This is just the night talking.


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I just want to be truthful with you.

On this quiet Tuesday night, I want nothing more than to just sit here— my fingers curled around a fresh cup of coffee (I am trying to adjust to this whole ‘getting dark early’ thang — and just lay down the truth, as if you and I were the type of people who had been doing this sort of thing for years.

If you ask me how I am doing in this moment, I have to say one word: “Blessed.” Not in some cheesy way. I am blessed. I don’t always feel it in my core but I also think I need to stop giving my feelings so much credit. I am blessed, even if I don’t always feel blessed. The things around me are good. I live in a beautiful city. I have a beautiful, little home. I get to come to my own office space every single day and create around other creatives. I am working on a second book. The holidays are just around the corner.

And I just need a space— a place to be honest— where I can say that I have grown so much in the last few months. Since starting and finishing my first memoir, since moving to a new place, my heart has grown and broken and reassembled itself and been made new. And so much of that is because of you.

I don’t say that to butter you up. I don’t say that to get more readers. I could honestly care less about readers coming back to a page. I don’t even want readers— I just want the kinds of people in my life who’d show up at a diner at 2am and eat pancakes with me if I needed them there. Are you one of those? Tell me, for real: blueberry or chocolate chip?

I have had the utmost pleasure for the last few years to get to know people all over the world.

It’s like a secret second life I don’t talk about that often but, if you get me going, I will never shut up about it. Ever since I wrote a blog post on October 10, 2010– saying I would write to anyone who needed a love letter– my life has never looked the same. My inbox stopped being an inbox and it became a place to find your stories & triumphs & heartbreaks & songs sitting and waiting for me every single day. I don’t say it often enough but that is my favorite part of this whole thing— getting to read you and know all about you. I seriously gush about you to all the people who circle in my circles. I can’t get enough of the things you tell me. I am strangely (and lamely) like a proud grandmother to all the little victories you drop into my inbox. You email me after first dates. You email me with successful (and terrifying) Tinder stories. You tell me about your broken hearts. I read every word because I know you are out there– you are out there. And even if I can’t see you or sit beside you, I have to be real: I’d give anything to see you if you needed to be seen. My god, I really hope someone sees you tonight.

You know, just to crack my heart open a little further, I got an email a couple of months ago from a girl who told me, flat-out, that she hated me. “I hate you sometimes,” she wrote. “And no, I am not going to choose prettier words the way you always manage to do. It’s my sheer, plain, simple truth: I hate you sometimes.” She hated my fonts. And she hated my references to coffee. More than anything, she hated that I wasn’t real. That she only could get virtual shred of me. She thought I was fake for that reason, that I claimed to see people even though I could not “see” them. There was just so much hatred spewing from her words.

I wrote back to her nearly immediately. I told her she was a really beautiful writer. She had fire inside of her. She should use those words for good because that’s our biggest problem today: we know words have the power to wreck people and we all want the power to be a wrecking ball to someone other than ourselves sometimes. 

I told her what I ache to tell you everyday, face-to-face: I do the best I can with what I’ve been given. And I do my best to show up for people. And I mean every single word that I write in a way that it actually makes me chest hurt because it feels like something is falling out of me. I can’t sit here and try to make you believe that but I would not be doing this if I didn’t feel the dull ache every single day. I feel it. And I know the emptiness. And I just want to do something that counts. And so I take the people God has given me, and I take the blog space I have, and I take the pages before me, and I try to make something beautiful every single day. And I fail myself sometimes. And I don’t feel like I’ve made the mark every single day. But I try.

But she was right, I wanted to tumble so hard into her life. But I couldn’t. I can’t. I want to be everything to everyone– but I can’t be. And if I always try to be, then I will miss the chance to be something to someone. I will miss the sacred chances to be “someone” to just a few. 

You might think it’s silly but I have read thousands of emails — thousands upon thousands.

They are all the proof in the world I need to just stand here in my corner office in Atlanta and tell you what I really think about you: I think you’re brave. I think you’re cooler than you give yourself credit for. I think you’ve been through a lot and you try to play it off like it’s not that big of a deal. It’s a big deal. And hey, it’s okay to cry. I cry about 16,000 times a day. I play this specific commercial to make myself cry. I have a whole folder on my desktop entitled “For when you need to weep, babycakes.” You don’t ever have to be ashamed of crying.

I think you carry around these broken pieces of yourself for too long sometimes. I mean, who doesn’t? And I think some of you are afraid to let someone really wonderful in. Someone who could shake up your entire existence and that scares the living snot out of you. Because changing seems scary. And love seems scary. But fear is not a driver. No, fear cannot sit in the driver seat when it comes to your life. That’s not fair to the parts of you that have always deserved joy & good things & that strange-somersaults-in-your-stomach feeling when you sit beside someone wonderful.

I think you’re a boss. And a baller. And all these other words that you’ll probably just laugh at but I wish you could see it as truth. One of you emailed me a few months ago and you told me he walked away last Tuesday and you feel like the strength came back on Sunday. And another person emailed just to follow up and say, “I beat it. I really beat it.” And cheers to you— you beat cancer. You’re amazing. You’re freaking amazing. I am just so honored to be beside you in these moments, even if it is miles and screens and years and life that keeps us from knocking knees beneath the table.

I think and I know and I believe and I see that some of you are stuck. You are stuck inside of this box that other people have constructed for you. You feel trapped. You feel alone. You wish you didn’t check your phone so much. You wish you were really living but life feels like a waiting room more than anything on most days. You don’t realize the power you hold. You don’t see how capable you are. This isn’t some fluffy, juju pep talk, this is just the honest truth:

You. Don’t. Get. To. Do. This. Again. Really and truly. We don’t get to plan things. We don’t get to say when the time is up. And we wait too long to get brave. We wait too long to gather up the threads of our lives and just call them all gold. Because that’s what you have in your hands right now. You are carrying gold. Your struggles. Your insecurities. Your hopes. Your ambitions. The fire that sits inside of you and burns so hot and you think that no one understands it. But I do. I do understand that feeling.

I know that feeling of being unable to sleep at 2am because everything you want to do is rattling inside of your brain and falling out of your chest because you just want to be seen and known and valued and told that you’re worth it. That you could do it if you tried. And I don’t know how to do much more than just cheer you on in that. Because I do believe in you. I believe in you even if we’ve never met. And my reasoning for that is simple:

Once upon a time, I desperately needed someone to look me in the eye and tell me I was golden. I needed them to tell me that I could go out there and I could do amazing things. It would have never mattered to me if it was a loved one or a stranger, I needed to hear it all the same.

So maybe this is for you (and please know that I write this with everything inside of me): I think you can do it. I am betting all of myself on the fact that you can do it. It will take discipline. It will take a devotion you haven’t tapped into just yet. It will take everything inside of you but I know you can do it. I know you can. And I will show up every minute of every day if it takes just that to push you from that same old spot you’ve been standing in for too long. That same spot, where you never move and you never breathe and you never go, is heartbreaking. Your heart is supposed to be broken like bread and passed all around, not left in pieces on the floor.

I met a girl named Sarah a few months ago at a youth conference I spoke at.

I came off the stage to find Sarah waiting for me. And 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 make me feel this way… And I cut last week… And sometimes I don’t think I even want to be here.”

There was this strange sense of awkward insecurity in the way she spoke to me, looking down a lot and fidgeting with her hands, as if she were waiting for me to turn in the other direction and walk away.

Instead, I grabbed her shoulders. I literally pulled her in for a bear hug, of sorts. I drew her in as close as I could. And I just whispered into her ear so that only she and I could hear it, “Sarah, you’re okay. Stop looking for a reason to not be okay. You got up today. You’re right here. You’re okay to me.”

It was this really quiet, grace-filled moment where I was surprised to find I reached out to grab onto her so tightly. And she just broke down into my arms. She was sobbing. And we just sort of rocked back and forth together for a short spell of time. I don’t really know how long we rocked for. I think all the words in the world stopped working for a little while.

And this is the strange part— the really strange part— where I wish, more than anything, that I could just force my arms through this screen and grab you tight. Seriously. I wish that more than anything— that I could just give you enough truth to carry you through this week:

You’re okay. Stop looking for a reason to not be okay. You need to make a step this week. That’s what I need of you— one step. One step that you’ve been afraid to make. One leap that you know is the thing that must come next. I need you to go out there this week and I need you to take that first step.

And then come back to this space and let me know what you did. I want the email. I want the report. I want you to know that someone is in your corner. And, at the very same time, I want you to know you were not made for the corner. It’s time you let that insecurity go.

You’re right here. You. Are. Right. Here. And yes, I know you fight up against the fact that it doesn’t matter, that it wouldn’t really matter if you were gone tomorrow. I think we all fight that sometimes. And I think it would matter. I do think you matter. I think you need to be here now.

hb.

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48 thoughts on “This is just the night talking.

  1. Blueberry chocolate. YOU are Golden. Thank you for pointing out to your readers that they are too. I hear you. I feel you. My heart is so similar to yours. Through Free Hugs and Stories, I do my best to connect, care, counsel and console. To free hearts and souls with hugs and words and smiles. Bless you Hannah. I am reaching out and up to get to the next level with Story. One step at a time. And when the darkness comes (it is slowly creeping in again now telling me I’m not good enough) I am sending it away with peaches. HUGS and ❤ from my heart to yours! Kristin

  2. Hannah,

    Sometimes I forget you’re a human and not just a far-off spectacular instagrammer and writer.

    I’m a sophomore in college. today, in burlington, VT, my RUF (reformed campus ministry) campus minister’s wife and I went on a run. She asked me; Ali, if there was a question you’d want to be asked every day of this week, what would it be? (Hard question, I told her)

    I came up with this: what are you so afraid of, Ali? Why are you so damn afraid?

    I’m thankful for your post. And thankful for her question. Because it gave me a little more clarity as to what it is that’s holding me back. The fear of change and the fear of failure.

    But fear is stupid! It’s made up! Imagine the possibilities that we (you, Hannah. Me, Ali) could do if we trusted in the God of the universe with our WHOLE hearts. Fear wouldn’t have a place, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for being you.

    Ali Gosselin

  3. It hit me right when you said, “I met a girl named Sarah….” I needed to hear this today. I needed to stop looking for a reason to not be okay. Thanks for your encouragement!! And all your words.

  4. Hannah,

    I’ve been wanting to go to Africa for so long now. my heart leaps out of my chest for the opportunity to go to that wonderful place. I just want to see it. I want to hug it. I want to taste it. I want to be with it. for years and years to come.

    and I got approved for the trip today.

    so next summer I am going. I am going and I am going to be brave and I am going to serve God. and I am going to live there. in a village. because that is my dream. that is my passion.

    thank you for telling me I’m golden. Sydnie

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. Sydnie- congratulations! That is such good news! I too feel the tug of Africa calling me, though for now I’m not able to make the trip. Have a wonderful, blessed journey. I hope it’s everything you’ve imagined, and more. Hugs ❤

    2. Hello there! my name is Alma, I am 19 and I am serving at a ministry called Walk in the Light in a village called Haniville and I am using my lunch break to read Hannah’s blog. I am from Southern California and living in Africa for 4 months, and I think you are brave. I think you should come here because you will see brokenness and hunger, sickness and so much pain, but you need to be here and see how tangibly God works here and how present He is. I feel like I am sitting in a corner of the world, but this little corner is not forgotten and I think the world needs more brave people like you, and passionate people like you.

      Love, Alma

  5. Chocolate. I don’t know what the next thing is… but I’m looking for it, and I guess that’s the most important thing at this point, that I have my eyes open and I’m looking for that next right thing. I’ll be sure to let you know when I find it. Thank you as always for your words when they are most needed. you have a gift for that. ❤
    Another Sarah.

  6. I also needed this today. I e-mailed you the other night. I spent 2 hours today playing the piano and then vented for another hour in a letter. Ironically, I ended my night by leaving a love letter in a bookstore. I really needed these words tonight.

  7. Reblogged this on All for Paws Photography and commented:
    Tonight I am cheating, because as a procrastinator I stayed up far too late writing yesterday’s post. I’m re blogging this because it is simply amazing. I am going to print it. And then highlight the hell out of it. And then-then I am going to laminate it and hang it in my office. So many truths in one place…just gave me goosebumps. Brava lady!! Great piece.

  8. Hannah Brencher you have sincerely changed my life with your words… your love and grace comes through my screen, I only wish I could hug youuuu!!! You’re amazing, please never stop! 🙂
    xoxoxo

  9. I love you and your words. Thank you (and that commercial!) For allowing me to cry tonight. I needed you and your words tonight before my head hit the pillow.
    Tomorrow, I learn to walk. I will take my first step. Thank you, Hannah. Xo

  10. Blueberry, girlfriend, blueberry all the way. I’m crazy excited for your book coming out in March, and it’s awesome to hear there’s another one in the works. Thank you for being a fighter. I see it here on your blog, on your social media, on the email list – you really do fight for us. I’m starting to take that to heart, and to believe that I really can fight for myself and all the dear hearts around me. Thanks for sharing your sparks of hope.

  11. oh hannah, your words go straight to my heart every single time and i don’t think there is another page on the internet that has seen my shed so many tears… there might be a day in the future where i won’t cry when i read your posts, but today definitely isn’t that day.
    sometimes i feel as though i lack people like you in my life. i know i have people who care about me– i never have to doubt that, but sometimes i just need to hear it you know. i guess it’s also a reminder for me to remember to tell others how they make me feel and how awesome they are, but i feel selfish tonight. thanks for telling me i’m golden.
    p.s. i’ll take the blueberry pancakes, please.

  12. Hannah, Your words continue to bless. Let us step away from fear that wants to strangle us, get out and reflect the brilliant Light in our own corners powerfully. And may I be so bold to request Banana-Pancakes!
    Greetings from Lubbock, Texas.

  13. Thank you for your words lady // they are a gift to so many. I love your charge to be brave, it’s a word that’s been beating in my heart for a while and finally, finally, I am making strides to find my brave and live it out. For me it’s writing, being brave to share my words. So I started a little diddy I call “the wee spoon”. http://theweespoon.wordpress.com/

    It’s small and so new [infant stages] but it feels so freeing. I just wrote a blog on being brave too – glad to know we are on the same page sister friend // so many of us in this struggle.

    Thank you for the encouragement and love and joy. Keep doing what you do girl. HUGS.

    1. Thank you sweet Hannah<3, I was not even aware that there were tears rolling down my face as I was reading this blog! You always seem to touch me right down to the core! I still need to be brave enough to make some life altering decisions! Love always Marie

  14. I think you’re wonderful. Has anyone ever told you that? I mean, I know that they have. But I think you should be told it at least fifty times a day. You’re so awesome and I love that you love people the way that you do. Keep on keeping it real Hannah! I’m going to be trying my best this week to let a little bit more of Shannan loose and depend a little bit more on God. One step at a time hey? Thanks for being amazing!

    Shannan Millie

    >

  15. Sometimes it’s hard to write in the midst of so many other beautiful voices, but thank you, Hannah. I needed this today. I needed a hug in the midst of a big, lonely world, and I read that in your words. I believe you, and what you do matters. Thanks.

  16. I see myself. I see my friends. I see girls and women everywhere who need to read this. You have challenged me to act and to be more honest. With my friends. With my family. With myself. With God. I am blessed. I am okay. I am enough. Thank you for reminding us of who we really are: women created in the image of God.

    In Love,

    Chiereme

  17. Hi Hannah,

    All I want to say is, thank you. You seem to be a tool of the divine hand. Your words always find me at the right moment, surely that is evidence of the providence of God.

    RoseAnn

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  18. Thankuuuu Hannah! Your words only ever uplift me. I am gonna try cutting these two tasks off my To Do List and this has been pending a good 5 years. I wonder what stops me? The fear of rejection or the fear of failing at it miserably or a bit of both maybe.

  19. Ahhhhh. You are such an inspiration to me! Please for the love of God never stop blogging. Ever. I can read you all day. Literally. I’m so excited for your book. You’re an amazing writer and such an inspiration to me. You need to hear it! You need to hear that everyday. And I really hope you do. I started reading your blogs when I was going through a rough time with my relationship. I honestly believe it was a God thing. He’s always got my back. Love him. I’m glad I read your blog tonight. I go to beauty school. And it’s stressful in all honesty. I’m surrounded by a bunch of girls all day that hate each other. Why!? Why do girls have such a hard time being nice to other girls? I mean, we know how hard it is to be a girl? So why do we make it even harder? It’s very difficult. And this week I’m on the salon floor. Which means I take clients… Which means I can completely mess up and give someone a bald spot, or burn off there hair, or turn it yellow.. Or orange.. And in other words Hannah. I’m completely terrified. I’m so so nervous. But I don’t know.. Your blog once again, entered my life at just the right time. I really really needed to hear that. You’re awesome. So thank you for being so awesome. Praying for you, girl! -Ashley L. 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  20. I’ve been trying to be brave somehow, but I don’t really know how. Life is a constant struggle right now as I am finishing up my senior year in college, stressing over deadlines, and trying to remind myself I’m worthy even when I don’t feel it. I have some fear for the future, not knowing exactly what I want to do or where I will end up. I just want to love people and see them like you do, as you are a constant reminder and encouragement to me to live life. To appreciate it. To notice people, and things, and just love them. And it’s hard. Especially when they don’t seem to love you back. I feel like I am unworthy because I’m undesired–no boyfriend or boys interested in me. I’ve been in love with my best friend Matt since freshman year, and as hard as I try, I just can’t get over him. It’s not so much that I want him for myself at this point, but I really would hate to see him with anyone else. I’ve been hurt so much by his affection towards other girls, and I’m not sure why it kills me so much. It all began with my good friend Samantha who flirted with and was always all over him like no other. Our sophomore year, I was so mean to her that we pushed her away from our friend group. I felt guilty the last few years, regretting the awful way I ignored her because she just stole the attention from everyone–the attention I wanted for myself. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten close to her again as if there never was a time we weren’t friends. I asked God to help me love her, to be kind. And it took a lot. It is taking so much of me, as she has reclaimed the attention of Matt, which I’ve noticed bothers me like no other. Yet, I still invite her to go to dinner with us, study together, and make her tea before class. I fear the change of dynamic that will happen to our friend group, and the relevance I’ll have to my friends later on. I’m trying to be brave as she gets closer to Matt–who I just can’t seem to get over.

    Thanks for letting me share this rambling of words with you. Your words are so encouraging to me, and I just wanted to share this confusion and struggle of mine with someone I felt would listen.

    You, dear Hannah, are a beautiful, strong, and lovely girl. God has shown me so much through you, and I am so incredibly thankful. Thank you so much for sharing your words and your heart with the world. I only hope that I can be bold and brave like you one day.

    Rebecca

  21. Your words always hit me right in the heart. I have never read anyone who has quite that same effect on me. Please please please never stop writing. You are so very gifted and so very wonderful. In a world full of negative, there needs to be more people like you that just let love fall wherever they go.

  22. I used to be a chocolate chip kinda girl but IHOP has these cina stack pancakes that are pancakes that taste like cinnamon buns and they are to die for.

    Hannah…. I’ve been reading your words for months now and…

    You’ve saved me. I can’t think of what else to say but thank you soooo thank you.

    Your words make me cry quite often actually but don’t worry it’s a good thing. It’s cathartic. Makes me feel like I’m not alone and that I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.

    Thank you. Don’t ever stop writing for the love of the universe, don’t stop. ❤️

  23. Hannah!
    I have to admit, I just started reading you tonight.
    A close friend recommended you to me the other night as we sat talking in her room about all the craziness of life. She said she cried every time she read you.
    And tonight, I was sitting in my room pondering life and this intensely intimate moment I had with God last night, and I remembered you.
    I have just read 3 of your blogs and was so captivated I could not stop with just one.
    I do not know you at all but yet I feel like I have known you my whole life…
    What I wouldn’t do to be your friend…

    These posts, especially the one about not being all the things. It was like you were in my head. And I needed to hear every last word. To be reminded one more time that I mattered. That I have some sort of mark on the world. I needed to be reminded that it is okay that I do not meet every expectation every person has of me or that I have of myself. I needed to be reminded that I have time to become that person.

    I have never met you but I can already say confidently that I love you.
    Thank you. And be assured you now have one more friend, all the way here in San Diego. And in that I am sincere. I’m not loose with my words. I am excited for the life God has for you. You are changing lives – one typed word, one coffee date, and one spoken word at a time.
    You have reminded me to start taking time to write again.
    Just… thank you.

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