On Social Media, Rest, and Resisting False Narratives That Say My Activism Is Only As Good As My Endless Participation in the Economy of Tragedy

At the beginning of summer, I decided to take a self-imposed sort-of break from how I participate in social media, commentate on the news cycle, or just scroll Instagram because I’m bored. Surprise to no one, this is the longest stint my mental and emotional health has felt somewhat stable in a very long time.

The practice of selectively choosing what online noise affects you is often labeled a privilege; “you don’t care because you don’t have to care.” And yes, there is a vast majority of folks hellbent on remaining unbothered by tragedy and suffering and evil and inequity, choosing to embrace the comfortingly destructive lie that their perception of the world is, in fact, how the world works.

However, if I may offer a secondary perspective – perhaps a season of selectively tuning out certain types of noise is what is needed to return to your body, return to the wonder and intrigue of your own thoughts and feelings, to heal and rest a racing mind, and to nourish new life and ways of being.

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A Note To Those Who Feel No Progress:

Sometimes (oftentimes, more honestly) I have a sinking feeling like how I choose to parent isn’t paying off. Coming from a typically authoritarian Christian home, I’ve experienced the affects of punitive parenting and emotional neglect and I’m trying to do better for my son and overall, I know I am.

But the day-to-day can be long and mundane and feels like you’re trudging through a molasses-paved road of trying to guide personal empowerment when all you want to do sometimes is enforce.

And then some days, you have unexpected rays of sunshine peek through with their soft reminders that you are, indeed, doing a good job.

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I Cried On My Walk Today

[TW: worship music, evangelical-specific memories and descriptions, suicidal ideation]

I haven’t intentionally listened to worship music in well over three years. Bethel, Hillsong, Maverick City, Upper Room, Elevation, Passion, Jesus Culture, all of it. Considering that music has been a core part of my upbringing, both personally and in church, it was weirdly easy to cut worship music out of my life cold-turkey.

While scrolling through Instagram stories today, I saw someone reference a former Bethel artist. For some reason, that prompted me to search and to see what they were up to now, and consequently, I ended up on a few other former Bethel artists’ pages.

I noticed one had released an album a few months ago, a collection of worship classics from the ’80s and ’90s to memorialize their deceased father. Because it wasn’t produced by Bethel and all the songs were familiar, almost without thinking, I queued it up and headed out for my walk.

Grey clouds. Rainy scent in the air. Feet moving. Press play.

The simple melody of “I Love You Lord” starts playing.

Cue tears.

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Don’t Throw the Baby Out With The Bathwater: A Take

A few months ago while invited as a guest on a podcast, the host asked how I’ve navigated my journey outside the evangelical church while still considering myself a Christian. “How do you not throw out the baby with the bathwater?” I hemmed and hawed; I think I said something like it’s okay to throw it all out, if that’s what you need to do, and then proceeded to babble about how I still haven’t gotten to that point. (The podcast episode never got released, by the way. Thank goodness, I was so rambly in it.)

Now that I’ve sat with that question more, I think I’ve figured out how I would answer it.

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An Open Letter to the White Deconstruction Space:

[Preface: I love the deconstruction space. This community has met me where I’m at, given me an outlet to share my story and thoughts, and has helped me remember that my voice is welcomed and valued. There is so much good here. I’m not ready to give up on this space because of mismanaged platforms. That is why I’m choosing to bring this up one last time – I have so much hope in all of our stories, experiences, and perspectives. We have the power to change the narrative for so many arenas – the evangelical industry, social advocacy, and how social media navigates difficult conversations and holistic accountability to ensure a space of flourishing community and care. To me, that’s worth fighting for.]

Last November, a photo was posted by a well-platformed deconstruction account, featuring many other well-platformed deconstruction accounts. We don’t need to rehash the whole ordeal; rude responses, gaslighting, tokenism, white fragility, silence. The blog post. My goal is to remove these individuals from the center of the conversation because at the end of the day, they are not the end-all-be-all of the deconstruction space. While their actions have spoken loud and clear, they do not have the final word.

Rather, this turn of events set off a ripple effect that, for better or worse, has established a precedent for how racist and anti-Black rhetoric is addressed and sustained in the deconstruction space. (Fatphobia was also very present in this conversation, and the blog post specifically. For purposes right now, however, I will primarily be focusing on the issues of race.)

And we need to talk about it.

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My Top Reads of 2021

A stack of five (5) books on a shelf next to a gray vase of faux winter greenery.

I read 34 books last year. It’s not an impressive number to some, I’m sure, but it makes me proud. I haven’t enjoyed reading for pleasure in a while and last year was when I fell back in love with the life-altering, perspective-shifting power of the written word.

My go-to genre has always been non-fiction of all kinds; social issues, economics and business, theology, self-help, general information, and memoirs regularly occupy my “Currently Reading” list. But last year, thanks to discovering #bookstagram, there were so many good-looking fiction recommendations crossing my feed and I decided to check some of them out. A few of them were misses, but there were some real gems, two of which are featured here.

These are my favorite books I encountered in 2021, the ones I can’t stop telling everyone to check out for themselves. We have theology, fiction, and even a cookbook. I hope you pick one or two (or all) of these up to enjoy and savor throughout the year. 

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Starting Here

I like this. A little space to write, all by my cozy lonesome.

I’ve been writing on Instagram for a while, but most concentratedly since last spring. I began a deconstruction account as a way to process my journey out of the evangelical industry. It was a way to finally feel like myself again, after trying to process with friends from my personal life who couldn’t, wouldn’t understand. A way to fully accept where my evangelical upbringing had failed me and dig into the root system of my beliefs, unearthing what was dead, rotting, and in need of nourishment.

Since then, I have met some of the loveliest people, filled with truth and fire and wisdom and grace and kindness. All spiritual wanderers, leaving the confines of industrialized worship for richer, deeper, purer faith. I’m so grateful to have been met with curiosity and welcoming. I didn’t know people like this existed and it’s a true gift to count so many of them as my friends.

As grateful as I am for that space, and it will still be a key outlet for exercising my voice and creativity, I’m looking for a less visible place to simply be, as I am. Just like when I was an all-in evangelical Christian and made it my entire identity, deconstruction can seem all-consuming at times. “Can’t you talk about something else?”

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