Mental toughness comes gift wrapped in struggle.

“We are all meant to shine… as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ❤

A smile can cause boundaries to melt, hearts to warm up, and distances to reduce.

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.” – Carl Jung <<<<———- I used to believe in this so fully, but the more I know about darkness, the less it seems much different between individuals. Our experiences within the darkness are different, but the darkness remains the same.

Mental toughness comes gift wrapped in struggle.

… The way we navigate the world we’ve been born into is so backward. We worship celebrities. We worship our kids. We idolize technology and new inventions as though they are imperative to our survival – they in turn become our god. We have drifted so far away from what is right and good that we no longer see much of anything except gray. We take these creative individuals who want nothing more than to create something of substance that will be loved by many and label them a celebrity. After we place this label on them, we feel we have the right to invade every aspect of their life as though it is no longer their own and they’ve somehow signed over ownership of their families, their feelings, their leisurely activities, and every other aspect of their life to us for our amusement and critique. We spend thousands of dollars of our hard-earned money (and oftentimes even our parent’s and friend’s money) on makeup, wardrobe, music, movies, magazines, concert tickets, plane tickets, hotels, gasoline (road trips), and every other outlet in order to be found attractive to them so that we’ll seem good enough to be their boyfriend or girlfriend (and perhaps even someday become their husband or wife). Perhaps we just want to be their friend. No matter what the outcome, we are convinced that we are meant to be their best friend or perhaps their significant other, yet in reality, we haven’t even given them the chance to be themselves.

No one would ever want to be placed on a pedestal, yet we do this so freely with those in the media. During my short time working in the film industry, I had the chance to meet quite a few of my favorite actors and singers. At the time I was quite certain that these people loved me and wanted to spend all their free time getting to know me; however, in reality, these so called famous people didn’t see me as much more than a coworker. Sure, I hung out with a few of them outside of work while we were living in the same town, but I haven’t spoken to any of them since leaving the shows. I am in no way saying it’s impossible to have relationships with these people, but it’s not going to happen if you refuse to see them as the real people they are inside.

Celebrity Idolization. The same goes for musicians/singers. I know that growing up, I was convinced I would marry Taylor Hanson. I, along with many other girls, was quite devastated when he married Natalie. Over the years, I’ve placed these guys on such a high tower that they become out of my reach even when I do meet them. Just within the past few years, I finally got to meet the band R5. Since watching the tv show glee, I was convinced that Riker Lynch would undoubtedly be mine after I met him. Upon meeting the band, after spending hundreds of dollars for a meet and greet and a concert ticket, I not only met Riker and his amazing band mates, but I also met his lovely girlfriend. She is quite wonderful, but it left me slightly flustered. I had brought him and his band mates (family) gifts and cards to make them love me, or so I hoped. I thought, “well, if I can’t date Riker, maybe his brother Rocky will love me!” Nope. Uh uh. Ain't happenin! Again, a lovely guy, but I barely even spoke to him and when I did it was to say how great his performance was and how much I love the music. I wrote all my contact information and words of I love you in their cards so they’d be sure to stay in touch and we could all hang out sometime. Have I heard from any of them since? No, because why would I? I didn’t even give a potential friendship a chance.

Every time I see Chris Pratt or Derek Hough do a live Instagram video, I feel like they are talking directly to me. I find myself with the mindset that we are best friends, even though neither of them know who I am. Do you ever feel that way?

About six years ago, I was snooping on one of my favorite actor’s Instagram account and thought, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if he responded to a message from me? Even if he doesn’t answer, I might as well try.” I told him I thought we could be best friends. Surprisingly enough, he actually responded. We talked for hours online just about every night, resulting in my sleep schedule completely changing to accommodate his schedule. This meant I went to sleep around 4:00 or 5:00 am and woke up at 2:00 pm, just in time for class or work, with very little time to spend with family or friends. My life had been consumed by this guy. This went on for about a year until I moved, started working in another state, and had to find a way to adjust to work at 7:30 am. A few weeks after we started talking, he gave me his phone number and we began texting each other what seemed to me like all the time. If he wasn’t texting me, I was trying to figure out why. If he did text me, I tried to figure out when I could text him back without seeming too desperate. My mood depended on whether I heard from him or not, and he was all I thought about. I know he shouldn’t have consumed my thoughts, but he meant everything to me. I neglected spending time with most people because I was always on my phone. I saved all the pictures he sent me, I printed a few out and put them on my vision board, and I continued to obsess over this guy. I don’t think he had any idea whatsoever how much time, energy, and emotion I had invested in him. We shared I love you’s (more along the lines of I like you to be honest), but it wasn’t in the way you might think. We shared those words over Snapchat, and after a couple years, we even discussed meeting some day. At one point, I felt like perhaps if we met, he might fall in love with me, and we could finally be together. I spent thousands upon thousands of dollars sending him gifts over the years. Why? Because I assume I thought I could somehow buy his affection through gifts. Know what happened instead? Reality hit me like a ton of bricks. After 3 years of being friends, we still never met, and he ended up dating someone (else). Did I mention he lived halfway across the country? Minor problem. I never honestly thought it would be an issue. I felt like our love would surpass it all. Looking back, I start to wonder how I could have ever thought it was true love, especially since we only knew each other over the internet, yet that wasn’t my focus when I was consumed by my feelings for him.

A few years ago I fell completely in love with an amazing Christian man. He made me so incredibly nervous when we first met each other. I felt an instant connection to him like I’d never felt with anyone before. I was so smitten with our banter back and forth every time we were around each other. Every game night that I went to at a friend’s house, I hoped he’d be there. Whenever I went to church, my hope was that he’d be at the same service. He even asked me to go to church with him a few times, but it was never enough for me. No matter how much time I spent with him, it was never enough. He was the perfect combination of sweet and dangerous. He was everything I ever wanted in a friend, a boyfriend, and maybe one day a husband. He was kind and intense, emotional and strong, loving and adventurous, thoughtful and argumentative. I was nervous every single time I was around him because I didn’t want to say anything stupid that would cause him to not like me anymore (that’s dumb. Don’t act that way. I know that now). I invested every moment, every thought, and every single prayer I had into him, just hoping he’d want to spend time with me or that maybe he’d call me to go on an adventure with him and his friends, just one more time. Even though I’ve rarely ever enjoyed watching sports, I started watching hockey because he liked it. I ended up loving watching because I knew I’d get to talk to him about it. I wanted to go to a hockey game with him. I told him about when I went to Europe. I wanted to travel the world with him and thought he wanted to do the same 🌎. I was obsessed with him in every form of the word – mentally, physically, & emotionally. 😘 He would talk about his hopes and dreams and I was always imagining myself next to him for every single one of them, but he never asked me to join him. I wanted to follow him anywhere and everywhere God would lead. I thought the world of him and loved him with every fiber of my being. We gave into our selfish desires and it completely destroyed the relationship, shifting our focus from God to the physical. I started attending other churches and distanced myself from every single person I met who knew him or knew about him. I didn’t want to remember the pain, and I thought if I didn’t see these people it’d somehow help me forget I ever loved him, but the pain remained. It somehow still overwhelmed me so much that I couldn’t breathe. I had no idea what happened to make him so distant. No matter how many times I rethink things, I’ll never fully understand it. I wish I knew why I wasn’t enough. He had said he needed space, but that was the one and only thing I never wanted to give him. I guess I wasn’t enough. This caused so much anxiety and fear in me, because now I was looking to please him with every action, that when he abruptly stopped talking to me in order to date other people, I was completely and wholeheartedly destroyed – both mentally & physically exhausted. Every single thing in me felt destroyed from crying so much. He ended up getting married… to someone else. I cried again when I found out. I had been holding onto hope that there’d be another chance to make him happy. I dreamed of being reunited with him at some point when we had both grown. I wanted him to love me. I wanted to be enough.

Now listen carefully because this is incredibly important! You ready? Do not for one moment think that you need to fight a spiritual battle on your own. I cannot stress this enough. I tried to take matters into my own hands and did not rely on my Lord & Savior to get through his heartache so I believed Satan’s lies and let him consume my thoughts and feelings as though they were real. The darkness had overtaken my spirit and I didn’t think I could ever get out alive. (Spoiler alert: I’m okay! You’re ok. You will continue to be ok. There is hope. I promise. I’ll explain more in another post).

You cannot make anyone love you. If love doesn't flow freely and doesn't have Jesus Christ and God our Heavenly Father at the center, then I don't want it.

When I was growing up, I read every single celebrity magazine I could get my hands on. I paid more attention to actors in movies and television shows than I did my studies in school. I just knew I would be a casting director (spoiler alert: I’m not nor have I ever been a paid, non dayplayer/employee in the film industry), so I felt I was preparing for the future. I couldn’t tell you much about American History, but I could name every actor in Hollywood. As what could only be described as a passion, I would create movies or TV shows with my favorite cast. I did in fact end up majoring in film studies (until I got a grade C in a class & I was not officially admitted into the major that required a B or better in all required classes), which gave me the chance to go to Wilmington, NC and work at the movie studio on my favorite TV show at the time. I started working as an extra. What the heck is an extra? You know those people who seem to be walking around during a scene with the main actors like they just happened to be in the right place at the right time? That’s a closed set, meaning no one is allowed to go into that area who isn’t working, and those people you see are getting paid to walk. I could write an entire book about what I learned during my few short years working in the film industry… I will even elaborate in a later chapter on my time on set. For now, I will just say that I had a blast while I was there, but learned the hard way how difficult it is to keep a job and maintain a career when you are constantly unemployed and without any experience to build upon. It’s amazing how many people want you to work for free as an intern. I know interns don’t get paid often, but holy moly it’s hard to pay rent when you’re spending all your time on set and unable to make money elsewhere.

More times than not, we find ourselves worshipping these celebrities instead of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What has he commanded us? “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2 & Deuteronomy 5:6) But Krista, what about … (fill in the blank)? No. He said nothing else. No other gods. None.

I can only guess what you’re thinking. Is there really anything wrong with enjoying a fun night at a concert listening to music or at the movies with your friends and loved ones? Absolutely not, but when that person or thing becomes more important to you than your Lord, you better watch out because you are giving Satan the foothold on your life he so desperately desires. Whether you realize it at the time or not, the darkest force in our universe is using that very thing to chisel his way into your life, into your thoughts, into your doubts, and ultimately giving fuel to your fears. Would you believe I almost referred to Satan as “the prince of darkness,” but I don’t want to promote him to royalty.

So, maybe you don’t like concerts and you aren’t a big fan of movies or even celebrities. You must be safe, right? Sadly, no. The devil uses absolutely anything that could potentially take your focus away from spending time with the Lord.

I found this so hard to write because it’s something I cherish so deeply. Education. Do you find yourself so wrapped up in your studies that you’ve lost all time for church, Bible study, Christian music, and even time with your family and friends because your grades (or maybe even going to a party) are far more important? Are you constantly exhausted from your late night study sessions and maybe fitting in your job or your family is simply too much to handle? Let me share something with you. You’re not tired. No amount of coffee is ever going to energize you. You aren’t tired. Yes, but (you may find yourself saying) I’ve been awake for the past 36 hours studying for an exam and writing papers and I’ve had 5 energy drinks already, but I still feel like I can’t sit up straight. Your body isn’t the thing that’s tired. It’s your soul that you’ve abandoned. Your soul is so wounded and broken because you haven’t been feeding it and nourishing the very thing that brings life to your bones. “A cheerful heard is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)” Do you find yourself going on these glorious and often times expensive vacations, only to come home merely exhausted and needing a two week vacation just to recover? Tell me something… did you read your Bible while you were away? Did you take time to fellowship with other believers and find a church to worship in while you were on your trip? If you did, that is fantastic and your priorities are in a great spot. If you didn’t, you’ve just opened your heart up to the master of deception and lies. I ask this, though: How many times do we stop to pray in the midst of our decision making and our anxiety about a journey we are facing?

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