Tag Archives: Identity

I Took Your Name

24 Aug

I took your name

in taking  your name

I lost nothing



the lie I can live life alone

the confusion that happens when

I attempt to make sense of the world by myself


I lost

any desire to search for someone else

my cynical views of romance

that tense, gnawing sense I am still waiting


I took your name

in taking your name

I lost nothing of my identity

Instead I am inclined to fall

more into myself

the real, undiscovered self

I see reflected in your eyes

miles and crowds of people

and words and dreams realized


I took your name

and gave you myself

a frightening and beautiful process

of wholeness and abandonment

an awkward yet synchronous dance

we continue to learn

for the next ninety years


I took your name

and gained the world

you see so brightly

and call ours


When I am On Display

9 Feb

I really am my own worst enemy

I think I need to fight myself

when the war for my heart

has already been won


but I bleed mistrust

my wounds ooze insecurity

so I bandage them up myself


still acting like I don’t know my role

like I am ad-libbing this character

but the curtain is not there

there isn’t even a stage anymore


so I don’t know what to do with myself

alone in a room with my emotions arguing

my head reciting the lines


and all the while

Truth is in the room, cleaning up that ripped curtain,

tearing down that stage, saying,


“Show’s over. Give up the act.”


(but I am comfortable and afraid)


so I move to the museum

putting a replica of myself on a shelf

summing up briefly on a sign

who I am


(It’s easier than standing for something)


and all the while

Grace is in the room, a wild look in her eyes, saying,


“In case of emergency, break glass.”


and I know I can’t breathe while I am on display

I know this room is for old things, dead things

I know that stages are for pretending


and just then I realize

Choice is standing there, reminding me,


“You don’t have to live like this.”


he points to the exit sign, lit up, blood-red


and I smash through the glass,

a self-imprisoned convict


and I run towards the door as fast as I can

knowing life waits on the other side

A Handful of Crumbs- Thoughts on Grace & Identity

18 Nov

I picked up this memoir by Kim Sunee, “Trail of Crumbs” partially because the cover was pretty, partially because it was on clearance for $5, but mostly because of the subtitle,

“Hunger, Love and the Search for Home.”

That subtitle could just as well describe the book I am currently working on, “The Wizard of God.”

Anyways, it’s a beautiful and intriguing life story. Kim was abandoned on a bench in South Korea when she was three, left with nothing but a fistful of crumbs to survive on. She sat there for three days until a policeman finally brought her to an orphanage where she was adopted by an American couple.

Fast forward many years. Kim meets a wealthy French businessman man who is charming and wonderful and gives her everything she has ever wanted. I was swept into the beauty of their life together, living in the countryside of France in a huge house surrounded by orchards and gardens. Kim cooks these fabulous dinner parties for traveling guests, exquisite combinations that made me long for new food and new places. Her lover bought her a building in Paris to open her own book store that specializes in poetry. There she meets fascinating artists and writers from all over the world. Her life seemed ideal. A fairy tale. She came from nothing, and was given everything.

And it wasn’t just money. He loved her too. Passionately,  in a way that made all their friends jealous.

That would seem like the end of the perfect story, right?

No. she couldn’t do it. She couldn’t stay. She left him and threw everything she had away.

Why? Two reasons stuck out in my mind.

After being abandoned as a child, and growing up in an American family that was emotionally distant, she traveled to try to “find herself,” find a place where she belonged.

She thought she could find herself in a man, in this group of friends who were built around her in France, but it wasn’t enough.

She needed the one she came from to give her an identity.

The other reason was, in her lack of knowing who she was, in her struggling with abandonment and rejection, when offered the wonderful gifts of not only a beautiful life, but the heart of a loving man, she felt like she didn’t deserve it.

It’s impossible to accept grace when we don’t know who we are.

She was left in this world with nothing but a handful of crumbs, and so that’s what she built her identity around. She tried to get professional help, but it never subsided the ache. The more her lover lavished expensive and beautiful gifts on her, the more empty she felt.

I am not trying to psychoanalyze this woman specifically. The reason I write about her story in particular because as I was reading it I was struck with the idea that is perhaps the human condition.

We were born into this world with nothing, naked and screaming. We are often left with nothing more than a handful of crumbs, a few grains of rice, pieces we try to put together to make a life for ourselves, to create a home and a family, to find a sense of belonging.

A little boy in a slum in Chennai India, getting his one meal of the day.

Some of us find grace, find God.

We see He is not angry, we see He has given us good things. But often the more He gives, the harder it is to accept. That sense of debt that was established sometime in the losing of our innocence surfaces.

“Who am I to deserve this?”

The question can really be edited, cut in half, leaving the first three words for us to contend with,

“Who am I?”

It’s easy to see the brokeness, the tragic mistakes we’ve made, the reasons we were left with nothing.

It’s a lot harder to see who we really are:

Sacred, beautiful, works of art.

“It is our light  not our darkness that most frightens us.”

C.S Lewis said it this way in The Weight of Glory, 

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

So, what then?

Is there some simple formula? Do we do like this awesome girl and repeat in the mirror every morning convincing ourselves that we are really wonderful people?

I love this video. Yet, there are  not enough magic words to overcome a lifetime of feeling we are unworthy.

There can never be enough people telling you how brilliant or fabulous you are, when your  inner voice that tells says you will never be enough.

It is only in the opening of our ears to hear the whispers of The One who created, the only one with the right to tell us who we are. It is only in believing that we are free

To quote Lewis again,

“And that is enough to raise your thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will be no room for vanity then. She will be free from the miserable illusion that it is her doing. With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be, and the moment which heals her old inferiority complex forever will also drown her pride… Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.”
― C.S. LewisThe Weight of Glory

We may see ourselves as having only a handful of crumbs, but there is a veil that has been ripped and beyond that, there is a feast we can sit down and partake in anytime we like.

Once we see this feast, once we understand we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, we can invite the whole world to come, sit, and dine.

Why I Don’t Wear “The Ring.”

7 Nov

This is a ring.

It says “Semper Honorablus” which mean “Always Honorable” in Latin, I guess.

I was given this ring when I was eighteen, after “committing to live a life of honor.”
I don’t talk about this much. I might say casually when people ask me where I went to school,

“Oh, this errr… bible college.”

Sometimes, I will mention to people I lived on a bus for two and a half years. Some look at me like I am insane, most don’t really care.

I don’t always mention all the wonderful and terrible things that happened from being a part of Teen Mania Ministries for four years.

I don’t mention I took the ring off soon after leaving in 2007, because I didn’t even know what it meant anymore.

I began to question what I really believed and whether aspects of my faith were really mine, or something that had been forced on me.

Can I be honest and say, it’s hard to write this?

I decided to no longer remain silent because things seem to be coming to a head. People are hurt, and people are angry at those who are hurt.

People say Teen Mania is an abusive cult.

People say it is a life-changing program, the best ministry ever.

People say that it is where God is.

People say that God has used this ministry to transform thousands of lives. I  understand that, mine included. I was seventeen and desperately needed God. I knew if I didn’t go to the Honor Academy I would end up in a trailer park with the baby of some druggie.

But right now, I need to shut out what people are saying.

Right now I am letting go of it all, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Not because of what anyone did to me, but because of the bondage I put myself under.

Please hear my heart in this. I am not slandering anyone.

I  am speaking up now, because a lot of things have changed. Because I have changed. Because I used to be afraid. I wasn’t necessarily afraid of not being accepted by God, (at least not after a while) I was afraid of not being accepted by them.

Being accepted by the group I claimed allegiance too, spent thousands of hours on the phone convincing people to attend, gave four years of my life to… that meant everything.

At one time I felt guilty. I felt like I owed them my allegiance. After all, I experienced the love of God there like I never had anywhere else. I realized my life had purpose there. I learned to love myself there. The world opened up to me. I got to travel, experience incredible things. I met some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and many of them I still have a deep connection with.

But now I know, those things were simply the grace of God in my life.
Jesus was loving me.
I am not angry. Ok maybe a little. I am angry people are hurt and no one is listening. I am angry at the gross militaristic “us vs. them” mentality. I am angry at religion trying to make people pay for what God has already given us for free. But by the grace of God, I am not bitter. I am thankful for the things I learned, the opportunities I had, and the beautiful people I met.

But I can’t wear the ring. To me, it represents a mental and emotional legalistic pressure that Jesus never ever put on me.

I am under no obligation to anyone but Christ.
And in that, I am free.

I don’t need to “be the standard.”
I don’t need to conjure up some fake pious morality.
I don’t need to sign a creed and commit to an ideal, a better way of life.

Those things are bullshit.

They don’t work.

Jesus made a covenant with God and has given me all things. I just simply have to believe. I don’t owe God anything… How can you pay for something that is a free gift? Even if I tried, I couldn’t pay Him back if I tried. God doesn’t want my disgusting bloody rags, my failed attempts to be holy.

He just wants me. And He has me.
He wants me to understand what he did on the cross was enough.
I don’t have to “try to get closer to him,” He is part of me.
I don’t have to rally people to a massive conference to beg God to “come down,” He is everywhere.

And I already am holy. Because He made me a new creation. It wasn’t my doing.

(At times, the self-righteous nineteen-year-old in me is cries, “Heresy!” in the back of my head. But I am learning to shut her up.)

I am completely free.
I am under no obligation to any system of religion, any conformity, any pressure to be a leader, or to keep up appearances.

I can just be Brooke.

And Brooke, with the Holy Spirit in her, is more than enough.


Ok, I need to add this. I don’t want this to come across like I am bashing Teen Mania. This is not my heart. I almost didn’t put the name here, but I figured most people would figure out what I am talking about anyways. This is not against people, this is against a system that tells you you have to be more then Jesus has already made you in him. I could apply this to many churches as well. There are Christian communities out there that are loving and grace filled and not exclusive. Those are amazing, we need more of those. The point is, my identity is not in being “alumni” or a church member at so-and-so.

1 am and I need to be reminded who I am

24 Jun

I am the girl who never let gravity get in the way

but I am still afraid to fly

I am not bound by the illusion of time and space

yet I find myself grounded in my own mind

I am the girl who dances with gypsys

who walks barefoot alone, empty pockets and complete satisfaction

only to find myself paralyzed with what a non-existent audience thinks

only to want more and more people and things to drown out the screams in my head

I am the girl who goes to the places I see in my dreams

I see miracles in a leaf

I see what others claim don’t exist

I am tuned into the frequency of another realm

I can’t help but see hope in dark places

but sometimes I allow the darkness to overtake me and the world to feel dead and ordinary

Yet, I am the girl that understands that to let go is to live

to love is to have a broken heart

to capture beauty is the best reason to exist

I am the girl that feels enormous mountains and crashing waves

who carries races and nations in my words and in my tears

I need to move and cry and fall apart and feel alive

because I am

this girl has crossed broken bridges and mended broken hearts

and seen things that have left me breathless and hopeless

and wanting to scream and punch walls and rebuild them

I take things too seriously and laugh at mistakes and danger

if  all this isn’t an adventure, then what is the point?

this girl has overcome silence and spoken

played the peacemaker and advocate

heard music in the white noise and saw secrets in the shadows

I can’t help but wonder

I can’t help but try to express

I am the girl that can’t help but see meaning

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