when my heart feels stacked with lamentations, i reach for the salve of your psalms, the refuge and the mirror, i have permission once again to demand and expect revelations and proverbs that crack me, the parables can transform to new meanings once again, the good news can penetrate the spaces in me no letter no song no commandment can reach, in the beginning and till the end it is your quiet hovering spirit that lit up the dark
Lent 2022: Surrendering the need to punish
Nothing gets under my skin more than when evil and rudeness occur and perpetrators get away from it. From Putin’s ruthless egotistical war to Florida’s ridiculous laws against freedom of speech and sexuality to the men who never move aside and assume YOU need to move, I want to scream. I want heaps of coal to befall these evil doers. Underneath my demand for consequences is my lack of faith in God’s Justice and grace. I don’t fully believe God sees our hurt and our harm. I don’t fully believe that God has our back. I don’t even believe he fully forgives me when I’m the perpetrator of bad.
To believe in mercy is to believe in Justice
To hope for renewal and redemption and repentance is to hope for grace
To demand others be better is to demand for myself to be better. Can I trust that my grace and forgiveness and surrendering my need to retaliate will return to me, strength, love and greater clarity of the human condition?
Lent 2022: Underneath the anger
The art of removing my armor and laying down my defenses requires that I first acknowledge and maybe even allow myself to experience the anger of being hurt/attacked. Even if that’s not anyone’s intention, and I want to believe it’s often not, my perception can overpower reality. Perception can become reality.
So then first, allow for the anger. I can’t run from it, I cannot pretend it’s not brewing and written all over my brows. I cannot ignore my anger. And it too shall pass when I’m too spent from living in that. And after the exhaustion and after a peek into another way of seeing the world, then, there’s a chance for something softer.
Then in my breath, I see my fallibility and tendency to push others then. Then I can see my survival tactics. Then I can see my fear that, if I don’t stand for myself, no one else will! That’s the lie: that we are alone and no one has our back. That’s the lie that’s been passed down from the beginning of time: that we must fend for ourselves because no one has a plan for us otherwise. That’s the lie I’m trying to let go.
In seeing how I have wronged when I feel wronged and when I have offended in my defending, then I can forgive myself and if necessary, ask for forgiveness. The latter is hard and I suck at it. The former is harder, and I overcompensate by doing more, working harder.
Maybe I’m best when I’m too exhausted to defend myself while at the same time, wise and compassionate enough to see everyone around me is just simply scared as well. We are all scared; now who acts out of love still, is the bravest of us all.
Advent: Day 14
I really wanted to stick to my personal challenge of writing daily blogs for advent. When I missed one last week, I justified, explained it away by saying it was my sabbath. It wasn’t a trickery. It made sense in the moment, and I really liked how that explanation bloomed out of my own mishap.
However, trying to write this week has been hard. My brain feels uninspired. My heart felt uninspired. Maybe I had used up my week’s worth of inspiration creating that 11:11 album. I listened to it on Tuesday and was sobbing myself; it does work having someone cheer you on when you feel like you’re crushed in the dumps. I skipped + missed writing the last two days. I didn’t have much to say. And I already felt like my last post was being phoned in. Why? What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to prove to? I think it becomes a bit inevitable that you feel responsible to the community that might read these posts, and I guess I didn’t want to let you down. So if some of the last posts were eh, I’m sorry. I’m trying. Why didn’t I just say, I got nothing to say…?
But today I do have something because last night I got rejected from a writing lab I really wanted to be in. I’ve been working on a screenplay for 4 years and for this Sundance fellowship, I pulled 3 all nighters to write 5 personal essays and complete the 2nd draft. That week in October, I worked from 8a-4:30pm, had rehearsal from 6-9pm, and worked on my application from 9-3am. It was hard, and it was glorious. I felt motivated. I felt like this is what my life can be full of — meaningful civic work, acting projects that are important, and creations that could change the world. I was really excited and I sent in my application. And I waited for the last two months.
Before the no, you have not been selected, I felt hope. I felt possibility. I felt excited imagining the people on the other side seeing my story and my heart. I felt excited about a future where I could have collaborators that understood how I saw the world and where I want to take this world. My waiting was full of possibility + hope. And the no came and the flood erupted. Duh. You suck. Of course, it would never happen. The sadness. The frustration. The desire to just stop working on this story because very very honestly I may just not have what it takes. I’m sad. And I’m disappointed in myself. And my mind starts to even wander into places of comparison — why does SHE always get it? why do people like THEM get these? people like me…never…
Sometimes in the waiting, you do get an answer, and it brings up feelings and beliefs. How can these answers, which we want, getting an answer, be more helpful than harmful?
Maybe it’s a sign to take a break. Maybe it is a sign to stop altogether.
However, this I know.
It’s an opportunity to embrace the feelings and question the harmful beliefs that come up.
It’s an opportunity to invite the right people into this heartache or tough moment.
It’s an opportunity to reevaluate the deep deep goal. For me, I wanted the validation that I am good enough of a writer and I wanted a community to collaborate together with.
Every answer in this lifetime of waiting is an opportunity to witness what comes up, what we care about in this world, and who we can share. We can’t do this alone. We can’t. We are made for community.
Advent: Day 9
I emailed on Wednesday. No response. I followed up on Friday. No response. I gave them the weekend and this morning I sent another email, this time with extra vulnerable & heart sauce. Very soon after I got a response in the vein of, these things take time, we haven’t forgotten about you. My immediate reflexive response was, ugh my fault! Sorry!!
But no! One, why didn’t you respond with that to my first and second email? I just wanted to know that you heard me, that you saw my ask. Two, why did I feel like I did something wrong when I was the one with a very reasonable request? Pushing back, standing up for yourself, advocating for your needs feel uncomfortable in a body that has been comfortable with being walked all over. Three, maybe I could have started with the vulnerable and heart space from the beginning, rather than the business/professional tone people around me suggested I use? Where is the sweet spot of integrity, self-advocacy, self-worth and vulnerability? It requires giving the recipient the benefit of the doubt and a deep certainty in one’s own worth.
As I wait for this response or for god, or for my life is change, or for some magic or miracle to bloom, I have to remember that I am worthy to receive, worthy to want, worthy just as I am to have a life that is full. I also have to remember that god is good. God is not forgetful. God didn’t miss your email. God isn’t feeling awkward that you’re asking again and again and again. God is not dangling possibilities in front of us just to taunt us.
God can handle our push, our vulnerability, our belief that we are worthy. God needs us to be all that and do all that. Waiting is exhausting because it requires me to believe it can happen, it will happen, and god has NOT forgotten about me.
Where can you demand a response from God, even if it’s a not yet, or keep on, especially if it’s this?
Where do you need to advocate for yourself as a practice of self-worth?
Where can you sprinkle in vulnerability and heart in your professional and difficult relationships?
Advent: Day 7
Just now I realized that I forgot to write yesterday. My stomach sank as I pulled out my phone to do this post on the train. My daily challenge to write every day during advent is imperfect and incomplete.
But who else is keeping track? Is there someone judging me? Yes, I wish I had written yesterday, but what does a hiccup afford me? A reminder to give myself grace. A reminder that imperfect and incomplete are fine, and if I want I can simply get back on task. A reminder that maybe imperfect and incomplete is the closest we will get to wholeness. It’s the attempt at it. It’s the working at it. It’s the laughing and crying I’m trying at it.
You can’t wait perfectly. Sometimes other things in life steer you off course or pull your focus. Those moments give us an opportunity to reevaluate — is the pivot worthwhile to pursue or is the original Hope still the main thing? Waiting is not stagnant. It’s not laying down to sleep hoping things will fall from the sky. It can allow for tasks and inspirations not originally thought of when you started the journey. Waiting can also have it’s sabbath. Maybe that’s what I allowed for myself yesterday.
Where can you forgive yourself for falling short, or where can you realize you actually have not fallen short, and simply have done your best?
Where can you be more imperfect and incomplete because that requires more faith and curiosity?
Be imperfect. Just start. Just continue. Meet you at the finish line.
Advent: Day 5
What if you’re waiting, and unsure of what exactly you’re waiting for? What if you’re waiting and hoping, with one foot in doubt? What if you’re waiting and praying, with a strong fog of insecurity and imposter?
I’m tired of the self-help, personal development and inner work that says its our disbelief and our own self-sabotage that are the biggest obstacles. I’m tired of the talk about how I’m staying small because I’m the one staying and thinking small. I’m tired of the work and worksheets and workshops that seek to strengthen me not because I don’t think there’s truth, but because it puts so much of the burden on me. I don’t want to put the blame or responsibility on someone else, and I also don’t want the heart of the onus to be on me.
I’m so dang fallible and fragile. Do I need to conjure up enough strength in order to get to the next chapter? I have too many years of trauma and generational chains to unlock. Do I have to wait for my healing to hit to get what’s been waiting for me? I’m not one to wait around for manna to fall from the sky. But I’m also tired of trying and prying and crawling and searching and digging and throwing darts and putting out more feelers and doing and doing and doing and doing. Where does my dependence on god and my personal responsibility meet? Where’s the line between trusting the divine is more powerful than any mistakes and messes I can make, and trusting that I have a part to play in my own journey?
I’m tired of job searching on Craigslist every other month, living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck. I’m tired of being held at the mercy of audition notices and avail asks. I’m tired of re-working and re-writing a project that I’m scared will never see the light of day, that I’m desperate for higher help. I’m tired of being single and “opening and re-opening” my heart & my energy & my vibe in hopes that folks will know I’m truly into partnership. I’m tired of suspension. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of watching the world crumble around me due to covid, bad justice at the Supreme Court, climate change, gun violence, hurt people hurting people. I want to make this life count. I want to make this moment count. I want and need god to show me, even just a glimpse, what’s to come.
Advent: Day 3
I just moved into a new apartment, and it is 100% a victory in commitment and faith. I’ve been afraid to put down roots and this feels like a solid step into the ground. Right outside my window, across the way, are these gorgeous apartments. My bedroom is mostly bed, and I have 2 roommates. I’m grateful to be here, and to be with them, and I also know, or hope, or really know, this isn’t my final stop. This isn’t it, it. This isn’t my forever, god, I hope not.
Waiting is really hard when you know where you’re at is not it, it and a potential it stares at you from across the way. You wake up with longing, with a desire to be on the other side. It doesn’t take away from how great the right now may be. What is possible just reminds you how much space there is in your heart, in your longing, in your desire for more. It’s okay to want more. It’s okay to look across with even envy. There is a fine line between inspiring envy and covetous bitterness. It’s okay to know where you’re at is not it.
Because it isn’t. There is more. There is space for even deeper promises. There are promises waiting to blossom. So yes to embracing all you have right now and yes to knowing more is to snow down. It snowed today.
Where can your desire for more receive more grace and judgement?
What is on the other side? What does it represent? What would you get?
What is great about this side? (Because this side was the other side of something else.)
Advent: Day 1
Advent is anticipation, it’s waiting, it’s knowing that good is coming…and we gotta be patient.
When I’m hangry, the time before my feeding is brutal. I feel like I have lost control of my emotions. I feel like I could bite someone’s head off if they say the wrong thing. I feel pissed and then more pissed because I don’t know why I’m so pissed. When I finally realize it’s because I’m hungry, I get a spurt of light and hope. Ah, a solution!! I forgive myself for the thoughts and feelings and potentially behaviors before my need realization. Sometimes I brave the wait by trying to convince myself the hunger will pass. Actually if you press long enough, the hunger does pass. Other times I immediately go venturing for the food. Now if I’m in search for food, this time is also brutal. Because the solution is clear and feels close, yet too far away. I get focused. I get quiet. I am determined. This is also vulnerable territory because any obstacle can be a land mine. But then when I get that first bite, I am blown away, like heaven has come to meet me in my mouth. I love everyone. I love this food. I am grateful. I forget that I was once upon a time, a minute ago, about to slay and rage. I am simply overcome by this food that I knew would cure me, yet also didn’t fully know would bring me so much life.
Why this story? Because advent can feel like this slew of this and that and pissy attitude, even when you know what’s about to come. Because advent, anticipation, waiting and future promises can bring up a lot of feelings and doubts and land mines? Because you might not even know what this advent uncovers! I know the coming of hope and Justice is damn good and is about to, has come.
But the in between, the moments when your body and the world seem to take over, need to be acknowledged and embraced. It’s okay to be pissy and hungry and longing and disappointed and dissatisfied and excited and impatient and patient and … all of it. Take a breath. Allow for it.
What are you waiting for?
What do you know without a doubt, is going to happen, but just requires some trust in timing?
Can you anticipate good instead of glum? Can you anticipate all your dreams and promises coming true? Can you anticipate god’s YES for you?
Oh My God WOAH
Last year at this time I started training with Completely Ridiculous and a class that really pulled me out of my sadness and self pity was a clown-based class. The heart of the work is to come back to delight, wonder, and hope. I think that’s also the heart fo life: coming back to the awe.
I may not walk around with a smile glued to my face nor recite Christian phrases like, it’s the joy of the Lord that does it for me! Praise be to those folks who genuinely hold that close to their heart and on their sleeves. I probably, once upon a time, was that too. Once in high school someone thought I was fake because I smiled all the time until he realized I was genuinely happy and wanted to be my friend. (Goodness please if you are reading this, remind me when this was because high school simply felt awful!) People would say my joy, my smile were infectious. Last year, a friend said, “Nancy…you seem….sad.”I think he meant more than the general allowed sadness we had; I was gray. I was heavy. I am still those things. These past 2 years, life in general, have dampened my outward infectious smile, or shortened the consistency of it.
But this new reality has made my moments of awe and wonder that much more powerful. Awe and wonder and delight can strike me at a moment’s notice, and I’m tearing up by the grace of god. I am more sensitive when wonder smacks me and pulls me up for air. Wonder by Bethel music gets me every time. Coming back to the present moment, like really coming back to it, gets me every time. Because I know the opposite. I’ve gotten comfortable on the other side. And the along with the doubt and despair plagued on the other side, I have also deepened my relationship with god in a way I need never to justify to anyone anymore. It can be lonely at times, and still I wouldn’t trade it for another journey to faith.
Today I will chase delight. Today I will smile at cute dogs. Today I will imagine that on the other side of this loneliness and lost land is gracious provision that will leave me saying, OH MY GOD. WOAH. WOW.