Category Archives: word vomit

born hungry

I think I was born hungry.

Hungry for a thousand different things.

I have always been a person who lives from a place that is wildly desirous, constantly aware of all these blank and open places inside me, trying to fill them up with all the things I find beautiful. I know this to be a futile pursuit, since the only thing that is everything enough to fill those spaces is the God who made me.

But this…this is the story of the relentless and ugly trying. This is one of the small ways in which I attempt, in a very tangible way, to fill myself up. To curb the ache that comes with being human, with being made for a place not here.

Here’s my ugly truth.

I have a really terrible relationship with food.

I don’t talk about this often. In fact, to my knowledge, I’ve only ever talked about this to my friend Darlena, who I met last year when I hired her as a personal trainer. I think she’s maybe the only person I’ve ever said the word “binge” to in a context that was both in relation to my own personal eating patterns and not-at-all joking.

But that’s my ugly truth. I am a binge eater.

It started young. I hit a growth spurt young, and by the time I hit high school, I was very nearly six feet tall. At that point, I was thin as a rail, despite the fact that I ate three square meals a day and plenty of snacks. I was constantly hungry, like my body couldn’t keep up with the rate at which I was growing and the speed of my metabolism.

I remember coming home from school often and sitting down with a bag of chips in one hand and a box of fudge rounds in the other. That salty-sweet combination is still my kryptonite, by the way. With one real difference. I’m thirty now, not fifteen; I have the metabolism of a grown woman, not a teenager in the middle of a massive growth spurt. So it fuels and affects my body and my weight and my energy in a very different way now.

But habits, you know? Habits are such a real thing, and such a hard thing to break.

And over the years, the motivations behind the habits start to evolve. When I was a kid, it was because I was hungry, and I could have eaten anything in sight. As I grew up, it was because it tasted good. At some point, it started to become a comfort thing. A stress release. Relief from boredom. Numbing from the loneliness that is part of the package deal of being human.

And these past few months, I’ve started to notice, really notice, how truly out of control it is. I’ll take a perfectly healthy lunch to school, and then buy two small bags of chips, a couple candy bars, and a soda and literally eat just that for lunch. Order a family-sized order of cheese-covered breadsticks for lunch, and eat it in a sitting. Curl up with chips and dip and eat until I feel sick. I don’t even think about it. I don’t let myself think about it. It’s impulse and action, impulse and action. I don’t let myself think about it because I am a smart girl, and I know what this is doing to my health. Because I will talk myself out of it, and I don’t want a chance to talk myself out of it.

And I hide it. I’m so good at hiding it that, if it weren’t for the thirty pounds I’ve added to my frame in the past three years, I don’t think anyone would know. I think I’m most disturbed by that, you know? By the great lengths I go to, hiding it from Josh. I toss my healthy lunch in the trash can and take my Pyrex home empty so he doesn’t notice I didn’t eat it. I get cash back from time to time when I buy groceries so I have it lying around to purchase snacks without any record of it in our bank account. I have lied to him on multiple occasions about buying a fast-food lunch for a friend or coworker when I really just bought lunch for me. Not because he would shame me for any of it (although he would be concerned because my emotional and physical health is always his biggest priority), but because I’m ashamed. I’m so damn ashamed of my habits, of how bad it’s gotten.

My mom makes this joke, and has since I was a kid; she laughs about how she doesn’t eat to live, she lives to eat. And I hate that. I hate it because in so many ways, I see it in myself. I see the way my habits run me. I see the direction I want to go, and I see my habits dragging me in the opposite direction, and sometimes I feel absolutely powerless.

My relationship with food feels like the heaviest of chains wrapped around my body, rooting me to where I am. I know how this ends. I have countless examples of how this ends. In people I share DNA and a bloodline with, and in people I share life with. I have watched, and seen firsthand the havoc their eating habits have wreaked on their bodies and minds and hearts and overall personhood. I get so upset with myself because I know where I am going if I don’t change things.

I have had so many friends ask the past few weeks why I became a distributor for Advocare, why I’m doing the 24 Day Challenge when I’m generally not a “product” kind of person.

THIS.

This is my reason for Advocare. This is my why. Because it’s not just the products. It’s the people. The structure, the support, the community.

The first time I did the 24 Day Challenge, in 2013, was because I wanted to lose some weight. Which isn’t a bad goal, but that was the end of it at that point. Just lose a couple pounds, which I did; and put it right back on because I never addressed the underlying issues that got me there in the first place.

I need help. I need help putting some space between me and my habits. I need structure and support and community. I see myself so clearly right now, more clearly than I ever have. And it’s an incredibly difficult picture to look at. Not because I don’t look the way I want to, but because I WAS MADE FOR MORE THAN THIS. I was made for more than to be a slave to my habits, than to watch my health slip away from me. I was made for more than hiding. Mentally, emotionally, physically…I am worth so much more than this. I know I am.

I am so hungry for so many things, and I was built with that hunger. I believe that. I believe the God who created me made me with a wildly expansive spirit and heart for a reason. But it aches so bad sometimes, this being a wide open space. So I just keep trying to fill it up with what does not satisfy. I could write a novel on all the things I’ve tried to fill it up with, and a whole other novel on all the ways those things have never worked. I have to stop trying to fill up spaces that are wild and untamed and open for a divine reason.

I need to find a better way, and I need help getting there. I cannot do this on my own. I have tried for a really long time, and it’s taken my body and my soul to ugly places.

I’m finally coming to a place where I’m okay with saying where I am and saying that it’s not okay and saying that I can’t get away from where I am on my own.

This. This is my why.

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on ferguson and the edge of hell

Because some days I can’t even string words together except in the form of letters. And even then, they’re mostly word vomit that may or may not make sense. But words, for me, cannot be left unsaid.

I just want to have coffee with you today, and have a safe place to fall completely apart.

My heart is so broken. I don’t even know how to explain it. I cannot stop crying. Ferguson is ripping me apart. I feel like we are standing on the edge of hell, and so many of the people I have known and loved and respected for most of my life are just sitting back and fanning the flames, rather than running to the center of the mess with water and a rescue. And I don’t know how to be a decent person in the face of that. I don’t know how to be a decent person in the face of the fact that if many of those same people knew how deeply and intensely I feel about all of these things in the “wrong” direction, they would have nothing to do with me.

I am not who I was, Mel. I am so, so very much not who I was. I got tossed into the African-American community five years ago, and God broke me over it, and my heart beats for it. But I still have one foot in both worlds. And I have SO much anger at people who can’t even see a need to extend empathy or compassion, except to those who have their shit together enough to earn it. Who read people who resort to violence as just a maniacal, animalistic group of people who deserve every terrible thing they’re dealt; because it’s much easier to see that than it is to see a group of people who are so hurt and grieving and DESPERATE to have a voice that’s loud enough to be heard. We have so little ability to sit with grief. We have little ability to hear pain. 

I get so angry with people who can’t see it, and yet I know how silly that is. I know that the only reason I see it is because God gave me that blessing. He dropped me in it and took away my option of NOT seeing it. The reason I see it is because I have spent every day for years witnessing it all first hand.

But man. Having one foot in two worlds feels like it’s pulling my chest apart some days.

I cannot get ahold of myself right now, and usually that’s a sign that God’s prepping me to do something nuts. Pray? I could sure use it.

I miss you. Let’s run a rescue mission on the edge of hell.

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fear and flying

Dearest one,

It’s a rare day when I genuinely feel like I have some thoughts worth offering, thoughts that might be worth adding to the noise of your already crowded mind. But today, the stars align and the words just keep falling out of my mouth, and I feel like maybe I do. 

You think me this brilliant, amazing creature. And I love that you see that in me. But here’s the truth, a truth that’s not far from your own.

I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day. 

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day isn’t because I don’t have things to say. I do. It isn’t because I don’t have a decent command over the English language. I do.

The reason I can’t get myself to commit to a practice of writing every day is because in my mind, I’m already thinking about writing a book. And none of my thoughts are connected enough for that. I have so many thoughts about a million different things, but I don’t have enough thoughts about ONE thing to justify writing a book.

And so I don’t write. Because I’m so busy thinking about the end product that I am paralyzed. I feel like none of it matters until I know exactly what it’s going to look like in the end. I feel like none of it matters until I have a plan. Until I can nail down what it’s going to look like. Until I feel safe and secure and like its all something I can control.

I am a walking, talking definition of missing the beauty of the forest because I can’t see past the trees.

And so it is with you. 

See, for all the credit you give me and all the shame you so effortlessly give yourself, you and I are not that different. Not at all. Steps without an endgame feel pointless to you. And I know that feeling. They feel pointless to me, too. But the thing I’ve been thinking about today is how there is no endgame until you take steps. If I don’t start taking some steps without knowing where I’m going, the endgame is RIGHT HERE. This is it. The endgame is me, sitting around and wanting to say something worth hearing, but not saying anything because I want a roadmap first. If I don’t start taking some steps, I will still be this person in forty years, only with a whole lot more regret and a lot more untold stories and a lot more unlived life.

And so it is with you.

I remember his words to you one day, months ago, about how the greatest enemy of the next step is the fear of what’s across the room.

You and I, dearest one. We are one and the same. We are both so focused on what may or may not be across the room that were frozen in place. Stuck. Afraid to take a step for fear that it might be the wrong one.

But grace, man. Of all the things I’m unsure of, and there are many, Grace doesn’t make the list. Not even close. Grace may, in fact, be the one thing I know like I know my own name. Mostly because of the frequency with which I’ve had nothing else to fall on.

I believe that our steps will be messy, and some of them will be the wrong ones, because we are nothing if not fully human and prone to being and creating disasters. But I also believe they’re all important, every last one of the steps. All necessary. All growth. All Grace.

Some of my biggest missteps have turned out to be my biggest graces.

And so it is with you.

And so it will be.

Breathe. Crawl. Step. Leap, even. Jump off a cliff knowing that your wings get built while you fly. Growth and movement and purpose doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Doesn’t happen at a standstill. It only happens in midair. In discomfort. In dirty soil. 

All you can do is this one moment. You can’t handle the overwhelm of a lifetime, all at once. All you can do is this one moment. One moment that looks like crawling, but is really more like flying, when you’ve spent all this time standing still, rooted to your fear. 

Fly, mine. Don’t stand rooted to your fear. There is nothing worth fearing more than that.

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words are sharp and shiny things

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. I always have been. I can twist and shape them into whatever form I wish. I can take you places and bring you back; I can make you feel things and ask questions and draw pictures and crave adventures.

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. But I have learned to wield them reverently. I’m good with words in the same way I would imagine a sniper is good with his rifle, holding it with a healthy dose of both adrenaline and fear, because he knows that what he holds has the power to decimate anyone in its path.

Words are sharp and shiny things, and I am good with them. I am also terribly afraid of them. Because I know my words, the words close enough to my chest to be called mine. They aren’t easy ones, to write or to hear. They might be packaged neatly, but there is no resolution. I won’t ever give you a conclusion, and the loose ends don’t sit comfortably.

Because the words close enough to my chest to be called mine aren’t even completely mine. They are mine, but they’re also the words of at least five different people, from five separate conversations that have taken place in the past month. They’re also the words that I haven’t heard, but have seen in the eyes of more people than I can count. Words that don’t get a voice because they’re terrifying, and they can plunge a person into a rabbit hole that may cost more than they’re ready to pay.

If the North American church is a true reflection of who God is…

It feels a little bit like God doesn’t have space for messy people, for broken people, for lamenting people.

It feels a little bit like all God wants to hear when He asks how I am is “Great! How are you?” And then for me to be on my way.

It feels a little bit like God doesn’t want my love and affection as much as He does my blind and unquestioning acceptance.

It feels a little bit like I need to be successful and happy to belong to God. 

It feels a little bit like issues of race and poverty and slavery and gender and sexuality only matter to God so far as they can be dealt with as “issues” rather than dealing with the messiness of the real, vulnerable people behind the issues.

If the North American church is a true reflection of who God is…

…then I’m afraid that God maybe wants nothing to do with me. And I’m not positive I want anything to do with Him.

And if all of that isn’t true, if it’s my perception that’s flawed…

Who IS God? And what does He care about? And where do I find Him? And how do I reflect Him? What is my responsibility in this? How do I love like Jesus does, in real life and real time?

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my best adventures

I’m bored.

I hate saying that, because I usually think boredom is little more than a lack of imagination, and I don’t fancy myself a person who lacks imagination and natural curiosity.

But I’m bored.

I’m also a little bit intrigued by it, because when I poke at it, slide up close and tuck myself beneath its arm, I can’t help but notice that it comes from a really unexpected place.

See, I think it’s the introverted part of me. I spend 40+ hours a week, every week, playing the role of an extrovert out of necessity and some days I find myself wondering how they, the real ones, aren’t bored out of their minds.

Which is mildly hilarious, given that I was in bed by 6pm last night, happily reading a book written by a monk and drinking unsweetened hot tea. 

Still. In the same way my extroverted friends often wonder how I can be so satisfied with a night like that, I often wonder how they operate. Because people are like a treasure hunt for me. Every single person is an adventure. And when I know too many of them, when my days are filled with too many of them, it feels like I don’t get to REALLY go on any of the adventures. It feels a little bit like going to Europe and spending two hours each in a large number of cities. Two hours in Rome. Two hours in Paris. Two hours in Barcelona. Two hours in London. Two hours in Amsterdam. Two hours in Dublin. Two hours in Athens. Two hours in Edinburgh.

Two hours in, you’re just arriving. You’re barely even there.

Sometimes, teaching feels exactly like that. Like there’s all of this opportunity at my fingertips. There are all of these huge adventures. But I’m too busy trying to get from city to city to really experience any of them.

Then I get home, and I’m so absolutely exhausted from all the traveling and all the cities and all the disappointment over all the missed adventures.

So I miss out on a few more, because I’ve already given every ounce of energy I possess.

And some days, I simply don’t know if I’m built for it.

I’m built for digging deep into dirty soil. For long conversations and eye contact and noticing everything remembering small details. I’m built for holding space for people, for their messiness and madness and brilliance. I’m built for uncontrollable laughter and ugly crying and knowing that both are of equal value. Both are terrifying and both are sacred.

I was thinking earlier today about money, and how if I had enough of it, I would never stop getting on planes. I would never stop getting on planes that land at coffee shops, planes that drop me off at tables with uneven legs, across from the people who were and are and will become my favorite explorations. I would never stop showing up for anyone who needs to hear someone say, “You are one of my best adventures.”

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terrifying and true

31 days of WTHKW

There are days when I hold words close to my chest. Because words are wild and powerful, and sometimes I just have to wield them quietly, carefully, reverently. As though they’re capable of most anything.

And they are. Don’t ever underestimate the way that words are capable of most anything.

These past couple of days, words feel like that. I keep writing them, but in the way that I always write the things that feel most sacred. On paper, with my own hand, in the quiet of the morning. Sometimes I think that’s the space my best words were created for. I don’t kill my darlings. I don’t have the heart. But I shelter them, and I hold them close to my chest.

And sometimes I don’t know why.

On my better days, I believe it’s because I’m aware. Aware of myself, aware of my tendency to need people to approve, to need feedback on my own soul in order to feel validated. Aware of how easy it is for me to put myself out there to people and let those people affirm me, rather than God Himself.

Some days I think I hold my dearest thoughts in private places because for once in my life, I want to express my own thoughts without worrying about what anyone things about them.

And on my not-so-much-better days, I believe it’s because I’m afraid.

I’m afraid of myself sometimes.

I said it last week, out loud for the first time, that sometimes one of my major disconnects with the church these days is that sometimes when I speak about things that actually matter to me, one of the most common reactions I get is something that closely resembles fear. Is it okay to say that? Sometimes I worry that people, particularly good God-fearing church people, are a little bit afraid of me. That I’m just too much. I have All of the Big Thoughts and All of the Big Feelings and my brain wades into All of the Grey Areas. Literally nothing is off limits to my questions.

And sometimes I think that’s terrifying to people. I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it’s terrifying to me. And so I find myself holding on to those parts of me.

The parts of me that I would define as the most difficult…but also the parts of me that I would define, without hesitation, as the most lovely. The most genuine. The most true.

The most me.

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in which themes really aren’t my thing

Every October, they pop up. The lovely 31-dayers, with their beautiful words and their respectable consistency, and I think of joining them. Every year, I want to put a few small words out there, give them wings to take up residence beside the words of the ones I would consider great writers.

But every year, I get stuck on the same thing. The whole idea of a theme. I’ve never been very good with themes. Too many things are too terribly interesting and important to me. Which sometimes feels like a lack of focus, mostly because sometimes it is.

This year is more of the same. I’ve tossed around at least ten different themes in the past couple of weeks, and they all hit the walls of my soul and slide off. Nothing sticks, nothing clings to my insides, my ribcage.

But oh, how I want to write these days. I feel all of the things inside of me, scratching and clawing to get out. And if the only thing stopping me from challenging myself to write every day for a month straight is the lack of a theme…well, that’s just silly.

So I, personally, am considering my theme “31 Days of who-the-hell-knows-what.”

It’s slightly less poetic than “31 Days to Listen” or “31 Days to Dream” or “31 Coffee Dates in 31 Days.”

Slightly less poetic, but far more true to where and who I am in this moment.

Because too many things are rattling around these days to pick just one. Maybe that’s why I need to write so much these days. Maybe that’s why I spent half my drive to work yesterday teary-eyed because I just wanted the space to crawl into a quiet part of my soul and put the rest, the part that’s not at all quiet, on paper.

Too many things are too important and too heavy and too possible and too never-gonna-happen and too unknown.

Too much of life is who-the-hell-knows-what.

And so I will write from there, from that place.

It may not be pretty, but it will be honest. And I’m sure it will look a little like healing, in that way that only the ugly, honest things can be.

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