I’m not together, but I’m getting there.

“Rach… I think you’ve been putting too much pressure on yourself about being okay – it’s fine to be sad and work through it.” Her gentle text message made my eyes flood with tears. 

I sighed. 

I’ve tried to be so strong this time. So okay. 

I’m a different girl. I’m healthier. I believe more truth. I understand more about who I am and who my Father is. 

And if I’m telling the truth, I’m terrified I will slip into the well of sorrow and not be able to climb my way out of it. So I choose every day to fight to be okay. Which is good. But also exhausting. 

Over and over I’ve heard affirmation from people in their amazement of how strong I am and how well I’m handling this. 

Can I just be totally honest with you? 

I laid in my bed for three hours the other night and sobbed. I cried for my broken heart, for the pain I’m walking, for the frustration I feel at being broken. My cheeks were stained with mascara as I listened to music and let my soul empty itself of grief.

Because I am grieving. Something was lost. Something was taken away. Something broke. 

I am not okay. 

And it’s okay. It’s completely okay. 

Because this time not being okay looks completely different. I’m making better choices in my not okay-ness. 

Some nights it takes every ounce of strength to not text this Missionary man. I have to sit there and tell myself all of the ways he didn’t choose me and all of the ways he didn’t want me. Which.is.awful. 

But it’s truth. 

And the truth keeps me from walking into dangerous territory. 

Almost every day, I used to drive south to get home on the single interstate running through Colorado Springs. And sometimes as I would approach my exit I would find myself wondering “what if” I kept going to the Jock’s city a mere 45 miles away. What if I showed up at his house in the middle of the night, tear stained cheeks. Would he turn me away? Would he kiss me? Would he be convinced we should be together? Would I be convinced?

So then I would say out loud of some the terrible things the Jock said to me. I would tell myself all of the hard things and awful things and painful things. I would cry as I would give voice to the words which would haunt my dreams. 

But never once did I drive past my exit. 

And it wrecks me. The reality of the truth destroys me. I have to convince myself I am the only one suffering loss and heartbreak. I have to slam into the wall created between my heart and his. I don’t know if it’s the healthiest coping mechanism? But it’s something that helps me fight forward. 

My friends, I am not okay. I am not alright. I am a broken weepy hurting mess. I am disappointed and frustrated and confused. 

But underneath those layers is a steadiness and strength I’ve come to appreciate. It’s a resolve that I will keep choosing to be okay until someday I am okay and it isn’t a choice anymore. 

I hope you know it’s okay to not be okay. I hope you know you’re in good company. I hope you know it is safe to be a mess. I hope you know there is beauty in the breakdown. I hope you know, whatever is breaking you, that you are loved and seen and cared for. Your mess matters. The shattered pieces of your heart are in the hands of those who love you. 

Because you are loved. 

The Words I Will Never Take Back

My head was cradled against his shoulder. Both of us quiet as my tears slipped down my face, staining his shirt.

I sniffled and attempted to apologize for getting his shoulder wet.

He grinned down at me, “hey, don’t worry about it. There’s alot more shirt if you need it.” And he stroked my hair as I let the emotion pour from my eyes.

There were so many things I wanted to say, I tried to say, I needed to say. For someone who uses lots of words, I was surprisingly mute.

I sniffled again and ran my hand against his cheek.

“Some day I hope I get to tell you all the ways the Lord has used you to redeem my heart and my story. But for now, I don’t have enough words to tell you the enormity of the gift you’ve given me. Of being able to be myself and that who I am is okay.”

Tears filled my eyes again.

Because its true.

I whispered a confession then that I could never hate him for anything because he had given me that gift.

So when the night came when things abruptly ended, I echoed those words.

“I’m not mad at you. I don’t hate you. You aren’t a villain in my story.”

I don’t know if he believed me but there’s nothing I can do to make it any truer. Redemption doesn’t always come tied up with a neat little bow. It doesn’t always come in a shiny package. It doesn’t always complete without pain. But it does make us new. It shows us we are no longer who we used to be. It shows us how we’ve chosen better, how we’ve obeyed, how we’ve grown, how we’ve learned to love Jesus first and most.

Much of my life has been about hiding who I am. Trying to make myself less, trying to minimize my needs and my desires, trying to ask for very little. I kept a mental score of how much I was requiring of the person I was with.

But all of that changed knowing him, I changed knowing him.

I found beautiful parts of who I am. I found ugly parts of who I am. I found courage and depth and strength. I found fear and insecurity and doubt. I found myself finding myself.

I’ve been sorting through the threads of him and the threads of me and the threads of us as I fight forward, taking steps toward tomorrow. I know many of the threads must be severed and some can be saved. Yet I take care to keep the ones Papa spun out of the old and turned into something new.

Because this  Missionary man who was mine gently softened some of my sharper edges. He waded through the mess of what remained from the Jock, wiped off the dirt, and showed me that beauty remained. He saw a heart worth loving for a season and did his best to care for me.

I dated the Jock and the Missionary for almost the exact same amount of time. Through the same months, as winter turned to spring and spring turned summer. We had some of the same conversations, some of the same disagreements, some of the same tensions. Yet each time they were vastly different. One cut deep wounds and one healed them. One used his words to tear me down and one used them to bring life. One pulled me into himself and the other turned me back to Jesus.

And I got to be different. I got to be better. I got to love deeply and stay obedient. I was given a second chance at love. The lingering wounds left over from the Jock, which I believe were truly meant to be healed by the Missionary, were covered with a sweet balm and given a chance to heal instead of a constant ripping wide open.

Even though it was a season, it was a season I would choose 100x times over. It’s a season I’ll be forever grateful for and not regret. It’s a season that made me a better woman. It’s a season that sanctified me. It’s a season that redeemed me. It’s a season that restored me.

Last summer I prayed that I would be given a double blessing of what I had lost.

Last fall I was told I was going to get four-fold the blessing of what I had lost.

This summer I found a double blessing of what I had lost.

Which means I can’t wait to see what is coming next.


Surgery Without Lidocaine

A year and a half ago, when I had my arm sliced and diced to get rid of some scary looking cells, I yelled loudly when the doctor made a cut.

“You can feel that??” he looked at me with panicked eyes.

“YES!!!” I shouted back.

He grabbed a needle full of lidocaine and jammed it into my skin, immediately numbing any and all sensation. I felt instant relief and made the terrible decision to peer over the surgical drape and look at what was happening. Bad idea.

After he cut out anything suspect and stitched me up, he wrapped my arm in a bandage and warned me I’d feel significantly more pain than the same procedure on my leg from the week before. My arm was still numb so I brushed off his concerns but accepted the prescription for a few vicoden.

Slowly but surely, the lidocaine wore off and I started to feel blinding pain. I tried to distract myself and power through but the intensity grew with each passing hour. Eventually I couldn’t even pick my food up with my right hand because my arm hurt so badly.

The only thing I could think about was that I would never not feel pain in my arm again.

But as it does, the wound healed. It took time and was sensitive and pink and angry and a deformed scar built up which my doctor had to fix. I see that scar every day. Sometimes running my finger over it lightly, to remember all it represented. Sometimes not even seeing it though I’m staring straight at it.

And just like with my body, I had forgotten the numbness after emotional trauma wears off. That first slice is searing and you yell out for it to stop. Your heart and mind take over and inject their own form of lidocaine to keep you from pain. The evidence of the wound are there but you can detach. You can examine it for the bloody mess it is but not feel the depth of it because you’re numb.

But then the pain of loss and confusion and hurt set in. They creep into the hole in my heart and start to wake it up. They scream to be acknowledged and validated and given their time. It makes my brain fuzzy and the truth less clear. It distorts the words and memories and puts them in a wrong place. It disorients me.

As the pain grows and the lidocaine wears off, I start to think the pain will consume and remain and never leave. I start to think it will always be this way and always hurt. I try to find more lidocaine, more things to numb and cope. But what I forget is that just like my little pink scar, the wound will close, it won’t hurt to touch, and my brain will clear. I’ll be able to lift my hands to dance around in the sunlight.

I’ve decided to stop searching for more lidocaine because now I can remember that I’m strong enough to mend again. And if I keep myself numb I might never remember what it’s like to be whole.


Airport breakdowns 

I slipped on my shoes and went running towards the gate. My first attempt was 4 gates too early so I kept going, sweaty, with the lump in my throat growing. 

The yellow “boarding” sign was flashing on the screen. With desperation in my eyes I asked if there was any way I could get on the earlier flight. I was politely turned down for any flights before my scheduled one, an hour away. 

I turned around, disoriented and distracted, and started looking for some anchoring point. The lump in my throat was growing larger with each passing second threatening to choke the life out of me. 

I remembered seeing a sign for a chapel so I wandered that way. I was a mess, tear-filled eyes, splotchy cheeks, and shuffling feet. Eventually I found the elevator to the chapel. I walked in and found it blissfully empty. 

I collapsed into a chair and my sobs became audible. Tears streaming down my face, my shoulders heaved and I could feel my body shaking. 

I hadn’t been expecting it but I wasn’t entirely surprised. 

The ending was kind, full of hard things and confusing words and missteps and right steps and quiet words and tears. It wasn’t dramatic though it was filled with emotion. 

There are no good reasons and things to pin it down on. Only a feeling that this was the end. I warred with myself — fighting to hear Papa and exit gracefully. At one point I heard the Holy Spirit whisper okay, say okay and then trust me. Lean into me. 

Soon after I said those words and found myself fighting to open the car door. It never gets any easier to see someone for the last time and know it is the last time. It never gets any easier to desperately want to be anywhere but there and yet not want to be anywhere else. It never gets easier to utter final sentiments and sayings and choose your very last words. Knowing what will echo in his mind and yours. 

I stopped to call my mom outside the house before I went in. I cried into the phone and heard her sadness for me too. We spoke briefly and then I walked into the home of the woman who has known me longer than almost anyone. She called my name in greeting and I struggled to say hello. 

When she peeked at my face it told her everything she needed to know. She walked down the stairs and wrapped her arms around me. Holding me as sobs wracked my body. Her husband followed suit and pulled me into a deep hug as I shook. Eventually we managed to sit down on the couch and I tried to piece together what had just happened.

Silence and questions and answers and more silence. 

I wept more and more, a deep well of sorrow I forgot existed. 

With swollen eyes and an invitation to call to them for anything I needed that night, I took some sleeping medicine and cried myself to sleep. 

Morning didn’t bring the wave of grief I expected. There was something about my dreams and my sleep that knew I was grieving. My heart protected me from the unexpected allowing me to wake in aching pain without the initial onslaught of sorrow. 

All day I cried off and on. Being given the space to talk or not talk, meanwhile the expected torrent of text messages and phone calls and any other form of communication invaded my phone. I’ve learned enough in this past year to know I can answer or not answer in whatever time I need and it’s absolutely okay. 

Sunday passed in a blur, only knowing I was safe and cared for and protected. Monday brought a gentle invitation to go see the family who has known me since I was a tiny little girl. That time was full of sweetness and prayer and blessings. Hope and healing and space to be exactly where I needed to. 

As we left and headed to the airport I felt the apprehension mounting. The memories of the last time I departed that building. Of being on the phone getting ready to fly to Denver, floating on a cloud and my cheeks hurting from smiling. 

I thought about 3 days previous when I arrived after a hellish journey to get there but knowing I was about to see a man I cared for deeply. 

So as I sat in that chapel I wept. I wept loudly and ugly and deeply. I wept from the pit of sorrow. I wept from the pit of disappointment. I wept from the pit of trust. I opened my hands and told my Papa it was all His and I am all His and I believed He is good and I am loved. 

I asked Him to put the blanket of love I had felt the past 48 hours around me to not feel so alone. I felt His strong arms wrap me completely and I heard Him to tell me to look around and see how not alone I was. 

Through blurry eyes a once dark room filled with faces. Familiar faces. 

I looked at empty chairs and I saw you my friends. I saw you sitting in those seats, petitioning Papa. I smelled the aroma of Christ as I wept in the corner. I felt your strength giving me what I needed to stand up. I heard you crying out on my behalf, words of love and trust and hope. 

I wept harder as the chorus of the saints claimed truth for me when I haven’t been able to claim it for myself. 

You were there with me my friends. You have gone with me as I sit on the plane and let tears stream down my face. I feel you in front of me, to my right and left, above and below, and behind me. 

My heart may be broken but it’s broken in the safety of a tribe who cover me night and day to keep the enemy at bay while Papa gets to tend to my heart. 

Thank you for standing around me and with me and fighting for me. 

He is good and I am loved.