Tag Archives: calling

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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because yoga is a lot like life

Three…two…one…breathe.

I can feel it in those first moments on the mat, all the tension I’ve been holding for hours and days, or maybe weeks and months. And so I lie there, dealthy still, eyes wide and staring at the ceiling and I let myself feel it.

I don’t love Pachabel’s Canon in D. I can see why anyone who’s not a music major would. Or anyone who hasn’t been doing the music for weddings since their teens. Or anyone who has managed to not hear it hundreds of times. But I am a music major who’s been doing the music for weddings since my teens, and I’ve heard it hundreds of times. So I just don’t love it, and it doesn’t feel like yoga music, and thoughts bounce around like a toddler inside my mind.

I do like this instructor, though, despite her questionable taste in music. I like her voice, I like it that she asks us to commit to an intention, a point of focus, a meditation. I usually pick my own, and tonight I think my point of focus will be this idea that all is grace. Feels like something I need to remember more than usual these days, especially if I can find a quiet enough space in my head for it to take root and stick around.

That first pose, though, has me questioning my affection for her. My long legs twisted up around one another, bent and angled and wrapped and stretched. And then she says it, the phrase that makes me hate her just a little bit.

Relax into it.

Uh. About that.

This is a great hip opener, if your muscles are tight in that area. Just breathe and let gravity do the work.

Okay…okay, I’m breathing…but for real, this is not okay.

We’ll stay here for about two minutes.


We will do what??

Try not to fidget. When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s most necessary to stay the course.

You are a jerk, woman. And why, for the love of all that’s good and holy, is that wretched song still playing??

And so I’m sitting there, tangled up with myself, and I can feel the resistance and the beckoning of a constant urge to just stop, to go back to the resting pose, to just enjoy the silence of a quiet, candlelit room where no one knows my name and no one needs anything from me. I know that’s an option. I know I can use this time to relax without challenging myself. We don’t judge each other’s practice in yoga. That’s the rule.

But even as I mentally explore that option, I’m so terribly aware of my own achy pieces. I’m sitting there, and the tightness in my muscles is exposed and raw, and loudly so. I can feel it all right now, for the first time in a long time, even though it’s been there for months. I can feel the feelings that have been going unnoticed, the parts that I haven’t been caring for, the places that have been carrying the weight of unnecessary things.

And I literally laugh out loud in the middle of that still and quiet room, because the reason I love yoga is because I am a lover of metaphors. And yoga is life.

When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s the most necessary to stay the course.

That thought keeps replaying itself in my mind today. Because I am so prone to chase comfort. So prone to do the easy thing. So absolutely aware, one hundred percent of the time, of the option to tap out. Because the passions and loves that beat inside my chest are HARD. They are hard, hard things. 

I made myself a deal on my 29th birthday, that I would start writing music again, that I would write my life and write raw. But writing music is like yoga for me. It’s uncomfortable in the doing. It’s so terribly uncomfortable. It is time-consuming and vulnerable, a demanding mistress who won’t be satisfied with anything but everything I have. And so here I am, almost to the halfway point of this year, and nothing. And yet–there it is, in my mind. All of the mess of truth that I need to put on paper and bring to life. It hasn’t gone away. It’s that achy hip, the one that’s been holding tension in the background for so very long, but the process of healing hurts and challenges and stretches. And I’m afraid of it. Is it okay to say that? That it’s just easier to binge-watch Netflix than it is to sit down and use my God-given gift. Because I’m afraid of it. All the time. I’m afraid of being uncomfortable.

And yet…

When it gets uncomfortable, that’s when it’s the most necessary to stay the course.

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because you can give life without giving birth

Hey, love.

Come on over. I’m curled up in a king-sized bed, with a tiny puppy who loves to snuggle, and there’s plenty of space for you. I have coffee. Granted, I’ve never actually MADE a cup of coffee in my life, so it’s from the coffee shop and I only have one cup, but I’m great at sharing.

Today is hard. It really is. I skipped church because, honestly, it’s easier to spend my morning grocery shopping and cooking and snuggling with my little furball than it is to go today. Because in a church full of families, my love and I are literally the only ones in the married-no-kids stage of life. And it’s not for lack of desire, or lack of trying. Three solid years of desire and trying, and nothing. We’ve been in the infertility category for two years now, and it weighs heavy on Mother’s Day. And I just can’t do it today. I can’t make myself go.

Is this an okay place for complete honesty? I started my period yesterday, and it sucks. It doesn’t always suck. Some months, it comes and goes without much fanfare or feeling, but this is not that month. This is the other kind of month, the one that finds me sitting in the floor of my shower on a Saturday night, sobbing and swearing and hurt and angry. And I’m a lucky lady, with a gentle and kind husband who meets me there, on the floor of the shower, and holds me while I cry. I don’t take for granted the abundance of my blessings.

But I can’t go to church today.

And I guess what I want to say is that it’s okay if you can’t either. You can come here, and curl up with me in my cozy bed, and I will hold your hand and we will have church over coffee and conversation.

And I will tell you something important. And it won’t fix anything. It won’t make the grief process easy. It won’t always make you feel better when you’re in a crowded room of mothers being asked to stand and be celebrated. But it’s true, and it’s a healing thread in a heart that feels like it’s breaking month after month after month.

You may never give birth. But giving birth isn’t a prerequisite to giving life. Your body might never stitch together a human being inside its dark corners, but you were BORN to create. To stitch together. To mend. To nurture. To raise up. To restore. To give life to people and things and places.

I’m learning, and the learning is oh-so-slow and oh-so-painful, but I’m learning that I am here to stitch together, into being, things that are not yet. Sometimes those broken things are fragmented thoughts that I stitch together into words, into music. Sometimes those broken things are people’s hearts, that I’m here to stitch together with love and compassion and grace.

And maybe some day, I’ll stitch together a person.

And maybe you will too.

But even if we don’t, we’re here for a reason, and we should do something about it. It’s easier together, so I want to hold your hand and cheer you on while you’re doing your thing. And I want you to hold my hand and cheer me on while I’m doing mine. Sometimes I might need you to push me, and remind me that my thing is beautiful and necessary and life-giving. And I’ll try to do the same for you.

Your thing is beautiful and necessary and life-giving. Even if it’s not motherhood, it’s beautiful and necessary and life-giving and you’ve just got to keep doing it.

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on history and calling and messy faith

There’s so much I don’t remember about my spiritual journey, because it started the day I was born.  I was born into the arms of a gentle, soft-spoken woman and a loud, opinionated man.  That loud, opinionated man has been, for the entirety of my thirty years, a deacon at a small country church in southern Missouri, in the very arteries of the Bible belt.

So growing up, church was what I knew.  I knew the rules, I knew the expectations, I knew the people, I knew right, I knew wrong, I knew to expect truly phenomenal taco salad to appear at every single Free Will Baptist potluck gathering.

That was what I knew then.  What I know now is far messier.  And that doesn’t even touch what I now know that I don’t know.

Now, I feel in a lot of ways like I’m wandering.  Like I’m disconnected and connected at the same time, in a way that’s a little painful and a lot disorienting.

A good friend, a wise man who is a fellow lover of good questions, asked me today how teaching was going, how I was feeling about it.  And I told him the honest to God truth…I don’t really know.  I’m wrestling with my calling a lot these days, and to be honest, that’s not even a word I’m completely comfortable using for myself, to this day.  Because I’m a woman, and the word “calling” brings to mind the young men gathered around the altar at church camp, having been “called to preach,” which is still a concept I’m somewhat skeptical of.  Standing with bright red tear-streaked faces, turning to face an expectant gathering of people after forty-five minutes of prayer and frenzied conversation with one or two of the older men of our denomination.  Shaking hands grabbing a microphone, trembling voices announcing to the masses that they’d just accepted the call to preach.  That’s what a calling is to me.  It’s certainly not a word for me.

But I said that word today, when Andy asked how teaching was going.  Because teaching is many things to me.  Dependent on the day, teaching is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever had the privilege of doing, the worst mistake I’ve ever made, the thing that God’s using to shape and refine me, the thing that God is using to punish me for submitting to the American ideal of living life in a way that elicits descriptors like “safe” and “stable.”  I wish I was kidding when I say that there are days when I feel all four of those convictions plus at least six more, all within the span of approximately eight minutes.

But the one thing I can say with confidence that teaching is not? My calling.

And we talked for awhile, Andy and my Joshua and I, about that idea of calling.  He asked if I’d ever sat down and really written out my spiritual journey, my story, my history.  And again, I told him the honest to God truth.  I’ve tried.  I really have.  But sometimes, when I begin to dig into my spiritual journey, to try to flesh it out and commit to paper how I got from the beginning to here, I hit all these walls.  Fear of what will follow if I put it out there, speak all of my doubts and questions out loud.  Guilt over the fact that portions of what I believe are a pretty far cry from the way my parents raised me; the feeling that I’m slapping them and their beliefs in the face when that’s not one iota of my intention.  My innate inability to paint anyone’s way of life in anything but the most gracious light, colliding with the fact that my experience with the church, if told honestly, might not make for the most flattering story for everyone involved.  Fear that my raising has always been right; that real faith involves faith without questioning and that I am simply broken.  There it is, really.  That’s the big part.  Fear that I am broken.

So I did my best today to put it in words for the first time, the why of me having never written down my spiritual journey, and our dear friend answered with an idea that was bold and blunt and just like him.

What if I’m not going to be able to work through the issue of my calling until I’ve worked through this issue of my history?

What if, instead of my calling being separate from my history, my calling can only be found in the sorting out of it? What if I have to ask all the questions and expose all the doubts and get to the heart of all the wonderings? What if I have to discover God on my own terms, when for thirty years I’ve been relying on what I’ve been told? What if God is deconstructing all my preconceived notions, all my baggage with the church, because my story, my ministry, my calling requires that?

What if it’s supposed to be messy and hard and a little scary? What if that’s faith?

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