Honest, stateside

Shame is a bitch

An open letter to those who feel like they are stuck in a shame cycle,

I get you.

I get that place you are in that feels like there is nothing new on the horizon.

I get the feeling of standing in the middle of the road while the people with babies and marriages and evolving relationships and new jobs seemingly zoom by.

I get the hopelessness and the desire to not have to make your own magic.

I get that feeling of everything being the same, and not having space to breathe because of the sameness.

I get the pacing and the pondering and the second guessing over and over again.

I get the desire to cut your hair, get a tattoo, move, leave church, change jobs.

I’ve had all of those thoughts in the past month.

I know the feeling of physically carrying burdens and stress and pressure and not knowing how the hell to change it.

I understand what it’s like to not want to put any of that on someone because you don’t want to be that person.

I. Get. You.

But now, I want you to picture yourself standing in the median on a busy freeway. All the cars passing by carry all the labels that you wish you carried.

You’re so focused on those cars that you don’t break eye contact.

And then when you do, you see us.

All of us.

In the same place.

On the median.

We’re all there.

There is a lot of us.

Searching, wanting the answers to jump out of someone else’s story.

Desiring something that in all reality would be a watered down version of what we are truly meant to be in.

There is a lot of us who come and go from that median.

I think that everyone spends some time there, unable to get to the other side as the cars stream past.

Just staring.

I’ve been unable to form words lately, I’ve been afraid to unpack the things I’ve been carrying for fear of what might be at the bottom of the box.

I write this letter to you not to ask for help, but to say you aren’t alone.

There are a lot of us.

Trying to figure out this thing.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) to brush off the shame.

I write this letter to you (to me) to remind you (and me) that shame is a bitch.

Because isn’t that what it all boils down too?

Shame of not being worthy

Shame of not being enough

Shame of falling short

Shame of not hearing god

Shame of being too much

Shame of being alone

So, I write this letter to to you to remind you, right now, in this moment to tell shame to fuck off.

You are so much more than all those things.

And you are not alone.

Sincerely,

Meg

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.

I choose champagne, To dream, washington whimsy

at some point, ice has to melt.

I am sitting here for one last silent Sunday of the year at my favorite bar. I sit here as many Sundays as I can, at the table in the corner by the window (and the outlet) and drink 1 or 2 or 3 grapefruit mimosas and I write.

Sometimes other people join me in silence, but most of the time I just sit by myself attempting to verbalize thoughts in my head. This has become one of my most favorite times of the week. Without the people around me knowing it; this bar has become a part of my church. It’s become a safe place for me to choke back tears and form thoughts and have weighty realizations.

So, tonight, I’m sitting here and thinking about all that 2017 was. It was a lot. I’ve been trying to separate the good and the bad. The ugly and the uglier. The places of heartbreak and the places where my heart hasn’t even gotten the chance to break.

Many things stand out here and there, so many people and places and events.

June is a big one. In June I turned 32, I had about 32 people that I adore here in Bellingham over to my house for tacos and laughter and love. In June I ended my time with the two year olds and turned 3. In June I felt betrayal and hurt that I can’t match to any other time in my life.

In June I went to my other home for camp and was reminded that I can take joy in what I do.

If I am being honest- a lot of other things feel like an immense blur.

I want so badly to say that this year was good. I want so desperately to say that this year redeemed the year before it. But it didn’t

I want to say that I found ways this year to be who I am. I want to say that I’ve learned to apologize less and to not second guess.

I want to say that my heartaches less and that I am 100% happy in my own skin. That needing a space for one has gotten easier.

I want to say that I’ve been brave.

I want to say all of those things.

But, I’m just not sure I can.

It’s funny. I spend 40 hours a week telling tiny humans that they need to use their words. I hold their hands and look them in the eyes and take deep breaths with them. I say, “I understand that you are feeling frustrated. I understand that your body feels upset. But what I need you to do is take some deep breaths and tell me with your words whats wrong.”

I felt a lot of things this year. I felt lonely, I felt pain and anguish for myself and on behalf of those around me. I felt joy. I felt love that I can’t really articulate. I felt every single damn day for the 18 tiny humans who are on my class list.

But, ask me to articulate what I was feeling on behalf of my own self and I was never quite sure.

I don’t think I was the only one with that problem this year.

A lot of things happened this year. Things in our control or out of it. Things that impacted us or our neighbor. There was anger and hate and laugher from disbelief. It spilled into everything. Every aspect of our lives were impacted whether we wanted them to be or not.

I don’t have the words to describe all the things.

But, I think what I can say, is that in spite of all the things, in spite of the loneliness and the betrayal and the hurt I didn’t give up. In spite of my inability to use my words, I didn’t stop trying.

In spite of all the things, there was still joy.

And there it is my friends.

In spite of all the things- there is still joy.

There are still moments of joy.

I tried, so incredibly hard, in the midst of all things to find joy.

I think we all did. If we really searched through our memories, we tried this year to balance all the things with joy.

I was and still am numb to this year. I’m numb to the things that made me feel less like the person I know I am. I am numb to the things that added to my character.

But, at some point, ice has to melt. At some point an asleep leg has to wake up.

So, to 2017 I say this,

Thank you for the people in my life.

Thank you for my roommate.

Thank you for my work wife.

For my bosses and my coworkers and all those I would never know without the Y.

Thank you for my church, for the people who are scattered in the rows around me, who are family.

Thank you for my forever best friend.

Thank you for my OCfamily and that little blue house in Irvine.

Thank you for my family whom I grow to appreciate with every passing year.

Thank you for opportunities to speak and space to give love and be love.

And to 2018 I saw this:

Let’s thaw out the numbness and find places each day to wake our words up a little more.

Dear 2018,

Please, I beg of you.

Use your words.

With love,

Meghan

Honest

please stop calling my singleness brave 

A friend sent me a blog to read last week that was a letter to single Christian women.

I’m going to be honest, I almost didn’t read it.

But I thought, maybe this one won’t tell me that when I least expect it the “right one” will come along.

Maybe it won’t tell me my singleness is brave.

Maybe.

Or maybe not.

I have been, for the past couple of days, trying to figure out why I get so up in arms when I read these blogs or books or hear podcasts on the topic.

But I guess, what it is, is that I am only not ok with being single in the moments where I feel like my singleness is a disease. And, if I am being honest, when I read those very lovely, well-meaning blogs about “being brave” and listing a lot of rules for being single, I feel less whole than I should.

When I get told to “live in spite of” I feel as if there is something wrong with having lived without thinking of the fact that I am single.

And it’s funny because I know that this isn’t just a single-married person thing, it’s a kids-no kids, run of the mill job-dream job thing. I get that.

But today, for me, it’s a single person thing. Specifically, a single Christian woman thing.

Being single in the church is not easy.

Sometimes it seems as if we are standing on one side of the street waiting to cross over. Staring at the party on the other side where couples do couple things and get to minister together and have a partner in crime and go to marriage classes and double date.

Then, there are all of us singles. Male and female, watching, living life.

Just on the opposite side of the street.

It’s quiet on this side.

Trying our best to not be defined by something that most in our culture define as being “not quite there”.

So what do we do?

We read the blogs and books and we listen to the podcasts and we join the small groups.

And we don’t feel better.

There are over 2,000 books on Amazon when you type the words “single Christian woman”.

2,000.

That’s a lot of words and thoughts and ideas and advice that people have given and put out into the world.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We are meant to learn from each other’s stories. And take pieces for ourself and figure it all out as we go.

But just like married humans can never fully be prepared for every possible emotion and feeling they will have in that phase of life, us single humans can say the same thing.

Because we could be single the rest of our lives.

I could be a single Christian woman for the rest of my life.

And it won’t mean I am brave. I’m brave for many reasons, and one of them is not for being single.

I am grateful for those around me in relationships that I trust. That I can talk to about these things.

But most of them will never know what it is to be a 32 year old Christian single woman and all of the connotations that brings. I am talking about contemplating owning a home by myself, being an island of a human making decisions by myself and pondering about the moral implications and qualms I have about sex outside of being married.

And I wouldn’t know right know what it’s like to manage a budget with two people in my late twenties or make decisions as a whole or decide on birth control or no birth control.
Neither thing is lesser.

Neither thing is brave.

It’s life.

Let’s save brave for actually brave things.

Let’s encourage people in the paths of life they ARE going down, not where they are lacking, or moreso where we BELIEVE they are lacking.

Let’s not create story for poeple.

Or give them false hope.

Because spoiler alert: I don’t neccesarily want to be single.

But I am choosing to keep walking out my life as who I am.

And that’s not brave.

It’s just exactly who I am.

A mimosa-drinking, tiny human wrangling, story-telling, cake-baking human.

Not brave. Just me.

Honest

I am not a mother

I have met a lot of moms in my life.

That’s kind of a side effect of working with tiny humans; you meet their moms.

I’ve made friends with, been mentored by, looked up to, laughed with, cried to, been cried on, by a large variety of mothers. My friends have become mothers before my own eyes. I’ve met moms in many different countries, across language and cultural barriers.

I, myself, am not a mother.

I process a lot in this blog. I process my thoughts through writing. I “think out loud” in order to lay the pieces out. I don’t say things to garner sympathy or attention. I say things to tell it like it is. I say things so, in case you feel the same way, you don’t feel so alone.

I am not a mother.
And I don’t know if I need to be one.

This isn’t saying that I don’t want to be a mother. Or that I don’t have moments of baby fever, because let me tell you my Facebook feed is blowing up with pregnancy announcements. And my most favorite place at the Y is in the baby room snuggling the babies.

But, I don’t think my world is going to crash down if I don’t get married or if my husband, whoever he may be, and I decide that we don’t want to have kids.

I also don’t think it will make me less of a woman, or that I would be selling myself short, or the world short if I didn’t “put a piece of myself into it”.

Women who become moms (through any means) are pretty freakin bad ass. From the women in a village in Africa who have a baby on their back and a basket on their head, to the single thirty something who is a foster mom, to the working moms whose tiny humans I’ve taught and taken care of during the day, to the single moms who do all the things, to the moms who stay at home and take care of their kiddos and support each other. BA every one of them.

And I know a lot of grown ass women who aren’t mothers who are also BA. Running businesses, managing companies, making a life from being immensely creative. Some of them may want kids and some don’t.

And that’s ok.

Sometimes it is hard, especially in a Christian culture, to understand a woman not wanting kids. Or being ok with not having them. Or sympathizing and not being condescending to the one who does and is unable too.

I have mom role models. I have women I want to be when I “grow up” (as always, Rachel B I’m looking at you). I take parenting nuggets here and there. If I do have kids, I won’t be scared of a singular two year old because for the past year I’ve averaged 12 on the daily. I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve.

And if I never use them on my own kids that’s ok.

I guess, what it really comes down to is this: it’s completely 100% ok not to want to have kids. It’s ok to not want to or need to be a mom. It is not ok to shame those who have those opinions or tell them “they just need to find the right guy” (and yes that has been said to me).

It comes down to being who you are.

And this is who I am.

So, to all of you mothers on Mother’s Day and let’s face it, every day.

You guys are amazing.

While, yes, I do take care of tiny humans, change diapers and put to sleep (think: MMA cage fighting a crocodile), I feed and teach and snuggle and love; I sleep in a bed that doesn’t get disturbed by the tiptoe of tiny feet. I don’t get yelled at that the toast is cut wrong WHILE also trying to get ready for work. (I still get yelled at for the toast). I don’t get awakened by screams, or have to watch shots at the doctor.

You do that.

So, if I don’t ever become a mom; if I spend the rest of my life, in some capacity, taking care of tiny humans, or caring for my friend’s tiny humans, I want you, sweet mom friend of mine, to know this simple four word sentence from me to you:

I got your back.

Honest

I am not actually single.

I’ve been avoiding writing these words for two hours.Actually, scratch that, I’ve been avoiding writing these words for at least a month.

Before I went to Spain back in the spring of 2014 I wrote a two part blog series about why I wasn’t going to get married. It came down to the fact that I didn’t want to want something I wasn’t sure if I even wanted, so why not skip the heartache of maybe wanting it by not wanting it at all.

Then, of course, I went to Spain where every g42er ever can attest to the fact that at least once a week in class the conversation turns to relationship and marriage. And I still sat there not knowing if I even wanted to get married or have kids. 

And side note: I was terrified of admitting that to Andrew (founder, teacher, father-figure). 

I guess that I was terrified because somewhere in me didn’t believe that was true. I didn’t believe that I actually did not want to get married.

My heart changed in Spain. I’m not sure where. But if I could scroll far enough back in my text conversation with Preed there would be a moment where my thinking changed. She was talking about a future business of ours having a name with the beginning being “Ree-” something since our last names both begin with those three letters. 

My response was that, that was a great idea, because when we each got married our maiden names would be apart of our future. It wasn’t an “if” or a “when she” it was a we. I had changed my perspective on marriage somewhere.

Now, I live in Bellingham. And 90% of the people I interact with on a daily basis are in a relationship. And I am their biggest cheerleader.

And this has been hands down the hardest “being single” season I’ve ever had in my life. It’s messed me up.

I don’t feel looked down on because I’m single, or less than, or not enough. 

That’s the thing. I’m 31. I’m solid. I’m good.

But all of these relationships are messing with my head, my heart and my tear ducts.

What I am feeling these days is a lot in response to relationship. It’s brought about a season of loneliness, independence, and a wonderfully scary realization that I’m not afraid if my relationship doesn’t look how I thought it might.

I’ve scrapped lists and ideas and images because what I realized is I am already a pretty damn awesome whole person. I’m not perfect, I don’t have all the answers, but I’m caught to who I am, with the knowledge that I will keep learning more.

Another person isn’t going to complete me, he’s going to bring out more of me, and I him. Just like any real friendship, relationship, community should.

All of this I am feeling right now kind of sucks, some days are lonely, some days I want to shut out all the couples in my life.  Some days I want to skip town and run.

But man, this foundation I’m standing on is becoming more and more unshakeable and that’s the most beautiful thing to realize.

And the more pressure I feel, the more discombobulated and lonely I feel, the more I know that I’m not those things and the more I know that beauty is waiting beyond the horizon. 

The most lovely, beautiful, unique, real things are made not through waiting but through living. 

That’s why I detest sitting here and thinking and writing about singleness. Because I am not actually single. 

I am just me.

And one day, I will be married, in a relationship. 

And I will still be me.

Honest

If I’m being honest..(Part one)

OR

The more aptly named:

 I am almost out of my twenties and I have NEVER written a blog on marriage (part one)

I’m actually insanely proud of myself.

I went through the entire World Race without ever writing a blog on singleness, relationships or marriage. (Also: Team Leader, I didn’t break your rule…)

Not that it surprises me at all.

I don’t know if I have ever written a blog on any of those topics.

Not saying that I don’t enjoy reading them or get something out of them. I’ve read a few this week and of course that’s why the subject is in my head.

I just wanted to finally come out and say it.

I don’t know if I want to get married.

There

It’s a weird sentence to type knowing that I am going to publish it online for all the world (or at least the 5 people that subscribe to my blog thus far) to read.

I know what you’re going to say:

Of course you want to get married.

You’re just saying that because you haven’t

found the right guy.

You must just be bitter.

There’s a guy out there for everyone.

Or

(and I cringe)

Maybe singleness is what God has called you too.

 

Oh lord.

Or if you’re my friend Catherine you call me OUT on the statement.

But Catherine’s not here right now.

So I want to explain.

I think as a child, I probably played wedding once or twice, forcing the little boy across the street to marry me in my grandma’s front yard while I held a bouquet of fall leaves and marched down the perfect sidewalk aisle.

But I don’t think I’ve ever planned MY wedding.

Yes, pinterest gives me grand ideas that I think are cute.

Yes I have a wedding board.

Yes, I’ve been in, planned and coordinator more weddings then I care to admit.

Yes I always just say I am going to elope.

 But do I know FOR SURE that I want to get married?

I just don’t know.

There are so many reasons that float in my brain as to WHY I think I might not want to get married.

I remember a moment a couple years ago, I was discussing potential ideas for ministries, for things I wanted to do. And I the thought crossed my brain…oh I need to get married for that. It caused me to stop in my tracks…

I don’t need to wait. I can just do.

I don’t need marriage to live my life for Christ.

I’m actually thankful that I’m not saying I don’t want to get married out of spite of marriage.

Most of my FAVORITE people in life are married couples (I’m looking at you Peck’s, Garmon’s, Sherman’s, Wayman’s,…and SO MANY OTHERS).

I love these kingdom people so much. I respect their relationships and what they do together for God.

But I just don’t know right now if that is what God has for me.

It’s not something burning passion inside of me that my friends have. I don’t pray for my husband regularly.

Yes, I have a somewhat list of things I might want in a husband. I’ve met men who fill some of those characteristics.

But nothing pushing me to press in or step in to that season in life.

And I don’t want to pretend or waste energy on heart space that I might need for something else.

It might be a trust thing (you can read about that here)

It might be that I just haven’t met the one.

But until God put’s it on my heart and mind, we’re just going to leave it alone.

Like I said, I just don’t know if I want to get married.

And that’s ok.

(and yes…this says part one. I’m basically setting the stage right now. Part 2: Catherine’s smack down, the one guy I thought I could have married and the topic of children.)