I need you to lean left.


I have not written.

No, not recently.

The excuse is that I am busy. My calendar– my alibi. But that’s just a lie to mask the real reason: I am resisting. I have been resisting for a really long time. Because that is sometimes what we do when we love something so much that we are fully aware it could double back to hurt us– we resist it. Because it changes us. And we are afraid to change.

Me, especially.

I want everything to stay the same. I want the same barista. He should never think to pack his bag and move to Nashville. I want the same mug. The same seat. The same moments played on repeat so we can always do this dance of familiarity.

I am afraid of people leaving. There, I said it. I am afraid of people being taken from me. I want to always believe we will make it out of this thing together. I know that won’t always be the case and that hurts like hell. Changing hurts like hell. When people change, they get thirsty for new things. What if you stop being thirsty for me?

I read an Instagram post from 18 weeks ago tonight.

I know I am not the only girl who has ever laid in her bed, wrapped in a sunshine-yellow blanket, and scrolled through pictures that made up the fragments of yesterday. I read the caption and I started to cry because I didn’t remember praying such a bold prayer in the window of my favorite coffee shop as notebooks full of Charles Spurgeon quotes lay open on the countertop. I prayed to God with an ultimatum underneath my breath: I only want love if it has more layers for me. I don’t want emptiness. I don’t want something tha keeps me full for five minutes. But I don’t want to front it. I don’t want to fake it, either. If you’re real, then be real. Wash over me. Wreck me. Make me feel weak and woozy. I only want this thing if it is real. I only want love if its the kind of love I can go ahead and stop trying to understand. Make this dance too exhausting for me that all I can do, in my own strength, is step on your toes and let you lead.

I prayed that prayer 18 weeks ago. And then my life broke. A week later, my life broke and I still lack the words to say anything more than just that. One day we will talk about it. Maybe one day.

My life broke and I am only starting to see now that God wasn’t being a dictator, he was answering a prayer. He was answering the prayer of a girl who pleaded to know if love was real, if she could actually trust love to be real.

And as I stretched and broke to figure out love, I stopped writing. I just put the pen down. I walked away from writing when I couldn’t walk away from God. It was my last shred of resistance towards him. That last way of saying, “You have me in a corner. You have me pinned to the ground. And I will withhold my favorite gift you’ve given me if it means I have a last sliver of a chance to stay the dark.”

Staying in the dark is easy because it’s a hell you can control.

It takes changing to get out of it.

And changing is its own private hell until you realize the truth: one day it won’t hurt like this anymore.


So I realize that writing is a lot like God.

Both are sacred. Both give you life. Both will wreck you once you realize they were never here to keep you fragile. Both will free you, when you are ready to be free.

Not when you “hope” to be. Not when you “want” to be. No, when you are “ready” to be free. When you stop resisting the page and you heed to the process. You break to the process. You let go and whisper beneath your breath, “I let go. I believe we’re going somewhere better than here. So I finally let go.”

The fog clears. And suddenly I see the truth in God: it’s like everyday he stands in a crowded room waiting to lock eyes with me. Like a dance floor the moment a slow song hits it, I search for other partners frantically. I don’t want to be left standing alone. I search for the partners who I know will let me down so I can cry to my best friends while knowing I expected to be let down all along.

That’s how you stay guarded and resistant– you only let near the ones who won’t stand too long at the lock before they get tired of fumbling with the keys.

And then there is God. And if he is the God of the bible then he never takes his eyes off of you. They don’t wander. They don’t stray. He watches you because he is wild about you.

He likes the drama you bring into daily life. The unruliness of your hair. He digs the freckles you’d prefer to hide. He doesn’t mind the chipped nail polish. He knows that a lot of parts of you are chipped. And that’s because he knows you are human and “human” is just another word for “lovely, messy and trying.”

He is not phased by you. He is not surprised by your darkness. He does not get bored or exasperated or want for something more beautiful to look at. You’re it. You’re just it. He looks at you and sees poetry, not a mistake.

He aches to be trusted. He sees a whole new life for you just standing and waiting on the other side of “trusting you won’t be hurt when you finally surrender.”

We need more chapter books on trust.

Trust & God. God & Trust. In God, we trust. All that jazz.

We need chapters on trust edited, rewritten, and tattooed on our skin. Because trust is hard. And we don’t all trust God and people. We claim to and then we let our actions tell stories about something opposite of that.

Even just yesterday, I was standing in a circle of boys with beards and grease on their jeans. I’ve been hanging out in a motorcycle shop most nights after work. Last night was one of those nights.

“Come on,” one of the guys said to me. “We are going for a ride.”

He hands me a helmet. I tell him it’s not really my thing. He ignores me and waits for me to put the helmet on and climb onto the back of his bike. I do. Eventually, I do.

Soon we are riding. I am holding on tight. I am releasing fearful words from my mouth. Every word is just so fearful that I cringe to think I don’t know how to talk any differently about life and the adventure of it all.

“We are going to turn left,” he says to me. “And when we turn left, I need you to lean left. Okay?”

I am worried he will mess it up. I am worried we will go down and get battered. I am worried that we won’t make the turn. He will let me down. I will have had all the right reasons to be so afraid.

Regardless of if I am ready, we turn left.

He leans. I lean.

We make it.

Again, we turn left.

He leans. I lean.

My grip loosens. We are in a straight away and I raise up one hand in the air to let the wind trickle through my fingers. I laugh for the first time in a really long time. We go over a speed bump and I don’t flinch. After the third or fourth bump, I stop noticing the rise we get in the air.

I realize in that moment, with the night and the engine roaring loudly, that if I ever want to enjoy this journey then I am going to need to learn how to trust. How to let go. How to admit that I am not in control. I am not the driver, I am just the one who leans left.

So I loosen up the grip and just trust we are going to make it.

I need not be afraid to lean.

We are going to make that left turn.

We are going to make it.

35 thoughts on “I need you to lean left.

  1. wow! the wait was worth it, you brought back memories of my first ride trusting the driver trusting me…you captured your experience superbly…all the best to you and thank you for sharing, you helped me relive a most loved yet forgotten time of my life.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I’ve recently realized (admitted?) that I have trust issues. With people. With God. Fear that they’re using me, rejecting me, leaving me. That sort of thing. And I’m just starting on this journey of practicing trust, not just claiming trust. So this read was encouraging. Here’s to leaning left with you….hang on, here we go!

  3. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. It’s always so funny when I realize a so-called disaster is an answered prayer. Thank you so much for this. Thank you so much for every post.

  4. I need a friend like you in my life Hannah. Please write to me.. pray for me.. keep inspiring all of us. Love,

    Incheng Nunez 4426 Merced Ave Baldwin Park, CA 91706

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. I don’t know you, but your words make me feel like I do. And sometimes, I don’t read your emails on purpose. I find that sometimes I read the headlines and they call to me and I have to read them right now and other times I just mark them as unread and go about my day because right now isn’t the time I’m supposed to read those words. I just read this email from a few days ago. It’s 10:07 p.m. on a Saturday night and I’m drinking wine, trying to take the edge off because I released a new book on Thursday and it isn’t doing as well as I had hoped, and I feel terribly behind as I try to balance my full time job, grad school, my marriage and being an author. And I decided right now was the time I was supposed to read this.

    I have a strange relationship with God. I believe something is there. I believe in a higher power. But I struggle to believe that it isn’t me that controls my destiny. To your very point, I don’t trust. But, that isn’t why we’re here.

    I was reading along and then I came to you saying you’ve been hanging out in a motorcycle shop lately and I laughed out loud, because of course you would. You don’t give yourself enough credit for your adventurous spirit and yet you are hanging out in a bike shop. I grew up on the back of motorcycles, both my parents had one, and your story resonated so deeply. There are so many things that can go wrong in that split second, but at the same time, it can all go right. The wind and the sun, the freedom and the solitude. All of it is right and real and reconnects you to this place inside yourself. My dad is the only person I trust when it comes to being on a bike and all I’ve wanted for years is to have him take me out again. To feel that small and connected to vastness of everything that surrounds us. I’ll see him this weekend and I’m going to finally ask for that ride, because I should. Because my soul is calling for it. I’m sitting here with tears pricking my eyes as I push them down, just for telling the story of how much I need that time with dad on the back of a bike.

    I imagine you get a lot of these rambling notes, from people you’ve never met and may never meet. Know this though…I’m reading your book (and loving it) and read every email you send, and more often than not, you touch my soul in one way or another. You have a beautiful heart and I hope you never stop showing it to the world because we need more brave souls like yours.

    Much love, Stormy


  6. I’ve gathered from your emails that something major has shifted the tectonic plates of your life recently. Glad to have you back. I love your words here and hope you ride on with courage and hope, leaning into God.

  7. The end of this post was needed so much in my life right now. I needed to hear it. I needed to be told again and again to let go and learn to trust. Learn that it will be okay if I give up some of the control and have faith that others will help me along the way. Hannah, you write so beautifully and every post has me wanting more. Thank you for understanding me even when I cannot understand myself.

  8. Hannah, you have such a talent for writing exactly what I need to hear, right when I need to hear it. Thank you 🙂

  9. Hannah, beautiful as always. I just finished If You Find This Letter and loved it. I’ve written about it on my blog. You have to keep writing, it is a gift to the world. Thank you! xo I don’t write like you do, but I am an artist and that is how I convey my thoughts and feelings. I’ve paired one of my pieces with the review of your book because they match so beautifully. Have a wonderful day!

  10. Beautifully written as always, Hannah. I just finished reading your memoir and have written a review over at my blog. I may not be able to express my thoughts and feelings in words as well as you do, but I am able to express them with art. I have paired one of my pieces with your review because they seem to fit so well together. I’m encouraging everyone to go out and get the book! Thanks for all you do. xo

  11. Dear Hannah,
    Your words always move me. Always inspire me. Always force me to dig deeper into this life I only ever want to brush the surface of. But today your words moved me in a different way. Yes, I still found fragments of my heart within them. Littered throughout the paragraphs, I find glimpses of my soul.
    But today, what moved me the most was a strange sense of pride.

    I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you because talking about God was something you never wanted to do, and you’ve done it. I’ve found Him sprinkled throughout the years of posts, even before you stepped up and said, “I love Jesus and I’m not ashamed.” But this one was different than any others. This is the one where you really claimed it. Where you told the whole world how Jesus works in your life. Where you told the world how they should let Jesus work in their lives.

    And I just want you to know, for whatever it’s worth, that I’m insanely proud of the courage it took for you to write this post and press the publish button. And I’m pretty sure God grins so wide every time He thinks of this post, because He’s pretty proud of you too.

    Just thought you should know that.

  12. I always read your words when I need to hear them the most. Your writing is amazing and I pray you never stop for good! You bring so much light into the world, and for me it always shines at the right time.

  13. As I read this post, I am aware that I am not brave enough to pray this prayer. While I ache with the same longing to know if love is real, I am scared of the ‘Hannah’ experience. Then I wonder if I am putting God in a box thinking He will make your unique experience with Him, mine. Thanks for sharing this…

  14. Reblogged this on How do I grow up? and commented:
    This is perfection:
    “Staying in the dark is easy because it’s a hell you can control.

    It takes changing to get out of it.

    And changing is its own private hell until you realize the truth: one day it won’t hurt like this anymore.”

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