Friday, April 29, 2016

The World Doesn't Decide Who I Am

When I was ten, my best friend was a girl from church named Tracie. She was two years older, infinitely more street-wise. We made potions, dressed up in her mom’s ’60’s garb, and daydreamed business ventures that never left the ground. We were small-town girls with skinned shins, daughters of a faith that tried to swallow us whole. We couldn’t make sense of our church or the people who kept failing us, so we leaned into each other, laughed until we cried, and on one fateful winter night, ate homemade snow ice cream and pickles until I puked in her carpeted bathroom with its shelves upon shelves of breakable elephant figurines.

Over a slow arc of years and then decades, she drifted south and I north.

We lost touch with each other in that unique way most childhood friendships eventually fizzle. But somewhere in a cardboard box is a tiny, plastic pickle pin, the kind meant to be attached to your bag or shirt in some strange showing of loyalty. We were young. We loved pickles and being weird together. What else was there to say?

Three summers ago, I was adapting to life in our new community. I was busy learning the flow of my neighborhood, learning names at our little church down the street, corralling a preschooler who was still trying to relax into our family, and making trips to the county jail. I was a writer, but I’d have only said so in a whisper. There was no book deal, not even close. I didn’t have an agent, my blog kept breaking, and I was sure I was alienating everyone with my incessant virtual lip-biting over all the change heaving my way.

I frittered over my dwindling comments. I obsessed over my traffic. I waffled between a keen understanding of exactly who I was, and the low-pulsing ache of wishing I were different. All around me, online friends launched further, faster, and my soul tinged green with envy.

And then I made a batch of pickles.

{click here to continue reading over at (in)courage...} 


  1. I'm a preacher... a girl preacher...though in my circles that brings some gasps and I am asking God how to reconcile that. But proclaiming and preaching is what I know I was born to do and I do it any time I get the chance.

    And maybe this summer I'll make pickles! :-)

    1. How did I not know this???!
      Did you know my church is currently pastored by a "girl preacher"? True story. :)

    2. You didn't know because we haven't had the chance to sit over chocolate croissants and sides of chips and salsa. :-)

  2. Shannan's totally a girl preacher! Of the Internet! Nothing wrong with that, why should there be?

  3. I've seriously followed you for years. I hardly comment. I'm terribly sorry for that. I feel like we are old friends. I was so excited and scared for you when you moved from the farm. I live in a run down part of town myself. Where people are constantly trying to prove themselves. My husband and I saw this little house that was so sad but I knew it was a gem. We've spent 12 years making it shine. And that's my favorite part. Showing other people in my neighborhood that if you love something, you can make it shine. People included. So thank you for loving a neighborhood that just needs it. And thank you for sharing with us.

  4. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. login