Six Years Later

toa-heftiba-274947A few months ago I was talking with a friend and a question came up… if you were given the opportunity to make something right or tell someone something and it was the last time you were able to do that, who would you choose and what would you say? I didn’t have the answer then. I think I chose something that would have been nice but I don’t think it was the real honest answer. So, because I’m not a verbal processor and I’m a writer, I’m going to share this answer with you & the universe.

To be honest, I think we all have that one thing we wish we would have said, that one apology, I love you and I’m really glad your in my life kind of thing. The following is a short and concise version of that for me. These are words that are actually too late to say but nevertheless they are true.

So here is my very real, honest and vulnerable apology love letter.

___________,

Sorry it’s taken so long. I’m not great with relationships. You know that all too well. It’s been a very long time. My fault of course. I cut you out of my life entirely. I do that and I am sorry. But the truth is I miss you. It use to be every couple of minutes, then every hour, then every few weeks, then every month and now every few months I think about you. The less and less I think about you the more it makes me kind of sad. Sad that would have, should have moments exist in our lives. Sad because it was of my own making. But,  it’s very easy to romanticize the past. It’s simple to reminisce about rose colored glass versions of people. I have a very real and rosy version of you in my mind. But… that’s all kind of changed.

This year was really difficult in ways I could have never imagined. It made me question  a lot of different things I thought to be true. One of those things was love. Once upon a time I thought I loved you. You were my best friend. But, the timing was never right. The gumption was never there. And, even though I was young and not a fully formed adult, I knew that I was way too much for someone like you. You treated me with so much kindness and grace all the time. You cared about what I cared about. You wanted to get to know my crazy family. You supported me in ways a lot of people didn’t. And… at the end of the day, you were there. You were there when I needed someone. Until… you weren’t.

The reason I could never tell you I loved you was because I wasn’t sure it was true. There were things I loved about you, but other things I really really didn’t. You were passive. You weren’t ambitious. Your number one priority was to get married and mine wasn’t.  And, most of all, you never fought for me. That’s the hard part. No one does. I leave. It’s what I do when things get hard. But, it’s not always what I want. I expected more.

I’ve learned a lot about love since then. There’s many different types. The fact that you can love people in different seasons of your life. And, when you want a person, you don’t get to choose which part, you take the whole thing and hope that all the good outweighs the bad. You also don’t get to choose when a person enters or leaves your life. I’m learning to embrace my seasons with people.

I use to think our timing was just a bit off. If I had met you later in life I would’ve been ready. Truth is, I’m not the same person. You’re not the same person. And, at the end of the day I cared about you in the right season of my life. I’m sorry it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry that I left and that I wasn’t a better friend. I’m sorry I broke your heart a little. I didn’t love you well. Love is a choice and it’s manifested through action. I didn’t choose you and I left. I chose me. My goals, ambitions and selfishness were my priorities.

Ours was the healthiest unhealthy relationship I’ve ever had. Complicated. Messy. I don’t do any of those things for very long you know. And I’m really good at cold cut endings. I’m sorry you were part of that. You were my best friend. Now you’re not.

Truth is, you don’t need my apology. You are happy. I know because you’ve found your person. You’ve made a life. A life you wanted, a life that you deserve. I’m happy that you are happy. This apology was really for me. Parts of me are still pretty selfish. I blamed you for all of it. I sowed a seed of bitterness towards you that made it super simple to walk away. But in all honest, I very much bare a lot of the blame.

So, one last I’m sorry and I’ll be done. I wish you well. Thank you for being the one who made me happy for a little while, for showing me what a good and decent man looks like and for treating me with kindness when I didn’t even know how to give that to myself. I’m glad we met. I’m glad you’re a forever piece of my story. Go, be happy.

with love,

Kate

The Darkest, Twistiest Thing

ian-robinson-181741I am about to share something I am wholeheartedly tired of people (myself included) tiptoeing around. It is a very difficult post for me to write. But it’s something I don’t take lightly because I know I’m not alone and I share in hopes that you will know you’re not alone too.

Mental illness. Today just so happens to be World Mental Health Day. Here are a few stats around that:

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet, we don’t talk about it. Words are taken lightly, like depression or anxiety just to name a few. As someone who has suffered from clinical depression and anxiety for almost all of my life… there’s a few things I would like to clear up. These are a few of my truths.

I’m going to warn you, this list isn’t pretty. It’s not cute. And above all, it doesn’t mean I’m combustible, fragile or need to be tiptoed around. If anything my broken bits let the light in and I’m a stronger human because of them.

From a very early age all that people remarked about me was my smile. Partially because it was too big for my face, but mainly because I did a lot of it. Be mindful that sometimes, behind someone smiling there can be hurt and a whole lot of lonliness. Happiness doesn’t always constitute joy, and sometimes people plaster on fake smiles for you to stop asking if they’re alright. Maybe just be there, be present, listen.

I want you to know these things because I am one in five. I am one in 18. I am one of 10 million. I’m just one. And there are so so many of us out there. But, the truth is… I’m lucky. In many regards I shouldn’t be alive typing out this post right now. But, I’m strong. And, I know that this is not all of me.

Here are some things you should know:

  1. Mental illness looks different on everyone. The signs are different, the reasons are different. The coping is different. I cope with “shut the door” phases and smelling the candle isle in Target. I mean, I never said I was a sane person.
  2. Being sad is NOT the same thing as being depressed. Sadness is an emotion, depression is more of a state of being. And there are many levels of depression. Sometimes people suffer from seasonal depression because of winter and whatnot, yes that is a real thing you should take seriously.
  3. Depression and anxiety can come out of nowhere, at least for me. Sometimes there are days that I know I’m not particularly feeling happy, but other times I can be the happiest ever and then all of a sudden have a panic attack or just want to crawl into a hole. It’s not a pretty thing to witness, but it’s an awful thing to experience.
  4. Suicide is not about you, usually. I don’t know everyone who has ever committed suicide nor attempted, but I speak from what I know. There are sometimes earth shattering things that occur that make people want to do that. But in that moment, no matter the reason, that person just doesn’t want to exist. It’s not a level of selfishness they are aware of, life is just all too much, all at once. A friend of mine explained it by saying, “People with chronic depression, it’s not that they want to die, it’s that they have to talk themselves into existing. Sometimes every minute of everyday, and sometimes they lose that battle.”
  5. Anxiety and worry are not the same thing. Anxiety is often irrational. I have a really hard time trusting people. I overanalyze everything, everyone and every situation because of anxiety. Sometimes, it’s exhausting.
  6. Sometimes you can help people, sometimes you can’t. People need to help themselves first. There is no amount of words that can be reasoned out if a person at the end of the day doesn’t believe that life is worth living. What you can do is meet them where they need to be met and love them the best that you can. Show them that you are glad they exist. Show them that they are loved and wanted. That’s what you can do for them, and if that doesn’t work…if that isn’t enough, there really isn’t anything else you could have done.
  7. Asking for help isn’t shameful. Talking about your shit isn’t shameful. It’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to take medication if there is a need and it will help. Sometimes it is hormones. Sometimes it is an imbalance. Talk to someone. Anyone. You are worth that conversation.
  8. It doesn’t need to be glorified. It took me a long time to stop using this as an excuse not to live my best life. There were days, weeks, months that I would lock myself away in my room refusing to come out other than to go to school or to any place I had to. A lot of that time I didn’t even eat. I used it as an excuse to cripple myself and waste time in my life. Experiences, opportunities wasted because I was wallowing. I’m not saying that you don’t deserve to feel the way you feel. You deserve to feel the full spectrum of human emotion… but it’s not all of you. Acknowledge that feeling and then move on. The deepest problems arise when we dwell on it, when we focus our whole being on it.
  9. You don’t have to understand. If you have a friend or someone you care about has depression or anxiety or any mental illness at all and you don’t… they don’t want you to understand. They want you to acknowledge that this is how they feel, that’s it. You don’t have to try to make it better, you don’t have to say that everything will be alright… just listen. Just acknowledge that this is how they feel, ask if they need anything, and listen.
  10. You don’t have to justify. Yeah… I’m a twenty something, moderately pretty, smart, funny, well-liked, moderately affluent, white woman… what do I have to be depressed about. Stop it. I feel the way I feel. My own family, some of my closest friends don’t even acknowledge this aspect of my life. Just because those you love don’t acknowledge or know what to do about it doesn’t mean you have to justify or explain it. It’s just your truth. This is your struggle. This is their struggle. You are not broken, this is just part of your story. Instead of allowing it to cripple you, use it to be better.

 

Don’t treat your people differently. Just acknowledge that this is a part of them. For some of us, happiness takes effort. For some of us, we have to reason out our existence. For me,  this aspect of my life has made me kinder, more empathetic and more understanding of humanity as a whole. Just listen and acknowledge your people’s truth.

So yeah… I am a lot of dark and twisty. I feel a LOT of things. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s just true.

I don’t need you to take care of me. I don’t need you to fight for me. I need to fight for me.

 

People Watching

You know why airports are one of my favorite places on Earth? People watching galore, and the fact that it’s a cornucopia of places and cultures all at once headed to various destinations around the world. Everyone is going somewhere.

Being the loner that I am, I have always loved people watching. And the more you watch, the more you understand. The more understand, the more you become aware of why people do what they do. Subtle hints of why people share/exhibit certain emotions and actions. This is partially why I am borderline obsessed with personality tests. I find them fascinating. The reasons behind our actions and understanding them affords us the opportunity to evolve into the best versions of ourselves and to add value to those around us. Also, in less eloquent terms, if you’re really watching and listening, you have the opportunity to help make someone’s shitty day a little less shitty.

You pick up on certain subtle insecurities people have as well. It’s easy to write people off as shitty, but there’s almost always a deeper underlying reason for their behavior. It’s not always pretty but it’s almost always true. But… you’re right, some people are just shitty at the end of the day. I digress.

So, in my people watching obsession, I think a lot about a lot. I notice things. People are complex, sometimes complicated — most often not knowing what they want or where they’re going, just kickin’ it in the general monotony of time and space. I think you can learn a lot about yourself by observing others and you can really bring value into your life and in the lives of those you care about by putting some of what you observe into practice.

With that in mind, over the past few months I’ve been super interested in figuring out what people’s love languages are. Now, we all know that some of our love languages may not be on the list I’m about to provide…like my secondary love languages are definitely coffee and naps… but bare with me. Perhaps you’ll be able to associate with one or two and maybe learn to love your people/person a little better.

The idea of love languages has been circling around the self/relationship improvement community for over a decade. If I’m not mistaken it revolved around this book written by Gary Chapman, a well renowned relationship counselor. But, the premise is that it’s not about marriage it’s about relationships in general… all relationships. Try not to get too bogged down in the overused “love” part… this applies to how you give and receive affection of any kind in various capacities of your life.

The Five Different Love Languages*:

Gifts — It’s not a  love of materialism. This person loves the thoughtfulness behind receiving a gift of any kind. Missed birthdays and lack of thought put into special days is particularly devastating for a person whose primary love language is receiving gifts.

Service — This person feels loved and cared for when you go out of your way to help them in some capacity. Help around the house, cooking dinner, putting together a piece of furniture are all examples of acts of service. This person would feel particularly unloved by laziness or apathy towards their requests or hints for help.

Physical Touch — This person likes to be in the presence of people. A hug, pats on the shoulder, holding hands, kissing or even sex are all ways in which this person feels loved and valued. For this person, lack of desire or neglect can be particularly devastating.

Words of Affirmation — For this person, words are equated with actions. This person not only needs to be shown they are loved and valued, they need to hear it. Being told they are of value to you or they are doing a good job are ways in which this person might receive affection. Compliments are also well received by this love language. Silence and lack of communication would devastate someone who needs words of affirmation.

Quality Time — This person likes to receive undivided attention. They love one on one time with their people. What would devastate this person is routinely canceled dates, exhausted use of busyness and not listening or being present when you are actually with them.

The idea is a  little cheesy but makes a lot of sense. Read a brief plug *here.

I found this particularly interesting when I looked at it under the microscope of my friend. A few years ago she was having a rough go at her marriage. She would routinely speak with me about how she didn’t know if she and her husband would survive the separation of a move to different states. She talked about how she felt unloved and unwanted and womp womp… how they weren’t having sex, like ever. More conversations and months went by (…and yes, I know way too much about their intimate life) and her whole demeanor would change if they had had sex. Then they were able to live together again. Things were grand. Two things about this should be abundantly clear: my friend’s primary love languages are physical touch and quality time, lack of both by either party was devastating to their relationship. But, by acknowledging that this is something she needed/wanted allowed her to ask for it and save their relationship.

Not just with romantic relationships. I know a plenty of people who need words of affirmation and quality time but had absentee parents growing up… that equates to a devastating feeling of being unloved and unwanted. Both feelings which perpetuate bad behavior in their relationships well into adulthood.

So what are my love languages, glad you asked…

My primary love language is words of affirmation, it ranks astoundingly higher than any other of my love languages combined. Which is strange because I’ve never been good at receiving compliments or anything of the sort, but it makes sense. I have a fondness for truth and words. I have an intense need to feel valued and appreciated. That’s why my main giving love language is acts of service and quality time. I’m keen on seeing what people need a filling the gap.

My Ranked receiving : words of affirmation, quality time, physical affection, service and then gifts

My Ranked giving: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts and physical affection

I think the most important thing we can learn here is that people give and receive affection differently. They are flexible. You may need love in one way from your family and in another from a partner or friend. And the love language you may be putting out there might not be received by the person you’re giving it to.

Understanding where both needs should be met enables us to build better relationships while ensuring that there is no disparity on behalf of either party. I think we can all use a little help in learning to be a little less selfish and how to love others well.

Not only others, but ourselves too. Knowing how you receive affection will enable you to ask for what you want and practice a greater capacity of self-care. And realize that once you figure these things out, some people don’t have the capacity to give you what you need. In that moment of disparity, you then have the obligation to yourself to move on to someone who can. Never settle for less than you deserve. Love yourself well. Love others well. Be kind.

The road between hate & life

It was brutal how early I woke up this morning to get into the (Pilates) studio. I (assistant) taught then took a level 2 and now as my arms are a little shaky, I’m writing to you. A lot is going through my mind at the moment, advanced apologies if it seems convoluted.

As I was checking through social media and just mindlessly scrolling, my mind just centered on one thing…Vegas.

We can all agree that the shooting in Vegas was abhorrent. A depiction of the very lowest of humanity. Evil. Cowardly. And the questions that linger… how many times do we have to go through this? Why/how does this happen? What should our response be?

A few of my friends have mentioned they have friends who’ve been affected by this tragedy, one had a friend she knew of that was a victim. She didn’t make it. At a loss for words verbally for how I feel or how I think we should lament on the past couple of days, I’ve decided to write down a few thoughts.

This collection of thoughts can be summed up in a single sentence: In a world where hate is thriving, be a person who lives a life of purpose, value and love.

We’re shown a world full of terrible, no good, very bad things every minute of everyday. Our response can be a choice to make this statement a priority.

We make a million tiny little/big decisions every single day that either mold us into the best version of ourselves or the worst. Humanity at it’s worst doesn’t happen overnight, it’s the culmination of a million tiny little bad/selfish/hateful decisions.

We can do better than this.

On Purpose — Be so resolute about intentionality. We have so little time. Stop wasting it on things that don’t matter, people who don’t deserve it and monotony that’s slowly killing your dreams and desires. Live life on purpose. Daily. Wholeheartedly. Give yourself the freedom to pivot when it makes sense.

On Value — Purpose and value are sort of synonymous. Purpose is the intent of doing and value is the result of doing. Nothing lacks value. It either adds or takes away. Be ever aware of what/who adds value in your life and what you’re adding value to.

On Love — Love is a term so overused and undervalued. It’s just a word that we use as fluff in everyday vernacular. Instead, be more intentional about the act of love. The choice of love. Kindness you can give away freely, but love… that one I feel we can be a little more selfish about.

Love yourself more. Believe all the good things about yourself. When we are full, happy and filled with joy and purpose we add value to those around us. Empty people don’t fill others, unhappy people don’t make people happy. Therefore, loving yourself and making you a priority is not a selfish endeavor, it’s a necessity. And, stop wasting your time accepting all the worst things about yourself. So what, you have bad qualities, do better… evolve. Become the very best version of yourself, you deserve to live that life.

Love others well. Tell them you love them, show them you love them and accept their love. Even when it’s hard. And, the thing that I am so so so incredibly bad at, believe people when they tell/show you how they feel. When people like you, care about you, love you… just accept it. Sometimes I even vocalize it if I don’t believe it, “[so and so] really likes/loves me.” I need to start believing those things too. We need to stop overcomplicating human emotions.

So there you have it, three thoughts on how we move forward. As someone who thinks entirely too much about everything and has a tendency to over verbalize and give unsolicited advice, I’m giving most of this advice to myself. I am so incredibly lucky. Lucky to even have the luxury of being as ridiculous and dark and twisty as I am, feeling anxiety about superficial things is a freakin’ breeze compared to the alternative. So incredibly lucky to be able to get up in a new-to-me house, adorable puppy at my feet, and get up SUPER early for Pilates. I’ve seen things and done things this year I’ve only ever dreamed about, I just did the things. Lucky. So incredibly and unfathomably lucky. And, I don’t ever really appreciate that. I should start doing that.

So, what is my own response? I just want to be more intentionally kind, not nice, actually kind. I want to continue to be obsessive about happiness, mine and others around me. I want to love wholeheartedly and without fear. I want to stop letting fear have a foothold in my life. This means stop putting things off that would make me incredibly sad if I never did them… i.e. write that blasted book! Spend my time more wisely and intentionally, not just be “busy.” Be less selfish. And just allow myself to breath and not spend life moments wasted on debilitating emotions. Laugh more. Give more.

I just challenge you to do the same. In moments of tragedy, where we can’t really do much of anything for those affected, what can your response be? How can we fill the world with a little more light again?

Thank you for reading my nonsense, and sticking around the way that you do. I can’t believe it, but thank you abundantly for spending a little time with me. I hope you find your best life. And, I hope it makes you happy. We need more happy in the world.

 

The Lie of More

So there’s this guy… when a friend starts a conversation with this you know that you’re going to have a lot of opinions. Brace yourself.

I sat down with a friend the other day. She’s dating this guy. Someone who makes her happy, she loves spending time with him , but she’s quick to remind us that he’s flawed. Aren’t we all. “There’s a few serious red flags there,” she says. She goes on to say that someone ( a few people) recently told her that she could do better, that she deserves better. She was conflicted. Someone who normally gives no mind or matter to what people say is now coming to me, the perpetually single, for advice. Luckily… I give great advice ;).

Here is my opinion of this statement… the more statement. The idea that someone could always do better is a lie that keeps us alone. When you find someone who clicks several of your boxes, but falls short in several key areas… do you cut them loose? If so, why? There’s this idea that there are different levels of people. People being numbers. “She’s a 9, so why is she with a 5?” This is such complete shit if you ask me. And, you did because you’re reading my blog, so let me explain.

Better is not out there. More is not to be found. People are people. People are flawed. If you can find someone that you genuinely care about, who doesn’t waste your time and who shares a lot of the same ethical standards and goals that you do… what is the purpose of more? More of what? What are people looking for?

“We only accept the love we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky, Perks of Being a Wallflower. And, what do we deserve? There’s two sides to this coin. The acceptance and deserving part. 

The point here I think, is that we should know our own value and worth. We should be able to then make ourselves happy, alone, apart from other people. The problem with “love” is that people think that another person can complete them. That would mean that your happiness is dependent upon the existence and the decisions of someone else. Love is not completion, it is not the solution for the unhappy or even the lonely. I know some people who have been married for years or with a partner for decades and they are still some of the most unfathomably lonely people I know. You can’t depend on other people to complete you or make you whole. You’re already whole. You’re just seeking a bandaid for your own insecurities. 

So then, what do I think it is? First, love is a choice. It’s not a feeling like all of our other feelings. It’s a decision to choose someone, regardless of day, circumstance or disposition.   But, I digress, and that isn’t the topic of this blog… back to the idea of more. 

So, I told my friend… “That is a lie. The idea that you can do better is a lie. What even is better to you?”

“Well, for starters, I can find someone who I feel is more authentic and honest. Someone who shares more of the same moral standards that I do. Someone who has healthier relationships, ” she responded. Then I asked her how he could do “better” than her.

“Ha, could definitely find someone who is easier, on a lot of different levels. Someone who is much prettier, more successful and has a better rack, lol. Someone way less in touch with her feelings or feels like she has to talk about everything all the time.” she replied.

And, side note: as a completely objective third party, I can attest that both of these individuals are a strange match but also kinda great together. They are always laughing and smiling and seem genuinely happy. Some people just need to back off and let people be happy. 

The idea of “better” doesn’t just fall to one person. You don’t deserve “better” or “more”. What you should be looking for instead is… Does time with this person make my life better? Are we both growing as individuals and do we help encourage each other in that growth? Does this person add value to my life or is it a complete waste of my time?

That’s kinda it. I said it once and I’ll say it again, relationships don’t have to be complicated. They are difficult yes, but that is not the same thing. Complicated means drama and lack of intentionality. Difficult means that you disagree and that you have to learn to do life with another person, which isn’t easy.

At the end of the day… if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. If a person decides (key word) that you are not the right person for them, then they are not the right person for you. End of story. You don’t have to be sad about it, you don’t have to choose to mourn that loss, you can just be done. (But, you’re also entitled to mourn it if you want. Break all the plates, eat all the ice cream. You do you girlfriend.) There are other people out there that could be your person. The one you choose. The one that chooses you. So, stop believing this lie of “better” and “more” and start having some damn grown up conversations and making better life choices.

A Building Not A Body

“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” – Colossians 2:2

United in love, encouraged. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church, which more than anything tended to be a dumping ground for parents to bring their kids to do things like “holy girl scouts”. I dubbed it that because I’ve clearly blocked out the real name. Then when we were too old for that, it was getting plugged in to youth groups and doing extracurricular activities where the girls were most definitely separate from the boys. Don’t hug boys, you’ll spread pheromones. Pheromones most definitely lead to sex. Cardinal sin. Drinking. Smoking. Midriffs. Cardinals sin ya filthy animals.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. Not by much though. And, I had to unlearn a whole helluva lot.

This post stems from the numerous questions I received regarding the last post I wrote insinuating that the church can cause heartbreak, that it did cause heartbreak. So let me explain. It’s actually been a post in the making for a while, but because it’s close to me and I have a lot of opinions about it…I needed to wait and lament until I could be truthful and tactful and not just emotional. Forgive me if it comes off as judgemental, that isn’t my intent. My intent is a call of action to do better, to be better… as humans, as people, as the church.

Here’s the deal. The church let me down numerous times. I grew up under the guise that I wasn’t enough. Ever. Not just at church, everywhere. My family. My friends. School. My own mind. I was made fun of for being too short, my face was too big for my body. I was never the girl who the “good” boys liked and even was asked out as a joke, in front of my other friends. Kids are *cuss* man, and my life is basically a John Hughes movie. That stuck with me.

The not enough-ness that I feel constantly was only heightened by the churchy people. Rebuke. Condemnation. Legalism. That’s what church was to me for a long time. A place where I felt I never fit in because underneath, I was always a little bit broken, a little different.

So, I finally went to different ones and saw that it didn’t have to be this way. They didn’t all look the same. But, silly me. I went back. And let me tell you… when people show you who they are, believe them the first time. I returned because I felt needed, and I felt useful and important. But, little by little I found myself slipping away into a person that I just wasn’t. I attended more Bible studies and served more and more, and more. Because, being needed fills the void of not enough-ness for a little while. Until it doesn’t.

I think I’ve written about this before, but I was straight ill for about two years in my early twenties. My last year of undergrad was just the worst. I had walking pneumonia twice and if I wasn’t at work or school, I was in bed. Because of the breakdown of my immune system, almost everything else broke down. I became severely depressed. I’ve struggled with that forever. But you would never catch me chatting about it up until this point. It was like wearing that not enough-ness on my sleeve for the world to see. At this point it got to be too much. So, I went to talk to someone. Several someone’s actually, because some people are just *cuss*. And when I did, I was told that the way I felt, that it was my fault. I didn’t pray enough. I had unrepentant sin in my life. My eyes opened. What a load of crap. People hide behind legalism and rules because they are afraid to face their shit…sorry, *cuss*.

I started to back off. I started to do less. And you know what… no one cared. No one called. No one asked me where I had been. Not a single person seemed to care that little by little, I stopped showing up. As I sat in a main service one day, I started to have a panic attack and right then and there, I left… and I didn’t go back. And from that day, I never stopped talking about what I wanted and what I felt. Because it’s not wrong to feel any of the feelings…or to talk about it.

The truth is, church is full of fallible people. It’s a place where the broken should feel safe to become mended. It should be a place for people to be seen, heard and understood. That in all of our brokenness, we still matter. A place where everyone feels loved. A place where you literally function like a body and when one of the parts isn’t functioning properly, you feel it.

It is preached that the church is one body, symbolic of a unity with Christ. That is not really an analogy I’ve ever gotten or understood, but I think it boils down to the church is supposed to be a representation of who God is. God is love. God is mercy. I have to believe that because in the darkest days of my life, especially the very early ones, that’s all I had. A still, small voice that said “keep going.”

I’m not the only one who feels this way. And this is not the only church. I’ve gone to many. It’s the south, ya’ll. You’ve had to stumble into one by accident at least.

Many buildings that are too big. Many people who plaster on fake smiles and pleasantries. I get it. Kindness is hard. Authenticity is hard. Caring is hard. But, don’t go. You don’t have to pretend you care. At the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.

Too many times people lump the building with the body and the body with who God is. My faith has never and will never be in the church. I felt really guilty for that for a long time. We’re taught that the church is synonymous with who God is. It’s a lie.

I’m not perfect. I’m completely fallible. But I would like to think I own that. I just want a little authenticity. Not a place that makes you feel completely insecure to be who you are, really. A safe place.

So, what am I looking for?  Community. People who get it. People who actively seek diversity, acknowledge their feelings, care about people, care about their city, care about anything other than what dress they’re going to wear on Sunday morning or where they’re going to brunch after. People who serve. People who love. People who notice if you’re not there, and they bring you back. Broken people who acknowledge their brokenness. A place that will accept ALL my friends, not just the white, straight ones. Jesus ate among the sinners, he was near to the broken-hearted. Where are those people. That’s my church.

 

 

Gallows

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Gallows

Two roads one wood, and there I stood

on the frozen ground

The dead arise, I hear the sound

And they’re calling for my name.

(Throw in some oos)

Chorus

Beckon me back from the gallows

Hallowed ground where the dirt’s still shallow.

I don’t wanna rage war, with the dead no more.

So beckon me, Beckon me

Back from the gallows.

V2

This alabaster skin contains these secrets and my bones,

So let the ground quake so my soul awakes.

And bring me back to life,

Bring restoration to all this damnation.

(more oos)

*Chorus

Bridge

All these restless renegades, all sound the same

With their hearts so bruised and battered,

They all just want to matter.

*Final Chorus

 

Gallows is one of the very few songs I’ve written that I’ve actually ever put to music and didn’t just destroy. I wrote the original song in five minutes, it just seemed to pour out of me. I hope that one day the book I finally write will be the same. Because, let me tell you… writing a book is damn hard. You gotta chip away at some layers to tell the truth, regardless of the story being told.  So… even though I wrote this song almost two years ago, it’s still something I’m proud of. I think it’s relatable and honest.

Surface level I can be super bubbly, happy, witty and full of confidence. But… I can also be very introspective and dark and twisty. I also always expect people to disappoint me and leave me. Someone who thinks too much and feels too much all the *cuss* time. Sometimes it’s all too much. But I wouldn’t give that up most of the time… it’s how I’ve learned to be brave, depend on myself  and demand my own happiness apart from anyone else. It’s how I’ve learned to see through people, how they think and how they feel. That helps me serve those who are worth it and cut out the people who are not. Life is about being brave, loving fully and courageously bringing ourselves back from our own theoretical gallows. Whatever that is. Whatever that looks like. Find your brave.