Owning It

Blog Post

Making friends is weird.

It isn’t easy finding the balance between being truly me and also wanting to make a good impression. It is such a sticky path. It is twisted and complicated. Being in a new school, knowing absolutely no one, makes finding friends not super easy. The whole process of making friends makes me feel like I am back in elementary school and trying to find people to play with on the playground.

Since being in school, I have made one friend. We have a couple classes together and are pursuing the same major. We were basically destined to be friends. Our friendship went from zero to sixty, real fast. I wasn’t even certain we were friends and then we were spilling our guts.

We quickly began talking about the deeper things about life: heartbreak, family drama, life, death, and everything else in-between.

The other day our class got cancelled so we went out to coffee (what a classic college statement to say). We sat down, a pumpkin latte in hand, and the conversation ebbed and flowed. Back and forth. They shared. I shared. It was an extremely rewarding conversation.

It was at coffee that I began to share my story. Up until this point, they had shared more than I had. Up until this point, I was just Maranda. I wasn’t Maranda The Christian, or Maranda The Ex-pastor, or Maranda The blogger, or even Maranda The Sinner. I was just Maranda. When the questions began, all the details flowed. I shared quite a bit. I definitely shared the parts that make me look waaaay less than impressive.

My new friend responded beautifully. They were kind and understanding. But, I walked away and kind of panicked.

I woke up the following day questioning what the heck I did.

I think I was just smacked with the realization that I have left the comfort of the church community. And now I am trying to navigate what I believe, what I want, and where I am going. Now, I don’t have the safety net of the church. Or the comfortability of church. I am just figuring out where my place is.

I was terrified of what my new friends thoughts would be. Did I share too much? Is my story too different? Will I be accepted? Am I enough to be their friend?

I reached out to some of my superhero girl gang & told them I was spazzing. They responded with reminding me to own my story.

My story matters. Period.

It doesn’t matter what I did seven years ago.

It doesn’t matter what I haven’t done.

I have a really beautiful heart that deserves to be trusted, honored, and celebrated.

I deserve to be surrounded by people that remind me that my story is valuable.

It’s so funny, because my new friend was really understanding of my story, but MY insecurity got involved. Owning my story is just another layer, a deeper level, of self love. More acceptance.

So, in this journey of making friends…I’ve decided to become my own friend.

Just like I am accepting of the new people I meet, I will be accepting of my story. I will extend kindness and grace and understanding to myself. I will trust the beauty I bring into friendships. I will celebrate who I am become through every season of my story.

Why does it seem so complicated to accept and befriend oneself. The reality is, you deserve friendship. You deserve respect and honor. You deserve to extend friendship to yourself. So, regardless of your story…own it. Rock it. And don’t doubt the fire within you.

XO,

M

Ignorance is Misery

Blog Post

So this past weekend I logged into my Facebook account and a video popped up on my feed titled Say “No” to Fat Acceptance. I watched the entire video, looking for the “punch line,” but there never was one. The video depicted an “overweight” man on an operating table and then flashed back to his life growing up. It showed him eating fast food, his mom “enabling” his bad habits, and him not exercising.

As someone that has struggled with her weight for her entire life, this video hit really close to home. I was instantly smacked upside the head with the shame this video was promoting. I reached out to the person that shared the video and tried to gain some understanding.

Was their intention to truly say “fat” is wrong? Was their intention to really say that society is accepting of “fat”? 

After the conversation, I was baffled by the scenario that I was in. I had never been hit with such dense opposition to something as unimportant as weight.

A few days later I was on my apple calendar (which, I am so proud of apple for recognizing this celebratory day) and saw the event “Juneteenth”. I have to be honest, I was super confused. After asking a few people, I finally learned that Juneteenth is a celebration of the freedom & release of the African American people back in 1865. This is their July 4th. Their day of freedom.

I, again, was stunned. I had no idea and instantly felt tremendously embarrassed and saddened that I didn’t know about such a momentous day.

As I processed my new learning, I recognized the similarities in these two scenarios.

Ignorance.

Meaning, the lack of knowledge or information. Or, being clueless. Or, putting your foot in your mouth (sometimes majorly) because you simply do not know better.

Ignorance sucks.

If I am being completely honest, the experience of the fat-hate video was one, out of maybe five, experiences I have had with total ignorance. It really hurt knowing that someone hated me so badly for something as unimportant as my weight. It really hurt knowing that someone truly thought I was wrong for my body. And then here I was, living and not knowing about such a momentous day as Juneteenth.

BARELY got a taste of what it is like to be face with ignorance. But there are all kinds of people that are faced with ignorance every day.

In regards to Juneteenth…I am lucky enough to have some friends that are teaching me. about the realities of being African American today. They are telling me the ways that they have to be humble, honor, and fight to be the people they are today. They tell me about their real and raw history (not the nicely framed history within the books I used to read at school). They tell me about what it is like to be an African American in society today: the extra conversations required, the many injustices they still face, and they correct my ignorances. I feel tremendously blessed to be extended the amount of grace they give me.

As someone that is eager to fix her mistakes, I am amazed to face people that are not.

I wanted to write this post to challenge each of you, lovely readers, to face your ignorances. Whatever it might be (sexuality, religion, race, weight, disabilities, gender, etc) get informed. Learn more (even if its hard)! Make mistakes (even if it hurts)! But always keep in mind that your little world of experiences are not all that is out there.

As much as it stings, it is always beautiful to be humbled.

What areas of life/this world are you learning about these days? Let me know in the comments!!

XO,

M

ShameFree

Blog Post

So, let me be honest.

Each blog post I have written so far has been fairly easy for me to write. The amount of transparency and vulnerability has been easy to swallow. But, today I want to write about something that is actually a challenge.

I have tried starting this post about 7 times and I keep having the faces of my sweet family roll through my mind. Isn’t it funny how it is easy to be transparent with strangers, but it is far more difficult to be vulnerable with those that matter? (I promise family, this story ends on a good note!)

I want to start off with a disclaimer: this is simply my expereince. In no way am I trying to push a belief system or be the moral police for any of you. Be the best version of you, whatever you think that that is. But I do feel led to share my story.

WELL, here goes…

About a week ago I was sitting in a room with a group of spiritual leaders that I trust. We were talking about sexuality (and all things related). A question got presented about pornography and it was referred to as a man issue. I was instantly irate. Because pornography does not just affect men and I think that needs to be talked about more.

It affects women. It affects people. It affects me.

I think I was about 11 or 12 when I began watching porn. I think it started from curiosity, turned into fascination, and remained an addiction. It was about 7 years before I got any freedom.

For me, watching pornography and masturbating was a terrible act that reiterated all the self-hatred that I had been cultivating inside me for most of my life (see my blog post all about my story to know more about that). It became a form of punishment and self-absue.

Now, this is where I remind you all of the disclaimer above…you can obviously make your own decisions about your own purity. But for me, watching pornography was horrible. I felt terrible after, I had to hide a major part of my life from the people that love me, and I felt violated seeing those images. The experience for me was one of shame.

Overtime I became numb. I struggled to make true, vulnerable friends. I put up a wall with my family. My identity became solidified that I am worthless and I deserve shame.

I was like two people: the good christian girl to the public eye and the shame-ridden worthless monster behind my bedroom door. I hated living like this, but it felt like exactly what I deserved. I tried so hard to “be a better person.” And nothing I would do made me quit (or like myself anymore).

Long story short, I applied to go to a christian ministry school and was asked to attend their discipleship school instead. When I got that news I was devastated. I told my parents and they did not understand why I didn’t get in. They attempted to learn more both about the discipleship school and the reasons behind why I didn’t get approved to go to the ministry school.

I was terrified that my parents would learn about my battle with pornography from someone else. I knew I had to admit to this problem. I sat my mom down and with big ol’ tears streaming down my face (just kidding. that sounds too put together…I was a blubbering mess) I told my mom my pains, shame, and problem with pornography. I asked her if she still loved me, to which she replied “Yes. Of course.”

Okay, I know this sounds absolutely insane…But I swear…after talking to my mom I was set free. The act of bringing something to the light, having accountability with someone close to me, and receiving love within the darkest parts of who I am…it changed everything.

This is really the heart of this post: get vulnerable and bring things into the light! Let trust worthy people see into you. Let them see the pretty parts and the yucky parts of you, your life, your thoughts. Regardless of what you have done, or what has been done to you, or who you think you are…YOU DESERVE LOVE. YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE. 

It will be terrifying. It will be difficult.

but it is worth it.

Regardless of what your thoughts are about pornography…take away this: all of you deserves to be seen by trustworthy people. Even the parts you think are too ugly.

Being vulnerable, having emotional intimacy, changes lives. Allow yourself to be seen, heard, and loved.

After about six months, or so, of freedom from watching pornography, I began to struggle again. I fought off and on for some time. Vulnerability isn’t the cure-all fix to any problem. I had to make powerful choices about what I wanted in my life and who I wanted to be. I began to see that I deserved a pure love and deserved authentic intimacy. I decided that watching porn and masturbating was no longer an option in my life.

Because of love and because of powerful choices, I have freedom.

 

I will end with this…

My view on pornography is not just based on my faith. It has a lot to do with the fruit that it caused in my life. Everything that came from both porn and masturbating was bad. It pushed me to keep secrets. It pushed me to cultivate shame. It kept me from relationships. It reiterated the lie that “I didn’t deserve love.” So, I would say that it is really important to look at the fruit happening in your life. Surround yourself with things that bring truly good fruit into your life.

Thank you for reading and letting me share. Feel free to send me any questions or comment below!

XO,

M

Missed Opportunities

Blog Post

Hello Lovely Humans,

I want to start by saying thank you for reading this post (& for checking out my blog!) It is such an honor to have each view, like, and comment I get. MarandaTaylor is a dream come true.

I have mentioned it before and will mention it again (somehow it comes out within each blog post I have)…the topic of

Self-Love.

Self-love is a subject that has many opposing views. Ultimately, to me, self-love is the intentional act of accepting oneself, fighting for one’s desires, and expressing love towards oneself. Self-love is not thinking that you are better than everyone else, but it is treating yourself with the same kindness you treat others with. Self-love is being gentle, gracious, and forgiving towards your being, actions, and body. Self-love is brave. Self-love is wild. Self-love is complicated.

Self-love has become one of my all time favorite topics. I believe that self-love is a journey, one we never arrive to a destination with. We are always learning new ways to love ourselves. And we are always presented with new opportunities to practice our new ways of self-love.

Now, I know that society hasn’t easily accepted self-love as a common practice, despite the strong efforts of men & women that are fighting to create a culture of self-love. Growing up, I didn’t know anything about self-love. I did not realize it ought to be a priority in everyone’s life. I never heard that my self deserved love.

If that is you, this is me telling you that your self deserves love.

Because society isn’t sharing about self-love enough…I want to. I want to share everything I learn about self-love and I want to constantly encourage those around me to love bigger and accept more.

Recently, I have been recognizing that there are so many opportunities for me to practice my self-love. Everyday I wake up and I get a chance to love myself more. But recently, I have been settling for convenience more than I have been choosing love. I choose convenience in my actions and choices. (For example, it is convenient to get some greasy food to-go as opposed to cook something healthy at home. Or it is convenient to not make my bed as opposed to take the time to create a clean atmosphere of a made bed.) I became convicted at the opportunities that I was missing.

I don’t want to look back on my life and see missed opportunities. So, I have been challenging myself to embrace the moments that each day has. This means infiltrating my life with things that make me feel loved. I want to decorate my life with things that bring me joy.

Have you ever spent quiet time with yourself to really discover what brings you joy? Have you ever spent time to ask your heart, what makes you feel alive? Well, I did that this past weekend and these are a few of the things that I have come up with…

a fridge full of fresh food,

essential oils diffusing through out my house,

sleep at a decent time,

long phone calls with old friends,

baths with a good book,

a clean and tidy home,

fresh flowers,

open windows at any chance I can get (in my house, my car, my office),

tween fiction novels,

face-timing my nieces,

slowing down for sunshine,

and journaling anything and everything that happens in my life.

 

Now, it might not seem like much but as I have been pressing in to this list of things that I love, I have been enjoying my days in a more fuller way. At the end of the day, I couldn’t tell you why I have had such good days but I think it is for pressing in to these things. I believe that it is these simple acts that elevate our lives from mundane to sensational. I believe that our lives can be full of vibrancy, but we have to actively choose that.

This topic of self-love is a big one, but it does not have to be overwhelming. Each day, you can practically love yourself. What is unique to you? More than just answering the question “how do you practice self-love?” I want you to feel inspired to put action behind your list of joy things.

It is people like y o u  &  m e that will create a society, a culture, of more love. So, start with yourself…you are stuck with you forever, anyways (;

Let me know in the comments what you did to spread more love today! (PS: Make sure you subscribe to my blog!)

XO,

M

The Power of Me (Guest Post: Destiny Story)

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One thing I want to use this social platform for is to promote and celebrate the people around me. I am someone that searches for lessons & inspiration from those around me and I want to share those stunning people with you all!

This first guest post is by a woman that is dear to my heart. She has been in my life for almost two years and I am deeply blessed by her:

Destiny Story EFC06971-A31D-486D-A638-69E09A6FAE27.JPG

When I think about who Destiny is I think of one word: brave. She is a woman that looks at life, her challenges, her fears, her dreams and responds to them bravely. Destiny has bravely stood in the wilderness of life and come out to the other side. She has stood, alone and scared, and yet she has not turned away.

Destiny Story is a brave woman.

In this post she has written, she shares about some of her wilderness. She shares about a process that I’ve had the privilege to watch her walk through. And as a witness to this time in her life, I can safely say that she has a lot of wisdom & inspiration on the things she shares. So, let her sweet words inspire you!

XO,

M

Ps: You can check out D’s blog here: https://destinystoryblog.wordpress.com

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My whole life I’ve felt like I wasn’t enough, or honestly, that I was just too much. I’ve felt not skinny enough, not talented enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not funny enough, not good enough. I’ve felt too loud, too tall, too fat, too opinionated, too passive, too emotional, too sensitive, too different.

I’ve always felt like I was different and I’ve spent most of my life just trying to decide if what made me different was good or bad. But I think somewhere around 7th grade I subconsciously decided that it was a bad thing, a really bad thing, that would forever keep me separated from those around me. I thought I would never be able to connect with people because it felt as if people never wanted to connect to me (my parents and friends) or that I was always “too much, not enough” for the people around me to connect with. I felt creative but was never shown it was okay to be creative in ways that didn’t quite make sense and I was never shown it was okay for it not to be perfect. I buried myself in perfectionism because it seemed all the amazing people were, and the sad part was that people around me wouldn’t have known because it was all in my internal world! It revealed itself in my self talk and my constant attempts to “fix” myself that only led to me feeling suicidal.

Even after I became a Christian, it only intensified. Except this time thankfully I was healed enough to not feel suicidal, but I did feel like the weight and the pressure of always doing things perfectly would eventually break me. I had somewhere, along my journey in life, picked up this idea that the real me was too messy and would never be good enough so I needed to make up for it with perfect actions. Ha! Funny, huh? I mean this was definitely not something I would consciously know I was doing! It would look like me trying really hard, being praised for my actions, and then making a mistake and beating myself up for it for days and thinking “what else could I have done? I’m doing everything I can and it’s still not enough!” and then eventually trying to make up for it by pretending like it didn’t happen and continue doing more things that would look perfect.

But the problem with this is that I had equated being “enough” to things that were unattainable, like never making a mistake or never hurting anyone’s feelings. Anybody ever been through something like this? Ever try to perform for love? I’m guessing that I’m probably not alone in this. I’ve noticed as a human race, generally we have more grace for others than we do ourselves.

But sometime last year I decided this thing that made me different may not have actually ever been a bad thing! What if my imperfections made me beautiful? What if my emotions made things fun and are natural? What if my sensitivity wasn’t a weakness, but a strength? What if my chubby body could be enough for me and eventually someone else? What if making mistakes only made me human? Could I still be loved if someone saw them? If I were fully me, mistakes and all, would I be enough?

These were the questions running through my head and I made the decision that I was going to try being seen. I decided to show people that I was different. I decided to try allowing myself to be loved through my mistakes. Because when I try to be “perfect” I still don’t feel like I’m enough, and I never get to be truly authentic. And that life wasn’t working for me.

I went to Oregon last year on a missions trip and after days of barely sleeping and not being able to control a single thing, I could feel my emotions starting to rise. And as they got closer to the surface I could feel them starting to bubble over into my actions. I was short with people and I was crying uncontrollably. I felt embarrassed but free. I knew that these people doing life with me would see a side of me I was afraid of showing to people that hadn’t been in my life for an extended period of time. But I couldn’t care anymore. I decided to take a risk and be vulnerable and see how they responded.

And to my freaking surprise they still loved me!

And not only that, they complemented me! They asked me what I needed, they encouraged me, and they loved me through it. And not just once, but repetitively. I was UNDONE. This was not a way of life that I was familiar with! But I knew I could never turn back.

I’m coming up on a year since that trip and as I reflect I see that my journey of accepting myself and being vulnerably me, has not been a fun or pretty journey. I have hid, I have made some of the most painful mistakes I’ve ever made this past year and I’ve been the most myself I’ve ever been in my whole life. I’ve never been as open with those close to me quiet like I have in this past year. I’m loving who Destiny is more than I thought possible and I know there’s only so much more!

You see, perfectionism tells you that until you do everything right, you aren’t enough. But a life of freedom looks like vulnerability. It looks like showing the world who you truly are and not wavering in the truth that,

you are enough. No questions asked.

A life of freedom consists of making mistakes and allowing the people who are close to you into them because you do not deserve to be alone during it. A life of freedom looks like you being confident in what you enjoy doing and wearing. A life of freedom looks like creating without comparison.

Being vulnerably you will set you free from perfectionism or performance. There’s nothing quiet like when you allow yourself to be who you’ve always been in the inside. And I promise dear friends, there are people who are dying to love you as you. All your unique characteristics, all the things you’ve thought were too much, all of the parts of you that you thought weren’t enough, they are worthy of love. Because we all have them, let’s be honest. None of us have it all together. But none of us have to pretend like we do anymore. I’m starting to see that the people I admire the most are people who are unashamedly them. Unwavering to the opinions of others, they stand tall in who they are and they let themselves show. This is strength. This is vulnerability. Vulnerability is strength. And this is who I want to be. I am deciding that I will no longer look at people on social media, the models on tv or Pinterest, or even the people around me and think “I wish I were like them”, but instead I will say

“I’m thankful that I am ME. Because no one can be ME.”

So dear ones, will you join me in living a life of being vulnerably us? Will you join me in leaving perfectionism and comparison behind?? Let us celebrate who we are and what we create and what we do well, because we were always designed to do it the way only we can do it.

Xoxo

Destiny Story

#MoreSelfLove

Dirty Humanity

Blog Post

One of my all-time favorite things about me is that I am a human. That might be an odd thing to say, but I absolutely adore being a human. Being human is the hardest thing that anyone will ever do. Humanity is messy. It is dirty. It is a whole lot of spills, shattered glass, and broken hearts. It is selfish, offended, disappointed. Humanity is difficult, for everyone. Did you grasp that?

Humanity is difficult, for everyone.

The journey of being a human is a long, over-stretched process of each person simply learning how to human better. Regardless of who they are, or how well their name is known, no human ever conquers humanity (other than Jesus Christ, I guess. Lol). Each day each human is faced with a new set of difficult human challenges. I mean, “I am human” is the ultimate excuse. Each day we have more human choices to make on what kind of human we will be.

A huge perk of being human is that we are surrounded by other humans trying to be humans. We are all fumbling along trying to figure this whole thing out.

We aren’t alone in the mess and difficulty of humanity.

If you feel like you are struggling or have been having a really hard time recently, I just want to say that you’re not alone. Human-ing isn’t easy! Insecurity, comparison, and offense are popping up! But that does not mean we have to partner with those things.

Recently, I have been feeling super offended. I hate that, but when I am feeling those feelings I get to choose if I am going to align myself with those feelings. Am I going to align myself with that? Or am I going to rise? Am I going to examine the situation deeper and find the true root or am I going to stay in the shallow end of offense?

Remember, you are simply learning to human better. So, be gracious to yourself as you learn. Do not get angry at yourself for getting a bit of dirt on your hands. Life is messy. and it takes time. So, take your time & get messy

Mess does not always have to be a bad thing. When I look back at my life and I see all of the heart-break, chaos, emotions, and adventures I have been on I am extremely thankful. Each pile of mud I have stepped on has taught me. Each handful of dirt I have picked up has strengthened me. Each shoe, covered in dust from adventure, has shown me new perspectives. Sometimes our mess requires a different attitude. No longer will I view my mess or the messy situations I am facing as failure, instead…I will rise to the occasion and embrace the mess. I will joyfully allow myself to be covered in the mess, accepting it all, and then learn to grow from it.

Just like a flower blooming requires some dirt, you require some dirt to bloom, too.

Having the heart to grow, regardless of how messy it gets, is what is important. Growing and developing as a human, becoming better at human things, is what keeps us moving and stops us from being stagnant. So, regardless of where you are…if you feel like you are a storm raging or if you feel like you are an empty field, it is okay. Just begin to pick up your pieces and build yourself again.

Here is a poem by Pavana that I thought went nicely with this post…

somedays,
i am the flower
somedays,
i am the rain.

-pavana

I hope you enjoyed! Let me know in the comments your human thoughts! Also, would love to hear what you’d like to hear from me, let me know! Thank you for giving me your time and reading my sweet simple words. It is such an honor to have your attention.

XO,

M