Men in blue jumpsuits.


I’ve been trying to figure out God for the last eight years now. I’ve got too many journals stuffed inside of a mail crate I should have returned to the Post Office four years ago. Those journals are filled with questions like, “Are you good? Are you real? Do you like me? Do you want me?”

These are the questions I’ve asked God. To me, God was like this charismatic guy who swept onto the scene and charmed the daylights out of everyone I knew. They talked about Him like He was Fabio. They weren’t skeptics. They didn’t want to do a background check. They raised their arms up and flung their hearts at God without fear that He would break them. They acted like they’d found something, something a lot of people spend a whole life looking for.

I grew up watching other people give their whole lives to God without a second thought while I stood in the back of the room asking questions.

There was a tipping point for this blog nearly a year and a half ago. If you were reading then you saw it happen. I went from being a young woman who folded God into cautiously written sentences to posting boldly about my relationship with Him on the regular. God went from being this distant uncle who occasionally sent postcards from off the coast of Maine to someone knit into my most inner of circles. Today, God could show up at my front door with no place to sleep for the night andΒ  I, without hesitation, would give him a bed.

I’m not afraid of God anymore like I used to be. I’m in awe of God in a way that makes me fearful but I am no longer afraid of what He would do to me.

I was afraid to write about God because I thought people would be turned off by it. I would spend this time in the morning communing with God– feeling like He was my best kept secret– and then try to boost people and lift the whole world with the strength of my emotions and feelings. I crashed hard when I could not keep the whole world spinning. I crashed hard and God crawled closer.

 

I walked out of the ring after a five-month fight with severe depression last year. Every day of that depression was more confusing than the one before it. I sat in waiting rooms and asked myself, “How did I get here? How did my life come down to this?” I was of the belief that if you did the right things– if you were good to people, kissed babies, and didn’t try to stir up drama too often–Β  then you would not have to face hard stuff. Things would naturally align and you’d be spared the depression, the heartbreak, the sickness, and the mess.

You meet God in the mess though. It is often in the mess that you find a man walking towards you with a name-tag that reads “God.” You shake hands because you’re desperate.

I think God stands there the whole time though, even before the crash. I think God, in those moments before the crash, is like Waldo. He’s always in the picture with His bright red cap and wiry glasses. He’s content to wait for the moment that you actually feel called to seek Him out.

I think we– as the eager, self-sufficient perfectionists that we are– ignore red flags and the nudging to slow down as long as we possibly can. We drink more coffee. We worship the hustle. We grow tired of waiting on a God who sometimes seems to be slower than dial-up internet. We say hasty things like, “You aren’t handling this mess fast enough so I am going to take it into my own two hands.”

More mess comes.

And still, God is not afraid to assume the role of custodian.

 

You know what’s funny? I wrote that last line and I thought to myself, “I cannot write that. There is no way that I could refer to God as a custodian.” The only image in my mind of a custodian is a man in a blue jumpsuit rolling trash cans out of the lunch room. The closest thing I’ve ever known to a custodian is my own father– a man who wore a blue jumpsuit, drove a garbage truck his whole career, and brought food to the table by hauling away the unwanted things of people I grew up with.

Custodian is just one of those words that makes me want to belittle the role because I grew up surrounded by people who taunted me when they found out my dad was their garbage guy. It’s taken me 28 years to realize that my father never worked with junk, he worked with stuff that used to be valuable– used to be chosen– until someone decided they didn’t want it anymore. He’d pull stuff out, he’d shine it up, and it would be new again.

I looked up the word “custodian.” The definition that comes up first shocks me a little bit: one that guards and protects or maintains. I love that definition. I love the idea of God as a protector rather than God as the tyrant people talk him up to be.

 

I wanted to write today. I wanted to write and this is the only thing that would come out of me. It looks different than what I set out to write but that’s what happens when you invite God into the writing room, you write the sort of stuff you’re afraid will serve no purpose and He uses it to reach some girl in Akron, Ohio who has just gotten her heart broken. She used to feel valued and chosen until someone decided they didn’t want her anymore. And then you and God fist bump later in the day because the girl from Akron, Ohio writes you an email and tells you the words meant something.

You’re thankful you sat down today. You’re thankful you wrote. You’re thankful those three letters– GOD– came out on the page and refused to leave until you clicked “publish.”

That’s God though. He’s not a best kept secret, He’s meant to be shared. He’s meant to be shared especially by someone who grew up fearful that He didn’t want her, didn’t love her, and didn’t see her. He uses someone like that to say to a large group of people, “I do see you. I see the mess. I see how you got here. I’m listening. I’m here.” He uses someone like that, someone who almost walked away from Him, to say, “It’s okay if you don’t have all your God questions answered. I don’t either. Welcome to the club.”

You say a prayer. You click publish. You go get ready for a date and you think about Akron while you’re curling your hair. You think about men in blue jumpsuits who guard and protect.

You’re thankful. You’re thankful for someone who sifts through a pile of the forgotten, pulls something out from the rubble, and says, “You’re not junk. You’re mine.”

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34 thoughts on “Men in blue jumpsuits.

  1. I just loved this so much, I can relate to this post a whole lot as my belief in God has been, and still is, a bit shaky. Your words truly reassured me and I hope I can have just as much faith as someday. Never fear writing about God πŸ™‚

  2. Ugh! I loved this. I’m sitting here at my computer holding back tears as I type this because it so deeply touched me. You have such a talent for writing! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for making me feel stronger today. God bless you!
    Loads of love-

  3. Lovely post. Funny to read your views on “custodian” as here in England, that job in a school would be a “caretaker” and I think your dad’s job would be “refuse collector” or “bin man”. A “custodian” is simply one who takes care of something – which feels apt really. Language is powerful!

  4. THIS. Fearless, real, heart-felt! THIS is what I have inside too: the images of God as Waldo, or a custodian, or the surprise and fist bump when God writes with me. Oh Hannah, I am so glad to have found you. Your tone and imagery and content feel so kindred, and so much how I want to be too – a benchmark of sorts. Keep it up!

  5. I too believe God meets us in the middle of our mess and wants to rescue us. For some of us it’s rescuing us from ourselves. I think when we are knee deep in life’s crazy we are all searching for something. Keep writing about God Hannah and your words will find a home in someone’s heart and they too will want to be saved by the one in the blue jumpsuit…

  6. I love,love, love this! “You’re not junk, your mine”. Thankfulness. Not enough of it in this world, but your words remind us that it still exists.

  7. Love this post, really leaves you in a state of self reflection. I’ve come to realize within my spiritual walk that I tend to dumb down (for lack of better words) in my communication when it pertains to my faith, or relationship with God (whether conversation or writing). I would like to say thank you for this post in itself let’s me know that’s unacceptable.

  8. This post is amazing. Thank you. I just woke up and I am supposed to be getting ready for work but I thought I should check what was on. Your message has inspired me. I was having a rough couple of days and I just needed to be reminded of God’s love. Thank you.

  9. I love your writings and can relate to them. Don’t ever feel scared to write how you feel because there are many people out there who feel the same. Thank you for being so honest about God because it makes me feel I’m not the only one who has these thoughts. You’re a wonderful writer.

  10. What a beautifully visual post. Thank you. I will be the first to admit that I am in the “fold him into a sentence” stage. I look at my mother who doesn’t speak three sentences without mentioning him, and I am not sure if I just can’t measure up to her example, or maybe I am just being stubborn. But I do know that I know that it is something I struggle with daily.
    Thank you for your blog and please keep it up. Be that torch that helps others through the darkest of times find Him.

  11. Oh Hannah, this is beautiful. I can relate so deeply- currently in a mess I call life. Fearful of giving up control, but praying that God can help me loosen these white knuckles. Thank you for this honest post, and helping me accept that being submissive to God is a process that everyone has to endure.

  12. Hannah, this is beautifully written and I’m so pleased to have found your blog. Thank you for your willingness to share your struggle. You have encouraged me and so many others today. Thank you

  13. I love this, I love this, I love this. Your writing is such a light in my life and I can’t imagine how much strength it requires to keep that light on in the midst of seasons of darkness. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for writing.

  14. Thank you for having the courage to speak so openly about your relationship with God. I’ve just started a blog and this has really encouraged me concenerning talking about God. πŸ™‚ I love your writing, please continue.

  15. He’s meant to be shared especially by someone who grew up fearful that He didn’t want her, didn’t love her, and didn’t see her. This is exactly how I’ve felt my entire life. I found you today via an article in the Huffington Post titled A Message From the Head of the Broken Heart Committee. Today, 5 1/2 months post break up from my fiance of 7 years. Today, at just the right moment, 5 minutes after I’d prayed asking God to help me surrender & have faith in Him and His plans for me. Today, when I was at a point when I just didn’t think I could take another second of this pain. Thank you.

  16. Hi Hannah. I am probably not typical of the people who read your blog. Somehow, I found it awhile back. Before God. I had a feeling about you. I had a feeling that you were searching. I saw myself 40 some years ago. I am also a writer of sorts. But, there was something about your writing that drew me and kept me keeping an eye on your emails. One day, I saw God appear in your blog/email and I rejoiced for you. I am also rejoicing as I see you grow in the knowledge of Him! I can relate to your journey. I guess, at 60, I am in the waning days of my own journey. I have known him so long. But, I wandered out, alone, for about 5 years when I was in my late teens and early twenties. It was long enough to get myself in trouble. I had a feeling of deep remorse and deep depression for much of my young adult life, despite having a family and eventually, a wonderful husband. There is hope. I, too, loved your analogy about Waldo. I felt like that. I knew God was somewhere, but I didn’t know how to grab hold of the grace. I really didn’t have to, as he already had me safely in his grasp. I am so happy you are, too. I pray that we all understand the place where we are, where we need to be right now and that we all are able to help our friends be in this place of peace and rest.

  17. I love your writing and I applaud your bravery! I’m still searching, or is it struggling, with my relationship with God. Thanks for your creative and clever ways of describing God. I hope I get to know such a guy in a blue jumpsuit. ( I first heard of you as a writer of hand-written letters and I’ve enjoyed your book. These days I’m working on my connections with family and friends by writing lots of letters. I have been a letter-writer for years and years. Maybe soon I will work more on my connection with God. Your post inspired me to try).

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