March [& Spiritual] Madness

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After a very intense, on the edge of your seat, cheer and gasp and jump and scream game last night, the Wisconsin Badgers are officially out of the NCAA Tournament. Womp Womp.

I came across a March Madness list in an old journal.  I really love coming across things like this, which remind me of the season I was in at that certain time period of my life.  I’m always drawn to reflect on the recorded words I’ve scribbled over the years.  Comparing now to back then, it’s clear the setting has changed.  The details which were so clearly influenced by certain characters, places, or activities are drastically different and I long to understand the why and how behind it all.

Journal entries like these also display the parts of me that have always been.  The personality traits, enjoyment-causers and writing voice which have been a part of who I have always been, for as long as I can remember.

I love March Madness.
I love having brackets all over my desk, hanging on my door, near the girls’ dorm tv, one in my car, and one in my Bible. Yes, my Bible.
I love dressing in team garb. My team, her team, his team, any team.
I love the NCAA commercials. I hope Joe makes one some day.
I love having a fun excuse to take some personal time off from work. Round one mid-day games are so much more fun than any appointment I could possibly have.
I love suddenly becoming passionate about teams I’ve only seen play a few games during the season.
I love how an online bracket can connect old friends who live a nation apart.
I love how it’s more than a holiday, it’s a month long celebration.
I love the memories collected during March throughout the years.
I love that you find yourself high fiving strangers after sunken free throws, cheering on teams you cursed over during football season.
I love that pizza and wings never tasted as good as they do during the final four.
I love that the girl who picks her bracket based on uniform designs or the cuteness of team mascots undoubtedly will beat my choices every single year.

It’s an interesting blend the old and the new.  At the time I wrote this, I lived in Southeast Texas [SETX].  I was six weeks shy of 22 years old.  I worked in a completely different field than I do currently. I also worked in youth ministry. And I read the Bible A LOT.  I was living a much different life and thought much differently about the world, myself, and my place in the world as myself. 

I’ve always been attached to the idea of self-definition, and back then, my self-definition included a lot of THE CHURCH*.  It doesn’t so much anymore. At least not at this time. At least not in this season.  Other than to say that THE CHURCH had a great hand in getting me to where I am now, just as all seasons of life lead to the next season and the one after that and so on.  And that I think about it often.  I think about my past with THE CHURCH and I wonder if I’ll ever feel right enough, ready enough, prepared enough, or a strong enough of a desire to ever go back to living a life so entwined with it.

These days, I am uncertain of myself and my beliefs some of the time. I am honest as often as possible. I am confused a lot, too.  These ingredients blend together to often feeling like a fraud.  If I sit and think about those things that have changed for too long, I can feel my head start to spin and a deep sadness grows from deep inside.  It probably has a lot to do with the weight that we hold on beliefs, religion and spirituality in our society these days.  It probably has a lot to do with pride, too. 

It’s not always easy to admit your wrong, you know?  Back then, I believed something different.  I was someone different.  Deep down I always felt…I don’t know how to accurately describe it, really… a bit out of place and a bit out of my own skin, I guess. Back then, I remember, I refused to force myself to believe anything, but a lot of the time, I questioned if I was pretending or trying to believe certain things.  In hindsight, I know that there were somethings I believed because of what I felt and experienced on my own accord, but there were plenty of other things I believed because I felt I was supposed to believe them. 

When I take time to really think about that, it hurts my heart. Which probably explains why I have avoided thinking about it all for so long and sit here several years after the fact, never really have sorted through all that life-junk.

There are the naturally changing classifications- age, location, employment.  We grow, we learn, we move, we move on. And there are the classifications that somehow define our foundation, some might say the very core of our being – our beliefs, dreams, way of life and how we spend our time.  All of that has changed for me.  And yet so much of the other stuff buried in the lines about March Madness remains true, today.

I still love March Madness for a lot of the same reasons. I love to celebrate the little things, I love to high-five strangers at the sports bar, and eat wings while I cheer Bucky on.  I’m a fan of the NCAA commercial to this day, and find a lot of joy out of tracking my bracket each spring.  I am nostalgic. I am a sports fan. I am still, simply, me.

And all those little things remind me that I’m not a fraud. I am simply me. Growing and learning and changing and finding my life definitions just as any other twenty-something.  It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun, but I enjoy the adventure and am thankful for the small reminders – like those found in a journal from 2005 – that bring me back to the truth that it’s all okay, and it will all turn out okay, too.  Even if the Badgers lose the game.


*THE CHURCH: I wish I could explain to you what I mean by this phrase. More than a building or a place of services and such.  More than a group of people and more than, although definitely aligned with, a lifestyle.  Something I will no doubt have to explain in more and more detail as I continue to unravel the past decade of memories, understandings, healings, ignorance and frustrations.  The barebones truth is that I am human. I’m working through all these emotions I have buried deep down in my heart because I was never brave enough to face them. What you find here in these spiritual thought posts is just myself, stripped down and sorting through conversations, events, revelations, and feelings I remember discovering, holding, turning over, and disposing of throughout my short lifetime. xo


More “In Hindsight” Posts:

Likes!, and Spiritual Stuff: In Hindsight 1
Reading, In Hindsight 2


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2 thoughts on “March [& Spiritual] Madness

  1. Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete

    This post moved me in a serious way. Because I have been where you are. I grew up in the church, went to a Christian college, did mission work and read the Bible – A LOT. Then I transferred to a different college and started to wonder if I really believed what I thought I believed – or if I simply felt I believed them because I was supposed to. Thinking about it made my head hurts, so I stopped thinking about it. But over time, I realized I couldn’t deny that I had those roots. Even when everything about *thechurch was stripped away, I knew deep in my core that I believed in something. I slowly started rebuilding what that something was – from scratch. Eventually it led me back to *thechurch, but in a different way than before. In a way with eyes wide open – not blind belief, but deeper understanding. And somehow embracing that there will always be some things I will not ever be able to fully understand or explain. Life is a journey. I think our faith and beliefs go through a journey too. They change like we change. Embrace the struggle, the dissonance.
    Callie @ The Wannabe Athlete recently posted..I’m Running a Race…Tonight! {Honda Grand Prix 5k}

  2. Julie

    Hey Heather! Love this post, and I can totally feel where you are coming from. I grew up in the church also, and have gone through a period where I know that I believe, but I’m still trying to find where I fit in.. right now in a physical church like the one i grew up in, I don’t feel the most at home. I’ve actually found a closer connection to spirituality through more traditional type settings (something I never thought I would feel). It’s been a neat ride figuring out what my religion means to me.

    I just wanted to share a few resources that have been a saving grace in some sense. Here are a few that I love currently, and thought you might find interesting:
    1. Rachel Held Evans – such an amazing woman, and lots of great insight. Here’s a recent post that I related too:
    2. Brian McLaren: this guy is a deep thinker, and has really made me consider my roots, and my beliefs (in a great way!):
    3. Alise Wright: Another great woman, and full of inspiration:
    4. Tony Jones: Interesting blog posts, and different view points:

    Hope this helps, and remember, not all those who wander are lost 🙂
    Julie recently posted..Foodie Pen Pals Reveal Day!

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