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When We Marry The Wrong Person: Love and Divorce.

Editor’s Note: When I came up with the idea for Good Women Project when I was 23, this is exactly the kind of stuff I wanted to read. This is all the ‘stuff’ about love and dating and marriage and divorce that we don’t get to see unless we live it, or unless someone bares their soul and lets us into their inside life. Today’s story is by Tracy Wells. She blogs at theroadtobeautiful.com and tweets at @roadtobeautiful. – Lauren

Photo by Branden Harvey

Love is enough… Love conquers all…

My young heart took these statements into my marriage and lugged them around for 22 years. I knew before I ever said, “I do” that God was saying, “Don’t.” But I married anyway, and I paid a heavy price.

The first four years of marriage were blissful, and then it started. The cycle was always the same – he would accuse, I would cry, I would reason, we would talk, he would apologize – I’m so sorry. I know you’ve never cheated on me. I don’t know what’s wrong with me – and I would forgive. Over and over for 18 years my husband accused me of having multiple affairs. With every painful accusation, every cutting look, through each hellish argument I told myself, it will be okay because we love each other. I didn’t see that things weren’t even close to being okay.

I soon understood why God had said, “Don’t.”

I still remember the first accusation; I was shocked, blindsided, dumbfounded. I didn’t even know how to react. An affair?! Me?! I had never even had any offers or an inappropriate conversation with another man. I was never unfaithful, but that didn’t matter. My husband was my accuser. He was the source of my pain and my comfort. He was my best friend and my worst enemy.

Bad was mingled with good, hurt intertwined with love.

Years went by, our children came and grew and life seemed normal. But normal in my marriage wasn’t normal at all. My husband never laid a hand on me, but I was terrified of him. His words and eyes cut me deeper and did more damage than his fists ever could have. Physical wounds would have healed much sooner than the gaping cuts my heart walked around with. Maybe if he could have seen that I was battered and bleeding inside, he wouldn’t have repeatedly demanded that I “just get over it.”

Even when things were great between us, I was acutely aware that it all could go south in a heartbeat. I walked on eggshells all day, every day. The ache in my heart was constant. I cried more than I care to remember. All I had ever wanted out of life was to be married and have kids. I used to think, I guess I got my wish, but this is not what I had in mind.

On the outside, my marriage looked fine.

My kids were happy, and I was smiling. I wanted to be okay, so I acted like I was okay. Only God knew I was going through hell. No one at church knew, not even my family. I was completely isolated. I was a genius at covering up my pain. Survival mode said, “Preserve the marriage; protect the kids,” and I did.

I was then and am now deeply in love with Jesus. I love my kids dearly. They’re so great, and I love being a mom. I loved being married in spite of the junk. I was happy in spite of living in fear every day. I was full of joy and yet hopelessly sad. I didn’t want a divorce, I only wanted my husband to stop treating me so terribly. I wanted him to trust me. I wanted him to believe in me. To see into my heart and know that I truly loved him. To know that all my heart was for my family.

I was desperate for him to know, once and for all, that the affairs he imagined in his mind never happened, and that his suspicions were unwarranted. I wanted him to stop taking back his apology with the next accusation. I wanted him to be the good man that I knew he could be.

I told myself the same things that I’m sure most do, “But we’re Christians. If I pray enough, hope enough, believe enough…I know God can fix this. Divorce is not the plan!

And divorce is never the plan.

I know that God can fix a troubled marriage and that nothing is too hard for Him. I know He is the Great Physician and healer of all hurt. I know of His life-changing power. This knowledge kept me going, gave me hope and kept me sane. God will not, however, force someone to change.

I remember the day this realization hit me like a truck. If a person isn’t willing to change, change will not happen. No matter how much I prayed for God to change my husband, to change me, or how much I tried to adapt to this ever-changing/always-the-same situation, it was never enough. I told myself, If my words, expressions and actions are just right, he won’t suspect me of having an affair. If I just try to be the perfect wife, maybe then he will see that I really do love him. But no matter what I did, nothing changed. It never dawned on me that I was in an abusive relationship. My every move was controlled, and I didn’t even realize it.

The abuse escalated during the last three years of the marriage. The accusations became more disgusting, more harsh and more frequent. His words and eyes grew more violent. No one has ever looked at me or spoken to me with more contempt than my husband. My husband – the one who promised before God to cherish and protect me. The one who should know me better than anyone. How could he hate me so much one minute and love me so much the next?

I prayed repeatedly, How much of this do I have to take?! When will things change?! Each time I heard God softly tell me to stay. To this day I don’t know why, but I knew I couldn’t leave him. God didn’t remove me from the situation when I would have chosen, but He sustained me. He was so faithful to hold me and wipe my tears. Every. Time. Never. Failing.

And then one day, out of the blue, God said, “It’s time.”

I didn’t have to ask, “Time for what?” He didn’t have to tell me twice. I knew exactly what He meant, and I ran. I ran and didn’t look back. Some may argue that God would never tell a person to leave a marriage, but I have no doubt that had I stayed, the abuse would have become physical. I believe God rescued me that day.

I literally felt like I had been let out of a cage. I felt so free and yet so afraid! The thought of being a single mom kind of terrified me, and I was so concerned about my kids. Accusations continued to fly, and no matter what I did to protect my children and their ears, they were not to be immune from the lies. But a full year before the day of my escape, God had spoken to me very clearly. He said, “Don’t worry about your kids; I’ve got them. I love them more than you do.” Little did I know then how much those words would impact my life. I have clutched them so tightly, and they have brought me great peace.

I would love to tell you that my husband changed. I would love to tell you that we worked things out and my marriage was saved. But that is not the case. I learned some hard lessons when I disobeyed God all those years ago when I married him.

I learned that love does not conquer all. I learned that love is not enough.

Love does not always ‘fix.’

I said earlier that no matter what I did, nothing changed. That’s not entirely true. I changed.

God took my disobedience and exchanged it for priceless truth. He taught me how to run to Him, and every time He met me with strength and wisdom that I did not possess on my own. I learned how to pray and trust on an entirely different level. I learned that real worship doesn’t just happen on a warm and fuzzy Sunday morning. Real worship happens when you remain faithful in the trenches day after day even though your life is falling apart around you. I learned what it means to be truly happy despite your circumstances.

Real joy comes from God alone and cannot be taken from you when life gets hard. Little by little, year after year, through stubborn determination, I learned. I learned what real love is. You see, the truth is, I did have a love affair. I fell so desperately in love with God during those awful years, and that is how I survived. I had no one else to turn to. God was all I had, and I learned that He is all I need.

I learned that His love conquers all, and that His love is enough.

I disobeyed God and walked willingly into a situation with an outcome I could never have foreseen. But God, in His grace and mercy, didn’t abandon me. He followed me. He took my hand and walked with me on my journey, even though it was not His plan. He protected me and comforted me.

He never once said, “I told you so.”

He never once – not one time – left my side. He has never condemned me. He is gentle in His correction and passionate in His love for me.

I will be your God throughout your lifetime — until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4)

I am not advocating divorce. I hope that is not what you take from my story. I want to impress upon you the unconditional love of a God who passionately pursues us. A God who redeems all of our mistakes. A God who runs after us into our storm with an umbrella and an anchor. He is our refuge and our strength (Psalm 46:1). God is our rock, our fortress, our deliverer (Psalm 18:2). He will never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5) even in our disobedience.

And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)

Three years have passed since God brought me out of that situation. He has taken me on a journey of healing that has been so amazing. I no longer live in fear or feel the incredible pain that was my constant companion for nearly my entire adult life. He has put my heart back together, replacing the missing pieces with pieces of His own heart. He has wiped away my regrets and my shame along with my tears. He is my perfect husband who knows me better than anyone. He cherishes me and protects me, and I am precious to Him. He speaks only words of life, and if I could see His eyes, I know they would be filled, not with hatred or contempt, but with great love. He is the forever faithful love of my life. I know this today more than ever before.

For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I hope that you feel the love of God today and every day no matter where you are in life or what you are going through. In gain and lack, in peace and turmoil, in hope and despair, God is a good God. He loves you unconditionally. This is my prayer for you always.

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your heart as you trust in Him. That your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

My Mother Committed Suicide: Thoughts On Grief

Editor’s Note: Today’s brave post is by Kalie Wolfinger. She writes at www.kaliedub.com and you can see her lovely photography at kaliedubphotography. I’ve just realized we’ve spoken little about grief here, so if you have words to share, please feel free to link to them in our comments so we can carry each other through these things. Much love. – Lauren

Photo by Branden Harvey

Has a friend ever left a cute piece of clothing at your house and you intentionally don’t tell them they forgot it? I’ve done it. My favorite black sweater was left in my car during the madness of my wedding week and I have no idea whose it is, but I didn’t bother asking either.

In 2008, halfway through my sophomore year of college, 4 days before Christmas, my mom took her own life.

After months of struggling with pre-menopausal hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and a variety of medications it came to a peak. This moment changed everything for me. I’ve spent years dancing around how to talk, write, and think about it; not for myself, but because of how it affects others.

I second guess everything I say for the slight chance it might offend my dad…or my brother..or my sister. I don’t want to share about the grace and lessons on joy I have seen through these circumstances out of fear that I will hurt someone close to me. It’s incredibly painful to voice that there was some redemption and grace out of such a horrific situation.

About a month after my mom died, a close friend lent me a book by Jerry Sittser called A Grace Disguised.

Grief is a tormenting rollercoaster. A rollercoaster in the dark leading wherever it pleases without any indication of the next twist and turn.

I pinpoint this book as an upswing in my rollercoaster of grief. It pulled me along and brought glimpses of clarity and peace through my journey.

The book more or less outlines the journey of grief after the loss of the author’s mother, wife, and daughter in the same car crash. Although it specifically hits home for me as it talks about death, Sittser also points out that all loss is loss and inevitably occurs in all of our lives. Terminal illness, disability, divorce, rape, emotional abuse, physical and sexual abuse, chronic unemployment, crushing disappointment, mental illness, and death. He talks about how we want to quantify and compare loss and suffering, but “Each loss stands on its own and inflicts a unique kind of pain. What makes each loss so catastrophic is its devastating, cumulative, and irreversible nature.”

As I was reading the book the second time around this quote pulled on my heart strings different than the first time:

“The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. I discovered in that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or to face it as best I could. Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it. I chose to turn toward the pain, however falteringly, and to yield to the loss, though I had no idea at the time what that would mean.”

Everyone has something. Some covered up aspect of your past or present that’s a lot easier not to deal with or not allow yourself to think about. It’s easier to ignore the deep, dark fragments of life rather than allow yourself to process, experience the full range of emotions, and heal. I don’t think this decision is usually made consciously, but subconsciously as a defense mechanism.

We have to CHOOSE to plunge into the darkness and do the dirty work, but in the end being transformed by our suffering gives us a small glimpse of grace.

I am coming up on four years since my mom’s death and my own glimpses of grace have turned into days, windows, and floodings of grace.

As the carpet was ripped out from under me was when I truly learned the meaning of joy; joy that is not dependent on any circumstance or situation, but solely on the grace of Jesus Christ and the hope found in Him, that whatever you are going through right now…this isn’t it. This isn’t the end of your story.

There is so much more than what we see. Committing to do the work and run into the darkness takes courage. It requires a trust that believes somewhere in the darkness God will show up; that we won’t journey through the tunnel alone. It trusts that His grace is sufficient and that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

A Letter To All The Teenage Girls: You’re Awesome And This Is Why.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by yours truly! I have something very close to my heart that I wanted to share with you today. So here it is. If you do want to follow my personal blog or twitter, they are laurennicolelove.com/blog and @laurendubinsky! xoxo – lauren

Photo by Branden Harvey

Dear teenage girl:

I want to take a minute to write down some words for you, because I feel like it’s really important that someone says these things.

In the grown up world, “teenage girls” are kind of a lame stereotype, and I want to say that I’m sorry. You seem to be a demographic that is written off as silly, fickle, short-sighted, simplistic, shallow, and desperate. No one seems to respect you very much.

I often hear men (and even women) refer to you in an offhanded manner as if you’re the easiest group to manipulate, to sell to, to convince of things, to understand, and to predict.

This makes me incredibly sad because half of planet earth has been a teenage girl at some point, or currently is one, or will soon be one. And the other half? The other half either has or will desire you.

To joke about and put down “the teenage girls” is to put ourselves down. Somewhere along the way, we’ve either been one, or we’ve wanted nothing more than to love and kiss one.

There is no way to talk poorly of teenage girls without talking poorly about ourselves, and hurting those around us.

I wish I could make everybody stop it, but I can’t. But what I can do is write what I know to be true about teenage girls.

I know that we are more passionate than any other group of people I’ve ever found.

I know that we are capable of great depths of insight, able to give and receive wisdom.

I know that we are extremely joyful, and also have an impressive understanding of grief – which gives birth to one of the Universe’s most glorious things: Empathy.

I know that we are intelligent, and that learning is easy for us.

I know that we are capable of autonomous, individual opinions and decisions.

I know that we create better art than pretty much anyone else.

I know that the words we write are more true to our souls at this age than at any other age; that honesty comes naturally to us.

I know that we carry a great burden of being both adult and child at the same time, which gives us a view of the world that no one else has.

I know that we see beauty where no one else sees it, which is possibly the most honorable attribute a person can have.

I know that we have the innate resilience to overcome family trauma and dysfunction, and that at any given moment, every single teenage girl is wrestling through intimate struggles caused by someone in her family – and yet she rises to be present at work, at school, at play.

I know that our capacity for hope, for love, for art, for creativity, and for Becoming Better and More is unstoppable.

I know that we aren’t “exactly like” all the other teenage girls we know, because we are all fantastically unique, and that’s also why we love one another so much and can produce such awesome things.

I know that our bullshit detector is solid.

I know that we know when glamour starts and when it stops, and that even though it may look otherwise, we don’t give it more credit than it deserves.

I know that we aren’t crazy, and that we actually balance logic and emotion pretty well.

And I also know that we are capable of just as much positive change, beneficial passion, and enthusiastic love as any other male or female human being around us.

I wish I could tell you that the world will suddenly have a better opinion on teenage girls tomorrow when you wake up, but they probably won’t. I’m not terribly worried about it though, because I know what most people don’t: We are stupid amounts of strong, and already have years of experience to sticking to our guns when siblings, acquaintances, teachers, students, parents, relatives, and the majority of mass media are at our backs.

So, a love, a kiss, and a lot of badass glitter to each and every one of you. Carry on with your magnificent life. You deserve respect and admiration, and you’ve got mine.

Love,

A 25 year old girl who still feels like a teenager

10 Lies We Believe About Interacting With The Opposite Sex

Editor’s Note: Today’s kickbutt post is by Courtney Gabrielson, a senior at Davidson College. She tweets at @cogabrielson and blogs at cogabrielson.wordpress.com. With that, HERE IS THE AWESOME. – Lauren

Truth: I am nearly 22 years old. I have never had a boyfriend – serious or otherwise – and have only been on two casual dates, one of which was my high school prom. For a long time I thought it was my problem. I seemed too awkward, too fat, too incapable and uninteresting. So I dieted, learned how to ask people questions, did a lot of social things that felt risky and uncomfortable so as to strengthen my latent relational muscle.

And nothing happened. Still. Nothing’s happened. And perhaps it continues to be my problem. Perhaps, being a member of Generation MTV, brought up with Disney and Barbie’s Dreamhouse, I am a dysfunctional customer of a culture that sold me a hyper-romantic myth of what relationships look like: sex sex sex or Kleinfelds. I do watch a lot of movies.

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I’ve done my research. I’m convinced there is a big glob of lies that stand between women and men, keeping us from truly understanding one another, and messing up what should be relatively simple interactions.

I think that there is something wrong about the fact that girls feel guilty for wanting to be asked to formals; that come Friday night the same ladies are left lonely; that the majority of conversations women have with men are driven and instigated by those women; that at college breakfasts after church, the genders part much like the Red Sea.

It’s dumb and I hate it, and I think we need to get real. So, I want to take a few moments of your time, patient reader, to break down the lies I see from my perspective. Here I go.

Lie #1: “Let’s get lunch” = “let’s reproduce one day!”

I dislike the book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in much the same way that I abhor the phrase “intentional dating.” Their continual use in Christian culture has programmed everyone to think all women want is marriage, and that until mens’ desires finally catch up, there is absolutely no point in interacting with women beyond a casual, “how are you?”

The collateral damage of this lie has been staggering. I feel as though I am surrounded by guys that are, for the most part, scared of having mature, one-on-one conversations with other women. In the same vein, I feel as though I am surrounded by girls (myself included) who are constantly fighting a battle against discontentment and self-consciousness, wondering when it’ll be their turn to feel noticed. (And since it hasn’t happened yet, what’s wrong with us?!)

Furthermore, the sexual tension that pervades even the simplest campus ministry meeting is a pungent and thick as smoke. I can’t help but think that these problems wouldn’t be problems if we were okay with casual mingling.

Gentlemen, it’s what girls want to do. Hang out! Go to the movies. Dance at the Court. Laugh over chicken parm at Commons. Get pretty for you because frankly we think you’re cute! Ultimately, we just want to get to know you beyond the fact that you’re a Christian and a male. Contrary to popular belief, as much as we may want to get married eventually, no one is really truly biting at the bit to do it now. After all, we have to get into grad school and write a thesis and do everything else that we do. When we say “let’s get lunch,” that’s really all we mean.

Lie #2: Just because us ladies are slightly more assertive these days, it must mean that we want to be treated like robots.

Go my gender. We can vote, we can have jobs, we can be President. Yaaaaaaaay us. Why does this scare you? A lot of us still believe that women are programmed to be pursued by men [translated: We like when you initiate things]. The ball is in your court! We can be patient, but take note: we won’t wait forever. “Mario Kart” will not be going anywhere, but this girl and many others like her will if you don’t speak up. With words.

Lie #3: Being friendly equals “leading us on.” Therefore, in the interest of protecting us from thinking you want to pursue us romantically, acknowledge us as little as possible.

It’s sweet that you’re trying to guard our hearts. Really. But much like we can’t own your libido when we dress, you can’t own our emotions when you engage us in conversation. So, engage us in conversation. I don’t get why guys think it’s okay to be rude and standoffish during social occasions. It sucks to be ignored! Pleasantries are pleasant! Say hello when we’re standing three feet away from you; chat about the weather, ask about classes, work, whatever – we’re friends, so let’s act like it. Believe it or not, we are not 12 year-old-girls at a 6th grade dance; if you acknowledge us in public, we will not be writing our first names with y’all’s surnames in Hello Kitty journals after recess.

Lie #4: Dates mean high costs and expectations.

Do I have standards for a guy? Yes. But if we’re just getting to know each other, I’m not expecting an all-expense trip to Santorini here, nor Pride and Prejudice theatrics. Let’s just chat! Laugh. I might even split the check. If conversation makes you nervous, let’s ease into it by going to a movie. No. Pressure.

Lie #5: It’s okay that we don’t socialize or interact with the opposite sex, because my spouse will fall out of the sky.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn, because I have struggled for a long time with a false sense of introvertism (is this a word?). But God got my attention. How? Because He reminded me with that I cannot love Him well in a vacuum.

Do I believe that God has someone planned for me? Yes. But do I believe that the TV will turn on by itself? Nope. I have to get up and turn it on. In the same vein, I’ve got to meet Jesus [and people] halfway! I need to develop the characteristics of the woman who will one day be a good wife. And how do I do that? By meeting people, interacting with people, serving people. I’ve got to leave my dorm room occasionally. When Jesus said, “go out and make disciples of all men,” he didn’t indicate that we were to Facebook stalk them into submission, but instead to go out. One cannot say “I’m focusing on my relationship with Christ right now!” and then go into a hole. We are a social creations, of whom God said, “it is not good for man to be alone.”

This means that the sexes will have to mingle if we are to be a functioning, vibrant, Jesus-centered community. We might as well enjoy each others’ company! Does that mean that we are to serial-date and turn into some absurd lady killer or Scarlett woman? Nah. Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Conversely, I think a lot of us are waiting for it to rain when God’s saying, “I invented hoses for a reason!” Check out Acts 1:11: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky?” We are constantly called to action, to do things that make us uncomfortable so that we grow.

Lie #6: My decision to ignore the opposite sex doesn’t hurt anyone.

False. Do you know how many crying-conversations I’ve been a part of because of the passivity and indecision of Christian men?

This is best evidenced by a conversation I had about dating with a guy friend of mine. I discussed how a lot of girls are frustrated with the disinterest of the great guys around them, and they are caught in a spiral of self-doubt. Guy doesn’t ask me out, there’s something wrong with me, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not skanky enough, I need to change, or be more aggressive. This is coming from girls who love Jesus and are otherwise incredibly confident. This was/is me! My friend was astonished that the non-initiative of Christian men was causing a loss of confidence in these awesome girls, which sucks, because men SEE the loss of confidence, and then don’t like it!

Lie #7: Women just want romance and have a minimal sex drive.

We are sexual creatures and have sexual desires. All of us. While I acknowledge that men may be wired in different ways, it’s frustrating and disillusioning to suppose that guys are alone in the fight against lust, fantasies, the objectification of the opposite sex, and pure thoughts on the beach. I and many women like me experience these things, too.

Lie #8: I don’t need to interact with real women, because porn is more interesting, or safer. I don’t have to try, and there are no strings attached.

I would wager that if men and women spent more time interacting in a low-pressure environment with the opposite sex, the desire to rely on pornography as a source of relief would decrease. Is it a scientific fact? I don’t know. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying. But from my perspective, it seems as though we’re getting more and more uncomfortable with each other while the percentage of pornography users in the Church grows. This problem is an essay for another day, but essentially, porn is crippling men and women, stunting their relational abilities while placing incredible pressures on the opposite sex.

Lie #9: Non-Christian girls have a more low-key approach to relationships, so it’s a good idea to pursue them instead of the Christian crazies who want to marry me after the first date.

No. No no no. This one makes me mad. Why? Because I’ve lived it. I’ve faced the judgment of high-and-mighty brothers in Christ, who made me feel like crap because my evangelistic strategies were not as militant as theirs, because I liked to wear bikinis in the summer, and because I thought their concepts of submission were delusional. Yet the girls they dated were the girls we “good Christian girls” were to never act like. Double standard?

This is not a judgment call on any women, nor is it saying I am a saint. It’s just a call for consistency between words and actions of Christian guys.

Lie #10: Submission is a divine right that all men receive from their ladies, either girlfriends or wife.

Submission is a good thing. But when Paul talks about wives submitting to their husbands in Ephesians 5, he states that men are supposed to love their wives as Jesus loved everyone. That’s incredible love!

I will most certainly submit to my husband – I’ll make him sandwiches everyday for the rest of his life if it’ll make him happy – but this will be after he’s proven to me he tries to love me unconditionally. If not? Well, then have a nice day. I won’t be marrying you and we won’t have any issues.

Some people see this verse as a mandate used to justify misogyny in all types of male-female relationships. Submission should never be used as tool for enslavement. Paul uses states submission is for “husbands and wives.” Not boyfriends and girlfriends. Not friends. It comes with marriage.

***

Guys: The awesome girls around you are sick and tired of this relational confusion. We want to be your friends! We want to get to know you! We want to spend time with you! Zetus lepidus, we want to encourage you! Show us how to do this. Meet us halfway. Stop being scared or indecisive or lazy or whatever it is that is holding you back from being the men we know you are capable of being.

Let’s smash the metaphorical Horcrux (he he he) and work together to achieve this goal. Ignoring us, putting off figuring out your issues, acting as though we’ll go away and re-appear when you want a wife isn’t getting anyone anywhere. May I make a suggestion for a good first step? Ask us out to lunch and we can discuss, maybe, how we can best encourage each other over some mac ‘n cheese.

xoxo,
Courtney

Angie Schuller Wyatt, Author of God & Boobs, Interviews Our Founder

Editor’s Note: Hi everyone! Angie Schuller Wyatt has just published her new book, God and Boobs. We strongly recommend it to all our readers! You can read Angie’s blog at GodAndBoobs.com and follow her at @godandboobs. She did a super fun interview with me earlier this month for her readers, and I got so excited about it that I wanted to share it with you all! Thank you Angie for your incredible book, and for interviewing me! – Lauren

maxandlaurenLauren, tell us about the Good Women Project. What inspired you to launch it?  I’d just turned 23 and realized I didn’t have a more experienced person to openly talk to about growing-up-things, like marriage and sex and accomplishing cool stuff. It seemed like there was this big gap between being a girl and being a woman, and that I was ‘falling behind’ because I didn’t know how to transition or what that even looked like. For girls who go to church, most of us know some really amazing older women, but it’s still awkward to say things like, “Soooooo tell me about masturbation,” and, “I can’t picture EVER getting married, did you ever feel like that?” out of the blue. So I created GWP to be a space for those conversations.

How do you hope to most inspire other women?  I hope to inspire other girls to chill out. Chilling out is the root of all life. But seriously, the importance of just chilling out is probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned doing this project. Everyone is making mistakes, and no one has any idea what they’re doing. I used to think there was this unspoken “how to be a woman” rulebook, and it turns out, there isn’t. If you’re born a woman, you’re a walking version of that rulebook yourself. You’re not failing at being a woman, or a girl, or whatever you feel like you are! I also hope to inspire girls to not be afraid to be themselves. It sounds really cliche, but rejecting the fear in your heart that swells when you imagine doing something you REALLY REALLY wish you could do, if you were a different kind of girl? That’s not cliche. That’s important. I live to see girls dare to do those things. You’ve only got one life to be that girl.

laurendubinskygettyGod and Boobs is about balancing faith and sexuality. Any practical tips for how you’re doing this in your life?  I’m going to sound ultra hippie for a second and say that faith and sexuality are basically your whole life, and your whole self. They don’t stay in their own compartments. They should never oppose one another, and if they do, that usually means you’re trying to organize yourself instead of letting your heart operate naturally. For example, this year I’ve learned that “having sex” is about 15% of sexuality, and the rest of it is learning to think, feel, and behave in the way that you were created to. I feel like my sexuality has been massively stunted by believing that “sexuality = sex” for my whole life, so my practical tips would be 1) realizing that’s not true and 2) finding ways to get to know yourself better. I’ll be doing that the rest of my life.

How has your faith and femininity been most challenged by launching The Good Women Project? Oh man, how hasn’t it. Haha. We’re blessed to have literally hundreds upon hundreds of girls sending in their stories, but that also means I read entire books worth of information on relationships and other girl stuff in an average month. That’s simultaneously amazing and draining. Like therapy, you know? It’s hard to notice that you’re being challenged or growing in the moment, but looking back, I think I’m a completely different type of girl than when I started it 2 years ago. Maybe not different, just More. I listen better, I have more respect for people who are different than I am, and it’s the first time in my life I feel a sister-ness towards girls instead of instant competition. I’ve realized we are humans first, gender second. I’ve also had to learn to trust other people’s counsel and advice to me in a way I’ve never needed to before.

taxidermyWhat do you like best about being a woman?  Ahhh look at me, I’m such a feminist now. (I actually have been since 17, I just was given really wack definitions of feminism in the past so I didn’t know it.) I have no idea what I like best about being a woman. But I know what I like best about being Lauren, and I think that’s all that matters. I like being the girl that God created who is always growing, always curious, and who wants to create things and love people. I like being a person who experiments with new things all the time, and that God put that desire in me and put people in my life to help me have courage to do them. And I like best that I’m loved unconditionally, created equally, and blessed with the ability to act upon the desires of my heart.

For more information about Angie Schuller Wyatt or her book, God And Boobs, click here. You can read Lauren Dubinsky’s blog at laurennicolelove.com/blog or follow her at @laurendubinsky

This interview was originally published here.