The Church is Messy

Broken Glass & Shattered Memories

Yelling, Screaming, Anguish

The scene?

A church meeting about six years ago.

I cannot tell you the heartbreak I endured as Christian men and women, whose children I had grown up with, whose leadership in the church was greatly admired and respected, did battle with each other.

Feeling Alone

Sharing Deeply

Met with Stares and Ambivalence

I was seeking safe people within a small group Bible study.

To my surprise, these women, with whom I’d “done life with” were unreceptive, shallow, & curt in their responses.

These situations lead me to falsely believe that Christians are DISINGENUOUS people who will always let you down.


When I teach the skill of fact and opinion to my third graders, we look out for black and white words like ALWAYS, NEVER,  & EVERYBODY.

But somehow …

In my thinking …

I overlooked what I teach on a regular basis.

It’s like that taking the yoga off the mat idea.

It doesn’t always happen.

Oops there’s that always again.


The fact is that Christians are Messy. The fact is that some Christians are authentic, and some are not. Some want to be, but don’t know how because that was never modeled for them.

The fact is that Christians have passionate disagreements that cause them not to want to worship together anymore.

For some reason after that church meeting, a part of my perfect childhood dream in my head died.  The dream of: I had the perfect church experience. The dream of: all of my childhood heroes would worship together here on Earth indefinitely together.

Did the lies keep me hidden? Or did the lies cause me to hide?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I believe that God came to save the Messy. But what I mean by messy is: the poor, the addicted, the handicapped. Not: the mean-spirited, the cheaters, & the liars.

But, He came to save everyone.

Part of Christianity is accepting that you will never be perfect this side of heaven. I really have no issue with that. I’m with myself 24:7, so I completely understand that while I strive to my like Christ, I’m not actually going to be LIKE him until I am with Him.


What about accepting that OTHERS (even faith giants) will never be made perfect this side of heaven?

The church is made up of other messies just like me.

Writers Note: This post was partially inspired by Mike Yaconelli’s Messy Spirituality, which I read a number of years ago.

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Cocoon to Butterfly

I’ve been in isolation for a while now.

It’s comfortable.

It’s cozy.

It’s totally unfulfilling.

It’s lonely.

It’s full of numbing out and not wanting to feel or be in my body.


561089_10151949501860298_1441985787_nLiving in a fog, is great in the moment, but over a lifetime? Disappointing.

I found myself diving into isolation because

People had failed me.

Godly people.

Because taking relational risks was such a burden.

Because I hated myself.

Now it’s time for me to spread my wings,

To grab onto God and His People.

To start trusting,

That He has a plan

For my life

For my relationships

For my desires

I’m at a place where the need for connection is so much greater than the fear of not being accepted and not being heard.

Inviting God into these moments seems to be my only solution. Everything the world has to offer has left me in that place of isolation.

As I seek God for His role in the next chapter of my life, I need His People surrounding me, leading me, encouraging me, and challenging me.

How do I do that?



Be Open.

Be Available.

As I attempt to tip-toe out of my cave, I see that my period underground has been a beautiful thing. Not every moment, but over all, I look back with pride and admiration of the person I am becoming. I think I am very tired of hiding. But, it’s so scary to peek out under all these layers of physical & emotional weight.

It’s time to continue to emerge from the cocoon, if even for just a moment. So that I might reveal my True Self, the Self that God sees.

I need and desire a “necessary ending” with my relationships. My old habits do not bring me the results I desire. I need to revolutionize and prune these people, things, and habits that just don’t do it.

I’m in a period of trying new things, challenging myself, keeping what works and getting rid of what doesn’t. It’s evolution & growth.

My soul has to change.
My soul responds to kindness.
My soul responds to love and deity.

My soul cries out for Her Creator.
And the creator is about holiness.

Jesus is enough.
But it doesn’t feel like that all of the time.
And that’s when it’s time to move from a shallow faith to one much more deep.

Forgive me for my lack of faith, my tendency to hide, my selfish nature, and loveless actions. Help me to be You to others, instead of consuming my time by filling myself up with things that have no value. Give me what I need to do your will. Help me to Trust You. Help me to see you in the tapestry and poetry of my life.

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Hiding From MySelf


Attending church is a nightmare for someone who struggles with social anxiety.

It’s the before part: will someone say hello? What if someone DOES say hello? Where do I sit?

It’s the passing of the peace: The Lord Be With You, and Also With You. Do I have to initiate? Am I saying the words correctly? Do I sound nervous? Do I look like a loser? Can I sit down now?

Communion: Am I sorry enough? Am I grateful enough? Do I have to stand in line? What if I don’t know what to say to the communion minister? What are the right hand gestures? Oh, I can’t take communion if I’m not baptized? Are people going to look at me weird, & judge me because I can only receive a blessing? What if I don’t go up at all? Then people will wonder, “What mortal sin did she commit that she can’t receive communion nor a blessing?” Will people trip on me as I sit down, though they need to pass me in the pew to get to the communion line?

And the after: where is the nearest exit? Can I escape now? Do I have to make small talk? I hate small talk. I’m not good at small talk.

Then you get to repeat it every Sunday.

It’s exhausting.

There are so many reasons why I’ve stayed away from church. It’s the mind games I play with myself: the self-judgment & the perceived outside judgment of others.


But, really, it’s about hiding.

Hiding from myself.
Hiding from God.
Hiding from community.

And yet there is a longing.

To be known. Fully.

I’m entering a new stage in my life. I can’t hide behind my body. Or maybe I just don’t want to. Maybe I’m realizing that there is more to me than just this earthly shell.

Community: it terrifies me and yet I crave it so deeply.

I read a book by John Ortberg many years ago titled Love Beyond Reason. It was during a time when I was so filled with self-hatred. There was a quote that really stuck with me,

“You will seek me, & find me when you seek me with all your heart,” God says. But that is not the whole story. I’m not just a searcher. I’m also a hider. You too. We have to come face-to-face with our tendency to hide, to get lost.”

For so many years I’ve stayed hidden.
Away from Church.
Away from my Self.
And away from God.

I hide from God because I doubt His plan for my life. I have a false belief that surrendering to His plan means staying fat, dull, and single. Even as I write this, I kind of chuckle a bit out loud. I would think that the Lord God Almighty might have a bigger plan than that. I blame God for my circumstances, even though my sin nature is very much a part of my current circumstances.

It comes down to my view of Self, which is that there is something inherently very wrong with me. I’m not talking about a sin nature here. Or salvation. My view of Self is that I was created wrong, or what I perceive to be wrong, that God may see as right.

How can I learn to see what He sees, and latch on to that?

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Intuitive Eater’s Holiday Bill of Rights

Intuitive Eater’s Holiday Bill of Rights

by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD

What if peace on earth could begin at the dinner table?

Imagine experiencing an inner peace, free from incessant worry about what to eat. It’s hard to enjoy the holidays when you are preoccupied with eating
or worried about what to say to relatives who have an annual tradition of telling you what and how to eat.



Consider your Intuitive Eating Bill of Rights, as we enter the holiday season, to help you foster inner peace with food, mind and body.

1. You have the right to savor your meal, without cajoling or judgment, and without discussion of calories eaten or the amount of exercise needed to burn off said calories.

2. You have the right to enjoy second servings without apology.

3. You have the right to honor your fullness, even if that means saying “no thank you” to dessert or a second helping of food.

4. It is not your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating, even if it took hours to prepare a specialty holiday dish.

5. You have the right to say, “No thank you,” without explanation, when offered more food.

6. You have the right to stick to your original answer of “no”, even if you are asked multiple times. Just calmly and politely repeat “No, thank you, really.”

7. You have the right to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Remember, no one, except for you, knows how you feel, both emotionally and physically. Only you can be the expert of your body, which requires inner attunement, rather than the external, well-meaning, suggestions from family.

Copyright © 2010 by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD Published at

DISCLAIMER: The information is intended to inform readers and is not intended to replace specific advice from a health care professional.

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My Friend Food

Most recently, I’ve been working on sitting with the uncomfortable feelings of loss, the loss of a very dear friend. You may have met her. Her name is Food.

The first time there was a rift in our relationship is when I stopped binge eating. I had to sit with very extreme feelings, in order not to binge. I had to learn to take care of my self in a new way. That way was creating new neural pathways, or habits, so that I didn’t always turn to my food friend. I found other healthy friends such as Yoga, Journaling, & Sleep.

Balance is important in friendships. You don’t want to be dependent upon just one person. You can become too entwined. It’s good to let others in as well, to give you perspective.

When I overeat, I almost always start with some physical hunger in my body. That is a big change. A year or so ago, I would almost never have hunger before I began eating. But, now it seems to be a prerequisite.

What I’m working on now, however, is learning to stop at the point of satisfaction.

I want to take care of my body. But filling it up with food it no longer needs, isn’t working for me from a self-care standpoint, as well as it making me feel physically uncomfortable.

More importantly, it isn’t balanced.

Food and I can be friends, but we just can’t be codependent.

30_nNow I need to learn to sit with the feelings of being sad that it is time to stop eating. Unlike different friends, such alcohol & drugs, I can’t live without food. It will always be part of my life. We may not be best friends, but we can still be acquaintances. We may see each other in the kitchen, at book club, or even at the grocery store. But our relationship with each other needs to evolve to a healthier place.

When I grieve the loss of my friend, I can still have hope that I will see her again.

Food isn’t like the grandma you see once a year. You can see her as many times in a day that you choose to.

You are in charge of what your relationship will be. Some days you may see her more often than others.

Friendship is like that.

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Let Love In

I don’t choose to sit with my feelings each & every time. However, when I do sit with them, it is in an imperfect manner. I’ve stuffed down my feelings for decades. But through my practice of yoga & exploring my exiled feeling parts with helping professionals, I’ve definitely come a long way. I really try to infuse my Wise Woman Self (inner wisdom) into these situations. She reminds me how strong I am. Strengthening our emotional muscle, as well as our Self is so key.

Often times, we who struggle with anxiety, depression, or eating disorders choose to stay in hibernation. We hide from love for a variety of reasons. I believe we were created to be known -in authentic community.


So- reach out.

Find safe people you can be your True Self with. At first that might mean with a therapist or in group therapy. When you are feeling stronger, maybe you will reach out to your place or worship, a 12-step group, a good friend, or even a partner.

We desperately need to let love in.

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A New Holiday Tradition: Making Peace with Food and Weight

A New Holiday Tradition: Making Peace with Food and Weight
By Jenni Schaefer

It starts with Halloween—the candy. Next comes the smorgasbord at Thanksgiving. Then, more holiday food enters the picture throughout December with a grand finale on New Year’s Eve. And, with the roll of the calendar to January 1st, resolutions to diet and lose weight begin across America.

People of all ages join in this crazy cycle. At the young age of four, even though I was a normal sized child, I already believed that I was fat and was afraid to eat certain types of foods for the fear of getting bigger.

Society tells us that to be thinner is to be happier. But when I reached my lowest weight at 22-years-old, I was far from happy. In fact, I was miserable and struggling with a life-threatening eating disorder. I sought help, and after many years, I am fully recovered. Strangely, my eating disorder forced me to develop a healthier relationship with food and weight than I ever would have without it. In recovery, I was able to talk with trained clinicians about my obsession with fat grams and even express how I felt about the size of my thighs in body image therapy group. Because most people never have the opportunity to utilize these kinds of resources, I like to share my lessons learned.

Wisdom about how to eat in a balanced way can actually be found by observing babies. They eat when hungry and stop when full—an approach known as intuitive eating. Unfortunately, as infants grow older, they stop responding to internal hunger and fullness cues and instead pay attention to external ones. Even young school-aged children will eat simply because the bell rings for lunchtime or as a result of watching a fast food commercial.

Society trains us to stop listening to our bodies.

Yet our body is masterful. It will tell us when and even what to eat.

If we have been ignoring our internal signals for a long time, patience and practice will be necessary in order to re-connect. We might even need to consult with a dietitian, who specializes in intuitive eating, for assistance. Children can often make improvements rather quickly as long as they are given proper instruction and have an example to follow

What if we all made our New Year’s resolution to be that example?

The 60 billion dollar dieting industry will be sure to push back. But make no mistake: this monetarily successful industry has a 95-percent failure rate.

It is no secret that diets do not work.

Dieting is based on the misconception that food has a moral value. At holiday parties, you have probably heard someone say something like, “I’ve been good all day. Now, I’m going to be bad and eat a slice of pumpkin pie.” Eating pumpkin pie is not a “bad” thing to do. Throwing pie into someone’s face would be bad!

Food does not have a moral value.

Food is just food.

Eating intuitively means we stop using categories like good or bad. The minute we label a food negatively is the same moment that we obsess about that forbidden item and possibly binge on it. I will not argue with the fact that some foods are more nutritionally dense than others. But, if we listen to our bodies, we will crave the appropriate amounts of a wide variety of foods—to fuel our specific needs.

All food has its place on the dinner table.

Intuitive eating is flexible like this without rigid rules. Even if we end up consuming more during the holiday season just because the food tastes so good and it is only around one time of the year, that’s okay. Unlike what the dieting industry wants us to believe, our bodies can actually handle changes in our daily intake without us having to “make up for it” by restricting later or spending hours on the treadmill. If we listen closely, we will know what to eat and even how to exercise all year round. And we will, in return, reach the size we are genetically supposed to be.

This ideal weight is the size at which we have plenty of energy, can think clearly, & experience joy.

It has nothing to do with the number on the scale.

This holiday, let’s view our body as a vehicle for life

rather than something to be controlled.

Let’s cherish each warm embrace

& feel gratitude in the ability to laugh with family & friends.

What a wonderful holiday tradition to pass along

— loving & respecting our body in a world that doesn’t.

A gift for generations.

 Jenni Schaefer is a singer/songwriter, speaker, and author of Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me (McGraw-Hill).

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