imperfect prose on thursdays: when all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough (and book giveaway!)

i first wrote about christian hosoi when i was newly married.

i was associate editor of a small newspaper, living with trent in a tiny bunaglow in the city with an apple tree in the backyard and a loft in which i painted and i was deep in the relapse of anorexia. at work, i sat in a swivel chair drinking nine cups of coffee and shivering because i could never get warm.

and all i wanted was to be full.

and i wrote about hosoi. how he was a phenomenal skateboarder who became rich at a young age and began smoking weed younger still.

his dad taught him how to roll his first joint at age eight, and he flew high as a kite for the next two decades, calling himself Christ and becoming a rock-star of skateboarding until he crashed hard into crystal meth. and meth became his God and landed him in jail, and it’s in prison that he owned up to his name and became a Christian.

and i was flying high on anorexia and both Christian and i thought by doing something hard enough, fast enough, we’d find it. fulfillment.

but we don’t find God. God finds us. we just need to stop running so he can.

and it’s hard to stand still in a world that spins. but listen to what hosoi says (in a book i’m giving away today): “i won everything i set out to win, had every girl i ever wanted, had friends and businesses and great parties, and all the money i could spend, and i still wasn’t satisfied.”

the day i began to eat again, i stopped starving the spirit out of my life. when i swallowed peanut butter and steak and honey on rye it was like swallowing God himself, because the most physical act, if consecrated, can become spiritual.

like biking to work, when you could drive. like hugging your child when you want to drink your coffee. like sitting on the back steps and watching the sunrise in your pajamas. like making homemade bread.

these things take time. the world says time is money. so, to offer that back to God? priceless.

sometimes i think we try to earn God. we try to be the best mom or the best skateboarder or the best preacher or the best soccer coach, but we can’t earn what grace has bought.

and all God wants is to walk with us. like he did in heaven.

but in order to walk with God we need to slow down. because God has all the time in the world. and he likes to savor his creation.

(want this book? let me know what success means to you, in the comments below. and don’t forget to link up! xo)

“a rabbi once asked a prominent member of his congregation, ‘whenever I see you, you’re always in a hurry. tell me, where are you running all the time?’

the man answered, ‘i’m running after success, i’m running after fulfillment, i’m running after the reward for all my hard work.’

the rabbi responded, ‘that’s a good answer if you assume that all those blessings are somewhere ahead of you, trying to elude you, and if you run fast enough, you may catch up with them. but isn’t it possible that those blessings are behind you, that they are looking for you, and the more you run, the harder you make it for them to find you?’”

~rabbi harold s. kushner’s story (from ‘when all you’ve ever wanted isn’t enough)


~we love that you’re here. the goal of this online space is to create a broken church of sorts, a kind of community that celebrates each other’s stories. with this in mind, would you consider commenting on at least ONE OTHER PERSON’S post after linking up today? thank you so much. e.~

1. link up a post (old or new) that you feel is ‘broken’ or ‘imperfect’ or somehow redemptive
2. put the ‘imperfect prose’ button at the bottom of your post so others can find their way back here (see button code in right-hand column of my blog)
3. read other’s prose, and encourage them!

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*painting by emily wierenga; prints available at etsy shop here









55 Comments

  1. “it’s hard to stand still in a world that spins.”

    And I am undone. Yes, yes, a thing, any sort of thing, can be ordinary sacrament. How good, how good to see that in coming to the slow place of eating, you found the gift of God. Goodness, He just shows up everywhere.

    Reply
  2. “…because the most physical act, if consecrated, can become spiritual.”

    Body, mind, soul–the triune God created us these three things. I think for most of my life, I’ve understood my faith, intellectually, and knew that my head and my heart needed to connect. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve begun to appreciate that I also need to embody my faith. He gave us bodies, and with these we worship him.

    Great stuff.

    Reply
  3. Emily, I so relate. So many wise truths in your words today. And there is nothing that brings me more joy than hearing how my Jesus reveals His completely satisfying Self to individuals. How He meets us in the dark and dances us into his delightfully , redemptive light. Success to me is being able to embrace every moment with contentment because his joy is within and knowing though there is unspeakable darkness in this world and deception that is deep as a pit He has redeemed it all and is able to bring us into His light, joy and finish what He starts…despite our messiness. Least that’s my hope and story. Thanks for sharing Christian Hosoi- nothing greater than redemption, fellowship and glory in his saving grace.

    Reply
  4. I feel like success is a lot like the old saying about contentment – “It’s not having what I want, but wanting what I have.” I’m working towards this, but not there yet. But when I get there, I know that I will be successful. Thanks again for your amazing insight that came only through a lot of “failures” and surrenderings to God, Emily!

    Reply
  5. “the day i began to eat again, i stopped starving the spirit out of my life. when i swallowed peanut butter and steak and honey on rye it was like swallowing God himself, because the most physical act, if consecrated, can become spiritual.”

    What a beautiful picture of soul healing, Emily. I rejoice with you and pray that the grip of the disease on your life gets looser by the day. Your choosing of Love will inspire and encourage many hearts.

    I accidentally linked an old post above (Christine@Glory to God). The second entry with my name is the correct one. Is there any way to delete the first entry? Thank you.

    Reply
  6. “isn’t it possible that those blessings are behind you, that they are looking for you”. These words from the Rabbi stopped me and made me spin around and welcome the slow, meandering, anti-no-hurry parts of me. Time has become so scare in our rush, rush culture, and yet, I’m not sure but that it is very available, very fluid, engulfing and abundant.

    As far as success goes, I’m realizing how hard I’ve worked for everyone else’s concept of *success*. I’m not exactly sure what I would consider success, but I think it has something to do with honoring the life in and around me, and loving in the present moment. Perhaps the rest will just fall into place and I will be satisfied.

    Much love, Emily. xo

    Reply
  7. this seems to be the running theme for me as of late. my students come to me with there “what ifs?” and they all lead me back to the same response: “why are you trying so hard?” “life is a journey not a destination” i remind them over and over again. maybe like me, they’ll grow out of the running.

    love u chikadee

    Reply
  8. Oh my, how I abhor making a spelling error because I type too fast to get my link up. Suppposed to be Letting Go of Fear not Letting God of Fear. Oh well. I’m one of those odd people who aren’t busy and wondering if I should be because everyone talks about being so busy. Like I’ve missed the boat, should be doing more. My daily readings are in Ecclesiastes and I have been acutely aware of how so much of what I do is vanity. That I don’t really know what tomorrow holds so I need to enjoy while today is here. I’m so aware of my desparate need for Him, my fraility and weakness that I want to hear His voice in the stillness more than anything else in the day. I can’t function without it. That books sounds amazing.

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  9. Success is: my boys giggling madly and then saying the wisest things as they climb trees, a bread I’ve baked finally taking the shape of edible and loafish, my husband’s arms around me and cheek brushing mine, nature walks when we look for five beautiful things, writing something and then reading it back and crying because it is all Him and I didn’t even realize what I was tapping until I read it back. Run on sentences.
    Love the quote here at the end to Emily. Good stuff to think on. :) As always. :)

    Reply
  10. Success is looking more and more like slowing down and breathing deep. To enjoy each day as it comes and to stop trying to rush it through. To find teaching moments with my kids, not preaching ones.
    This sounds like a great book and I love that quote at the end too. blessings, friend.

    Reply
  11. because god has all the time in the world and wants to savor his creation….amen…success in the worldly sense can be blinding as well

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  12. the world says time is money. so, to offer that back to God? priceless.

    …yes – wonderful to think that if we keep our thoughts and heart focused toward him… all our time is HIS.

    because really ALL HIS TIME is with US..within!!

    Reply
  13. Emily, while I’m here I’ll tell you I am really happy about winning the print – I’ll treasure it. But I have a body and spirit just barely hanging on right now – my post in the linky BEGINS to explain it. I’ll be in touch. Right now I’m just kinda in a battle, I’m not winning – but Our Lord will. God bless. And Hosoi is right – it’s not enough – NOTHING is enough unless there is God.

    Reply
    • praying for you craig. don’t give up brother. and when you can, let me know your address so i can send the print to you. e.

      Reply
    • Hi Craig, You are Not alone.
      The last nasty time I went thru I had a sort of image of the ‘path.’ You know, the path of our lives, or maybe the wide path to destruction and the narrow path to life, or the progressive uphill battle we sometimes imagine life to be.
      Anyway… onward, forward seems to be what the world demands of me on this path and I was not only stalled on the path but saw myself as dragged off to the side of the road and just curled in a heap. You know – out of the way so that others could get on by and I wouldn’t impede their progress.
      And Jesus, where was He? Turns out He was not ahead of me, calling back “Get up. Move it. Let’s go!” Nor was He behind me trying to push, shove, propel me onward, not standing on the path scowling down at me and tapping His foot impatiently.
      Instead He sat down beside me – on the side of the road, off the path and was fully prepared to stay there with me for as long as it took. I was able to lean into His side and know His steady calm presence.
      And even that time together, was not for any purpose except companionship, comfort and a little of watching the world go by… on their various paths.
      We remained there for a very long time, and I knew I was not alone, not condemned, not ‘not enough.’ I just was where I was and He was going to stay with me, no matter what.
      Bodies and minds, souls and spirits take time and rest and nourishment and quiet to heal.
      You are not alone, Craig. (I am praying for you today.)
      He and I still go off the path on occasion and it’s a blessing every time.

      Reply
    • Anne,

      I don’t usually do this–but your comment–your image–dream–spoke to my heart so clearly and so thoroughly. it brought tears and really ministered to my soul. i have been off the path, weary, and i cherished every word you said. thank you.

      Reply
  14. Wow Emily, I have little words how this post is perfect for today. I was just talking about Christian Hosoi last night, and telling everyone about his book. I had grown up a fan of his and plan to buy this book.

    But what you said here “and i was flying high on anorexia and both Christian and i thought by doing something hard enough, fast enough, we’d find it. fulfillment.but we don’t find God. God finds us. we just need to stop running so he can.”

    This is seriously what I needed to hear this morning. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  15. Thank you, Emily for the words -and sharing your wonderful painting-love it. Success-will be in whether the legacy that leave behind is pointing to Jesus, his grace and love through my actions towards others or if I failed and was just “chasing after the wind.”.

    Reply
  16. Success is being a dutiful Christian, husband, father, worker…in that order.

    Reply
  17. Emily what a gorgeous painting! and what a moving testimony of what God can do when we stop running.

    Reply
  18. Wonderful post, amazingly beautiful painting, and great story and wisdom from the rabbi. The word “success” is seldom used in the Bible — I am thankful that God does not demand success, but only obedience.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

    Reply
  19. Words rich in Spirit and Truth. I love, “Even physical acts become spiritual, when consecrated to Him.” Oh, that we might be consecrated in this day and age of drifting sands and wondering winds and lifeless clones, struggling so hard from modeling Him. Savoring this deep truth today, my friend. Thank you!

    Reply
  20. Success? Last night 3 of my four grown sons were home and had three guitars and ridiculous humour and I listened as they took perfectly good songs and mangled them into passionate pleas for the attention of ‘Brad Pitt.’ Outrageous, silly, nonsensical and so much fun!
    Success at this part of our lives is knowing and experiencing that our children are happy to come home to visit, to stay, to work and to play with us.
    Today they are helping with renovations, cuz their daddy taught them how.
    The bad parts of our parenting (and there was much) were not enough to destroy the love and connection of these fabulous young men with us.
    Feels like some success to me, so far.
    But the one connection still needed is with their Heavenly Dad, and I know He is never giving up on that with them… so that one day they will be happy to spend time and eternity with Him.

    Reply
  21. Success, in my own words, is never giving up, having hope in something/someone greater, praying without ceasing, dreaming, making plans, setting goals, living and laughing, and just enjoying this life.

    Reply
  22. Success, to me, is being obedient to my God, being true to my word, being faithful to my husband, being proud of my son, and smiling more today than I did yesterday. “but we don’t find God. God finds us. we just need to stop running so he can.” Today’s post touched me deeply, friend.

    Reply
  23. Success is being willing to lay aside all things for His things, no matter if that leaves me lonely, or grieving, or waiting. It is understanding joy is not happiness. Success is being okay with what God brought me through to get me to this place. It is going to bed at night knowing I have loved at least one person well in the day I have been given.

    You are awesome….I love these stories, yours and Hosoi’s.

    I am not writing right now until I get things in the right order….. so but I am reading and I will visit many of the “broken” in this community to find and give encouragement. Thank you for this place. It always encourages me, moves me to deeper thoughts on life and relationship…and how God uses the broken..

    Reply
  24. I would love to receive this book! For me success is defined by feelings. It has very little to do with finances or status or recognition. Sometimes it’s just a sense of gratitude for keeping my head above water and at other times it’s an exuberant, bubbling over of joy. Ultimately, success for me is when I am experiencing my most authentic self, in tune with the inner whispers of my soul and at peace with myself.

    Reply
  25. Success is fulfilling every plan and purpose that God envisioned for me when he put me on this earth. As the years pass, I’m beginning to suspect that this is less about accomplishment and more about knowing him.

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  26. wow, loved this post, Em, as i do all your stuff. i cant come here too often, because when i do, i spend way too much time reading–your stuff is that good! congrats on the book, as well! what is success? hmmm…knowing that your soul is devoted to it’s Creator, that you are participating in God’s story, bringing Him glory, sharing and loving lavishly with His children, bringing your children to the feet of the cross and leaving a godly legacy for generations to come. love you!

    Reply
  27. Success is a day with more laughter than tears, more books than tv, more smiles than frowns, more prayers than complaints. but I will just accept any one of those things today:)

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  28. A beautiful post, dear Emily. I love the realization that everything response I have is because of God’s initiation with me. I love because He loved first. I live because He breathes in and out of me. It is not I who hold onto Him but He who holds onto me. It has changed my reality to know these things.

    I loved what you wrote here…

    Beautiful,
    Julie

    Reply
  29. love how you can talk about God in such poetic yet straightforward prose…it is a gift, and I’m glad you share it with us…how would I define success? I’m learning to define it to mean that I am following 100% after Jesus – and I know I haven’t achieved it yet, because I still need to grow in love, and decrease in fear, but I am grateful for His grace and an increasing awareness of His love – truly unconditional love for me – despite my weaknesses and failures. BLessings, Em, and may God continue to grace you ad your family :)

    Reply
  30. Yes, this. No words, just nodding my head.

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  31. “because the most physical act, if consecrated, can become spiritual.”
    I am going to carry this deep in my soul.
    You give such clarity to such seeming complexity.
    xx

    Reply
  32. success means to me: doing what i love and looking at whatever that may be with complete and utter joy. accolades or not…not caring. knowing i was fulfilling His perfect will for my life.

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  33. em, i need to reread this. you’ve capture so much in so few words.

    i suspect that success is an inversion of worldliness. less take, more give. more love. i love what you say about physical acts and ordinary time being consecrated. yes and yes. let us take off shoes.

    Reply
  34. em, i need to reread this. you’ve capture so much in so few words.

    i suspect that success is an inversion of worldliness. less take, more give. more love. i love what you say about physical acts and ordinary time being consecrated. yes and yes. let us take off shoes.

    Reply
  35. em, i need to reread this. you’ve capture so much in so few words.

    i suspect that success is an inversion of worldliness. less take, more give. more love. i love what you say about physical acts and ordinary time being consecrated. yes and yes. let us take off shoes.

    Reply
  36. Slowing down is definitely something I need to do. This is actually one of the wonderful things about having young children (which I don’t anymore!) but you simply have to slow down and take time with them. Then when their financial needs get greater – and I’ve just gotten two through college -well, it becomes kind of hard to stay slow – especially if you want to pay tuition and write on the side!!!!! But it’s not good to be so driven. k.

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  37. “And all God wants is walk with us, like he did in heaven” is a tender, line that makes me smile and slow down.

    Success? Loving my God more and more each day, having him change me to look more like him, surrendering my will to his, and having that reflect out into my life and my relationships.

    Have a great week, Emily.

    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com

    Reply
  38. oh em, ~ honestly, I’m not even sure that I would be able to define success!! the worldly me would say: a home, a happy family, a pay check, a successful and fulfilling career … but all of those things, tho pleasant as they are … I don’t think are the definition of success in God’s eyes … in fact, I don’t even think that that word exists in God’s economy … I think according to His Kingdom, success = servant, I think the more you lose “the sake of yourself” the more you reflect true worth, and then I guess “success” in His eyes =) “Well done, good and faithful servant” … that would be a life of success to me =) love you girl!! xoxo

    Reply
    • oh ammee. i love this. i love you girl. xoxo

      Reply
  39. Success? Some sort of deep connection to something great. Being able to live with a quiet burning intensity because you’ve found something or somethings–a craft, a person, God–that you love so much. I hope that I would want the deep connection to God most, but I know that it isn’t true always, or even most of the time.

    ‘but we don’t find God. God finds us. we just need to stop running so he can.’ Love that.

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  40. Miss Emily,

    Simply put, success for me means being where and doing what God wants of me — and knowing it in the deep downs of who I am.

    Blessings.

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  41. Emily, this is amazing to me on many levels. Thank you for the raw and the real and the super authentic. Your story points to Him and reveals how much He loves us and wants to spend time with us. His transformative power in our lives amazes, just constantly amazes me—how very Grand and Big and Wide His love and His embrace are. This is so tenderly written. Thanks for sharing your gift and for your hospitality here.

    Reply
  42. “. . . the goal of this online space is to create a broken church of sorts, a kind of community that celebrates each other’s stories.”

    I love this. I’m so glad to have found your blog.

    Reply
    • thank you, dear denise. i love your blog too, and forwarded your post on writing to my aspiring writer-friend. bless you.

      Reply
  43. This: “because the most physical act, if consecrated, can become spiritual.”
    and, we can’t earn what mercy has already given us… My friend, profound and sparse. Truth that punches the soul and leaves one breathless for God!

    There are so many ways He allows us to come to this realization — all different journeys into despair and insatiable need and he is the Bread, the food of hope for us all. There is no activity, no pursuit that satisfies apart from Christ.

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  44. Success to me is being like my Lord, writing today about how far I am from that goal…

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  45. For me, success = obedience to God. I run from Him every chance I get. Running, running and He has to always catch me and say “Child, turn around and stop running. I have the best for you right here.” An example of this is in my homeschooling, my pride wants my kids to be the smartest and be those kids who always win the everything-there-is-to-win-bee/scholarship/grant. I realized one day that that worldly stuff doesn’t matter and if I can raise children who love God, who have strong characters and who can be godly wives, then I have been successful. I just graduated my first and she is not going to college, is not going to “do” anything. But she has a strong character and loves God. I consider that success.

    Thank you for talking about drugs and the hard things here. Your words are beautiful and they come at a time when I am increasingly frustrated with the church. I come from a drug background and it’s been hard to fit in to the perfect Christian lifestyle I see around me. (Thus, my post I linked up) Thank you for the encouragement that comes in your beautiful prose. :-)

    Reply
    • amber, you are so wonderful. i’m so glad to have met you. i wish we could sit and have coffee.

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  46. “but we don’t find God. God finds us. we just need to stop running so he can.”

    “we can’t earn what grace has bought.”

    Note to self: slow… down… now… If I can do that, I’ll count it as success. If I can’t accomplish it yet, I’ll consider it success that God’s grace will cover that and won’t let go of trying.

    Thanks, Em, as always, I see grace when I see you.

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  47. “the world says time is money. so, to offer that back to God? priceless.” What an amazingly simple yet powerful statement.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book for the tour.

    Reply

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