Category Archives: Uncategorized

Drop the mic & go find Sarah.

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 2.52.12 PM

“What were you like at 20?”

Her text came through this morning in the middle of my writing hours.

I had to pause. Walk away from the computer. Find a space on the floor where, if you sit in just the right spot, the sunlight will flood through the window and cover your knees like a soft, thin blanket.

I honestly haven’t given much thought to who I was at 20 years old. That was seven years ago. I was a junior in college.

I responded to her text with a bunch of scenarios:

When I was 20, I had my first internship with the city’s newspaper. I wore high heels and strut around the campus center like I was really important— an absolute boss.

When I was 20, I was enamored with a boy who would read me Walt Whitman poetry at 2am and then take me for walks around campus at 4am. I wrote poems about him. I haven’t written a poem since him.

When I was 20, I was a perfectionist. As much as I would like to write that I was free and happy and spontaneous, I was really wrapped tightly into rules. I was dying for the approval of others. I had to look perfect at all times. It was a front & a facade. If there was a position at stake, I had to get it. If there was a grade to be made, I had to make it.

When I was 20, I had a lot of questions— most of them revolved around God. I wasn’t in the mode of trusting God, or actually even liking him. I was a bit angry about the amount of “hurdles” people seemed to place in front of the prospect of getting to God.

But I know I prayed big prayers. I know I prayed on more than a dozen occasions, “God, if you give me a voice then I will use it. If you give me something big to take care of, I won’t let you down.”

When I was 20, life could not move fast enough for me. People could not love me hard enough. The world could not understand me well enough.

I wanted more responsibility. I wanted more purpose.

“Does that help?” I type back to her.

She digs deeper.

“What was it like for you the summer before your senior year of college?”

“The best summer I’ve ever had,” I say. “I met my best friends. Last time I felt really known up until now.”

She goes on to tell me that everyone she knows is either engaged or moving into houses with roommates. She says that when she runs into the people, they just look at her like they expected more out of her.

“I’m not engaged or married,” she says. “I’m not even in a serious relationship. I don’t even have a person. I’ll graduate and probably still be living with my parents.

It’s 2015: the year nobody wants to be in love and everyone owns a selfie stick. And I’m starting to think the two are kind of related. We are stricken by the fear of missing out.”

This girl is wise. I cannot imagine people looking at her, at the age of 20, and thinking, “What happened to you?”

Why are you not married? Why are you not swallowed up in white and flowers and bridesmaids by now?

I have to be starkly honest:

Singleness has been the single hardest thing about living in the South.

It’s not the heat and it’s not the religion— it’s the pace in which life moves down here. If I was in New York City people would give me at least a few more years to be single and figure it out. In New York, we often pick career over spouse. We pay a ridiculous amount of rent for an incredibly small space. Dating apps are actually incredibly useful, not overly stigmatized. Life is a collection of Chinese takeout and conversations at 2am on someone’s rooftop where we keep plotting to “change the world.” 

In New York City, you explore a lot of religions. You meet a lot of opposition. You learn to be accepting and open and real. You mess up and you pair up and you break up and you grow up.

This isn’t a slam on geography or culture, it’s just my verbose & romanticized way of saying: some people think its incredibly tragic that I am 27 and still single.

And honestly? I finally think it’s beautiful.

It’s taken me nearly 7 years to finally be content with a naked left hand. I can tell you this though: at age 20, I made a sacrifice. I would make the same sacrifice at the age of 22 and 24 and 26— the choice to be alone and to be single instead of taken. The choice to invest everything I had— every hour I could— into the generation rising up.

To invest in a generation, you need to be willing to make sacrifice. It’s not like God came to me and was all like, “Boo, you have to be single (Paul-style) if you want me to give you big work to do.” Never. But I realized I only wanted a boyfriend to plug up some bottomless hole inside of myself. Just in the way you are not a lifeboat, someone else is not your hole-filler. Stop taking all the good job descriptions away from God.

I’m learning that the right person won’t make you want forfeit your whole being. The right person will make you want to grow into your whole being. The right person makes you want to fill up the space you once apologized for.

By the age of 24, I was the girl in the airports that old people pitied.

They thought if I was spending so much time in airports then there was no chance I could be in love and traveling and still be giving so much of my time to my work.

“There is no way you have time to be with someone,” they would say, looking at me with disdain. They probably wondered about those lonely, double-bed hotel rooms in Baltimore and Buffalo more than I did.

But by the age of 24, God was giving me everything I prayed for when I was 20. He had built my character, and my faith, and my capacity up until that point. He was handing me plane tickets, big stages, book deals, late night diner trips with strangers, and signings. More than anything– though I didn’t see it at first– he was handing me a chance to be with his people.

People always want to talk to me about the big crowds and the glamorous parts of traveling. These days I smile and say, “All of that matters until you meet a Sarah. It is lonely but it still matters until you meet a Sarah.

After you meet a Sarah, none of that “status stuff” matters any longer.”

I met Sarah at an awkward youth conference where I was speaking.

The kids didn’t really smell good. They had bad attitudes. I felt deflated on stage because that’s what teenagers can sometimes do unintentionally: make you feel like the least interesting creature to ever be placed under bright lights and given a microphone.

I came off the stage to find her waiting for me. Sarah, that is. Before I could even catch my breath to say anything to her, she was rattling off every shortcoming she could name: “I’m not good at this… and I hate myself for this… and one time I did this… and it made me feel this way… And I self-harmed last week… And sometimes I don’t think I even want to be here.”

She looked down a lot. She fidgeted with her hands. I think she was waiting for me to look in the other direction and walk away.

Instead, I grabbed her shoulders. I drew her in as close as I could. I whispered into her ear with the loudest whisper possible, “Sarah, you’re okay. Stop looking for a reason to not be okay. You got up today. You’re right here. You’re okay.”

Sarah broke instantly. She crumbled and was suddenly in my arms sobbing. I didn’t know what else to do but hold this stranger and rock with her for as long as she needed me to hold her and rock her. 

I don’t really know how long we rocked for. I lost track of time. In that moment, nothing was an accident. Not my singleness, not my geography. You learn really quickly that nothing is an accident when you just show up. 

And then came the broken hearts in New York City. The redemption stories in Cincinnati. The broken dishes in Los Angeles. The unrequited love tales in Seattle. The questions of identity in Boston. One girl in Minnesota cried as she told me that she finally discovered self-worth on a Fall day while wearing her favorite red sweater. The mother of a child who tragically passed away held my hands in Michigan and thanked me for the love letters we sent her in her time of grieving. A boy in Southern Alabama told me it was a letter from me— mailed back in 2010 at the height of my depression— that was one of three letters that would save his life.

At the age of 27, I have spoken in rooms with only 15 to arenas of over 20,000. I’ve been on over 100 stages. I have stayed after to talk with hundreds of college students. I have enough experience to confidently say this: we are all looking for the same thing today. We all want to belong. We all someone to see us. We are all so hopeful that our lives will not be an accident. We struggle with the fight that exists between God and culture.

Culture screams, “Be big! Be bright! Be front! Be center! Be the one on fire!”

God proclaims, “Be small. Be patient. Be humble. Find your place on the back-burner. Drop the mic, this isn’t about you.”

The things I worry about the most when it comes to my generation?

That we will somehow fall too in love with the glory that comes with being “liked” and “retweeted” and “shared.” My fear is that we love and hate ourselves too much, all at the same time. My fear is that we never learn to speak or find a voice because the culture is keeping us on some treasure hunt to find the Missing Pieces. The spouse. The house. The relationship. The child. The next step. The promotion. The job. The education. I could keep going.

My fear is we’re distracted. We are all just scrolling idly through the streams, hungering and searching for the Missing Pieces. We all miss chances when we are digging ourselves into the trenches of self-pity just because we think we should have found someone by now, lived somewhere different, accomplished more.

What if you are missing no pieces and you are simply missing people?

What if you are missing Sarah? What if you are too distracted to just see Sarah today? 

This I know: God doesn’t orchestrate accidents.

He isn’t looking at your life right now and thinking, “If you just tried harder, I would have moved more. If you hadn’t fallen for him or gone for her, I would have loved you more.” That’s not God, that’s simply the lies in your head that you so graciously bestowed with a microphone.

You don’t need a plane ticket to rescue a heart.

You don’t need be someone’s “person” to be complete.

You don’t need a house with a yard to prove you’re worthy of taking up space in this world.

The person with the home often wants the love.

The person with the love often wants to do the rescuing.

The person doing the rescuing often wants the home.

We all like greener grass. We all could have part-time jobs when it comes to worshipping the greener grass but God’s gonna do what he’s gonna do, regardless of our attitudes.

You could let him lead though. Open your hands. Take your foot off the brakes, or the gas, or wherever you’ve got it placed out of fear. You could learn contentment in the way you learn the details of a boy in a coffee shop. You could stop thinking about accidents so much— where you could have gone by now, who you could have met by now.

You could go your whole life convincing people that they, themselves, are not an accident.

Or you could do the work to see that you, yourself, are not an accident.

Your questions— not an accident.

Your geography— not accident.

Your darkness— not an accident.

Your pitfalls— not an accident.

Your relationship status— not an accident.

There is nothing accidental about the fact that you’re still here.

So come matter here. Please, come matter here.

There are Sarah’s who need you– they need you to pay attention long enough to see them just so you can tell them they’re okay too. We all need to know we are okay. We all need to hear the words, “Me too. I feel that way too.”

So please come here. Please drop your mic.

Drop the mic and go find Sarah instead. 

Tell her she’s okay. Just tell her she’s okay today. 

33 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

An open letter to Joe.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 12.44.57 PM

It’s been a year since I last saw you.

It’s been nearly two years since we met, since you came right up to my table and told me you liked me. You didn’t know why but you liked me but there was some sort of light to me.

In that conversation I found out you were 77-years old. You came to that coffee shop everyday to laugh and talk with your gang of friends.

“If I were your age, I would date you,” you said to me. “I would see exactly what I had and I would not let you go… Some boy is never going to let you go one day. He’s going to be the lucky one.” 

I didn’t know it then but I know it now: you were reassuring me. You were finding a way to tell me, “Don’t lose heart, child. You get to fall in love one day, just like the best of them.”

“What do you love?”

I remember you asking me that question first.

“What do you love?”

No one ever asks that sort of question. We ask each other “what do you do” and “what do you want” and “what is your plan” but we never stop long enough to just seek out of the love in one another.

“Words,” I blurted out instantly. “I love words. Nouns. Verbs. All of it.” I was tickled you asked.

“And what do you love?”

“Numbers,” you winked at me. Before I could stop you and tell you math wasn’t my thing you were pulling my notebook towards you from across the table and you were scribbling a math problem down into the pages. It was fractions.

“What is the answer to that?”

I started at the numbers for a long time. I remembered failing math brutally.

“I don’t know,” I finally whispered.

“That!” you said to me. “THAT is the reason why I love math. If I were to ask you ‘what is the capital of Arizona’ and you didn’t have a clue, and you couldn’t google it, then you would have to tell me “I don’t know” but I have given you everything you need to solve this problem here. So the answer is never ‘I don’t know’ the answer is simply ‘I don’t know yet.’”

From that day forward, we were a thing.

You’d come and sit at my tiny table in the middle of that cliché coffee shop enduring its rush hour. You’d sip your coffee. You’d ask me questions. You’d read my blog and stare at me for long spells of time. You’d tell me I was peculiar—  a 80-year-old trapped in the body of a 25-year-old. And you were really 25, trapped in the body of a nearly 80-year-old man.

You were my first constant coffee shop companion.

You asked me what I believed in one day. I told you I was a Christian. I believed in the bible. You told me you were an atheist, a proud one.

“I like atheists,” I smiled and said. “They have a lot of wisdom.”

“So you actually believe in this stuff?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I was timid then. “I think sometimes its just nice to choose something. To go all in with it.”

“You actually believe the stuff in the Bible?”

“I do,” I said.

“Then what about…” you went to say.

“I don’t really like to debate things,” I stopped you. “I think people with bibles spend too much time debating with people and not enough time trying to understand them.”

We both got quiet.

You spoke after a few moments.

“My son came to me a few years ago and told me that ‘he’ is actually a ‘she,’” you said to me. “Now I have a daughter, not a son.”

You waited.

“What do you think of that?”

You were waiting for me to have an opinion. You were waiting for me to turn on you. My cheeks only burned. I felt embarrassed and a little bit sad that you thought I was supposed to have a narrow view, look at you differently, all because of the light the culture has shined on my belief system.

“I bet she’s lovely,” I think I said. All I can remember is the subtle pain in your eyes– the remnants of a religion that had failed you at a lot of corners. I loved you a little more. 

“I used to have so many views on that topic,” you said. “Until someone I loved was standing in the wake of it.”

I still think about your daughter so much. She gets my micro-prayers when I am driving in the car and when I am cleaning the sinks and trying to be an adult. I know that she’s lovely. Your daughter is lovely.

I never told you that for longest time I kept notes inside of my bible that weren’t mine.

I don’t know why I held onto those notes for so long but the handwriting was foreign and I didn’t know the woman who took them for me beyond a few simple facts: she had two children, she liked Obama, and she cared a whole lot about salvation.

She insisted on taking those notes so I could focus on the Bible and the teaching. I’ve never been a girl to let other people take notes for me. Even when I missed an important biology class and desperately needed someone’s scribbles in order to catch up, I always copied them over in my own handwriting. My own handwriting feels safe to me– like the ‘y’s and ‘g’s won’t turn on me.

In that faith journey— the one that pushed me away from church— I was taught not to ask questions. That was really hard for a girl who only ever wanted to know “why.”

But I would trace over those notes at night, after we were done studying, and they just felt distant. I kept thinking to myself, “Doesn’t God want my questions? Doesn’t he want to know if I see him as more of a puzzle than a protector?”

I kept them in my bible for too long– too long after everything fell apart. I think it was maybe my way of holding onto pain, holding onto a way I felt a human had hurt me and called it “Jesus” at the end of the day. I wanted to stay mad at God for longer than I thought. That’s how I am with God and people: I am looking for the reason to not trust you anymore so I can finally leave and make a shelter out of my own self. Self feels safe. 

I don’t like the thought of building something when you don’t know how long it will last.

I once loved a boy so hard that I knew every detail of him. And when it was over, I didn’t know what to do with all the pieces of him. Breaking up was like slowly writing a dictionary with someone and then realizing you could no longer use any of the words you still loved.

I think I built walls up after that. I think each year and relationship was another layer of concrete on the walls.

And here’s what I am certain about (sidenote: I’m not certain about much): We often funnel God through imperfect human interactions instead of funneling human interactions through a perfect God.   

We think if someone breaks us, wrecks us, treats us poorly then that’s how God will treat us too. We think if someone leaves– forgetting or not caring to take their cologne bathed sweatshirts with them– then God will eventually do the same too. He will find the backdoor, just like the others.

Here’s what I never told you:

I never told you that I loved you. All those months sitting across from you in the coffee shop. I never told you I thanked God for you. That you will be one of the people I talk about for a very long time because you gave me permission to ask harder questions and be okay with silence and no answers.

I’m never going to be able to go to God at the end of this and give him an inventory of my faith that consists of a cross, and a bible, and a pew. I am going to say the inventory of my faith was a lot of uncertainty, a few bad Tinder dates, a good mother, the feeling of grace, a yellow room, the play Les Miserables, a slew of coffee shops, and you.

“Ask him all your questions.”

That’s what the boy across from me in the coffee shop tells me to do. He’s the one who sits in your place now and does exactly what you used to do: gives me no answers, just asks me more questions.

He doesn’t flinch. He never really wavers. He just hands me books to read that already hold his underlines and uncertainties inside of their pages. He has asked the questions too.

I feel chaotic. He tells me Moses asked a lot of questions. It deepened the relationship Moses had with God to go to him honestly and say, “I don’t understand. Could you open my eyes a little more today?”

The answers might not come dramatically. They might not be right in front of my face. But maybe if I keep going, keep asking all the questions that get laid on my heart, something miraculous might happen: I might find a few answers or I might find peace with the not knowing.

I just hope I never stick two fingers up to your lips and whisper, “Shush.” There is grace and mercy in asking big questions. To ask big questions is to go before a God who can handle all parts of us– our junk, our nastiness, our hopes, our failures. I think God is big enough for your big questions and bigger frustrations.

I have to ask more questions.

It’s been a year since I last saw you.

I think about you a lot. I think of how I’ve grown and how I used to try to fill conversations with the most amount of words possible. I don’t like the silence but I am finding that it helps a lot more, a lot more than trying to play God to someone else through my words.

Instead of words, I am trying to choose the air. I am trying to listen and ask more questions.

Maybe I didn’t ask you enough. Maybe I should have asked more. Maybe you and I had exactly what we needed to have— you with your questions and me with no answers.

Here’s the thing I do know though: you were onto something when you shifted that math problem across the table.

You were right.

I have everything I need right here to try and solve this problem. To try and find the answers.

You were right.

The answer isn’t “I don’t know.”

The answer is simply, “I don’t know yet.”

41 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Good morning Baltimore.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 11.19.16 PM

I take two white pills every night before I crawl into the sheets. They are a reminder to me, more than anything, that November happened.

November happened.

And so did December. January. February. A collection of months I wished, for so long, I could scrape off the calendar. I thought I knew darkness before those months. In a lot of ways, I didn’t know anything until those months came crashing on top of me. Sometimes you think you are fine until everything around you falls apart. And then you see the truth: everything was not fine. You were dying inside. You were clinging to other people to complete you. You were desperately in need of rewiring. 

I think there are times in our lives when we need an upgrade. Or a software update. And then there are times when we need all the little things inside of us to be rewired. I held it all together on the surface. I claimed I was fine. Really, I didn’t know how to turn my head upward to God and just be “enough” for my own self.

If you claim you love God and then don’t somehow commit to that most basic gesture, there’s probably a lot of wires inside of you that you’re resistant to let anyone touch. 

 

I went through depression once before.

Everyone told me afterwards to be thankful for it because a movement of love came out of it. I am thankful. But it doesn’t make me hate the dark any less. 

I didn’t know the statistics. The statistics say if you’ve struggled with depression once before then there is an 80% chance you’ll go there again. I kept telling myself it would never repeat itself. Bad things don’t repeat, I whispered.

I refused to see a counselor. I began to close myself off. I fell deeper into sadness as September danced. I ignored the warning signs. 

A girl at my speaking engagement last night asked me, “How can I make sure I don’t go through it again? The depression.”

“You can’t,” I told her. “But you can keep track of the warning signs.”

 

There were warning signs. Usually there always are. There was sitting on the floor of my office space– after consuming an ungodly amount of cups of chile– crying.

“I think everything will probably turn around in March,” I told one of my best friends. It was October. I thought if I could just push hard enough into a “new season” then God would follow suit.

She only looked at me. Nodded like she wasn’t convinced. “I don’t know if that’s true.” I hated her for being honest. Today I love her for only being honest.

There was Halloween night, surrounded by all of my best friends. I was wearing a T-shirt with the letters “LIFE” across my chest. A fitting role for Life, I passed out lemons that whole night– plucking them out from a plastic Jack-O-Lantern bucket and planting them into the hands of strangers at the party.

I remember being surrounded but feeling completely alone. I drove home crying that night (no surprise). I remember wishing I didn’t have to wake up in the morning. There was no reason for getting up.

There was sitting in my car on the morning of November 18th. My best friend didn’t leave my side. I slammed my hands against the steering wheel and screamed, “I don’t want this.” 

“You are not going to get out of this until you learn to be content.” She had told me this several times before.

I didn’t want to learn to be content. It seemed like such a distant and unattainable feeling– the feeling of contentment. 

“I am content,” I told her. “I have given God everything.”

“You are not content,” she snapped back. “There is so much you are not letting him have.”

All of these things– and then a dozen more– were warning signs. Warning signs that I was tumbling right back into the darkness.

 

My life broke into two on the afternoon of November 18th.

It’s a day on the calendar I will never forget. Nearly 9 months ago. People ask what I mean when I write “broke into two.”

Here’s the truth: some things in life don’t come with all the right words to describe them. All I can tell you is that I remember sitting with a friend in the conference room of our workspace. I asked her to pray for me because I was so sad lately. She prayed. I kept my head down and tried to convince myself that the prayers would actually work. At that time in my life I prayed to get attention and to make the Varsity team for heaven, not because I actually believed God was listening. 

I remember how she started talking about something after she said Amen. I was listening. And then pain. Sharp pain. All across my body. This sweeping feeling covering me from head to toe. All of a sudden, I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t move. My mind started racing.

“I feel so sick,” I told her. “I have to go home.”

Really, my mind was begging: What’s wrong? What’s going on? What’s happening? 

Sharp pain. Heavy fear. Tidal waves of anxiety crashing mercilessly into me. I didn’t understand. I thought I was going insane. Can life actually flip in a minute? 

The intern outside the workspace tried to bring me into a conversation about the time he went surfing with Rob Bell. I was trying to get in my car and leave.

“I’m sure Rob Bell is great,” I told him. “I’m sorry but I have to go home.”

I got into my car. Got home. Crawled into bed. Pleaded with God that whole night but the voices were stronger than I’d ever heard them before, “You’re no good. You’re a liar. You’re a fake. You are nothing.” 

I fell asleep shaking. Shaking with no answers.

That night was empty. I was afraid I was hearing God say the words he’d wanted to tell me all along, “Hey girl, I don’t choose you. I just don’t want you. I just don’t choose you.” 

 

The next morning I couldn’t get out of bed.

Not by my own strength. It took me a solid half-hour to just rise and put on pants and a heavy sweater and a bright red cap. I had a flight at 10am for Baltimore. A speaking engagement.

I sat in my coffee shop before heading to the airport. I tried to drink a London Fog but my hands were too shaky. I kept writing down questions: What is happening? What is going on? Why do I feel so paralyzed and sick?

It was 0 degrees in Baltimore. The most I ate there was two slices of hotel pizza. My hands trembled the whole time that I spoke. I remember telling myself I would never go back to that city again.

I hid inside of an empty terminal- my body sprawled across three seats as I lay curled in a ball crying and shaking. Not really caring if anyone could see me.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” I texted to my closest friends. The ones I knew would pray. I’d been dealing with the paralyzing fear for over 48 hours now. It hadn’t ceased, only grown.

I vomitted several times in that airport. Out of fear. Out of terror. That would be the start of months of no sleep and no faith that God was coming back for me.

Nine months ago, Baltimore became a place on the map I never wanted to return to. In the next few months, a list of places I never wanted to remember again would assemble itself.

 

The paralyzing fear was relentless for over four months. You wouldn’t know that if you scanned social media but life was utter darkness. I bring that point up only to say: we have to be extremely careful about assuming we know a person’s life based on what they post online. We have to be gracious– no matter what– because everyone is fighting a battle we cannot see. Sure, we like the idea of being real & raw on social media but honestly only a few will ever feel safe posting the real mess out there for the world to see. We rip into one another too easily for that. But be gracious, please. And maybe sometimes remind yourself:  it’s a lot of filters and pretty things but that’s not reality. Reality cannot be cropped and contrasted. 

In those four months, I slept. A lot. I didn’t watch movies. I didn’t go to group events. I wrote down every “small victory” on sheets of paper. We planned my move back to Connecticut. The mornings were the worst. It felt like heavy blankets of despair were being piled and piled on top of me. I’d get up at 4am because I could not sleep and I would sit wrapped in blankets holding a Bible that I struggled to believe in anymore.

I went from the most driven girl to the one who could barely perform three tasks in a day. Doctors gave me all these drugs with long names. The parts of me that lost friends to drug addiction was terribly afraid to swallow them. They just wanted to calm me down. Stop the tears. At night, there was sleeping pills. My favorite part of the day was going to sleep because– for the first two months– nothing stole life from me in my sleep.

I slept on an air mattress in one of my good friend’s apartments for a lot of those nights. In the morning I would crawl into his bed and he would hold my hand as I cried. It felt like I was trapped in a tiny room with no windows and no doors. I would cry out in agony because I could not escape the fog.

“I just want to fog to go,” I would murmur through the tears. “I just want the fog to go.”

He would squeeze my hand tighter and call me “baby girl.” 

I remember being curled in the corner of a doctor’s office in Atlanta. The man kept asking me questions. Do you think about hurting yourself? Do you have thoughts of hurting other people?

I wasn’t doing my makeup anymore. I wasn’t doing my hair. I’d lost 10 pounds. I was tired. I was wired.

“It seems you have severe depression,” he said to me. That wasn’t news. I didn’t need another doctor to diagnose me– I needed someone to grab my shoulders and yell loud, “You are coming out of the woods. Do you hear me, girl? You are going to come out of the woods.”

And then he stopped scribbling. He looked at me. I locked eyes with him. I didn’t want him to turn away.

“Are you a Christian?”

“Yes,” I whispered.

“That’s not a question I can ask,” he answered. “But my job aside, I want you to know– the devil is rejoicing right now and we will not let him have that.” 

That man– in his white coat– was one of the many beacons of light that convinced me I could keep going. I could keep fighting. I could be like Moses, in that moment where Moses had nothing left in him but he let the others hold up his arms.

That’s what friendship is at the end of the day– people who will hold up your arms.

 

I don’t have all the answers.

Not even a few. Honestly, I hate typing these words. I really do. Because I wanted to be passive for so long and believe in things like Karma and not ruffle feathers when it came to God. But as powerful of a source of light in this world that exists, there is also a powerful source of darkness. And if we don’t talk about the darkness, it starts to win.

The darkness can refine us but we cannot let it win. We must not let it win.

So let’s be real: I never planned to write this.

Let’s be more real: I am hesitating to publish it.

But I looked down at my plane ticket today and realized I was going back to Baltimore. A layover in Baltimore. And all I could think was, “I don’t want to go back to Baltimore. I don’t want this mess to take my body and my brain again.” 

And then, then I knew that I would write because no one benefits from silence. No one will talk about the darkness if we all try to act like it isn’t real, like it doesn’t matter.

 

It matters.

Mental illness matters. Warning signs matter. Not standing alone with your ghosts matters. You matter. And you are precious. 

I’m not saying that to be corny. I am saying it because I fought desperately hard for my life in the last few months. I fought really, really hard against mental illness to be able to be standing today. I wanted to give up. I suddenly understood why people even think of taking their own lives.

I’ve walked the line in the last few months of wanting all my memories of the darkness to leave me and knowing that I will never be able to shake the sleepless nights– the dozens of stories I haven’t shared yet– because they made me. The darkness made me. It burned me up and shook me good and I fought until I could finally breathe and say, “No.” No, the darkness cannot have me. There is far too much left for my little life. 

Life is such a precious gift but when a fog covers your view of reality it’s so hard to rest your body in the gift. It’s easy to be ashamed of the fog, the sickness, the illness. But what if we broke the shame with words? What if we dismantled the stigma by figuring out how to hold up the arms of others?

So here’s a baby step: Please talk about the fog. Please talk about the emptiness. Please don’t let yourself stand in the mess alone, so much so that you cave inward and you hoist up a white flag without anyone ever knowing you were dying inside.

Please speak. Please speak.

Don’t be afraid to go back to Baltimore.

Just don’t be afraid of Baltimore.

109 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A “hell yes” harvest.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 5.45.17 AM

“If you have to ask me then you already know,” she told me over a Skype call. We’d been talking about relationships for the last few minutes. I’d asked for guy advice from a girl I barely even knew. That’s just my style though– I trust easily and thoroughly in the first five minutes and I get into the vehicles of stranger’s far too much (do not follow my example) (please).

“I go by this rule of thumb,” she continued, keeping her eyes locked on me through the screen. “If it is not a “hell yes” then it’s a “hell no.”

I never ceased to forget that. I’ve forgotten nearly everything else from our conversation a few years ago but I never forgot that statement.

If it’s not a “hell yes” then it’s a “hell no.”

I pocketed that. I went out into the world looking for the “hell yes.” The certainty. The brave and bold and undeniable assurance. I believed in the “hell yes” for a really long. And for a really long time I shut myself off to people– mainly guys– because I was looking for that “hell yes” and it just wasn’t showing up for me.

I was looking for fireworks.

That’s what I really wanted. Explosions. I wanted something to shift and shake my atmosphere and turn my world upside down and cause me to be unable to sleep at night because I was “feeling all the feels.” I was basically looking for a natural disaster of a human to prove to me that they were unlike the other ones.

Honestly though, why would God want that for my life? Why would he want someone to come into my life like a wrecking ball or a tornado? I forget too often that while he may be the God of burning bushes, he is also the God of little miracles & tiny things & slow, burning trust that takes days and weeks and months to uncover.

I can’t speak for everyone but I am ready to conclude this: a “hell yes” is impossibly hard to find when you live a life filled with Fear.

 

I’ve been talking a lot about Fear.

I think it is a bigger dictator than I ever wanted to admit. It has squeezed its way into every decision I’ve had to make. I think I have gotten so used to fear speaking in the background that I forget it was meant to be feeling- not a roadblock.

Fear is basically synonymous with Russell Crowe in Les Miserables– he was always meant to be a character, sure, but someone let him sing too much.

And here’s a last reality check on fear: if you are shrouded in fear– absolutely basted in it– then that’s not God. God isn’t fear. He’s quite the opposite. He’s love. And love, when you allow yourself to get close enough to it, will not resemble fear. Just like you gave fear the permission to grow, you have to give love that same chance to rock you too.

 

So how does a girl like me get to a “hell yes”? I’m not sure. But it starts with time. Everything begins with time and grace.

I have a friend named Jake who I wish every human could know. Really and truly, he is the male version of me. Put the two of us together and we will cry all the rivers and then somehow manage to drown in them. We are feelers. We are empaths. If you need a scale of how deep we can go then start looking at the bottom of the Atlantic because we are down there, straight chilling with the Titanic.

Even though I don’t know everything about Jake, as one of my closest friends I know this: he probably carries just as much fear as I do. He probably has just as hard of a time opening up as I do. And so every step he has taken in the last few months to heal from heartbreak and find love all over again makes me whisper beneath my breath, “I’m proud of you. I’m really proud of you.”

I texted him last night as I was writing. His is a safe message box to drop my fears and a smattering of emojis. I told him simply and plainly: I am terrified. I am terrified because some days I know what I want. And other days I don’t have a clue. I’m just so scared to let people in and let someone choose me.

“You don’t have to know,” he texts back immediately. Because that’s Jake: the one who texts back immediately when his friends need him.

“You’re choosing and that’s what you have to do,” he continues. “Just. Keep. Choosing.”

 

Instantly my mind gets pushed back to over a year ago.

I was standing beside a boy I wanted to love more than anything. I was angry, so angry with God, because those feelings weren’t coming. Nothing in my body was morphing into a “hell yes.”

I was living in Connecticut. I was resistant to the idea of Georgia even though I knew signs of me going there were getting planted before me on the regular. Atlanta would mean I would have to give me up my last shred of control. I was not cool with letting go of my last shred of control.

He’d asked me how I wanted the bookshelf to look. He was a builder and I was a girl who wanted a bookshelf.

“How do you want the bookshelf to look?” He asked it just like that.

It was a really easy question. How many shelves? How much room on each one? What kind of wood? I should have been able to spit it out right there, right there. But I didn’t know. So I trekked back and forth in the hallway that night asking myself, “What do I want? What do I want? What do I want?”

I got all clogged up and self-obsessed with my own indecision instead of just stopping, breathing, and making a choice.

I told myself that instead of “choices to be made” the story was really “you are a girl who doesn’t know what she wants. So figure out what you want and stop at nothing until you get to it.”

It was never about the bookshelf, friends. It had nothing to do with the bookshelf. It had to do with the fact that I stayed, and I waited, and the “hell yes” never came. It’s okay to have a game-over. When you’ve stayed and stuck it out and tried your hardest, it’s okay to have a game-over.

Up until today (this very moment), I believed I was a girl who knew exactly what she wanted and all my “hell yes” moments were going to stay in the distance until I uncovered them like buried treasure. That story could not be further from the truth so I am changing the script.

Beyond good people and a life that tests me, I don’t have a clue what I want.  I care too much about the things I want rather than what I know I need. I care too much about what other people want for me. It’s not about knowing what you like and banking on the hope that that will never change. Things change too often to rest your whole life in their certainty.

It’s simpler than knowing what you want: it’s getting brave enough to make a choice.

One choice. And then another choice. And then another choice.

You choose your “hell yes.” You choose it hourly. Daily. You choose it so much that you let it grow roots down inside of you.

A “hell yes” takes time. It gets stronger as you go. But just because you don’t feel it, right in this very second, doesn’t mean you should shut all the doors on all the people who might just be your “hell yes” in the end.

 

Take me back to October of last year and I know I could not write these words. I was a girl who loved the instantaneous things of this lifetime. I was far too easily pleased by getting things quickly. So if the feelings didn’t come in 2.5 seconds then I was splitting before midnight. That’s how I have known to abruptly and swiftly not stay in things that could actually be good for me.

And then life shifted and shook. I got my wrecking ball. I got my tornado. It didn’t come in the form of two legs and a beard– it was just Life flipping tables and yelling into me, “PLEASE DON’T STAY THE SAME. LET YOUR LIFE BE WRECKED SO YOU CAN JUST BE HEALED.

As I slowly reassembled everything in my life that used to be fine though not sturdy, I became the proud and hesitant mother of a garden bed. My own garden. I tilled the ground. I planted the seeds. I watered. I found patience. I surprised my friends- the ones who did not hold the faith that I could actually keep anything alive. And I didn’t “let” things go. They simply grew. I gave things the time and capacity and space to just grow– uninhibited by my expectations that are far too easily squashed and my fascist-like control sprees.

And yesterday I pulled the first of my cherry tomatoes from their vine, washed them good, and bit down hard. There was something sweet– matchless– about the waiting it took to get that harvest. The waiting, all in itself, was nectar.

I know I am learning to wait. I think I am learning to not hold expectations so close to my chest. God didn’t promise to honor my expectations. That would be such a sad, little life. He promised to prune me and love me just as I needed to be pruned and loved.

 

Dear you,

It’s okay if you don’t feel the “hell yes” right now. Take the expectations and the pressure off yourself. Rewrite the story and realize this: it’s not about knowing what you want, it’s about making slow and steady choices for the better of your character.

hb.

Dear Hell Yes,

You might be an instant thing or you might be a seed. I’m not so sure about you.

But sweet Hell Yes, if you are a seed then I am planting you today. I hope you grow. I so hope you grow to give me some of the shade I always needed.

hb.

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Why did the spider cross the road?

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.27.10 AM

I am looking for signs.

Always. Big and bold signs that tell me I am going in the right direction.

You see, here’s the thing with me: I am fearful. That’s not a shocker. That’s not something I am trying to hide.

I am a rule follower. I am always trying to do everything right. And I think it’s a great strength and also a great weakness. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that a sense of fear is normal, necessary and creative. However, you must be willing to face your fear and ask the question: What am I so afraid of?

What am I so afraid of? 

Maybe I am afraid to ask that question.

 

So when I was younger, I would pray for blatant signs.

I wanted brightly colored roadmaps. I wanted to turn the radio on and have God speak to me through a song. I only listened to rap music for a such a long time. If he was using the radio to give me signs then he only ever told me to “get low” and “move like a gypsy.” I don’t think that was God.

But I was persistent and adamant to “do his will” and “live in his path” and all these other Christian terms that left me wondering: is it really this hard? Is it really this hard to know what God wants from me?

I think that’s one of the reasons why people steer away from God. I mean, you don’t always feel him. You can’t always hear him. And you’re afraid he will strike you dead if you make a wrong move. No one wants to love a mute monster. I think some people need a better experience with God before they will actually invest their heart to follow. I know that was me. 

I needed to figure God out apart from humans. If humans have damaged your perceptions of God then it might mean you need more God, not more humans. God and I, we needed to create our own language.

 

I remember moving to New York City in August of 2010 and making my prayers more clear and desperate than the days before: Listen, I am not going to do this the traditional way. The traditional way has not worked for me. If you want to show up then show up. But I am not looking in a church. I am not looking in a steeple or a passage of scripture. Be real to me in the world around me. I desperately need that from you.

I don’t know how honest we can with God. I don’t know if there is a barometer on those sorts of things. A boy I like says we can yell at God because he can handle it. He says God already knows what’s going on inside you. He’d rather us choose to expose things ourselves. I think he’s really proud of us when we can expose things ourselves and be brave enough to not repress it again.  That rolls back to fear: you have to choose to expose fear. Thaw it out. Unfold it. Refuse to let it stay unnamed. 

 

I dated a boy in the sliver of space between graduating from college and moving to New York City. He was wonderful. Really. Greek. Big Greek. I should have been happy because he picked me up for dates and kissed me softly and wanted to meet my mother. Even at the start though, I wanted to go.

Just because you are afraid to be alone doesn’t give you reason enough to keep someone chasing for your heart. 

At the same time I was trying to get down low to the ground with my faith. I was really trying to figure out this God character. I got a book out from the library. It had a black cover. I thought it would teach me a thing or two about Faith. Grace. That stuff.

Turns out, the book was really a construction worker disguised as a book. It showed up to dig in the trenches of my heart.  I honestly never knew that God could stir you in a way where you feel it physically. But there was demolition underway.

One day while nannying, I was reading the book among a battlefield of Nerf guns and blond bowl cuts with tan torsos flying through the backyard when I looked up to see a spider spinning a web in the corner of the kitchen window. I was captivated. Enamored. I could not explain it. For reasons I may never fully understand, I would have watched that spider spin its web all day.

It was the first spider of dozens. Dozens that I would see in the next few days. One after the other after the other. Make no mistake, those spiders had to be a sign. They started showing up everywhere. The front yard. The kitchen table. The window sills. My dreams. Spiderman toys. Plastic spiders. Everywhere I turned.

I went home that first night, put my palms down on the kitchen table and faced my mother: “I am going insane. Legitimately insane. Spiders. Are. Everywhere.”

We spent the night Googling spiders. Coming up with their origins. Trying to figure out the root of them. Wondering what they could actually mean. Looking in the Bible. Were there spiders in the Bible?

Tell me I’m not crazy, tell me I’m not crazy, I whimpered into the night as I tried to fall asleep. I woke up the next morning to find three spiders spinning a web of fresh silk over the coffee pot on the stove.
The spider signs grew bigger and bigger and bigger. Every time I saw another one I could feel everything inside of me saying, “Let the boy go. Let the boy go.” I didn’t want to let him go. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to win. I wanted to somehow, someway, be worthy of being the center of someone’s universe. But still the whisper roared, Let. The. Boy. Go.

I closed the book. Hid it away. The signs stopped. The spiders ceased. The voices quit. The stirring in my stomach fell away. I didn’t feel full or at peace, but at least I didn’t feel pushed.

Weeks later, we ended.

I left. I took my stuff and went. It ceased over something as stupid as the color “yellow.” You could call it “bound to happen all along” but I just call it “yellow,” even to this day. I got in my car. I felt freedom on my chest. I drove to the ocean. I sat in the sand by myself and I reopened the book right where I had closed it.

Two pages later, I stumbled into a story about a woman walking in the woods. A spider web appeared. And she stopped to watch that spider spin. She could have watched that spider spin its web all day. And then she heard from God,

“I am spinning. You are not. Let me go ahead of you. Stop trying to drag your own mess into my intricate picture. Don’t bring anything more into the web.”

It had been there the whole time. Just two pages away from me. But I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t see it. Not until I was ready to stop dragging around my own mess.

Don’t. bring. anything. more. into. the. web.

 

I’ve shared that story once before in this space. And another time in a room full of high school students who were trying to figure out faith. Spiders are my comfort in a way no one will ever understand because it sits in the depths of me like rocks. Spider webs are a reminder to me, when I see them strategically placed, that he’s already ahead of me. I don’t have to be so fearful. I don’t have to be so afraid. I don’t have to create messes just to tire someone out with the constant need to tidy things up.

People get tired of your too many messes. I think that’s one of the strongest cases for needing God: We are too needy for people. Too messy to fix one another. There must be something bigger to whisper, “You’re okay” when human breath won’t cut it.

 

All this to say, I walked outside today. I walked outside, already too much in my head at 8am. And if you never stop and breathe then you don’t really know what you truly feel– you just sit in the fog and wait for someone to untangle you. Maybe that’s another case for God. We need to be untangled. 

I opened the door to my house. I didn’t even take a step outside before I noticed a web spun wide across the door frame and the spider sitting there at waist-level looking at me like, “Come at me, boo.” I’d have to break the web to walk outside. There was no getting over or under the web that spider spun for itself overnight.

It’s like that whisper came back in that moment, “Girl, you are growing. You are growing beyond what you can even imagine. And so now, it’s no longer time to keep spinning webs and catching things with the hopes you can save them for later. It’s time to break the web. Break the web and walk on through.” 

Obviously, that whisper evolved throughout the morning. It wasn’t as clear and succinct until I sat down with my morning coffee and tried my hardest to focus on words on a page but all I could think of was that web. Strategic in its placement after a night where I tossed and turned with worry and fear.

“Stop spinning your webs, sweet girl. And just break the web. Break the web. Break the web. For so long you’ve lived this way– you’ve lived this way of doing it as you please. You’ve loved me halfway because to get fully there– to the part where you love with abandon– would require you to let go. And you don’t like letting go and giving up control. Love is about giving up control and letting someone else lead. 

Stop dragging in your fears and saving them for later. Stop thinking you know what you need more than I do. Stop being the star of this show and see people in the way I need you to see them. People cannot be chosen when you’re off in the corner spinning silk out of your fears. 

And love, sweet girl, is all about choosing someone. For better. For worst. For all of it. Whether you understand them or not. Whether they talk a lot or not. Whether they’re perfect or not (they won’t be). 

Break the web. Break the web and walk on through.” 

 

Sometimes he gives us big, blatant signs. Other times, we get led slowly through pain and heartbreak and joy and uncertainty. With each bend of the road we get flattened and refined a little more. We drop the needs for signs and just listen in. We figure out how to find our way. Confidence kicks in. God stops being a roadmap with too many of the “do this” rules that make us feel woozy and fill us with a fear of getting lost. He starts leaning into us like a compass. We drop the rules. We get a little lost but the birds still sing. We just start walking. We walk on through. And suddenly, it’s not so hard to find North anymore.

15 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Old Camel Knees. 9 parts.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.53.19 AM

Part 1.

We prayed for three hours.

Three hours. That is worth repeating once more: three hours.

There is little that I do for three hours. In fact, there is currently a list— a very short list— of things I am capable of doing for three-hours blocks of time. Those things include:

Reading a good book.

Eating copious amounts of nachos.

Watching anything Bradley Cooper related.

That’s about it. It’s a pretty short list. Prayer has never made the cut.

Still, in spite of me, we prayed for three hours. This is all because I found myself stumbling into a small chapel on Saturday. It was instantly myself and four students of a ministry in Atlanta. I didn’t know a single one. Sprawled out across chairs in a small chapel, tucked in the back of a white brick building, I eyed the plain walls covered in Sharpie marker prayers.

“We’re just going to stay here until it’s done,” they told me. “Until we feel like it’s time to end. You pray for whatever is on your heart.” There are no limits in this place. 

Part 2.

I’ve been praying a lot about prayer lately.

Ironic, I know. The concept of prayer keeps rapping on the door of my heart— persistent as a Tinder date who turns out to have a strand of “stalker” stuck in their DNA. It’s coming up over & over & over again.

I’ve boxed prayer up. I’ve reserved it for early morning drives in the car as I simultaneously plow through Spotify and late night talking-at-God as I drift off to sleep because it makes me feel like a better person. Prayer is one those elements of the faith life that I’ve checked off when I am looking to take inventory of how “good” of a Christian I am. Honestly— I don’t think God has any care for me being good or perfect. He just wants me. All of me. And how do I wrestle a thing like that— a thing like communicating with him just because my heart is needy and empty— to the ground?

Part 3.

I’m needy and empty.

You should know that. I’ve questioned God a lot. I’ve been delighted to find out that he isn’t phased by my persistent begging to know him better. I think he’d rather have me ask all the questions my heart can’t help but whisper than to stay silent and afraid of the person I’ve built him to be in my head.

I’m a really good story-teller. I’ve told a lot of stories about God that have turned out to be lies. It’s all lies and half-truths until you sit down long enough to get to know someone for yourself.

Part 4.

When I was in my Second Semester of Depression (that’s what we’re calling it now), nearly six months ago, I imagined myself praying all the time. I made promises to myself nearly every night that I would clear the space to talk to God. I pictured myself wrestling with God— just like Jacob— until he would bless me. Until he would zap the depression from my eyes and help me gain the ten pounds back. Until he would give me a new name.

The story of Jacob is my favorite in the bible. I love the thought of God giving me a new name.

That never happened though. I never wrestled. I’d just sit on my bed, press my palms up towards the ceiling, and yawn. I’d will myself to stay awake. I’d curl into a ball on top of the covers.

Part 5.

Here’s the reality: prayer is essential.

Prayer is like a lung— we need it, we need it, we need it. No compromise. No cutting corners. And yet Prayer 101 doesn’t exist. And even the monks and greatest theologians struggled with their prayers. You can trace through their prayer journals and watch their insecurities dance wildly: I’m too verbose. I’m too selfish. I’m too distracted. I’m too much for you, God.

I’ve been told to pray. In struggle. In strife. In times of confusion— pray, pray, pray. I want to double back and claim I don’t know how to pray. I’m good at saying, “Well, I’ll pray for you” because it’s a blaring and sweet EXIT sign for a conversation I want to escape. I’m good at closing my eyes and pretending. I’m good at making lists of things that keep me from being content. I listen to other people pray and I make to-do lists in my head. I’m really good at humming loudly and thanking Jesus randomly. I’ve fooled the world unintentionally. It’s just that no one taught me how to pray:

How to be still.

How to listen.

How to quiet my racing thoughts.
How to not get distracted.

How to want God badly enough.

How to beg him to come closer.

Let’s be real: You never beg at the things you’re afraid of to just come closer. And this world? And this culture? Well it’s really capable of making me afraid of God.

Part 6.

If my prayers could be acted out in coffee shops, God sitting across from me with some trendy iced latte stuff in his hand, then he’d probably cut down my walls and lay me bare.

“You’re awkward,” he might tell me. “You’re a bad listener. You’re self-involved. You’re self-indulged.”

But no, He’s God. He wouldn’t say hurtful things. But out of love he would say, “Just relax. Loosen up. Why are you so afraid to ask anything of me? Why don’t you think I’m good?”

“I don’t know, God,” I could answer. “I’m good at impressing people though. This much I know.”

Maybe that’s the issue I find within the church so much: it’s easer to impress than to be real. It’s easier to impress and secretly be dead inside than to be real and finally alive with the thought of no more chains.

In prayer circles with musicians who cuff their pant legs and keep their top collar button fastened, I learned how to pray wordy prayers. It wasn’t those people who taught me. They aren’t to blame for the way I would spit fire with my words in the hopes that someone would be impressed by me. I wanted to be seen by people more than I wanted to be heard by God.

All this to say: I’m weary now of what I do to impress boys with tattoos. The ones who smell like cigar shops and talk loudly about whiskey. Half of the time, what I’m saying and doing is not real. It’s not me, at least. And it might get my number programmed into a phone but I’ve never seen Forever make a bed inside a house that isn’t real.

Part 7.

Tim Keller. He was the game-changer for me.

His book “Prayer.” We might as well drop all the microphones and say, “Tim, you are the Michael Jackson of prayer. You are the Beyoncé of hands clasped and knees hitting the floor.”

Read the book. He gets it. He just gets it.

Someone will be quick to tell me, “No one can teach you how to pray.”

You’re right. No one can teach me how to listen to God. But someone needed to sit me down, take my hand, and tell me sweetly, “This is how you shut up. This is how you stop running scripts and lies in your head. This is how you exit yourself.”

Prayer is just another term to sit beside the definition of “exiting yourself.”

Part 8.

I dug in my bible just yesterday and came across the book of James. What stuck out in the introduction is that James got a nickname during his ministry. They called him Old Camel Knees because he spent so much time praying– so much time that his knees hardened like those of a camel. It’s not the most flattering nickname but it’s certainly bold. I mean, could you imagine someone calling you out from a crowd and saying, “That one prays so much.” That one is a warrior. That one isn’t afraid to say she needs God more than anything. If I were as cool as James, I would flaunt my camel knees. 

To my knees, to my knees, to my knees. 

I am overwhelmed to find there is nowhere else to go but to my knees. People don’t save me. Busy schedules don’t save me. Social media doesn’t fill me. To my knees, and I stay there until I accept that surrender has nothing to do with talking at God while still so resistant to letting him rearrange me.

Part 9.

The crux of prayer is sitting and being still. I know this. It’s like waiting for a bride to appear at the door of the chapel. It’s hoping they will come. Hoping God will show his face.

And when I sit long enough, when I still this wild thought process long enough, he speaks: “I don’t need you to be the most impressive person in the room. Really, I don’t want that. I just want you. I want your heart. I want your aches. I want you to admit what we already know— you aren’t perfect. If you were perfect then you’d have no need for me. And I’m here because you need me. Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted? To know someone was there in those dark nights?”

It’s taking all the words of song “Amazing Grace” and hoping desperately that they’ll be literal. I know I’ve been blind but I want to be seen. I know I need to be saved, so please save a wretch like me.

I sit in the small chapel. I squirm. I wait. I listen. I scribble notes. I speak.

I tell a boy across the room who is mouthing out his problems that he’s afraid. I could be wrong but he’s afraid. He’s scared to let go of who he was yesterday. Aren’t we all? I see tears in his eyes. “Boy,” I want to say. “I don’t know your history. I can’t draw your pain. But maybe prayer is just two solid words for you: Let go. Let go. Let go.”

My hands are on fire. I can’t believe I called out a stranger. I finish speaking. And then I apologize.  A girl from across the room wrapped in a blanket calls me out for saying sorry.

“When you say it, don’t apologize,” she says. “God knows your heart.” I wince when she tells me this. He knows my heart- he knows all the cards I’m trying to hide from him.

My mind traces back to scriptures I’ve always been jealous of: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

I want to see God so bad.  No one in the world can fathom how badly I want to see God.

I sit. I stew. I pull out a book that’s been sitting in my backpack for days, going unread. I scribble a prayer that is honest and true more than anything:

God, I’ll wait.

I’ll wait. I’ll wrestle. I’ll stay. I want a new name.

There’s nothing eloquent about the stream of words.  And I find surrender starts when my prayers cease to be wordy and just trudge on to be honest: God, I don’t want to need you. You already know this. I’m human. I’m stubborn. I want to be fiercely independent. You know this too.

God, take my fears and my doubts and my worries about you and help me to believe that you are good— that you have good for me.

26 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

My intern made me write a love letter. This is the result.

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 11.19.25 AM

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be the hider.

Not the seeker. When the game got played I’d find the most obscure places. The tiniest places. The places no one ever wanted to even dare lurk around so I could never be found.

I would stay silent and curled in a ball for long after the game was over. Long after everyone else had been found and I knew it was safe to come out. There was something terrifying— downright breath-losing— about being found. I can’t explain it. Not beyond these terribly written sentences, I can’t tell you why I’ve never known how to be found.

It’s been 15 months and 13 months.

15 months and 13 months.

15 months since I bit down hard on my bottom lip, sitting by the window of a Starbucks by Yale University, the day after a break-up with a man I tried to fall in love with. That’s when I heard him. God, I mean. I heard him whisper, “Go.”

13 months since I actually listened to that whisper, packed up my Toyota with the tinted windows of a drug dealer, and moved my existence to Atlanta, Georgia.

15 months since I winced and whimpered, “Please just me let stay in a town that keeps me comfortable.” Comfort is delicious and contagious.

13 months since I broke my comfort zone. My comfort zone exploded into a million bedazzled pieces on the floor of a new house with too small of a bathroom and an endearing neighbor with no teeth named Little Bit who would acquire bicycles and new clothes and all sorts of things in the time I lived across the street from him.

That’s what Atlanta is to me: the shattering of my comfort zone.

It started at a coffee shop with white walls called Taproom. The shop opened its doors for the first time one week before I arrived in Atlanta. I took it as a sign that God had made the coffee shop for me. I was meant to sit inside those four walls and read too many books and meet too many strangers and draw too many doodles in the corners of my notebooks.

Mornings were flushed with pour-overs and people-watching.

It quickly became my neighborhood coffee shop where the baristas would pray for you when you needed a nudge and they’d brew you a second cup on the house when they noticed your head had been down for several hours. I liked all of them instantly because they were real. I mean, you can’t really train someone to ask “how are you, really?” and teach them to linger around long enough to actually hear your honest answer— that’s just a trait of good people, not baristas.

The people at Taproom Coffee make the meanest London Fog you will ever consume. It’s not listed on the menu but order it anyway. Turns out, happiness is in white cups and foamy drinks inspired by rainy days in England.

I’ll never forget sitting at Taproom one late night talking with the owner. I always felt like I could not escape him, as strange as that sounds. But there are just some people who make you feel like you can’t actually hide from— they see you. As much as you don’t want to be seen, they see you.

This was the city I could not escape from because everyone was adamant to see the cards of mine I never placed down on the table.

He looked at me and then turned away. He turned back.

“I wonder about you,” he said quietly. “I wonder who picks you up from the airport. That’s all.”

They always ask “if a tree falls in a forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound?” He could have never asked that question and it still would have somehow made a sound.

I am the girl who doesn’t know how to mumble, “I need you.”

“I need you so bad.”

Secretly, I am hoping I can return to this page in a few months from now and change that last sentence to past tense.

That’s just me: I don’t know how to need people. So when you buy my coffee or give me ballads to knock the air out of my lungs and you make me take bites to balance out the liquor, I cave. I cave into myself and I reach for the suitcase and the running shoes. 

I’d rather dazzle you with a false picture than make you endure the parts of me that still cry out with inconsistency and resentment.

It’s been 13 months and I am still here somehow. And I call Taproom Coffee my place and I sometimes cry when I drive home on backroads at night because I am no longer traveling home— every part of this city adopted me. And people are beginning to know my real middle name. And I feel seen and I am thankful for whoever created that word and wedged it into a dictionary for a hopeful girl like me. My god, I’ve wanted to be seen & uncovered & told I am okay for so long. It was the simplest thing in the world and I could have had it years ago.

I guess that’s growing up, right? Realizing you might only have one shot to get it right so you better keep this good thing going, even when it scares you half to death.

People always told me love was quick and instant.

The kind you have after blinking twice, too slowly. And that was how I always felt about New York City— like I loved her before she ever let me in.

My walls are higher and my stakes are more and love isn’t quick for me anymore. Unless it’s cheap coffee or a Christmas song, love isn’t quick for me anymore. It’s slow and quiet and a process I want to rest my whole body inside of because I think could be safe here.

Cities have never made me feel safe. Coffee shops have never made me feel wanted. People have never made me feel like I didn’t want to hide anymore.

Until now. Until this.

Welcome to the fight it takes to keep me here.

20 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I got 99 problems but a budget ain’t one.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

So I created budget sheets recently.

You should really laugh over this. The girl who is the absolute WORST when it comes to numbers is now creating budget sheets. 

But honestly? I would argue that this is precisely why it needed to be me who made these budget sheets a reality.

I am completely aware of what I need: I need to kill my student loans. I need to be smarter with spending. I need to eat less tacos. I need financial goals. 

I also know exactly what I need to get on the budgeting train and stay on it: I need the set-up to be simple, smart, and minimalistic– with a touch of sass. That’s me. That’s what will motivate me to budget and keep my finances in order. It won’t be big terminology. It won’t be some complicated system. It will black & white sheets of papers with gangster quotes on them and simple boxes to fill in that even a writer like me can handle.

And now they exist. 

You see, money and I have always had a strange relationship. 

As strange as the relationship I once had with a Greek (I’m only emphasizing it because he emphasized it. A lot) and I must have had panic attacks every 2.5 seconds of our relationship because I was genuinely terrified of him. (Don’t worry, he was not dangerous.) It’s stupid to admit but I was afraid of the way he held the door open for me. I was afraid of how he paid for dinner and met my parents and would randomly compliment me for no reason. I was afraid because I honestly did not believe at that time– in the deep, deep of me– that I deserved him. That I deserved someone good like him. If you don’t believe you are worth something, you won’t ever know how to accept it with open hands & gratitude. 

Enter money.

And the daily struggle that comes with making money, counting money, managing money, saving money– all the while, struggling to know and understand what I am worth in my industry and what I deserve.

I’ve been self-employed since July 2012. I am coming up on my 3-year “working for my self” anniversary. It sounds like a dream but it has come with a lot of major bumps. Synonyms for major bumps include (but are not limited to): creating a LLC, filing 1099s, paying taxes as a freelancer, hiring a lawyer, getting trademarks, understanding copyrights, managing a team, sending cease & desist letters, working with bigger companies that are evidently smarter than me, not vomiting when someone brings up operating budgets, navigating the world of contracts & riders, finally getting a point where I actually don’t flinch or twitch over the terminology used in this whole list. 

All in all, I’ve learned so much about myself, others, and the way I handle money through working for myself. Reality has smacked me in the face. I’ve had good months and bad months. I’ve appreciated every hard to swallow lesson. It’s the greatest challenge of my little life and I am thankful that I get to approach it with fresh eyes daily to try my hardest to be a better business person– hour by hour, day by day.

I am not an expert on money but I am giving it all I’ve got this year. I’m gathering knowledge daily. These are the little thangs I’ve learned along the way about my finances and budgeting.

1) Giving with purpose creates new drive. 

Giving is my #1 priority when it comes to finance. I don’t believe in giving 10%– I believe in giving generously where I can, when I can. Giving, to me, doesn’t fit into a box– I budget out money to give to my church, sponsor girls’ education, donate hygiene products to homeless shelters, mail packages to readers, and deliver pizzas to friends. I think giving gets stale when assign too many rules to it.

Giving should not be a chore, it should be a privilege. A way of getting to say, “I am thankful I have the ability to work and make money– with that blessing, I will open up my hands and bless others.”

2) Sallie Mae must die. 

I loathe her. I loathe all my student loans. But I take all responsibility for them– I am the one who racked up a sweet bill. So what else is there to do but pay it off, bit by bit? I believe in swiping at Sallie Mae with large blows to the face. I budget monthly and then roundhouse kick Sallie to the face with the remains, every chance I get.

I’m having a massive Going Away Party for Sallie Mae when she is finally gone. It’s going to be epic. You will get the invite.

2.5) Why I need budget sheets. 

I am learning the truth: math is not meant to stay stuck in my head. I need to see the numbers in front of me. Otherwise I am going to break out in hives and convince myself that I’ll be homeless by next month. I, personally, need the digits to be written down in paper form. I have used these budget sheets since October. I’ve improved them as I’ve seen fit for my own needs. They are ideal for anyone who is employed by a company or working for themselves.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

3) Know what you need. 

Self-employment sounds like a dream until you realize you are your own boss. You control the cash flow. You determine the hours. The game is yours and you have to figure out how to play it right.

I’ve played the game right. And I’ve played it so wrong. I’ve worked too many hours. I’ve been the girl unable to say “no” to projects. I’ve killed the balance in my social life and been guilty of having absolutely NOTHING to talk about on a date besides my work (womp womp). But I’ve turned all that around recently. I’m not perfect but I am improving daily.

Every month I budget out what I absolutely need to pay for (rent, subscriptions, insurance, office space, etc) and then proceed to budget in what I will, without a doubt, spend money on (coffee, exercise, too many tacos). I factor in taxes, how much I want to save, and how much I want to put towards debt. That allows me to know how much work I need to take on and divide it out into the four pockets below.

People often ask how I make an income. I am an open book when it comes to these kinds of conversations. I treat all my work with an open-handed (I am thankful to just be able to work and love what I do) approach.

My income is made up of 4 parts:

Copywriting projects.

Speaking engagements.

Book Writing.

Creative Consulting.

I garner no income from running More Love Letters. All money from partnerships goes towards the overhead of our company. We are completely fueled by the love of our community and the love of the work we do. My reasoning for that is simple: I am called to steward More Love Letters and I will not budge towards profit unless a door opens for it to be done with all our pure motives left front and center. Income, for me, comes through these four different avenues and allows me to continue to steward the organization I’ve been given by God.

4) Don’t. Let. Money. Scare. You. 

Like anything we don’t fully understand, we feed the fear of not “knowing” and we become afraid of it. I know that’s the truth when it comes to me and money. Because numbers intimidated me, I claimed I was no good with them and I couldn’t be bothered. I saved a ton of money (I’ve never had an issue with spending too much) but I didn’t recognize I could be actively killing debt instead of hoarding like a squirrel.

I used to want to take every project on for free because I didn’t want to come off as prideful or boastful. I’ve learned a few things from freelancing though that don’t make me prideful- they make me a smart business woman.

  • It’s smart to know your worth.
  • It’s smart to charge what you are truly worth (don’t shy away from it).
  • It’s smart to offer your services at a discount when starting off to gain experience for your portfolio.
  • It’s smart to have an hourly wage and a project-based wage.
  • It’s smart to raise your prices every 6 months.

5) Don’t leave home without a list. 

Seriously though, going to the grocery store or any department store without a list is like throwing money down a toilet that is shaped like the Target logo. Target is the queen of making you aware of everything you didn’t need until you saw it on the shelf.

These days, I am making lists. Otherwise, I am buying SO MUCH FREAKING kale. No person needs this much kale. I have an ungodly amount of kale– all because I’ve been known to brave Trader Joe’s without a list and come out triumphantly thinking I am going to eat brussel sprouts & edamame & salmon by the droves that week.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Grab your budget sheets here.

Please feel free to post your comments + freelancer // saver questions about money matters below (and any tips you have!). I will do my best to answer all of them but I am very much aware that I am no investor from Shark Tank so have mega grace for me.

Please + thanks. 

20 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

A 17-word love story.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 12.09.05 PM

“Do you think you would forget her?” I asked him.

We were weaving down the sidewalk beside Ponce De Leon Avenue. Him and I were just two small flecks to the cars whipping by— him in a bright green shirt, me in red flats that always garner compliments from strangers.

“I mean, hypothetically,” I retracted a bit. “If you could, do you think you would forget her?”

We’d spent the hour talking about his love story over boxed sushi lunches and water with lemon. That’s always what I do with a lunch break— find a good love story, in book or human heart form.

He talked about her like she was the only thing that ever existed in his orbit. Like he forgot to ever look around to see if others existed. Like she could easily sweep in and take the sun’s place. I mean, the way he talked about her could make the moon jealous.

“You have a good love story,” I told him on the walk back to the office. After he’d paid for the both of us. I really meant to say: I hope it works for you. I know you are struggling to tell her how you feel. I know you might never get the courage. Instead I simply said, “You have a good love story.” The makings of a really good love story.

“I mean, it’s not like Romeo & Juliet or anything classic like that,” he laughed.

“You really think that one is all that classic? We can do better than that.”

Call me strange but I’ve never understood why that story— of all the love stories— is considered a classic. I guess it just doesn’t pull me the way it pulls other people.

“Fine,” he said. “Name a good one. Name a good love story.”

I didn’t hesitate. “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“Favorite,” he said.

“I know.”

It’s been my favorite for a while too, though I never told you that. I just love the premise, the whole idea: One couple. Two individuals. Both facing the turmoil of themselves and one another. Deciding to break it off. The classic pain of losing someone— burning up inside, swallowing you whole. And then them both discovering there was actually a way to get one another erased from their memories. An actual procedure out there that would allow you to completely erase a person from your memory, and leave no traces behind. All the memories gone.

You’ll call me morbid and hopeless, but I always thought there was something too beautiful about the idea of getting to erase someone from your memory. Like, if I wanted to, I could let you go tomorrow. You’d be gone. Classically extinct.

When he talked about her, I thought of you.

I thought of all the coffee bars I’d visit and all the wine glasses I’d hold just to be able to say your name out loud. Even when you became a ghost to me, I still loved to tell people about you. Because you, my dear, were the one who got away. I never told you that but you were the one who got away.

You’d laugh in my face if you really knew that, if I ever got the courage to be honest about that. It was almost two years ago now that I saw you at that restaurant— the one my parents liked so much with all the pasta— and it was your friend who told me my name had come up in conversation between you two that day.

“What are the odds of that,” I said, biting back the tears as I watched you out of the corner of my eye. I hadn’t seen you in so long. You still had that little boy smile. Those teeth. I was surprised to find out I still could cry just from standing beside you in a room.

“I don’t know,” he said wrapping his arm around me. “But I told him you were definitely the girl who got away.”

“Oh, stop,” I laughed. I wanted to say so much more: we’ve been history for a long time. We’re basically textbook. The kind of textbook that is outdated and you can’t even use it in the classroom anymore.

“It’s true,” he continued. “And he agreed. He couldn’t say anything more to me except that he agreed.”

We stood there silently for a second. He changed the subject. Your eyes traced me and I wondered what you were thinking. I couldn’t read your mind anymore.

That would be the first memory to go, I think.

If I could sit in a chair at a doctor’s office and have a man in a white coat tell me I would get to let you go for good, that would probably be the first memory to go: the way you were still able to trace me even when I’d erased myself from your presence.

Then it would be the night in your driveway. All the nights in your driveway. Then the ferris wheel. Then the slow dancing in the middle of the woods. Do you remember that one?

We’d found a secret spot to park the car. We’d go there all the time to just escape from the rest of the world. We’d put the seats down and open up the back of the car so that the stars could come in too.

But that night, as you slid out to drive me home, you reached for my hand and I took it. Tightly.

“Dance with me,” you whispered.

“There’s no music,” I answered.

“I’m playing your favorite song,” you said, pulling me in and humming into my ear.

You moved me around and around that little wooded area slowly.

“And I’ll be better when I’m older.”

You kept on humming.

“I’ll be the greatest fan of your life.”

I never knew the feeling was real: the feeling you could love someone so much that the seams of the sky ripped. The feeling you could love someone so much that you could steal for them all the grace in the world and it still wouldn’t be enough of a gift. The feeling you could love someone so much that you’re suddenly somehow jealous of every step they ever took, every birthday party they ever went to, every patch of ground they laid in without you right beside them.

I didn’t know I was capable of loving you so wide. I surprised myself with every room I let you add into my heart.

I’m afraid of what will happen when I meet someone else.

I am afraid of how we will hold my hand. How he might look into my eyes and see whatever you left of yourself inside of me. That’s what happens when you let a person in: you give them all the permission to either hem you or break you. I think that would be our 17-word love story: We hemmed each other for a really long time, making one another better, and then we broke.

We broke and I still worry about you at night. Because you are my insides. You are my third arm. I stand in empty rooms and beg to say your name just to make the walls jealous that I had you once.

You’re like one of those old retired Beanie Babies floating around a flea market in Alabama. One of those rare ones that only a few people ever know are worth more than their own existence.

You’re all the words I never said. You’re so many words that don’t exist just yet– they’re just waiting for definitions to get assigned to their names.

“Do you think you would forget her?” I asked him.

We were weaving down the sidewalk beside Ponce De Leon Avenue. Him and I were just two, small flecks to the cars whipping by— him in a bright green shirt, me in red flats that always garner compliments from strangers.

“I mean, hypothetically,” I retracted a bit. “If you could, do you think you would forget her?”

“Yea,” he answered. No trace of hestitation stood in his voice. He sounded like surrender. A slow and tired surrender.

“Yea,” I mumbled back. We kept on walking, the sun beating down on the crowns of our heads. I finished my sentence. “Me too.”

I guess the truth is so slow to spill: I would probably learn to forget you too.

19 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I am not the point.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.47.20 AM

It was Maya Angelou who wrote how you can learn a lot about a person by examining the way they handle these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

Rainy days have always been my jam and lost luggage is just a sign to be patient with the imperfect gods of Delta and circumstances in life beyond your control. But it’s those Christmas lights that have me tripping— straight-up, worried sick.

You see, I lack patience. I try not to and I am constantly needing Big Mac portion sizes of grace in this area. I hold a secret wrath for the slow walkers of this earth and the tasks that take a person 4 hours to execute when I know I could have handled it by myself in 15 minutes. I was the intern supervisor back in the day who wanted to do all the work for the interns just so it would be finished and done well. I had to take my sticky fingers off so many situations, breathe, and just say, “Girl, let someone have a breakthrough and a moment of celebration on their own. You once celebrated over your small and slow victories too.”

In the words of Michelangelo, “Ancora Imparo” (Still, I am Learning).

So when it comes to Christmas lights and other cords I’d rather not untangle them. I tell myself life is too short to sit on the floor and untangle cords. I mean that. The evidence would be the fact that my hair straightener and curling iron have been tethered to one another for nearly seven months now. The cords are so tangled that you have to stand close to the outlet in order to use them. You have to get your head basically next to the outlet if you want to use the straightener. This is the definition of someone’s worst nightmare but I somehow let the tangled cords make my life more difficult daily instead of just stopping, unplugging the devices from the wall, and taking the twenty minutes necessary the detach the two for good.

Embarrassing to admit but I actually raised my needy palms up to the ceiling yesterday and asked God, “What does this say about me? What does this honestly say about me?”

I’m the silly girl who finds life revelations in tangled product cords but that’s just because I’ve only ever known how to view every inch of life as a series of small encounters meant to improve your character. Really. Truly. I can analyze the snot out of how people maneuver holding glasses of wine and cheese plates at weddings. There is a science to how people order things off Amazon or tackle the grocery list and how both tactics might improve their state of humanity. As you can imagine, I’m instantly the life to any party.

Truth told: I’d choose not to untangle things.

If this was my show, which it used to be, then I would choose to not face things or untangle them and just let life be ruled by more difficulty. Things like “loves lost” I’m cool to untangle because I like to be poetic about the past and cry over things lost. Something like “singleness” I’d prefer not to untangle or even look at. I hate admitting that I’m single. I hate knowing there isn’t a person for me yet. And then when it comes to a thing like “fear,” I’ve been left with no choice but to try and untangle it— little by little— every single day.

I am learning the truth: if you untangle your own mess then you give other people the permission to try and maneuver through their own. We all want some kind of permission to look at our messes without fear of what we will find when we sink our hands in deep to them.

“You are not the Christmas star,” he whispered.

Clearly. He said it. “You are not the Christmas star.”

I was sitting cross-legged on my bed. Christmas had just rolled to the back of the calendar. I was stuck in a headlock of anxiety and fear for most of that December and crying out every morning for God to just speak to me. “Just tell me,” I would pray. “What are we fighting for? What do you want to take out of me? Just take it, God. Take it.”

His answer was audible that one morning: You are not the Christmas star. A chill rushed down my spine. I ran downstairs to my mother, standing by the countertop fixing drip coffee.

“He told me I am not the Christmas star,” I announced to her.

“Who told you?”

“God told me.” You see, in the relationship between my mother and I— God is a third person. He’s an everyday contributor to conversations. He’s like the third homie. The third member of the Hanson band— probably the wise one, Isaac. If my mother is Kelly and I am Michelle then God is the third member of Destiny’s Child— Yonce. If I am Lisa Left Eye Lopes, and my mama is Chili, then God is definitely T-Boz of the TLC group. Let’s be real: T-Boz was the ultimate boss.

“Are you sure God says those sorts of things? That’s a stretch.”

“He definitely said it,” I retorted. “Because I know exactly what he meant.”

He meant to say, in a gentle and nudging way, “You are the not center of the universe, sweet girl.”

I’m not. I’m not every person’s favorite person. I’m so far from perfect that it hurts. I was not made to be front and center. It’s exactly like that bible verse that I’m simultaneously finding shelter and a roundhouse kick of reality to the face inside of these days: John 1:8. “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” That’s about John the Baptist. It could very well be about you too.

I think that’s God’s way of saying, “Maybe you are gonna shine but I never called you to be your own power plant and gobble up all the credit. You don’t need street cred, little one. You need a smaller purpose.”

“I want to start a movement.”

I cannot count the amount of times I’ve heard those exact words blurted out before me at a speaking engagement or networking event. I want to start a movement. I want to create something big. It has to be big. I want to change the world.

Trust me, that was me 5 years ago. I was 21 and obsessed with making an impact somehow and someway. I could barely see the people around me because my worth and value were tangled up in what I could offer the world. I wanted the big titles. I needed the big names. Baby steps would never serve me. I was always, always that girl.

And wanting to do something bigger than myself was always the driver until I realized that baby steps are queen and God sets the course. He sets the course.

Since the start, he set the story. My mother leaving me love letters. My ache for people I didn’t know. My fascination with New York City. My love for the internet and how it binds us all. He put all those pieces together and it wasn’t until I was stepping and stepping and stepping that I could look up and realize, “I’m not the star. I’m just the vessel. I’m just the instrument.” I’m not the star. I’m not the point.

I have to remind myself of this daily, hourly, when I want to get too handsy with gifts in my life and control every aspect of them. I get way too proud. Way too proud when I think I was born for big assignments— Christmas star missions that just allow me to stand there and shine bright.

There’s a certain and unquenchable beauty in untangling the Christmas lights. It’s humbling. There’s something desirable and lasting when you take your position as the tiny little bulb on the string of lights, instead of the centerpiece who sheds light to the whole tree. When you are a tiny bulb, you become an intricate part of the untangling process and you learn the coolest truth about humanity: when we untangle things, like the lights, we allow more of those little bulbs to stand apart and shine. When he squash our pride for small work and just help others out, we teach others to be lights. And with more little lights, we illuminate more space and territory in a darkened, hollowed place. 

I am trying to untangle the things I am afraid of.

It’s the only thing worth giving my life to anymore these days. I could continue with a prideful saunter and talk loudly about the things I already know but that story is tired, it’s rehearsed, it’s heard. So, instead, I listen to the whisper that tells the truth I am afraid to face, “Little one, you’ve built so much of your life out fear. It’s time to build with love instead.” It’s time to build with love instead. And the first step of love is exactly what you’re shaken over: untangling the mess and realizing you’re okay.

You’re okay. 

Build with love. Untangle your fear. Be a small light.

Build with love. Untangle your doubt. Be a bright light.

Baby steps, baby. Baby steps.

24 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized