Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken

Pursuing A Healthy Spirit with Melinda Hardin

February 01, 2023 Melissa Ebken Season 6 Episode 5
Pursuing A Healthy Spirit with Melinda Hardin
Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken
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Pursuing Uncomfortable with Melissa Ebken
Pursuing A Healthy Spirit with Melinda Hardin
Feb 01, 2023 Season 6 Episode 5
Melissa Ebken

Melinda Hardin is a well-rounded plate spinner who seeks out opportunities to inspire audiences. Her most recent experience of writing and launching her bare-faced memoir, Uneclisped has set her on an emerging path of impact with raw, genuine perspective that is both relatable and tangible for women striving to find their own comeback stories.

Melinda is skilled at holding up a mirror for others to discover and delve into their own shadows, giving them the hope and confidence to step into their own authentic light.

She’s also a former booze enthusiast but now spends her days celebrating her sobriety, eyes wide open and all in on embracing every chapter of her life with purpose and vision. In Uneclipsed, she explores the “shadows” of her need for approval, the traditions of the fundamentalist religion of her girlhood, imposing relationships and expectations, and her addiction to alcohol. Although those are Melinda’s shadows, it’s easy for listeners and readers to find themselves within her story. She recounts with rawness, hilarity, and insight a life path paved with both the greatest joys and the greatest personal failures.

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Show Notes Transcript

Melinda Hardin is a well-rounded plate spinner who seeks out opportunities to inspire audiences. Her most recent experience of writing and launching her bare-faced memoir, Uneclisped has set her on an emerging path of impact with raw, genuine perspective that is both relatable and tangible for women striving to find their own comeback stories.

Melinda is skilled at holding up a mirror for others to discover and delve into their own shadows, giving them the hope and confidence to step into their own authentic light.

She’s also a former booze enthusiast but now spends her days celebrating her sobriety, eyes wide open and all in on embracing every chapter of her life with purpose and vision. In Uneclipsed, she explores the “shadows” of her need for approval, the traditions of the fundamentalist religion of her girlhood, imposing relationships and expectations, and her addiction to alcohol. Although those are Melinda’s shadows, it’s easy for listeners and readers to find themselves within her story. She recounts with rawness, hilarity, and insight a life path paved with both the greatest joys and the greatest personal failures.

Follow Melinda:

Support the Show.

More From Melissa and Pursuing Uncomfortable:
fiLLLed Life Newsletter
Leave a review
Pursuing Uncomfortable Book

🎶 Podcast Intro: Welcome to the pursuing uncomfortable podcast, where we give you the encouragement you need to lean into the uncomfortable stuff life puts in front of you, so you can love your life. If you are ready to overcome all the yuck that keeps you up at night, you're in the right place. I am your host, Melissa Ebken let's get going. 🎶

🎶 Episode Intro:  Melinda describes herself as a well-rounded plate spinner who seeks opportunities to inspire others. I would describe her as a beautiful soul who lives in central Kentucky and has written a book called Uneclipsed.  In this book and in this podcast, she talks about her stories, her shadows that led her through addiction, a difficult religious experience, and now through to a life that she loves. In this interview, she talks about how she got through those struggles and how she now helps other women get through theirs as well.  I know you're going to love her as much as I do🎶


Melissa Ebken  0:01 
Melinda, welcome to the Pursuing Uncomfortable Podcast. How are you today?

Melinda Hardin  0:06 
I'm good. Thank you so much for having me. I love this podcast. I'm really stoked to be here.

Melissa Ebken  0:11 
Thank you so much and feel free to say that as many times as you like throughout our interview today,

Melinda Hardin  0:17 
I will, I sure will.

Melissa Ebken  0:20 
Melinda, where are you joining us from?

Melinda Hardin  0:22 
I'm at home just sitting in my neat from behind me messy all the rest all the rest around the house in Shelbyville, Kentucky.

Melissa Ebken  0:31 
That's how we do it, right?

Melinda Hardin  0:32 
That's how we do today. Yeah.

Melissa Ebken  0:34 
In Shelbyville, as we'd mentioned before, I have people around there in Shelbyville, in Louisville. It's places close to my heart. So I'm so glad you're here today.

Melinda Hardin  0:45 
Yes, thank you.

Melissa Ebken  0:47 
So Melinda, what is going on in your life? What's big for you right now?

Melinda Hardin  0:52 
Well, I'm getting ready to co-teach a writing workshop, which I'm really excited. I've connected with another local writer, we both published around the same time and just had this instant connection and thought we would work on and rollout a writing workshop to encourage people in their writing journey, but then just answer questions about that whole process and just encourage women that they have a story and that we want to hear it and doing that. And I'm in a band. So we've been writing some new songs. And that's been really a fun new thing for us. And then, you know, I'm raising two, a preteen and a teenage girl with a really busy husband. So I feel like every day is something new, but you know, it's good times.

Melissa Ebken  1:37 
I am two days into the teenager journey. And this morning, I got the window wave. Oh, yeah. When he leaves for school. You know, I tap on the window and wave. And if he's moody or mad, he won't look back and wave. But I got the window wave this morning. So I'm counting that as a success.

Melinda Hardin  1:56 
It'a a win, yes, it's up and down for sure.

Melissa Ebken  2:00 
Yeah. What's the name of your band?

Melinda Hardin  2:03 
The Pretty Goods.

Melissa Ebken  2:05 
The Pretty Goods. I love that name. I feel like you know, we're just they're pretty good.

Melinda Hardin  2:11 
I mean, I feel like if we manage the expectation, and you know, you hope that they think you're better than that. But you don't want to like the Phenomenals. And then then be like, I mean, you're pretty good. So

Melissa Ebken  2:22 
Yeah, you should have a bunch of people coming up and saying pretty good? You guys should name yourselves, Terrific.

Melinda Hardin  2:28 
That's what happens. We glad about that. Yes.

Melissa Ebken  2:31 
That's awesome. So I hope everybody goes and Google's the Pretty Goods after this podcast.

Melinda Hardin  2:37 
Thanks. We'd love it.

Melissa Ebken  2:39 
And you are doing a writing workshop, you said have you done some writing what's out there that we can soak up?

Melinda Hardin  2:46 
I've written a book, I'm actually have it right here. I've written a book called Uneclipsed: About Shadows Emerging and Finding the Light. I write in our local magazine here and just some freelance stuff here and there also, and just for fun all the time.

Melissa Ebken  3:00 
It's so complete self serving question, do you also do a work? Do you work as a muse? And if so, how do we get those services?

Melinda Hardin  3:12 
A muse? No, I do not.

Melissa Ebken  3:15 
Oh, had to try. So Melinda, you have an incredible backstory. So and I think it's gonna resonate with a lot of folks. I would love to jump into that. Are you ready to jump into that?

Melinda Hardin  3:28 
Let's do it. I'm caffeinated. I'm ready to go.

Melissa Ebken  3:32 
Awesome. Where do you want to start?

Melinda Hardin  3:36 
Well, when you and I first spoke, I think that resonated with me so much about your podcast is I as I mentioned before we were live. I wish that I had had you to sort of walk alongside with and lead me in so many moments of the unraveling of my tradition, traditional religion. So that's it, we could jump in right there. Like we could talk about all the things you're not supposed to talk about at the dinner parties or your family gatherings, you know, religion, my addiction to alcohol, you know, all those fun fun things.

Melissa Ebken  4:13 
Well, we do call this pursuing uncomfortable. So let me 

Melinda Hardin  4:16 
Well I'm uncomfortable in several areas. So just pick one.

Melissa Ebken  4:19 
All right, let's start with the addictions.

Melinda Hardin  4:21 
Okay, sounds good.

Melissa Ebken  4:23 
So, people don't just wake up with an addiction. There was a journey that took you there. Yeah. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Melinda Hardin  4:32 
I do because I think it's really important to be on the lookout for yourself. Not for you in particular, but like for me, I think I was, all of us, mart. Yeah, always marching towards, it's a really fine line between end of day ritual to dependence. And I think my toe was across it before I took some inventory and said maybe this is like a thing but you know, no one ever, no one ever pursues addiction. It's the slow, sneaky creep in. And so then, you know, I never even drank really, like when I was younger in high school, college, I got a job in corporate America when I was 27. And Chardonnay goes with the job. I mean, you're just, you're at dinner, you're, you know, you're wining and dining clients. And I really loved it. From from the word get. When I wasn't wining and dining clients, I was just wining and dining at home. And I looked in the recycling bin, at the end of one week, and there were seven wine bottles, and I was the only one that was drinking wine. And I thought, well, that's, that's, that's a lot. Maybe I should, you know, step back. So I would, you know, for a few days. And then, then wouldn't. I found that I was a little bit sharp, when I drank red wine, my husband would say I was a lot sharp when I drink wine. So I was like, I'll just switch. So I found vodka. And that was, I graduated to vodka in hopes to actually curb some of my grr, you know, when I had red wine, so I was drinking every day. And then I was having fewer glasses, but that's only because strategically I went to TJ Maxx and bought the biggest glasses. And so it was like, oh, I'm just having to they're like, God, they're like this, you know, gigantic. So. And then I just started sort of walking, we call it sort of like walking off the cliff. I just wasn't, I was picking fights with my husband, I was, you know, making those phone calls the next day, I'm so sorry, for I don't even I'm not exactly sure how that went down or what I said, but things were becoming a little blurry. I was still really, I think one of the things is that I was really not unmanageable, like I'm from outward appearance. So you know, one of the come to terms or like your come to Jesus is that my life has become unmanageable. But across a lot, a lot across the board, my life is still pretty manageable. And so really, as an addict, you only have to convince yourself that you're okay, and then your truth that it sounds like truth to everybody else.

Melissa Ebken  7:25 
What was the rock bottom like for you?

Melinda Hardin  7:30 
Yeah, so that's the thing I didn't really have, like, you know, falling down a set of stairs in front of a roomful of people and the gasp or like a drunk driving accident or anything. I just, there was a moment when my dad gifted me a picture frame with my kids pictures in it. And it said, When I grow up, I want to be just like my mommy. And I thought I went in the other room and like almost had panic attack. I thought, oh, no, I wanted more for them. That was in December. So I spent the next till August of the next year, really strategizing sobriety, like, I was afraid that if I gave up alcohol, then I would just trade it in for something else. And so, you know, running or Amazon Prime or not necessarily another substance, but just something and I was already so good at what I was doing, I thought I would just sort of see it through the to the end. And then I think it was just a sort of march toward this date that I had circled in my calendar, which was going to be the Wednesday after my kids started school that following year. So it's really in the summer that I decided, Okay, I'm gonna get sober. And by that time, there were some gaps, more gaps in my actual life that I couldn't recall. Or I would reach really, intentionally for that they weren't there. And so that was seeping out. And my kids were starting to go, why don't you remember that? And so that just scared me enough. Like I, the trajectory of where I was headed, there was plenty of examples of what that was going to look like for me, or I was gonna make a better way for myself. And that seemed less terrifying than, you know, just throwing my life away.

Melissa Ebken  9:20 
Well, good for you for having that foresight and the courage to head it off. Thank you. And faith has always been a big part of your life.

Melinda Hardin  9:32 
Always. Yes.

Melissa Ebken  9:34 
Some ways were helpful and some ways were not.

Melinda Hardin  9:38 
Right. And I think they were all intended to be helpful. So yeah,

Melissa Ebken  9:47 
Yeah. Can you give us a little insight on how faith interacted and either supported or uprooted your journey?

Melinda Hardin  9:56 
Yeah, I think when I was little I, I didn't really, I never wondered if there was a God, or I just sort of knew that there was something bigger than me outside of me and that at the same time was a part of me. But um, I've been of a very much was very much of a pleaser, I'm recovering from that too. But I was very much of a pleaser. And I remember like, sort of having this shift. At some point, you know, in Sunday school, when they're passing out the goldfish for all of the, you know, missionary journeys of Paul's, you can name and you're like, Okay, or you're naming books of the Bible, and you realize this is a graded system. Like, oh, okay, so this is a, this is a, there's a carrot, it's dangled, I'm to get it. And there are, it's formulaic. And I think before when in my little girl illness, I just was like, wow, you know, kind of ended in began there. But then I realized very quickly there was it was a template and a formula that I was supposed to follow. And so I did that. And I did it well. I mean, I got a lot of goldfish and gold stars in class. But I, I went to Disciples of Christ Church when I was young, and loved it so much. And then there was a shift where, when I was in high school, my parents, we started going to a more fundamentalist, like a, like a Full Gospel Church. And I really loved so many things about that. So I want to walk into this conversation carefully. I feel like there was such good

Melissa Ebken  11:41 
And I think we can say that nothing is only and always one thing.

Melinda Hardin  11:49 
I can say that now. But I couldn't say that then, you know, like a both and, like, dualistic thinking. It was like a stranglehold.

Melissa Ebken  11:58 
Oh, and you know, many things can be true about one place. That's right, your experience in that place. A lot of people will experience blessing there. And there were a lot of good things there. But there were other things there as well.

Melinda Hardin  12:12 
Yeah. And I experienced blessing there.

Melissa Ebken  12:15 
Yeah, it's not that one place is all good. And another place is all bad. Right? There are many, many different forces always alive and to be experienced in any place.

Melinda Hardin  12:29 
Yes, yes. When we went there, I was really enamored with the worship, you know, it was I loved the whole production of the worship. I, I remember thinking that I showed up with some things missing, like, oh, I need to get some things. I need a true love waits ring. I need a prayer language, I might need to pick up a tambourine. And there's banners. Where do I get a banner? I there like I came ill equipped. But you know, and I felt like I think that it was sort of marketed again, with the best intentions of like, you are missing some things like this is the full story. And so where you came from was like, that was sweet, but it's not the full story. And so you have to have all these sort of tools in your toolbox to, you know, be really be saved, maybe, really, definitely really be righteous following God. And so I felt like, oh, well, that's just a further continuation of the setup of all the hurdles that you have to, you know, jump over in order to get to God. So that really solidified to me that God is sort of like a commodity. You got to go get God like you go, you know, like I say, like, you go get God, like you have to go get a loaf of bread like it's, it became there, everything became very externally motivated. And inside, I was a mess. And I miss the I miss the wonder.

Melissa Ebken  14:12 
You told me once that you traded in the mystery of God for the commodity of God.

Melinda Hardin  14:18 
Yeah. And I really sought after certainty, with fear being the impetus for my you know, going from glory to glory to glory. It was just like, Oh, I gotta get this now. I gotta get this and what if, you know, if I don't get this and I'm really missing out. And so, yes, that will that will squeeze out any room for mystery when you are on a track for certainty and you're chasing after God, like God is a commodity. Yes.

Melissa Ebken  14:49 
You know, I don't want to gloss over that. You're on a quest for certainty. We would all love certainty. We all would love to have that burning bush experience, right? But the thing about the burning bush experience is, you know, Moses was standing before it. Moses was experiencing that burning bush experience. And he too had doubts in front of it. Certainty, I think is a construct that we set out for ourselves and it doesn't necessarily exist. And you know, one of my favorite stories if I can have a moment of indulgence here is Gideon. In the book of Judges, Gideon is the the soul that was tapped to lead the Israelites when the Midianites were attacking and when they were the huge threat. And what I love about Gideon is his uncertainty in his quest for certainty. God and Gideon had a great relationship. And Gideon said, Okay, God, I'll go and do what you want to do. But I really want to have certainty. I want to be sure about this. So let's do this. I'm going to set some fleece out tonight in front of my door. And you know, the cool morning when I wake up, if there is no dew on that fleece, then I'll know that that's your sign to me that it's going to be a success. And God said, alright, let's do it. So they did that. Gideon wakes up the next morning, and there's no dew on the fleece and what does Gideon do? He says, Okay, awesome. Let's try it again. And if it happens again, then I'll know. God says, okay, let's do it. So then the next morning, it happens again, getting goes out there and there's no do on the fleece and what's Gideons response? One more time. Okay, well, just one more time. Just one more time. Let's do it again. Three times that God comes through for Gideon and the way Gideon asks God to speak. And Gideon still doesn't have that certainty. Right? And then the other story when Gideon goes to God and says, okay, we are really outnumbered. We need to fix this. And God said, okay, here's what you do. I need you to go do XYZ, so Gideon goes and does XYZ and loses about half of the people he had, and comes back to God and says, okay, so thank you. However, I was looking for a bit of a different result. I was looking for an increase in numbers instead of a decrease in numbers, since we're, you know, like 10 to one out numbered here. And God said, Okay, awesome. Let's do this. Go do XY and Z. And Gideon does, and loses even more people. And God said, Okay, we're getting closer do it again. And Gideon does it again. And finally, Gideon has just a handful of people in, you know, perspective, and God says, okay, now it's perfect. And Gideon says, I think one of us misunderstands perfect. These numbers aren't matching up for me. And, but the thing was, God had the victory. And it came through, but God had to get rid of all of the extra stuff. So that God could be present. And man, I love/hate that book. And that story, because I am such a Gideon and I want that certainty. I want the numbers to add up. I like the balance sheet to be in my favor. And it doesn't work that way. And someday, I hope to learn that lesson. But in the meantime, God is saying, Okay, awesome. Let's do this, go do these things. And I've gotcha. And I keep thinking, okay, am I communicating in opposites? Or have I misunderstood the meaning of these vocabulary words? What I have in mind is not what's happening here.

Melinda Hardin  18:55 
Yeah, no, I feel that. Wow. Yes.

Melissa Ebken  18:59 
Yeah. And I think that's how we live, you know, in my mind, everything is how would Monty Python portray this big screen on the stage? It helps me to have some levity, especially for myself because I too want certainty. And that just isn't a thing that we get.

Melinda Hardin  19:20 
Well, I think too, you know, for me when I'm when we transition to that particular space. I remember like hearing at that point like that the Bible was literal. And so to open it up with the literal interpretation, or trying to understand it, literally, man that jacked me up. Because I was like, well, here it says this, and then this is this and I didn't, I wasn't steeping in the historical context. Like, give me some kind of framework around this. I was just, you know, at that point, sort of plucking here in there. And, you know, at that point, you're like, where do I go to college? Well, let me look and see what the Bible says about that UK or Transy. You know, and you just get so distraught if it doesn't just literally say exactly what you want, because that, that and that chalks up all of the broadness and the expanse of the Spirit of God and makes it like, like, everything felt like an algorithm. And I thought it was failing the class and I just wanted to get everything right. So I don't um, but at the same time, there was this rumbling inside of like, okay, so this religion thing has certainty. That's the thing that has, I mean, that's, that's an algorithm. I know what I'm supposed to do next. And the all the supposed to's were very clearly outlined. And then the prophetic stuff was the messy part of that component, which was a whole nother new thing. But even in that, I felt like there was a way that I was supposed to be doing that, if I wasn't doing it right. Or long enough, that wasn't enough. And so then it felt like my little girl wonder, and then this other thing, were in opposition. And so then at some point, I just flung it all off and just sobbed in my closet and just said, I don't even know what to think or what I'm supposed to believe or any of it. But like, can you just hold me? Can you just be here like with me? Like, I don't need a lightning burst, or even a burning bush. I just need like the breath of heaven to just brush up against my skin. And let me know like, I'm not alone.

Melissa Ebken  21:34 
What a beautiful statement, just need the breath of heaven to brush up against me. I'm gonna steal that, by the way. Go for it. You have very well. You have very skillfully described the stages of faith. Many folks who have studied psychology will be familiar with John Piaget's stages of cognitive development and how our brains grow and develop and grow in their capabilities. How as little ones, we only have concrete awareness, we're not capable of abstract thoughts. And as we become a teenager, we become capable of that and those different levels that grow throughout our lives. James Fowler did some parallel work he built upon Piaget's theories that are doctrinal now they're just foundational to how we understand human development. And Fowler developed stages of faith development. And they go along in a parallel sort of way and build upon John Piaget's work. So just as when we're little we only have concrete thought, we're only capable of concrete faith. But before that, when we're real little, everything is a mystery. Everything is just wonder, you know, go on a walk around the block with a three year old. And you will be open to the wonder of life around you. And I really believe that's what Jesus was talking about when he called the children to him and said, you know, the kingdom of heaven is open to those like this, that have that sense of wonder and aliveness that as we grow, we lose that. And we become locked into this abstract or not the abstract but the, the literal concreteness of our faith and understanding. And it's not until we're, you know, in our 20s, that's a really difficult time in faith development. When we're in our 20s, that's when things begin to unravel for us, or one of two things will happen, either all of those concrete things that we built upon, will become solidified, because we will not allow anything to shake that, or everything shakes that and we are off chasing the demons and finding where the demons dwell. Yeah, yeah. And when we do that, we'll ultimately in our mid 30s, we'll find our way back. And we're then capable of another stage of faith that weaves together all of those things in a beautiful new way. Yeah. And that's what you've described, you described that moment sitting in your closet, wanting the breath of heaven to just brush up against your skin, as that illustrative of in your 20s when things were coming apart, and you just wanted a foothold somewhere to get you through this wandering so that you could find your way back. Yeah. And I love that beautiful descriptor. And so many folks get lost in the wandering or shame themselves because they're wandering but what people what I would love people to know is that is an outgrowth of your faith that is a next step. That's a growing in your faith journey. And it's going to bring you to a place of wonder and excitement.

Melinda Hardin  25:08 
It does and it is scary. I remember going from the closet, you know, eventually I ended up back at another church, just a conservative in a different way, like a Southern Baptist situation. And I remember feeling like, okay, I can do this thing. Like it's time I'm a mom, I need to be doing the thing, right. And it was, again, like the sweetest people you've ever met. Precious. I mean, amazing. And, you know, just cool people. And then it but every Sunday, I found myself like wiggling in the pews when certain things were said, and I liken it to putting on a wool turtleneck in the dead of July, like I was like, cannot breathe like I'm hiving and I'm sweating. And like, there's nothing wrong with this. But it's like, this turtleneck is too small. But you're so I'm so careful of how I say that. Because that makes it sound like I've outgrown where they are. And it's not that at all. It was just in the wrong spot. And so it took this wonder that I had reengaged with and made me feel shame over it. Like I should not be this messy, or it should not be this way. Like certainly, there's some formula that this will work. And it just didn't. And then someone said, Hey, have you ever read Richard Rohr? And well, that just changed my life. I mean, I was like, Oh, okay. Same, I mean, right. And so it was just just someone else off the island, saying, Well, this really helped me when I was, couldn't find my footing and didn't have, you know, any scaffolding. And so it was that being introduced to Richard Rohr, and then starting to read the mystics was really like, so life giving to me, but you take that and then you tried to sit on Sunday mornings, and like the churches where you where your friends go, or where your parents go, or, and they're all amazing. And this is not anything bad about where they go or where they are. I just went and I always felt so weird, like, just so like, okay, okay, and then what, what else can we talk about? Like, can we talk about like, the, like that liminal space between, like, this and that? And what about both and? Can we talk both and? No, what do you mean? There's no program for that? Okay. You know, and so just leave, like, because it just didn't feel like there was a spot and I felt like I was showing up with ideas or questions that felt like I was throwing a hand grenade. So I just and I didn't want to. I didn't do that. I mean, I didn't go and disrupt I just but I felt like, disrupted inside.

Melissa Ebken  27:55 
And some folks might be curious about Mystics. Mystics have been around since the very beginning of Christian faith. They have always been a part of ancient faith traditions. The Desert Fathers are mystics. John the Baptist was part of the mystic community in his time. And they have always been a part of the Christian tradition, from all the way back. They a hallmark of the mystics is the being at one with God and experiencing that unity in oneself. So mystics will often have, quote, unquote, religious experiences. It anywhere, in any circumstance, it might just be an alleyway, but something beautiful there will capture their soul, or in the woods, or anywhere in creation, but for a mystic soul, it's all about that connection with God in that moment. In first or second Kings when Elijah is fleeing from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and is finally able to just be still and be silent, and that still small voice of God came to him. That's a mystic experience. The Bible's full of those.

Melinda Hardin  29:18 
Yes. And I think, you know, I thought should there be fireworks that accompany this, and I was so used to big, high octane spiritual experiences that when it came just to a more contemplative practice, because I really needed to drown out all of the well marketed positions and just go, what if I just got what I need to go back into that closet and just sit with God? Then what? And it was such a big shift from needing so it's such a like, kind of an emotional machine or like a really well planned out worship experience. And I was leading worship. So I was trying to create that experience. I'm not. And that's not even a bad thing. But I just thought, what if I pull myself out from all of it? Like, then what? So there's been a couple of times in my spiritual journey where I've been very entrenched in the program, and then said, I, like my brain, and my heart and my spirit just need a respite from that so that I can reconnect. And, and thankfully, you know, because there was a short season, maybe I don't know that it was that short. But there was a season where then I had to go. Okay. I'm definitely cynical. So how do I come to the other side of that, because that wasn't, you can't, you can't really encounter I mean, you can, you can be a total mess and encounter God. So I'm not saying you have to be shined up. But if you're just like, if I'm just steeping in cynicism, over the way something is done, then I mean, that's not that's not healthy for anybody or anything. And it's like a blocking a channel. Just to, you know, for you to feel the Divine is free to feel God. It's not that God's like, because you're cynical, I will not connect with you. You're just like all junky and sludgy inside. So

Melissa Ebken  31:25 
You know, it's like plumbing. You know, you're when you have water running in your home, you have those pipes open, and you open up the tap, and the water comes out freely. Yeah, you got a lot of junk in the pipes, the water is going to trickle out or not at all, and that's in a sense, what you're speaking of, that we can put a lot of layers on that keep the love of God, that presence of God from coming to us fully. It just clogs the pipes, the spiritual pipes. Yeah. And sometimes you just need to clear it all out. And for you with the mystic soul, that is the contemplative practices and being still, yes. For others who have more of a head faith, those well crafted services might be the balm, for that individual. For those who have a heart faith, they just may need to hear the stories that others have shared their faith experience in their, their, their encounters with God. And for still others the what I call advocates, they need to hear the stories of how systems and structures have been changed to open up the kingdom of heaven, if I will, that's kind of an archaic term, but that experience of heaven on earth to others. So yeah, who, however you find yourself in those places, there's a real viable connection available to you. But you got to do a little internal work of clearing out those pipes.

Melinda Hardin  33:04 
You do. And I'm really grateful I have a few friendships where the, we land really differently on things. And so sometimes I'll like to have, I'll like podcast swap with somebody, or book swap with somebody that I know is going to encounter it completely different and say, hey, can I just want to know your position on this, like, I'm not even gonna talk, which is a big deal for me. But I'm just gonna listen, I just want to hear like your actual, because I can go sit in the echo chamber that tells me I'm right all day long. But I'm not, I don't want to know that I want to encounter somebod, that's totally different. And then just respectfully say, that's where you are. And that's where I am. And I make myself engage in those practices so that I don't get self righteous in the other way, or go try to evangelize any other way. And just let it be. And my husband's very good at reminding me when I'm like, Oh, I don't know. And he's like, that's just where they are. Remember, when we were there and or, you know, it's not a matter of being further down the road. It's just at a different spot in the big wide open field. So it's not like a linear journey where I would ever think I've gone farther at all. But it's just good to look across the field and say, Oh, they're all those other people searching and seeking help. That's where they are,

Melissa Ebken  34:16 
And the stages of faith development can really help with that, because there's not a checkered flag at the finish line. Yeah, in fact, it's really rare that any of us get to stage the final stage. You know, think Jesus representing that final stage or a Dalai Lama or some we're not going to get there because we don't do the inner work to get there. But we have an experience of God where we are. Sometimes life determines what's available to us, because if you encounter traumas, you have to do a lot of work to heal from trauma and that's reflected in your faith life as well. So wherever you are in your faith journey in whatever stage of faith development, God is present to you in that stage, that's right. And as God is present to others in the other stages, and I think recognizing that and like you said, embracing that we are all at our stage, interacting with God/higher power/Spirit, however you want to name that right, in our own way could change the world that could change our communities?

Melinda Hardin  35:25 
Yes, I agree. I agree.

Melissa Ebken  35:30 
Melinda, I could continue to talk to you all morning. All week. Others might get a little tired of hearing us talk back and forth. So sorry about that. But I do want to give you the final say. What would you like to leave folks with today, if there's a message that you could share?

Melinda Hardin  35:53 
Oh, gosh, I spent a lot of my life a great deal of it just trying to fit in the boxes and meet expectations that I thought were set before me. And I always say my first addiction was approval. And I thought that there was just a certain way and a certain track. And so I'd say if you're, if you're in a place and something just is stirring inside of you, like not, to not be afraid of curiosity, to come into the curiosity of your faith, of you know, presets that you feel like you have to do because of where you live, or who you love, or, you know, how you how you go to your job or whatever, just keep going. I mean, it's like this as trite as that sounds, but really just keep peeling back the layers, because there's such beauty in that discovery and exploration. And even though it can be scary, like you're not unmet, you will be met.

Melissa Ebken  36:53 
Yeah. And don't be afraid to set up the fleece from time to time.

Melinda Hardin  36:56 
That's right. Set out the fleece for sure.

Melissa Ebken  37:02 
Melinda, thank you so much, and links to your band and to your book, and to any thing else that check the shownotes folks, click on those links, check out Melinda and all that she's up to it's really great and it's inspiring. It's going to make you smile, for sure. So thanks again, Melinda for joining us on the podcast today. And I hope to talk to you again.

Melinda Hardin  37:25 
Me too. Thanks for having me. I love love, love your show. This has been so fun to be a part of. Thank you.

Melissa Ebken  37:30 
Thank you, bye bye.

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