HeartSupport http://www.heartsupport.com Hold Fast. We Believe In You. Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:59:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 There Will Be Blood (Reflections on the Christian Church) http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/there-will-be-blood-reflections-on-the-christian-church/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/there-will-be-blood-reflections-on-the-christian-church/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:02 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17136 “I have had the worst experiences with church….” “…the constant judgment, the unmoving beliefs in their theological views. It saddens me that I feel I can’t find sanctuary inside those walls.” “…7 years later I still haven’t really been back.” These are just snippets of numerous emails I’ve received after my most recent blog on why I’m a Christian. I […]

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“I have had the worst experiences with church….”

“…the constant judgment, the unmoving beliefs in their theological views. It saddens me that I feel I can’t find sanctuary inside those walls.”

“…7 years later I still haven’t really been back.”

These are just snippets of numerous emails I’ve received after my most recent blog on why I’m a Christian. I picked a scab and revealed a gaping wound many of us have. Most of our experiences within the walls of the church have left us half dead, beaten, and disillusioned.

Recent news only continues to report what many have indeed experienced. Seattle mega-church pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after numerous allegations of spiritual abuse, bullying, misogyny, and an extremely unhealthy ego. Sovereign Grace Ministries, however, takes the cake: Pastors covering up child abuse, protecting the predators, not informing parents of what was going on, and even forcing the children to hug their abusers and tell them they were forgiven.

So when we hear those stories and remember our own personal experiences, the thought of ever attending church makes us shudder with horror.

I think the problem lies in the fact the church has, unfortunately, become a resort for pretty people as opposed to a hospital for the broken. But I also believe we have helped create this environment. We expect our pastors to be pretty instead of bleeding all over the stage. Pastors also wrongly assume they can’t share where they’re hurting and failing for fear of giving their congregants a license to do whatever the hell they want. In each of those instances it shows one major mistake: Neither understands the Good News of Jesus. The good news is that God knows you’re a mess, loves you in spite of it, and asks you to be honest about it so you can find healing as a community.

Instead we have these high expectations when we walk into church and this strange game we play where everyone at church is happy and clappy, so when people who are hemorrhaging walk in they can sniff out the fake like a bloodhound. And when everyone is busy pretending and not dealing with heart issues, you get religious and judgmental people that love rules instead of helping hurting people.

The lead pastor at the church I attend once gave a fantastic analogy: Imagine you found a Rembrandt masterpiece in a dumpster covered in mud and stained. Would you write it off as a loss and leave it in the dumpster? Or would you try everything in your power to gently remove the grime, being sure not to hurt and damage the masterpiece underneath?

Sadly, many churches have become a place where rough cleansing tactics are used and people get further damaged and the masterpiece is never called out.

So it leaves us skeptical of church when in reality there are churches and people desperately trying to love and look like Jesus. However, even if you find a church where people look and typically love like Jesus, there’s a catch: There will be blood.

No matter how great the church, no matter how loving, it’s still comprised of broken people who will eventually wound you. I tell people at my church often, “stick around long enough and I’m bound to light you up like the 4th of July.” I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been wounded and said, “F this. I’m out. Everyone sucks.” Most times though it’s because someone in leadership that was hurting bled on me or I was the one bleeding on everyone else. Every single person in the church will at some point inevitably suck, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

My wife once explained to me that when we were growing up, we were all hurt openly or subtly by people whose hopes, dreams, and expectations were shattered by others. It’s like hugging a person who’s covered in broken glass – the closer you get, the more you will get stabbed and infected. Some of their glass will inevitably become part of our glass, further leaving our own needs and desires shattered. Each of us continues to walk around like cracked snow globes, with shards of debris poking out like limbs on a Christmas tree. Each of us walking hazards to one another. And even if you become a hermit, you will still have your own brokenness to process and handle.

So what do we do with the fact that no matter where you go, you’re going to be wounded by others?

I think the answer comes in the form of recognizing the type of environment where there’s healing when you get wounded or where it will only produce gangrene and death.

I once attended a service where a Baptist preacher gave an entire sermon rife with political undertones and ranted for a good hour on how this nation was going to hell. The people in the congregation afterwards talked how they thought it was the “best sermon they’d ever heard” simply because he had tickled their ears and leaned toward their political ideologies. The following week I returned to my home church and heard a sermon on how the world was broken and that each of us could feel that within our gut, but that we still had the opportunity to do something despite the fact many of us were still struggling and felt unworthy to help. We could live the mission and life of Christ to those around us and alleviate suffering. So they had sign ups for disaster relief, to work in orphanages around the world, to serve their neighborhood and help feed the homeless. It grated against a lot of people (even me) because the call to action was steep and caused us to give up our comfort.

What amazed me was that both sermons agreed that something was wrong with the world. One, however, produced a type of parishioner who hated the world and condemned it much like the Pharisees in the stories of the Bible. They also got to hear things that already aligned with their beliefs. The other activated their congregants to restore and love the world and rubbed against our selfish tendencies. One producing non-action and moral superiority where no one struggles and the other saying, “Listen, you can live selfish, but it’s just going to bring you pain. There’s life over here if you want it. There’s hope and healing over here if you want to be a part of it.”

In seeing the difference of those two examples I can tell you that the type of church I’ll always attend will be the one that serves the needs of my community, the world, the hurting, the victim, and the marginalized. I’ll always seek out a church where the pastors share openly about their failures and shortcomings. The type of church I’ll always be a part of will be the one where I can approach the leadership and say “You hurt me, and here’s why” and they accept that, review it, and apologize if there’s truth to it. I will always be involved in a place where messy people can be messy, have doubts, struggle with sexuality, gender identity, or addiction.

Will I get hurt there? Oh yes. But are the friendships, authenticity, and opportunity to impact the world worth it? Definitely.

 

See conviction wells up inside, an imprint from above
Seeks to reject injustice and not to judge
Works to fix the things that are broken
Walks in humble regard to their fellow man
And never forgets that the greatest law is Love

-Being As an Ocean, Grace, Teach Us What We Lack

 

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Garret Rapp (The Color Morale) Shares his Past http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/garret-rapp-the-color-morale-shares-his-past/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/garret-rapp-the-color-morale-shares-his-past/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 16:43:25 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17118 Garret Rapp of the Color Morale shares his story of a past that involved sexual abuse, abandonment, bullying, bulimia, and self-harm. His goal in life now is helping others find hope and healing through his music and conversations beyond the merch table.

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Garret Rapp of the Color Morale shares his story of a past that involved sexual abuse, abandonment, bullying, bulimia, and self-harm. His goal in life now is helping others find hope and healing through his music and conversations beyond the merch table.

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Stephen Christian of Anberlin http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/stephen-christian-of-anberlin/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/stephen-christian-of-anberlin/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:48:19 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17094 Anberlin is disbanding and Stephen Christian shares about the impact he thinks his music will leave and the importance of community and friendship.

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Anberlin is disbanding and Stephen Christian shares about the impact he thinks his music will leave and the importance of community and friendship.

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Failure Is an Option http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/failure-is-an-option/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/failure-is-an-option/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=17030 “302 times.” An old man’s deep southern-style accent grabbed my attention in a booth behind me… If I could repeat how he said it, it probably sounded equivalent to this: “Tree-hundrd’ and two times.” The old man continued talking… “I heard legend has it that that’s how many times Walt Disney failed and was turned down before financing and creating […]

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“302 times.” An old man’s deep southern-style accent grabbed my attention in a booth behind me… If I could repeat how he said it, it probably sounded equivalent to this: “Tree-hundrd’ and two times.”

The old man continued talking… “I heard legend has it that that’s how many times Walt Disney failed and was turned down before financing and creating Disney Land. Tree-hundrd and two times!” There was a pause after his emphasis as if he was waiting for his friend to join in his excitement too…“I think it’s safe to say Walt Disney debunked the whole phrase: ‘failure is not an option.’ Obviously, given he tried TREE-HUNDRD AND TWO TIMES, failure was an option for him.” He kept jabbing his index finger still emphasizing the amount of times Disney failed.

Then he reminded me of Michael Jordan who missed more than 9,000 shots in his career, lost 300 games, and was trusted 26 times to take the winning shot and failed repeatedly… yet he’s still one of the greatest athletes of all time. Dr. Suess’s first book was rejected by 27 different publishers, but he’s still a best seller, and Vincent Van Gough only sold one of his paintings… and it was to a close friend… now everyone knows his name.

As for me, the third try, I would have thrown in the towel… or maybe my fear would be my greatest obstacle of even trying in the first place. If we all had to wear our biggest fear on our foreheads, mine would display a nice, whopping flashing sign that reads “failure” in jumbo red letters. My fear is failure in myself and others, not being good enough… and relapsing; I don’t want to see myself soaking in my own blood again from my self-inflicted cuts, and to feel the weight of guilt letting everyone that I know, love, and who looks up to me down.

But I’ve already failed.

I have learned there is nothing more freeing than the truth. So, let the truth be known that I haven’t really been sober for two full years now. I went back to cutting right after I left the rehabilitation center I was living in, but after about a week regret and failure, I stopped again cold turkey and never looked back.

Still that week haunts me. I never told anyone because of the fear of failing everyone I know, and making that failure real to myself. There comes a time in your life when you stop to realize that failing is actually an option. To me, failure is inevitable. To say that I will never relapse is foolish… and to say you will never screw up will only leave you disappointed and full of heartache. Humanity is full of mishaps and hiccups, and what really matters is how we pick ourselves up from the mess of failure. Sometimes we learn the most when we hit a brick wall, it is the place where we grow and find other opportunities. Failure is the opportunity for growth. To try and avoid failure is to avoid the progress in yourself.

I can’t quite count how many times I have relapsed. But it was progress and the innumerable amounts of failures that got me to where I am today. We seem to make failure this dangerous element and we cringe at the thought of it, when it is just a part of life and something to never be ashamed of. We handle failure best when we understand it doesn’t hurt us, but instead, teaches us. We handle failure best when we use it to motivate us. Failure is not your greatest enemy, and it is indeed an option.

John F. Kennedy said it best when he said, “those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.

 

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Why I’m A Christian (And Continue to Suck at Being One) http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/why-im-a-christian-and-continue-to-suck-at-being-one/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/why-im-a-christian-and-continue-to-suck-at-being-one/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:53:09 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=16973 Garrett Rapp of the band The Color Morale once shared with me about the day he walked into youth group and never returned when he was asked to burn his “secular” albums. I remember that day too. My friend Derek and I were at youth group when the pastor asked us to break or burn our favorite CDs. Derek attended […]

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Garrett Rapp of the band The Color Morale once shared with me about the day he walked into youth group and never returned when he was asked to burn his “secular” albums.

I remember that day too.

My friend Derek and I were at youth group when the pastor asked us to break or burn our favorite CDs. Derek attended once or twice more but the question always plagued us, “Did you burn your Metallica album?” And so he ended up leaving too.

I finally left the church when I learned of my pastor’s “indiscretions”. Those indiscretions included: Swinging. Banging his secretary. Embezzling donations. Bigger homes. Swag cars. Oh, and drugs.

I didn’t want to believe it at first, but what finally caused the mental break for me was when I stopped for gas and noticed a young, homeless man asking for money. People ignored him, busy in the shuffle of their day-to-day lives, and I began to wonder how my pastor would respond? Maybe he would flash that infectious grin, offer a prayer, and then feel godly as he walked away in his snazzy suit and continued to nail his secretary on a pile of cash he stole from the church.

It would be almost a decade before I stepped foot in a church again out of my own willingness.

But first I had to learn to play the “game”. And the game was this: Intellectually I identified as “Christian”. Emotionally I thought it was a crock of shit. So I kept up the appearances of Christianity to please those around me so I wouldn’t get the weird “I’ll pray for you!” talks or “You have to believe! You did at one point! You’re just confused right now.” I knew what awaited me if I told people what I was actually feeling. You know, the scary hell talks where I burn for an eternity? That one seems to win so many people over, right?

For me, (and probably most of us) there was a giant disconnect between the character of Jesus and then the way his followers demanded you live. I liked Jesus. He seemed kind and compassionate and enjoyed associating with the people I associated with (the party crowd). However, I wasn’t interested in being a “Christian” if it meant looking like the stats quo. His people were moral Nazis and they had really strange rules. Once you said the prayer-thing asking Jesus into your heart (like, what does that even mean???) and were saved from hell then there were things Christians do – invent curse words that aren’t curse words, journal, don’t associate with people that aren’t Christians – and things they didn’t do – cussing, drinking, premarital sex, secular music. Once you nailed the latter list then you and God were on good terms. Follow those rules and you’re a legit Christian. Oh, and never struggle. Never doubt.  And never have deep issues.

The problem was, every Christian I met sucked at being good. They just happened to be really skilled at covering it up and looking pretty externally. And even the one’s who were pretty on the outside usually got disillusioned or just ended up becoming judgmental cause they were “nailing it” (although that attitude reveals massive heart issues). I happened to be the guy that wore my train wreck on my sleeve, so I never fit in.

And honestly, I don’t think that much has changed on some level. You can get online at any point and read about large mega-church pastors covering up sexual abuse cases. Or rape charges. Or abuse. Us vs. Them mentalities. And the overall view held by Millenials that Christians are judgmental, bigoted, and hypocritical.

So when people discover I’m a Christian (let alone a pastor at that) the response is usually an overwhelming, “You’re serious? You’re a Christian?! After all that?

When I was 27 I met two men who forever changed the way I viewed Christianity. Both were covered in tattoos, occasionally used swear words, and liked beer. All the things I had been told growing up that got you kicked out of Club God they seemed to be doing. And honestly it confused me. Weren’t they in sin?

But that wasn’t why I became a Christian. That would be a stupid reason to join anyway as I could go to the nearest hipster bar and join a tribe like that.

What won me over was the way they loved me and loved people who were hurting and messy. It was the way they shared openly about their hurts and repeated failures. It was the way they loved their wives and spoke so highly about them. It was the joy they had even in the midst of tears and deep suffering. It was the fact they didn’t pretend to have it all together or all the answers. Sometimes they would just say “I don’t know.

But what they DID know was contagious. Infectious. It was big, bold, and beautiful and I was fascinated by it because I had never heard it.

Growing up I had heard, “Believe in Jesus and live a moral life = go to heaven”. Simple enough.

But what they told me ended up being really complex and challenged if I was really down for this whole Christianity thing. What they explained was that as Christians our goal is not to follow a set of rules to earn God’s favor. Often there are people out there who can easily live more moral lives than us. In fact, it seemed most non-Christians were helping more people than those in the pews every Sunday.

To them, the cross where Jesus died was a reminder that as good as we try to be, we still need someone to save us from ourselves because at the end of the day we love to compare ourselves to scoundrels. But Christianity teaches that if anything we realize what a train wreck we are, and so when we see people in this light it humbles us.

I know of no other religion that does that.

Other religions say: “This world is going to hell. It doesn’t matter. It’s not real but a shadow, so we wait until we die and escape this. We wait until the next life.” However, Christ teaches that his goal within the resurrection is to transform the world.  Christ teaches his goal is a new heavens and new earth here on earth. Not that we convert people to our tribe and wait for God to nuke this place but that we’re in the business of restoration. That we bring hope to the hopeless. That we help the needy, poor, and oppressed. That we give generously, freeing the captives and the addicted. That we transform the world where disease and suffering are alleviated. That we treat others different than us better than ourselves.

So, if I was down for that, it would cost me my life.

What’s funny is when I became a Christian I never asked Jesus into my heart. I never went to the front to of the church to let everyone know I was down with this whole confusing Jesus dies on a cross, resurrects, and is God, but God can’t die because he’s eternal…….Instead one day I had this epiphany that “I’m all in and I guess I’m one of them.”

 

So, why am I a Christian?

Because I know I’m a train wreck in a dumpster fire. But I also know that God loves me 100% as is, right now, in the midst of the burning carnage that is often my life. I know that if I were to stack up my cards against most church people I’d fold every time. I’m not that good at following rules and I run my mouth a lot. And yet, God loves me and is cheering for me as I get better and especially when I fall down. Where I see failure he sees opportunity for growth. Where I see addiction he sees an opportunity to take a step. Where I’ve given up, he whispers, “You can make it”.

So maybe if we can all accept the idea that God’s love is wholly separate from our actions, receive it, and give it to others maybe then we’d have more Christians that look like Christ. Christians that don’t feel it’s important to beat people down with their theology and doctrine, but instead spend their lives in the gutter bleeding alongside other people.

I think maybe then, we might just see Christ’s kingdom here on earth.

 

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Some New Changes on Site http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/some-new-changes-on-site/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/some-new-changes-on-site/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 22:42:38 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=16861 A lot of people have come to us asking, “What is it exactly you do?” It’s almost like the scene from Office Space where the two Bob’s ask, “What would ya say, you do here?” We’ve realized that many who show up at the site don’t know exactly who we are and what we do. We tried to cater to everyone instead […]

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A lot of people have come to us asking, “What is it exactly you do?

It’s almost like the scene from Office Space where the two Bob’s ask, “What would ya say, you do here?” We’ve realized that many who show up at the site don’t know exactly who we are and what we do. We tried to cater to everyone instead of realizing what our demographic truly was (music fans and those struggling through life’s trenches) and what’s really helped people the most (not general information pages – but blogs, stories, community, and bands).

SO WE SIMPLIFIED SOME THINGS

Gone are the twitter teams, story submissions, Q&A, and general old boring information to “get help”. Instead we have a newsletters you can sign up for that will have special advice from bands, specific story submissions on topics for those that join our community, and also where you can join our twitter team because you want to be part of something more. Q&A is simply done on the forums now. Got a question? Chances are someone has an answer and allows us to post on the forums now instead of sorting through specific Q&A.

Wanna help even more? You can buy a shirt, direct where your money goes or have us come speak at an event. As time goes on our volunteer team and street team will grow even more and position there will open. Stick with us, because we’re just getting started.

In short, we hope to be more effective at what we do and have a further reach. And YOU hold the key to that. Keep pushing us. Keep seeking. Keep finding. And above all….

WE BELIEVE IN YOU.

 SIGN UP HERE

 

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How to Flourish When You Feel Defeated http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/how-to-flourish-when-you-feel-defeated/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/how-to-flourish-when-you-feel-defeated/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:40:01 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=16545 One from overdose, one from suicide, two victims from cancer. She got married ten days ago, and now she’s dealing with the death of four of her closest friends this past year. “It sounds so dumb, but I definitely put on this front like I’m powering through it or whatever. When am I going to catch a break?” Underneath all […]

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One from overdose, one from suicide, two victims from cancer. She got married ten days ago, and now she’s dealing with the death of four of her closest friends this past year.

“It sounds so dumb, but I definitely put on this front like I’m powering through it or whatever. When am I going to catch a break?”

Underneath all of her frustration and desperation, she asked herself, “What could I have done better? What did I miss? Why is this happening to me?”


She wanted to have power over the circumstance so that she would never have to go through that depth of pain again. She wanted the ability to choose which cards she was dealt. And when we get hurt, most of us long for that same power. We want to be the ones that hold the deck. We want to control who gets which cards. We want to have the ability to reshuffle and re-deal.

What this sounds like practically:

I want to take the cancer from her.

I want to make her love me.

I want to change his decision from taking his own life.

I want to make him drop the bottle and unclench his fists.

The problem is no matter how hard we try, these things will be forever beyond our control. The only person we can exercise our will over is ourselves, and the only person we can make decisions for is ourselves.

You can’t change the cards you’ve been dealt.

You can’t control the ones you’ll be given.

But there is a better option.

You can change how you play them.

Instead of seeking power over your circumstances, imagine seeking power through them.

Instead of beating yourself up because you didn’t prevent what happened because you couldn’t, what if you were to learn the fortitude to withstand the pain of sorrow? Instead of asking questions like, “Why did this have to happen to me? Why did they have to take him?”, what if you were to ask, “What can I learn from this? How can I grow form this?” Instead of shutting down because you didn’t have the power to change the past, what if you were to focus on what power you have over the present?

The thing about suffering and tragedy is that fire is required to forge swords. Scars prove strength. Character is better than comfortable. When you face trials, and you persevere, and you get knocked down again and again and again, and you still get back up…that’s true beauty.

Flowers that grow in fertile soil make sense. People don’t ask questions to botanists who manufacture the perfect circumstance for their seedling to grow. But what of a rose between the cracks of a sidewalk? What of a lone tree in a tundra? What of an enormous cypress in the middle of a desert? When the circumstance makes no sense why something so beautiful could emerge from something so dismal? That inspires curiosity. That’s a story worth telling. A life worth living. One that gives others hope. That when they are wandering, suffocating, totally alone, they too can make it.

So it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re in the dunes of the Saharan Desert or the icy plateaus of the Siberian Tundra or the concrete jungle of New York City, you can find power through your circumstances when you stop trying to manage the cards you’re dealt and start choosing the best play with the ones you’ve already got.

Welcome wonder. Invoke inspiration. Broadcast beauty. You can. You have everything it takes. You have the choice, you have this moment, and you have a new opportunity with every new page. Remember, you have the ability to exercise your own will over your own reactions. You can choose to ask better questions. You can choose to look for opportunities to grow. You can choose to adapt, to breathe, to live, to blossom, to flourish. You can’t undo the past or control the script for the future, but you can choose how you want to act in the present. Write afresh the story you want to share.

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This post isn’t filtered http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/this-post-isnt-filtered/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/this-post-isnt-filtered/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 20:02:55 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=16288 The smell of vinegar hung in the air, strongly, boldly filling the kitchen. Water and vinegar dripped inside my microwave in messy puddles. I had been trying a Pinterest cleaning tip that swore to easily clean my microwave by heating up water and vinegar in a bowl. Instead, the bowl had somehow exploded in my microwave, and as if to […]

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The smell of vinegar hung in the air, strongly, boldly filling the kitchen. Water and vinegar dripped inside my microwave in messy puddles. I had been trying a Pinterest cleaning tip that swore to easily clean my microwave by heating up water and vinegar in a bowl.

Instead, the bowl had somehow exploded in my microwave, and as if to mock me even further, the blotches of stuck-on food didn’t budge.

I’m a Pinterest fail.

But that’s not all. I’m not always the pictures in my Instagram feed, perfectly cropped and glossy. If we met in real life, you’d see I’m actually bitterly sarcastic and you’d smell the IcyHot on my neck because I’m plagued with worry and headaches.

I’m a 20-something who loves technology, who posts and tweets and pins and uses the hashtag “blessed” when sometimes it really should be #struggling.

You won’t see it on my Facebook page, but I don’t own a pair of skinny jeans. I run in ratty T-shirts from college and not the coolest compression tanks. I’ve gotten the same haircut since I was in high school, but I’d rather you see pictures of the cute things my dog does, the vacation spots we go to, the finished DIY project and the flowers my husband surprises me with.

What you don’t see is the silly fight we had last night. What you don’t see is that most days I would rather open a box of macaroni for dinner than try to make that recipe of basil pesto chicken I pinned. What you don’t see are the cracks in the wood and the imperfections in our DIY deck. What you don’t see is I actually got carsick on the way to the vacation where I got that awesome sunset photo. What you don’t always see is the wreck that I am.

I’m leaving parts out— the parts that hurt, that sting, that aren’t helped by an Instagram filter. I’m excluding the things that don’t fit into my clever hashtag. I’m worried that if we did meet in person, you would think I’m not witty or cool or graceful or poised. You wouldn’t like me.

I also worry that I’m not the person who should be writing these things. I worry that I’m not cut out for clever blogs and headlines. I don’t want you to see the hours I spend aching over a blinking cursor, the time I spend struggling with words, the rejection e-mails I get.

And I forget that being a wreck of a woman is OK. Just as the sun may highlight every flaw, every fail, it also loves them and hugs them with warmth and reminds me that I’m wholly his.

It is him who loves my anxieties and my shortcomings, and I can’t hide those.  We shouldn’t hide those. Psalm 139: 13-16 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

This doesn’t fit into a Twitter post because reality is bigger and greater with God, and I think I forget that. I forget that Abraham’s wife Sarah was too old, that Gomer was too impure, that Esther was an orphan, that God uses all kinds of women.

Like me. And like you. He chooses people who aren’t qualified and people who are scared and people who stutter. He chooses people who are broken and people who don’t have perfect lives. I always hear that God loves the unique, that he made us that way, but God also loves the failed too.

This isn’t about being envious of other people’s cropped and edited lives. That’s a whole other post. This is about finding peace in our own imperfect lives.

Because maybe your life isn’t filled with chevron prints and lovely living rooms. Maybe it looks like mine, with coffee cup rings on the tables and half-chewed dog toys all over the floor. Maybe it’s messy, and maybe that’s just right.

Social media has a wonderful way of connecting us, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Keep posting and tagging and clicking, but don’t let the posts set an impossible standard for our lives.

I’m not suggesting taking a social media fast— unless you feel called to. I’m not anti-Internet. My prayer is that we become OK with the imperfect in our lives, with the things that don’t fit into a Twitter post, with the things that ache a little.

Maybe I’m not graceful or poised. Maybe I fail and I fumble in this world, but today, I’m reminded that’s OK. No filter needed.

 

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So You Were a Child Prostitute? http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/so-you-were-a-child-prostitute/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/so-you-were-a-child-prostitute/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 20:49:09 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=16292 “So… you were a child prostitute?” This man’s ignorance gave me a hard punch to my left cheek. I was shocked at what he said, wait…what did he say? Did I hear that correctly? I remember thinking to myself. “…Not technically…” I said harshly, getting ready to start defending myself. He was disrespecting the hurt I felt of being sex-trafficked […]

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“So… you were a child prostitute?”

This man’s ignorance gave me a hard punch to my left cheek.
I was shocked at what he said, wait…what did he say? Did I hear that correctly? I remember thinking to myself.

“…Not technically…” I said harshly, getting ready to start defending myself.

He was disrespecting the hurt I felt of being sex-trafficked for fourteen years, and I was ready to slap him uncontrollably. He made me feel disappointed in who I was and what I went through… I was just now getting over being ashamed of my past, and suddenly he made me start my healing from the very beginning.

“You just described to me a prostitute, though…” he smirks.

Why was he arguing with me about this? Where is his filter?

I held myself back from slapping him, and corrected him… “I was not a prostitute, but even if I was, I was being coerced into it. Most women aren’t prostitutes by their own free will. I was forced, I didn’t know any better.”

He shrugged and walked away. He just walked away like the pain that he caused me didn’t matter… it takes a lot to open up to someone about your past, and he left me feeling embarrassed.

That was the uppercut to my throat, and I sunk down to the floor defeated. My confidence in myself shattered. All I could think about was how he purposefully downgraded me, and I felt as if I was being trafficked all over again.

Violated. I felt violated.

After coming out with my story several months ago, girls have confided in me their self-loathing because of their past. They have mentioned being brutally abused repeatedly in their past, and confidence seemed to be the question on their minds when speaking to them… They would desperately ask me, “how do I find my confidence like you have found yours? What’s your secret? How do I start to love and accept myself? How are you so brave?” I can almost imagine these girls clenching on the collar of my shirt holding me several inches off the ground… they wanted to know… a long time ago, I wanted to know too…

And the answer is this:

I had to take a step back and learn: Not everyone is going to understand my journey, and that’s okay.

What the man had said to me was the first time I had felt offended after sharing my story… He seemed to be disgusted and continued to be insulting and judgmental throughout the night. Usually others are inspired. In that moment, I had to learn very quickly that people really do fear what they don’t understand, and sometimes react in different ways. But he was treating our journeys like it was a competition, and I had to remember that there’s a reason I’m not living his journey, and he is not living mine. It’s because my journey wasn’t meant for him; I can never make him understand all of the feelings that I had felt, all of the lessons I had to learn, and all of the hurt I had to face daily. It’s frustrating because we want people to understand, but we can’t… and we’re left saying, “well, you had to be there…” and we start to feel a little hopeless, and a little less confident in who we are and our stories…

But our pasts weld us into something more beautiful than we could ever imagine…

Your confidence is you. The confidence you are searching so hard for has been inside you all this time. You just have to pull it out of you. You know who you are, what you’ve gone through… the journey that you are facing, what you have learned, and what you are still struggling with… no one understands this but you. So speak it, don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and others. People will always be your critic, because they are missing pieces of who you are. That’s okay.

Once you sense your own importance is the day you’ll be set free from everyone’s judgment.

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Everyone’s Getting Divorced (And Maybe Someone You Know is Too) http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/everyones-getting-divorced-and-maybe-someone-you-know-is-too/ http://www.heartsupport.com/blogs/everyones-getting-divorced-and-maybe-someone-you-know-is-too/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:33:07 +0000 http://www.heartsupport.com/?p=16151 “I find myself obsessing over whether she really believes it? Whether she actually buys into the fact she’s going to be happier? Like, when she’s out meeting new guys at the club, is she thinking about how big their dick is? Or if he’s better in bed? Is that what’s supposed to make her happy? Her new moron friends told […]

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“I find myself obsessing over whether she really believes it? Whether she actually buys into the fact she’s going to be happier? Like, when she’s out meeting new guys at the club, is she thinking about how big their dick is? Or if he’s better in bed? Is that what’s supposed to make her happy? Her new moron friends told her ‘you deserve to be happy’ but all I can think about is how I want to punch every guy in the face on Facebook I see her with. I know I’m rambling…not even making complete thoughts….but it’s how I feel. Inadequate. Alone.”

I stare across the table while he fights back tears.

“It’s all fucking bullshit. Divorce parties. Late nights at the bar with her friends. It’s an illusion.”

He puts his hand over his face and mutters, “Just…fuck….man.”

 

It’s hard every time I meet up with a guy going through a divorce. Hearing these stories produces hurt, inadequacy, and abandonment issues that aren’t supposed to exist in my current marriage. But they’re still there, and it’s because I’m the guy that lives in both worlds. Like the character Lord Marshal in the movie Chronicles of Riddick I have one foot in the underworld and the other in the present. A product of divorce and healing.

Most times I don’t say much. I just hurt with them. Other times to let them know I’ve been there too and sympathize: I fantasized about killing my ex. I felt inadequate and wanted to know I was still desirable so I hooked up with random girls I met at bars. I figured since she might be grinding on other guys at the club, I better be grinding back. I got into re-bound relationships. I drank a lot to mask the hurt.

Divorce is like death without the funeral. There’s no closure because the other person is still here. Alive. Maybe even happier it would seem. The home you bought and the pictures you hung you have to figure out what to do with. Do I burn the wedding album or what? The kids have to figure out what it means when Mom starts dating “Bob” and Dad starts dating “Jane” and that’s just confusing, all the while not knowing what level of hell and betrayal one of their parents may be experiencing.

But this is the culture we live in, so what do we do?

 

Forgiveness

My first year being single and newly divorced I used to grip the steering wheel on my way to work each morning and scream “I ‘EFFING FORGIVE YOU!” Most times I would come to a stoplight, go into an uncontrollable rage, and end up punching the steering column until my fist hurt while the cars next to me laughed or quickly accelerated. I was angry and hurt still. But one day I meant it. One day my heart broke free and I forgave her. The thing about unforgiveness is that it poisons your soul to the point that you become bitter and untrusting of everyone (not just your ex). But forgiveness is the healing balm that covers the wound and grows a scar. And scars tell the story that you survived.

 

Let go of the past and don’t try to recreate it.

I used to creep hard on my ex’s facebook wall.

Because I hadn’t moved on I wanted to know every movement, who every guy in each of her photos was, I mean, everything. I was Casper the Ghost haunting her life without her even knowing. But as time went on I realized how unhealthy it was towards my healing because it left me drowning in the past and angry at the future. 3 years later when I started dating again I had the thought, “well this worked well in my marriage” which was quickly replaced by “Oh ha ha moron, your marriage was full of epic fail.” Even if you had a great relationship and he or she left without notice, the worst possible thing you can do is try to recreate that relationship. You’ll confine people to fit into what you thought worked and inevitability fail. No one wants to be a repeat failed marriage.

 

Community

I love the movie Into the Wild which tells the story of Chistopher McCandless, a young man who ventured into the Alaskan wilderness only to later die of starvation. In the film he has many shared experiences with people he encounters and becomes close with. Reflecting upon his life in one of his final journal entries he concludes, “Happiness is only real when shared.” Living in isolation he quickly saw he was without help from others, which, ultimately lead to his demise. His reflection was that the points in life that really mattered – the bright spots we each experience – were only real when other people are there to share them with us. This is true of our pain also.

When first going through my divorce I only had ONE friend and I slept on his couch. However, he did what other people hadn’t. Without saying it he showed me he was there through thick and thin and that I didn’t have to go through this alone. But it didn’t stop there. I made more friends that shared my hurt and helped me heal. They listened and empathized. They didn’t take my side in the divorce, but were simply there. I wasn’t a project. I just happened to be the guy in the group that was wounded and walking with a limp and they nursed me back to health. In the end too, I begin to watch some of their marriages, healthy and thriving, and learned many of the things I had done wrong in mine.

 

The Walking Wounded

I wish I could say “Follow these steps and you’ll make it!” But divorce is hard, and so is life. There’s no magic incantation or super prayer that’s going to make the pain go away overnight. The road is long and treacherous and many are left bleeding on the side of it, or dead from bitterness. It’s going to take a lot of us who’ve been wounded and recovered to carry those currently hemorrhaging. We’re going to get blood on us and it’s going to be messy. It’s going to take those of us who are blessed to have great marriages to run to the front lines and perform life saving surgeries. It’s going to take those of us from broken homes to hold the hands of others whose homes are crumbling and say, “Hang on. I’ve been there too.” It will take functioning, healthy families to care for and share in the mess of friends and children whose lives have been wrecked by divorce.

It will take all of us.

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