Gentleness

My name is Hannah Riggin and on this very Sunday, I run the high risk of sounding like a broken record (just needed to prepare you, world wide web). 

Contrary to my ambitious hopes and ridiculously high expectations, I AM IN PROCESS. I persuade my heart quite regularly that there will come a day when I reach a certain level of immunity to life. You know, where you have your stuff together 75% of the time and don’t have those internal tornado freak out moments but once in a blue moon. Oh, what a day that would be.
But you know, I’m starting to believe this magical place doesn’t actually exist.

I am in process and many details of it are not exactly appropriate to blog about. Believe me, it’s made blogging weekly similar to pulling teeth because I think “What’s going on in my heart and mind? A TON. A whole heck of a ton that I have shared with very few people; you know, it would probably not be wise to shout that information from the rooftops via internet. Not wise at all.” So I value you, fellow web surfers, and if anyone loves vulnerability, it’s me – but there’s a fine line between vulnerability and indecent exposure.

Here’s what I’m learning though, that won’t cause damage upon being shared; I am the QUICKEST person in the world to heap condemnation all over myself. I get frustrated with people and then I think “WHAT ARE YOU DOING? The old Hannah would have been patient and assumed the best about everyone.” Shoot. You’re right – how do I get her back? I want to do that, really I do – I want to love deeply and be a safe person and give God my everything and feel connected to him day and night. I want to confidently know who I am and quit trying to prove myself. I want Heaven’s smile to be enough and QUIT FREAKING WORRYING about how people perceive me or what kind of stupid idiot I appear to be in their eyes. I want to trust again and quit anticipating disappointment. I want to be free from burnout and unravel all of the caution tape I have wrapped around places where I’ve had bad experiences. 

And ALL I see is how I don’t measure up – how far I am from being even remotely on top of my game. All I feel is tons of pressure to get better, and get better fast because no one likes a hot mess.
I’m the first born sibling in my family, and according to psychology, I default, by nature, into ‘hero’ mode.
Let me fix everything and have all of the answers and save the day because I’M SO GOOD AT IT, SEE? 
But the stack of ‘To-Dos’ on how not to suck as a human being grows higher by the minute and my ability to ‘to-do’ them diminishes quickly.

 

Guys; JESUS IS SO GENTLE. I took a ton of junk to him on Saturday, very much expecting him to tell me several things I didn’t want to hear. “This is an idol, this is a wrong thinking pattern, here’s where you’re ungrateful, over here is where you just need to spend a hefty amount of time repenting and hope real hard that your heart will feel different afterward.”

He’s always better than we think. He’s always interested in loving and not in the business of fixing us. He sees the brokenness behind our motives and the heart behind our well meaning actions. 

“I’m not worried about you. I cut you so much more slack than you anticipate. There’s so much more grace available than what you see. I know your history – I don’t expect you to be handling things any better than you are right now. It’s brave to believe in my gentleness. You will not be put to shame for believing in my gentleness. I love explaining things to you and watching you understand. The safety net is bigger than you expect – I’m not frustrated or tired of waiting. I’m really good at waiting. It’s not hard to love you.”

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:29

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POETRY.

HEY YOU. Did you know that April is National Poetry month?
So to celebrate, here is a fresh writing. You are welcome to read, enjoy, and most exciting of all, SHARE YOURS WITH ME. You can comment on the post below OR email me at hannahwritessometimes@yahoo.com. I’ll pick a few and share them in my blog next week to conclude the month. YAY. (Sorry for all the caps, I’m a little excited)

 

COURAGE

They say love is weak, but you know better
Daily they condemn you for your hope

“Too good to be true”
“Give it time, she’ll learn.”
“This girl, filled with naivety. The real world will teach her.”

They don’t see your blistered hands
clinging to rumors of goodness
whispered years ago

Scraped up knees
leaps of faith that didn’t seem to hold your weight

Patches of fear
tucked away in your heart
Fear the ground will never harden
committed to a life of less-than-perfect landings
Fear that faithfulness is an artifact
not a common practice, a living species

I believe you’re the bravest person I’ve ever met
Fear and all

 

Because this is a short blog, here are a few random glimpses into the brain of Hannah:

SOMETHING I LEARNED TODAY
I went to the DMV this afternoon and everyone was grumpy. You want to know what makes people at the DMV grumpier than usual? No air conditioning, and crying children – that’s what. I also learned that if you take a crying child into an unairconditioned DMV, you are likely to get called to the front of the line and waited on pronto. Good to know. (no one seemed upset about the cut in line) I also, ALSO learned that I will have an ongoing relationship with the department of motor vehicles, as getting a car registered in the state of North Carolina has turned out to be much more complicated than usual. But hey, at the end of it all, I’ll be a Carolinian, y’all.

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SOMETHING THAT MADE ME UNCOMFORTABLE
I attempted to blog at Camino, and this 80 degree weather has apparently removed all shirts of the male population. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually quite an uncomfortable thing, having to pretend like human beings don’t normally wear more clothing than that. If you’re not wearing a shirt in downtown Winston Salem, I might feel a little weird around you. 

3 THINGS I LOVE RIGHT NOW
1. The new Noah Gundersen album… guys, it just has ‘Carolina summer’ written all over it.
2. Tempeh: I’m not a vegetarian and don’t plan on pursuing the life of one, but tempeh is much cheaper than meat and absorbs oodles of flavors like nature’s little baby food sponge. (you also feel cool cookin’ with it)
3. Spandex: making dress wearing 4 times more comfortable, one pair at a time.

AND FINALLY, I’M FREAKING EXCITED BECAUSE…
Right now, I’m freaking excited because I’m realizing that 90 percent of worship leading ability is just believing that you’re capable of doing it. NO JOKE. If you say ‘Hey self – did you know that you can do this whole worship thing? You’re really qualified to do it and there’s no competition.’ Then, all of the sudden, YOU ARE MIRACULOUSLY TRANSFORMED into an BA intercession glory momma. Confidence really is key (at least one of them). Who would have thought.. So if you want to be a really cool worship leader, or a freaking sweet photographer, or a rad painter with art displayed all over the town.. ORRR something entirely different that has nothing to do with art, YOU CAN DO IT. All of the ability to do what you desire is already inside of you – you’ve just got to pull it off the shelf and dust it off a little. Go live the dream.

Unprepared

I still think about him.

The kid I graduated with. The one that was so kind and quiet and everyone loved. The one that had been forgotten about by so many of us until his name leaked throughout news stations all over Ohio.
The kind, quiet, actually-not-a-jerk kid that everyone knew who was now significantly heavier, charged with the murder of his mother, and looked completely lost.

What happened?

I think we all have moments throughout our lives when we realized that none of us are immune. The abstract, devastating-yet-not-affecting-us stories about faceless people we have no connection to suddenly become the girl we knew since kindergarten that died of cancer in her early twenties, or the ornery little boy who got on our nerves in third grade that robbed a taxi driver and has been locked away for it. 

But something happens when the pain of life touches us.. People who we would have deemed as evil robbers or killers or druggies or WHATEVER suddenly become human beings with stories and relationships and personalities. 
The girl who died of cancer isn’t a distant story that I can extend my condolences to – she’s a friend whose birthday parties I attended growing up, who I played in band with, who would literally pack slices of bread for lunch and we wondered how on Earth she got  nourishment – a girl who had friends and foes and siblings and cousins and boyfriends.
The boy charged with murder isn’t someone I can just label as horrible and move on, because I remember having 6th grade classes with him and seeing him laugh in the hallways and playing football and surviving through school like the rest of us. 

I refuse to believe that there are some good people and some bad people in the world. I refuse to believe that we’re a product of our choices, and some of us are just idiots that make wrong decisions and should be punished for it. 
I think that life happens, and pain happens, and we’re thrown curveballs and a lot of times have no idea how to handle them. When we realize that we’re all human beings trying to make it, doing the best that we can, we put our stones down and help each other up. 
None of us are prepared for the curveballs. I’m overwhelmed this morning thinking about the pain we’ve all endured and the events we’ve faced that pulled the rug from under our feet. And I want to tell you, whoever you are, that you are doing a really great job. You’re doing the best you can with what you’ve been given, and even if you’ve made some really bad choices and never dreamed of being in the position you’re in right now, it’s really okay. There’s no step by step manual on how to handle abandonment or rejection, betrayal or loneliness or loss of a loved one. You’ve never had to handle those things before, so there’s no expectation for you to get it all right. There’s always redemption, and things will get better, and you’re not alone.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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(On a much more light hearted note…) TUESDAY APRIL 15TH IS HALLE ELLIOTT’S BIRTHDAY. She is my roommate’s younger sister, a faithful reader of my blog, and has randomly encouraged me in more ways than she knows. PLEASE LET HER KNOW how valuable, loved, talented, and ridiculously treasured she is this week (because she is all of those things).
Halle, you’re maturing beautifully into someone who fights for the hearts of those around you (and you write the best songz EVR). I’ve watched you make hard decisions in the name of doing the right thing, and walk in honor despite the difficult seasons you’ve faced. SHOOT GIRL, I’M BUYIN’ YOU A BIRTHDAY ICEE.

[OH! And for the record, this blog counts as the ‘Monday’ blog, for this Monday, I will be out of town leading an intern trip.]

(And finally, on a much more potentially lame note…) I am well aware that this blog may be read only by a few of my close friends who believe in my writing dreams. HOWEVER, there may come a day when that changes and I might not personally know a reader or two (AND THAT WOULD BE SO COOL). So why not prophetically get the ball rolling by saying I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.. So here’s an email address you can shoot things to; thoughts, remarks, maybe even questions – although I don’t know if I’ll have an answer – the idea of getting feedback excites my little heart ever so much. Anywho, the email isssss —>> hannahwritessometimes@yahoo.com

Slower Paces

I watched a Christian documentary on Friday night. 
I won’t tell you which one, although if you know me and care to find out, it wouldn’t take much Facebook stalking to do so. 

If I’m being really honest, I thought the whole film had a cheese factor of at least 5 1/2 out of 10. The stories within the film were great, but the way they presented them throughout was a little funny. (take this as my movie disclaimer for those of you that would have read this blog and immediately wanted to see the documentary)

One reoccurring theme that came up in the movie was abandonment.
“God is worthy of every cell, every breath, every word. Following him has cost us everything, but he’s worthy of it!”
Story after story of repeatedly laying down everything to continually follow Jesus. The level of surrender in the lives of people in this documentary was unique and moving and it invites you to live higher than you’re living. 

My heart ached as I listened and reflected over the times of giving everything in my life.
The two year high school relationship with a basketball player who was in church for me but not really that I finally let go of in brokenness.
The bitterness and pain from betrayal in friendships that deflated my whole world when I was 18.
The move from the only church I had ever known to a new home, while many church family members didn’t understand.
The uprooting and relocating to a new state with the promise of a whisper “There’s more!” 

Beautiful seasons that I would never take back or do differently, even through the pain and mistakes I made along the way. I know Jesus so much more because of those times, and every bit of it has helped shape me into who I am now. 

 

Hearing about surrender on Friday didn’t throw my heart into worship though.

“No way. I don’t want to. I only have a few things left. What are you going to do with them once I deem them yours? Surely you’ll take them away and just tell me I’ll understand why one day. Not this time – I can’t do it. I’m not in the mood to have everything ripped from me again and just wait for things to work out and make sense. The answer is no.”

 

WHAT. That’s in my heart? I had no idea. 
In this time as winter turns to spring, I’m realizing that there are still places in me thawing out.
I felt pretty guilty, really, reacting that way inwardly. There are people in a film that sold everything to become missionaries and save orphans – getting stoned (with rocks, not drugs, of course) and professing their love for Jesus on their deathbeds, right before they are miraculously healed. 

I prayed about it a lot. “Help me to trust you. Help me surrender. Help me to get rid of the junk from hard seasons…” and I got an unexpected answer.

“I am so happy to walk with you through this process. I’m not in a hurry to get you to where you think you should be. If today your greatest concern is whether or not you will find a car (mine bit the dust this week), then I’m happy to walk with you in those moments.”

I’m not in Africa loving on orphans, and standing face to face with the stories of these other Christians, I felt like a very dumb girl with first world problems – but I am being lead by Love every day, and I’m right where I’m supposed to be. It’s just like the closet analogy from last week – if the Lord is unpacking things in my heart through broken down cars, administrative duties, and coffee dates with friends at Camino, and I leave, out of pressure and obligation, to a foreign country to do something deemed more worth while, I could be throwing clothes back in the closet that he meant for Goodwill. I could be hanging clothes in the very space he was clearing for new shelving.
That’s the thing – I’m always in a hurry to get better and be better and live better. I somehow think that I’ll be more pleasing to God and more enjoyable to others and happier overall if I can improve who I am.. But Jesus isn’t interested in fixing, only loving. Think about it – would you ever sign up to start dating someone, knowing that their only intention in dating you was to change you entirely because you were not yet acceptable to them? We are invited to encounter perfect love and have our eyes opened to who we’ve been all along. The closet will get organized and the room will be clean, but in the meantime, we can be free to make memories sorting through old shoes or reminiscing via worn out favorite t-shirts. I’m convinced that the memories made during the journey are just as valuable as the end result.

You are allowed your process today. You are invited to find the pace of God (and probably be surprised that it’s slower than you anticipated). You are allowed to quit running and panting and sweating and start walking and enjoying the breeze. You are invited to quit comparing your insides to everyone else’s outsides, because inwardly, we’re all an unraveling beautiful mess most of the time.

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Messy Closets and Trust

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Photo Cred: The one and only Whitney Fritz

Real quick: I swore to myself that I would be one of those really cool bloggers that subtly posted a real photo taken by a real friend to tie into the theme of my writing today. However, we pulled into the super sketchy driveway of this warehouse-esque building and it was so much fun that I couldn’t stand not geeking out about it for just a moment (Also, Whitney has a wonderful eye for photography and edits pictures very well – everyone should tell her.)

 

Another wonderful friend posted this guy on Facebook earlier in the week…
“Don’t try to hold God’s hand; let Him hold yours. Let Him do the holding and you do the trusting.” – H. William Webb-Peploe

I’ll reluctantly admit (although it probably isn’t much of a surprise to others) that I like to make sure that things are in order and under control. I would like to think that I’m not controlling in a ‘let me manipulate everyone to get them to do what I want’ kind of way, but in more of a ‘Let me quadruple check that all of my bases are covered and I’ve taken care of everything’ kind of way.
There are noble things about that – we need to take responsibility for things. The world would be a frustrating, scary place without responsible people. The problem comes when we pick up weight that was never ours to carry – when we think that way more is expected of us.

In the story of Mary and Martha, Mary is perceived as the golden child making the right decision, and Martha is perceived as the bitter, sweaty, angry sister who is overworked and missing the point. The thing is that Martha didn’t go behind Mary’s back, complaining to all of the neighbors about how lazy she was… She went straight to Jesus and asked ‘Could you tell her to help me?’ She believed that every sandwich she was making and dish she was cleaning was actually an expectation that had been placed on her.

For a really long time I had this idea of what a solid, healthy relationship with Jesus looked like. I needed to pray this much, read this much, focus on the right things and have a certain amount of consistent joy and peace in my life. If for some reason those things weren’t present, in my eyes, I was doing something wrong and needed to search until I found out what it was.
The system of ‘keep your peace and fight for joy’ works well enough, until you’ve exhausted all of your options and no matter what you do, peace doesn’t seem to stay; you’ve exhausted all your options and on your best day, can only convince a few people (yourself not being one of them) that you’ve got some joy (joy, joy) left down in your heart.

Don’t get me wrong – Jesus IS peace and joy and all of the great things that we long for, and I believe that he keeps us in every season and that we can ask him for help no matter the circumstance.. but I’ve learned a lot in the moments that I tried to make things better and nothing seemed to change. You learn to trust – to quit trying to regulate your relationship with God and maintain an imaginary harmony you’ve established between the two of you. The standards that say ‘If these things are in line, then we’re okay – but if not, something is off that I need to quickly correct.’

I’m not saying that we’re not ever off track or need some readjusting, but I am saying that he’s got higher ways than we do, and gets us in line with a lot more ease, and a lot less sweat and pain. He leads and navigates way better than we do – He never expected us to do the leading. Sometimes we put standards and expectations on how our relationship with Jesus should look. We’re desperately trying to make things happen and fix what we perceive is broken, when he could be saying “Hey, I did that on purpose. I’ve got it covered, just lean into me.. I’ll make it beautiful and better than you’re imagining. I don’t hold you responsible for the mess you see.”

It’s almost like we are the child, and he is the parent cleaning out the closet of our bedroom. You come home from school one day to find boxes and piles of clothing everywhere. Frantically, you try to put things back where they belong (but the mess is a lot bigger than you are). Apologetically you approach him – “I have no idea how my room got so messy, but I promise if you give me some extra time I will clean up everything.”
He’s the one cleaning out the closet, giving things to goodwill, installing a new shelving system. He knows you’re not responsible for the mess and doesn’t expect you to do all of the work in cleaning it up. As a matter of fact, if you were to try to put everything back the way that it was before, it would hinder the new improvements he’s trying to bring to your room.

 

–I ended up blogging about something entirely irrelevant to the picture taken above, so here’s a quick story/explanation:
I was singing in my car earlier this week (you do it too, I just know it) and I saw this picture of a near desert that had been suffering a drought. Hope was written on a bucket and represented a limited water supply – A water supply that you felt you had to control and not consume too much of, because you weren’t sure how long you’d have to go before refilling the bucket. (The bucket also represented self reliance and self sufficiency).. In the picture, the sky looked pregnant with rain and I knew that it would be okay to drop the bucket and rely on the sky to provide. // I quickly thought “Okay, that’s a great promise, but kind of funny because I feel like a broken record with all of this ‘things are getting better, happy endings’ stuff.. BUT as I discredited the illustration and my day dreaming heart, I looked up and saw the billboard in the picture. ‘HOPE FOR THE BEST.” (It actually says ‘hope for the best is not an emergency plan’ ..but that’s besides the point). So here’s to billboards and the broken record of happy endings to come.