Permission to process

I have learned two things this week.
1. I don’t know nearly as much as I think that I do.
2. I started believing a long time ago that my learning season had expired.

Is anyone subscribed to Bethel’s WorshipU? (Well, if not, shameless plug — GO GET YOURSELF A SUBSCRIPTION CUZ HOLY COW ALL THE GLORY)

I’ve played a lot of teaching in the background since subscribing, and in particular, it seemed like every teaching I clicked on today included someone sharing about a process they were currently/recently in.
“Here is how I walked out restoration after having an affair.”
“The best thing that I ever did was sign up for counseling. I’M IN COUNSELING RIGHT NOW.”
“I wrote this song in the midst of a mental breakdown I was having. You know, this new song — the one we just released.”
“I will answer your questions to the best of my ability, but honestly, most of you only see the highlight reel. We’re still learning just as much as the rest of the Church.”

One of the best ones, though, was —
“I bought into the lie that because I was in full time ministry, I didn’t need help anymore.”

Nailed it. I’ve bought into the same lie for a million different reasons:
“I’m a church administrator.”
“I’m a real adult in my real 20s now.”
“This is common knowledge to someone else so obviously it should be common knowledge to me.”
I have compared my insides to everyone else’s outsides, and decided “Everyone else is doing just fine so I must be failing miserably somehow.”

Doesn’t it seem like the world sets us up for this?
Pressure to be polished, to already be an expert, to be good at it from the moment you start. It seems as if we’re given very temporary permission to grieve, to struggle, to fall apart, or simply to NOT BE GOOD at something for awhile — but the clock is ticking, and there isn’t much time left.

So what does all of this pressure cause? For me, I can see it effecting two areas of my life very strongly.
I am pretty self aware and have absolutely no problem with emotion. I know when I’m discouraged and when something touches my heart – but being aware of your emotions isn’t so fun when the lie is loud that everyone else is fine, much more steady, much more thick skinned, or not phased in the slightest by the things that seem to tear me apart. I haven’t been believing that I’m allowed to struggle.

Last week, I heard the Lord say gently “Han, when you experience an emotion, I just want you to have it. Don’t offer a single reason for why you shouldn’t feel that way, and don’t use what you’re feeling to label yourself as insecure or wounded. If you feel left out, tell me you feel left out. You don’t have to tell me why you shouldn’t feel that way.”

STILL LEARNING because #oldhabitsdiehard, BUT I will tell you what’s happened when I stop invalidating myself — He comes. He comes with truth and empathy and understanding. When Lazarus died, it says that Jesus wept with Mary. He wept with her, even though he, in the very near future, was going to bring a solution for the problem she was grieving over. How much healing comes from the simple knowing that we are not alone in what we feel? That there is compassion and understanding and validation for our hearts?

I just want to echo that truth for anyone else who needs it —
You are allowed to struggle.
You are allowed to actually admit when things hurt and when things are difficult.
You are allowed to feel without offering a reason to invalidate those feelings.
You are allowed to need help.

The blinding perfection of everyone else is just an illusion.
No one was born with inherent, perfect mothering skills.
Everyone’s asked God hard questions and wrestled with doubt.
The most secure person in the world feels inadequate about something.

We are allowed to need help because no one handed us a step-by-step guide on how to slay this whole life thing. We are all allowed to be in process because no one is delivered from it until we leave this Earth.
THAT IS JUST THE GREATEST NEWS TO ME, because it means that I never have to ‘master’ anything. It also means that WE ARE ALL IN THE SAME BOAT and no one has one up on you. We all need help, we all get hurt by people and circumstances and hard things, and we have permission to process through that pain.
In fact, I think we can feel found and helped by the Lord much more quickly if we’re honest about where we are; when we admit our need, confess our sin, and are open about the struggle.

The other way it effects me, you ask? (or maybe you didn’t..)
In pursuing my dreams, particularly the creative ones.

I broke up with the dream of dancing at 19 because didn’t you know that the only way you can be a dancer is if you’ve been doing it since you were three?

I fight long, hard battles with music because I don’t have a Kim Walker voice and darnit anyway, why didn’t I stick with violin and piano lessons, and everyone else is so much further along and it’s too late.

I blog 4 times a year because I may know the proper times to use ‘good’ and ‘well,’ but beyond that, all your friends are writers and your Ohio origin really shows when you can’t help but end sentences in prepositions. 

And other things? You haven’t even tried it yet and there are people your age that will be light years ahead of you forever.

So what if they will be? I’d argue that even if we ate, slept, and breathed that thing we feel unqualified to do since the day we left the womb, we’d still feel inadequate somehow. And isn’t the whole point for your heart to come alive and , and not to be deemed the best anyway?

And what if they won’t be? What if you started painting today and became a world renowned painter at the age of 65? What if your first book tour began 15 years from now? What if you kept on dancing through your adult life and started a form of movement that gave young girls something to look forward to when they’ve ‘aged out’ of their career.

 

I want to be a person that isn’t afraid to admit I’m in process. I never want anyone to be intimidated by a glossy, picture perfect image I’m projecting because I’m too afraid to admit that I don’t know everything.

There is so much heart space in knowing that the learning never ends, and we never age out of needing help. learn.jpg

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Legacy

We’re three weeks into January, which is about the time that New Year’s resolutions everywhere start losing their luster. The third week of January is far enough into the year that the “fresh start” feeling has begun wearing off and the “Oh crap, you mean life still happens?” realizations start effecting our decisions.

Maybe not. Maybe for you, you’re killing this “brand new year, brand new me” thing and telling me inwardly to speak for myself..
OR MAYBE you’re the one that gave up three days into the year, and you’re so thankful that others are willing to admit they’ve joined the club.

Regardless of where you are, January has me thinking about legacy.

A little while ago, the rug was pulled out from under my feet. You know those times? The blindsided ones where something happens that you would have never predicted, let alone prepared for. The ones that squish every single egg in that basket of yours and leave you wondering if you’ll ever be brave enough to invest again.

I felt locked in a room with more pain and disappointment than I thought I could hold. It seemed like I was being forced to brave a storm, nearly against my will, that I didn’t sign up for, and I would have gladly taken one of those “get out of doing hard things” free cards.

During that time, the Lord started talking to me about legacy. In the midst of pain and confusion, I heard him say “Describe the person you want to be. Think of all the things you’ll want to teach your children. Dream of the paths you want to forge for the generations after you. Think of where you want to pour your hard work so that things that were hard for you will be easy for them. Make the list now, because there will be moments ahead that you will be tempted to live lower. Make the list now, so that instead of reacting to your circumstances, you can hold them to standards you have already set.”

My legacy looked something like this:
I will love when it hurts.
I will forgive when it’s hard.
I will have integrity when it matters, and when the fire of life comes, I will step up and not shrink back.
I will generously give love and acceptance to everyone, whether they act like they need it or not, because everyone needs it.
I will treat each person equally regardless of the title they hold or the reputation that have.
I will have hard conversations quickly instead of burying conflict, hoping that it goes away.
I will take the extra time to communicate well and tend to the hearts I am connected to.
I will assume the best about people whether or not it is convenient.
I will live a life of thankfulness.
I will proclaim the goodness and the good intentions of God.
I will make decisions based upon the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Lionhearted and gracious is how I will live.

 

Making a list doesn’t seal the deal. We fail because we’re human (especially me, with the whole ‘conflict’ thing).
…but I think so often that God is about the little things. So often, it’s more about putting the shopping cart back or picking up the trash. So often, it’s about the attitude of our hearts and not the outward response everyone sees. Our stories are made up of a million little moments where we choose to do the right thing, often when no one is looking.
“Then Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.” Gen 15:6
“It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God, for she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” Heb 11:30

The invitation in legacy is this: You are not simply doing the hard thing to be deemed ‘right’ or ‘acceptable’ or even to remain holy. Your moment-by-moment is not just about you; it is honor and worship to God. In addition, you are preparing the way for generations after you. Build that ceiling as high as you can, because it will surely be their floor. They will eat of the harvest you’ve been planting, just as we have been benefiting from all of the hard work generations before us have done.

If I forgive well in the moments where I am tempted to harbor bitterness, it will create a grudge free culture in my life. My grudge free culture will one day be second nature in the lives of my children, where restoration and letting go are easily embraced because they have been practiced over and over.

What does your legacy look like? What are the standards you want to live by, even in the moments you don’t feel like it? At the end of your life, what do you want others to say about you and your family?

(PS I REALLY WANNA KNOW so send me your legacies! hannahwritessometimes@yahoo.com)

 

On longing, pain, honesty, and singleness blogs.

 To the single girl who cried alone in her car on the way home after another wedding;

To the girl who dreams about the layout of her one-day home with Anthropologie mugs and friends at coffee tables, candles and week-night dinners, kids storming through the house and sink loads of dishes, bedding and towels and couch pillows that comfort down deep;

To the girl who swallows hard each time hope deferred hits as another person asks if you’re seeing anyone;

To the anxious heart who feels that they will never be picked or find compatibility;

To the girl who has fled from Instagram a half gazillion times just to pretend, for a short while, like wedding hashtags don’t exist;

To the girl who has been overtaken multiple times by the fear hurricane that comes each time another friend pairs off and your circle of company dwindles even more;

To the girl who has wondered just how many roommates you will have to learn to live with and adjust to, and how many houses you will have to move into before you get to settle for good;

To any girl who has felt unwanted, unloveable, third wheeled, pitied, or overlooked.

I see you, I know you, and I am you.
I am not going to tell you that you should be letting God fill you completely. I’m not going to shame you for longing and ask you why Jesus isn’t enough —
I’m not going to pull the “why aren’t you feeling complete” card because somewhere in that message, it is communicated that there are certain kinds of girls that don’t have to learn that hard lesson, and certain kind of girls that do. Somewhere in that message, striving kicks in, and at best you’re putting on a great, “look at how satisfied I am in the Lord” face — but I know that the pain is still there.
I applaud you for making the most out of your life right now. I applaud you for being independent and taking your freedoms and embracing the ‘little obligations to other people’ season you’re in.
–But I also know those nights when unintentional comments are made that tear you apart, when loneliness creeps in and seems to be claiming a bedroom of its own in the home of your heart. I know too, too well how many ugly, deep, painful cries you’ve had when no one is around. I know what it feels like to be ‘running out of time’ — to wonder if you missed something, did something wrong, or just weren’t provided for.

There’s a particular voice of shame that comes in when you’re trying, with all of your might, to celebrate with the friends who are being handed the very thing that you asked for. The voice that says that you’re selfish, needy, and broken by your own choice.
I want to tell you today that shame is a liar. Thank you so much for the broken congratulations and the ‘give it all you’ve got’ celebrations that you’ve given despite the pain.

Here’s the problem with singleness blogs —
We all want an answer. We all want a once-and-for-all solution to the mountain of anxiety, fear, and loneliness that rears its head at the most inconvenient times.
And a lot of times, we try to offer one to those that are hurting, but I don’t really think there is one.

It’s like trying to come up with a once and for all answer to the “Why do bad things happen to good people?” question — or the “Why did my loved one die even after I prayed for them?” mystery.

Some things aren’t black and white. Some things can’t be solved with a few sentences strung together on the internet or a few faith concepts you ‘should be’ putting into practice. Maybe we don’t need an answer that will fix us, but a journey with the One who is healing, who is peace, and who is the one that will stand with us forever despite the time or season.

Here’s what I know – I have lost count of the days that I have found myself a broken mess. I have become well acquainted with the belly of anxiety that swallows me when I’m just not strong enough to fight it off.

I also have a record of all of the times that Jesus comes in and calms the storm. I have promises and truths about his nature that are laid like planks of wood in the foundations of my heart because I’ve been willing to be honest. The storms keep coming, but He’s faithful to keep on coming.
I have a record of all of the people who have let me borrow buckets of faith when my barrels had run dry — of all of the friends who have prayed and continually fought for God given dreams, and those who have sung my own song back to me.
And just because you’ve found yourself in another storm doesn’t mean that you’re failing. You have Jesus in your boat, and when you don’t have enough faith to speak to the waves, you can wake him up.

It’s true that a man won’t complete you and that you’re already a whole person.
It’s true that there are beautiful gifts in this season of your life that you’ll never get back, and they deserve to be savored.
It’s true that there will ALWAYS be something that we’re longing for that threatens to drain us of our peace — longings for direction, connection, new jobs, children, whatever.

But you are not being shamed for the longing, and the Lord knows what to do with your brokenness. He is faithful to heal you and speak to the places of pain that reach far deeper than whether or not you have a spouse. From the beginning He has always been loving you into wholeness, one step at a time — never fixing you so that you can perform and produce and become all of the things you’ve been told you should be by now.
Please don’t feel that you have to hide in shame or fix yourself or conquer this thing on your own – He is a present help that sees, understands, empathizes, and wants to give you truths that will last for all eternity.

May we fall more and more in love with the One who loves us perfectly — the God of the journey and the process, who sees the whole picture, knows and cares for our desires, and has our best interest in mind.

Why I’m writing

My heart has been burning lately.
Confession – I’ve been reading through my own blogs. Yep. It’s sort of like when you stalk yourself on Facebook or Instagram, curious to see what the rest of the world sees when they come across your profile.. only more, because it’s your guts on a page and your process.

I’ve come to realize lately not only the need to keep writing, but also the need to be more intentional about what I’m writing.

I am choosing to write because I spend a lot of time reading what others have to say. I anxiously scan the page, fingers crossed that they will say what my heart is screaming.
I think we all do that to some degree. If someone else says what’s deeply resonating in us, it somehow validates our process and makes us more real. When someone says what we’re feeling, an alarm is sounded, we lay our weapons down, and realize that the place we’re in is so much safer than we believed, and who we are, deep deep down, is what’s been needed all along.

But the thing is that someone has to say it first.
And I can wait the rest of my life to be validated, or I can start speaking.
I can tiptoe in environments until I sense the safety, or I can carry safety with me everywhere I go.

I am choosing to write because I have fought hard to defend what rings true in my heart, and in the times when I was too tired and wanted desperately to give up and pleaseGodmakemesomethingelse, I would feel the faithful pull of an anchor marked with goodness and love.

I am choosing to write because I have spent too many years trying to measure up and perform perfectly and jump just a little higher — I have spent too many years comparing my insides to everyone else’s outsides, and I want to expose performance for the liar that it is.
No one has their stuff together. We are all struggling.
We are all weathering countless storms and internal tornadoes.
We all have something that terrifies us.
And we all have the beautiful opportunity to come out of hiding and embrace an acceptance that has been waiting for us since the beginning.
There is freedom for our hearts through the doorway of vulnerability, and I want to run through it without reservation.
There is wholeness for our soul as we confront the darkness, open up, and let the light in.
I am writing not to lick and compare wounds but to confront them and heal them instead of burying them in guilt, shame, and “I shouldn’t feel this” ways.

Have you ever noticed how truly confident people effect others?
This is how you know.. False confidence screams “HERE I AM! EVERYONE OUT OF THE WAYYYYYY…”, while true confidence says “I am here, I am amazing, and you are too..” True confidence carries the key to unlocking the realest parts of everyone around them — it whispers “It’s safe here! We need who you are.. please don’t keep it from us!”

I want this spot, this little corner of the world wide web, to be that safe haven for you — The place where you can open wide and bloom and find light in rooms of your heart that you didn’t even know existed.

So here’s to vulnerability and freedom, light in the darkness, and truth like refreshing water to our souls that grow weary, or would just like an extra drink from time to time.
May we not be afraid to hope against hope, and repeat the same truths until our hearts know them well.
May we, together, choose to bravely stand and believe in redemption and goodness in every season.

———————————–

I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
Give me feedback. Tell me your stories. Share your victories. Vent to me when you wish you could post things on the internet but they’re not necessarily appropriate for the entire world to see.
hannahwritessometimes@yahoo.com

Scoreboard

Come, my dear
Unplug the ever-changing scoreboard
Burn the list of “better thans”
Let the whispers of inferiority be drowned in love once and for all

Spring cleaning!
Hurl the weights, the scales, the balances from your second story window
They’ll never do you any good
You don’t need them

There is no game at all.

Satisfied

In a single moment, the entire atmosphere shifts
And everyone standing before you begins pulling out their extravagant gifts.

I didn’t know that you would be here tonight.
I honestly didn’t think you were coming.

And then I realize that had I known, I too would have wanted to bring something brilliant to your feet.

I run to my storehouse, desperate to find something of value.
I look around, scanning shelves, checking corners…
But all I have is ashes.

I let out a defeated sigh and anticipate the familiar embrace of loneliness, but then I hear your bright, warm, life-filled voice.
It couldn’t be. How can you sound so satisfied?

“Perfect! Do you know what you get in return for ashes like these? You stand ashamed with hands full of remnants of what used to be. Did you know that when all you have is ashes, all you gain is beauty?”

Rescued

You know how Spring comes?

Melting all the snow you dreaded pushing through;
heavy to shovel out of the way

You carved hours of time
planning to buy a shovel
and spend some quality time with your driveway

Knowing that when avoided,
the beauty of snow today
will become slick and untrustworthy tomorrow

But Spring slipped in unannounced
warming all it touched,
giving back your time and saving the resources marked “designated for winter”

I’ve dreamed of being rescued like that.

Facing the overwhelming reality of all that must be done
and just how much it will cost…

But in a still moment, hearing Spring say
“I know you can carry the weight
handle the work
tenaciously plow through all that you see

but save time
and write ‘rest’ into your story
because today, I melt the snow..”