to sit in darkness

panic. irrational panic. nothing is okay. i am not okay. i do not want to be here. i do not want to do this anymore.

i can’t cry in public. i cannot lose my shit in public, around all of these people, around these strangers. I just want to get home. And cry. and sleep. I could sleep forever and it would be okay.

I hop on the next bus home with blurried eyes and an equally blurried mind. I wonder what people think. I wonder if anyone can tell I’m not okay, that I might not ever be okay. I wonder how many people hop on busses and think this same thing, i wonder how many people wonder if they’re seen.

i type some letters on the screen and then erase them. several times.
i can’t do
i’m really h
i need hel
I’m really struggling right now. Please pray for me.

I send it to a friend and regret it instantly. I get a text back, but I don’t want to answer any questions because I know I can’t rationalize the way I feel, the way I don’t want to do anything anymore. I make a list in my head of everything that I would say to a friend if the roles were reversed:
It’s okay. You’re okay. You are going to be okay.
Your worth isn’t defined by anything or anyone except Jesus.
Your friends and family love you. You have a lot of people on your side.
You are here for a purpose.

In the moment all of these things sound like bullshit. In my mind I know that these words are true– they are words that I live and breathe by, the words I write in blog posts, the words whispered to my friends and family on their darkest nights. But in my heart they feel fractured, somehow unfitting.

I’m sobbing in my bed when the phone rings. I think to not answer, but I know she will just call again. I  think to pretend I just fell asleep, but I know she knows better. I do not doubt her ability to have someone at my door, herself or another friend or 911, within minutes of not answering. So I pick up the phone.

“What’s going on?”
“I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Well, you have to talk about it.”

So I talk about it. I talk very shallowly about an email, and how I don’t feel good enough. She’s very patient and practical and all of her advice seems like the same bullshit that the rational me would have told myself.

I get the words out. “I don’t want to do this anymore, any of it. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be anywhere.”

She tells me it’s going to be okay. She asks me what I’m doing the rest of the day.
I tell her that I’m not really doing anything, that I’m supposed to hang out with a friend but I want to cancel.

“Don’t cancel.
Expect to see me tonight.”

The phone rings, it’s my sister. I’ve stopped crying but I’m watching Parks & Rec and I decline the call. The phone rings again– maybe it’s an emergency? Maybe something happened?

I answer. I can tell right away that Jesse called her. It’s the caution in her voice, the “how are you doing?”

“I’m fine. Just a rough day.” We talk for a bit and I laugh a little. I have to go, because the friend I didn’t cancel on is calling.

She knows something’s wrong too. I know this because there’s a way that people talk to you when you’re vulnerable. It’s not bad, just different and noticable. I do it too– slow, calm, cautious words all focused on the other person. I feel embarrassed, because I don’t like feeling weak and I don’t like people to know I’m feeling weak. I feel better and worse at the same time. I regret sending that text but I’m thankful I don’t have to pretend.


That night we went to one of my favorite places for dinner (R.I.P., Savoy). Friends gathered in my living room and laughed and talked and stayed longer than felt comfortable. I ached to be alone in my pain, but these people have worked their way into my life and sit with me in the darkness and promise that dawn will come.

It’s been about a month since this happened. And this story isn’t about a single event that happened, but rather a season that looks like many other seasons in my life, and maybe many seasons in your life, or in the lives of people you know and care about. This story is about the slow spiral. The isolation. The irrational hopelessness.

There were weeks leading up to it that felt dark, that felt heavy. And I didn’t wake up the next day feeling all better, or healed, or excited about life. But dawn keeps coming, as promised.

And God must be a pretty big fan of today, because you keep waking up to it. You have made known your request for a hundred different yesterdays, but the sun keeps rising on this thing that has never been known. Yesterday is dead and over. Wrapped in grace. Those days are grace. You are still alive, and today is the most interesting day. Today is the best place to live.

– Jamie Tworkowski, If You Feel Too Much

I’m saying all of this because I know I’m not alone in these things. I know that my story is not unique. I’m saying all of this because I want you to know that it’s okay to not be okay. I’m saying all of this because I hope you have people, or are that person for someone else. People need other people, not because we know how to fix the brokenness of our friends or even know the right things to say. But to sit in the awkward, uncomfortable, darkness with someone is worth something.

Stick your nose in some flowers today. Breathe deeply. Send a brave text. Eat as much icecream as you want. Whatever you do, please know that you are not alone  & that today is the most interesting day.

So much love, so much hope for you friends.




on striving, resting, & identity

This last month has been a whirlwind of chaos and emotions for me and a lot of other people I know. It’s been a season of transition, with the remodel at work, moving out of my old place, balancing midterms, applying for a Social Work program, yada yada. I’m not really good at transition seasons. When it comes down to it, I become all of the versions of myself that I really hate. I get weird, and selfish, and anxious, and forget how to love myself and other people well.

I want to be this put together person, you know?  Every day, Jesus says “I’m strong when you’re weak” and I ignore it. I go out into the world and try to prove myself again and again- to prove that I’m worthy, that I’m a good friend, a good student, that I’m datable, that I’m a good shift supervisor, and that I would make a good social worker.

Some days I’m okay at it, too, probably more so than I would allow myself to believe. But then there are those days where I really mess up. Not just a little bit, but a lot. Some days I make awful, unhealthy decisions that not only affect me, but the people around me. It’s the stuff I don’t post to social media, or write about in my blog to make everyone like me. & in these moments, shame creeps in and my insecurities find a platform to stand on and testify to my unworthiness.

The last year or so has been an awful uphill battle in a fight for my identity. Well honestly, I think from the minute we’re born there’s a darkness out there that wants us to believe lies about who we are and whose we are. Specifically in the last year or so, though, I’ve felt Jesus’ ever-present call to be His– to be and belong in the Kingdom. To rest. To celebrate. To end the glorification of busy. To stop striving. To stop worrying. To simply dance in the light of thankfulness and grace and creation and new mercies every morning.

I’ve been reminded even more of these things lately. Maybe it has something to do with reading Donald Miller’s new book, Scary Close (which has had me in tears- the good kind- since I picked it up) or  listening to Sleeping at Last’s song “You are Enough” (which admittedly also had me in tears). Today my manager and I were both working in the back room and she looked at me and said “Will you write ‘I am imperfect, & I am enough’ on my hand for me?” I laughed out loud because I felt like she was in my head all of the sudden. Long story short, in the end we had a good talk about identity, vulnerability, & how our imperfections don’t affect our intrinsic worth.

Jesus just won’t let it go, this whole thing about my identity being found in Him. So here I am, tired of fighting, exhausted by shame. Here I am, finally ready to stop idolizing all the things I think give me worth. I know I’m not alone in this- and I just want you to hear me: YOU are enough. All stop striving, all start resting.

Happy Wednesday, friends! XOXO

The Space Between the Head and the Heart

10941216_10155121799400128_413676155965516715_nI used to be afraid of admitting my deepest fears, anxieties, and insecurities; but now I want to shout them from the rooftops.

Maybe not rooftops. And probably not shouting. Probably just in living rooms in normal tone of voice.

For one thing, being honest allows you to know that you aren’t alone. For a really long time it was difficult for me to admit that I struggled with what modern Christianity looks like. I felt isolated & was swallowed by shame and self-hatred for not being a perfect evangelical small group leader. Or, even worse, that I didn’t think that I wanted to grow up to be a Conservative!

But when I started admitting these things out loud, I quickly found that there were other people who felt and believed similarly to me. In fact, I learned that some Christians are actually Liberals! And Feminists! Community grew out of that honesty, and still grows as I continue to be honest about what it looks like to follow Jesus. It seems silly that shame kept me away from community for so long.

And then there’s knowing something, and at the same time not knowing it. I always talk about how ones worth isn’t in what they do, or how you should feel completely comfortable in your own skin, or how darkness and depression won’t win in the end. I say these things, and I read them, and I write the words over and over. I know them, but do I actually know them? Because the reality is that sometimes I struggle with my worth, with accepting unconditional love, with loving my body, and fighting darkness. My head knows all of these things, but my heart hasn’t really caught on yet.

A few nights ago I was feeling exceptionally insecure. As I voiced how I was feeling to a few close friends and explained the gap between what my mind knows and my heart feels, I found another powerful reason to keep being honest. In a moment where my heart didn’t want to feel the things I know in my head to be true, my friends reaffirmed these truths. In so many gracious words, I was given permission to love myself– even if I did just emotioally eat all of the icecream.

I know that for a lot of people self-acceptance is hard. This year has been a year of constantly having to remind myself of my worth and extend to myself the same grace that Jesus extends to me. I’m not so good at it yet, but the space between my head and my heart shrinks a little bit each day. Sometimes I have days where that space seems like a chasm that will never close, but on those days I thank God for the people He has placed around me to speak into the darkness and bridge the gap.

I hope that we all learn to be honest, & to say what we’re feeling even if we think our feelings are dumb. I hope you know that you are well loved, that your life means something, that your body is beautiful, that your voice is heard, and that light and love always win.


Here’s to entering into a new season with both confidence and honesty, to loving people more fully, to going outside of my comfort zone, & to my heart one day knowing the fullness of Christ.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

With love and hope,

an invitation to practice thankfulness together

ThanksgivingI want to be honest: there is no shortage of home-sickness today, and the practice of thankfulness has not been as easy for me lately.

But giving thanks is indeed a practice. I view Thanksgiving Day- an American made holiday- as a day to practice thankfulness together. So let us say aloud the many things we give thanks for, and encourage one another to live a life marked by this thankfulness. And if we get to eat delicious food and have a mimosa (or two) in the process, so be it.

I’m thankful for my family- – my mom and dad’s continuous love and support, and answers to all of my questions about insurance– that my dad is coming for Christmas!– Holly’s encouragement as I bounce ideas off of her — Caleb’s listening ear when I’m sobbing or ranting about God-knows-what– and Preston’s joy and compassion in every situation — for my grandparents, for their health & always liking my posts on Facebook when nobody else does. I’m thankful that my five-year plan, operation “convince everyone to move to the Pacific Northwest” is panning out quite nicely.

I’m thankful for friends– for everyone who lets me cry in front of them on an almost daily basis– for roommates who cook me delicious food– well, for pretty much anyone who cooks me delicious food. I’m thankful for nights drinking red wine and watching 30Rock — for trips to the farmers market in the pouring rain– for living room dancing– for long talks on couches about issues of social justice and problems and joys that come with adulting. I’m thankful for friends far away — for long distance phone calls and skype dates — for the way that our friendships haven’t changed even when everything else has. I’m thankful for people who stick around even when it isn’t easy & who work through conflict even when it’s scary. Thank you guys for bringing so much joy and laughter and learning into my life.

I’m thankful for my job. For a supportive boss & kick-ass co-workers who put up with me when I’m both under-caffienated and over-caffienated. I’m thankful for the opportunity for education — for the opportunity to work with foster kiddos and support their families — for doors that open and for strength to kick down doors when necessary. (Love Does, anyone?)

I’m thankful that even though my entire family is sitting around a table 2,000 miles away, that a bunch of other people I’m thankful for will soon be crowded in my living room. I’m thankful for shelter, for food, & for candles that smell like pumpkin-pie.

I’m thankful for learning to view life as a process rather than demanding perfection and I’m even more thankful for the people who rejoice with me when I rejoice and weep with me when I weep.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20

a few of my favorite things: a reflection on a year in Portland


999057_10201808871923163_1226811356_nMy favorite thing about this past year cannot be summed up with a description of a single moment. It isn’t a trip that I took, or a musician I saw, or a friend that I met.  It wasn’t the long talks and walks and countless sunsets. It wasn’t returning to Texas to see my family and friends, or successful cooking endeavors. & it certainly wasn’t the fact that I cried a lot, or sought counseling, or faced rejection.

My favorite thing about this past year, since I moved to Portland? Experience. Learning. Soaking in all of the abundant life that God gives as well as the heartache of my mistakes. It’s the culmination of all of the things that I’ve learned that have made this one of the best years of my life. I gave my heart to people that didn’t deserve it, I drank too much and too often, I struggled with my faith, & I stood defeated by depression and anxiety. I also loved my family from a distance more than I thought was possible, I traveled to new places, walked underneath tall trees, was changed by the words and affirmation of others, became committed to helping foster children and their families, learned about and admitted to white priveledge, and fell more deeply in love with the God who loves me.

This past year has been one of the best years of my life because I can look back and say that I’ve been changed. I have sought truth when it was difficult. I have had friends whispering truth into my ear when I didn’t want to seek it out for myself. And when I rejected all reasoning, I believe that God bent down and whipsered Truth to me Himself.

I want you to hear me when I say this: change is hard. Not only because it’s uncomfortable for you, but because it’s uncomfortable for the people around you. Changing as a result of the lessons I’ve learned has actually been one of the most challenging endeavors thus far. Either people don’t want you to change, they don’t think you’re changing enough, or they don’t believe that you have changed. And maybe you haven’t. Maybe you really want to change but it’s going to take time. Maybe you make mistakes, and get hurt by your own mistakes. Again, hear me when I say this: it’s okay. Keep your head up.

I used to really want other people to know me well and give their approval; now I just want to know and love myself. When there is a God who knows you & loves you without bounds, why do you need the approval of others anyway?

Love remains. Hope stays. Homemade dinners and living room dancing exists.

“Love is patient & kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

With love for you in the present, & hope for your future–

I haven’t written in a while.
I’ve wanted to, of course. I really did.
Every time I started typing or scribling in my journal, the worlds just seemed to get jumbled. It was messy, much like my life over the last few months. And messy doesn’t get published; messy gets critiqued until it’s clean enough to share. Messy gets torn apart word by word. It gets marked up with red ink and obsessed over by people who can be pretty unsympathetic. You spend so much time chosing words that somehow give meaning to your emotions, and often you’re told you’ve chosen all of the wrong ones, or they’re all misspelled, or that your writing should be more sophisticated and meaningful.

When life gets messy, my writing gets messy, and I retreat for a while until I have my shit together and have something meaningful to convey with beautiful, flawless words.

“It’s not for everyone else. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just write for yourself. It’s your own coping mechanism. It doesn’t matter what it looks like.” I’ve heard it a million times in a milion ways from friends and family and counselors.
It’s well-meaning, and even somewhat true. But I can be my own worst critic, the most unkind editor of my life and my writing.

The truth is, I’m writing this from the other side of the valley. I can look across with perspective and find encouragement and hope because I’ve learned from the unhealthy decisions I’ve made.


I’m sitting here with writers block again. I just re-read what I had previously written for this post (written over 24 hours ago); where was I going with that? I’m sure it had a point, but I’ve lost it. Something about how being raw and vulnerable in writing is scary and I’m sure the conclusion was going to say something about how that’s bullshit. Right.

What’s the point in writing, anyway? I just spent a little bit of time re-reading everything I’ve posted to WordPress in the last 365 days. To be honest, it’s like looking at several different photographs of yourself and realizing that you don’t recognize anyone in the pictures. And more than that, they definitely don’t look like the person you see when you look in the mirror. And what was I thinking? I used a life example that wasn’t even previously mentioned (except for on facebook)* to illustrate a point in a story that thousands of people read and probably didn’t understand.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table across from my fantastic roommate right now, with PBR and the FUN pandora station playing and the sun kind-of-sort-of starting to go down in the view of our enormous and wonderful window. I stopped to go change my laundry to the dryer, and I came back with an idea.

What if I could just learn to share the little things? Not that people are interested in what I’m having for dinner (which is pork fennel pasta, by the way). But what if I’m just honest about things that matter? What if I learn how to be okay with not having a resolution, and not being the girl who is always learning these grand life lessons and writing them down?

I wrote yesterday that I was on the other side of my mess, and I don’t think that was entirely truthful. I’m still not ready to share the messy parts of my life. I’m thankful for the people close enough to see me in the midst of my messiness and encourage my heart, but my heart isn’t ready to invite everyone in. Not everyone is as kind as the really beautiful people I call my best friends.

I do, however, believe that one can live in honest community that points you to the truth- even on the internet. I don’t want to pretend I have all of the answers anymore. I want to invite people to dialogue about the things that may be messy in their lives- but things they are maybe willing to share.

To start with,

– Do you consider yourself “a creative”? Whether you are or you aren’t, have you ever felt threatened by the creative community? Felt that your writing, photographs, dance, paintings, etc. didn’t compare to the work of others? Or maybe that they were too real, or too honest, or too vulnerable?

-Do you believe that you are a self-aware person- aware of your flaws and opportunities? In the wake of having an understanding of what your flaws are, how do you keep yourself from being self-deprecating? How do you balance confidence and humility?

-What are your “coping mechanisms”? How healthy do you think they are, and have they always been as healthy/unhealthy as they are now?


Thank you for reading this post, and making your way to the messy end. I really want to hear your answers to these questions, and want you to feel free to ask your own. Thank you for entering into honest  community seeking Truth and meaning. The world is more beautiful with you in it. Here’s to living an un-edited life.

So much love, so much hope,

*The life-example referenced here is the one where the girl stole the caramel bottle, mentioned in Musings of a Recovering People Pleaser. Honestly, that particular story is much better explained in person, and is funnier to people who work at Starbucks.

Thankful: Then & Now

Two years ago I kept a blog titled “Hopeful Sentiments”. My last post before I switched to my WordPress site was “A Thankful Post” on Thanksgiving 2011. I found it last week and, for lack of better words today, was thankful that I had written it. It served as a reminder of eternal things which I will always be thankful for; it also allowed me to realize that some of the things I was thankful for have come and gone and I am just as thankful, if not more, for new circumstances. The post is below:


“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:5-7

It is not a secret that anxiety is something I struggle with. It gets so bad sometimes that worry consumes my thoughts and my speech and my life. Philippians 4:5-7 is something I’m trying to consistently remember, and what better day to write and reflect on it than Thanksgiving!

Worry won’t add anything to my life, it will only steal my joy and strength. The act of giving thanks, however, restores joy and strength. I don’t want today to be about food and preparing for black friday shopping and watching the cowboys game (although all of these things are wonderful), I want to really remember what I am thankful for in the midst of everything I would change about my circumstances.

I’m thankful for a dad who loves his kids, and who loves to cook for us. I’m thankful that he still has his life and his ability to make my favorite Thanksgiving dressing every year. I’m thankful for a mom who bends over backwards for her family, who denies herself to make life better for us. For siblings who are my best friends: a sister who is going to make a wonderful roommate in a few weeks, a brother who is like my twin, and another brother who will take the dog out when I don’t want to.

I’m thankful for coffee — I bet you didn’t see that coming — and baristas who make good coffee. I’m thankful for art: good books and movies and photographs and paintings and music that explains how you feel better than you ever could. I’m thankful for good weather and colorful leaves. I’m thankful for friends who are there for me when I go crazy, friends who make me laugh until I cry, friends who are just as weird as I am.

I’m thankful for a job that I love (most of the time) and that I am able to support myself and my coffee addiction and still have enough to give to others. I’m thankful for an internship with a great organization that is making a difference. I’m thankful that I know what I’m passionate about and that I have dreams and goals and a future. I’m thankful that I have a car that runs so I don’t have to, although running probably wouldn’t be such a bad idea after I eat all of this food.

I’m thankful for the Body of Christ- the Church- the fellowship of believers. I’m thankful for grace, for a God who does not stop loving me when I’m selfish instead of thankful. I’m thankful that even in the midst of difficult circumstances I can lean on the cross of Christ- that I’m covered by the blood of Jesus, I have no righteousness of my own but that God saw it fit to give me His righteousness.

My hope is to reflect on these things more than I currently do.


Today, I am also thankful for much. I am thankful that I’m still learning to struggle well with anxiety. More importantly, I am thankful for friends have stood by me as I’ve learned to struggle well. I am thankful for my family, both immediate and extended. I’m thankful that, although I am miles and miles away, my heart has never been closer to them. I am still thankful for coffee and baristas, and that both of these things have an entirely different meaning to me than they did two years ago. I am thankful to be continuing my education and that I know even less about my hopes and dreams than I did two years ago and am content. I am thankful that I live in a place that experiences all four seasons, and a fantastic public transportation system so that I don’t have to have a car. I’m thankful that I actually enjoy running these days, and that change isn’t as scary as it used to be. I am thankful for a God who loves and transforms, who breathes life and speaks things that aren’t into existence.

Happy Thanksgiving, loves. Life is richer and more beautiful with you in it.