Vulnerability: AKA Something I Suck At

I stood in my kitchen yesterday, eyes watering from cutting onions and thought,  This is why I bought them pre-diced.  But for some reason or other the diced onions I’d purchased smelled rancid and I wasn’t about to ruin the chili by using those. So I keep dicing and blinking tears.

I thought about the year that dicing onions was the closest I ever got to crying. I was numb and knew if I let myself cry, I’d fall to pieces. Since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to put myself together again, I just continued to keep it together, to put one foot in front of the other. Keep calm and carry on.

Because I have a reputation for being calm and collected. I’m a steady, sturdy girl. I’ve been described as reliable, responsible, and all things that make for a good baby-sitter, fairly typical first-born and all around good girl. Part of it is my nature. I am easy-going and flexible. I’m not easily flustered. I know how to roll with the punches. But more than that, I know how to make it look like I’m okay. I am quick to present myself as having it together. I mean I’m not above admitting when I don’t know the answer and I’ve never had a five year plan, or even a one year plan. But usually when I don’t know what I’m doing, I know how to make it at least look like I know what I’m doing. Which isn’t always a bad thing, especially in my line of work. It’s generally a good thing to feel confident that your nurse knows what she’s doing.

The trouble is that I like the control of it. I like being able to manage my emotions. I like knowing that I have the ability to compartmentalize and by simply reading a good book or binge watching a TV show, I can push back emotions that bubble under the surface. Once I compartmentalize, I can go on presenting a pretty picture of poise and composure. Or at least do a decent enough job that most people buy the line that, “I’m just tired,” or, “Busy,” when they question if I’m okay. Because I like looking like I’m okay. No pride there, eh?

But as I stood there, dicing those onions, I looked out my kitchen window at the rain falling and the trees on the hill. I felt like those trees. I’m changing. The leaves are just beginning change color. They aren’t vivid oranges, reds, and yellows. There’s just a subtle hint of color. It won’t stop you in your tracks and leave you breathless but there’s enough difference that if you look for it, you’ll find it. That’s the trees, that’s me.

A month ago, I was talking to a friend. We were having a very honest conversation and I told her how I suck at being vulnerable. She told me we should have a week of vulnerability and see what happens. If it went badly we could, “have a crying party and build up walls.” It was mostly a joke but something struck me and it became a challenge. Could I be vulnerable?

I wasn’t sure. But I googled Brené Brown because I remembered she did a vulnerability study and this TED talk popped up. It’s definitely worth watching. Here’s the part that smacked me in the face:

 There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who really struggle for it. And that was, the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. And to me, the hard part of the one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection, was something that, personally and professionally, I felt like I needed to understand better. So what I did is I took all of the interviews where I saw worthiness, where I saw people living that way, and just looked at those.

What do these people have in common? [. . .] And the first words that came to my mind were whole-hearted. These are whole-hearted people, living from this deep sense of worthiness. So I wrote at the top of the manila folder, and I started looking at the data. In fact, I did it first in a four-day very intensive data analysis, where I went back, pulled these interviews, pulled the stories, pulled the incidents. What’s the theme? [. . .] And so here’s what I found. What they had in common was a sense of courage. And I want to separate courage and bravery for you for a minute. Courage, the original definition of courage,when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were,which you have to absolutely do that for connection.

The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable,nor did they really talk about it being excruciating — as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing.They just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They’re willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.

She continues to talk about how the problem with numbing the bad feelings and experiences is we miss the joy too. I know this first hand. I’d lived it and I don’t ever want to again. She concludes with this:

But there’s another way, and I’ll leave you with this. This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen,deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, “Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?” just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, “I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we’re enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening, we’re kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.

By this point I am feeling one thing: deep conviction. So, I tell my friend that I’m going to try to be vulnerable. I felt a little bit nauseated but it convinced me I was right. Conviction usually makes me feel like I might throw up. That night at home group when it was time for prayer requests, my heart was thudding in my ears but I managed to spit out an honest request. I blushed as I shared what felt “silly” and “girlish” in comparison to what I’d deemed as “worthy” and “serious” requests. Fortunately my attempt to be vulnerable was met with the kindest words, encouragement, and understanding.

So, I go through the week trying to be more open. I try to answer direct questions with truth. I may not be an open book (no matter how long I live) but I share more than I would have before this challenge. At the end of the week, my friend and I touch base. She asks how it’s gone and I tell her I think I need a month to decide if it’s worth it.

A month later, I know it is. Oh, it’s not easy, not one bit. I fight it. I’ve had moments where I’ve put up walls, deflected, and generally failed. I’ve had a couple conversations where there’s been too much silence as I try to make my lips articulate what’s going on in my head and my heart. But I also had these really great conversations with people because I’ve let them see what a blushy mess of a girl I am right now. I’ve gotten to know people better. I am having a harder time not letting what I’m feeling flicker across my face. It’s a little disconcerting to me when people can guess why I’m sad or smiling but I’m slowly getting used to it.

I’m taking more risks. I’m attempting to be more open. Sometimes it’s worked out really well and other times I’ve found myself apologizing and having to try, try again. This month has been a roller-coaster of emotions. It hasn’t been calm nor business as usual. I haven’t been steady. It’s weird and sometimes it’s made me weird by extension.

I know I’m just starting down this path of vulnerability. The closest I am to wearing my heart on my sleeve, is to kind of put it out there on my sleeve and then cover that sleeve up with a jacket but it’s a start. It’s a risk I think I’m going to have to keep on taking because even though getting hurt is a real possibility, and honestly an inevitability, there’s too much good and sweet and wonderful I’ll miss if I don’t risk it.

I hesitate to even post this. It’s very real and very messy and I’ve already confessed how I like to appear to have it together but these words were echoing in my head and I felt like I should put them in writing. And then I thought definitely no I should not do that. Too much. But in church this morning, while I was debating, Matt read this verse:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7

This verse is one of the verses written across my heart. It has been a mantra I’ve clung to over the years. I’ve repeated it to myself as I’ve spoken things I’ve been afraid to say. I carried it with me through places I was afraid to walk. It steadies me when I have shaky knees. It’s conviction and courage all in one verse. And just hearing it felt like a push to write. To put a little bit more of myself out there. To let one more wall drop away and receive more space to breathe. To live a little bit more open and free and love a little better. It may be messy and hard and sometimes it really hurts but I think this whole-hearted way of living just may be a crazy-wonderful-beautiful way to live.

When April Showers

I’ve been writing this post in my head for awhile. I wouldn’t even be writing this if I hadn’t gotten a stomach bug and called out of work. So as much as I dislike being sick, I’m grateful for a moment to write. Life’s been so busy that I can hardly believe it’s May. But I can’t let a month like April pass without comment.

Last month was the month I finally got the hang of things at work. I don’t always know how to perform a skill or know what to do. I still ask hundreds of questions and get behind on charting more than I’d like. That being said, I’m learning to roll with the punches and handle a wide variety of personalities. That whole fake-it-til-you-make-it thing has been my nursing motto and so far so good. I’ve found I get increasingly Southern at work, especially with my more cantankerous patients. A little Southern charm goes a long way.

Speaking of charm, in late March I fell head-over-heels for a boy. My mom loves him. So does my sister. See this look on my face? Clearly love at first sight.

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Luke arrived as the newest member to my home group. His parents were thrilled to welcome him into the world. They have fallen into this parenting thing with such grace and determination. This little guy, he’s so loved by his family, by our group, and even by his cat.

IMG_1021He could use your prayers so he can grow big and strong enough to have heart surgery to correct his AVSD.

IMG_2916Seriously, I cannot get over this face.

I’m writing this on a couch in the living room- the way I usually do. Only this time, it’s different because I’m writing it on my couch from my living room. My first apartment. I unpacked my last box last night.

My move happened fast and was not without hiccups. After too many hours with too little sleep, all the decisions and change caught up with me. I ended up crying over nothing for an hour. I couldn’t stop even though I knew I was crying over nothing. My poor mom and sister tried to help but there was nothing to do. Sometimes you just have to let it out.

But tears aside, I did get moved in box by box. My family and a couple friends got everything up my two flights of stairs- even the two recliner sofas. I live on the top floor which means no noise overhead while I try to sleep during the day. Being high up also means I get a fantastic view off my balcony.

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The other night I sat out there and watched the sun set. The moon came up, my favorite kind, a crescent moon. Despite being so near the city I could still see some stars. Starlight, star bright first star I see tonight . . . It may have been a planet I wished on but I threw my wishes heavenward. Wishes for the days to come, for what I hope this new chapter will hold. Wishes and thanks. When you move into your first place at twenty-seven, I think there’s a deep appreciation for what you have and how you got there. My parents were so gracious to allow me to stay at home while going through school, even though it took me longer than most to finish. And I love them so much for that and for being so happy for me as I’ve moved out.

There’s still plenty to do in my new place. There’s furniture to buy and right now there’s nothing on my walls. But I’ve made a start.

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I’m loving my little place. I have a fireplace and a guest room. My kitchen is just right. I mean it’s not a brand new apartment so it has it’s quirks but I’m a firm believer that your first place shouldn’t be an HGTV Dream Home. I have so many ideas about how to make this place more my own. I’d say to make it homier but the truth is no amount of pretty things will make it feel more like home.

No, it feels more like home every time I open my doors and invite the people I love inside. Last Saturday I had my family over for dinner. I’ve made dinner for them many times before but never at my place. Friends who are now my neighbors dropped by for brownies and I am so happy to know there’s some great people just around the corner. One of the things I am the most excited about is space to invite people over. I can’t wait to return some of the hospitality I’ve been shown.

I have this board where I string up prayer requests. I tack them up so I remember to pray for them, sure. But more so because once they’re answered I move them to another line. It’s a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness. And on April 25th, I got to move this one:

IMG_1102It may not quite feel like “home” just yet but I am reminded over and over of this verse:

Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Psalm 90:1

And He has and will be and for that I am so very grateful.

God of the Middle

I heard a beautiful story yesterday. It was about how God has given my friend rainbows over and over again the last six years. For example, when she was wondering if her now husband was the one, she saw over seventy rainbows. An impressive feat considering she lives in the desert where it almost never rains. It was a story about His faithfulness at every turn.

Sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow and sometimes it’s a reminder of God’s hand. I know a group of women who would tell you the same thing about purple flowers. That in some form or other when they are making decisions or needing to feel God’s love, they will stumble upon a field of purple wildflowers or find just one exactly when they need it. I have another friend who literally finds pennies from heaven. That change you pass on the ground every day without a second thought, is something she bends down and picks up, claiming God’s faithfulness.

I don’t have one thing I can point to as sign in my life. I can say that ever since a yellow lady bug landed on my blue dress with sunflowers as I was entering my audition for Annie, they’ve been something I view as a blessing. I mean I did get the role of Tessie so ladybugs seem downright lucky. I know it’s not just luck though, it’s also reminder. I’m the kind of girl who holds on to movie tickets and little trinkets from events I want to remember. So, it seems natural that I have a rock I picked up on a hike in Colorado and a shell I collected on the beach while watching the sunrise. Both are markers of times I heard God’s voice clearly.

How often have I found myself praying, “God, if xyz, then send me a sign”? It’s a prayer I occasionally utter when I’m making a decision to start down a path or bring a chapter to a close. But I find it incessantly on my lips when I’m somewhere in between. In the middle, that’s when I wonder what have I gotten myself into. It’s when I’m halfway across the rope bridge and feeling its definite sway. When I’m too far along to backtrack but unsure how I’ll ever reach the end.

 
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Revelation 22:13 NIV

These words I know to be true. I need little reminder that the creator of the universe is in the process of its redemption. I know he is the Beginning and will be the End but, oh, I need a constant reminder that He’s also the God of the Middle.  He sees me shaking my head when I find myself exactly in the spot I was afraid of winding up. He hasn’t forgotten me when the waves are getting higher and I can no longer remember why I ever got in the boat. He knows where to find me in the inbetween.

He knows what I need before I ask.

He can reroute me if I’m lost.

He knows what’s on the next page.

My God is the ultimate author. He knows the middle matters. It’s what gets you from “In the beginning,” to “Amen.”

He hasn’t forgotten me along the way.

I’m the one in need of reminding. I need the Ebenezer. I need to mark a moment. I need to remember that ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’*

And I know He hasn’t forgotten you either (even if it feels like it). And I pray that He’ll remind you however you need reminding- be it flowers or sunsets or pennies or rocks or shooting stars or whatever your thing may be.

Tonight I find myself grateful he’s more than the Beginning and the End. That He’s also the God of the Middle.

* 1 Samual 7:12

Things I Like Right Now

I love snow. I love watching big flakes drift from the sky. It always makes me incredibly happy (as long as I’m not driving in it. . . ). There’s something about the beauty of it all that makes me believe anything is possible. I love it even more now that I live south of the Mason-Dixon line after spending my childhood walking to school in feet of it up North. So, I understand that my brother shares this giddiness of a rare snow but it’s not nice to rub it in my face that he got 7 inches when the “snow” here just made my yard muddy.

IMG_0968 copy 2And it’s really not nice to do so at 6 am on a day I’m not working. But I still love snow and my still-a-kid-at-heart brother.

Speaking of not working today, I’m really enjoying working only three days of the week. I mean my schedule is downright chaotic at the moment being I’m at the mercy of the system and limited preceptors, but I think I’m really going to like it.

I also am really enjoying the Olympics. I like team sporting events well enough. I like watching people watch football. MLB’s Opening Day always feels like the start of summer. I’d like basketball more if their sneakers weren’t constantly squeaking as they ran up and down the court. And while I like like team sports, I love the Olympics. I like the variety. I like how it’s edited for TV so there’s not a lot of downtime between plays, runs, or participants. I like all the crazy tricks and spins and flips and freakishly fast speeds. I like learning about random sports and countries. I like how I can never figure out the scoring system. I like the patriotism of it all and proudly wear my team USA t-shirt. There’s something great getting so caught up in it all that you’ve stayed up until 2 am and are watching an event you’re not that into like curling. There’s always a story behind every athlete and I love hearing them.

I’ve always been a girl who loves stories. Library days were my favorite and I often spent recess reading. (Yes, I was and still am a bit of a nerd like that.) I also love going to the movies. I love everything about it minus the ticket price. I believe if you’re not there in time to see all the trailers, you’re missing out. Sometimes I get so caught up in watching the previews that I forget what movie I’m about to watch. I’ll even go to the theater all by myself when I need to escape the day-to-day and I can’t get near the water. Going to the movies alone is not sad; it’s wonderful. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it.

So, because I love books and I love movies, I love when books I love are being turned into movies. Here’s two I am a bit giddy about seeing in the nearish future:

One will have me on the edge of my seat and the other will have me reaching for Kleenex. I’ll let you guess which one is which.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m just telling you about things I like right now. That’s about the only thing connecting these scattered dots in my brain, so I’m just going to continue. Continue reading

A New Year’s Ramblings

I’ve started this post in my head so many times the last few weeks. I’ve typed phrases and have several drafts I discarded. Even now, I’m not sure how to start in an eloquent way, so I guess I’ll just wing it.

Life’s been rather full as of late. I almost want to say busy, but busy to me implies a certain level of unwanted tasks tying up your time. And it certainly hasn’t been that.

On December 13th, I commenced nursing school. I walked across a stage, received my pin, and stood with my classmates to recite Florence Nightingale’s Pledge. I can hardly believe it’s finished, but I’m so grateful. Nursing school had a way of draining my brain from it’s usual level of functioning and interacting. Some days I found myself with little room to cram any more info or remember anything new. So, I’m happy to leave that aspect of school behind me. I will, however, miss my fellow nursing students. Going through classes, clinicals, check-offs, and tests with them bonds us in the most unique way. I know I wouldn’t have made it through the past two years without this amazing group of individuals who will make wonderful nurses.

On the way out of pinning, I received an email to interview the following Monday morning for a nurse internship program. My excitement was quickly replaced with a bit of panic when I realized I had nothing to wear. So Saturday, my mom happily endured an endless amount of time outside dressing rooms until I found the perfect outfit. Funny, I was more nervous about finding the right clothes than about answering interview questions. By the grace of God, Monday afternoon I was offered an internship position. I’m thrilled and a little bit terrified to start next week.

Life’s funny sometimes. I feel like the first half of 2013 I was in a holding pattern. I felt stagnant and stuck. And then, things started changing and now sometimes I can’t get them to stand still even if I try.

Late last night I drove home in the freezing cold. The stoplights were blinking and the stars were bright and I found myself reflecting on this new year and this pocket of time I’ve had between the end of school and the start of my new job. I’ve gotten to spend it with some of the people I love most in this world. I’ve had a couple breakfasts with some gals that know me better than just about anyone else. There’s been dinners and game night and parties. There’s been teasing and laughter and theological debates. Talks about hopes and hangups and dreams for the new year. I’ve found that when I go to sleep with a full heart, I wake up with a clearer head. I know I’m better for the company I’ve been keeping.

We’re a week into this new year. I can’t help wondering what 2014 holds but I hope to receive it with open hands. That’s my One Word this year: receive. Sometimes I kind of suck at receiving. I’m awful at taking a compliment and quick to credit Target or just shrug it off. I’m not always good at asking for or accepting help- although nursing school as mostly eradicated this hang up. But my hope is that when 2015 rolls around I will be a little bit different. That I will receive what God’s giving me and where he’s placing me without trying to earn it or wish it was different. Accept the invitations I receive. Simply say thank you to compliments without deflecting. Just have a general openness and let people into my life more.

Life’s never easy and it holds more heartbreak than I dare imagine but I have to believe there’s still hope and sweetness to uncover. That there will be blessings and celebrations and adventures along the way. That the light will shine into the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. I’m daring to believe this will be a year filled with stories and people that change me for the better and I hope that I can in turn, return the favor.

Why I Needed Youth Group and Wholeheartedly Believe in Teenagers

I got caught in a downpour on my way home; one of those summer afternoon storms that soaks everything it touches. I’ve lived in Tennessee for fourteen years and I’m still amazed at how the thunder echoes across the mountains. Walking  in the house, surrendered to the fact I couldn’t avoid getting wet, I found myself thinking, “This is camp rain.”

I cannot tell you how many summer afternoons we spent at youth camp with the same warm, soaking rain falling out of the skies. Sometimes we played in it, dancing around, maybe even getting a little muddy. Other times I can recall sitting in a cabin, eating smuggled snacks, talking (usually about boys) with the best girls I knew. There are so many great memories I have of being at camp. Actually, so many good memories of being in my youth group.

I had an incredible, crazy-cool, youth group experience. I’m not saying there weren’t rough patches or that everyone got along or that we liked all the changes or programs introduced along the way. But I am saying, I was a very blessed girl to be along for the ride.

Growing up, I was a fairly studious, pretty quiet kid. I had a few close friends but I lived in a world of books. I was comfortable there. I could easily entertain myself for hours. And I did, past my bedtime and wound up being grounded from reading. Yeah, I was that kid. So, when my family moved right before I started seventh grade, I was not happy about it. I did not have a good attitude. It wasn’t so much that we were moving as it was I would have to make new friends- and I was not very good at that. I hadn’t had a lot of practice. I was in the same school with the same kids from first through sixth grade. I never had to meet new kids at church for most of that time. When you are one of the pastor’s kids, everyone gets introduced to you. You are the one who knows the drill and helps the new kid meet everyone else. Plus, I’ve always been what people could consider shy (and I consider taking-my-time-wanting-to-know-if-these-are-people-I want-to-know-my-life-story) around new people.

So, there I was, in a new town, terrified I wouldn’t have any friends. I cried about it a lot. But school started and slowly I met people. Some of them I liked a lot and hoped we could be friends. Time after time, when these new people told me where they went to church they said the same name. My family started church shopping. It wasn’t an easy thing for my parents to find a place that they liked that was also a good fit for their kids ages: 13, 11, 9, and 5. After months of searching, we finally ended up walking into the doors of the place that most of my school friends claimed as their own. During the week after my first visit, an amazing lady and a couple of the students showed up at our house to welcome me and tell me more about the programs for students. I wasn’t home at the time, but their visit made me excited and I think it helped my parents know this would be a good place for me. God knew I needed this youth group.

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Another Sun Soaked Season Fades Away

You know that sad Sunday night feeling you’d get when you knew the next day you’d be back in school? I’ve got that feeling right now.  ~ Lexie Littleton, Leatherheads

So, it’s finally here: the last night of summer vacation. Tomorrow it’s back to the grind that is nursing school. And the last semester at that. I don’t dislike school, but I still find myself with that sad Sunday night feeling, despite the fact that it’s Monday night.

In honor of the age old classic back-to-school essay, this post is essentially: How I Spent My Summer Vacation.

IMG_0264This was me, post finals. Elated to have passed my third semester nursing school. Completely tired of studying and ready for some downtime. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this summer but I knew it would be an atypical one with no family beach trip in sight.

Initially my summer was a haze of recuperation from a grueling semester. It was Netflix, BBC TV shows, and sleeping in until nine. Doing nothing except little things around the house. But as my brain cells begin to regenerate I found myself praying: I need a plot twist- good or bad- something to jump start my life. That sounds terrible. But I’m so tired of being this lesser version of me. This echo, shadow self. She’s a lot like me just dull and far more muted. She’s not shiny or light-hearted. She deflects too much and stays too closed off in a deceptively-open-kind-of-way. But I want to let people in. I want to set myself up for a win. I want it to be okay to want a win. To have a heart so full I might as well have two. [ . . .] Introduce some new characters. Give me a cliffhanger or two and some adventure to boot.

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The Beauty of the Church

“Now, I don’t know what kind of feelings are conjured up in you when you hear the word church. For me, the church has represented the best and the worst moments in my life. I have been more hurt, more judged, more left out, more ostracized by church people than any other group of people in the world. That has been my experience of church people . . . ” ~ Darren Whitehead

When, I heard those words a week ago, I was on edge. These words, I could have written them myself. I’ve lived them. And I know I’m not alone. This is true for some of them people I love the most. This is the heartbeat of social media and pop-culture’s thoughts on church.

Rachel Held Evans wrote a great article, “Why millennials are leaving the church” that resounded with so many people. I particularly loved this quote:

“You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.
Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.”

I know this isn’t just a millennial phenomenon. This is true for the ages. I think it’s always been.

“[…] it feels like everywhere I turn, the Church (with a capital “c”) is hated, distrusted, over-trusted, mocked, angry, sad, naive, unforgiving, judgemental. Broken (with a capital “b”). It’s all of the sudden really cool to love Jesus but hate the church.” ~ Melanie Rainer, b is for broken and beautiful. c is for church.

I was blessed to grow up in a crazy-cool youth group that stretched and grew me beyond my wildest dreams. [Which you can read about here] I was exposed to teaching suited for any aged years. I made friends that became family. I had leaders that challenged and inspired me. I was allowed to step-up into leadership roles myself. I was a shy, awkward girl who desperately needed a place to belong. And I found it. It was far from perfect. There were disagreements, we broke each other’s hearts, and I’m still unlearning flawed theology I’m sure no one ever actually meant to teach us.

But I loved this group of people fiercely. I wouldn’t be who I am today without them. So, when two of my former youth pastors planted Church of the City nearby I was equal parts excited and leery. Darren and Jake are people I respect and trust. They are part of my story. Their teaching and more importantly their love has greatly impacted my life. I knew that if they were involved, this would be something I could get behind. This was a place that I wholeheartedly wanted to check out and at the very same time run away from as fast as my legs would carry me. Because this church, though brand new held echoes of my past.
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