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, hope is a verb

a late april easter

My faith has been elastic the last few years.
It has stretched out to fit big truths that need to be held and it has been scrunched down to fend off words that don’t need to be kept.
I believe that there has been times where it has broken and torn and then stitched back together to try again.
My faith has for all purposes, changed and I’ve been given a fresh perspective on what it looks like.
I know it seems incredibly stereotypical of me to write about Jesus on Easter but, the Jesus I’m going to talk about is one I’ve found never in a place Jesus “should” be.

I’ve been finding Jesus at bars or parties, I’ve been finding Jesus in my anger and confusion and loneliness.
I’ve been finding Jesus in my mess, my literal mess in my room.
I’ve been finding Jesus in moments eating taquitos and in text conversations with my roommate.
I’ve been finding Jesus in people who would never deem themselves people with Jesus.

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog at a bar entitled “In the midst of it all” where I talked about being unsure in my faith. And in this last year I have gone to church less than I ever have and I think in doing so I’ve made space to find Jesus in places I didn’t think I could or ever would.
I’ve always been an advocate for choosing to see the good in everything everywhere. Of choosing to see the holy, the lovely and the Christ in everyone and everything.
Sometimes, that’s easier to me without the lenses of the church. I’ve always gone to church out of habit, out of requirement- not that anyone ever told me I had too, but I just thought I was supposed too.
And this year I felt the freedom to step back when I needed too and to take a breath when I needed too and to step back in when I needed too. And to choose to go when I didn’t want to but truly felt I should.

And it changed something inside of me.

I believe I changed in a way where I became capable of loving more, and loving with less borders and also giving more boundaries to my love out of protection of my own self.
I think of this on Easter for many reasons.
To me, this year, Easter is a reminder to keep going. To keep moving forward.
To keep living.
To keep choosing to see love in people and don’t be held up by walls.
To see people who they are.
To see people with eyes that aren’t full of hate but of hope.
To me Easter is a reminder to keep seeing people.
I have a bracelet on my wrist that I bought for my baeby sharks. The inside of it has in scripted “keep fucking going”.
I know that seems aggressive for words on Easter.
But, shouldn’t we all be doing just that?
I don’t know what you believe or don’t believe. I don’t know what you’ve been hurt by or who you’ve been hurt by. I don’t know if you feel like you belong or feel like you’re just out of the frame of the picture.

But, what I want you to know today is this:

Easter is a lot of things. It’s a day where dead things came to life. It’s a day where it was declared the last word has not been spoken.
It’s a day that’s signed with love.
BUT it’s also a day of newness and day to remind ourselves that we can stand up and keep moving forward.
Today, on this day, in this moment, you can keep moving forward. You can take a breath and choose to see what is lovely and good and hopeful around you.
It might be Jesus to you and it might not.
Find the good, the moments, find the hope in what isn’t hopeful and keep moving forward.
I think I’m still in the midst of it all. I think that I still have places where I’m coming from the middle and looking down into to it to see what’s happening but that’s ok. That’s more than ok.

It’s good.

With love,

Meg

Honest, ramblings

words about my ever-changing faith

Six years ago I was returning home from training camp for the world race.

World race training camp 2012

It’s funny because at that point my world had been turned upside down multiple times and at training camp it was turned upside down again.

I didn’t know a lot about God then even though I’d been a Christian for 14 years at that point and went to a Christian university.

But it seems that the more “Christian” things I’ve been apart of the more changes I’ve seen happen in myself in regards to my faith and identity.

I don’t think anything I’ve been a part of is bad: It hasn’t in any way, shape or form caused me to want to not believe God or run from the faith I have.

If anything what it’s done is cause me to settle even more into finding who I am outside of the church and christianity. It’s been more about finding who God says I am by the life experiences and interactions I have in daily life.

It’s more about finding out who I am not, through the life experiences and interactions I have in daily life.

When I came home from the world race I was a wreck. Well, I became a wreck about a couple months later. Then, I went to Spain and it was better.

And then I came to Bellingham and the wrecking ball came again.

It’s not even that I have doubted more, because I’ve definitely had times that I’ve doubted more than the last three years.

I think, that my faith and my life, since doing all these “Christian things” has been more about the realization that God, faith, all of those things are so much bigger than people give them credit for.

I don’t make decisions based on my faith, or the fact that I’m a Christian, or my conscious or whatever else you may call it.

I make decisions based on who I am.

And who I am changes. Not because I’m reinventing myself but because I am learning more about myself each day.

Yep folks, each day.

So it makes sense that my faith would turn and grow and change.

I want to take the shame out of reframing your mind. Letting your faith be shaken, walking away for a moment to figure something out.

I know not everyone agrees with me on that.

But, walking away from something doesn’t mean you are running away.

Sometimes, walking away is the only way to guarantee that you are going to stay.

Today, in church, I realized that I have some pillars in my life that hold up the makeshift house of my faith that aren’t necessarily super sturdy.

In non-Christian verbiage, I realized today, that there are pieces of myself, pieces of my identity that I think are major parts of myself that actually aren’t.

I realized today that my identity isn’t based on my faith. And the more I learn about myself, the more I realize that my faith doesn’t make me who I am.

I think my faith allows me to look at things through a different lens just as any set of beliefs would.

My faith does add to who I am, but it’s not the only thing.

And it’s ok if it changes and evolves.

You aren’t less of a human if your mind changes, if you find out more information, if something doesn’t settle with you.

You aren’t less of a human if you allow yourself to grow.

My faith has grown, been stretched, fallen away, come back again and evolved over the past 10 years immensely.

I think in this time in our world it’s more important than ever to listen to what’s happening around you. Listening to your faith, or spirit or whatever and know that we can’t change anything if we don’t allowing ourselves to change.

And know that it’s ok to change.

As humans we grow and change and collect more data every day.

But, even in that and with that I will always be me.

And you, my friend, will always be you.

Honest

Figuring out the silence

I don’t think I talk about my faith a lot. I think I try to live it, I try to let what I do speak for who I am. I try to be kind, try to treat people how I would want to be treated. I try, to the best of my ability to make good life choices that reflect who I am, not who others are.
And today, in church, everything felt electrifyingly silent.

This silence isn’t new to me.

A couple years ago I wrote a piece for a now inactive online journal about my faith becoming broken and sitting in silence.

“It was a weird silence. 

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

Jesus was apparently in the house still.”

Normally, I write in an effort to untangle something. I write to figure out how to get to homebase. 

Right now I am writing to remind myself that I do have Christ inside me.

I think that, for a while now, I’ve forgotten that.

I know the words to say, I have full confidence in my ability to access my faith and my spirit.

But, I’ve lost something.

Recently, I had a situation occur in my life that knocked a lot of faith and grace out of me. I’m realizing how much it effected me as an individual, as a Christian, as a human who tries to extend grace and love to those around me on a daily basis. I’m realizing now, how much it broke off a part of me and caused me, subconsciously, to want to step away from those parts of my life.

It has caused me to question the foundational things of my life. Those things that cause me to love and be kind are still in me, but activating them and using them has taken more effort.

I didn’t realize that it was causing me to question my faith and feel tangible silence, because I was stepped on in a way that I don’t believe I have ever been stepped on.

Back in 2014 while I was in Spain, I had an instance where Kellen, someone who was an adamant speaker of truth and life and hard realities in my life, told me during a stressful, somewhat overwhelming portion of my six months that “I was the leader and I needed to love them through their shit”.

I think that’s what I’ve done since then in different aspects of my life.

And about a month ago I text him to yell at him because I felt like I’d been kicked in the face because of it.

When I started writing today, this isn’t where I was meaning to meander. I just wanted to figure out what was blocking me, what was causing the world to feel shockingly silent.

And over the course of these 500 words or so, I’ve realized that I’m feeling more broken and hurt than I gave myself grace for.

I’ve realized that a new wall was formed and my actions and the way I love people, albeit probably not as much as I feel, has changed.

My whole heart isn’t in it.

But, in that regard, it pushes me on, to know that I am capable of big love.

My need to protect, to be wary, shows that it is still there.

You don’t protect something a castle if there isn’t anything inside.

And the silence I’ve felt isn’t bad.

It’s space-giving.

I guess, what I want to say, at the end of this is that even when it seems like something natural for me, loving people and being kind and giving grace is a choice for me.

Actively. Every day. 

Part of it is tied to my faith in Christ, part of it is just inside.

But it’s still a choice.

And that’s ok.

I believe I will get those pieces of me back. 

I believe that I will continue to choose love and grace and kindness even if I need a moment to make those decisions.

It’s who I am.

Please, give yourself space to feel. Space to figure things out. 

Space to be.

Deep breath to the toes friends.