Burn The Ships

Last weekend we sang a new worship song, Burn The Ships by the duo For King & Country. It’s a powerful song with a deeply personal backstory mixed with this story about a ship of explorers. Here’s what Luke Smallbone said in an interview about the song:

“I read a story about an explorer going to a new land. When he arrived on the shore, he calls everybody off of the ships and said, ‘Hey let’s go explore this land and see what there is to be seen,'” Luke explains. “All the men were terrified of going into the unknown and he realized that even those boats were grimy, stinky and small, they wanted to stay on the boats because it was familiar. The next day he calls them out again and when all the sailors were on land, he gives the command to burn the ships because he said, ‘We’re not going to retreat. We’re going to move forward in our lives.’ 

Over the coming days the song would not leave me and neither did the story. It hit me because I intimately understand the comfort of a fully destructive comfort zone. The sailors knew the ship was “grimy, stinky, and small” but it was far more comfortable to stay in the horror you know than to step into the unknown. It actually reminded me of my closet.

Yes, my closet.

I used to have what I called My Closet of Hope. It had clothes in every possible size. If you needed formal wear I had gowns from a size 16-28. How about an outfit for work? I had you covered from a size 14-32. Casual day wear? My largest inventory from large to 6x!

Why?

I stayed on a roller coaster of weight loss and weight gain. When I lost weight I’d still hold on to my bigger clothes in case I gained again and when I’d gain weight I held on to smaller clothes in the hopes I’d fit them again. After weight loss surgery I decided that I was no longer hanging on to my old clothes. It was harder and far more emotional than I ever dreamed it would be. I kept ONE shirt and ONE pair of pants that I bring when I speak at the hospital.

What does this have to do with the worship song? My Closet of Hope was really a Closet of Fear. Much like the sailors, I feared something new. I’d been overweight for 30 years and it may seem odd but it was scary to even think of being anything else! Holding on to those clothes was almost like giving myself permission to retreat back to the way I’ve always been.

Up to that point I’d been a slave to food because I was using it to cope with my often crippling anxiety. I hid my feelings behind a wall of shame and ate to feel better… yet always felt worse. I was incapable of asking for help and would use humor as a means of deflection. After RNY I unknowingly made the decision to “burn the ships” in my closet. By donating all of my clothing I was propelled into a new way of living with no easy way to retreat. This also meant confronting my feelings, adjusting my coping behaviors, and getting help for my anxiety and food addiction.

That was my ship. Your ship could be removing yourself from a toxic relationship, stepping out in faith at a new opportunity, or leaving anything behind that no longer serves you. It’s never easy to burn a ship, to leave a comfort zone, to try something new. I had to step out in faith, trust God, and fall to my knees before I fall into ice cream.

What’s your ship and are you ready to set it on fire?

Read more of the personal story behind this song and hear the song: Billboard Article – Burn The Ships.

Broken Windows

I saw a quote the other day that I loved:

To believe that you must hide all the parts of you that are broken, out of fear that someone else is incapable of loving what is less than perfect, is to believe that sunlight is incapable of entering a broken window and illuminating a dark room.

Mark Hack

I think we often do that. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has tried to be the absolute BEST possible version of myself when I start dating someone. You don’t want your crazy showing too fast! We have high expectations of others and just as high for ourselves. But after a while, we become more comfortable, more trusting, and more vulnerable. In these moments the proverbial rubber meets the road. You’ll either accept the less than perfect aspects of each other or you won’t. The most successful relationships seem to be the ones where you can truly accept your partner… warts and all.

I remember the day that Jeff and I had our first real conversation. We discussed things that I never spoke of to another human being, and it was without effort. I remember being surprised as each word came from my mouth and even more surprised that he didn’t run from the room! He did the exact opposite. He stayed, listened, and comforted without judgment. I am far from perfect and have made many mistakes and questionable decisions in my day. So has he. So has everyone. Being open about these things only solidified our relationship. We let the light of love shine through our broken pieces.

I was so grateful that Jeff could see me past every decision I ever made but it was a long walk to forgive myself. I used to replay the same broken record of my disappointments and spending way too much time being disgusted with my body and my inability to “fix” it. It was a few years into our relationship that we reconnected with Christ and began an entirely new way to live, to relate to one another, and to ourselves.

Having a relationship with Jesus gives you the ability to see things from an entirely different perspective. The Mark Hack quote takes on an even more beautiful meaning. No one is perfect. We all have brokenness. We all have faults. We have all made mistakes. We all have pain. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 NIV This doesn’t change that fact that we are all windows and through our brokenness, our suffering, and our pain, God’s light will illuminate even the darkest rooms of our hearts.

My Soul Place

I think everyone has a soul place. A place on earth where you find solace, peace, beauty, love. 

My soul place is the Charlestown Breachway. The Breachway is a man made permanent breach that replaced the natural breach between the Atlantic Ocean and Ninigret Pond in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The natural breach between the bodies of water was filled in by tides and threatened the ability to shellfish in the region. Read more about it here. 

Growing up in Charlestown, this area was only a few short miles away. Going away to college in Pittsburgh was a definite change in scenery. Pittsburgh is a beautiful city but I never realized how important the ocean was to me until I left it. Meeting people who never saw the ocean was just craziness. As crazy as a person who lives in LA feels about a person never seeing a palm tree. I took the beauty of the ocean for granted. 

When I returned home I started to make regular trips to the Breachway. It’s always been a place to breathe, think, and pray. Moving down the street from here 4 years ago has been a tremendous joy.  After weight loss surgery walking became a huge part of my life. Walking to the Breachway at dawn became a love for me. 

I just wanted to take a moment and share my soul place with all you. Although beautiful all year long, there’s a specific beauty that only happens in winter here. Freshly fallen snow, salt air, and pure beauty. 

Where is your soul place?