I’m done with the hookup culture.

I want to be with someone who has the capacity to love every part of me in return.

Breathing out, feeling their warm embrace with the confidence that nothing could separate us,

Knowing that even if hell or highwater came,

believing that this person would love me through my instability as I love them through their struggle.

Two people putting in equal effort,

Standing back to back & fighting the good fight while supporting eachother and finding love in a culture of temporary fulfillment.

I want to be with someone that connects with me in every unimaginable way,

Knowing the parts of my mind and heart that I never share with anyone;

Making surface connections seem foolish.

Loving me both intuitively

and emotionally,

using the physical as a compliment

rather than a means to an end for some form of temporary fulfillment.

I want true, undying love.

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i made pancakes today.

The first one wasn’t so great. I put it on my plate, deciding that that one would be for me. And that the next one would be better. That one would be yours.

When I blinked, I was suddenly back at the apartment. I was 21, making pancakes for you while you quietly sobbed on the couch because he broke up with you again. I wasn’t making you pancakes because I knew that you wanted them, but because I knew that your mom wanted to see that you had food sitting in front of you before she left from spending time with you during your difficult night. She quietly hugged you, said her farewell, and closed the door behind her. You wiped your eyes and went upstairs, leaving your breakfast behind.

You never thanked me, but that’s okay. Because you didn’t have to. This is what friends do for eachother. Besides– you made up for it later when you made me mac and cheese as I sat in front of my research paper, not having an appetite due to fighting anxiety. We take took care of each other.

I’m 23 years old. I’m making pancakes in my kitchen, and all at once, the memories flood back into my mind.

Now we’re sitting on our living room floor, when we’re 19. Choosing the community of the ground instead of the couches. We’re eating pancakes and belly-laughing while listening to music or making stupid jokes. We’re vicariously living through one another’s experiences by telling stories of our days. Or we’re scrolling through our phones and not talking, because sometimes silence is okay.

We’re eating pancakes, and we’re 22. This time in the company of friends, and late at night as we exhaustedly pour over our homework at the end of the semester. Or we’re in an entirely different city after a grand adventure had unfolded before us, and we’re eating pancakes together before packing to leave it all behind. The company gives us the reassurance that we’ll always have people around us who love us, no matter what our futures hold.

Now we’re sitting in your car. We’re 20 years old. It feels like I begged you to give me a moment this time, because I was depressed and didn’t want to open up to anyone else. I asked you if we could talk after work, with tears streaming down my face. And you said no because you didn’t have time to when you were getting off work, even though we both know that you were going home. I felt like I was falling apart, but I took your no and waited until a week later. We’re eating pancakes in your car after work, and I try to tell you what’s happening in the 20 minutes that you give me. I wonder if you’re genuinely occupied with other things, or if I’m becoming a burden to you.

I’m 23. I’m making pancakes, and I’m thinking of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’m thinking of both the thick and the thin that we’ve endured together as best friends. I remember the grand adventures that we had, and my heart is flooded with hope and the desire for the broken places to be mended so that the story never ends. Yet, I remember the things that made me question whether or not being so close to you was good for me, and my heart breaks in the deepest of places. Who really wants to choose between having a close friend and looking out for your well-being?

The terrifying fact is that this isn’t the first friendship or relationship that has seen this side of me. The side that clings. The side that blurrs its lines between self and others. The legitimate fear is that this will not be the last time; that this cycle is so deeply rooted in me and will continue if I don’t open my eyes to the truths that I keep running away from.

Why are we so willing to choose self-destruction for the sake of what we think is love?

I get so frustrated and angry at myself, because I realize that I’ve cornered myself again. And that this is partially my fault. Because I would sacrifice everything that I have to be close with you again. Even if it meant compromising my own wellbeing for it, and that isn’t okay.

Obviously there isn’t a simple answer here. Perhaps I need to re-learn what love really is. Maybe I need to go on a grand adventure of solitude and find love within myself, so that I don’t desperately cling to the love that others give me as if it were slowly dissipating. As if Christ died for us and realized that He didn’t have enough love to go around.

Maybe when I find true love in solitude- in myself and in God, then I won’t feel compelled to seek it from others to the point of self-denial. I think that this form of love could enable us to love others in greater capacity- in a way that breaks the cycle that so many of us find ourselves tangled up in.

 

This time I blink, and I’m back in my kitchen after getting sucked into a vortex of memories. I’m 23, and I’m making pancakes. The new house is quiet. And the first pancake didn’t turn out so great, but the second one did. So I put both on the only plate on the counter.

Here’s to journeys of healthy solitude, and may we find our balance and most authentic selves in them.

perfect imperfection & hopeful disappointment

“Do you ever live in discontentment with loss, knowing that a relationship conflict could have been resolved, but wasn’t- and still isn’t?”

After my friend honestly admitted her yes, we realized that we were both still trying to figure this emotional turmoil out: the moment when we realize that relationships of every kind don’t live up to the hopeful expectations that we crave.

Developmental psychology would claim the 20’s to be the peak of “intimacy versus isolation”- the point when we’re discovering how deeply we can connect with others, and whether we’re going to develop healthy relationships or live in the quiet stillness of solitude.  Though a mix of both creates the healthiest development, the push and pull of this stage is stretching my heart in unexpected and uncomfortable ways.

In the silence of my recent post-grad life, I’ve spent much time reflecting on life during college. I analyze the past and replay it in my head, then let the emotions from reminiscing unfold: both for the moments full of awe and wonder, and for the moments filled with ugly scar tissue and pain. So far, in the moments where I found disappointment and sadness, I never stopped to think about what my expectations were in the moments where I was hurt- at least not until tonight.

A person’s expectations foretell their emotional reaction.

In simpler terms- if another human doesn’t meet our expectations, then we become disappointed and let down. If we change those expectations, then we don’t have that same emotional reaction.

I’ve had a lot of expectations for people in my lifetime, as if I didn’t readily anticipate the imperfect humans that we commune with to make mistakes, or to betray and hurt us. Whether it was intentional or not doesn’t change the fact that it is.

Although I want to anticipate the painful conflict of expectation versus reality so that I’m more prepared to accept what is to come, it’s almost as if there’s not an exact way to prepare for that kind of pain. To expect the best at all times is naive, and sets one up for disappointment at failures. To constantly expect disappointment leads to an unhappy life. So where’s the middle ground here?

According to what the Bible says about humanity, there will never be a day where we can fully trust another human being without the inevitability of them hurting us, or us hurting them. It isn’t always as if that infliction of pain were intentional, but it’s simply the human condition. We are fallen.

We can’t protect ourselves from getting hurt by people. And we can’t protect ourselves from making mistakes and hurting others.

… And so here we are.

Sitting with the truth. Perhaps painfully accepting the truth.

And what exactly are we suppose to do with that truth?

I don’t know that I can fully answer that question right now as I’m still processing the weight of all of this. But so far, my guess is to give humanity some slack and trust the father.

He never lets us down, and He is the ONLY one who will NEVER let us down.

As long as we’re trusting Him and not putting people in His place by placing high expectations on them, then I believe that the rest will fall into place. Even if it means learning to change your expectations for other people, which is what I am admittedly doing here in this moment.

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and the Holy Spirit within us, there’s hope for us to experience healthy and satisfying relationships on this earth- despite the imperfection. A balance can be found with due time and experience. Although we can expect imperfection from our fellow community members, the disappointment mustn’t rule our choice to find one another.

Here’s to learning the perfection of imperfection, and the hope in disappointment- and may these things ever lead us closer to Christ each day.

dependence

“As humans, why put ourselves at the risk of asking for dependency on Jesus, when we could instead ask to not need Him?”

 

I asked myself this question today while praying and asking God for confidence that radiates from knowing Him. Wouldn’t it be easier to have that confidence without needing to ask for it continuously? Isn’t it better to be independent- to be self-sufficient, and able to sustain our own needs?

 

After thinking for a bit, I wondered if this could be a mindset founded upon being raised in a fiercely independent culture. America: the land where everyone wants their own, individualized sense of control, in their timeframe of preference, without needing to wait on anyone else.

 

While the “freedom” and control can feel nice, humanity does not have the full capacity to sustain itself without some kind of dependence on another.

We can’t metabolize our own nutrients.

We have social needs for belonging and love.

Our purpose revolves around community and interaction, no matter how introverted someone may be.

And I wonder if we are truly living in freedom if we are self-sufficient. Or if it’s a part of our inner contamination that strives to be like God in all of the wrong ways. It could be neither.

Or it could be both.

 

The risk of becoming prideful runs deep among us – those who demand independence and therefore live in such a way that doesn’t include time spent with the father, or with those who bear his image. Lest we become God himself, or strive to arrive at such a place, we are to thrive and function in complete dependence of God & people.

 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, casting them into the fire to be burned. My father is glorified by this: that you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; Abide in My love.” – Jesus, John 15:4-9

 

Jesus modeled dependency on God. Even in his human state, God exemplified asking for help and relying on the strength of his other part- the holy spirit. I am led to believe that, by example, He beckons us to do the same. May we strive for dependence, and not become consumed by the wind of a busy life, or succumb to the lies knitted within old thought patterns that try to convince us to do it all on our own.

 

 

Here’s to a new season of living in freedom through dependence on the Father.

 

An Open Letter to the Disheartened

I can’t remember who I wrote this to originally, but I found it in my notes and figured that the world could read it and feel encouraged today.

___________

“My dear friend,

I wanted to say thank you for opening up to me the other day. From what you’ve expressed, I’ve learned that you take trust seriously, like myself. Your experience is valuable, and your voice is worth being not only heard, but listened to. The moments when people invite eachother into their dark places can be the most healing moments for ourselves, despite the risk of vulnerability. Through my words, I pray to be nothing less of an encouragement and honest friend to you.

The other night, you expressed asking yourself something that I frequently come across within my own frame of mind.

“Why did God make me this way?”

It’s almost as if you’re looking into a mirror, seeing the undesirable qualities and flaws that others seem to point out so frequently, as if your own mind weren’t already exaggerating those things. You ask how you could possibly be of desire or acceptance to humanity, or even the creator of the universe himself. You wonder how you could effectively help others when you can’t control or change yourself in the ways that you’d like, and some sense of hopelessness and despair flood your heart because you wonder if you’ll ever be enough.

Perhaps you have more belief and trust in God than I, but I would venture to say that you’re like most humans and experience both the strongest faith and the deepest doubt or discouragement all in the same day. Truths are found within the paradoxes that we face.

When you come to those moments of asking yourself this question, and you ponder in moments of despair, wondering why the creator perplexes you with his silence rather than making the answers vivid and clear, it’s difficult to trust or see the potential and value that he breathed into you before you were created.

It’s hard to see in dark places, and sometimes we need both God and people to remind us of who we are, so I’m going to take a moment to speak some truth into your life.

Every part of you was fashioned for greatness. Not every part is perhaps desirable in your eyes, but God knew what he was doing at the beginning. Although sin flooded the earth, and although we have sin in us, we are not so ill-fit to be redeemed by the God of the universe that we are void of hope. He sent Jesus to reconcile you to God- but this doesn’t mean that you are void of unique patterns and creativity that existed before you asked for God’s forgiveness. You were created in his image before you could speak or reason.

You are exquisite.

You have specific ideas and gifts that no one else has. You have an influence in your social circle that no one else can touch. God didn’t create you to be a mirror to simply reflect him to others- he created you as a prism. Unique with your own personality, compassion, loyalty, and snarky humor that nothing or no one else can replace. And those characteristics are color. When you shine light through a prism, it produces vibrant colors; otherwise those characteristics that will draw people closer to God’s nature. And God shining through your unique and beloved traits creates meaning that you already have without having to force yourself to be anything more than what you already are.

We don’t have to strive, because God meets us where we’re at. Doing our best and stewarding what we have is virtuous, but there must coexist an acknowledgement that perfection can’t always be reached. And this is where God’s grace meets you. God is humble and knows every part of you, inside and out. His grace is enough to supplement what you can’t find yourself to bring, and your worth was never found in what you bring or what you do, but what you already are. And you are truly beautiful and worth loving and fighting for.

The undesirable traits within us that we fixate on can never revoke the purpose that God creates us with.

It’s a long journey, but you have a bold faith and perseverance that will undoubtedly push you to the end with the help of the Holy Spirit that lives in you. You have passion and drive that no one can take away, and God is doing something great in and through you. Take heart.

-Hannah

so begins a new journey.

Dear God,

 

This season has been strenuous and devastating, filled with unexpected twists and turns that have brought me to the deepest of sorrows.

I have sat among my own thoughts and analyzations until they have consumed me, have stared death in the eye with both opposition and a subtle longing for relief, and am currently facing one of my biggest fears: letting go of any and all security that lies outside of you, and falling into the unexpected with blind trust and open palms.

In the midst of it all — despite every hard conversation, panic attack, tear-filled nights and breakdowns in the office of my favorite professor, I have rediscovered you as the source of all things. After analyzing, debating, and rationalizing every possible outlet, I have accepted the process of allowing you to become my peace and secure frame, trusting that you will provide even when I doubt you.

You are the peace to my anxious thoughts. You are the warm embrace when I am laying in my bed with tears streaming down my face, wishing that I could fix everything that went wrong. You still my mind and remind me to breathe. You are central to the awe and wonder of learning something new. You have provided for me in moments when I thought that I was going to fail. And because of these things, I’m forming a pillar of remembrance to honor your faithfulness and true character.

Here in this moment, I’m choosing to trust you again.

I don’t really know what you have in store for me next, but the grand adventure awaits, and each grand adventure must begin with freedom. Here’s to finding freedom in trusting God.

late night thoughts

(optimism isn’t everything. Beware, you may not find encouragement in the posts to come. Because being a human with emotions sucks sometimes.)

there’s a popular song that comes on the radio at work every shift, at least 4 times every single one I work. And every time I hear it, my heart skyrockets into my throat and my stomach starts feeling sick. My heart starts racing, and all I can think of is how badly I want to run out to the dining room and stay out there bussing tables until the song ends.

And then it gets stuck in my head, and I have to drown it out with another song, or else I’ll begin to internally fall apart. Just like I do when I wonder if I can trust anything anymore.

And I honestly wonder when this mental hell will end. Maybe it’ll end when I can find the right pills, but how can I trust the pills when I can’t cognitively function enough to do my schoolwork while I’m taking them?

Then I loop back into not being able to trust myself. How do I know that what I’m feeling is real? How do I know that what I’m perceiving or feeling is a lie? I don’t. I never really know, and it drives me insane. I’m angry, but I don’t know if I should be or if I have the right reasons to be, so I drown it in apathy until I can figure it out. Until it builds up and boils over. And it starts all over again.

It feels like it’ll never end, like I’ll be stuck in this cycle of pain forever. but I know that there’s light and healing on the other side. It’s just a long journey out. And some days I feel like I’ll never make it.

here’s to another day of trying to make it. may there be fewer and fewer to come when I find hope again.

nameless

you corner me

i cower in terror

heart pounding,

tears streaming down my face

face red with shame

our eyes meet

and i see the utter hate that you have for me

i wonder what i’ve done wrong

you grab me by the heart and

choke the life out of me

as I struggle to breathe, you

curse me

remind me that I’m worthless,

again and again and again

you remind me of

your disdain for my existence

and play a movie of

every bad thing that I’ve ever done

rehearse “it’s you’re fault”

over and over again

until I learn to hate myself

just as much as

you hate me

/

but you can’t keep me,

because you don’t have power over me

because I know what I am

I know who I am

and it isn’t my fault,

and I’m not worthless.

I am loved, I am wanted,

I am desirable, because

I am.

And my father says so.

And my friends and family tell me

every single day,

that i’m beautiful, and to stay strong.

their love out-numbers

every hateful thing that you’ve ever said

every lie that you’ve spoken to convince me otherwise.

when He breathed

“it is finished”

 

you were put to death,

your lies bound to the grave,

because

we won.

 

 

 

when nightmares become reality

Everything is loud
People moving around
Preoccupied by their own lives
I don’t want to talk to them, so I
try to avoid the eye-

the gateway to the heart.
what if they don’t really care?
what if I don’t, either?

Not
Allowed
In —

The closer you become
The easier it’ll be to
Hurt you
So then you become another
Pulled closer, then pushed further until
You fall off the edge of
these cliffs that I’ve forged
For my own protection
When they’ve easily become
the adversary and murderer

Cornered by my mind to stand on
the line of choosing between
intimacy and isolation
Which makes me
my own worst enemy
&
my own thief of life.

My hands are tied —
someone rescue me

from myself.

disconnected in the church body.

[EDITED]

Well hiya, reading community!

After an intense 7 months of writers block and very little time to publish my thoughts, I’m making time to sit down and write. Because it’s good for my heart, even though I don’t do it often enough. I see it as a form of self-care. Because sometimes my mind needs to escape a crowded world in order to wander among empty space and time. Maybe you’re the same way with a different hobby. Never use the excuse “I’m too busy” to avoid being kind to yourself.

Tonight after work, I had a lot of time on my mind to process some recent events in life. One of them being spending some of my winter break back at home. And, to be honest, I stumbled upon an unexpected series of thoughts.

For a moment, while visiting my home church, I realized just how disconnected from church culture I really am now after having been immersed in school for so long.  I was reminded of the close community that I was missing from this church that I had grown up in- and, even more than that, I’ve realized that I’m sincerely not okay with the church culture that we’re living in.

Our western church body, as a whole, can often times make it incredibly difficult for young people to make long-term connections. Since I left home, I’ve been “church hopping” for 4 years. Yes, that is the entire span that I’ve been in college so far, and I’m not done yet. Because every new church that I’ve gone to (despite how wonderful the people are) has had a serious lack in integrating new members with those who have been at the church for years. Yes- these young, hip, non-denominational, trendy, millennial, Hillsong & Bethel worship, hospitality-driven, awesome churches that I fully respect, can have a difficult time integrating outsiders into the community. Entering every new church, I’ve felt the emotional, “wow, this place is great!” high, being impressed with the outward appearance of how well “put together” these services are. Then, I feel the need (legitimate or not) to find a “group” to plug into, as the church encourages new members to do.

And so I give it a shot! I go to community / small / life (whatever you call it) group for a few weeks.

And so far… unfortunately, it’s been the same trend.

Meeting new people, feeling a little connected after learning everyone’s name. Coming consistently for several weeks, even months, without really getting a chance to know any of the group members one-on-one outside of the group or church. Awkwardly fading out when life gets busy, without anyone reaching out… And eventually leaving because of the disconnect.

And I don’t feel connected to any of them, no matter how many I go to or how often I go.

Small groups are designed to integrate individual members into growing church bodies. However- If that’s the case, then we are so many people, like myself, unable to feel connected to a small group after weeks of consistently going? Is it the individuals’ lack of commitment, or the group members’ lack of intentionality in fostering close relationships with new people? (Or both?)

Honestly, these days, I’d rather pick up serving shifts at my job on Sunday mornings and make money than struggle to show up at a church and slip out afterwards with no one to really engage with or intentionally reaching out. It seems that, no matter how hard I try to reach in, I’m being repelled away from spiritually connecting to others in a solid church body. And I don’t feel like this Sunday morning gathering is living up to the expectation that Christ has intended, in my opinion. What was meant for community has been watered down into clique-gatherings with retention and lack of intentionality to outsiders. And it isn’t okay.

If you don’t know me, at least know this: I have done church my entire life. I have encountered God’s Love in the deepest, most unimaginable ways. And I have a huge passion for worship. Playing keys, singing, and even spending time worshiping outside of church on my bedroom floor. I love working with kids. I love making coffee. I love reaching others and engaging in missions. And I want to use my gifts to serve at a church, but I feel like that power has been removed from my hands with this serious sense of disconnectedness. I’m in a dry and difficult place of wanting to connect to a church body while using my gifts, but feeling unable to do so.

I remember going to church back home and being excited to serve all day on Sundays and in the office a couple of times a week. But, being away from home and in college, I’ve been dreading Sundays as I’ve been struggling to figure out where to go to church, and a lack in spiritual growth outside of personal time being invested in podcasts, christian books, and time spent listening to worship music.

To anyone who is still reading- I would love to hear your feedback, ideas, and suggestions as to how to get out of this, while entering back into a place of consistently growing spiritually with a community. If you identified a flaw in my writing, offer something. If you’ve experienced this for yourself, what helped you out of it?

I have been praying and engaging with God daily. Heck, I even attend a Christian University. My relationship with God is good, but the quality of spiritual growth has been declining as this lack of community and engagement has made itself prominent more recently. I would love to hear your ideas.

-Hannah