Facing the Darkness

When I sunk into a month of quiet and rest, I didn’t expect it to go the way it has. I knew I had some commitments and things that would keep me a little busy but I didn’t expect to fall flat on my face and wrestle into the darkness.

I left for a work trip within 5 days of beginning my season of rest. I was on a plane and traveling and working and enjoying the beach and working more and flying home. When I landed I felt pangry (people angry). My introverted self was screaming to be alone. So the day after I got back I was just about to turn my phone off for the night when I got a text message. An urgent text about health concerns for one of my sweetest friends. Serious health concerns. And there went my plans for the night.

As night turned to day and I ended up at the hospital to love on this sweet little love and his parents, I tried to find the rest in the midst of the uncertainty. But that night the situation got worse. There were increased measures to protect his little brain and it was overwhelming and scary. I petitioned my friends and community and my people to cover this sweet one. But then I laid in my bed and sobbed.

I sobbed for the brokenness of our world, the frailty of his body, the things he has yet to accomplish. I sobbed for the heartbreak his parents were enduring. I sobbed for the hurt and the longing for total restoration. I sobbed.

I sobbed until I had no more tears left.

I found myself admitting my weakness to Papa. Admitting the temptation of “good enough” seemed so appealing. Admitting I didn’t have the strength to resist. Admitting I wanted to be comforted and told it was okay. I wanted to turn to something, someone, anything to numb the ache.

There was no bargaining or anger or threats just a broken confession of how appealing temptation was in that moment and asking my Papa to meet me in that place. Because I needed HIM.

Within 2 minutes of uttering my tearful confession I received an audio file from my brother. My community, who doesn’t know my sweet friends but knew of their situation, had spent close to 10 minutes petitioning the Father on his behalf. I could hear the crackle of the campfire as they called on the power of our Papa. As they believed for miracles when I had nothing in me to believe.

My spirit groaned in agreement as I listened to my brothers and sisters cry out. I sat in my bed with tears streaming down my face coming into agreement for miracles and full restoration and a hope and a future. I felt my spirit turn towards the light of my Papa. As the prayer ended and the clip finished up, I laid back down with cheeks still wet and I knew a substitution would never be enough. I knew I was longing for my Papa. And when I had asked for Him… when I had cried out for Him to meet me in the place of sorrow and darkness, He brought His gentle light.

Because friends, darkness isn’t something to be afraid of. It is in darkness where we truly come to appreciate light. I think sometimes I’m so afraid to wrap my arms around darkness, to be engulfed in it because it must mean there is something wrong with me or my faith or my lack of trust in Papa. But the world we live in has darkness in it. And to ignore or deny or pretend it doesn’t exist doesn’t give the Cross credit for what it has done — take away the power darkness has.

So in this time of rest, I’m learning to face the darkness with hope. I’m learning to put darkness in its proper place. I’m learning to soak up the light and let it fill my bones to the marrow.

Because my Papa is light and He wins and darkness does not last forever.

What are you finding in this season of rest?

oh and my sweet buddy? Papa showed off His mighty strength and healed him. In miraculous ways.

When it is time to sit down.

Tears I didn’t expect began to flow down cheeks unprepared.

I wasn’t entirely sure why I felt this hurt so deeply. It was a crummy thing he had done, something immature and inconsiderate but it didn’t warrant the amount of tears that fell on the snowy evening. I was trying to figure it out, trying to find the root and the reason and the lie responsible but I was just so tired. And defeated. And weary.

When I processed with my sweet friend Carrie, she gently asked a question she had posed a day earlier.

do you think its maybe time to take a break? 

When she asked me that simple phrase my spirit recoiled.

No! Breaks are for the weak! Breaks mean I’m giving up! Breaks turn into forever! No! I have to keep fighting! 

Love, the last year has been hard. The last two months… have been REALLY hard. I think you need a break. 

The tears which had ceased became a torrent.

I am so tired. 

I finally admitted.

I heard my sweet Papa whisper that it was okay to take a water break.

I had this image of me, going round after round in the ring, with Papa as my coach, but taking on my hopes and dreams and the people who have embodied them. It was like watching a fight where you just want the fighter to take a break and shake it off but they won’t listen and the hits keep on coming. Because there had been someone before the ex-boyfriend came back, and then he came around again after the ex-boyfriend was gone, but it didn’t work. And there had been potential with others but it would to deep conversations and moments and a weird emotional intimacy and then just stop. By my doing or theirs.

I saw evidence of my weary heart, my heart that has been rejected and bruised and beat down, and I decided Papa needs to tend to it. It’s simple really. I knew I needed to take care of myself. Because I know I’m strong. I know I’m able. I have hope in my Provider. I believe. I trust. All of those things. It’s just lost beneath some bruises and cuts and scales. It’s when the sunlight needs to break through the cracks in my armor and push off the broken pieces. They’re clinging on, I’m allowing them to stay on, but I don’t want them anymore.

So finally, I decided to sit down. I decided to take a month. To pray through the hurt and the lies and put them in their rightful place, at the foot of the cross. To spend time every day praying through different characteristics of the mighty woman of God I long to be. To be a woman who blesses those who do her wrong. To be a woman who encourages those around her. To be a woman who speaks life and hope into the hearts of others.

I don’t know if this means I process more or less in this month. I let you all in on so much of what Papa is doing because it is HIS story and HIS glory. But sometimes I let Him work it out a little bit before we tell of the marvelous things He’s done. Will you all pray for me? Pray that this month is one of rest and healing and restoration? That my heart searches only for Papa and puts aside anything it may try to numb the process with?

Do you need rest? Do you want to join me in these next 20some days of March? We can find His rest and His peace together.

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