Honest, hope is a verb

To just BE (#7)

I had the realization as I was getting ready to come write that this would be my last silent Sunday in the bar as a 32 year old. I’m going to be on a plane next Sunday and then the Friday after that is my birthday.

It’s a bit overwhelming of a feeling for me. I have this wonderful middle of the year birthday. Almost like a new year in the middle of a year. I have a chance to hit refresh and pause and take a deep breath before I dive in to the crazy busy of summer and what feels like a fast forward on an already fast forwarded life.

But, that’s the ahead. Let’s look back instead.

I got a tattoo last week.

I wasn’t planning on it, it was a fleeting thought I mentioned to Victoria on Tuesday. So then, on Wednesday after work I text my roommate Patty and asked her to draw “be” for me. And an hour and 11 little sketches later, I was sitting in the chair at a tattoo parlor.

I am currently reading “Come Matter Here”. It’s a book by the lovely Hannah Brencher and it comes out on May 29. But, as I have been reading this book, I’ve had moments where I’ve thrown the book on the ground, where I have told it to shut up and where I have just started sobbing.

I’ve been reading Hannah’s blog for the last 3 years or so. I read her Monday morning emails as I fill bleach bottles and sort laundry at work. I know her words.

Her words, quite often have been mine.

She writes in “Come Matter Here” about getting a tattoo in the midst of a debilitating season of depression. She gets the word “stay”. Not necessarily in the moment to stay in a place. But to stay in the fight, stay in the struggle.

And as I read those words mere hours after mentioning the word “Be” to Victoria my brain started moving.

To “be” has been incredibly hard for me lately. To BE myself. To BE at peace. To BE present. To BE loved.

And of course, to BE with God.

This past season of my life in regards to God has been one of the most draining that I’ve ever walked through, solely because, I chose to still show up. I still chose to (for the most part) show up and be in the places that felt the most dangerously close to where God was.

I kept and keep showing up even when I don’t believe God himself is showing up.

“I am learning that God doesn’t bring us places to meet our expectations. For him, it’s a lot more about the transformation. He loves who we are, but he will never pass up on the chance to use life events to make us better.”

Come Matter Here*Hannah Brencher*pg71

This last stretch of time, this current moment I am in, has been about choosing to BE. In however that may look. And for me that choice is showing up and choosing to bring who I am to the table.

Because, my last in this list of meanings for a two letter word is this: BE at the table.

This past year I’ve wanted to run. Run fast away from the things inside of me, from the abilities and the pieces that I know I bring to the table, because it was too much.

Because as much as I preach that you have the thing that someone else needs, the responsibility inside of me felt daunting when my inability to believe was shaken.

To BE part of the puzzle was too much, too heavy.

I know, that I don’t have to be all the things. But, the energy to even be some of them was weighing down everything inside of me.

To be known, to be at the table.

To be noticed.

To take up space.

To be loved.

Now, doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?

That I have to coach myself into being ok with being known?

Being known, being seen and being present in that is horrendously scary.

But, as I have been told by multiple people in my life- it’s also my reality.

I am a human who is known. (Even when I think I am really good at not being known)

I am timid to write more declarations about choosing to BE in the year of 33.

But, what I think I can say is this:

I’m learned this year that in the places that I have MOST wanted to run from, the places where I’ve wanted to slip out before the end, the places where I didn’t want to participate or share or give, were in fact the places that I needed to BE the most.

I don’t know what my choice to be will bring me this year.

I just know, believe, choose to remember that the choice to be will bring more to myself than I was yesterday.

As always, deep breathes to the toes my friends.

Let’s be.

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, 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, ramblings

The season in which I don’t write

When I write I untangle things. I figure out thoughts and processes. I give myself space to delve into whatever is going on in my head and sometimes, not all the time mind you, but sometimes I do actually in fact figure it out.

I haven’t written for a month. Not on my blog, not in my journal, not anywhere.

I haven’t paused long enough to attempt to figure out all the things.

But, today, with the huge task of moving houses behind me, I’m attempting to pause.

I feel like I’ve been waiting for a long while. Waiting for a change in the wind, a change in my day to day, something, anything.

I’ve been waiting to feel something fresh.

I guess I should add that when I write to untangle something it also feels as if I am writing to talk to God.

Whatever it may be about, whatever I may be dissecting, I am writing so that you, the reader, can be brought into it, see if it hits something in you so that we, together, might figure something out.

But, I am also writing as if God was sitting next to me.

I shared during a worship night last week at my church.

It felt very out of place for me. I told people I was nervous but in reality I just felt sort of like a fraud. And as people came up to talk to me about what it meant to them it very much was impossible to take those words in.

I think part of the reason I haven’t been able to write this month/year is because it feels like God and I aren’t on speaking terms. We’re currently like those friends you have on Facebook that your “see friendship” function just holds a time capsule of “happy birthday!” back and forth with no tagged pictures or hilarious Mean Girl memes on October 3rd.

And when I go to write I am reminded of that.

Each time I’ve gone to write my brain fills with my failures and with to-do lists I haven’t accomplished and newsletters that have yet to be written and curriculum I haven’t planned and “do I have any clean underwear?”.

There is no space in my brain for words.

I’ve been in this place before. Wherein I am incapable of teaching myself. Hear for myself. Cheer for myself.

But, can I tell you something?

It’s ok.

Why?

Friendships, relationships, sense of self, identity, grow with us.

If I’ve learned anything about myself in the last five years is that I’m going to keep meeting myself. I’m going to keep meeting God however that may look. I’m going to circle back around to things not because I’m a failure but because they are the flip-sides of my strengths. Anxiety in certain situations will pop up- not because I’m weak, but because I have the capability to battle them.

So, long story short, I think I haven’t been writing because I have been scared to say I have nothing to say. That’s what this season feels like. And it feels weird that I essentially just wrote 500 words on why I am not writing, but I think I did this so that you would choose to do whatever thing you aren’t capable of right now.

There is something in you that you put out into the world that means something. Be it running a play group, preaching, writing, singing, leading

– any of it.

There is more to me then what seems like pure inability.

There is more to you as well.

Even if right now, in this moment, it doesn’t feel that way.

I swear, we got this.

Honest, ramblings

Practicing my practice

It’s an interesting place to be in when you sit still for the first time in awhile.

Not on my bed, or in front of Netflix or paperwork or a project. But just sitting, still, with nothing in front of you but space.

I have a new tradition in my life that may sound sad, but really, it’s not.

The new tradition is this: every Friday I have to change into my bathing suit to go swimming with my tiny humans. It’s normal at about 9:30 and I take my coffee into my storage closet and close the door.

But, I don’t turn on the light. I stand, in pitch blackness for at least two minutes. Breathing in and out and drinking my coffee. I did this for the first time on accident. I shut the door without turning the light on and was quickly enveloped in darkness and an intense sigh escaped my body.

The absence of light brought me completely relief.

That sentence sounds like a conundrum really. But in my overly sensory laden environment I’m in every day, being in a pitch black room is heaven.

I’ve been sitting here, at redlight, for over an hour. I’ve started numerous different blogs, I’ve started text conversations, I’ve only had one mimosas and I’ve stared a blank screen.

But now, I came back to this one, these first words I wrote.

Here’s what it is: I’m struggling with depression right now. Depression, coupled with anxiety, with some winter blues to mix it all up.

I don’t like to talk about depression and anxiety because people have opinions.

(Including myself)

There are so many schools of thought on depression and anxiety. So many books and methodologies and experts.

Now, as a human who lived with two people who were in grad programs for clinical psychology (shoutout to A3), I know that there is hope and help and all the things dealing with depression.

But, that doesn’t make me any less prone to talk about it.

There a few types of seasons that come up in my life that cause me to want to shut my mouth.

Because I’ve been through it before, because people have helped me before, because shouldn’t I be able to solve my own problems.

We live in a society that tells us to figure out our own issues.

Fake it til you make it.

There is a time and a place for faking it til you make it.

Because, yes, we just have to get through the day. I have tiny humans who need me to show up for them each day. Routines and a schedule and transitions that have to happen every day.

But, what are you going to do when you stop?

I binged watched a show on Friday. I haven’t done that for awhile. I watched the entirety of the first season of the reboot of Queer Eye. (No but really watch it)

And I cried.

It was the loveliest reminder of what it looks like to care for ourselves. To do things that bring us life. To take time to fill ourselves up. To take time to live.

I am a human, who has for the past 10-12 years, struggled with depression and anxiety.

I’m not defined by it.

It’s not who I am.

It’s just something that rears it’s head in some seasons more than others.

The things that pop up here and there don’t define us. They don’t hold us.

We are still us.

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, I choose champagne

2016.2017.2018. Let’s just be who we are.

I am sitting in my favorite bar, as it becomes increasingly more crowded than normal on a Sunday early evening. Most are in pairs, or groups. I’m the sole solitary human, sitting at my favorite table tucked in the corner. My back is against the window and I am directly next to an outlet and the exposed brick.

I am pretty comfortable sitting by myself in most places. I am fine shopping by myself, I’ve traveled across an ocean and been alone in the Istanbul airport more than any other airport in the world.

I almost always get slight amounts of anxiety right before going somewhere by myself or to an event with a large amount of people. But here, and a smattering of coffee shops, public transport and airplanes- I am always good.

This year, I believe, has been about being as home as I possible can be in my own skin, in my own identity. It’s been about being where my feet are.

I don’t always do well at this.

But, I am trying.

And now, it’s the end of the year. Now, for me personally, 2017 has been eons better than 2016. But, as my work wife has pointed out, 2017 hasn’t been all confetti, champagne and sunshine.

In reality, I said the F word more times this year than last. I lost more faith in people than I ever have. I have had more anxiety and more moments of being alone.

I haven’t been as constantly exhausted but I for sure have hit more walls of “all done friends”. My schedule has been more busy than I think it has been in a long time.

And that isn’t going change when the clock strikes midnight and turns the year to 2018. Last year, I remember sitting, shortly after midnight, in my sparkly gold dress, barefooted, on the porch of my friend’s house, watching the snow fall with a glass of champagne that slowly became mixed with the tears falling down my cheeks. All I wanted was for the world around me to feel different.

I tried to believe it did- but it didn’t.

So I became busy in 2017. I did a lot of things. I rarely had a week go by that didn’t involve at least 3/5ths of the weekdays being filled with something, be it working at my church, hanging out with someone or having an event or organized group situation.

I think part of my reasoning for becoming busy was that busy equaled full. That my life could be classified as full because it was busy.

I could say that my life was full because my laundry had piled up to overflowing in my closet and didn’t even care that there were dishes in the sink.

Busy meant not being able to stop to hear what I needed to hear.

Back in August, a part time job popped up at a different church. It would have been 10-20 extra hours a week being a children’s director of a local churches smaller downtown campus.

It would mean a lot of things: extra income, no free time, getting paid to do something I know I love (and am good at), having no social life and not getting to go to the church I adore.

But, I had done that exact same thing before so I knew I was capable of that schedule.

I had a random day off in August, the day after the ad had been discovered. I had coffee with a good friend, lunch with my roommate and obviously talked to both about it. I headed for home to work on my cover letter and resume.

Because of applying for this job, I ended up having a very honest conversation with one of the pastors at my church. Through the conversation we had, I realized that I was running from being known. She, of course, called me on all these things, as she should.

I didn’t end up interviewing for the job. In all reality, though I want a job like that, but working 60 hours a week and moving from the two places where I feel like myself in Bellingham was not the best idea.

In reality, most of this year I’ve been running. I’ve been running from stopping, from thinking and from pushing in.

I have in certain places and situations. There are friends in my life with whom I can never run from my problems around. But I have reached that place here in Bellingham where I am known and that’s terrifying.

So, why have I said all of this?

It’s simple actually.

I want to encourage you not to make resolutions.

(What?)

I just want to encourage you to step more into who you are everyday. No matter what.

I spent this year trying to busy everything so far away, in the name of my resolutions that I forgot parts of who I was. When those parts were awakened they felt like hope, when in reality they should have just felt like me.

December 31rst and January 1 are no different from today and tomorrow.

There is symbolism in the changing of the year. It is a new book in your life. But it’s not a separate book. It’s a continuation.

So, as the holidays kick in full force and as my kitchen get covered in flour and coconut sugar. As we celebrate the year, the now and the yet to come, I want to remind you that the changing of a calendar doesn’t change who you are.

I want to encourage you to hope for more, but not put the more on a new year.

Don’t run from who you’ve become in all the things. Grab who all the things have made you.

Right now. Today.

Here, in this bar, where I am the only solitary human, I am being where my feet are more than I have in a long time.

Right now. Today