Thank you for staying. (Probably Part 1)


I have stood on countless amounts of stages and delivered a talk called “Stay.”

The talk is broken up into three sections. Stay Hungry. Stay Small. Stay Here.

I never had an issue with being hungry. I have been hungry for my whole entire existence. I was always the girl who wanted to be used. The girl who wanted to be chosen. I wanted to serve God if it meant he would give me things to do. I remember wanting that before I even had a relationship with God. I remember high school parties. The room spinning. The drunkenness. Me in the corner, just thinking, “God, am I an accident for wanting to do so much and make such a difference when no one else seems to care?”

I never had an issue with being small. I have never puffed myself up to be big. I’ve honestly never believed in myself enough to do that. I’ve spent the latter half of my years not even believing in the worthiness of my own story. I probably need to learn to get a bit bigger. We’ll see.

It’s the staying part– the “staying here” part– that has always been my struggle.

I don’t want to be too hard on myself, I just want to say that staying is really, really, really hard. And I know this because I sat at my favorite coffee shop in Atlanta– the one where the baristas write you little love letters when they serve you drinks– with one of my good friends and we talked about love. And how loving someone and giving your heart to someone is really, really, really hard.

I don’t remember all the words we said but I do remember saying that loving someone is hard because staying is hard. The two correlate. They function within one another. And if you stay, you eventually have to let someone in. If you let someone in, you eventually have to drop the facade. You have to drop the act. You have to unpack your suitcases.

This probably goes deeper. I could probably write a whole book and just call it “Thank You for Staying.”

Thank you for staying.

That’s what I texted to one of my friends during one of the hardest seasons of my life. Thank you for staying. It was simple. It carried weight for me to say it.

And honestly? I used to look at that friend in church before I really knew her and I would  think, “She has it all together. And her life is full. And she would not want to be my friend. And there must be no room for me.”

And while I don’t know which ones of those things are lies, I’ve learned that I have to be really careful with that last one: there must be no room for me.

That’s a damaging lie to staple to yourself: there must be no room for me.

What I am learning lately is that it’s not about the dishes.

It’s never really about the dishes.

I used to live in a community house in the Bronx, New York. I lived with 4 other girls. And “community” is a tough and gritty word that I still don’t really like because it feels too hard and it makes you face yourself pretty honestly (spoiler alert: you won’t always like what you see).

I remember them telling us during the orientation for the program that, at one point, someone would forget to do the dishes (or in my case: I would leave food on the dishes just because I am an inadequate cleaner who is too busy writing love stories in her head). And then someone would neglect to confront the dishes. And then another thing would happen. And then another thing would happen. And eventually, there would be an explosion. And all the little things would come crashing down on top of one another. And you will realize that it all started because of the dishes. Suddenly, it wasn’t about the dishes anymore.

You let it build and build and build, instead of just facing it when it was small.

I think that has a lot to do with the lies we tell ourselves. The fear we tolerate. The things we do or don’t do.

It starts small. And it grows and it grows and it overtakes us when we don’t confront it. It gets hungrier. And hungrier. Until there is a breaking point. Until you’ve convinced yourself that you’re the sum of your fears & the sum of your worries & the sum of your lies– as if each one was written upon your skin in Sharpie marker and people could see everything when they went to shake your hand.

I don’t know how to hash all the lies out just yet.

I am trying. I like to think I am getting better than ever before. But I know that it doesn’t come from moving away from it.

The easy solution in my head is always to move. To go somewhere else. To escape. To get away. And that’s never going to give you a full life– it is going to give you a life of running with a suitcase you can’t seem to put down.

That person I didn’t think would have enough room for me, she stayed.

She prayed. She became a warrior. She reminded me to laugh. She has a full, full life and yet she keeps the doors and windows opens for newcomers who show up tired & empty.

And me? I know I would give everything and the rest of the world to be just like her. To know how to open my windows and open my doors and ask people to come in, saying, “Hey, I know you’re tired. I know you’re stressed. And I want you to stay. I want you to stay and undo the latches on that suitcase and take out everything and put it away. Put the things away for good.

I am going to make some tea. We are going to talk. And you are finally, finally going to stay.

And you are going to fight. There is enough room for you.”

21 thoughts on “Thank you for staying. (Probably Part 1)

  1. Here’s to having the courage & self worth to stay. And to help others to know there is room for them in your heart, life, soul for them to stay too.
    Hugs to you Hannah. And thank you.
    I just shared a piece last night in DC called Exit as Entrance. theme was Exit Strategy. I chose to re-frame and focus on every Exit as a point of Entry. Reminding ourselves that our wounds are places for the light to shine out & light the path for another. Thank you for so willingly sharing your wounds and providing light.

  2. I always called it “running” in my mind. I had to keep running. To keep going. Never letting anyone in. It’s hard to stop too. I hit a point in my life where I realized “running” was all that was standing between the life I had and the life I wanted. And then the decision became easy – you have to let go of the girl you were and become the girl you want to be. It’s a decision you make every day and it gets easier. It’s worth the fight! Thank you for the beautiful words, HB!

  3. read your post, then read your “about me” part. of course you’re a TED person. I’m obsessed. I loved this post, and i really needed it- i’ve been dripping evil words from my mouth for months about my home and wanting to leave. Leaving entailed leaving my problems and mean hurtful people behind me, as if that’s how it works. I’m glad you said you struggle with this as well. It helps me feel more “normal” about the fact that i’m a giant flight risk when it comes to love and all things living. Being hurt again is never something anyone wants to open themselves up to. But, I think you’re right. It’s important to stay.

    Thank you for your words. You’re a blessing.

  4. You are so insightful and this post was literally an answer to prayer. I asked God to use you to articulate something that I could not. As usual, you came through!! You are being used by God in a mighty way!! Prayers and blessings!!

  5. Hannah, that paragraph you wrote: “I don’t remember all the words we said but I do remember saying that loving someone is hard because staying is hard. The two correlate. They function within one another. And if you stay, you eventually have to let someone in. If you let someone in, you eventually have to drop the facade. You have to drop the act. You have to unpack your suitcases.”I’m going through that exact ear right now…the fear of opening up to someone, of staying, of unpacking my suitcases. Thank you for putting that into words….it’s nice to put words to the feeling – it somehow makes it less scary.

  6. Brilliant Hannah, you really came through with this one. Thanks for writing, your words always ring true. 🙂 I don’t know you but I feel that you are genuine. Thanks again for bringing honesty to the page. 😉

  7. This piece really hit home in so many ways. I felt as if I was reading about myself. When I get mired down I so want to run. To get somewhere else where nobody knows me. thank you for this.. I just happened to read it at a time when it really struck my heart.

  8. i saw this entry a little while back on my reader… but i haven’t gotten a chance to read it until now… and i think it was the universe’s way of telling me that it was time for me to read it.

    and it was. reading this at this moment of time was what i needed the most. because this… this is exactly what i’ve been going through:

    I don’t remember all the words we said but I do remember saying that loving someone is hard because staying is hard. The two correlate. They function within one another. And if you stay, you eventually have to let someone in. If you let someone in, you eventually have to drop the facade. You have to drop the act. You have to unpack your suitcases.

    …so thank you.

  9. Thanks for staying. There’s room for you. I just wrote a ten page paper for seminary about young adult ministry and how this quote models what young adult ministry is about. Thank you for your blog, thanks for telling us all we are not alone, but most importantly, thanks for creating something that tells people it’s okay to be afraid and stay. Sending love!

  10. I believe you are so utterly profound in the way you urge people to relive themselves of the fears that are commonly had. Your heart is always in your writing, and I admire that. I agree with your argument that we have such a distaste for staying to fight wars that seem unbelievable difficult, and we think we are inadequate to ever be able to win them, let alone just barrel through. We push ourselves down to be even smaller than just small, to be merely a whisper of the adequate smallness we should love to be. I think sometimes we are so desperately grateful and shocked when people simply stay with us, and do not barricade us from their lives simply because we may be leaking a little differently than them, but in reality, we should not think of ourselves as such beings to be overlooked and tossed out so frequently, that when someone does the opposite, we are stand in awe. So thank you, for staying, and letting me know that we don’t have to be shocked when someone does. We should not necessarily expect it, but just be okay with it when it happens.

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