Clementines, I've been meaning to tell you something.
I fear we've been misleading ourselves. In a cultural sea of mixed messaging - inspirational vs. aspirational, real vs. authentic, truth vs. honesty - I fear we've run off course. And today, I want us to think deeply about the road we're walking.
From where I stand, I see constant tribes of women who are lifting each other up, rallying for empowerment and body acceptance and feminism, and - please do not mistake my message here - there is good in this. It is my wish that we all feel encouraged and loved.
I fear we're seeking that love in the wrong places. We're seeking that love from others who are just like us, because they are just like us. And this is not love. This is approval. And I fear this is a pure recipe for the complacency of a collective whole. We do not grow without being challenged. And we do not become challenged when we continually seek approval for behavior that is less than our best.
There's a moment that happens in our hearts when we hear, read or see something that causes dissonance in our soul. It's an uncomfortable feeling, and we can do one of two things with it: we can run away from it - becoming defensive and hardened and angered - to the arms of a crowd, where, surely enough, there will be a campaign to rally against the message that caused such dissonance in the first place.
We can walk slowly toward that feeling, and we can listen. We can let it sit. We can let it sink in, and then we can measure it against the truths that we know: truths that speak toward love and patience and self-control and faithfulness.
And - if it passes such test - we can choose to consider that little feeling one of conviction, rather than discouragement. We can choose to plant that feeling - a tiny seed - and allow it to lodge itself into our souls, one that will grow in an environment of individual truth, rather than collective approval. (This is hard. It requires a lot of digging, a lot of soil upturned. But you can do it.)
We live in an age where there is a movement for everything. We live in an age where we have confused relatable with authentic; where "keeping it real" hashtags mean snapping photos of screaming children or scuffed sneakers or dirty dishes.
But ladies, we know what real life looks like. We live these moments daily. And they are not meant to be measured against the collective society. They are not billboards or movements or standards. Do you hear me? These are not standards.
But these are:
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control.
I hope you hear these standards when you read these words. And I hope that when you see a movement - online or off - that looks glossy and empowering and viral, you think of these standards. Measure them. Ponder them. And run.
Because ladies, this is what I believe: it is better to wander a lonely desert of truth than swim in a crowded sea of wrong.
You can find me in the desert this month. (Hope to see you there.)