The Elvis in the room.


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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.

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36 thoughts on “The Elvis in the room.

  1. I love your current posts about God. Not because they are about God but because of how real and honest you are. You are so honest and real about God, struggling and all of it and you are my inspiration! And I see myself filling those holes and I know that God is bigger..

  2. Wow. Thank you for being so transparent. This is exactly what I am going through. Living in NYC and being a Christian is difficult. There are so many distractions to fill holes and spaces. So many guys that love Jesus and are attractive. Thank you for reminding me that I am not crazy (and that we all have girl brain) and that I’m not in it alone.

    xx Trish

    Sent with Good (www.good.com)

  3. Jeremiah’s my kindred soul. A man full of doubts and longings. Trying hard to follow God yet torn up by what that means exactly. So few people are willing to talk about the aspect of faith that is hard, gritty, and tasteless. Thank you, hb. This is beyond brave and beautiful. It’s gold.

  4. So much insight, depth, and truth. Thanks again for wrapping up your thoughts like a gift with ribbons of words for our broken hearts and fear riddled heads.

    It’s a good word, Hannah.

    Keep em’ coming.

  5. hi Hannah

    currently sitting in the sauna of Plourde reading your email aloud with my roommates — as seniors we’ve been reading your stuff for a while and we have a random question for you, where’d you live senior year?!

    ally and roomies

    >

  6. Please, please keep talking about God. As someone who’s still searching for Him, I need your words and they mean a lot to me. Just thought maybe you should know that. Thank you for being brave. 🙂

  7. This. This is a startlingly accurate representation of humanity as a whole. As a guy, my holes are different, but the same variety. Thanks for your honesty, your straightforwardness, your enthusiasm. Our generation needs it- desperately. Reading this makes me think: what if God allows those things around us , the Elvis’s, to remind us that they cannot fulfill us? He lets us experience not being filled by those things in order that he might catch the attention of our hearts- which He desires in a way that far exceeds any thing, or any one, here on earth. So again, thank you.
    Eph. 3:20

  8. This. This is a startlingly accurate representation of humanity as a whole. As a guy, my holes are different, but of the same variety, so this makes total sense. Thank you for your honesty, your straightforwardness, your enthusiasm- our generation needs this message, desperately. Reading this makes me think- what if God allows those ‘Elvis’s in our lives in order that we might realize their unfulfilling nature? He does whatever He can to get the attention of our hearts, which surprisingly are infinitely valuable to Him. Those things turn us away from the world in order that we might long for what is calling out deep within us, it’s part of our design.
    Again, thank you.
    Ephesians 3:20
    – Nathan

  9. “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.” Nothing truer. I binged watched “Parks & Recreation” to avoid dealing with my own junk. Then it was over. And bam, my junk was still there! Thanks for your transparency.

  10. I love your posts. You’ve done it again… I have tears streaming down my face as I finish reading, because HOW is it possible that every time I read your blog, it speaks to me where I am. Or maybe, it’s God speaking through. Either way, thank you.

  11. I have been understanding God’s love in light of Him being a jealous lover lately. He doesn’t just want parts of me, He wants all of me. ALL of me.

    My prayer is that we submit all of ourselves to God, in total abandon.

  12. Thank you. I feel like I want to copy your words and paste them all over my world. I’ve been saying some version of that prayer for ages now- which means there must be something to it, or I would have surely given up hope.

  13. Hi Hannah,

    I had the worst day yesterday. I avoided it beginning and I begged for it to end. In that regards, I don’t think either ever happened. It didn’t begin and it never ended. Eventually, I found myself asleep at 3:30am, and then awake quickly after. I don’t know if yesterday ever happened. When I opened my computer at 3:30am, I decided to pick 1 email to read- your blog. I actually felt like it was a letter you wrote to me and suddenly things made sense to me. My pain didn’t go away. I just realized that I was tired of pretending I didn’t have holes. And a weight was lifted off my shoulder. And I finally felt okay to use my voice.

    Thank you for writing. Thank you for sharing your heart & your honesty. I really, truly needed to read that blog and I appreciate you.

    xo Jaime

    >

  14. I get you.
    I haven’t dealt with deep darkness in a while.
    Hard times, yes. But deep is different.
    The past 5 months have been verging on deep.
    I found myself depressed again – really, truly depressed. Grey’s Anatomy has been my escape as of late.
    But I have been fighting lately. God has managed to pull that fighter in me to the surface, so that even in discouragement, I can scratch and pull for more. To try to dream again. To see that things can still happen for me. That I haven’t failed and that hope is still there. He is my hope and security.

    Reading your blogs help.
    Because I feel like we can understand each other.

    I am glad you aren’t afraid.
    That you are willing to write more about God. That you can be real and honest.
    I was just at a conference. I think it was Darlene Zschech or Lisa Bevere who said, “You may be in the valley of the shadow of death. But where there is a shadow, there is a Light.” God is our light. And even when the darkness tries to creep up on us, we aren’t alone, and we become a light. Because Jesus is in us.

    I am so proud of you.
    I pray for you, you know.
    Which may be weird because “I don’t know you” but in my heart, I feel like we do.
    Thats the beauty of the world, and God, and writing. We are somehow all knit together. In one family. And we are there for each other. Whether we know it or not.

    Keep being beautiful.
    Don’t be afraid to shine.
    Shine with all that is in you.
    Leave your legacy.
    It matters. You matter. You are influential and it matters.

    Love you Hannah. xo

  15. Beautiful, and honest. I am not a Christian and never will be, but your words and feelings about finding God and just trying every day to be better and more honest and more whole apply to a lot more than just religious stuff. This is just real life, and many of us are searching, and it is comforting to read about someone else who is struggling and searching for something they KNOW is important to them, but they can’t quite get there. It’s a process, and it’s universal, whether your search is for God or love or your creative spark or your perfect career or how to be a better parent. It’s all the same search and the same longing and confusion and just wandering the path wondering when the heck you are gonna be there already.

  16. I literally felt like I was reading a hindsight journal entry of my own. Your testimony in this post is a mirror of mine this year. Gilmore Girls was totally my escape this year and I’ve always battled with depression and my faith. It feels like they can’t co-exist but somehow I pretend that one doesn’t exist every other day. I’ve had a “real” faith for 5 years as well. But since joining as a leader of YoungLife and having the chance to LOVE these teenage girls, my faith has become so much more real and tangible as I watch faith and depression battle in their lives too. But I KNOW I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and that’s to love the crap out of these girls. By loving them and teaching them about Jesus, I am growing more than I thought possible. It’s amazing that when you have others to worry about, your own selfish issues seem to disappear. I know I still need therapy and need more Jesus – but it’s a start back out of the darkness of the cave I creeped back in with Netflix…

    1. I’m rejoicing at this….with your mom! As a mom myself, tirelessly praying for my two grown sons (one of which lives in Atlanta, btw) to get to the place you’ve come to and described in this wonderful post, I can only imagine how her heart rejoices and overflows with gratitude at the faithfulness of God who loves you even more than she does. Has she ever considered starting a blog? Somehow I think she’d have some stuff to share. I’m just sayin’…. 😉 Thanks, Hannah, you’re one talented girl. And…love, love, loved your book!

  17. Absolutely beautiful. Thank you. Your writing is wonderful and really struck some chords with me. I hope you keep writing about God. I am not a Christian but I do believe in something bigger than me and I love the things you have said.

  18. Hannah, I was just thinking today that perhaps the reason that Iike your blog so much is because I’m tired of Christian rhetoric. You talk about God in a way that is fresh to me. Don’t stop talking about God. I resonate with your fears about wanting to please people and be accepted by not talking about God. Thanks for being honest about that. Glad to know that I’m not alone in that. Brooke

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