Honest

in the midst of it all

I will never forget the moment I became a Christian.

Isn’t that a weird statement? I’m sure though, that there are other moments that people will never forget. It could be the moment they fell in love, or the moment they felt at home or the situation that occurred where they physically felt themselves became an adult.

For me, it was July 3rd, 2000 at a youth conference at Purdue University in Indiana.

Since then my whole life has in some way, shape or form, revolved around the church.

Like, fun fact, did you know that I have a not-yet-completed masters in leadership with an emphasis in spirituality? Or that I was a children’s pastor or that I used to regularly write sermon recaps for my church in Orange County? Or that the world race isn’t the only mission trip I’ve done. OR that I went to a Christian leadership academy in the south of Spain.

I’ve gone through ups and downs in my faith, just like any relationship.

There was the season after my friend Joe died that I had no space to pray, talk to God or even be in a church. I was angry, hurt and alone.

Then there was the time after the world race where I for all purpose fell apart and had no clue what I wanted to believe.

And then, there is now.

Yesterday, I wandered around a bookstore, mainly in the religion section. I perused titles and read the first few pages and tried to find something that matched what I was feeling.

I’ve been unsure lately.

So, I’ve been thinking about all the places I have been solely because I’m a Christian.

There is a lot. I have had a lot of experiences and emotions and adventures because of it.

The timeline of the last 18 years of my life would have looked very different had I not walked up to the stage in the midst of hundreds of high schoolers.

And that’s weird.

My faith and my relationship with God is very different then when I was 14. Then, it was based more on feeling. I felt God. More than I think I realized back then. If I would have gone to a church that focused on spiritual gifts and prophecy, I have no doubt that it is something that would have filled my life. There would be moments when I was leading worship that I would feel what I know now as the spirit moving through what I was singing.

But, why I am saying all these things?

Well, I’m at a place with my faith where I feel as if Jesus and I are on a break. Like we are at that friend level where we sit in room and no one says anything and it feels uncomfortable.

Woof.

I ran out of church today because of it.

I ran out and looked at my calendar and contemplated what it would be to take a break from church.

Here’s the thing: I love my church. I love people and the atmosphere and all of it.

I’m just processing what it would be like to take a break for the self-care.

I’ve been a Christian over half my life now. I’ve had seasons of not going to church and seasons where I worked 6 days a week at one. I’ve held babies on five continents and preached in everywhere from a South African township to a maximum security prison in Peru.

I’ve heard dead on from God from people in bars and spoken words to people about themselves that I have no business knowing.

What I want to say is I’m not breaking up with God.

What I want to say is whatever deity you may believe in find no shame in taking a breath and looking at it all.

What I want to say is that you can believe and question all in the same breath.

So, this is just me, writing on a Sunday, on my second mimosa and just figuring out all the things.

Honest

Running from stillness

Other than the Y and random part time jobs that I have had here and there I have always worked at a church or for a Christian organization.

I’ve almost always been on a church property 40+ hrs a week.

From 2007-2012 I worked at a preschool and for some of the time also worked at the church.

(Basically, I lived there.)

But, in that I found myself among families and people that I could talk to and process with and be around.

Around 2010 the Wayman family came to the church.

And it was lovely.

Not only did I get to see their kiddos grow but I got to lean on and reach out and be mentored by Eric and Cathy.

They are two humans that I am so grateful for. I know that I was in the exact place I was supposed to be when they came to Lighthouse. They are two humans who walked me through some of the hardest, ugliest times of my life up to that date.

They’ve always welcomed me back with open arms, even when I wasn’t sure of up and down.

I mention them because I randomly decided to listen to one of Eric’s most recent sermons.

It was about solitude and noise in our lives and essentially how we are surrounded by it. Now, this isn’t new.

We all know this. We know that there is an immense amount of noise in our life. We are engulfed by it. (As I write this I am listening to music and texting two different people).

My mind is full of to do lists and assessments and assignments and 18 different tiny humans (probably more if I’m being honest). I’m thinking about what I can do to show my friends I care. I am trying to be present in people’s lives and present 40 hours a week in my classroom.

I’m trying to make space to be creative and to write and make good choices for my body.

So, today when I decided to sit and listen to Eric speak, I thought of sitting on the couches at Eric and Cathy’s house and I realized I would probably just sit down and burst into tears. It’s one of those few places that I would sit and stop.

Now, I have been stopping here and there. I’ve been learning more and more to saying no and staying in and eating apples.

But…sitting WITH God?

Not as much.

I’m slightly terrified of the quiet right now. Mainly, because quieting all the things would take a lot of work.

Opening my Bible stirs something in me. Praying is a little too close for comfort.

I wrote something for an online magazine a couple years ago. And I know I’ve quoted this exact section before but it resonates once again.

“Everything in me wanted to run.

I couldn’t handle Jesus any more.

He was being silent.

But it was a weird silence.

It was almost like Jesus was playing the part of the man in a horror movie, who just after the power goes out, calls your house phone, so you can hear him breathe and then when the police track the phone call you find that it is coming from inside the house.

Jesus was still in the house, I apparently just needed to go find him.”

Jesus is still in the house. He still lives here. My relationship has morphed and changed even since I wrote this piece. My life is ever evolving. My beliefs and truths are morphing and become more refined.

But, sitting in stillness still terrifies me. It isn’t something I’ve ever done super well.

So, I go back in my thoughts to sitting with Cathy on their couch or walking into Eric’s office on my lunch. My life wasn’t all roses and sunshine then. I was going through depression and sickness in my family. And whenever I stopped with them, I would almost always cry.

And that’s ok. But, I sat. And I stopped.

There are so many things I’m wanting to say right now.

I think what I want you to know that if the silence and the quiet scares you; you aren’t alone.

If sitting with whomever your deity is terrifies you because of the intimacy of it; that’s ok.

If stopping will make you burst into tears-let me pass you the Kleenex.

And if you have something in your mind that is changing, then explore.

Today, I disposed of the shame of feeling far from God. The shame of not being able to hear Him.

Today, I disposed of the shame of running. I didn’t stop running-I just stopped feeling shame.

Today, I disposed of the shame of a changed mind.

Deep breathes to the toes friends. We’ve got this.

Honest

name your shields

Over the last week I’ve had to mark off “single” on forms and applications and surveys.

And each time I’ve cringed.

Today, sitting in church, about to do communion, I was waiting to hear a phrase I’ve grown to loathe “grab one other person”.

(99% of my friends are attached to one other person).

I am pretty great on my own. I’ve written about being single. I can sit at bars and restaurants by myself. I can travel by myself. I can make my own decisions. I got this.

But, if I’m being honest; being single isn’t a flag I wave.

I wear my singleness as a shield.

I wear my singleness as a shield because if I’m being honest- I’m terrified.

(My head is full of disclaimers right now and I’m choosing not to write them)

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s easier then having to admit that I still have stuff to deal with in regards to the opposite sex.

I wear my singleness as a shield because I know I’m enough for myself.

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s less heartbreaking than feeling left out.

I wear my singleness as shield because I’d rather a shield than shame.

I wear my singleness as a shield because it’s easier to use it then have it use me.

The thing about it though is this: I am not the only one.

And it’s not just being single. It’s whatever box you have to tick, identifier that others place on you, comfort blanket you throw on your lap to protect you from what’s happening around you.

While those statements were hard to write, I know, without a shadow of a doubt that I’m not the only one.

I am not the only one who uses something that isn’t a bad thing as a protection.

Hell, there are times in my life that I use my Christianity as a shield.

And I can hear you out there.

Shield does NOT = excuse.

That’s not what this is about.

This is me choosing to tell you that there are things in my life that I am well aware I am doing. There are places that I haven’t gone and walls I haven’t scaled and journeys I haven’t chosen to walk into because I will have to set down that shield (whatever it may be) and be willing to take the arrows.

This is me choosing to tell you for as much as I am “man up or shut up” or “do the damn thing”, that you are not alone in needing to feel defended.

If this was Meghan circa 2012 I’d probably tie this up with a statement about Jesus. I’ve reached the point in my life, to know that Jesus is not the answer to the question.

Meghan of 2018 knows that I’ve been given the tools, the mind, the heart and the spirit to get through and work through the things

I am going to say to you- encourage you, to name your shields.

Name those things you use. Those words, those jobs, those people, those places in your life you need protection,

That’s all I’m encouraging you to do.

Name your shields.

Honest

how darkness brought me light

I know this seems silly.It seems silly that I am sitting in church thinking about how a show about vampires is over.

I get it.

But as I am sitting here in church I am thinking about another church I used to sit in a lot. I sat in it mostly on Sunday nights, sometimes the mornings, for about five years. And there was a time in that period of about 2-3 years that I cried every single time.

I wouldn’t really break down during the week. I wouldn’t get emotional during therapy. I sometimes cried myself to sleep. Or on my walks to and from work.

But without fail, every Sunday I would kneel at the cross in the back left corner of the sanctuary to take communion and I would sob. I would cry and I would leave all the tears and all the anguish at the foot of the cross.

Hope for me was something for others. It was something that was tangible to a whole hell of a lot of people. It was something I felt capable of giving but not receiving.

So on Sundays I cried.

Let me delve a little before fall of 2009:

In June of 2009 I wanted to kill myself.

I wanted to be done. It all hurt too much. It didn’t make sense. I couldn’t see how I could go on.

I saw a flickering light in the midst of a dark room. I knew it was God. I knew it was hope.

But after that I was numb.

I couldn’t always find the words to say to people. I powered through a summer of day camp. I went to therapy once a week. I tried to wear a smile.

And come the fall, with the school year beginning again and so many other things that felt big and heavy I decided to start watching a new show that was so debuting on the CW.

So on Fridays after work, I watched the Vampire Diaries.

As I wrote in a letter to the creators, this show gave me light in the darkness. 

It brought me back to myself when it felt like all the things around me that were supposed to be helping weren’t working. (They were by the way, I just couldn’t see it).

The show brought me back to story.

And that is beautiful.

It gave me a voice in the midst of a depression that wanted to and sometimes succeeded at silencing me.

It made me laugh.

And mostly, most importantly, it reminded me I wasn’t alone.

It gave me that hope I so desperately wanted to have.

And I found this community of people who didn’t know me or my problems or my depression. They didn’t know I was a kid person or a “failing” Christian.
They just knew I had zippy comebacks. That I was Team Elijah. 

And slowly, slowly, they started to put me back together when I didn’t think anything was working. 

It gave me place to laugh and to cry. Real emotions when none of mine felt real anymore.

So I know it seems silly that I was so emotionally invested in a show about vampires. That I broke down into tears when it finally settled in me that it was over.

But, in the darkest parts of my life, the healing of someone else’s dark parts, in the form of a story about vampire brothers in love with a girl, allowed me to look away from my tragedy and find emotion again without even realizing it.

It helped me feel again.

So, one day, when I have a teenager who is going through teen angst and probably thinks I’m not cool, or when she’s in college and homesick and heartsick, we will make some cookies and throw on our sweats and I’ll click play…
“For over a century I have lived in secret,

Hiding in the shadows, alone in the world.

Until now.

I am a vampire,

And this my story”
Thank you TVD for all the things.

Honest, washington whimsy

Lessons from a two year olds emotional vocabulary

The week after I came home from camp was an emotional week, work was tough, personal life was tough and lonely and I really had no clue what to do or what I needed. Which, was of course, what everyone was asking me.
But I didn’t know how to ask for help, or what I was feeling or how I could feel better. 

Last week, oddly enough, was also my one year of working at the Y. One year of working with the wacky group of humans I work with, and with the tiny humans  I adore. And with all of my lack of emotional vocabulary last week, I thought of them and the fact that when they are frustrated, excited, impatient, or really, any emotion they can’t really do much about it but scream, yell, hit someone, bite someone or throw themselves on the ground and shut out the world. 
Wouldn’t that be nice?

I spend most of my day saying, “I’m sorry you are feeling frustrated” or “do you see when you bite your friend it makes them sad? Can we try saying ‘more space please?'” Or of course watching a two year old throw a tantrum and saying “I see that you are angry, let’s move to the cozy corner so your body stays safe!”

I am trying to give these kids something to grab onto. My pet peeve quickly became hearing someone tell a child that they were “ok”. Because how would you like it if you were crying and sad and upset and someone came over an told you that you were ok? If you don’t have words to verbalize how you are feeling, then how in the world when someone know if they are ok.

And I also get it’s a fine line.

I am probably going to be one of the first to sit across from you and listen to what’s going on in your head and heart. And text you the next day. And help wheedle out the lies. But I am also probably going to be the first one to tell you to put on your big girl panties and dive head first into what’s going on. I can clearly see where you are and where you ACTUALLY are and I want to do everything in my power to get you there

And then of course, there is myself.  

There was a moment, the Sunday after I got home from camp, that I sat in my room and silently sobbed. It wasn’t violent or painful–just exhausted and weary. And I didn’t know why. And that seemed to be my reprieve the rest of the week. Silent tears over many places of the week. Dealing with the anniversary of a death of a loved one, feeling gut wrenchingly lonely. Feeling completely and utterly unsuccessful at work. It all continued to pile on.

I wanted to run.

I had been too much before. Too sensitive. More trouble then good. Memories of losing friends over depression ran rampant in my head.

At some point between 2 years old and now,we’ve been told to limit ourselves because we might be too much. 
And while, yes, we need to not thrust our emotions upon someone, we also need to learn how to land and identify them so they are no longer scary. There is a scene in the beginning of my favorite (not) guilty pleasure show where the main human character realizes that the new guy in town is actually a 140 year old vampire.  And like most shows that deal with the supernatural; after the initial shock wears off, she (albeit probably stupidly) decides it doesn’t matter.  Because once it is labeled it isn’t unknown anymore.

And that’s why I try to label things for my sweet kids. Because one day, they will be adults, sitting on the edge of their bed, crying and I want instilled in them from the beginning that they aren’t too much, that they can label how they feel and they can use it to better what’s in front of them.

I tell them so often to “give themselves space.” (And sometimes teacher Meg also gives herself some space) I want my kids to know that taking a breath is ok. That being sad, or mad, or frustrated is ok–we just need to be able to say that we are those things. Because if you don’t eventually being happy, excited or joyful, also won’t register. We have to take the bad with the good and the good with the bad. We can’t just label the joy and the happy and pretend that everything  else is no man’s land.

I’d like to say that I waited to write this because I had an ephinany or I suddenly feel 100% better. But the reality is, I am still learning and grabbing onto things and putting my hair up in a bun and grabbing some lacroix and doing the damn thing daily. 

Because I also want my kids to know that life doesn’t stop. There are still people you have to show up for in the midst of showing up for yourself.

Let’s do this folks. Let’s have a little more grace, space and verbage then we did last week. Let’s practice telling the two year olds in our lives that they aren’t too much.

Let’s remind ourselves we aren’t too much, even when all we want to do is bite a friend.      

Honest, washington whimsy

I met shame in 6th grade

My roommate has a now infamous grad teaching she did in Spain. –well, infamous in the yellow house.

She talked about decisions, not having a bad day, living above the fog.

When I feel like a bad human, I give it a relisten. When I am leaning less on my ice cold brain and more on my ping-ponging red hot heart. It doesn’t happen a lot these days. It’s actually harder for me now to give grace to my emotions then ever before.

I stop my emotional output more often then not because I choose to believe that I am not ruled by how I feel and others should not have to deal with that.

I thought I was a horrible human last week. I was tired, grumpy, lazy. All the things. I couldn’t look at God. So, in church today hike everyone around me was  singing the words “your praise will ever be on my lips”, shame came. 

It overwhelmed me. 

I’m one of the first to speak shame off of someone, it’s like I have a tiny shame alarm that pings when someone is speaking shame over themselves. I actually never thought I dealt with shame as a big theme. A lot of other heavy, messy words–but not shame.

I’m reading “Scary Close” right now. It’s shocking to me how many statements hit home. But, it was the brief chapter on shame that nestled into my being to be saved for later.
Like I said, I felt like a horrible human last week. I broke down twice- once in my bosses office and then with my roommate. And on Saturday I had a grumpy hangover–this feeling where all the joy has been taken out of your world and you no longer no how to exist in said world (no drinking involved). I was beating myself up about my lack of humanness. I couldn’t even sit with myself.

Then I read the chapter on shame.

Donald Miller talked about doing an exercise in which he pinpointed the moment shame stepped into his life and oddly enough I thought his moment might be similar to mine. But no heart-tug, nothing jumped out at me. But I didn’t go any deeper. I shut the book and moved on to Netflix.

So, when shame walked in this morning and weaseled his way next to me, it shocked me that all of a sudden I remembered where he came from.

I was in sixth grade when shame sauntered into my life.

Sixth grade was the year the girls got mean.

I remember this specific morning that I got to school and plopped my backpack down by my class and walked over to the middle of the yard to find my friends.

I looked all around for them. In the corner of the play hard I saw a wall of kids all standing in a line and looking forward laughing and avoiding eye contact with me. I would come to find out they were doing that to hide all the girls I was looking for. They were crouched down and hiding from me. They were giggling and laughing.

They didn’t want me to see them.

All the reasons flooded into my being. I talked funny, I was too fat, I wasn’t enough.

I was too much. I didn’t cry, I just laughed it off and walked away, tears bringing at my eyes. 

I made a new friend that day: shame.

He now wheedles his way into a lot of places.
When I feel not enough, or too much, or like I am being too sensitive.

Last week I felt all those things. Felt like a failure. Inadequate, not enough. 

Left behind.

And because of that, shame snuck into my house over the last 5 days. He took out his paint and painted the walls a disgusting green.

So all the things, the words, the actions, all the everything that I felt I was doing to counteract the bad days got colored in shame.

The emotions, the venting, the deep breaths were now ways I was communicating to myself I was not enough. That I was inadequate.

So now, I am sitting here with all these thoughts and realizations and have no clue what to do with them. I have no way to tie up this blog in a neat package.

And that’s ok. 

I’m not going to dwell on the not knowing and I’m going to (try) not to beat myself up.

And I’m going to remember that I am a good human even when I have what seems like 100 reasons that I’m not.

Because it changes things, when you realize how shame first walked in the door.

Honest, Spain g42

Leftovers in the yogurt

I’m sitting at Maria’s, drinking a coffee, something that I do most Mondays.

But in four Mondays from now, on the 22nd, I will be 8 hours into a 13 hr plane ride back to California.

That makes my heart constrict a little.
(That makes my heart constrict a lot.)

This place.
These people.
The spirit that remains no matter who passes through.

I love these cobblestone streets more deeply than I actually fathomed I could.

Because really, it’s not the cobblestone streets, but when I walk down them? Each step is filled words and lessons and spirit that pummels into my being.

It’s seeping through my feet.
It’s now in my foundation.
I hear the the hearts, of the staff, the teachers, voices that I value repeating words, phrases of wisdom that I scratch quickly across blank pages.

I want to remember, retain and practice.

There is so much beauty between the covers of my journal, so much whimsy of Christ.
But the one I’ve been going back and forth with, the one I’ve been trying to put into words for myself to keep is this:

I want to live out of WHO I am, not HOW I am.

When I first got to G42 this was a concept that I fought against. I remember a span of months during therapy where I had to write my emotional levels down each day and if I’m being honest with myself my life was up and down by the hour. I held it together reasonably well during work, but as soon as I got home by myself I sunk. I allowed myself to be ruled by what I was feeling and allowed that feeling to come out of my pores and seep into the atmosphere around me.

The ups and downs ruled me. The fact I I came out on the other side is a testament to Christ and to the Christ inside of those around me.

I had no bearings to grasp onto- but I sank, literally, at the foot of the cross at church every week and clung onto hope.

And I got through, a bit battered and a bit cynical.

I’m now Meg.
And I refuse to be up and down.

The last couple months I’ve had more FEELINGS of up and down then I would care to admit, because I know that I can live outside of being ruled by emotions. I know the truths about myself and the truths of who I am.

This challenge- living out of who I am and not how I am- has at moments been tough for me to swallow, because it shimmers it’s way into most aspects of my life. But I realize in the moments where I respond negatively to something because how I feel, how important it is to do life out of who I am.

When I choose to live out of how I am, I am choosing to live out of frustration, negativity, depression, exhaustion.

I am NONE of those things.
It reminds me of how we store leftovers-in yogurt containers. I was cleaning out the fridge to see what we needed to buy for the week. I glanced in our fridge and saw about 4-5 containers and because my house has been eating a lot of yogurt, I did the math and decided how many to buy.

Later talking to one of my housemates, found out that 2 of those containers actually held yogurt. But because we use them to hold something else I assumed they were all leftovers & chose not look. Not only does this say something about assuming, but it says something to me about how I present myself.

If I constantly live out of anger or frustration because those are my feelings, because those are the emotions that I feel so I grab them and run, eventually that will be what people see. Those around me will get so used to me living out of my emotions that it will be the assumption that I am angry and frustrated. There won’t be a second glance to search for something more because that will be all that is seen. My container, my being, will look the same, but inside it will be assumed it is negativity.

But really that’s not what is inside.
Inside is yogurt.
I just have to actually look.

I want to live a life where people don’t actually have to look inside to know that it is love. I want to live out of who I am, which is someone who loves, among so many other aspects.

I am a woman who has a lot to learn, and because of that a lot to give. And a lot of love

That’s where I am. I am nowhere near the end of figuring out how to do this, how to live solely on who I am. I’m finding that foundation, I’m finding the Christ inside me that has created that foundation of who I am.

I want to live on it and from it.

(And I don’t want you to automatically assume there are leftovers in the yogurt containers.)