So I haven’t written in a while…

…I’ve been going through stuff. And sometimes I need to learn the things before I can feel worthy enough to then write about the things. I know it’s an imperfect cycle, but it’s how I work folks. I’ve also been debating about whether I should even keep this blog post up, but thanks to a very special friend recently, I’ve realized that this blog can actually still do some good – even if I don’t always see the direct repercussions or instant gratifications of it. But I digress.

Here you are:

Why do I love God?

…because every time I give him something, he works it for good.

I can give him my frustration or my doubt or my annoyance with Him…I can literally NOT WANT to trust Him, and HE continues to blow my mind and bring me closer to Him and make me fall more in love with Him. Every. Single. Time. Without fail. Unceasingly. I mean, talk about patience.

I can give Him my fear and he will send me a message reminding me to be courageous. I might not hear an audible voice, but He makes sure I hear Him. Through books, or people, or my tattoo. And if He happens to be silent, or at least silent in the way my incompetent little human mind defines silence, He makes sure I understand why. In His silence, He assures me that although I can and should depend on Him, I am also capable of standing on my own two feet. In His silence, He is making me stronger. In His silence, He is simultaneously deepening my trust in Him, and my trust in myself.

How do I love God?

I mean it is weird isn’t it, loving an inanimate being who you can’t physically see or touch? I used to think so, so we can all admit it. Sometimes, even now, when I stare up into the sky and really think about it, I can understand how crazy my belief system must look to outsiders. I think I’m bat shit crazy too half the time.

So how do I do it? How does anybody do it – love God?

You know what? The answer is I don’t know really know.

But I think it has less to do with us, and a whole heck of a lot more to do with God and Jesus. Because again, if it were up to us…we would be screwed. I’ve found that if I’m able to take one small shuffle forward in faith, God will literally LEAP to meet me and make Himself known. He does the same with all his children. Because, the thing is, He is always with us…it’s just sometimes (actually quite often), we need to be reminded of His NEARNESS. And I’ve found that if we can be brave and vulnerable enough to ask Him to show up, He delights in doing so. He LOVES blowing our minds. It’s quite scary actually.

I’m slowly learning to delight in my doubts, because it means that God and I, for lack of a better term, are becoming “homies for life.”

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Dont’ Love Me For That

Don’t love me for

My hair

My eyes

My height

My ass

The physical traits I was born with

Mere genetics

Things I can’t change or control

 

Love me for

My stubbornness

My vulnerability

My courage

My perseverance

The intangible things

I’ve had to work for

Through pain, mistakes and experience

 

Don’t love me for

My accomplishments

My shining moments

My victories

 

Love me for

My wrong turns

My bad decisions

My misjudgments

The shitty parts of me

The handle-with-care parts

 

Don’t love me for who I was

(the girl you used to know)

(I won’t ever be her again)

Or the person I am now

(she’s still figuring her shit out)

Love me instead for the person I am becoming

(because I need to learn to love her too)

 

SHOW (the frick) UP

I feel like recently God’s been slamming me in the face with this idea of showing up.

Ok, sorry God, maybe I should be a little nicer about how I word this. He’s presented me with ample opportunities in which I have needed to show up. Through my (many) failures, and (few) successes, he’s been reworking what showing up is supposed to look like, as compared to how I’ve previously understood it. Regardless, this process has definitely felt more like a slap in the face than a gentle prodding 😉

I feel like I should clarify here. I’m NOT talking about a quiet or blasé here-I-am-I-entered-the-building-now-what-should-I-do kind of showing up. This is NOT a going through the motions kind of showing up. And in NO WAY is the “showing up” I’m talking about a passive act.

This is a LOUD, fiery, bold and, most importantly, a courageous, kind of showing up.

Sometimes, I’ve come to learn, showing up loudly can be done through seemingly quiet acts of kindness and intentionality: a shoulder to cry on…a text/handwritten note…a phone call….a truly genuine “How are you, really?”

Showing up looks different every day. It’s definitely a situational thing. Trust me when I say that some days will be harder than others. There will be days when you will be able to show up loudly. There will be others that you barely get through the day, dragging yourself out of bed. But only you will know if you’ve truly shown up to your fullest capability.

A few weeks ago, I met a couple at church who showed up absolutely brilliantly. Through casual conversation, I found out they had recently lost a son…rather suddenly… to drowning….

I was floored. I had no freaking clue what to say. Obviously.

After some time, I realized that I was awestruck by their decision to come to church. I was overwhelmed by their faith. To show up. Despite their situation and what they might be feeling, they were here. Praising God. DESPITE all the heartbreak and remorse and struggling and pain and sadness…they chose to believe that their God is still good.

And in their quiet resilience, I saw what true faith looked like. The way that they showed up might have seemed small (most people at church probably didn’t even know their story), but it spoke volumes to me.

——-

Showing up, I’ve also learned, does not mean you have to know the exact right thing to say all the time. It simply means being present. That’s what Jesus did for us, and what God promises he will always do for us. For a long time now, I’ve taken way too much pride my ability to say and do the right things for the people I love. But I’m realizing now that there will be times where words won’t be sufficient. We don’t have to heal people’s wounds, we don’t have to solve their problems, we don’t have to have the “solution” to show that we care.

I/We just have to be p r e s e n t.

I/We need to willingly step into people’s pain and struggles and worries and imperfections.

I/We must constantly sacrifice our own personal agenda, our own comfortability, to show up and engage in people’s lives.

———–

I love writers who approach difficult topics. But I respect those who offer up tangible ways to put into practice the subjects they bring up. I’m working on becoming one of those writers.

So this is me, showing up for you, whoever may be reading this blog. There are parts of myself that are telling me not to write this blog post, that I have nothing original to say, that more eloquent, more qualified writers have already covered this topic. But there is also another, thankfully much louder, part of me that is demanding that I write this. And so I here is am, writing about what I am learning, what I find important.

As for you, reader, I’m giving you a tangible challenge to show up. Today. In whatever way you can. And to

KEEP

SHOWING

UP

Because it’s all we can do, really.

 

 

Stopping

Make complete stops.

I never completely stop at stop signs. I’m the queen of “California rolls” if you will. I’m also the queen of staying busy. Unbearably so. Exhaustingly so. I’m addicted to what my friend Shauna Nequist calls “fake rest.” And you know what? I’m sick of it. I looked back on my journal this past week and found an angsty prayer about how tired I was. And it was dated January 21. I’ve been tired for a while now. So, much like my horrible driving habits, I have to relearn how to truly stop my life.

How to rest amidst the chaos.

That doesn’t look like better time management. That doesn’t mean becoming a recluse.

It looks like healthy no’s, better, more thoughtful decisions and

seeking

silence.

 

Take a step

Take a step.

Just one step. One small step forward.

This, I’ve learned, will get you far. Further than you can imagine. It’ll take you to places that will make you wonder why, when, how did I get here?

But you have to be courageous enough, daring enough, stupidly faithful even, to take that one step into the unknown. Let me emphasize the unknown one more time. We don’t always know where we’re going, or what’s going to happen. Because yeah, we might not be certain of the direction we’re going, but if we don’t take that step, we’ll never know where we could end up.

Here are some steps I’ve taken in my life, knowingly or not:

  • One step to a small Christian liberal arts college
  • One step towards falling in love for the first time
  • One step away from that love when it turned out to be toxic and broken
  • Continuous steps towards daily conversations that matter
  • One step on a plane bound for Uganda, Africa
  • One shaky, very uncertain, step into a life with Christ
  • One step towards writing as a passion
  • One step by praying, every day, that God would use me. Somehow.
  • One step back to Santa Barbara to start pursing my current passion to be a coach.
  • Stepping, not-so-confidently, into three new jobs.
  • Daily steps towards figuring my shit out, no matter how imperfect that looks.

Recently, these steps have landed me at a spiritual women’s retreat in Big Bear, where I found myself awestruck at the places life has taken me. I was in a log cabin with some of the coolest women I’ve ever met. Women who I look up to. Who I want to BE when I’m older. Not necessarily because of what they do, which is pretty damn impressive. But because of who they are, as people. Broken and imperfect, yet confident, and the absolute best examples of what it means to live a life for others. They are women who completely crushed the professional world, cultivated closely-knit families, and faithfully followed Christ through the highest highs and lowest lows.

But had I not taken these steps, every single one of them, I never would have gotten here.

It looks simple when written on paper. But living it out – therein lies the challenge. Maybe you’re just graduating college, or transitioning between jobs, or getting out of a relationship, or just in a season where the next step is so uncertain. I’m telling you. Lean into that uncertainty. Embrace it. If it feels right to you (and scares the living hell out of you), you’re probably right where you should be. Even if you don’t know where it will take you.

So take that step. And walk in it.

We are all starving.

We feed ourselves lies

But we’re starving for truth

 

We crave the loudness of life

But we’re starving for inner silence

 

We desire sex, passion, romance

But we’re starving to be understood

 

We long to be like everyone else

But we’re starving to be accepted for our differences

 

We cry out for justice

But we’re starving for peace

 

We thirst for simple answers

But we’re starving for complex wisdom

 

We are all starving.

We fill ourselves with what is easy

When what we really want

Often requires work

Vulnerability

Authenticity

Sacrifice

Courage

And because we are content with the shallow

We can never be truly full

We are all starving….

we are all starving….

What do you hope for?

It’s been a while friends. Life can so easily become a whirlwind; so, amongst the craziness, it feels good for me to write again. It feels like home.

———

Over the years, one of my friends has kindly berated me with the question: “What do you hope for?”

I was an atheist the first time she asked me this, and I couldn’t find an adequate answer. Nor did I really want to. I was completely perplexed (not that I ever let her know that), and didn’t even know where to begin. At the time, I truly felt that what I hoped for didn’t affect how I would carry out my daily life. I would still be the same Lauren. I didn’t need to have hope for anything because I was here, on this Earth, for whatever reason, and I could choose to make the best out of it. That was my abstract, completely-avoiding-the-question, answer I had for her then.

You would think my answer would change after becoming a Christian. Not so much. Ironically enough, even as a Christian, I have been just as at a loss for words on how to answer this question.

Sure, I could give you the quintessential Christianese answer. “As a Christian,” I should hope for a better future. I should hope for a heaven that is devoid of pain, suffering and lying. I should hope for something beyond our current circumstances. Period.

But I don’t. Because for me, that answer doesn’t stick. Right now, that answer simply isn’t enough.

When asked what I hope for now, the only thing I can think of is all the times hope has failed me.

Everything I have truly hoped for… my grandpa to survive cancer…for that one boy in middle school to ask me out…to get into my dream school, UCLA…for my best friend to stay at Westmont…for reconciliation…for every single person I meet to hurt a little less…none of these things have happened. All these things are out of my control, so the only option I had was to hope that they would get better, that they would change.

And when they didn’t, well, I lost hope in hope.

So, until recently, hope has equated to helplessness in my mind, because it means I have no control. Things are out of my hands. And as a doer and an achiever and a very stubborn “I-get-sh*t-done” kind of person, the idea that something is beyond repair, beyond my ability to fix it, has always been unacceptable.

Until recently.

As I was talking on the phone with my friend who originally posed this question to me, I had an epiphany. (Finally). There IS something I hope for now – and it has forever changed how I go about living life. It gives me freedom and consolation and the ability to love others better than I ever had before. It allows me to relinquish the control that I used to so desperately value. It means I can screw up on a daily, minute to minute, basis, and STILL be loved. I can fail at loving people because something bigger than myself has already loved them first. It means I can completely fall apart and acknowledge my brokenness because my identity will not change despite my faults.

This is what I hope for ladies and gentlemen: I hope that God is in control. Because I can’t be. This adult world that I’ve somewhat begrudgingly inhabited the past 11 months is too much to freakin’ handle sometimes.

And I fail. A lot. I lose control. A lot. And when I do, I tend to throw all the yuck in God’s face. Here God, take this. I don’t want it. That’s often my mantra these days. But if I can hope that GOD has control, over my life and everyone I love, then things become easier. A little more manageable, and a little more beautiful. I can see through the yuck.

I used to have this notion that hope was a passive, underlying emotion. But I have grown to learn that in my hope in God, it’s actually a brilliant, burning, ROARING emotion. Just like God. Like I hope to be.

Two months of grappling with a foreign and unknown concept – it finally feels good to be able to say something worthy about it. Thanks for reading, everyone.