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.)

hope is a verb, it takes a village, Uncategorized

the one in which I talk about 33

Have you ever looked back at a season of life and wondered what the hell happened?
Have you ever looked back and wondered how you got where you are and wondered what it is going to take to get out of the hole you feel like you might be in?
That’s what I feel right now.
I’ve been holding a lot of words back lately.
I’ve been holding things in that feel dark and scary and don’t feel like they are for the 80% of the world and they have barely been for the 20% that I tell all the things too.
But as I’m sitting here and attempting to find words to fit with what the last year of my life was and what I think the next year will hold an old switchfoot lyric passed across my brain:
“The shadow proves the sunshine”
Woof.
I’ve felt as if I have a lot of shadows right now, a lot of darkness and a lot of inability to find the light.
I’ve tried my hardest to hang on to hope, to hang on to joy and to find the way to keep going even when I have to do it with gritted teeth and a clenched fist.
In the last year of my life I learned a lot about myself. I learned I have absolutely no time or grace for those who give up and call it health, I learned that I can completely feel when I am not being myself, I learned that I am worse at saying no than I thought but still better than I used to be. I learned that I don’t always know what makes me happy but I when I find it I grab it and cherish it.
I learned that I can power through most anything.
This year I learned that I still remember what to do when I have a panic attack and that I can feel it coming on and take myself to a safe place.
This year I learned that I am much stronger than I think. This year I learned I can crush demons and giants and everything in between.
This year I learned I was warrior.
And I can weild an ax with the best of them.
This year I learned that I do and will stand my ground.
This year I learned that I am capable of making hard choices and decisions.
This year I learned that I am capable.
And that, my friends, is the sunshine.
This year I met the crossroads of where I could have gone and where I did go. I met the person I could have become and the person that sunk into herself and didn’t fight and I feel I chose to walk away from her.
When you chose to walk into the the shadows and dark and find who you are in those places. When you don’t shy away from them you learn who you are and you can begin to realize you are stronger than the darkness is dark.
I say this all to remind you of this:
Keep fucking going.
Don’t stop moving forward.
Rest isn’t passive- it’s active.
Choosing to find what you love and doing it isn’t selfish just as choosing to hunker down and stay isn’t not taking care of yourself.
Quitting isn’t self care.
But taking a breath to realize what your life is becoming and what you want to do to change it if there is something you want to change.
You are doing just fine.
You’ve got this.
Keep fucking going.

Honest

There always is an end

I’ve been sitting here trying to figure out what to write about. I’ve started a couple different trains of thought and a couple of different ideas.
And just nothing.

Sometimes its hard to figure out what I want to say.

And yes, I want people to read what I write and I want to connect with people and have an ability for them to understand why I am who I am.
I am careful what I write and how I say it. Not because I’m worried someone will be offended (I’m welllllll past that) or because I’m afraid someone (cough cough my mom) will be worried about me.

I am careful about what I write and how I say it because words matter so much to me. And for as much as I do share so much about myself; I don’t share all of it because some of it is just for me.
But today, right now, the words that truly keep popping into my head are this:

I’m not happy.
And that’s heavy and dark.

And also, probably, a little dramatic.

A couple weeks ago I text my work wife that I felt like I had nothing for myself. That everything I do in some way, shape or form, is for another person. That my life right now is weddings, tiny human observation, tiny human day to day life, finding time to sit, trying to not lose my mind and trying to find pockets of laughter. My life has been a lot of trying to stir joy in the lives of others.

And (please don’t roll your eyes at me) it’s ok.

I have had two panic attacks in the last month or so and I’ve come close to another (in my bosses office) but one foot in front of the other.

You might be wondering why I’m saying all of this and why I’m telling you that I’m not happy.
Because, the tunnel may be so long and so dark, but I always, ALWAYS find the light at the end of it. I know it’s there. I know that I have found it and will find it again.

My light right now is in people. It’s in my roommate sitting across from me, and from going out to lunch after church and laughing. My light is from getting to celebrate those I love getting married and from laughing at the most ridiculous board games known to man.

I’m not happy right now but my life is full of a lot of love. My life is filled to the brim with people that I adore and humans that reminded me who I am daily.

I’m not happy right now but my life still has laughter and the light that is at the end of this tunnel is brighter here and there.

I’m not happy right now but I’m also not sad.

I write this so you know that we can still live in the midst of feeling darkness. That we can still move forward.

That we can still live.

I wrote a blog back when I lived in Spain on “processing”. I had watched people halt their lives for the sake of processing. And it bugged me.
I get it.
I get the stopping and looking at something to figure it out.
I don’t get when someone stops living.

So, I guess I am saying all of this to say; if you aren’t happy, if your life is full of life and people and laughter, but you are still not finding the happiness, I want you to know that there is a light at the end of your tunnel of this season.

And not being happy isn’t the end all be all.

I don’t have all the answers in my life and I don’t expect too. I don’t know what the next year will look like. I may meet a man, I may write a book, I may do a lot of things.

But I do know, that my life will always be looking for the light at the end of the tunnel for myself, for my friends and for those who read this.

The light is coming.

It always is and always will be.

And if you learn nothing from my writing or connect with nothing that’s all I want you to walk away with.

The light is coming.

It always is and always will be.

ramblings

light always crashes in

I’ve felt a lot of righteous anger in my soul over the last few days. Anger peppered in tears. Anger that is toppling out of me and longing to come out in some physical form. Anger that was thankfully lessened with laughter but dissolved in heartache.

In a shorter amount of words: I’m mad at the world and I’m mad at darkness.

I’ve seen a lot of darkness and bad things thus far in my life. I’ve seen addiction, death, abuse. I’ve wrestled with suicide. I’ve LIVED in darkness.

Darkness angers me.

The last two days I’ve heard story of tragedies that desperately hurt my heart.

Three years ago I met South Africa for the first time. I met the townships, the people, the families. I met the students of Bridges of Hope Academy.

South Africa changed my view of darkness. It changed my view of a lot of things.

Two days ago I found out one of the boys that was a senior when I was there was shot and killed in a township.

I got mad.

Incredibly mad and sad with the overwhelming desire to cry and hit something at the same time.

Life just isn’t fair.

I don’t know what happened; I don’t know where he exactly was in life. I just know he’s gone and I’m mad at the darkness.

I stood railing at the darkness for a while the other night. I couldn’t understand why this 22 year old kid, who’d already gone through so much, who had gotten out, found Jesus, was taken in such a way as he was.

And after I had railed at the darkness of the senseless tragedies that I had heard about in the past couple of days I remembered the light.

It’s there; fighting against the dark forces. Crashing into the evil. Forcing what is bad into the light to crumble.

And I was reminded of an intense picture during some incredibly dark times in my life. Days where I prayed with each step I took, days where I didn’t sleep for fear of another day starting.

Days where I just wanted to end it all.

And Jesus gave me this picture of the darkest room I had ever seen in my life.

No windows, no doors, no way for light to creep in.

And then a dim night light turned on.

And I realized in that moment that He was always there; no matter how dark, how lonely I felt.

No matter how angry at the world I became;

The light is still there. The darkness may make it seem small; but it’s there.

I’m ok with the fact that I rail against the darkness. That I get mad when senseless death happens or when wife lose their husbands and babies lose their dads. I’m ok that I get mad when things break my heart.

It’s ok to yell at the darkness the clammers unwanted into our lives.

But what I remembered Monday night is that I must NEVER forget the promise that the light will always break through.

The light always invades, always plunders and always crush the dark.

So keep your nightlight on. And rally against the dark.