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, preschool, tiny human teacher

shame less

I do not like shame.

I wrote a piece awhile back entitled “I met shame in the sixth grade”. It was talking of the moment that shame came into my life. The moment that I can use as a dividing line from being enough/not being enough.

I think that before that I knew shame. I knew that it affected me.

I was told that words could never hurt me, but in reality words have had a more profound effect on my life than any physical thing that has happened to me.

So yes, I do not like shame.

I mean, that should be pretty standard right? But, did you know that you probably have shaming language spoken to you or that you in fact use it yourself?

Think of this scenario. You, as an adult, are giving a report at work. And in the middle of a sentence your boss gets up and says “no, no, no” and proceeds to “correct” you on what you were speaking on.

How do you think you would feel? Being told by a superior in front of a group of your peers “no, you are doing that wrong”.

You would probably feel ashamed.

Now, picture being in grade school and that happening.

Do you think you’d ever want to do a presentation in class again?

What if, you were at camp and you were talking to your counselor and someone from the stage pointing you out to stop talking before they started again-but you had been telling your counselor you weren’t feeling good?

Now, picture being a kindergartener.

It’s your birthday and you are coloring a bird blue.

The person next to you raises her hand and tattles on you.

And then the teacher makes you start again because “no, the bird can’t be blue” and precedes to take your paper and give you a new one.

I know you are probably wondering where I am going with this.

Am I talking about living a life of participation trophies?

That’s not it at all.

I’m talking about choosing our words more wisely.

More specifically, I am talking about doing our best to take shaming language out of our vocabulary, specifically around the tiny humans and kids that we are around.

Shaming language is telling a child they are “too big” to be somewhere when what you are actually trying to tell them is that they are growing up. Reprimanding them from across the room instead of kneeling to their level.

Shaming language is talking about a child’s poor choices in front of them, like they aren’t there, even though they can 100% understand what’s happening. Shaming language is telling a child “they should know better” or “how could you be so dum

A lot of us, be it teachers or parents or people that interact with kids on a daily basis, grew up in a generation where I don’t believe we truly knew the effects constant amounts of shame had on a child.

And now, as an adult, I think we are learning. I myself, am still learning each day, with how I communicate and speak to the tiny humans around me.

We are learning, that the effects of using shame as a tactic isn’t helpful. It causes kids to shut down. To stop talking, stop participating, and attempting to not take up space.

Shame that was present in my life as a small child is what lead me to shut down and what lead me to do my best not to take up space.

And lastly, before you even go there, I know that children are resilient.

Trust me, I know.

(Maybe, like don’t get into this with me, because I have strong words about kids and resiliency)

But, shouldn’t we, as caregivers, parents, kind humans, do all we can to not shame the kiddos in our space? Shouldn’t we build them up and give them the tools to counteract shame instead of putting shame on them causing them to have to find the tools on their own?

There are enough times when we will screw up, or when other adults around or even other kids will put shame upon the kids in our life. Where they will feel belittled or left behind or left out.

There are so many situations that we have no control over in our kids lives.

But, we can control our own bodies. We can control our own words and reactions.

And think of the generation of kids we would be raising and helping to raise if we ourselves realized that our words had weight in someone else’s life

if we raised a generation of kids that had a first response of positivity and not negativity.

What if we just did our best to not be the reason our kids learned resiliency?

And what if, when we found ourselves saying things that don’t settle we choose to be people who explained ourselves instead of just letting it go.

What do you think that might do?

Well, personally?

I think it just might change the world.

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.

stateside

(there might be wine in this teacup)

I have a confession to make:

I have an aversion to Christian women ministries and speakers and all of the things that come along with that.

The first time I was asked if I wanted to go to a Beth Moore conference I cringed. I did not want to go. The last thing I wanted to do was sit for a weekend with thousands of women and hear things that were “I am woman hear me roar”.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great. It’s wonderful. The fact that there are women that speak and write and be means that I too can speak and write and be. I was the president of an all women’s choir in college and was on all women teams on the world race and have been for most of my life been surrounded by strong, powerful women.

So really, I should love the concept of women’s groups and ministries and speakers and conferences.

But I think honestly, we are made for more.

I think as women we sell ourselves short. I think that we sometimes allow ourselves to be ok with the sugary sweet. That we only believe we can speak to each other about women’s issues and kids. That we focus on walking with our broken pieces and frailty than walking out of them.

That we compare ourselves to the ornaments on that we place on the back of the Christmas tree because they are ugly and broken.

I’m not a freakin’ ornament.

Why does it have to come back to us being women? I know that there are pieces of us that are different and there are parts of our femininity and the femininity of Christ. We need to talk about those things for sure. But why do we wrap it in such pretty packages? Why do we use soft voices?

Why don’t we raise our voices?

Why don’t we raise our voices in the presence of men as well?

(Now, don’t get me started on women in head pastor positions or in authority and whatever. That’s an entirely different soapbox. Don’t read into all of this that and hear me saying we need to be in charge and loud.)

But what I am saying is we have things to say that aren’t about marriage and femininity and kids. We have a lot of things to say.

I’m saying sometimes we need to look at things as a human being, not as a woman. We are individuals not defined by our sex but by who we are uniquely created to be.

I think that the women in the kingdom of God need to do a few things. We need to realize we are fierce. We need to raise our voice. We need to realize that we have things in our femininity that can be balanced by the masculinity. We need to realize that bible studies for women and conferences and all of that are so good, that they are needed.

But we need to stop sugar-coating them. There needs to be ugliness and there needs to be rawness.

We need to stop being fake.

One of the words of life I got when getting prayed for my last week in Spain was that I shouldn’t diminish myself or shrink back; that I should unfurl myself to the fullness that I am.

So I too, need to stop being fake.

So here’s what I am going to do: I am going to submit writing to all of those places. I am going to write on the questions asked, I am going to write as myself and only myself and not who I think I need to write for. Now, I’m not saying that I am going to blatantly write things to offend others or write against everything that people stand for.

But I am choosing to be ok with writing in who I am.

I’m not sugar sweet. I don’t like cotton candy that much. So I’m choosing to bring that into the mix more. I’m choosing to bring the salt.

I’m choosing to share that I have wine in my teacup.

Honest, Spain g42

on becoming noticed.

There is this beautiful chapel up on the hill here. You can see it from just about anywhere in Mijas and it’s a relatively easy mountain to hike. I’ve gone up there in the middle of the day, in the morning as the sun is cresting the back of the mountains and at night when I have to use my flashlight app to not trip over the rocks. There is something beautiful about this little mysterious church. It is only open once a year on Good Friday and the rest of the days it stays locked up tight just a beacon looking down over Mijas.

Over the last three months I have looked at the chapel daily as I walk into the Epi for class. It’s become a picture of something that I’m not sure I want to believe.

I’ve written a lot about voice over the past weeks. My voice, helping other’s find a voice and hearing God’s voice.

Recently I talked about choosing to believe that I have something to say, choosing to believe that I am strong, choosing to believe in who I am and what I bring to the table. That’s been a lot of believing in myself.

The last couple of weeks I’ve had to step into a new belief. One that is so hard for me, one that I might fight against still. Let me quote myself:

“I honestly believed before this week that I am not seen, not in a bad negative way, but in the way that my presence does not cause ripples on a group, just individuals. I believed that I didn’t need to be noticed. I just didn’t realize that I am supposed to be noticed.”

Oof. Since I made that statement I’ve been being noticed. In ways that I’m not sure I’m comfortable with completely. It’s something I struggle with daily.

The idea of being noticed.

The other day I was walking with Tiffany and the conversation of voice came up and I immediately cringed and stated that I don’t like being the one who is seen. The one with the voice. I want it to be others; I see it in others, I want them to step up and be loud. And she essentially responded with “Tough cookies”.

I almost felt defeated. Like there was this thing that I didn’t want to have in my hands but it was glued there.

It’s a beautiful gift that I always don’t feel strong enough to take on .

I’ve prepared, in my most of my life, to be a behind the scenes person. I like it. I’m good at it. But good heavens I’m meant for more.

I KNOW I’m meant for more.

So everyday I look at the chapel on the hill and feel peace. And every time someone talks to me about voice I have a picture of that little chapel. And I’m standing on the hill and shouting down to the people in the streets of Mijas.

And they’re listening, not just hearing.

That’s heavy.

I think I’m ready to be heard. Ready to open my mouth. Ready to live my life that way, but something in me always holds me back.

My open and honest moment of the day: I’m scared to be a voice. To be heard. To not control the attention put on me.

That’s where I am today.

That’s the place I’m in as I step into this next term of G42.

A little bit scared. (Maybe a lot a bit scared.)

To own this new part of myself.

Scratch that, to own this part of myself that already was.

I speak through my fear, through my moments of being afraid. That’s the part though, that gives me peace in the midst of being afraid.

I know I will always speak.

I might stand shaking on the mountain;

But I will always speak.

cover photo taken by the always lovely Whitney Gorbett

Honest, Spain g42

a powerful voice (in spite of)

A couple weeks ago I wrote a blog about having my life changed. It came with many epiphanies and realization and honestly a lot of good solid truth I hadn’t chosen to believe for a long time. Which of course hinders so much of what I was doing and who I was.

But here’s the thing: I still need to repent: to change the way I see things.

I’m living my life with the following sentence.

I have a powerful voice IN SPITE OF the fact that it can be hard to understand me.

Notice I carefully worded that to not say BUT because I am an advocate that BUT negates what comes before it.

But so does in spite of.

When I was 5ish I had my tonsils taken out. And for a medical reason I’m not even going to try to explain this lead to me having to essentially relearn how to speak because of a gap that was left in my airway.

I was in speech therapy at school; went to an ear nose and throat doctor; had this surgery where all I can remember is having plugs put up my nose.

I had to learn how to place my tounge and how to concentrate when I speak. If I spoke to fast the air got caught in my nose and mouth and it sounded mumbling. I also (still) perpetually sound like I have a cold. A fact that really just kids tend to point out to me.

And in all of this I got made fun of. A lot. The sound that the teacher on Charlie brown makes is what kids, and sometimes my brothers would respond to me with whenever I spoke.

charlie brown teacher

So I just stopped talking.

For a very long time I didn’t speak out in class or make myself known because I was just afraid I wouldn’t be understood. Because when I spoke people didn’t listen. They laughed.

The funny part is speaking in front of people doesn’t make me nervous. I know I have something to say; it’s just the act of saying it. The act of being understood at a basic level that causes me to get nervous.

When I was in fifth grade I chose choir when it came time to choose a path of music for a few reasons; one being the band teacher scared me; two I remember my speech therapist Mrs. Martin said it might be good and three I can’t blow up a balloon why should I be able to blow into an instrument.

So I jumped into choir and stayed there for years. I went through high school and college in a choir and on worship teams.

I found comfort in my singing voice because it WASN’T my speaking voice. I don’t get nervous singing anymore because I know that it sounds different.

And I basically detest the sound of my speaking voice.

Why is this coming out now?

I believe in the power of my voice. I also believe it doesn’t need to come in a beautiful package and I think I had come to terms with that fact. That I just need to use my voice IN SPITE OF how it actually sounds. And if people don’t understand me, or think I have a cold, or make fun of how I sound that’s ok.

I don’t need to have a beautiful speaking voice.

(I forget that I have a God that likes to surprise me.)

Sitting in the English tea room this week I had a lady from England lean over her table to talk to me. She proceeded to tell me that I have the loveliest accent she had ever heard and she could listen to me SPEAK all day.

Not SING but SPEAK.

In my whole life I’ve never had someone tell me that.

I’ve confidently spoken out for so long IN SPITE OF being insecure about how it sounds.

That lovely woman in the tea room doesn’t know what she did for me that day.

She gave me beauty I didn’t even know I was capable of having.

What a difference to believe that the voice that I have is worth listening to not just for what it holds but how it sounds.

I don’t know what to do completely with the gift she gave me but I do know it was a surprising lovely gift that bashed a lot of hurt and pain from my life away.

 So my repentance: my “change the way I see things” is this.

I have a powerful LOVELY speaking voice IN SPITE OF the fact it might be hard for people to understand me.