Honest, hope is a verb

Five years of wind and writing on Sundays

I just reread the first piece I posted on this website five years ago.

I can’t help but chuckle at the person who wrote those words. Now not in a bad way, because everything leads us to where we are.

But, even though that girl had more hope, that girl had dreams that hadn’t been left on mountains to be forgotten about, that girl still felt like she had so much more to give, I chuckle because I am so far from her.

And that’s not a bad thing.

And I want to tell you where I am right now to remind you of something very important: it’s ok.

Because the truth is, I feel a little dead inside right now. It’s almost as if I needed New Year’s Eve to actually be two weeks of me being able to take deep cleansing breaths and wash away all the things that piled on from the last few years.

That isn’t life though. That’s not how the world works. So the year went from 18 to 19 and I was just there with a champagne glass and wondering how I was going to brush myself off and keep going.

I got a picture today while I was walking. It was of a parched desert with hard packed dirt. Then the rains came. They came and they came and the water sat on top of the dirt and couldn’t sink in. It found nooks and crannies and valleys but the water had no way of infiltrating the surface. It had no where to go but to flood the life that was already growing.

Hard packed dirt that gets flooded quickly can handle the amount of water that comes. It doesn’t have enough time to saturate or sink in or make mud.

Now, I have some of the most amazing friends who give me love and support and joy and encouragement. I have parents who support me even from two states away.

But, I realized today I’ve been a hard packed desert for awhile.

So all the people in my life who have yet to give up on me I want to say for that I am sorry. I am sorry for an inability to receive goodness and joy and hope. I am sorry to you my friends and to myself.

But the dirt and the soil is hard packed and susceptible to flooding and to killing what is good.

And that’s a little bit how I feel these days.

It’s funny because I think of that girl from 5 years ago and the joy and hope that were running off of her.

And she had seen things and had heartache and hurt. She had felt lost and lost who God was, she had been there and back again.

But then, she got older.

And she questioned more and found new words and lost hope and refound it.

And now, she’s here. She’s me.

She’s a little dead inside, she’s forgotten how to laugh a little, how to smile.

And that’s ok.

It’s ok because it’s a part of moving and growing and living.

It’s not shameful or wrong.

It doesn’t mean I can’t love or give out life or hold space for someone or laugh or smile.

It doesn’t mean I’m not me.

And it doesn’t mean I need rescuing or that I am sending up signal flares.

My word for this year is release.

And among some other things I am choosing to release out of myself words so that you know you aren’t alone.

I am choosing to release words out of who I am in hopes that you will release that it’s ok to not be ok.

I am choosing to release words out of who I am so that you know that you can be not ok and still keep living and showing up in spite of it.

You can still be you.

I am that girl from 5 years ago. Parts of her built who I am today.

I haven’t failed her, I haven’t let go of her.

I’ve just learned a little more. I’ve gotten some rough edges.

I’m a little dead inside.

And that’s ok.

Honest

2018 was not silent.

To my friends,

We fucking did it.

I wanted to put that more eloquently. I wanted to have a better starter sentence but that’s all that really fits.

And really, truly we did do it.

I wish I could explain to all of you how intensely proud I am of all of us for continually facing what 2k18 brought to our table. Because it seemed every time we got to the place where we thought we’d gotten over that last thing, that last mountain, another one rose up in its place.

2k18 was drenched in our tears and our exhaustion. It was drenched in coffee and tequila and vodka and wine. 2k18 crushed dreams and held devastation and swung wrecking balls of hopelessness.

There was burnout and the feeling of being unable to catch up to life.

The absolute belief that the other shoe was going to drop followed every single moment of joy.

This year has been so packed full of disappointment for some of the humans in my life that the joy hasn’t been loud enough to break through.

And in some cases the lack of anything, joy, goodness caused us the inability to see those things even when they were right in front of our faces.

This year held good things, it really did.

(Like three words: 90’s themed birthday)

But honestly, at the end of the year I can look back and say that we fought. Maybe not all the time, maybe not loudly, maybe we laid our heads down at one point but we are still here.

Every single one of us.

I don’t what 2018 did to you.

I don’t know if you cried more or laughed more. I don’t know if this was the best year of your life or the worst or even in that dead middle where you don’t know tears from smiles. I don’t know if you wanted to give up.

I don’t know if you had sufficient amounts of rage (🙋🏼🙋🏼🙋🏼) or joy (YASSSS QUEEN- never forget that 2k18 we met the FabFive and with them all things just keep getting better). I don’t know if you had love or loss or both.

I just don’t know.

But, my friend…

YOU ARE STILL HERE.

You are still moving and taking deep breathes and showing up for your life (even if you missed a few days here and there).

You may have a few more wrinkles or grey hairs or pounds. You may have given your body a beating this year; but you still did it.

2018 took a lot of my tears. A lot of my friends tears. 2018 tried to rob me of a hell of a lot of my joy. 2018 took some of my faith and replaced it with something different (and that I’m still figuring out).

2018 brought engagements and babies and weddings and friends moving here and there and everywhere in between. 2018 did bring a little bit of hope-but just not how we thought.

2018 was not silent.

But, honestly I don’t think we were either.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring. I can’t promise joy. I can’t promise everything will be fine. I can’t promise people won’t be haters.

But we can do the damn thing.

That I can promise.

I can promise that showing up isn’t always easy, but we can.

Because we have.

My planner is already getting full for 2019. I already have three weddings to go too, one that I am the officiant of honor in. My work life the next two months is going to be insane.

And in the midst of all the the things, that parts that aren’t the best in my life and in the lives of my friends don’t go away with midnight.

The struggles and things that aren’t great in your life won’t go away with midnight.

The battles and all those things don’t disappear from 11:59-12:00.

BUT there is something to it.

Something new, something more. Time to dust off the dirt of it all and step into the new year a little stronger than last. (Or in new Calvin Klein heels).

You can.

You will.

You have.

Let’s do that damn thing.

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, tiny human teacher

Why peace is like potty training

I was having a text conversation with one my favorite people to converse with via text, my boss/friend Jamie. She, on a daily basis, reminds me that it’s ok not to be ok, it’s ok to ask for help and that I do in fact know what I am doing.

Tonight we were talking about peace.

One of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve received was either from Betsy or Tiffany (why not both) and it was this “follow your peace”. It’s something that gets referenced frequently in my house between Patty and I.

I know what my “peace” feels like. It’s not clean or neat, it doesn’t always evoke peace honestly, but it’s like a compass. My peace points me north. It’s not necessarily based in my faith, some days it is, lately I don’t know if it is.

In this conversation today, I said that finding and following your peace was kind of like potty training.

Explaining to a tiny human what it feels like to need to go to the bathroom is practically impossible. I am of the philosophy that enough accidents and they will figure it out. And once they do, it’s mostly their choice whether or not they listen to their body or just keep playing with the magnet tiles.

But, in that illustration, I realized something: growing up, my body didn’t give me enough warnings that I needed to go to the bathroom. I was on different bladder control medications and wet the bed well into my teens and took said medication for it until my senior year in college. I saw three different urologists as a very young child and had to have procedures and tests done that were not fun in any way, shape or form as a little girl.

I never wanted to sleep over at friend’s houses, not because I was scared of being away from home, but because I was terrified of wetting the bed. I felt shamed multiple times in elementary school when I asked for the bathroom pass and my favorite teachers in junior high and high school were the ones who didn’t make you ask to go to the bathroom.

I felt so incredibly far from normal.

My body never gave me clues. I had to really, really listening to my body as a child before I even knew what that meant. I had to make up my own clues.

And I sit here, shuttering a little from reliving some of those memories, I wonder if right now I am in a season where peace and the ability to follow my peace is a little hazy.

Maybe there isn’t supposed to be peace to follow because we need to fight for it a little bit more.

But, what I do know, is that just like I had to make up my cues for something that was already inside me, I know that the peace is already inside me. That I have a compass, that I’m doing something right, that peace isn’t easy, but it’s probably already there. My peace reminds me to stay, to dig in, to believe, to walk into the mess.

Dear human reading this,

The world outside kind of sucks right now, peace feels fleeting on many different levels. But I want you to know, as cliche as it sounds, you have peace inside of you. It might be old peace, peace you fought for in a story that feels lifetimes ago. It might be borrowed peace, because things don’t make sense, but you need something to grab onto.

You have peace inside of you, I promise. You might call it by a different name, but it’s there.

And it’s needed.

This week, I am going to do my best to remember I have peace inside of me. And if you need the reminder yourself, shoot me a message because I got your back.

Meg

PS. With all that’s going on around us, with the hate, and what seems like the inability to be kind, I also want you to remember this that just like potty training:

Peace is not still.

Peace is not passive.

Peace demands movement.

(And hopefully not like potty training)

Peace can very much be loud.

So, let us be loud as we pass our peace to those who need it.

Honest, it takes a village, tiny human teacher

fall is coming

Here is the thing: Right now, in this moment, I am choosing to have hope for fall.

Not just for myself but on behalf of those around me.

We all need some hope after a summer of drought and I’m going to find it for us.

When we were kids, the physical seasons meant more.

We waited for summer break, fall meant seeing friends again and the thrill or terror of a new school year. Winter meant Christmas and break. Spring brought sports and school plays and the rounding out of the school year.

And then summer came once more.

Life was built around the actual seasons and it worked. We knew when one thing would end and another begin.

But in adulthood, seasons mean something different.

The ever lovely full of wisdom teacher Victoria has one of my favorite illustrations and reminders to me in regards to tiny humans.

Victoria’s tiny humans are 12-24 months. When they experience things like teething or a diaper rash or a sickness they can’t verbally explain, she likes to remind the other teachers in her classroom of this when a tiny human is incapable of being consoled (the following is as direct of a quote as I could remember)

“They don’t know what’s happening and they don’t know if the pain is ever going to end. All they know is it’s happening now and this is how life is now. They’ve only been around for so many months, so like, this must be how it is now.”

New tiny humans don’t know about seasons, they don’t know the pain is going to go away. They probably think this is just how it is.

And that sucks.

I’ve realized that there are things in my life, seasons in my life that have felt so permanent that I feel that same way.

“This must be how it is now”

And that sucks.

Have you ever thought that? Like you don’t know if something in your life is ever going to end. It just showed up, you don’t know where it came from, but that must be how it’s going to be.

It’s very defeating.

And that’s why, to the best of my ability and strength I am going to fight for hope for myself and on behalf of others.

I’m going to decide that the changing of seasons does change something.

That is does mean something.

Just like when we were kids.

The fall can once again mean something new. Something fresh. Another chapter.

I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt we have the ability to turn our own pages. We can choose to say “all done friends” to something, someone, somewhere.

So, to you my sweet friend reading this, whether or not I’ve ever met you, I want to remind you of something.

This is not how it’s going to be forever.

This is not how your life is now.

This is not a new appendage you have to carry.

This will end.

You can turn the page.

Fall is coming.

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.