The Elvis in the room.
I met a woman just the other day who had a pretty stealthy obsession with Elvis. If I ever claimed to be infatuated with the King in my earlier years then I am sorely mistaken and sorry to have claimed that. I could not even hold a lighter to the massive Elvis candle this woman was burning.
She had tattoos. A car. A jukebox in her basement. She named her child after Elvis. She brought Elvis into numerous conversations during the solid 7 hours that I spent with her filming a video for a brand. If Elvis hadn't been worked into the conversation yet, she was finding a way.
The only time in the span of the whole day where we didn't talk about Elvis was when the camera man was interviewing me and he requested that I looked directly at the woman, directly at the producer with the Elvis obsession, and talk to her instead of the lens.
The questions got deeper and deeper. We went there.
I could have chosen to stay stuck on the surface but I kept looking into the eyes of that woman and I could see some sort of pain and hurt. It was like I could trace holes inside of her that she was never going to talk about. Or maybe she would. I don't really know.
She was crying, tears dribbling down her face as I said to her, and only her, "It's okay. You got up today. You got up today and so it's okay."
In that moment, I wondered about her, and God, and Elvis.
People always say it's best to acknowledge the elephant in the room when we see it and we can call it by name. Friends, there was an Elvis standing in the room that whole day. And even now, there is a Elvis standing between you and me-- something I have wanted to write about but have been fearful of the outcome.
It's time I brought it up.
There are holes inside of me. Let's just start there.
I feel them. Sometimes they feel bigger. Sometimes they feel smaller. But I've tried to be a hole-filler for a really long time. And trust me, I have tried to fill the holes with everything but a weighty and spiritual God-man.
After years of practice, here is a semi-extensive list of things I’ve realized do not fill the holes:
- guys who text back.
- looking to the mirror like it’s going show me something different.
- Gilmore Girls (I’ll come back to that one).
- gossiping so that I can feel bigger.
- people you text to just stay distracted.
- dating apps.
- accomplishments at work.
- “likes” and “retweets.”
That’s a long list of hole-fillers and I’ve managed to blow through the whole lot of them (some two or three times). It’s like there's still this hopeful naiveté inside of me that one day soon one of these above things will hold. It will work for me and I won't need God. I’ve tried to work this formula for nearly 5 years and for the longest time I was just plain disappointed to find that only God was supposed to fill those holes.
It says in Jeremiah 29:13, “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”
That whole scripture used to disappoint me. I didn’t actually want to get to the place where I wanted God more than anything else. That place seemed boring. I feared it would turn me into the type of person who chained herself to flag poles and did weird stuff in the name of Jesus. I have never wanted to live a life that was strange or set apart. I don’t like coloring outside the lines that much. I didn’t want God if he wanted me to be different than the world. I loved the world too much and the empty applause it gave me so I gave my leftover affections back to God.
I would say my life started going drastically downhill on October 1, 2014. I can mark that date on the calendar because it is when the rest of the world started flipping out that Gilmore Girls was now available on Netflix.
I’d never watched the series before but it seemed easy enough to slip my life inside of— a mother and a daughter just trying to wade through the waters of prepubescent boys, family issues, and survival with a domestic twist. I think sometimes Netflix series with a lot of episodes are just a really long and winding distraction to keep us from facing our junk. And that’s exactly what Rory and Lorelai helped me do— they helped me avoid myself and all the symptoms of depression that were coming on strong like a tidal wave.
I would go to my office space on Friday and Saturday night. I would light a candle and try to spend time with God. The bible would stir nothing in me. I would give up after 15 minutes. And then I would reside to my swivel chair where I could pretend that I was the second sister to Rory, taking my coffee black from Luke, while waiting for my mom to come through the door of our favorite coffee joint in Stars Hollow. That’s what I loved about Rory and Lorelai— they were always reliable. You could always count on the coffee being fresh in each episode. They didn't change their plans or becoming wrecking balls-- no they always managed to stay pretty predictable. They always made you feel welcome, even if from behind a screen. To me, Rory and Lorelai were more reliable than God.
Some of you have emailed me and have either loved or hated the fact that I’m writing more about God. Honestly, I cannot help it.
I want to be really honest about this topic because I can still remember so clearly, 5 years ago, when I sat at the kitchen table in my dorm apartment and gave God a pretty stern talking-to. I was in the midst of finding him and he was starting to move the pieces of my life around but I didn't want to talk about him. Maybe I would talk about him in person but I was definitely never going to be forward about God on my blog.
In my eyes, God was controversial. He was offensive. He was an easy way to lose followers who didn't want to read your words cloaked in Christian rhetoric. I'd personally been turned off by people who were way vocal with their faith and I didn't want to speak too loudly about God that I, in turn, turned people away too.
I cared more about followers than actually following something with my whole life.
Still, to this day, I don't want to turn people away. There is an anxious little people pleaser forever burning in the core of me no matter how much I try to wipe out her embers. I, like everyone else out there, just want to be liked and accepted. But something has shifted for me recently. Something has happened that I cannot ignore: I've finally accepted that God is bigger than me.
He's just bigger. Maybe that's not surprising to you but you would not believe how long it has taken me to push myself aside and actually figure out how to stop jamming God inside my back pocket.
This morning was the first time, in my entire existence, that I was able to look at the bible and say, “Okay, God, you’re big. You’re far bigger than me. You're enough for me."
It's crazy to admit that, after being a Christian for nearly 5 years, this is was the first moment in my faith walk where I actually felt like God was bigger than me.
The God of the bible is not half-hearted and miniature. He isn't a God that is cool with a fraction of you. He wants More on top of More with an extra side of More. He wants that thing you hold on tightly to because you are so afraid he won't deliver. That's the way me and most of my friends used to see God: we were told to love him and so we tried but we were still so afraid that his love was fickle and changing like New England weather forecasts.
But honestly? Why give your whole life to it then? Why give your whole entire life to God if you are afraid of him, if you think he isn't good, if you think you can do better than him? Why worship a God that you made? What's the point in that?
I'm only asking all these questions because they are the same types of questions that roared through my brain in this last season of life: do you actually know God, Hannah? Do you actually want to keep giving your whole life to this if you don't even know it's real?
Here's what happens when you actually sit down to get to know a person better-- you actually meet them. You figure out if they're real. The veil drops. You learn about them. If you are smart, you ask questions. You can approach God with the same mindset of a journalist-- he'd rather you dig for the details than take his sound bites and run.
As I sit with God daily, I am learning that he isn't intimidated by me. He isn't afraid I am going to enter some locked room in the house that we don't talk about. He just wants me to give up the fear. Leave the fear at the door.
Someone reading today is on the verge of giving up. I know it. I can just feel it because I see it and I understand it every single day: it's easy to want to give up. It's brave to stay. It's even braver to stay when you don't know if God will pull through for you, if you don't trust him but you've wanted to for a really long time.
So here's a prayer. It's simple and it's not wordy. You can say it beneath your breath in a coffee shop and no one is gonna look at you strange. It's a prayer I prayed this time last October and it set my world upside down: If you are real, God, then be real. Be real in my life. I can't fake this any longer.
You might meet God tonight. You might meet love tonight. You might meet a person who is even cooler than Rory Gilmore (and Rory Gilmore is really freaking cool). And all that being might ask of you for tonight is to place your armor down, quit fighting the fear so much, and just love someone hard tonight. Hard.
Loving someone should be hard and active, not easy and passive. When you sign up to actually love people-- no fakers allowed-- then you sign up for a life of runny noses, awkward car rides, hugs that last too long, pauses that demand no noise, and admitting you were wrong. If you want to actually love people then you have to be willing to be wrong.
Love is forgiveness. And it's atonement. And it's basically like putting your soul in a washing machine-- it's not some gentle cycle, it's a fierce whipping that rings you out good.
It makes the stains fade.
Best of all, it fills the holes.