgia and chronic joint pain. But one of my specialists that I see for fibromyalgia told me that she once had a patient who started using running as treatment and now runs marathons. That to me seems like an impossible goal for me, but I know that if I worked hard enough for it, I could possibly do it.

    Running might not be my most favorite thing, but knowing that there are people who have a lot more challenges than I do and who can run marathons pushes me to do it anyway. And you know, the more that I do it, the less I hate it.

  5. Have Fun With It!

    Seriously, have fun with it! For me, going to the gym is the high light of the day. But for others, it might not be as fun. So make it fun, by going with friends or trying new things, such as a spin class, yoga, zumba, rock climbing, or kickboxing. And don’t take yourself too seriously. I’m TERRIBLE at zumba, but I still have fun whenever I go. I may feel ridiculous, but it’s an entertaining and different way to get my cardio in.

    Living a fit lifestyle isn’t all about setting and achieving big goals or getting super muscular. It’s more about taking care of your body and pursuing healthiness. Our bodies work best when we are active and healthy, and those who live active lifestyles are proven to be happier and more content. Fitness has many benefits, not just physical ones. And I promise that you’ll start to see positive outcomes when you start to pursue a fit and active lifestyle.

    I’m cheering for you, and I’m always here for support and to answer any questions about my fitness routines that you might have.

    With love,
    Erin ❤