You Don’t Give Me Butterflies

I stared at him.

Trying to process the words as I searched his face for something to tell me there was no truth to this.

What I found was nothing.

I withdrew every part of my body that was touching his and my demeanor went ice cold.

“What?” I asked pointedly. “I don’t give you butterflies. What does that even mean?”

“No, I’ve never gotten butterflies when I have seen you.” he set his mouth in a grim line.

And you know what? I should have walked out right then. Because what came next was a flood of hurtful things. I heard them. But I didn’t absorb them because I was too busy reeling from this shocking revelation.

The struggle to believe that I am beautiful is one of my deepest battles. It was something I shared with him from the beginning — that I was afraid someone would be with me because they liked my personality and thought I was fun and I helped them love Jesus but they wouldn’t necessarily be attracted to me.

Because I’ve been told, boys like that aren’t attracted to girls like you.

So it’s lingered. This wondering of will the man I’m attracted to ever be attracted to me. 9/10 times they weren’t. And I learned to deal. But he was different. He told me I was beautiful and I believed him.

I never once questioned his attraction to me the whole time we were dating. He made me feel safe and loved. Until he uttered those 5 words that night.

And everything felt like a lie. And all of the lies I fought my entire life suddenly became truth.

We had a follow-up conversation and I asked the questions I needed to know and he admitted to the truth he wouldn’t say that night. He meant to hurt me. Regardless of the apologies and the convincing me otherwise, the damage was done.

That one sentence, those 5 seemingly harmless words independent of each other, struck deep into the most sacred vulnerable places of my heart and ripped a wound wide open. I bled for awhile. I doubted. I re-considered. I freaked out. I feared.

I thought about the absolute power our words have. The power to bring life. The power to bring death. We are cautioned all through Scripture of this power and yet we misuse it so often. We take the words that we think are speaking truth or being honest with someone or sharing authentically and throw a little bit of Jesus in there and convince ourselves our words just brought life.

But in reality they brought death.

They were self-serving words. Phrases and statements and sentiments used to hide our insecurities and wounds. We mask them up in something pretty but in the end they are a time bomb waiting to go off.

And the more we know of someone, the more we know their story, the more we invite them in, the more catastrophic these words can be. Because we KNOW where to aim our guns. Exactly where our target is. We know what will cause them the most pain. So we go straight for it.

But my sweet brothers and sisters.

The gift of LIFE we’ve been given. The gift of Love. Can you imagine if we stopped living afraid? Can you imagine if we took the hurts and insecurities and put them at the foot of the cross. If we told Papa “YOU belong on the throne” not the lies or the words or the things I believe. Because if I live out of THOSE things, I put them on the throne. I worship them.

But loved ones. The power we have. The power to bless and heal and whisper His tenderness. The soothing balm of His truth. We also have that power.

I am so sad for a world, myself included, that decides to live captive to the lies that have the smallest bit of truth. The ones who sounds just enough like truth that we embrace it and live out of this new identity.

Here’s what I know to be true:

You are NOT unwanted like those girls said you were while you were standing in the lunch line. You are NOT the cuts from the basketball team. You are NOT the villain in her story. You are NOT the slut they whispered about. You are NOT the things he said to you when he was afraid. You are NOT beyond repair. You are NOT something to be thrown away. You are NOT too much. You are NOT your mistakes. You are NOT the sum of the wrongs committed. You are NOT worth less.

Papa decides who we are. Papa gives us a new name. Papa gives us a new heart. Papa has won the battle for us. He sent His Son to set us free. We are no longer known by our slave name but as free people. We are not who we’ve been told we are by this broken messy world.

You are Chosen. You are Loved. You are Known. You are Beautiful. You are Strong. You are Lovely. You are Enough.  You are Valuable. You are Blessed. You are Remembered. You are Heard. You are Seen. You are New. You are Precious. You are His.

He has given you a new name. Live out of that today. Speak out of that today. Love out of that today.

Dear Future Husband’s Ex-Girlfriend(s)

Hi there,

Listen, I know this might be a tiny bit awkward but I felt like I needed to get something out in the open. I know you’re probably not going to like me and I want you to know that is totally okay because I know what it’s like to be an ex-girlfriend.

It’s pretty terrible right?

The worst is that middle ground between not wanting him but not wanting anyone else to have him. And when you see an unfamiliar female face start popping up on his social media sites it immediately raises alarms. Because we know. We always know. We know him. We know how he interacts, what he says or doesn’t say, the way he is. We know him because we loved him.

So I’m here to give you permission to not like me. I’m giving you permission to look at my pictures and read my posts and my tweets and who knows what else and find all of the things wrong with me. Because there are… SO many things. I get it. It sucks. It sucks to watch a man you cared deeply for start to care for someone else.

And even if you know the reasons why it still feels like rejection all over again. The truth is, it’s never about you. Just like it is not about me when I’m an ex-girlfriend. It isn’t easy to stop loving someone. It isn’t easy to share your life and story and bits and pieces of who you are with someone and then one day you realize it just isn’t enough. Where does that intimacy, that overlap of life shared go? Is there an alternate universe where it goes on? It keeps living? I know I’ve hoped for that at times.

I’m sorry he wasn’t it for you. Truly I am. I’m sorry he isn’t the man who will make you better for the Kingdom, who you were created to love. I’m sorry he won’t say your name when he promises to love and cherish in sickness and in health. I’m sorry it hurts. I’m so sorry. Because I know. I understand. I feel your pain.

I promise that I will cherish the love you started to grow in him. I will protect the goodness you brought out. I will respect the memories you shared and the life lived. I will never try to be you or replace you. You played an important part in his life. You helped shape him into the man he is today. You were valuable and necessary. I promise to do my best not to compare myself to you — to battle my own demons because I’ll probably want to be prettier or thinner or funnier or whatever. But I will try to choose to believe that there is room for him to love the past and love the present.

I will hope for you that you find the right one. The one who makes him seem like he was the right thing at the right moment and now you’re okay to move past. I desperately hope that for you and will believe it for you. I will never promise something which isn’t mine to fulfill. But I will hope for you, even when you can’t hope for yourself.

When we choose to pursue Papa’s best, it often times looks nothing like what we have in mind. And I can’t tell you how grateful I am that is the case. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t sad and hard and disappointing when what isn’t the best doesn’t happen. I know for me, most times the best hasn’t come when I have good. It’s come when I have nothing but my Papa. I’ve learned to choose that my PAPA is the Promised Land when I don’t know what Canaan will look like.

But all of that to say, you are incredible. You are beautiful and special and precious and worth pursuing. Just because he wasn’t it doesn’t determine any part of your worth. You have to believe me when I say that. It isn’t him or nothing.

Being an ex-girlfriend is a title we always hope to avoid. It’s one that comes with weird emotion and unexpected longing and confusing thoughts. It doesn’t make sense and it can be tricky to navigate. If I need to be the enemy for awhile I understand. It’s okay. Just know I’m grateful for you and the way you loved him and showed him Jesus. Even if he didn’t see it at the time.

Thank you for loving him before I got there. Thank you for opening your heart and holding a piece of his. Thank you for letting him go when it was time.

I owe you.

– Rach

Then Came the Morning

I froze.

An almost empty room stared back at me. Wait, when did this happen??

The sobs started welling up inside of me. I swallowed hard hoping it would push the emotion back down.

It caught me off guard, the depth of the emotion. Of the sorrow. Of the memories.

The amount of life I lived in that room rivaled many of my childhood homes. I saw myself moving in, learning how to re-adjust all of my eating habits and lifestyle, having a mini identity crisis when I lost so much weight none of my clothes fit. I saw the morning I got the message my beloved grandfather passed away. Sitting in my bed weeping for our loss but rejoicing for his peace.

I saw the new year, the year I knew would bring an adventure.

I saw the beginning of our love story…. almost exactly a year ago. I saw the text messages from him. The giggles at his wit. The frantic cleaning and changing outfits as I waited for him to pick me up for our second date. I saw our third date after the surgery I had to remove the pre-cancerous cells and his tender way of taking care of me.

I saw all of the firsts, all of the tears, all of the laughter, all of the late night conversations of whispered hopes and dreams and plans. I saw all of the stories I told to others about him.

I saw the night we broke up.

I saw the weeping that followed.

I saw the beginning and the end of a new relationship.

I saw weddings and funerals and birthdays and babies.

I saw him come back and I saw him leave once more.

The two years I lived that life came rushing to the forefront of my mind and heart. Crowding out thoughts of anything else but how Papa wrote my story in an incredible way.

then came the morning

When I made the decision to move out, to live alone, and start fresh, it was partly because I needed a clean slate.  But initially I made that decision when we we were dating. I had options and he processed with me and knew about my choice. Two weeks after things ended with him, I randomly got a phone call telling me the tenants had cancelled their notice and the apartment was no longer available.

I was frustrated and exhausted and freaked out and angry and overwhelmed. I had a plan! I made a decision! It was all working out great!

So I spent a frantic 6 hours with my mom looking at 8 apartment complexes before settling on one. This one had never been an option the first round, it was never discussed, never even looked at.

And I saw that I was given a morning. Something new. Something untainted. Something without a hint of a memory. My Papa knew I needed something completely free of his fingerprints. Because truth be told, as deeply as I know I don’t belong with him, I still have moments where I long for what he represented and who he was. And I could look at things in my house and pull up a memory, full of pain or joy, and see the story I hoped was being written.

But tonight I drove past the famous old hotel where he took me on an incredible date right after we started seeing each other again. It was like being in a fairytale that night. The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me. After we had parked we walked up along the street towards the hotel to see the Christmas lights. The walkway was lined with trees lit up in Christmas splendor and we walked towards a glittering hotel. Several times I caught my breath and remarked how beautiful and magical it was. We both did.

As I drove past it tonight, I was surprised to see the walkway with the trees still wrapped in their white lights. And my vision flashed to us. I saw us walking, me clutching his side as he wrapped me in his arms making sure I didn’t slip on ice. My heart caught for a moment. But then I turned and started driving towards the hotel. The trees on the very edge were lined but all of the other lights were gone. The magic had faded with only a hint remaining on the edge of the property. It seemed to be the perfect image of the feelings in my heart.

What was once a beautiful glittery magic destination, had now faded into darkness, with a dim outline and fuzzy edges. The catch in my heart released and I felt my own edges dim a little bit more. But you know what I know? In ten more months the magic returns. It lights up again and becomes stunning.

You know what else I know? On my 28th birthday I was given a pink sunrise reflected on my mountains. I was given a reminder in my favorite color that the mornings bring new. They bring life that he isn’t part of. They bring a day open to adventure and mystery and Gold. I’ve clung to that, in this 28th year of existence, that this is the year of new and mornings.

So why wouldn’t my new apartment be one more piece of that? He’s whispered to me that newness is coming. He’s whispered His best. His love. Who He is.

Even my new key is gold.. an odd choice to the world but a perfect choice for me and not one that I chose. It took me by surprise when I was clarifying to my mom that my old key was silver and my new key was gold. It stopped me in my tracks. Papa is giving me a gold key. To remind me that He has gold. 

It seems fitting on what would have been almost my one year anniversary, I sit in a new living room, in a new apartment, alone, with my hope in a Provider and not a provision, meanwhile The Lone Bellow sings:

then came the morning
then came the morning
then came the morning
then came the morning

Joy comes in the morning
you won’t see me crying

Then the storm breaks the cold
Not towards the line I thought you stole
Start to feel what I felt way before
You broke down my front door
Popped my heart up off the wooden floor
Now I don’t need your smile anymore

my Provider is always good. He always provides. Even when the provision doesn’t look the way I want it to.

I went back to that almost empty room today and took anything left to make it totally empty. Then I vacuumed and I leaned against the wall and I took a breath. I whispered goodbye. I turned the light off and I left the old inside that room. Because it doesn’t belong with the new.

 

Your Lust Problem is Not My Responsibility

**update
I’ve gotten some pretty intense comments about this post. Which made me realize I should clarify a few things.

1) yes, I am angry. I am angry for the beautiful young women I love and know who are constantly shamed and broken by boys who won’t deal with their issues. I am angry for the hurt and pain caused to so many people because of this issue

2) I did not give any credit to the men who ARE fighting for their purity and the purity of the women they encounter. I’m sorry I did not acknowledge the beautiful and intense battle you face. You are my heroes. You are the men who need to call out the boys placing the blame on women. But you are so strong and I am so grateful for you! I pray for you and see Jesus in you.

3) Ultimately this comes down to a matter of respecting one another and caring for our hearts because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The motives of my heart of why I wear something matter just as much as a man expecting me to be completely covered. We will stand before Jesus someday and be held accountable for our own thoughts, motives, and actions. Only ours. Which is sobering and beautiful.

**end update

There have been plenty of articles and Facebook updates and blog posts recently about Christian women not wearing certain clothing items as to not cause men to “stumble.” Now to be totally transparent, I haven’t read all of them or studied the topic with every moment of free time but I can come to you as a woman who grew up bombarded by the messaging of not causing men to stumble.

I think it’s one of the most harmful and condescending messages sent out to young women.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard these phrases:

You’re beautiful, so you need to protect your brothers and yourself by the way you dress
Men are visual and you need to pay attention to what you wear
It says in the New Testament that we shouldn’t do things to cause our brothers to stumble which is why you shouldn’t wear that 

Oh my goodness!!!!

Do you see a theme here? Every single one of those phrases (and countless others) places the responsibility, control, and issue with a man’s lust struggle squarely on my shoulders. And what’s even worse is that it absolves men from ALL responsibility of dealing with their stumbling issues.

But you know what I don’t hear?

I don’t hear men calling out other men telling them that the responsibility is theirs and theirs alone to battle through lust. I don’t see men out there fighting shoulder to shoulder to view women (wearing ANY type of clothing) in a pure and holy manner.

What you do is SHAME me into covering my body because my body causes some man to fall into temptation.

Guess what…. there are plenty of moments every day where I struggle with lust. I lust after emotional intimacy, having children, financial security, the things others have, I battle lust all the time. Never once have I thought to tell my friends that they should keep their children, relationships, things etc from me because it causes me to sin. Are you kidding me?? Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in if we had to do that? It would be absurd.

But you know what I DO do to battle lust? I run to the heart of my Papa and put boundaries in place in my life that are specific to my temptations and my struggles and MY sin.

As a woman and a Christian, my call is to live a sacrificial life that points others back to Jesus. To care about what He thinks more than anyone else. To put Him on the throne. It’s not just about making sure my ass is covered or my shirt isn’t too low because a guy walking down the street might have an inappropriate thought.

The way I reflect Christ is in all manners of life: my thoughts, my words, my actions, my attitude, my interactions. I can be much more seductive and cause men to stumble in greater ways by letting my unredeemed self control any and all of those areas. I guarantee more “sin” has been committed because of the seduction of a person through one of those ways over a low-cut top times ten.

But regardless of all of that, my heart breaks for the message being communicated to women that covering ourselves is the only way to keep men from stumbling. This message sets us up for shame and blame. In the majority of crimes, the one who commits the crime is held responsible. Not the victim. So why is this ANY different?

The battle for our beauty is hard enough in this world. The battle to trust that we are lovely and beautiful and wanted and worthy and adored is the battle that drives so much of our actions. The wounds that have been left because someone sliced into our beauty identity often is why we wear things to draw attention.

So here’s a thought, brothers in Christ, why don’t you try to affirm and love my beauty exactly where it is and regardless of what I’m wearing.

Why don’t you try to love me and serve me by dealing with your lust issues.