Hungry Haley

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Imperfect and Perfectly Loved

Life, Faith, HealthHaley Hansen1 Comment

If there's one thing I might always get wrong about my faith...

... it's the fact that I'm imperfect. While such a statement may sound quite big-headed of me, it's completely true and it deserves a post here because it's also complicated. 

didn't even bring my Bible. just wrote. cried. wrote some more. then cried and smiled. 

didn't even bring my Bible. just wrote. cried. wrote some more. then cried and smiled. 

What I am NOT saying here is that I think I am perfect. I wouldn't have committed this thing called "life" to Jesus if I thought myself perfect and equipped and strong enough to handle it on my own, you know? What I AM saying is that I expect myself to be perfect. And since my baptism last year, I've battled thoughts that tell me I should be "all clean" and "free of sin" now that I've given it to God. 

Like, these types of things...

  • those eating-disorder-thoughts - you know the ones. How much fat is in that? Did you look at the menu before you made dinner plans? No workout today? You better not eat that ice cream. 
  • those self-comparison joy-suckers - maybe you know these, too. Cool - her legs in those shorts make mine look like poorly stuffed Italian sausages. She got an A in that class, and I barely squeezed by with a C? There go my chances of landing an internship. 
  • (my personal "favorite", which really just means the one I most frequently find myself dancing with) those idolatrous traps - okay, these are undeniable. I can't stop thinking about him. Ugh, I need like three glasses of wine tonight. 

You feel me? And by the way, by no means am I proclaiming myself sin-free and perfect here. I'm doing the opposite, but you have to keep reading to find out more. 

So, this tidal wave of feelings hit me tonight. The wave had been building and building for I-don't-even-know-how-long and tonight it crashed on me. Was it coincidental that I found myself next to the beach? Ehh, debatable. 

a random little bench in a breath-taking neighborhood nestled along the Pismo Beach coast.

a random little bench in a breath-taking neighborhood nestled along the Pismo Beach coast.

It was one of those weeks during which this event kicked it off on the wrong foot, then I tripped over that, and then this other thing bit me in the butt, and so on and so forth. Needless to say, by mid-afternoon today - heck, even midnight last night - I was pretty much a tearful mess (who had gotten dressed up and made it out with her girls for a night of fun) running out off the dance floor because I just couldn't. Thankfully, my best friend was on my comfy bed at home, waiting for me to come stain her shirt with my tears. What a keeper. 

My point: I broke. Throughout the entire week and weeks prior, I'd been wondering with frustration and flecks of guilt as to why I can't get my mind off this, that, and the other thing, and back onto Jesus. Haley, where is the faith you used to hold so close to your heart? To where have your eyes diverted? What's inhibiting you from refocusing? Get your sh!t together. 

Haha, my sh!t's all over the place, dude. And I realized that tonight, hopped in my car, drove myself to the beach to escape any and all responsibilities for at least a half-hour, and immerse my every last bit of energy and emotion into God. Best decision I've made in... a l o n g time. 

I sat and stared at the waves as I let my own waves crash upon themselves in my eyes. Lord, I desire you. I've committed my life to you. But WHY can't I focus on you, worship no one but you, and always find my peace/joy/trust in you? Why do I mess up so much? 

Well, it's because I'm imperfect. And I'm here, on this public park bench (as passersby politely assume I'm all good), wiping my own tears yet smiling at the same time as I realize that, as utterly imperfect as I am, I am even more so perfectly loved. And that's why I'm here. 

I may never - no, I will never - reach a point of smooth sailing, during which fears don't creep in and lies don't sound truthful and people don't become my idols. I am human and I am imperfect. I may also never - no, I will never - fall out of the arms of the perfectly loving Savior, for whom not even Shakespeare's words would come close to doing justice.

I am human and I am imperfect and yet I am perfectly loved. 

You might be wondering if any of this applies to you, eh? IT DOES :) I never want to end a blog post, especially a more personal one like this, without providing you some proof and resources where you can see for yourself that this is true. I explored some blogs and whatnot, and found this from Bible Study Tools. One of my biggest takeaways from reading it: "Unconditional love does not mean that God loves everything we do, but rather His love is so intense that He loves every sinner, no matter how vile and despicable he or she may be in they eyes of humanity, so much that He provides a way for them to find love, life, and holiness (John 3:16)". 

The post introduced me to this verse, which I hadn't read until now...

... he saved us not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sings, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
— Titus 3:5, NLT

Oh, and if you didn't know this, the book of Isaiah is probably one of my favorites of the entire Bible. So, I will always provide you with verses from there. Just sayin'. I read through it last year and still find myself breathless at many of God's words...

... Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands...
— Isaiah 49:15-16, NLT

One more, and beware - this one will get you. 

But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed...
— Isaiah 53:5-6, NLT

And I leave you with this - a quote from one of my favorite books, Idols of the Heart: 

The struggle against the sin in our heart is precious because by it we learn what a great price the Lord Jesus has paid. It is in this struggle that we learn to trust Him and to distrust ourselves, to hate sin and love holiness, to cultivate humility and to long for heaven. And in the midst of it all, we’ll learn the joy of obedience and the happiness that is found only in loving God.
— Elyse Fitzpatrick

THOUGHTS: A Love Letter to My Body

Thoughts, Health, LifeHaley HansenComment

Why am I writing a letter to my body? Because I've finally been learning what it really means to listen to my body, and in the spirit of Valentine's Day, I figured what better time to really appreciate the home God has built for me. So, here it goes... 

Body, 

Hi. I don't really know where to begin - with the apologies, with the thanks, with appreciation for our memories together - because we've been doing life together for over nineteen years. Well, I guess it's more correct to attribute life to YOU because how else would I have done anything? So, yeah, I'll begin with the memories :) 

Remember when I was about seven years old and we finally synchronized enough so that I could stay balanced on my bike for more than three seconds? We had just gotten home from the grocery store with Mom and Ben and I jumped on my bike (to avoid unloading groceries) to give it one last try after weeks of frustration, and before I knew it, Ben was calling out, "Mom! Mom! Haley's riding and staying up!!!" Thanks for sparking one of my first moments of real accomplishment. 

Remember when I had to keep pulling teeth out for a few years? Ugh, that sucked. I'm sorry for that pain. And for the dentist appointments.. 

Remember when I discovered how much you love to dance? Even though we weren't amazingly flexible or strong or slim as the other girls, I could feel the passion you poured out through me each time a song came on. 

Remember the first time we actually went for a run? Dad was with us and we went for a three-miler around our neighborhood and through the park before dinner. You loved it, and I became addicted, too. And I think this brings me to the apologies...

I'm sorry for stuffing you with preservative-filled, greasy, synthetic "foods" like buffalo chicken wings, fatty ice cream, sugary candy bars, and, perhaps worst of all, all of those processed meats and cheeses that sent my tastebuds to heaven when I was younger. I have no idea how I ignored your rejections of those foods, and I'm so sorry for forcing you to attempt to digest those and use them for the energy I expected from you. 

I'm sorry for all the late-nights and early-mornings, and for the sickness that followed. We were both obviously tired, but I prioritized the demands of my social life or my grades over your need for rest and nutrition. 

I'm sorry for the sore, achey muscles, for not stretching after workouts, for the shin splints, for the pulled muscles. I was taking care of you by exercising, but forgetting a critical piece of the picture.

I'm sorry for allowing the magazines and websites and pictures of other girls to influence my opinion of your beauty. I'm sorry for thinking that they were perfect, and that you were anything less. I'm sorry for pressuring you to drastically change the way God shaped you so that I felt beautiful through the eyes of others.

Most of all, I'm so deeply sorry for putting you through hell and back for three years - for starving you, for exhausting you, for ignoring you, day in and day out. I'm sorry that I threatened your health and your longevity because I wanted you to fit into a certain jean size. I'm sorry that my pride got in the way of restoring my mind more quickly so that I could treat you the way you deserved to be treated. I'm sorry that I dictated what you needed and didn't need, like I knew all the answers to my health problems. I'm sorry that I pushed your limits so hard for so long. 

And I'll begin the "thank-you's" with this - thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for enduring, for withstanding. Thank you for not breaking down, but also thank you for speaking up loud enough to grab my attention before it was too late. 

Thank you for loving me and taking care of me when those were the last items on my To-Do List. 

Thank you for running all those miles, for dancing your a** off to all those songs, for sitting still when I needed you to, and for telling me to sit still when you needed that from me. Thank you for humbly, kindly making your desires and cravings and basic needs clear to me. Thank you for belly-rumbling laughter - that's probably one of my favorite of your talents :) 

Thank you for being here still. Thank you for walking, running, dancing, biking, swimming, weight-lifting, hiking, laughing (and the list goes on) our way through 19+ years of life. You're one of the biggest blessings God placed in my life, and I'm speechless as to where I'd be without you. I'm speechless in awe of your talents, determination, humility, and strength. 

Oh, and I LOVE YOU! I promise to love you even more than I ever have. Let's keep doing life together, what do you say? :) 

With love, 
Hungry Haley, your best friend

FAITH: Running My Race

Faith, Life, HealthHaley HansenComment

On the track, the popularity and usage of this verse is equivalent to that of Philippians 4:13. To me, it's overused and placed in the wrong context, so it's never been one of those key verses I keep in the back of my mind. I've also had trouble understanding what "race" God is talking about, but He made everything clear to me this morning in church. 

By "us", God is pointing to each of us in His kingdom as individuals. Read it as though God is talking to YOU - not "us", not your bible study, not your family. Just you. Run the race God has set for ME. Okay, but what race? In Jeremiah 29:11, God assures us that He has a plan for our lives, and that plan is this race He's referring to in Hebrews. 

I'll be the first to admit that finding community in Christ was not only the highlight of my freshman year, but also the very blessing that equipped me with everything and more I needed to thrive. BUT alone time, quiet time, one-on-one time with God is absolutely essential. Establishing, maintaining, and prioritizing that relationship first is the foundation for eternal life with Him - it's the beginning of the race and the endorphins that fuel endurance throughout. 

When the pastor dove deeper into this verse, God reminded me of habits like comparison, jealousy, and pride.... yeah, guilty. They seem almost impossible to avoid - magazines practically advertise the powers of photoshop more than clothing, cars, homes, etc., and the constant encouragement to buy more, do more, be more doesn't leave us alone. While giving in to those habits is easy, it's also like trying to run another person's race, and no matter how hard we push or how fast we run, we can't win someone else's race. 

God has already written my story and your story - He did so even before we were born - and He wants us to spend our lives with Him, reading that story. Be the main character; embrace every personality, every beauty mark, every imperfection - God smiles when we thank Him like that. 

I haven't been able to think about much else besides this topic today (except the fries I'm baking right now - I hope heaven smells like this), and I can hear God whispering to me about how it applies to my eating habits. Lately, I've bee fascinated by veganism and experimenting with it. Eating purely fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts/beans/seeds seems to bring so much energy to those who adopt that lifestyle. If hundreds of other people love it, and I already eat similarly, why wouldn't I love it, too? 

Long story and lots of descriptive bodily functions short, it hasn't been working. I'm constantly hungry, tired in the afternoon, and bloated all day. No matter what any Insta-famous vegan says, the amount of sugar I feed my body in eating that much fruit just doesn't seem quite right. Oh, and, um, Greek yogurt? My bestie. Avocado + toast + fried egg = my favorite math equation. 

That's just me - those are some of the qualities God blessed me with. I love animals and I will never put animal flesh in my mouth again, but I don't think I was designed for a completely vegan diet. I feel energized, hydrated, satisfied, and healthy on a simple vegetarian diet. Whatever works for the HCLF vegans works for them, but not all of it works for me.

However, comparison, a little jealousy, and selfish pride still get the best of me. Sometimes I wish I could eat eight bowls of banana "ice cream", a farm-full of sweet potatoes, and bread to feed the 5,000, too. I long for the clear skin associated with veganism, and I cheer (sometimes rather loudly) for myself when I see ten new followers on my Instagram profile, but those concerns only slow me down in my race. Constantly craning my neck to check the pace of runners behind me or next to me pushes me farther behind. 

Replace those thoughts with gratitude, with a little self-love and positivity. Respect yourself and appreciate and embrace your character in God's story for you. Run your race to see Him at the finish line. As with all marathons, your muscles will ache, your throat will burn, and your mind might let some discouragement in every once in a while, but God's words are here to rejuvenate you every single day. He wants nothing more than to help you run your best race ever. 

God's pretty cool, huh?