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Day 14: Looking Back

I’m sitting in the Minneapolis airport, about to hop on a plane toward Chicago and a weekend with the Bedlam Family.

I just got done reading a thing Melissa Hawks wrote, a story about how we became friends.

It started with an interview at a pizza shop in Minneapolis last fall. It’s funny, reading it now, because the first question she asked was “What are you working on right now?”

I said:

I feel like…this is so dumb or pretentious…I feel like what I’m working on right now is learning how to be a human. 

I think that a lot of times…growing up as a Christian…Christians aren’t always great humans. And sometimes you trade away your humanity in order to be a religious creature.

I want to be a human. So, that is my project.

That was October a year ago, and I’m still learning how to be a human.

I went on:

Most of my life has been about manipulating my circumstances and surroundings and making the world be what I wanted it to be so I could have the experience of living that I wanted to have. In many ways, the one I thought I was supposed to have because I thought that’s what God’s will was.

What I’m just starting to discover is you can’t do that. 

In many ways that’s what Jesus was hinting at when He said, ‘If you lose your life you’ll find it and if you try to save your life you’ll lose it.’

I know all the Bible verses in the whole Bible. I’ve known that one forever. I feel like in a lot of ways I’ve spent my whole life trying to save my life, so now I’m trying to learn to lose it.

Then I concluded:

I can’t know what that it will look like. I think trying to know what that will look like or trying to make it look like something specific will defeat the purpose


When you’re a writer, doing interviews is a funny experience. You don’t get to carefully craft every sentence like you do here, typing and retyping until you’re satisfied. Instead, you say a whole bunch of stuff for an hour, try not to be too incoherent, and hope the editor will put together something that makes sense.

And then, sometimes a year later, you get to read what it is you said.

After she published this piece, Melissa texted me: “What are your thoughts?”

“It’s been a hella story,” I told her. “We’ve come so far since a year ago. And yet, we’re here at the same project: trying to be human.”


Looking back, I can see the road I’ve walked. I have learned so very much about how to live in this body, with this heart, on this planet.

A year ago, I was pointed in the right direction, I think. I was very much in my head about some big ideas. Big, good ideas. I’ve spent the months since then crawling through those ideas in the mud and the rain and the snow on my hands and knees.

I was right about one thing, though. I didn’t know what it would look like, to lose my life. Or to find it again on the other side.

I don’t know if I knew then how big of a project it was to learn how to be a human. I’m sure I don’t know now.

I know it will take me more than these 31 days, more than this year, more than this stretch of road.

But I think it’s worth it.

During the month of October, I’m joining the Write31Days challenge to talk about 31 Days of Becoming Human. Click here to read all posts in the series

published October 14, 2015

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