When Ex-Boyfriends Come Back

Well, I certainly never saw this one coming.

About 6 weeks ago I flippantly made a comment to someone, “we will NEVER get back together.” And instantly I felt conviction. I felt the Spirit tell me that I shouldn’t dare make all knowing statements. It was weird. It felt off. But I repented of my wrong and brushed it off.

On a Friday afternoon a phone number popped up that I didn’t recognize until the second ring.

It was him.

Because I’m a worst case scenario girl I immediately thought someone died or there had been some tragic accident. So I answered and his chipper voice asked how I was. Confused I tried to sort through to the root of the reason for the call. And he said the words I never expected to hear in a million years. “I was wrong. I screwed up. Can we talk about it?”

And talk we did. About the things I had learned, he had learned, the ways we failed each other, the ways we failed the Lord, the things we were called to and the things we knew to be true. After seeking Papa’s heart and asking a few people, I felt ready to try again. Knowing the stakes were higher than ever. Either this meant marriage or forever over.

We launched into a month of re-learning and trying and fighting for us. Sometimes picking up exactly where we left off, as easy as it ever was, sometimes finding the tension that had existed had grown. Choosing each other but knowing there was work to be done. I mostly stayed silent about this reintroduction because we needed to figure out who we were as people and friends and partners. Knowing there would be a time to shout it from the rooftops, I kept things quiet in the interim.

So recently we found that what we had hoped, the growth we had done apart from each other to bring us back together, turned out not to be the case. The initial conversation was hurtful and angry and ugly. It left me mad and wounded in a way I had never experienced the first time around. I knew words were thrown at me to push me away and help me deal but I don’t deal with anger. Anger isn’t an emotion I know how to process through, at least, not anger at someone.

I spent time thinking and praying and processing. Frustrated that the place I had gotten to, the place of neutral ground, seemed to be lost and I was in a new territory of anger. My heart yearned to forgive. It yearned to be free. Because I had my doubts too. But the anger squelched the relief. I hadn’t told anyone but I had questioned and re-thought wondering if I made the right decision. I saw old behaviors long destroyed brought to the surface when I was with him that gave me pause.

Another conversation was had. One with less emotion and tension. One where no one was fighting for the other person but for closure on a sweet memory. To be released from captivity I had to release my captor of responsibility. I heard my Papa say that to be in right relationship with Him, I needed to be in right relationship with others. And letting go didn’t mean trying was wrong or sinful or bad, it simply meant that the finality of us was fully realized.

We are an almost.

We’re right for each other and great and better together in about 75% of things. But that 25% becomes glaringly obvious when it’s not enough. It brings us to a stopping point. It’s just enough that it made me want to fight for it and give it a second go. But it’s not enough that it is right. We’re on the right side of the puzzle but we’re not the right puzzle pieces.

I started to realize that as I grew when I was alone, I grew more into the heart of my Papa. I grew out of the girl I had been and into the girl I’ve become. And he grew too. He grew into a new self. There’s just enough about me that is the same that his heart recognized mine and found it and there’s just enough of him that is the same that my heart recognize him and found it. The things that had changed, that shifted, that grew, that died and came to life, those things became a chasm despite our best intentions and desires, we couldn’t cross. I finally realized I’m not the girl that fell in love with him a year ago. I desperately wanted to be her but I’m not. And trying to be her was like taking the old and putting it over the new. It caused tension and strife and it just didn’t work.

But what I learned is that we all deserve a second chance. We should all offer a second chance. We all need a second chance. Love and lessons and freedom and closure and finality come at the cost of forgiveness. Of letting go, of remembering my own desperation for those very things from the One who offers and absolves all.

There is a healthy amount of grief that comes from sadness and loss and disappointment. The kind of grief that feels like an aching bruise whose angry dark colors fade with each passing day. There is a nostalgia for the beautiful moments. And there is a relief at not trying to be the old me.

So I whisper goodbye to a piece of my heart given to a sweet man who came into my life at the very right moment and left my life at the very right moment to show me that I need to bury myself deep in the heart of my Papa. My Papa who is the Giver of all Good Things. I will always be grateful to this man, for his understanding and patience, his strong-willed personality and his gentleness, the way he challenged me and inspired me to grow, the times he made me talk about the things I was uncomfortable with, and the new experiences he showed me. I will always smile at the memory of the moments I made him laugh deeply. I will always hope the best for him.

Dear Baby Trey

Dear Baby Trey,

You’re about 11 days old now and I haven’t gotten to hold you in 10 days. Between sickness and traveling and the holidays I’ve just been watching you come alive through pictures your mama texts me. All that to say, I wrote you a letter.

I wasn’t sure if I had enough time to get to the hospital before your mama brought you into this world. I drove like a slightly crazy person, left the coffee pot on, and put on a change of clothes I had worn the day before. But thankfully (for me) you took your sweet time that last hour.

Throughout the times I walked in and out of the hospital I started noticing others. Frail people in wheelchairs with oxygen climbing into warm cars to go home for the holidays, hunched over pale people shuffling to the door, glowing mothers-to-be doing laps around the maternity floor trying to get things going. I was rushing in because of new life, your life. But I knew that others were rushing in for far worse reasons. My heart uttered quiet prayers as I watched people going to and fro. Mine the very best of reasons, others, maybe not as much.

Trey, you came into this world amidst a flurry of activity and small flurry of snow. The air was brisk and biting but the sun was shining like it was the middle of summer. There were holiday songs and Christmas trees. A large manger in the entrance of the hospital lobby. Sights and sounds and smells and things I will never forget. Because it was the day that you took your first breath.

Your grandparents and I were waiting in the family room across the hall from your delivery room. Nurses were bustling in and out, never making eye contact. This frustrated your grandma to no end! Its entirely possible your grandpa and I made a joke about how the hospital staff clearly had it out for us. Thus eliciting a small smile from your grandma.

But Trey something drew me to the door to listen the very moments you took your first breath and let out your first cry. I heard that hollering and shivers ran down my spine. It wasn’t until later when your daddy told us what time you were born that I knew those were your first cries.

Now as far as what happened in the labor and delivery, your mama is going to have to share that story.

Trey, here’s what I want you to know.

You entered a world that is broken and fallen and hurting. You entered a world that won’t make sense and will probably break your heart in some way. You entered a world that has things we’ll try so desperately to protect you from but will probably fail at more times than not.

But Trey, you entered a family full of goodness and hope and love. You entered a family who will always try to believe the best about and for each other. You entered a family who would lay down their very lives for you.

The people you will call mama and daddy are two of the best people I have ever known. They are full of wisdom, joy, love, and grace. They have loved you and prayed for you before they even knew your name. The laughter they bring to each other and to this world is something that can never be replaced. In fact, your daddy had us giggling when at 6 hours old he was offering Sour Patch Kids to your mama and me and he looked at you, asleep in your tiny bassinet and goes, “Trey, son, you good? you want one? No? Okay.”

Your parents have a deep abiding love for each other, for you, and for Jesus. Remember that. Their love for you will never fail. Their hope for you will never fail. Their joy in you will never fail.

Trey, my prayer for you is that you grow to leave a mark on this world. That you will leave it better than you entered it. My prayer is that you bury yourself into the heart of Jesus from a young age and never lose sight of that. My prayer is that you grow to be strong and courageous always choosing to stand up for the right thing no matter what it costs you.

I hope you know that your family doesn’t just consist of your mama and daddy and numerous (!) aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Your family consists of dozens of people who may not share your DNA or your blood line but we adore you. We love you. We will fight for you and protect you and watch you grow. We will cheer you on in basketball and band concerts and graduations. We are your team and you will always have us in your corner no matter what. Ask us questions. Listen to our stories. Let us love you as deeply as we can. Because our love for you is like an ocean.

Sweet baby Trey… the life you have before you is full of adventure, heartbreak, love, scraped knees and maybe broken arms, missing front teeth and grass stains. Find the things you love, that bring you life, and chase after those. Because the world needs more people who live fully alive.

You are LOVED baby Trey.

With all my heart,

Aunt Rach.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done even if it breaks my heart.

This year I’ve experienced a variety of  “cut you off at the knees” moments. Some have been in the best way possible and some have been in the worst way possible. But through it all I’ve come to know that each of those moments have been because Papa loves me better than I know how to love myself. In July before everything happened, I started praying for His best in my life, not knowing at the time that His best meant the end to something I desperately wanted.

But Papa knew that above all else I wanted HIM.

When He’s met me in the sorrow and I tearfully ask for more of Him because that is the only thing that will sustain, He gracious pours Himself out to me in abundance. Excess. He never tires of giving me more of Him.

My life has taken a little bit of a detour the last 5 days. One I never expected to see coming. One I don’t know if I’ll ever write about. One I don’t entirely know how to process. A decision that I thought was mine to make is now no longer in my possession. This decision, however it goes down, will once again leave a mark on the story being written.

Last night I could only open my hands and quietly whisper, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” Because all I know how to pray is that Papa will stand in front of me and continue to love me better than I can love myself.

It was fitting then to read these words from Andrew Murray:

Our Lord returns to speak of prayer again in the Sermon on the Mount. The first time he told about the Father who is to be found in secret and rewards openly and gave us the pattern prayer (Matthew 6:5-15). Here He wants to teach us what all Scripture considers the most important thing in prayer: that it be heard and answered. He uses words that mean almost the same thing, and each time He repeats the promise distinctly: “it will be given to you; you will find; the door will be opened to you.” In all this repetition, we can see that He wants to implant in our minds the truth that we may — and must — confidently expect an answer to our prayer. Next to the revelation of the Father’s love, there is no more important lesson in the whole school of prayer than this: Everyone that asks receives. 

A difference of meaning has been sought in the three words ask, seek, and knock. The first, ask, refers to the gifts we pray for. But I may as for and receive a gift without the Giver. Seek is the word Scripture uses when speaking of looking for God himself. Christ assures me that I can find God. But it is not enough to find God in a time of need without also coming into an abiding fellowship with Him. Knock speaks of being admitted to dwell with Him and in Him. Asking and receiving the gift thus leads to seeking and finding the Giver. This again leads to the knocking and opening of the door to the Father’s home and to His love. One thing is sure: The Lord wants us to believe with certainty that asking, seeking, and knocking will not be in vain.

I’ve stopped asking for the things I think I want and I’ve started asking for the things He knows I need. Praying THAT prayer allows me the freedom to believe that He hears and He answers.

The Sacred Space of Sorrow

As I walked to my car the smile that had been frozen on my face started to slip down. I quickly climbed into the driver’s seat and turned the car on. The tears began flowing instantly.

With vision clouded by tears I somehow managed to get myself home crying out to Papa the whole way home. I unleashed fury. I unleashed sorrow. I unleashed disappointment. I unleashed discouragement. I let it all come raging out.

So when I pulled up to my house and put my car in park I felt the familiar numb settle in. The deadening of my heart beginning. The fortress walls growing taller and taller. I sighed, wiped my tears and went inside.

It all felt wrong. It felt angry. It felt hopeless. It felt lonely. It felt scary.

I wish I could say morning brought relief. But morning seemed to only bring more sorrow. The overwhelming anger started to suffocate and I didn’t know how to breathe. In a sick twist of irony I had flashbacks to this same suffocation in February. This same hopeless place. This same feeling of teetering on the edge of explosion. This same place that ended when I met him.

I raged at my Papa all day.

why did you give me this desire if you refuse to fulfill it? is this a game to you? is the deepest longing of my heart intended only to be something that haunts me? what? what do you want from me? 

and I’m certain He wanted to tell me.

But I was hard. I turned deaf ears to the situation. I didn’t want to choose trust and faith and truth. I wanted to be angry and pout and throw a temper tantrum. Surprisingly there haven’t been many of those on this side of the break-up. Anger at Papa hasn’t been present as I’ve processed.

So when it showed up, it caught me almost as off-guard as the rage that came crashing down at him not very long ago.

I let myself be swallowed up by the dark place. I let lies win. I let myself slip into the murky waters of hopelessness. There were less than a handful of people who knew the depth I was sinking into. They alternated between speaking truth and holding my hand as I sunk, making sure I knew they would pull me out if I started going too far.

So that night I just wrote to my Papa. I wrote about what hurt. I wrote about what disappointed me. I wrote about what made me angry. It was alot of “I have nothing Papa. I have no fight. There is nothing left in me.” I listened to three very specific things: two worship songs and one clip of a prophetic word that was spoken over me at the beginning of September.

As a final desperate act to look for the light, I chose these things to try and remind myself that morning comes. I didn’t have hope, I didn’t want to borrow hope, but I could listen to hope and pray that the Spirit would intercede for hope on my behalf.

And because our Papa is so gracious, He showed up with big love and gentle words and hope for me when I had none. He didn’t come take my suffocation and my sorrow and zap it away. He didn’t remove the thorn from my flesh. He only met in my dark nights of the soul and reminded me that He is constant and steady and true when my circumstances are not.

When the dawn broke the next morning I felt the suffocation ease a bit. My circumstances had not changed. My life was still on the same path as it was the days before. My heart was still full of sorrow. But the day was more bearable and the aching less all-consuming.

I took this back to my counselor earlier this week. Disheartened and confused I confessed that I had let darkness win. I could recognize and see and identify but I didn’t know how to fight.

So she offered me a way to find holiness in sorrow.

There is a sacredness when we come to our Father with our sadness and sorrow and hurt and emotion without an agenda. It is a space that exists where those things are found in their purest form because they are experiences that connect us to the suffering of Jesus.

But, my raging and fury and sadness came with an agenda. TAKE THIS FROM ME OR FULFILL IT I raged at Him that night.

She reminded me that Jesus prayed a prayer similar to that. He asked His Father to let the cup pass but “thy will be done.” She reminded me that often as part of our sanctification process we must walk into suffering to know Jesus in that way. And it’s not out of cruelty or retribution. It is out of the Father’s jealous love for us. His beautiful jealous perfect love.

My face crumpled and the tears came pouring out once again.

“That’s what I wanted to do that night. I wanted to meet Papa in my sorrow and my hurt and my fear and my sadness. I wanted to meet Him there and have it be okay.” I whispered.

But fear won.

As I sat on the couch and let my soul empty much of its sorrow, I found worship in the depth of my unfulfilled longings. I found worship in the ache. I found worship in the sorrow. I found myself stripped down to my frailty and my fear and my humanity. And I found a love that says its okay.

So as I’ve wiped sleep from my eyes in mornings since I find myself dumping my sorrow into the sacred space. Offering it to my Papa with no expectations other than for Him to continue to meet me there. And with unclenched fists, learning to grasp the weight and freedom of these words, I quietly whisper, “thy will be done.”