The Elvis in the room.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 6.46.43 PM

I met a woman just the other day who had a pretty stealthy obsession with Elvis. If I ever claimed to be infatuated with the King in my earlier years then I am sorely mistaken and sorry to have claimed that. I could not even hold a lighter to the massive Elvis candle this woman was burning.

She had tattoos. A car. A jukebox in her basement. She named her child after Elvis. She brought Elvis into numerous conversations during the solid 7 hours that I spent with her filming a video for a brand. If Elvis hadn’t been worked into the conversation yet, she was finding a way.

The only time in the span of the whole day where we didn’t talk about Elvis was when the camera man was interviewing me and he requested that I looked directly at the woman, directly at the producer with the Elvis obsession, and talk to her instead of the lens.

The questions got deeper and deeper. We went there.

I could have chosen to stay stuck on the surface but I kept looking into the eyes of that woman and I could see some sort of pain and hurt. It was like I could trace holes inside of her that she was never going to talk about. Or maybe she would. I don’t really know.

She was crying, tears dribbling down her face as I said to her, and only her, “It’s okay. You got up today. You got up today and so it’s okay.”

In that moment, I wondered about her, and God, and Elvis.

People always say it’s best to acknowledge the elephant in the room when we see it and we can call it by name. Friends, there was an Elvis standing in the room that whole day. And even now, there is a Elvis standing between you and me– something I have wanted to write about but have been fearful of the outcome.

It’s time I brought it up.

There are holes inside of me. Let’s just start there.

I feel them. Sometimes they feel bigger. Sometimes they feel smaller. But I’ve tried to be a hole-filler for a really long time. And trust me, I have tried to fill the holes with everything but a weighty and spiritual God-man.

After years of practice, here is a semi-extensive list of things I’ve realized do not fill the holes:

  • guys.
  • guys who text back.
  • looking to the mirror like it’s going show me something different.
  • alcohol.
  • Netflix.
  • Gilmore Girls (I’ll come back to that one).
  • carbs.
  • guys.
  • gossiping so that I can feel bigger.
  • rules.
  • restrictions.
  • people you text to just stay distracted.
  • dating apps.
  • compliments.
  • accomplishments at work.
  • accolades.
  • “likes” and “retweets.”
  • followers.
  • guys.
  • shopping.

That’s a long list of hole-fillers and I’ve managed to blow through the whole lot of them (some two or three times). It’s like there’s still this hopeful naiveté inside of me that one day soon one of these above things will hold. It will work for me and I won’t need God. I’ve tried to work this formula for nearly 5 years and for the longest time I was just plain disappointed to find that only God was supposed to fill those holes.

It says in Jeremiah 29:13, “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

That whole scripture used to disappoint me. I didn’t actually want to get to the place where I wanted God more than anything else. That place seemed boring. I feared it would turn me into the type of person who chained herself to flag poles and did weird stuff in the name of Jesus. I have never wanted to live a life that was strange or set apart. I don’t like coloring outside the lines that much. I didn’t want God if he wanted me to be different than the world. I loved the world too much and the empty applause it gave me so I gave my leftover affections back to God.

I would say my life started going drastically downhill on October 1, 2014. I can mark that date on the calendar because it is when the rest of the world started flipping out that Gilmore Girls was now available on Netflix.

I’d never watched the series before but it seemed easy enough to slip my life inside of— a mother and a daughter just trying to wade through the waters of prepubescent boys, family issues, and survival with a domestic twist. I think sometimes Netflix series with a lot of episodes are just a really long and winding distraction to keep us from facing our junk. And that’s exactly what Rory and Lorelai helped me do— they helped me avoid myself and all the symptoms of depression that were coming on strong like a tidal wave.

I would go to my office space on Friday and Saturday night. I would light a candle and try to spend time with God. The bible would stir nothing in me. I would give up after 15 minutes. And then I would reside to my swivel chair where I could pretend that I was the second sister to Rory, taking my coffee black from Luke, while waiting for my mom to come through the door of our favorite coffee joint in Stars Hollow. That’s what I loved about Rory and Lorelai— they were always reliable. You could always count on the coffee being fresh in each episode. They didn’t change their plans or becoming wrecking balls– no they always managed to stay pretty predictable. They always made you feel welcome, even if from behind a screen. To me, Rory and Lorelai were more reliable than God.

Some of you have emailed me and have either loved or hated the fact that I’m writing more about God. Honestly, I cannot help it.

I want to be really honest about this topic because I can still remember so clearly, 5 years ago, when I sat at the kitchen table in my dorm apartment and gave God a pretty stern talking-to. I was in the midst of finding him and he was starting to move the pieces of my life around but I didn’t want to talk about him. Maybe I would talk about him in person but I was definitely never going to be forward about God on my blog.

In my eyes, God was controversial. He was offensive. He was an easy way to lose followers who didn’t want to read your words cloaked in Christian rhetoric. I’d personally been turned off by people who were way vocal with their faith and I didn’t want to speak too loudly about God that I, in turn, turned people away too.

I cared more about followers than actually following something with my whole life.

Still, to this day, I don’t want to turn people away. There is an anxious little people pleaser forever burning in the core of me no matter how much I try to wipe out her embers. I, like everyone else out there, just want to be liked and accepted. But something has shifted for me recently. Something has happened that I cannot ignore: I’ve finally accepted that God is bigger than me.

He’s just bigger. Maybe that’s not surprising to you but you would not believe how long it has taken me to push myself aside and actually figure out how to stop jamming God inside my back pocket.

This morning was the first time, in my entire existence, that I was able to look at the bible and say, “Okay, God, you’re big. You’re far bigger than me. You’re enough for me.” 

It’s crazy to admit that, after being a Christian for nearly 5 years, this is was the first moment in my faith walk where I actually felt like God was bigger than me.

The God of the bible is not half-hearted and miniature. He isn’t a God that is cool with a fraction of you. He wants More on top of More with an extra side of More. He wants that thing you hold on tightly to because you are so afraid he won’t deliver. That’s the way me and most of my friends used to see God: we were told to love him and so we tried but we were still so afraid that his love was fickle and changing like New England weather forecasts.

But honestly? Why give your whole life to it then? Why give your whole entire life to God if you are afraid of him, if you think he isn’t good, if you think you can do better than him? Why worship a God that you made? What’s the point in that?

I’m only asking all these questions because they are the same types of questions that roared through my brain in this last season of life: do you actually know God, Hannah? Do you actually want to keep giving your whole life to this if you don’t even know it’s real?

Here’s what happens when you actually sit down to get to know a person better– you actually meet them. You figure out if they’re real. The veil drops. You learn about them. If you are smart, you ask questions. You can approach God with the same mindset of a journalist– he’d rather you dig for the details than take his sound bites and run.

As I sit with God daily, I am learning that he isn’t intimidated by me. He isn’t afraid I am going to enter some locked room in the house that we don’t talk about. He just wants me to give up the fear. Leave the fear at the door.

Someone reading today is on the verge of giving up. I know it. I can just feel it because I see it and I understand it every single day: it’s easy to want to give up. It’s brave to stay. It’s even braver to stay when you don’t know if God will pull through for you, if you don’t trust him but you’ve wanted to for a really long time.

So here’s a prayer. It’s simple and it’s not wordy. You can say it beneath your breath in a coffee shop and no one is gonna look at you strange. It’s a prayer I prayed this time last October and it set my world upside down: If you are real, God, then be real. Be real in my life. I can’t fake this any longer.

You might meet God tonight. You might meet love tonight. You might meet a person who is even cooler than Rory Gilmore (and Rory Gilmore is really freaking cool). And all that being might ask of you for tonight is to place your armor down, quit fighting the fear so much, and just love someone hard tonight. Hard.

Loving someone should be hard and active, not easy and passive. When you sign up to actually love people– no fakers allowed– then you sign up for a life of runny noses, awkward car rides, hugs that last too long, pauses that demand no noise, and admitting you were wrong. If you want to actually love people then you have to be willing to be wrong.

Love is forgiveness. And it’s atonement. And it’s basically like putting your soul in a washing machine– it’s not some gentle cycle, it’s a fierce whipping that rings you out good.

It makes the stains fade.

Best of all, it fills the holes.

Sam, will you go to prom with me?

Dear Hannah

In almost all of the blog posts I’ve read, you always write about how God spoke to you and helped you when you felt lost. You talk about him whispering revelations in your ear and sending signs like the spiders.

I’m not a religious person. I don’t go to Church. I don’t get on my knees and pray. I believe there’s a God in a superficial way, like how we say ‘oh my god’ and ‘please dear god don’t let me fail my exam!’

When I was going through a tough time in my life a few years ago, I turned my head to the sky and just started cursing at him. ‘Why do you let these things happen to me? What did I do wrong? I hate you for doing this’

I know now that it was wrong to blame him.

Recently, I had to make a difficult decision. I say difficult, but really, it’s quite superficial. I didn’t know whether I should seize the day and do something that would be uncomfortable but possibly worthwhile, or, whether I should just sit back and wait for the boy to come to me.
I asked God if I could have a sign of what I should do. I thought about your blog posts, and how God gave you epiphanies, and I asked if I could have the same

No one whispered in my ear and nothing fell out of the sky. But I did get many people telling me to just go for it. So I did. It was nerve wracking and made me want to throw up because of all the adrenalin flooding through me. But I did it

I have yet to find out whether it was the right decision, but all I want to know is- how do I know if God is talking to me? How do YOU know?




The other night I was driving. It was close to 9pm. I was sitting beside someone I really, really care about. I am sure you have that type of person in your own life, A. They make words hard to fumble with. They’re the person you want to call after they’ve just left you because you spent the whole car ride home coming up with a dozen more sentences just so you don’t have a reason to say goodbye so fast.

And I will always remember how full the car was with questions that night. Tears streamed down my face. It was dark outside. The yellow lines in the road were more pronounced than ever.

I wasn’t crying because of anything this person did, I was simply crying because I had this overwhelming sense that the words playing over us– coming through the speakers of the car– were actually true.

Love laid its breath against my chest
My skin was thick but You breathed down all my walls

Hallelujah Oh hallelujah
I found Your love when I lost my heart to You

I can’t really describe the moment at much more than that, A. I didn’t hear God audibly. No part of the car ride was interrupted by a booming PSA from the heavens above. But something within that dark car prompted me to pray to myself, “Be in this car. Be in this car.” I could feel some sort of thick presence. It grew stronger and stronger.

I have to believe prayers open doors where we cannot. I have to believe that a prayer of only four helpless words might be better than a long and stringy one. When my prayers are at their shortest, I believe God has more room to come in and breathe into the spaces where I am lacking.

I replayed the song on the way home.

Hallelujah Oh hallelujah
I found Your love when I lost my heart to You

I just am a sucker, like the rest of the world, for getting found.

“It looks like it’s time for you to get lost,” the text message read.

It came in this morning after I’d vented out all my frustrations to my friend Nia about the walls I keep hitting in preparing for the second book. Lucky am I have to have a friend who knows that the remedy for not being able to find the words is, instead, finding a place to get lost for a little while.

“You’re right,” I replied. “Where can I find the woods?”

Not even an hour later, I was walking through some trails 25 minutes outside of Atlanta with a backpack on my shoulders, my notebook inside, a flannel tied around my waist, and my hair knotted into a bun because I couldn’t find an elastic.

You see, when some people are stressed they seek solace in the gym. Nature. The beach. A reliable view of a city skyline that never dares to change on them. I release and unravel fully when I go off into the woods and I can get a little lost.

I like to find the maps posted in the ground along the way. I like to find the “You Are Here” dot.

Today, when I checked for it, the square blue dot that was supposed to help me see where I was had faded off the page. There was no indicator of my whereabouts. I just had to pick a trail and keep on walking.

I walked beneath a bridge. I noticed these pillars with letters drawn on them. One said R. One said O.

I stopped, pulled back, and noticed that there were four pillars with a letter etched out on each one. They spelt out P-R-O-M. One bigger pillar in front of the four had scripted, “Sam, will you go to prom with me?”

I stood there for a minute surveying the grand gesture. I thought about taking a picture but chose not to. I know prom-posals are a big deal now. I actually don’t remember if my boyfriend even asked me to prom or we just assumed we would go together but now there are floats and big productions and students trying out-do one another. It all leads up to this one pivotal high school memory that is either the “best” or “worst” of all time, or just supremely average. As for me, I will honestly have to tell my children one day, “All I remember is that I looked like a hooker (my mom should have never let me wear that dress) and the chicken tasted like rubber.”

Back to Sam and her epic prom-posal…

I don’t know Sam. And I don’t know the person who went through all that trouble to ask Sam to prom but I have to believe to that it wasn’t easy for them. Just the location of those pillars, at the top of a steep and rocky hill, was difficult to get to. The letters were massive. The energy exerted is definitely commendable.

For a moment I just stood in Sam’s shoes and I was thankful that someone, somewhere, decided to make Sam the center of their universe. I think that’s one of the most special things to see: when someone makes someone else feel like they are the only one.

I had a girl just the other day tell me over Skype that she isn’t big into faith and God but she likes to put her faith in humanity some of the time. I had to agree with her. For as faulty and messy as we are, humans have this commendable capacity to choose one another in deliriously great ways. It’s one of the most beautiful things to witness. One of the best restorers of hope and faith.

So I can only imagine that Sam, in that moment, didn’t feel like an accident. She probably didn’t feel forgotten about. I’m willing to bet Sam felt really chosen.

I’m willing to say you’ve wanted to be chosen too, A.

I wonder if you are anything like me, A. Anything like a girl who for so long let her questions and her anger get in the way of God. Anything like a girl who, even if God was screaming at her, she would have never heard him because God speaks in a language of love and she only thought the bible was a language of rules and “get better & holier” attitudes.

I think sometimes God just whispers, “chosen,” and we only have a view of him that makes us hear, “less than.”

As I kept walking into the woods, I could not help but invest too much energy into Sam and her prom date. Did she have a good time? Did that person win her heart? Are they together still? This one, elaborate gesture on a pillar was making me plot out the existent or non-existent history of Sam and her prom date’s love story in my mind.

And all I could think to myself was that I hoped her prom date knew that big gestures are cool– just like big signs from God– but it’s the little stuff that will win a heart and grow a person’s trust in you.

It’s little choices. Little moments when you decide to fight for someone. Saying it anyway. Doing it anyway. Showing up. Figuring out how to say. Opening a door. Sharing a secret. Pushing past a barrier. Letting someone in.

I think this all becomes the sort of evidence you could place on the table of a court room. If the evidence was good enough– strong enough, recorded well enough– then a jury would be convinced of whether or not a person chose to fight for you.

A, I don’t know you. You don’t fully know me. And I am sorry if I ever made it seem like I was hearing God audibly all the time. There have been times when I have that undeniable push in my gut and times when I have felt a whisper. But at the end of the each day, I am just left to account for and record the evidence of when I felt like God had fought for me. When I felt like he stepped out on a limb to get to me. When, even in my suffering, he surrounded me with people to lean into.

I, too, have screamed up at God and asked him why he would allow something like “this” to happen. But I already know the answer: if I was a whole person, if I wasn’t someone prone to suffering and falling out of my own faith, I would not need God and I would not need people.

And why create us– why even be here– if we don’t need one another to push into tomorrow?

A, whatever you chose to do, I am proud of you. I think you made the right choice and I am usually, always, the advocate for taking the route which makes you feel like you are going to vomit. It’s not the easy way but it makes you feel alive.

I think God wants that too. I think he wants us to make choices and feel alive– as opposed to dead and exhausted by this world– at the end of the day. I think he wants us to open up our eyes to the little moments and find a way to treasure those.

Not every moment with God comes with a prom-posal. It just doesn’t. It doesn’t always come with a whisper either. Sometimes there are just moments where you feel okay. Or you feel at peace. Or you whisper to someone holding your heart, “I don’t have all the answers.” And it’s a safe place when you both can agree that there are no answers pulling one of you ahead of the other to win this race faster.

This is not a race. This is not a fight for fireworks or whispers. This life is just a collection of evidence that a fight took place, if you ask me.

You won’t hear him all the time. You might not see him everyday. But please still look for the evidence. You still standing here, somehow making it, is good evidence to start with.

tying you closer than most,


The rain you can’t control.


Today is Sabbath and I am trying, with everything in my being, to walk it out.

I’m not a Sabbath type of girl. If I am not hustling then I really don’t know what to be doing. I spent the first 5 years of my career being allergic to the concept of rest. I first started to see this as a budding problem when I really didn’t have anything to talk about besides work. More than that, I started to see that work was a cover-up for me. A safety zone. Something I could hide behind to keep people from getting too close.

2015 has been a year where I have come at my ugly roots with a weed wacker. And, as a result, I’ve been learning to rest. And break. And figure out what makes me happy.

So today Sabbath looks like me wrapped in my favorite reliable flannel (though the thermometer is sweating at nearly 90 degrees), sipping tea on my countertop, and writing words without a word count to aim for. To me, this is space is not work. It’s life-giving.

I’ve always prayed to God about this little corner of the internet, “God, don’t make this space one where I need to perform. Let it be a place where you are louder, I am smaller, and, through this language, people realize they’re capable. More than capable… brave.” He has kept me at my word.

He has let me come here, day after day, and not worry about metrics or reader stats or ads. Just the practice of writing.

I get a lot of emails from people asking about my writing process. What it looks like. How long it lasts. How I know when I am finished with something. Mind you, you’re hearing from a girl who used to (and sometimes still does) apply rules to everything. Ask me these sorts of question three years ago and I would have only given you a polished answer. That’s all I gave people for a long time: really polished things.

Now my answer to the “writing process” questions can be summed up fast: write a ton of words. When you feel like it. When you don’t feel like it. ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it. When you are hormonal. When you are sad. When you are heartbroken. And after first dates. And always after the moments where you find yourself pausing and saying, “I really don’t want to forget this.” Write those moments down. You will forget.

Don’t just write a ton of words. Write a ton of crappy words. Write letters of closure to old boyfriends. Rewrite the Psalms in your own language. Do whatever you can to make the words come out.

I used to believe in Writer’s Block because it gave me a really good excuse to not be writing. You can tell anyone, anywhere, that you have Writer’s Block and they will understand. They will nod their head and agree with you.

There is no blockage, friend. The “block” that writers talk about does not exist. At the very least, the writing process is like learning how to drive a standard vehicle. There is a great deal of preparation before you even start moving. Once you do start moving, you are likely to stall out. A lot. But, with every stall, there is a chance to restart the engine and try again. Eventually you will get to first gear. And then second. And then third. You’ll be cruising.

I am willing to bet that not many stall out and then decide not to restart the engine until 6 weeks later when they feel inspired to try again. You restart the engine because there is a place to go. You stall out and you keep going.

The same practice of determination should be applied to writing: you stall out and you keep going. You stall out and you pick up the pen again because there is a place to go. The day you stop seeing your words are created to transport someone somewhere else, you might as well quit.

At the center of every writing day for me, there is an hour I spend walking. It’s arguably my most productive writing hour of the day and I write nothing down within it.

I leave my phone behind. I bring no distractions with me. I give myself a purpose in that one hour: drop off the mail at the Post Office. I could easily drive to the Post Office but something happens as I walk. I think. I write things in my head. My brain has a chance to breathe and detach from the empty space of a word document. The pressure to always know what comes next. 

The walk to the Post Office is 1.6 miles. I weave around the neighborhood after I drop off the mail. That’s an extra mile. And then I walk back. In total, I am walking at least 4 miles a day.

My route is usually always the same. I trot down Metropolitan. I snake up Eastside. I stop by to see my friends at Brother Moto. I greet the homeless on their benches along Glenwood. I visit my old house on Blake. I pass by Newton and shoot up Van Epps. 

Three days ago, I was walking and about to turn down the road that would get me home the quickest. Clouds were forming. I could tell it was going to rain. But something inside of me told me to keep walking. I felt it coming on strong, “Keep going.”

I thought to myself, I don’t know the way if I keep going. It’s not a route I am familiar with. But I listen– because I believe in hunches and gut feelings– and I keep going.

I bob down connecting streets for a while, really unsure of where I am. The clouds are still collecting and it begins to sprinkle. I keep walking because I have no other option. I don’t have a phone. I have to trust that I will figure it out. I will find my way.

Eventually, and pretty quickly, it is pouring. The rain is coming down hard, and harder, and harder. I am drenched. And it occurs to me that this is probably one of the first times I have involuntarily gotten caught in the rain. We talk about dancing in the rain all the damn time but every time I have danced in the rain, it was because I wanted to. Because I planned it way to feel the spontaneity in my lungs.

I’ve never been placed in this spot before where I must keep walking, and I must keep going through the rain, because I have no other choice. All that surrounds me is the houses of people I don’t know. The trees can’t shield from this kind of rain. This is the hard rain.

You and I both probably thought this would be a piece on writing and it turns out that the real superstar of the day is rain.

Rain. The rain you can’t control. Just one of the things you cannot control in a world where we love to be dictators to whatever our hands get to hold. In that moment, I felt the freedom of having no control. No direction. No GPS to bring me home, just the assurance in my gut that I would get home eventually.

I would be soaked. I would be muddy. But I would eventually get home because, after all, it was my gut that told me to keep going in the first place.

Keep going and moving and pushing into the places where you don’t know the way, it said.

If you always knew the way, if you always knew the words that would come out of you when the pen hit the page, then where would spontaneity and grace and failure and dependency get their runway? If you want spontaneity, you must give it a catwalk. If you want something new to happen, you must sacrifice the maps. If you want real direction, you must let go of the thing inside of you that knows it would take all the credit when you finally found your way. Pride isn’t a canteen meant to fuel you as you go, it’s a journey killer. Pride will dehydrate you. It will take you down.

When I finally get home, sopping wet but skin glowing, I take no credit. I feel lighter knowing that it wasn’t my control– my need for everything to be polished– that brought me back to my door. It’s never the control, it’s always the moment you surrender to something else mapping the way.

I stand at the door and I wonder why I worry so much. I always make it home eventually. Even with the rain.

Arguably, there’s never been a time where I got so lost but never found my way. I am always, somehow, found– regardless of how much or how little I try to control the journey leading up to that point.

I don’t remember when I turned left or when I turned right. The details fall away quickly.

I only remember that thing in my gut as I wash the rain my hair, that thing in my gut that pulled me when it said, “Keep going, even when you don’t know the way.”

photo cred.

Stripping down.

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 11.12.00 PM

It’s Friday night and I’ve been curled up on my countertop for the last four hours researching minimalist blogs.

Minimalists fascinate me and my roommate is out on a date. My best friend and I sat on the couch and waited for her to be picked up just a few hours ago. We watched the guy show up at the front door. I definitely creeped him out when I told my roommate I would be spooning my boyfriend, Jesus, when she got home tonight. Because that’s the advice people give you after a breakup: date Jesus.

I just want to be completely honest and say that I have never understood that sentiment. I’ve really tried to be on board with the idea of dating the elusive savior but I don’t know how you a) date someone you can’t touch b) date someone who has a Holy Spirit sidekick/counterpart and c) ever get over the fact that your boyfriend took away the sins of the world. You’re never going to be the impressive one in that relationship. You’ll always be dating up. Out of your league. Maybe that’s the point?

Either way, I’ve never been able to tell someone I was just taking the time to date Jesus. To this day, Jesus and I have not dated. Not yet.
All that was really to say this: I told my roommate that by the time she came home tonight I would officially be a minimalist blogger.

As she got ready for her date I’d rattled on to her about how I was going to create an anonymous blog on minimalism so I could write mysteriously like Gossip Girl about the need to clear excess out of my life. For approximately two hours I had plans to pour myself into this new blog for the rest of my career and go by name of “Mini.” I was pretty certain this was my calling– the reason God put me on this good, green earth. I would eventually sell all my belongings and move to a tiny house in the middle of New Mexico. A rugged man would show up at my door and he would, appropriately, also be a minimalist. Forever we would live off the land and blog on occasion about our 16 minimalist children. We would eventually start our own society. There would even be a mayor to make it all legit.

I should comment that, more than being a minimalist, I am a bit of an extremist. My closest friends would tell you that I preach baby steps but I don’t know how to follow them all that well. I am an all-or-nothing sort of girl.

I always want to create something new. I always want to wipe the slate clean. I always want a fresh start. I never thought that could actually harm me more than it helped me.
“Why do you want to be a minimalist?” my best friend asks me. She sits on the couch beside me ordering a Dominoes pizza for herself.

I tell her the truth I know so far. All my life I grew up with a father who never knew how to let things go. He is a hoarder. We make jokes about it but there is a full attic, basement, garage, an old van, two sheds, and a storage unit to prove that he doesn’t really like to let things go. Each is full to the brim with items, I imagine, he thinks he might need to use one day. His mother is also a hoarder. I’ve never once stepped inside of my grandmother’s home but I know it is covered in newspapers, coupon cut-outs, and packets of Saltine crackers.

I’ve never dug deeper with my father on why he chooses to keep everything (absolutely everything) that comes into his orbit but I imagine, if he is anything like his daughter, then he is scared to be left wanting. He is scared to be left needing. He is scared of the moment when he no longer controls the circumstances and so he makes it his agenda to surround himself with things he never has to let go of, at least not on his watch.


“I want to be a minimalist because I am so tired of how I have manage to live,” I tell her. “I always say I’m going to change something and go back to the same habits a week later, whether it’s food or fitness or boundaries. Minimalism is about getting rid of enough things, just enough for you to realize that things were never really the point to begin with.”

For me, it is not even an excess of things. It’s an excess of people. Emotional baggage. I like to be a collector of scars and bruises. I like to be fully stocked with all the ammo I need to always tell a good story. I like to be busy. I love distractions because they keep me from getting too close to myself. I am a hoarder when it comes to fear. My dad might have spaces full of lamps and old coffee tables but I have a heart that is stacked with layers of anxiety that God will give up on me.

I’ve hung around with humans enough to know that we all carry the DNA of control freaks and it just manifests in different ways. For you, it might be things. It might be relationships. It might be a place on the map you’ve worshipped for a little too long. Whatever it is, you’re probably capable of investing your hope in things that don’t hold. I guess you don’t ever think a star on the map or a wardrobe can break your heart the way a human can. Isn’t that what we are all aiming for deep down? A little less heartbreak? A little more safety?


In the last two weeks I have pulled away from social media a lot. I’ve been hyper-sensitive to it. I got my heart broken. I’ve cried a lot. Over the Duggars. And Jared the Subway guy. And Ashley Madison.

But there have been victories too. More victories than heartbreak, I would argue:

I began a Whole30 challenge seven days ago and I am seven days separated from all grains, processed foods, sugars, and alcohol. I feel amazing. I have so much more energy.

I meal-planned the entire week and actually stuck with it.

I handed over the passwords for my social media accounts to my best friends so they could monitor them while I took a step back.

I’ve gotten to step back and ask myself what I feel like doing. The result of that was watching every morbid and crazy documentary that I’ve been wanting to see on Netflix.

I made muffins for people I loved, while frying bacon and eating kale. It was the most “adult” I’ve ever felt to this day.

I used said-muffins to lure a grocery store clerk into the aisle with me and give him a mini lesson on the unnecessary ingredients we are consuming through processed foods (which I learned from a documentary on childhood obesity). I think he was a little terrified of me and told me politely how he didn’t want to know what was in his hotdogs, he just wanted to keep eating them. I have high hopes he will be an advocate one day soon though and he will probably save the food industry.

I am in the thick of a bible study on Daniel and I feel God standing with me in it. Daniel and I have a lot in common– we are both on some ridiculous diet that only lets us eat veggies and we both think the world is pretty jacked-up.
I started a workout group with seven other girls in my neighborhood. We’ve managed to meet six times in the last 10 days.

I filled three bags of clothes to the brim and took them to Goodwill.

I am doing everything and anything I can to wipe out the excess. The baby steps are adding up.

“What should I name my minimalist blog?” I ask her.

“Can’t you just blog about it where you are?”

“No,” I said abruptly. “It can’t bleed into this blog.”

“Why not?” she asked. “It’s you, isn’t it?”

I don’t have an explanation for why I felt like I’ve only been half of myself on this blog lately. I haven’t even written in a few weeks because I have nothing perfect to offer you. You can’t wait on perfection to arrive before you start offering what you’ve got to the world.

So here’s the truth of me for this moment: I am making my life better. I would like to write about it more. I am surrounded by so many amazing people and I am figuring out how to actually kill the rulebook that lived inside of me like a compass for so long. I am trying to really dance it out with God instead of some rigid slow dance where I pretend that everything feels intimate to anyone who asks me. I think you need my honesty, and I need yours, more than we need a perfectly polished blog post on grace or whatever.

Grace, I am learning, is seeing whatever mess I am standing in right now and then forgiving myself for not being perfect within it. It’s figuring out how to be okay with mess. How to clean up the mess so it doesn’t come right back. How to break habits. How to actually, really, finally build that life I want.

This world is full of so much “fake” and “getting by”- I want to be real and okay. Real and way better than okay.

“I don’t think you need to create another blog. You have a place to write already,” my best friend says to me. “It’s easier to start something new, to start all over again.

It’s harder, but better, to redefine what is already there.”

Take me to church.

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 7.49.38 PM

Last night I attended the church of the kitchen floor.

It was me and a handful of my girlfriends all curled up into one another. The episode of the “Bachelor in Paradise” stood paused in the background. We had managed to move 6 or 7 boulders out-of-the-way before we even pressed “play.”

Admittedly, this is why we have gathered for the last year. We have gathered— all thirteen of us— every Monday to watch girls and guys pass out roses. It’s cheap television but we’re still hopeless romantics. We laugh. We crack jokes. We let no other occasions touch Monday nights on the calendar. This is sacred— not because of the roses, but because of the community it took us two seasons to build.

We built community after every episode. Between every commercial break. Within every group text. And now, a year later, we gather on Mondays for one another. We wear sweatpants and we don’t bother putting on makeup if the day wiped it off. We are unapologetic when we get to one another and we are ready to admit bruises from the last seven days. Sometimes nothing heavy happens beyond a few guys getting sent home in a limo. And then sometimes church spontaneously combusts on the kitchen floor.

It’s a beautiful and hard thing when you are able to look around from grief-stricken face to grief-stricken face and realize that this is church. This stuff is church. At the end of a Monday that has sucker-punched us and won, we are a bundle of questions. We are a thread of unanswered beings. We are anger. We are misunderstanding. We are resentful. We are pained. We are wanting someone to drive home. We are hoping someone else will come back to life.

We’ve invited God into this place on the kitchen floor. We are reading promises from Isaiah with tired voices. And this is church. This is the church I can attend without feeling like I need all the answers and all the perfect things to say within a world that is hard. Often too hard to stand inside of without falling to the kitchen floor.

I am a regular attendee of the church of the kitchen floor. Admittedly, I sometimes sit there more than I sit in pews.

Monday beat me yesterday.

It wore boxing gloves and it managed to ravage my insides before noon.

I worked as much as I could. I went home. I sat wrapped in a sunshine-yellow blanket, crying to my mother, and read pretty words on grace. I wondered if my heart had fallen from my chest in traffic and I would have to go search around East Atlanta Village for whatever was left of my left ventricle. I ate french fries that I wished would grow arms long enough to wrap me in tight and spoon me.

My mother is 16 hours away from me. But she is still the constant I’ve needed her to be. She waits. She lets me bellow. She lets me curse about adulthood. She answers me simply, “Less words, more work.”

That’s what she tells me: less words, more work. Cry your tears, pick yourself up, and go back to work. She isn’t talking about spreadsheets. She isn’t talking about articles. She means the kind of work that is expected (but not actually acted out by all humans): the work of being Jesus to people. The work of being the church.

This is why I love my mother. One of many reasons. She is never going to preach Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at me. She’s going to remind me, “If God breaks your heart then hallelujah. Hallelujah— you’re finally relatable and not so puffed with your own pride that you miss the others.”

Just a day earlier I agreed to participate in a survey about the Western church.

The qualitative research nerd inside of me swooned. My undergraduate years were crammed full with research. I was ready for this person’s questions up until I wasn’t.

With a microphone dangling next to my lips, I didn’t have nearly the amount of answers about church that I thought I would have.

I’m sure the individual conducting the survey meant well but the questions asked were invasive. They were blunt. They carried an agenda that I could not quite put my finger on. They pried into dark rooms. I would argue that half of the questions had very little to do with church and maybe that’s what they were going for. I don’t really know.

But when it was over, when they stopped recording the conversation, all I could do was get into my car and weep as the lights turned red and green all the way to the Westside.

I cried out in pain, screaming “what the hell” prayer on God over and over again. What the hell. What. The. Hell. What. The. Hell.

Anne Lamott believes there are three essential prayers out there:

“Help,” “Thanks,” and “Wow.”

I’d add one more: “What the hell.”


“Why?” Better yet, “I can’t even.”

I feel like I could pray the “I can’t even” prayer seven times before dinner.

There are so many instances in the world today that permit the “what the hell” prayer to be used. It’s my way of saying to God and the ceiling, “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t know what’s the point. The point of this pain. The point of our ignorance. The news we watch. The cruel things we do.  I can’t even, sweet Jesus. What the hell do you want me to do?”

God is big. I think he can handle the moments when all I want to do is scream and cry and sniffle and say, “God, if you orchestrate apologies then I hope you are planning a big one.”

My doctrine doesn’t say that God apologizes. My doctrine has a lot of questions that leave themselves unanswered. And where I think it all goes wrong? When we start looking for answers more than we sit in the questions— and all the grey of them— with others.

I don’t care how much black and white data you want to gather, life starts when you can no longer fill the grey area of someone’s pain with your faulty existence.

Maybe that person will get all the data they need but I see too many broken hearts on a daily basis, too many people already bruised by church, to know that tactful answers to the culture’s questions won’t help or heal a soul.

If someone you love dies, you are never going to thread through your issues on abortion to make it better in that moment.

If someone you love leaves the family without a note, you are never going to need a debate of sexuality and the church to mend your heart.

The church was made for the broken-hearted.

The church was made for the ones of us with different questions: How do you put your faith in God? How do you pray? How do you know God is even here? Or good? I need a church that teaches me to say, even when I don’t fully believe it, “And if not, God, you are still good.” If not, you are still good.

If you take this away from me, I will still follow you.

If people beat me down, I will still follow you.

If I am left broken and broke, single and alone for the rest of my life, I will still follow you.

Teach me how to follow something— when life kicks me to my knees and makes me cry out “what the hell”— and I will actually stay. Teach me how to follow, and I will stay and figure out how to be your light.

The year is 2015-

We have enough questions and angry Facebook rants. Enough anger. Enough pain. The media is full of wanting the church to answer questions. We all get a little cray with our megaphones and character counts. And I rarely ever speak up but I have to say this- the God of the Bible didn’t grill people on their political stances. The Jesus of the Bible didn’t sit and wait for someone to sit and hash out their sins to a jury of their peers. The Jesus I read about had one simple question and one command to follow it:

Do you love me?

He asked that three times to Simon Peter.

Do you love me?

Not, are you perfect? Do you never sin? What is your view on sex outside of marriage? What is your view on homosexuality?

These questions will never lead us into an answer that can actually help a hurting world where people feel scared and unsafe and already not belonging.

Do you love me?

That’s the simplest and question: Do you love me?

And if you love me— if your answer is “yes”— then feed my sheep. That was his command: Feed my sheep. Show up for my people. Listen to their stories. Cry when you need to. Step away when you have to. Give until it hurts. Until it breaks you. Until you think you can’t go on any further. Stay in the mess. Stay in the trenches. Look for the holes. Dig in the deep end.

Feed my sheep. Stay up through the night. Get them breakfast. Meet them at diners. Sit in their questions. Give them your shoulders and your tired arms. You are not the answer. And you cannot save a person from their darkness but please don’t ignore it and act like it does not exist.

Stay up. Wait for them. Just wait. Be a light that is still on when they finally come home.

Everyone comes home eventually.

We’re all just wondering if someone will leave the light on for us when we finally start to find our way back.

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. 

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.”