A Time to Heal…

I grew up as a pastors kid. I often say that I was raised in the church and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I loved my country church, I loved the people, the potlucks and feeling like I had special access to the place that no other kid had. I volunteered as soon as I was old enough and tried my hand at most of the ministry areas so I could confirm  my area of giftedness, like a good Christian leader in training does. As a teen I went to all the leadership camps, sat on the student leadership team in my youth group and highlighted every youth event in my school planner so I could count down the days until I’d be with my people again. Church was my safe place, I belonged there and so as I entered adulthood, of course I wanted to be in church ministry, it was what I knew and the place of safety. 

As an adult youth pastor, I was lucky to find a church that welcomed me and treated me so well. In that church I became ordained, I found friendship and got to know some of the most wonderful students. Again, it was my safe place. After 4 years there, I felt led to move into a new position that took me away from my family and all that I knew and loved.
I haven’t spoken often of this past year and unless you have asked me about it over a latte or in my living room, you wouldn’t have likely heard me talk much about it. 

It’s because over the year I lost my safe place. I don’t want to slander anyone because I did meet some wonderful people along the way, which my heart is very thankful for but I’ve always been a believer that there is power and healing when people are willing to be vulnerable with one another. 

In a short time, I saw another side of the church. It wasn’t the safe place I had come to know. I became afraid to enter through the doors, afraid of what others would say to me while I was there, I couldn’t sleep, I put on weight and ate my feelings and I didn’t want to leave my apartment. I lost myself. 

By the grace of God, I was rescued from that situation. But I can distinctly remember walking through the airport doors in Toronto after my flight home and seeing my parents and collapsing into a ball of tears. I left at the beginning of the year hopeful and I came home broken. 

I’ve never been broken like that before. The kind of broken where you have nothing left, where you don’t know what you think or believe anymore and where all you want to do is sleep because for the first time in a long time you feel safe. 

This year has been about healing for me. And since I broke my ankle in October and had to have surgery, this year has been about both physical healing as well as inner healing. And the biggest thing I’ve learned is that healing hurts. It’s not easy or painless, it isn’t quick and you can’t just get over it. It comes out of you slowly, over time and it is exhausting. 
I decided to take a break from church to give myself time to heal, to take a break from the hypocrisy I had witnessed, and because I was tired of the church culture. 

I needed time to rest and breathe. 

And here I sit, with more time to myself, more time to rest and ponder and reflect. I often wonder why I felt led to move across the country and I’m not sure I will ever know. But for those of you who feel like you are on the outskirts of faith, for those of you who have been wounded by the church, the place that was supposed to welcome you in and be your safe place, for those that don’t know where to fit on the spiritual scale anymore, I see you. And for those that think this is Jesus, it’s not. Jesus is for you. He is patient as you wander, as you try to hold onto hope, as you cling to healing. Don’t give up, you are not alone. Your questions and your hurts are real and it’s ok. I’ve become convinced amidst all of the crap, Jesus is still there with me, holding onto me even when I’ve let go. 

One of my favourite lines from the show Downton Abbey is when Carson says to Mrs. Hughes “life alters us”. Isn’t this the truth?

I’m Still Here…

A lot can happen in a year. It’s been about that long since I’ve written on here. Not because I have nothing to say or because I haven’t thought about writing but because it has felt too raw, too real and too personal to share. 
Last August I moved my life across the country to the city of Vancouver. I took a job here, working with youth at a local church. 

Last April, I declared to the Lord that I was putting everything on the table. I didn’t know what was coming next but I wanted to be open. 
Someone should have told me how dangerous a prayer that can be. 
That same week I got an email inviting me to consider a job in Vancouver. 
I’ve lived in fear for a long time. Fear of what if, fear of losing someone else I love, fear of missing something, fear of disappointment. Fear had made my world small. Somewhere in the middle of all those feelings, I decided that I had to rebel. I didn’t want fear to lead my life anymore. 
So I jumped into a journey that wasn’t expected, that wasn’t planned or even sought after. 

If you would have asked me a year ago if I would be in Vancouver, I would have laughed in your face. Of course not. My family isn’t there. I don’t know anyone. It’s across the country.  Of course not. 

And it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. 

I think a lot of people can make a move like this seem so glamorous, that what they left behind was less than where they are experiencing now.
That’s never been the case for me. It’s not a matter of what’s better or worse, it’s always been about what am I being called to enter into now. 
In this season of change all around me, God is teaching me new things. 

God uses our past to prepare us for our future.  I couldn’t have been ready to be in this place at this time if I hadn’t experienced what the last few years have taught me. Those people and those moments together were all gifts. 

There are good people everywhere you go.  I won’t lie and tell you that being the new person is often a very lonely place to be, but I am reminded as I jump into the life happening in a new place that the world is full of people who God puts in your path. People who are kind and good and will welcome you in, even when you feel so far away from all that you know. 

It’s ok to cry.  In this season, it seems that I’m always feeling all the feels. I’ve discovered that sometimes you just need to go to your room and have a good cry. It doesn’t mean things are bad and life is over but allowing yourself to be present in the feels of change is so necessary. 

Change takes time to feel normal. I’ve seen this in my own life and in my ministry here. You’ve got to give yourself grace during the process. It’s not gonna happen overnight. 

So I’m still here, just in a new place. Still learning, still growing, still feeling and still hoping. If anything, this season reminds me how human I am and how in need I am of the grace Jesus offers me. 

We were never meant to do it on our own. 

In my Waiting, God is not late

andrew-neel-199543-unsplashI’ve been listening to a new song on repeat today. There’s a set of lines in the song that I just can’t get out of my head…

“I count on one thing, the same God that never fails will not fail me now. In the waiting, the same God who’s never late is working all things out.”

These words struck me today.

Perhaps because I feel like I’ve been stuck in a season of waiting and wandering for some time now. I think it’s easy to get lost in a season, to wonder if you’ll ever emerge out of the deep waters. And while you’re lost in the season, you lose sight of what really matters. You get yourself lodged in the muck and every step forward feels like weights are pulling at your feet.

I’m one of those rare kids that crazy loves my parents. I’m also one of those few people that have had a chance to work with my Dad and actually really have enjoyed it.

A few weeks ago I learned that my Dad would no longer be continuing with his current work situation. I know it’s for the best. But I ugly cried.

No, you don’t even understand.

Like I blew out my sinuses from crying so badly.
Like I made myself cry so badly that the next day was shot.

I’m admitting this to you because for those of you that have ever ugly cried, you feel relieved when you find out there are others. Me too people!

So ya, total break down because of fear.

Fear of being alone.
Fear of the loss.
Fear of the change.
Fear of the unknown future.
Fear of being alone.
Fear of still wandering lost in my season.
Oh and did I mention fear of being alone?

So in my wandering, I seek to fill the space with empty things, trying to run from any chance of having another ugly cry breakdown.

So today I had a meeting a few hours away from my house, which I knew meant a drive, which I also knew meant me and God alone in the car for a few hours. I loaded some new music onto my iPhone, pressed play and drove.

And then these words…

“I count on one thing, the same God that never fails will not fail me now. In the waiting, the same God who’s never late is working all things out.”

God is never late.

But how can this be? Doesn’t he see me stuck in the muck, wandering lost in my season?

In my waiting, the same God who has been with me is still with me. And in my waiting, which feels like F-O-R-E-V-E-R, God is still working all things out.

He’s not late, which means I’m not lost.

This truth may not change the fact that I’m still waiting and wandering and asking when? But this truth gives me the opportunity to breathe in God’s faithfulness in my waiting because this God is never late and he’s still working things out for me.

Maybe you need to breathe this truth in as much as I do right now.

“I count on one thing, the same God that never fails will not fail me now. In the waiting, the same God who’s never late is working all things out.”

My Soul Is Calling Me Out…


Life is full of change.

Sometimes I don’t believe this. Sometimes life feels the same. Sometimes life feels like it will never change.

And then all of a sudden I find myself letting go of my home and letting go of a job. And then all of a sudden I’m living in a new apartment embracing the silence that leaving behind a job has created.

I know that somewhere in my heart I long for change, for the newness that comes with something different.

But change is hard.

Change involves grieving what was, in anticipation of what will be. Change involves embracing living in a state of uncertainty and discomfort for a while.

I feel like it’s fitting that I’m walking this journey during the season of Lent. Lent beckons us to reflect, to repent, to accept forgiveness, to live in hope. I always feel like the season of Lent holds some of the most grey and rainy days and I wonder how Jesus felt wandering the dessert during this season?

This year Lent is calling my soul out. Sometimes I think we have times where we just have to get the ugly stuff out. Times where we beg God to do something new in our hearts, to help us let go of all the crap we hold so tightly to, to release the darkness we harbour deep in us. I need God to do this kind of soul work in me.

I’m asking for open palms, free to let go of what I hold onto and free to receive what Jesus has for me.

So for me this year, Lent is about letting go. It’s about discovering who I am now, not who I’ve been. It’s welcoming change because I think change and hope go hand in hand.

And I want hope.

I want it really badly.

What do you need to let go of during this Lenten season? Maybe your soul needs to call you out too?


Dear Me…

I’m turning 30 in September.
I know.
Me, a 30-year old.
I’ve been trying to rack my brain around what it will feel like not being a 20-something anymore. I’ve also been trying to figure out how my 20’s went by so fast? They say your 20’s are all about learning and getting experience and trying new things and they say your 30’s are about doing, because you have the confidence from everything you learned in your 20’s. I’m not sure if that’s true but I hope to find out.
There are some things I wish I would have done differently in my 20’s. There are some things I wish my 20 year old self would have known. If I could write a letter to my 20 year old self, I think this is what I’d say…


Dear Me, 

Happy 20th birthday! I know, it feels big! You’re done high school, you’ve travelled a bit and you’re wondering where life will take you next. You want to be older, to thrive and to be loved. You want to know more about Jesus and you want to experience truly knowing him. 

There are some things I want to tell you. You won’t listen to me because you think you know best and you’ve watched too many fairy tale movies and you’re so stubborn, but I’m going to tell you anyways. 


Your 20’s will be full. 

Full of laughter. 

Full of travel.

Full of family.

Full of worry.

Full of moving from one place to another.

Full of weddings.

Full of friendships that come come and go.

Full of learning.

Full of heartbreak. 


They’re not going to be like you planned. I know you want to be married by the time you’re 25 and you have this picture of what your life will look like when you get there but it’s not going to look like that. And you’re going to have a bit of meltdown over it all. 


But here’s the thing, you’re going to be ok. 


The heartbreak of things not turning out like you hoped will make you deeper, make you love more, make you empathize in new ways with people. Darcie, don’t fight this, embrace it. The best plans are often the ones you don’t plan. 


Yes, you’re going to travel. You’re going to go to some places that if I told you now, you’d have a stomach attack and worry yourself sick and you might not go. But you have to go because seeing these places, going on these adventures will expand your mind and your view of the world. You have to go because these opportunities are a gift from a God who loves you and who, despite what you sometimes feel, sees you right where you are. You are not forgotten. 


You are going to have people come into your life that remind you of all the good in this world. They will challenge you and pray for you and walk with you through the highs and lows. 


You’re going to feel lonely. The type of loneliness where you’re in a crowd of people but you still feel like the only one. So when you feel lonely, do some things that feed your soul. It’s ok, I give you permission. Cuddle up on the couch and watch your favourite movies. Go the mall and buy that outfit. Go for a drive, listen to your country music and cry. Crank the worship and praise God in the storm. Call Mama love, she makes everything better. And sleep. You don’t do well when you’re tired. 


I know you feel like you have to prove yourself. I know you feel like the odd one out. I know you feel ugly and fat and like no one will ever love you. You have to fight these messages or they’ll paint your view of life. You don’t have to prove yourself, God will give you a place you thought you couldn’t have because of your gender. If you feel fat, girl, get to the gym and exercise and put down that ice cream! And seriously, you’re going to learn to exercise and you might even love it (trust me on this). And one more thing, God don’t make ugly. 


A few other things I wish to tell you:

-See a counsellor, work out your junk

-Find a mentor, go after meeting with that person that inspires you

-It’s ok to go on a date with someone and not marry them

-Your stomach disorder won’t ruin your life

-You can travel alone

-Spend more time with the people you love

-Be fully present where you are 

-Go after Jesus, don’t settle for a faith that doesn’t breathe 

-Wear the shorts, it’s hot

-Share your stories, it will help others share too 

-Don’t give up on the church

-Embrace all things Jewish (haha, you’ll understand later)

-It’s ok to not always be ok

-Choose Joy

-Name your thankfuls 


I know all of this won’t make sense to you now but one day it will. Be brave Darcie girl, you don’t have to worry so much. Don’t stop loving with your whole heart, even when people hurt you, keep trusting, keep forgiving because the story isn’t over yet. 


You’re living the everyday adventure! 


Love always, 

Your older (and somewhat wiser) self 

Dear 2017, I need to find my way again…


Lately I’ve felt the need to write. Sometimes the words sit on my heart while I fall asleep urging me to get up and empty them onto a page of some sort. I try to fight that urge. Writing makes me feel things and sometimes I just don’t want to rehash those feelings.

2016 has been a full year. I moved into my Rose Cottage. I travelled to St. Louis and New York and Israel and Paris and London and then Paris again. I learned how to apply dry wall. I learned how to travel by myself. I’ve learned how to knit. Ok. My bad. I’m learning how to knit. I got a tattoo. I’ve learned that winter sucks solely for the reason of having to shovel the snow in my driveway. I mastered the dodgeball court at SkyZone. I found a new drink I love at Starbucks. Did I mention that I got a tattoo, like for real?!!

There have been some absolutely wonderful things about 2016.

But I have to tell you. I’m glad it’s over.

I’m glad because I need a fresh start. One that a number seems to bring with it.

Because what my Facebook page and my Instagram and twitter account don’t tell you is that this has been a hard year. There’s been a lot of tears and anxiety and disappointment. There’s been a lot of brokenness. There’s been a lot of “God, I don’t understand”, and “God, why them and not me”, and “God, do you know how much my heart is breaking right now?”, and “God, when will it be my turn?”.

And the truth is that I have no answers. Sometimes I feel like I’m barely holding on by a thread.

And so I need a new year. I need to lay this past year down and say it’s over. I need this year to be about different stuff. I need to be brave enough to reach for hope and hold onto it for dear life. I need the hope that says “I will find my way again”. I need the hope that says “I will let go of being jaded, of being jealous, of feeling like something has been withheld from me.” Next year I want to write that this year I learned to feel loved, to feel whole, to let go of the ugly feelings I cling so tightly to and the lies that I’ve embraced as truth. I want to write that I grew closer to Jesus. I want to write that 2017 was beautiful and full and good.

I’m a big believer that as human beings we go through seasons. Some seasons are so full of joy and happiness that it almost doesn’t seem real. And some seasons are dull and boring and we can’t remember what it feels like to be excited. And then other seasons are full of grief and sadness and the sun never seems to shine. And when you’re in that season, it doesn’t feel like it will ever be over until one day the clouds seem to clear and a ray of light peaks through.

I feel most human when people own up to their story. And so I’m owning up to mine because there is freedom and beauty when we share our joyful moments and our loneliest moments with one another. There is a release of shame when we hear those words “me too”. Because I feel like maybe one person is reading this and their heart is breaking because their story doesn’t seem to make sense right now and it’s not going how they planned it and they’re sick and tired of seeing everyone else’s happy. You are not alone. And this is not the end of your story, this is a season. And I need to tell you, just like I need you to tell me, that it’s going to be ok, you’re going to be ok and this season will end and the sun will break through. You are not your shame or your disappointment.

And I want to invite you to reach out with me and grab hope, even if it’s just a sliver right now, stretch for it. Let God use this season to make you deeper, to make you more human, more empathetic, more aware of the people around you who need to hear those words “me too”. Through tears, I speak those words to you now, “me too”.

The sun is going to shine.

Wait for it.

I’m waiting too,


12 Years Later & I’m Still Not Married to a Tall, Dark & Handsome Youth Pastor. Insert Single Pity Party Here…


Every summer my family vacations at Chesley Lake Camp located in the beautiful Bruce Peninsula, not far from Sauble Beach. My Dad vacationed here as a child and the tradition carried on through my childhood and now into my adult years. Through the years, I’ve brought many friends to this place. For years we shared a cottage with Grandma and Grandpa, while Grandpa was still living and Grandma’s health allowed her to get around. There were years when my oldest brother Ben was still small enough that we could lift him from place to place and his wheelchair could fit in the cottage. There have been years where our cottage was bustling with people, so much so that we had to bring in extra cots for sleeping. Then there have been years like this one, where it’s just me and Mom and Dad. Some years me and my brothers have been able to come for a day or two and other years our work schedules won’t allow it. This year, I’m giving thanks that I get to be here for the whole time, it’s such a gift.

I often don’t realize the memories this place holds until I drive down the Chesley Lake Road that first day of vacation. Until I see the lake sparkling as I pass it by, until Dad comes back from his first round of Chesley golf, until our first ice cream stroll followed by watching the nightly baseball game outside the camp’s main building. And as I slowly start to feel my body relax and release the tension I seem to bury and hold onto in every pore and fold of my body, I start to reflect on life, on where I’m at after a year has gone by since the last time I was here.

I was speaking at a camp to a bunch of Jr. High students a few weeks ago. Generally when I speak to Jr. High students, I tend to lose my filter because like any good youth worker, when with the kids, I try to speak their language (ha). Since most Jr. High’s don’t have a filter, I too adopted the custom. During our last session together I shared far more than I ever was planning on… actually, I had absolutely no intention of sharing any of the things I did at all but in typical Darcie fashion – MAJOR OVERSHARE! During that session, I was talking about the “more” that God has for us, how we are often held back by the things we are afraid of and our own plans for how our lives should look.

Insert personal story here.

I shared with them that when I was 16 I dreamed of how my life would look by the time I was 25. I would be married to a youth pastor (tall, dark and handsome of course), we’d have youth kids over to our house all the time. I’d have a cute little toddler with a baby on the way. Life would be deep and beautiful and full of love and laughter. My Mom and Dad would dote on our kids and I’d get tips on raising kids from my Mom, cause she knows everything. I told them about Chesley Lake being a special place for my family and so how of course I had even worked out a seating plan for how we would all fit around the table… my brother and their significant others (potentially), one of my friends and her husband and kids, my hubby and our toddler and my parents. We’d all be at the lake together, we’d watch the kids play t-ball, and go to the beach together and we’d all share one big cottage. This was the dream. I went on to share about how God had different plans for my life that I couldn’t have dreamed of, how he had more for me than I could know.

I also reminded them that making a plan when you are 16 that depicts how your life will look in 10 years can be a very bad idea, because you might get there, realize your life is nothing like you planned and have a total melt down (I try to pass my wisdom on to the young folk)!

It was a great week at camp but sufficient to say, my overshare during that final session at camp brought some things to the surface that I have tried to continually push down…

So here I am 12 years later at Chesley Lake once again. I’m not married to a youth pastor, in fact I’m not married at all. I have no toddler and no baby on the way, which is fitting following the previous declaration. Our cottage is quiet this year, just me, Mom and Dad. I came up north following being present at a beautiful wedding where two of my friends from university committed their lives to one another. Now attending weddings aren’t a new thing for me; they’re very typical in this season of my life. However, it does feel a bit strange when the people getting married were kids in your youth group or even worse, in your kids ministry! Weddings are always a celebration and I feel honoured to be invited to be a part of that couple’s day but I’ll admit, most weddings leave my heart aching. It’s the ache that comes with unfulfilled longing and it’s an ache that’s become familiar to me at weddings, at the declaration of engagements, and when my friends tell me they’re expecting a baby. I often wonder how you can feel such joy and such an ache at the same time?

I don’t write as often as I want to anymore. I think it’s because some of the things I struggle with seem to be wrapped in self-inflicted shame. I don’t want to damper the celebration of engagements and marriage, of babies and new homes with sharing about the ache I feel when I hear or read those stories and see those pictures. I imagine it must feel similar for a woman who may have just lost a baby and then sees a picture of a friend who just gave birth to a healthy one. Such ache and such joy.

If I’m being honest, the ache makes me question the goodness of God.

I feel selfish even giving voice to those words.

Because you haven’t yet fulfilled my deepest longing and desire (currently), I question whether you are really a good Father. It’s like I’m in the garden of Eden and you’ve given me the whole garden to enjoy except for one tree, but I’m fixated on that one tree, all I see is that one tree that I don’t have and because I can’t have it, how can you be good? Forget all these amazing gifts around me, just give me the darn tree!

Tonight as I contemplated how much I waiver in my belief, in my trust and in my devotion to a God who has poured out love and good gifts into my life, as I pondered my unsteadiness, I read these words from a favourite writer of mine:

I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even while I’m longing for something more. The longing and the gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that he sees what I can’t, that he’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning.
Extraordinary, indeed.
More than enough.

(Bread & Wine, Shauna Niequist)

This is my prayer in my seasons of ache and longing and in struggling to trust that God sees me and knows my story and is for me. That I would release the self-inflicted shame I feel over the parts of my story that in my eyes can’t seem to compete with those of my friends and acquaintances. That the thief of comparison wouldn’t rob my joy just because my life doesn’t look the way I thought it would. That I would refuse to believe the lie that tells me because of all of this, I’m not enough. My prayer is that I would be aware of all the gifts that are around me and that I would be filled with gratitude and groundedness.

I need to say these words out loud, I need to write them here because I know I’m not the only one who feels the deep ache over whatever unfulfilled longing or desire we have that we witness being fulfilled in someone else’s story.

I know it hurts.

Just like we share in one another’s joys and reasons to celebrate, may we share in one another’s aches too. May we be friends who aren’t afraid to ask how someone is really doing. May we be willing to laugh and celebrate together while also sitting and crying together. May we be sensitive to those who are in seasons of heartache but may we also be people who celebrate with those who are in seasons of celebration.

Because one of the greatest mysteries and tensions in our humanity is our ability to feel joy and to feel the ache of grief at the same time. To acknowledge this and to act accordingly is to truly embrace what it means to be human and to open your heart to this truth.

And for the record, I still believe what I told those Jr. Highs – that God does indeed have so much more for each one of us, more than we planned and more than we can see right now.

I Want To Have Courage…


I like to choose a word for the season I find myself in. Sometimes it’s a word that I need to hear, and see and write down over and over again. Sometimes it’s a word that I want to be or that I need to remember that I am. I’ve found that the word I choose shows itself in layers, in different places and in people who I least expect to find it in.

I’m not sure how I go about choosing the word but somehow it finds me. I like to think that God speaks it to my heart in the silence. I’ve come to believe this because my word usually seems to perfectly connect with my season. Strange, I know, but divinely so.

My word in this season is courage. Here’s why this word is connecting with the deepest parts of my soul right now…

Courage is one of those words that means something different for every person and in every situation. Courage is deeply rooted in who we are, in our stories and in the choices we make everyday. Courage is always a choice that we get to make. Courage is something that can grow and it often begins so small and tiny and fragile. Courage is always evolving as we evolve.

I want to have courage.
I want to fight against the voices that tell me I can’t do something.
I want to keep trying, even when all I seem to do is fail.
I want to believe that people can change, if they choose to.
I want to be a person who gives second-chances and more grace.
And in my life, these things demand courage.

I have a friend who recently lost his brother, who was also his best friend. Sometimes when we talk, he tells me that he wishes this could have just happened to someone else, someone who he doesn’t know, someone across the world. Why did it have to be him and his family? He knows that somehow, someday God will redeem this and it won’t hurt so bad, but right now it hasn’t been redeemed. It hurts everyday and he doesn’t know when the anxiety of his grief will hit him next, because that’s what grief does. And so he keeps going, somedays in a complete fog functioning on very little sleep. And some days his grief makes him suffer in silence and other days he shares it. This is courage – to keep going when you’re broken and when your story hasn’t been redeemed yet.

I have another friend whose life hasn’t turned out as she thought it would. She’s been through some things that have ripped her heart out and thrown it in her face. Yet, she’s let these things soften her heart and despite unfulfilled dreams, she keeps asking God what he’s up to next. Sometimes she tells me about the things she’s trying and the places she’s visiting and the things she’s learning on her own and I’m amazed at her. She is a woman of courage, and I don’t even think she knows it.

I recently had a conversation with another friend who has been deeply hurt by people who she thought were on her team. She invested her whole heart into her work only to have it end in a way she never expected. And as she cried the kind of tears that can only come from a broken heart, she talked about wanting to figure out how she can be a person of grace when things haven’t gone as she thought they would because she speaks it, but now she has to live it. She is living courage out in the flesh. And while my heart breaks for her, she is inspiring me with her courage.

Sometimes courage is asking the second question.
Sometimes courage is going to that wedding alone.
Sometimes courage is going back to school when you’re 50.
Sometimes courage is letting yourself say no to another thing.
Sometimes it’s having a conversation that is uncomfortable and awkward.
Sometimes it’s saying I’m sorry.
Sometimes it’s walking through those church doors.
Sometimes it’s asking for help.

Courage is the choice we get to make.

So in this season, I’m learning about what it means to have courage right where I find myself. And my courage may not seem like courage to you, but it’s mine and it’s the stuff that’s changing my heart. And some days for me, courage just means being ok with not being ok because I’m giving voice to the things that shame tells me to keep silent.

So where are you choosing courage? It’s ok to let it start small and fragile because I’m telling you…

It will grow and it will become part of your story and it will make you deeper. But maybe courage isn’t your word for this season. Maybe there’s another word that’s changing and challenging you. And if that’s the case, my prayer for you is simple:


I Was 7 When I learned Shame…

child_in_corner940I was recently reading a book about relationships. The book explored how we learn to act in relationships and what actions are learned behaviours that we picked up somewhere along the way. We all get this choice about whether a relationship is worth us unlearning those behaviours that cause the other person pain (and in turn ends up hurting ourselves) or creates an environment that doesn’t feel like safe space. The choice to unlearn behaviours can be really hard and we often discover some really ugly things about ourselves during the process, but I think that’s the difference between relationships that work and are centered around grace and truth, and those that aren’t.

I’m finding that at the root of many learned behaviours is shame. Shame is that feeling that we are not enough, that what we did or who we are is bad, this sense that we will never meet the bar. Guilt often goes hand in hand with shame and I’ve become convinced that many of us are walking around with this deep sense of guilt and shame. Throughout history, the church has been an excellent producer of shame in people. The strategy to make people feel so guilty and ashamed of themselves that they must get “saved”, or the missionaries who compel us to give money by shaming the way we live so we give out of guilt, instead of joy. Guilt turns life into a “have to” instead of a “get to”. Shame makes us hide in dark corners and tells us we have to struggle in silence or else we will not be accepted.

But how did we learn shame? Can you sit and remember that exact moment when it entered your life, when you first felt like you weren’t good enough?

I sat and thought about this for a while and then it came to me and it brought tears with it, suddenly as I relived that moment in my mind, the sense of shame was so real all over again. Growing up, I was always slightly overweight. I blame my grandmother who introduced me to cinnamon buns as a toddler when I was going through a phase of not eating anything, until I met those buns. Needless to say, I’ve always had a little junk in the trunk. My second grade teacher never really seemed to like me, even though I tried everything I could to make her happy. We were doing a math lesson and all I remember is that she decided that she would weigh each one of us in the class and put the number on the board so eventually we could add them up. I froze. I knew I was a bit heavier than some of the kids but more than that; I didn’t want to step on the scale in front of everyone. I didn’t want them to know how much I weighed. I waited until the end hoping she might forget me by accident. She didn’t. I stepped on the scale and I weighed more than most of the kids in my class. Everyone snickered and whispered things. I sat down at my desk and at the age of 7, I felt complete and utter shame. It was that day that I learned to hate my body, a behavior I’m still trying to unlearn 20 years later. It was that year I developed a stomach disorder because I went to school nervous and worried everyday. What would the teacher make me do, what would the kids say? I was 7 years old when I learned what real shame felt like. Not the kind where your Mom scolds you for hitting your brother, the kind that takes root in your soul and reminds you daily that you are not enough. Not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not tall enough, you are not worthy of love or respect or being treated with equality.

There are few of us that walk around with a sense of entitlement but there are many of us walking around with the sense that we aren’t worthy of anything good.

I have too many conversations with people who tell me they don’t feel like it’s safe to bring their junk into the light; they are too ashamed and too afraid of what others will say. And I get that. The church can be the most frightening place to bring any type of sin and shame to the surface.

And that’s not ok.

And no, it shouldn’t be like this.

This is not how God created us to live. This is the stuff he longs to free us from. And so I don’t want to be silent any more and hide in my dark corner because my shame has made me feel so afraid and so alone.

The truth is that I am not alone and neither are you. You don’t have to struggle alone. I absolutely believe that Jesus doesn’t want to throw another stone at you, he wants you to know that you are loved, you are known and you are seen. And it’s ok. There is more life for you so don’t waste it hiding in the dark.

Like I wrote earlier, the choice to unlearn behaviours can be really hard and we often discover some really ugly things about ourselves during the process. Unlearning to cling to shame and guilt is no different. The process can be messy and bring up stuff we’ve tried so hard to hide and it’s a daily struggle. But I want to be a person who offers grace and truth to people and I can’t do that if I haven’t let those things invade my own life and my own relationships. This is the journey of faith and it’s where Jesus longs to meet us. We were never meant to cower in the corner; we were made to live in the light with other people, working our junk out together.

This is the Jesus way and it’s the stuff that makes for the deepest and most meaningful relationships. So let’s dump the shame and live in grace. We just might discover the “more” we’ve been longing for.