3 Things I Want to Say to My College Self

  1. Quit being so damn proud and ask for help.
  2. There is more gray than you would imagine– and it’s a good thing.
  3. Give more grace. 


Ask for Help

Look, I know that all your life you have prided yourself on your intelligence– how you can figure things out on your own, how your mind is such a steel trap you don’t need to use a planner, how you don’t take shortcuts in anything (except maybe gym, ha!). But things are gonna get harder and harder and harder, girl, and the sooner you learn how to suck it up, ask for help, and accept that help, the better it will go for you. In fact, you will feel even smarter— which makes sense, since it’s wise people who collect resources and use them. Quit trying to get to the Everest summit without oxygen. Utilize your mentors, the counseling office at your college, the weekend extension given on that writing assignment. One day, you will be so happy to have tools and to use them. One day, you will see that it was always smarter to humble yourself and ask for help. The sooner you learn this, the happier you will be.

Gray isn’t the Enemy

The truth is that you have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder– OCD– which is making you so incredibly uncomfortable with anything that isn’t black or white. And if something is gray, the uncertainty of it makes you wild with panic, enough that you will think yourself in circles until you are able to move that gray along the spectrum, one way other other, to black or to white, so that you can breathe again. But the truth is that the sooner you learn how to sit with the gray, to let it be, to learn how to breathe even in the midst of uncertainty– that is where you will find relief and freedom.


First of all, you’re a bit of a self-righteous jerk right now, aren’t you, Sommers? Because you don’t accept help from others, and because you force everything in your world to be either black or white, and because you have scrupulosity (sit tight, you’ll learn more about this in a few years), you sometimes act like you have cornered the market on Being a Good Girl. Please stop. It is in your weaknesses that God’s power is made perfect. It’s in your humility and vulnerability that you draw others and help them open up. The mask of perfection that you wear feels so necessary right now, but it’s when you take that off that you will start experiencing deeper friendships. It’s when you show the darkness of your heart and find that you are still beloved that you will taste that richest flavor of being known. Give grace– to yourself and to others. This is the better way.

One Word: Grace (Revisited)

Remember how I chose one word to focus on in 2014?  That one word is grace.

Giving grace to myself.
Still learning.  I’ve allowed myself more time away from writing this year than in all of the last five years combined.  And when I feel guilty about it, I remind myself, Grace.  I repeat what my wise friend Judy has said– that I need to trust that the writing will still be there for me when I return to it.

Giving grace to others.
Honestly, this is easier for me to do than to dole it out to myself.  When you have screwed up as much as I have, it makes it a lot easier to say to others, “It’s okay” and “Me too” and “It’s forgotten.”  I love that.  I am so happy to see this aptitude for grace is so tremendously strong amongst my group of dear friends.  I learn so much from them.

Receiving grace from God.
I was recently reading the book of Galatians and marveling once again over the incredible truth that rule-keeping does not bring life.  “Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you” (MSG). I feel such gratefulness, such freedom.  I marvel at this gift.

I am spending this week in northern Minnesota, alone in a (really nice) condo, attempting to knock out a ton of necessary revisions. Leave me lots of comments this week because I’ll be going crazy from writing in solitude by the end of it! If you pray, pray for me!


Image credit: unknown

My One Word: Grace

At myoneword.org, readers are encouraged to ditch the long list of new year’s resolutions and instead choose one word to focus on all year long, one word to inspire you, one word that encapsulates the character you want to have.

I’ve chosen grace.

one word grace

There are so many reasons:

1) I need so much grace from God.  Every single day.

2) I need to give myself grace.  I’m a perfectionist, and I can be very hard on myself.  This year, I want to give myself more grace.  This is not the same thing as allowing myself to slack off.  Instead, it’s practicing kindness and generosity toward myself, especially in my writing.

3) I desperately want to grow in extending grace to others.  I have been shown such an abundance of undeserved favor; I want to turn that around and show that to others.

2014, I hope and pray, will be a year full of black and white and also so many shades of gray, which help me to be more gracious, to value mercy from others and offer it freely, and to wield generosity as best as I can.



Original image from weheartit.com, edited at picmonkey.com.