Honest, hope is a verb

That’s not love.

I have a barometer for myself that I think I’ve had for a long time.

I am someone who comes off as giving a lot of her story away. I read as an open book and will mostly share everything that is going on in my life or that I’m unpacking.

There’s that 20% though. I tell 80% of my life to 100% of the people around me. But there is that 20% that’s limited to barely even a percentage. I give that 20% to those who I have deemed safe and for the most part that I’ve deemed safe back.

I’m honestly unsure if this is a 20% moment but I think it’s something that needs to be said.

I’ve realized probably in the last year (honestly thanks Tiktok), that I have a lot of trauma and unpacking to do from my late 90s early 2000 youth group.

And a lot of instances and experiences and moments that in no way, shape, or form line up with the character of God that I know.

To start, I would like to say that I am not an advocate for throwing the baby out with the bath water. I have so many experiences and moments and memories that I am so grateful for.  I learned about worship singing on my church worship team, I laughed pulling pranks on our youth pastor my junior/senior year, I can still smell the tortillas in the park in Mexicali.

But just because you have beautiful memories with something doesn’t mean there can’t be things that don’t settle.

I think I should begin with the fact that I never felt like I belonged. This might be less a youth group thing and more a small hometown thing, but I didn’t. I felt like I was too loud, too big, too much. I felt like I was never going to be the first choice and that I just didn’t fit.

But even though I didn’t grow up going to church I quickly felt the incredible pull that I had to be at church on Sundays. I had to show up. I had to have my bible. I remember getting shamed once for not having it. (Sword drills anyone?)

I would feel guilty if I didn’t show up at church.

Then, there was the fear. I remember watching the rapture movies of the early 70s-80s and being told that America wasn’t mentioned in the book of Revelations, that we didn’t know the day or the hour. I remember not sleeping for weeks because I was so afraid. I remember each morning I’d wake up slightly relieved.

There was the IMMENSE purity culture. Being modest. Saving yourself for marriage. Splitting up the guys and girls to give them separate talks and the girls almost always talking about how we needed to “protect our brothers”.

Now as an adult realizing that we were essentially being told to take all the responsibility for the boy’s thoughts. And without saying it to not take up space.

Now, if you know me, you know that I can be aggressively stubborn. I’ve yelled at more than one guy for opening my door or walking on the outside of the street.

But, when I was in high school, I didn’t feel empowered to yell. And yes, I was in high school- I get it. But I’m realizing more and more that I wasn’t empowered by the mostly male leadership. I didn’t think I should have a voice and when I did- I felt looked down on.

I’m realizing that the part that was hardest was that it didn’t feel like I was supposed to be empowered. I’m trying to think of all my time at my church in high school (besides youth Sundays or “missionary” Sundays) if I ever saw a woman preach. I’m pretty sure a man always lead worship (with a few exceptions- and I was on the worship team too).

And that, I feel, was standard for churches in that time frame. I know that wasn’t just my church- but it was in a lot of places.

Now, a bottom line, the reason I want to say all this and the reason I’ve concluded that I have trauma from it is that none of it- none of the shame, the fear, the purity driven culture, the male lead teams and the not belonging- none of that is the Christ I know today.

The Jesus I knew in high school was damn small. He was mean. He was terrifying. I could never do enough for him or be enough for him.

He thrived off fear and forcing people to look and be the same.

That. Is. Not. Christ.

I have a quote from Andrew Shearman that I will honestly never forget. He said once that God didn’t create earth to fill hell. And I believe that with my whole heart.

I believe God is so much fuller of love than anyone can comprehend.

And God doesn’t keep score.

He doesn’t have a white board or a checklist.

God doesn’t care that I like crop tops or that I have authority. (He made me for authority so there’s that)

Now, I’m not here to get into a theological debate or have you tell me the 100 reasons why your youth group was great. If it was, man, I am so happy for you. But our experiences don’t have to be compared.

I’m going to leave it at this: I’ve concluded in my now almost late 30s- almost 20 years out of high school youth group- that at the end of the day; if it doesn’t look like love it isn’t Christ. So, I’m going to say thank you to the experiences that aren’t Christ and love for what they brought me too and then I’m going to not kindly ask them to leave.

 That’s all.

With love,

Meg.

(And as a PS. Something I am putting in the Facebook, Instagram captions. If you want to ask me a follow up question, I’d ask you to not put it in the comments but to shoot me a message. Thank you. This is a space where I honor my own story and I’m putting a lot more out there than I might normally.)

Honest, hope is a verb

this ends with hope

I’m sitting here on my bed on a cloudy Sunday feeling a little foggy brained. I’m having one of those days in which I feel like I’m between so many thoughts, that I have emails I should answer and should write. I have laundry to do and trash to take out and lesson plans to write.

But I also feel like I have something to say.

It’s something I’ve said before and honestly, it’s something I say quite frequently. I’ve been realizing it more for myself recently and it’s starting to effect how I treat myself.

Here it is:

You matter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: yah so? Or you’re thinking: what does that mean?

I spent a lot of my life/adult life believing the follow ‘truths’:

  1. My emotions aren’t valid.
  2. I could/should handle something on my own.
  3. Someone always has it worse so who was I to grieve or complain.

And if you’ve never lived like this or experienced this I just have to say that it is fricking heavy.

It’s heavy to believe you aren’t allowed to have feelings or that you don’t have space to process through a thing because someone has had a worse life.

Then throw in some incredibly toxic religious gaslighting about depending on God and to put things at foot of the cross and you never feel allowed to struggle.

I remember when I was going through some of the worst depression I ever had been through (About 12 years ago). It was the worst because I had never gone through it and also I believed something was wrong with me because crying at the cross every Sunday and praying for God to take it away wasn’t working.

I felt like there was something wrong with me and I had an inability to make it go away.

And because I had to fake happy and chipper because someone always had something much worse happening.

It was extremely hard for me in all facets of my life to believe that I mattered.

That was exactly what led me in the time frame to contemplate suicide. I felt like a robot. Like, what was the point of doing any of this if I just felt like I was being the shell of the person I was.

What was the point of talking about my feelings if they didn’t seem to matter to others or to God.

What was the point of talking through it if all I heard back was that I just needed to trust God.

What was the point of being alive if I felt that I was just put on the planet to help other people and be a shell of a human?

Thankfully in that season I had an incredibly good therapist who helped me answer some of those questions and gave me tools for battling through when it felt like I didn’t matter.

I have gotten so much better at boundaries and taking time for myself. I don’t do well with guilt, I don’t do well with people telling me to do something or to give something to God and it will go away (because spoiler alert: that’s not how God works).

Honestly, I usually don’t do well with people telling me to pray about something.

Let’s be honest: I can usually feel when I am being ridiculous. There is a twinge in my spirit that tells me “Just stop meg”. I also, thankfully have friends that tell me those things as well.

But the joy of being an elder millennial and an elder millennial who spent years in youth group and at a Christian college is that we spent a lot of time being emotionally manipulated and then told when we had those feelings that they were because we were sinful or had “opened a door” to something.

Essentially, we were told that we as humans, didn’t matter.

And if we don’t believe that we matter, then why should we think other people care or truthfully, why should we think God cares?

And if that’s the case: what’s the point of it all?

Well have no fear because I’m here to tell you some things to end this on.

You fucking matter.

You are loved immensely.

No matter what.

Your emotions are created, not a burden. They are for you but not the manipulation of others.

Your brain can sometimes be a douchebag and that’s not your fault.

You fucking matter.

Your story is needed.

It has a point.

Don’t compare trauma.

Take time to grieve.

And if you are around people who don’t give you space for that?

Leave.

Because, once again, you fucking matter.

And also; less aggressively so:

There is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, hope.

That’s all.

That’s it.

With all the love and belief in your belief in yourself,

Meg

Uncategorized

faith is not ikea furniture

I’m currently working on a fiction story.

I’ve been working on it since 2014 when my faith and the church around me felt like it was crumbling.

I had just come home from the World Race which was this intense year of life where I pushed through things that I probably shouldn’t have just pushed through. I was carrying stories in my backpack that I didn’t need to be carrying.

I didn’t know how to start processing through the things I was carrying. I didn’t know what I felt.

All I knew is that my faith felt broken and I needed to figure out what to do about that.

So, I started writing.

My story begins with the end. It begins with the main character Vera, walking away from the church. Filling up boxes and moving away from a life that she had always lived because she realized that all it had done was hurt her.

She packed things up though because she wasn’t throwing everything away. She knew that there were parts of her that had been made with that life that she didn’t want to get rid of. She wasn’t going to throw the baby out with the bath water, but she was going to for sure change the water.

I wrote that story more throughout my time in Spain and over the years I’ve revisited it here and there.

This past three weeks I’ve worked on it every single day.

And it’s been bringing up stuff that I didn’t realize I held onto.

Here’s the bottom line: I didn’t realize the depths of my church/religious trauma.

Because this is the thing about writing fiction (at least for me); the story comes from the places deep inside that need to be made sense of. They come from the places that are twisty and the only way in which I can untwist them is to put them outside of myself and start writing.

Then, like the lights that you put on your Christmas tree, they slowly start to become a string of lights and not a tangled mess.

And you begin to see what lights are out from the last Christmas, places where the garland wouldn’t untangle or even maybe remnants of last year’s tree.

You can’t discover those things unless you sufficiently detangle the lights.

Sometimes you don’t realize something is broken until you put it next to something that isn’t broken.

Sometimes you don’t realize something hurt you until you start talking about it in a fictional sense and realize that you feel deeper about it.

When the storytelling begins to not be storytelling anymore.

I haven’t really decided what I’m going to do with the stories I have that feel heavy or who I might need to talk to.

I know I have situations and people from my past that I need to let go of. I know there are people I need to write letters to that I will never send.

I know that there are spaces where I was told to be quiet and I was and I still am.

There are things that I believed to be true, that aren’t.

There are words that have shamed me into believing I wasn’t enough that are all the way from when I was a teenager in high school youth group.

Or moments where they sat high schoolers in a room and had them watch a terrfying movie about “the rapture” so we lived in fear of not living up to a standard that was even there.

There are farfetched relationship ideals that I don’t believe I can ever reach too.

There are intense shameful parameters around sex that have warped my brain.

There has been church leadership that never supported me and told me to just listen to God.

Spiritual “authorities” that told me my depression was sinful and that I didn’t trust enough.

Men who told me I shouldn’t speak, or that I didn’t hear from God and that I should just stay in women’s ministry or children’s ministry.

And sometimes these things make me angry. Not all the time, just sometimes and in very specific instances.

But I’m choosing, as I chose for my main character, to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I just need fresh water.

Because there are things that I want to keep and hold.

And things I just don’t need anymore.

So Vera and I are walking this together. When I write out a scene I go back later and meet with it.

I see if we have anything in common. I see if it hits me between the eyes. And if it does? I sit with it. If it doesn’t? I still sit with it because it came from somewhere.

So that’s where I am today. I wrote this at the end of watching church from couch and I currently have worship music playing and it isn’t causing a reaction within me.

Do I still ferociously scroll past jesus tiktok? Yes. Do I swipe away from men who talk about ‘Jesus’ in their dating profile?

Also yes.

My faith has dramatically changed since Meghan the high schooler who sang on the worship team and went to youth group every Sunday night and went on mission trips to Mexico on spring break, and attending Christian concerts and music festivals.

I’ve been on mission trips to 13 countries and attending a Christian university, I’ve worked at three churches at one time.

And even though parts of those things hurt me and changed pieces of me in ways I might not get back, there are moments that I don’t want to give away either.

The beautiful thing about something breaking is that when you put it back together again you can choose different.

You can choose to see the pieces in a different way and create something new.

Faith is not a piece of Ikea furniture.

You can get creative.

So, this is where I live now. Continuing to write a fiction story that is helping me unearth and replant things, that’s help me to clean up and see the beauty in certain places.

Emptying my head of the Christmas lights to find out which are broken and deciding which strands can be fixed and which need to be tossed.

If you’re on this journey and need to throw all the lights out and start fresh- do it. If you need to be like me and replace the broken bulbs with new ones- do it.

There isn’t a science to building up what was broken.

Once again; faith is not a piece of Ikea furniture.

Be creative and kind to yourself.

With love,

Meg

Honest, I choose champagne

I miss writing in bars.

The title really hasn’t nothing to do with this blog. It’s just really true.

And I’m tired.

And I’m kind of sick of saying that.

Now, before you come at me with SO MANY obvious ways I could have more energy-I want you to know that I know them all. (please don’t come for me MLMs)

My tired isn’t a physical tired. (I mean it is. I am physically tired and no amount of espresso helps that.)

My soul is tired. My insides. And I know I’m not alone.

I don’t state I’m tired, or that I’ve had a long day, week or that 3 year olds are depleting the Miss Meg magic out of me for sympathy.

I state it because all I’ve wanted in my adult life is for other people to know that they aren’t alone.

That’s honestly in my unwritten mission statement that you, my friend or whomever is reading this, is not alone.

I spent a lot of my growing up feeling incredibly alone.

I was made fun of and picked on so much it was honestly easier to just be alone. If I had my 7th grade year book with me I could take a picture of a picture inside. I had on an oversized polo, my probably slightly permed hair was in a pony tail and my bangs were shaggy over my face and I had big glasses on and I was holding a book at lunch. I decided after too many lunches of feeling outcast from the people I knew from youth group that it was just easier to have a book with me from the library and find a quiet corridor that didn’t have a lot of people that normally passed by and eat my lunch alone.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve obviously come out of my shell more, I’ve gained and lost friends and gained some back again. I have beautiful people in my life from all walks.

But, every once and awhile that lonely feeling cuts through me and I see that 7th grade girl who was never anyone’s first choice. I see a someone who lived as a perpetual third wheel. I see someone who was never enough.

I see someone who has this tiny voice in the back of her brain that tells her that this will be the thing, this is the thing where they leave. This tiny voice that reminds me that I am not the first choice. I am just good old reliable single Meghan who will always be there.

And once again; I don’t say for sympathy or for “oh that’s not true” (I know it’s not true, it just FEELS true in my brain sometimes).

I say it, for the reminder that whatever narrative plays in your brain from past or current situations that you believe states something about who you are is not who you are.

You are not the lies that come from the actions other people have done to you.

And I know.

I know believing those lies is so much easier than forcing them away.

Believing that you were hurt because of not being enough or because you did something to cause that person to act that way is so much easier.

Believing that people will run away like the girls did in fifth grade and will talk behind your back in high school is easier than getting hurt again.

Believing that we can never be more than we are is easier than trying to be more than we are.

Believing you are alone or single or without is much easier than allowing yourself to be loved.

And being invisible is much easier than being seen.

So…what do we do?

This morning my pastor brought up questions. Questions we ask God, questions we ask ourselves, each other- etc. But he also asked what questions is God asking you.

Now, I’m going to be honest, my moments with God and time in prayer is few and far between. I’m a questioner, a challenger and many other things in those conversations. I struggle with having a hope for a God that people use for hate. Because, that isn’t my Jesus and it’s something that’s a current ongoing conversation in my brain and heart.

But, clear as day, this morning I heard. “Well, will you keep going?”

And I thought for a moment- maybe it’s in terms of current life. Maybe it was my ability to keep doing the damn thing, day in and out. Even when I don’t feel like a badass preschool teacher. Even when I don’t feel like I have any Miss Meg magic. Even when I feel like I’m doing everything but my job.

As I began writing these words that apparently had a life of their own, I heard it again: “Well, will you keep going?”

Sometimes (a lot of the times) I feel as if I am too much. Like, people don’t want to walk along this with me and people know they aren’t alone and I should just stop wasting words.

So, will I keep going?

I can see myself not always being a Miss Meg.

I can see myself not always being in Washington.

I can see myself (this is a stretch) not always being single.

But, for the life of me, I cannot see myself choosing to bring myself to a place where I stop reminding people they aren’t alone.

I cannot see myself coming to a place where I stop putting pieces of myself out there in an effort for even just one person to know they aren’t alone.

And I can state without a doubt that you have things inside of you that you’ve stepped back from or though t was too much or didn’t want to do anymore because you felt it has no point.

It has a point.

It’s who you are.

It’s as simple and complicated as that.

So, I guess I pose my question from God to you.

Will you keep going?

And I really, really hope you do.

With love,

Meg