Monthly Archives: June 2015

Old Camel Knees. 9 parts.

hannah brencher.

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Part 1.

We prayed for three hours.

Three hours. That is worth repeating once more: three hours.

There is little that I do for three hours. In fact, there is currently a list— a very short list— of things I am capable of doing for three-hours blocks of time. Those things include:

Reading a good book.

Eating copious amounts of nachos.

Watching anything Bradley Cooper related.

That’s about it. It’s a pretty short list. Prayer has never made the cut.

Still, in spite of me, we prayed for three hours. This is all because I found myself stumbling into a small chapel on Saturday. It was instantly myself and four students of a ministry in Atlanta. I didn’t know a single one. Sprawled out across chairs in a small chapel, tucked in the back of a white brick building, I eyed the plain walls covered in Sharpie marker prayers.


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The Art of Perfection



You know, when I think about that word I always think of someone who always has to be on top of their school work. Someone who has to always have their bed made and their desk organized to their utmost standards. Someone who has to have every strand of their hair in place and their pants pressed with so much starch that it never has a single crease in them.

That’s what I used to think. Because I was never like that or at least I didn’t think I was. Although I care about my schoolwork I don’t usually freak out when I get a bad grade. Sure, it’s a little discouraging, but I try to not let it get to me. And I could care less on whether my bed is made (like, please, when does that ever happen?) But I have come to realize that there are different forms of perfectionism (and now that I think about it what I was referring does sound awfully close to someone who is obsessively compulsive.)

And I have myself to blame for that. I will admit it. I am a perfectionist, especially when it comes to myself. Even right now as I write this blog post well past midnight I shake my head at myself, saying, “You know, this blog post could be so much better. What are you even saying right now? Do you even know where you’re going with this?” And I can tell you right now that I honestly don’t. I am trying to find a way to relate this blog post to my fellow audience. And maybe it will resonate with some of you or maybe it won’t. I just needed to let my feelings out (just let them go) in written form so that I might silence these nagging thoughts inside my head. And, you know, in the end you get to be the oh-so lucky bearers of my pathetic ramblings. But that seems to be what blog posts are for, right?

So, I’m going to be straight with you. I have an inclination to be a perfectionist as I said before. But I also have a tendency to become depressed. Not exactly a great pairing, in my opinion. Not like peanut butter and jelly, no, not at all. Man, that is a great combination though, isn’t it? Whenever I meet the man (or woman) responsible for that duo I am going to congratulate him/her. Unless they are dead then I suppose I’ll have to wait. Unless they are not in heaven…pssh, come on, they got to be if they invented the dynamic duo known as PB&J. ‘Cause that’s the stuff.

I’m getting off track now, aren’t I? But a little humor never hurt anyone. Sometimes I think I use humor to deter the fact that I’m talking about something serious for once. I like to think I can be a serious person, especially when it comes to others. When it comes to me, well, that’s a little harder. Because it’s easier to laugh at yourself, right? It’s easier to turn all those dark thoughts swirling around in your head into nothing with a quip and a smirk.

But now is the time to be honest. With you. With me. With everyone.

I struggle with my thoughts, my emotions, just being each and every day. And I know that I am not alone in this. I have heard many others going through the same exact things, even as we speak. Have you ever had a dull ache deep inside your chest for hours on end? Have you ever cried for some reason you know nothing about? (And no, it’s not that time of the month, I’ve checked.) Have you ever doubted your worth in this world? I’m sure you all have experienced this at one point or at many points in your lives and I know that I have experienced this off and on for many years (but even more so in the past year.)

I have so many thoughts currently twirling and tumbling through my mind right now. How do you expect to become your own person if you can’t survive living outside of college for more than one month? Oh, and do you really think you’re smart? Because you’re not, you’re an idiot. A lot of people from your past have told you so. Pssh, and what, do you really expect a person to like someone so stubborn and insecure, someone like you? Why can’t you just talk to guys? You know, guys only like confident girls and that is definitely not you. You’re not strong. And why are you crying? No one, not even your friends or your family want to be around someone so emotional all the time. They’re going to all finally be fed up with it and leave you some day. Don’t you know that?

These are the thoughts that haunt me almost every day. Some of them hold lies and some of them hold truth; sadly, the line between truth and fiction tend to blur together a lot of the time. Even so, these toxic words are what push me to be better. To work harder. Try and enhance the very little strengths that I do have. And if someone says I’m anything but what I picture myself to be (extroverted, funny, etc.), well, my self-esteem tends to plummet. It’s not healthy, I know. And it’s even worse if I act like someone I don’t want to be. I look at myself and I say, “I always want to be that happy girl. The one who is making jokes and laughing with her friends. I always want to be the go-to girl. The one who everyone entrusts their secrets with and leans on her shoulder to cry on. I always want to be that dreaming girl. The one who doesn’t have a care in the world, stretching her arms up high to the sky, her fingertips just grazing the tips of her dreams. I always want to be that strong girl. The one who knows she’s worth it and doesn’t care what others think of her. I always want to be that perfect girl.” So, basically I’m saying I can never be sad, never be dependent, never be calculating, never be scared, never be broken….I tell myself I can’t be any of those things because I don’t like that person.

Unrealistic, right? Because I am not perfect and nor was I made to be perfect. But that’s the problem with the perfectionist, isn’t it? A sinner trying to make amends with herself in a perfectly imperfect world. It’s funny how I can look down on legalistic churches for their strong belief in “salvation through works” when I do the exact same thing to myself. I believe that I can’t allow myself to be broken; I have to be fixed, refined even, in order for others to like me. For me to like me, really.

And that’s what I need to come to terms with. I am broken because that’s what makes me human. Or being human is what makes me broken. Either way, no human being is perfect. We’re not always going to be laidback and carefree. We’re not always going to be the person our friends see. We’re not always going to be trusting in God. We’re going to be cynical and stressed out. We’re going to have break downs alone in our room at two in the morning when no one else sees the darkness in our hearts. We’re going to doubt God and his plans for us.

But that’s why we don’t rely on ourselves in these hard times. That’s why we rely on God. Heck, it’s hard, trust me. I pray and sometimes I feel as if I’m just whispering into thin air. I ask him to take these thoughts away and here I am at almost two in the morning writing a blog post. Maybe this is just my way of getting rid of these persistent thoughts. Or maybe someone else needed to read this because they understand what it’s like wanting to be the perfect person.

And I don’t know if I heard this somewhere before or if God was telling me this to remind me that I can’t always get it right and that I’m always going to be broken. But what I thought before writing out this endless blog post was this: He is perfect so I don’t have to be.

And you know what? That gives me hope.