two

It’s been two years.

At times it seems a lifetime ago. At times, yesterday. At times, like it never happened.

I’m writing this on the eve of July 13. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that July 13 is a “day who must not be named” of sorts.

Didn’t want a day without you
but somehow I’ve lived through another one

But tonight is a little bit different. I’m sitting in the high backed chair at my kitchen island. The apartment a tiny bit smoky due to my cooking. I had to laugh to myself a bit — the irony of my smoky apartment while I attempt salmon, asparagus, and a sweet potato hash. The Jock would be proud of me. And probably eye-rolling a bit at the thick smoke. He was always trying to teach me to cook while secretly loving this brilliant skill he had which I sorely lacked.

In fact, the last night I spoke to him was when I called him about an epic kitchen fail, knowing he was the only person who would truly understand the humor. I heard his deep belly laugh and could almost see his eyes crinkle in delight. He happened to be on the way home from a date that night, a date with the woman who will become his wife.

And so here I sit, two years past a day that changed my life.

I’ve found that I no longer mourn for him, the intimacy we shared, or having him in my life. In fact, most days go by and I give barely a passing thought, as I assume it should be. Occasionally I’ll wonder what he’s up to, how he is, what is going on his life, but with no more regard than anyone else from my past.

Though my longing and grief and pain subside, I notice that I am decidedly marked by that experience. It set me on a trajectory of growth, healing, strength, and mistakes (if I’m honest), I hadn’t known myself capable of.

The Jock told me one time I would look back at our time together like a photograph. Something that captured a beautiful moment but fades with time. I was angry at the time he said it, accusing him of sentencing our relationship to death before its time. I don’t know that I agree with him anymore two years later than I did at the time.

Didn’t want a year without you
but somehow I’ve live through another one

Last year as I reflected after having survived a year, the Missionary sent me flowers, in my favorite color, to love me well. It was probably the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me, the most redeeming  if nothing else. When he ended things roughly two weeks later, I grimaced at the irony of July.

This July has no impending break-ups. It has no horizon of love lost. And yet, it still makes me feel on edge. I don’t understand why. At least, I didn’t understand why until I started listening to a podcast on Anger.

I’ve not been intentional in my time with Jesus lately. Months of disappointment, patterns of sin, feelings of betrayal, but most of all, shame, have kept me from bowing my knee. I cringe to admit this. Cringe. But it’s the truth. I allowed myself to grow lazy and distant from my Papa. Slowly though, He’s been whispering against my shell of protection.

I’ve needed someone to blame, not knowing how to deal with my anger, and He was the most logical (read: illogical) choice. In my sin and immaturity I threw a months-long temper tantrum. Until the past few weeks when I’ve felt my frigid heart thawing and a longing for intimacy with Him.

And the heart she feared frozen
still beats and still marches on

Like I said, I listened to a podcast on Anger the other day. I felt my heart cry out in sorrow and repentance, ashamed of my own sin. Not realizing I needed to admit that wrong was committed (by others and by myself), I started to crumble as I heard the words “it mattered.” There was wrong done by others and forgiveness has been acknowledged. There was wrong done by me to me and I have not even been cognizant of it.  Which has caused me uncertainty whether my cloak of shame can be taken off. I’ve been living out of an identity of shame. Making decisions out of my shame shadow. Fighting for my life out of my shame shadow.

The problem with the shame shadow is that it convinces you that you are beyond saving, beyond repair, unloved and unwanted. So you make more decisions to validate the lies. You start to taken on the identity of shame, forgetting your real name, your real favorite color. Your eyes filtering every encounter through your shame.

I realized I traded being held captive in the land of my ex-boyfriends to being held captive in the land of shame. Trading chains of one type of grief for another. Losing sight of my identity as beloved, chosen, wanted, redeemed, new.

Today I asked my Papa for His forgiveness and then He asked me to offer myself the same forgiveness He has already and freely given.

It seems fitting on this eve of Two that my heart is moving towards forgiveness, no? Last year I was moving towards redemption and this year I’m moving towards reconciliation, with the promise of restoration ahead.

Didn’t want a life without you
But here I am, living one

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering, the salmon turned out just fine.

Dear Denver

Hi, um hello.

It’s nice to meet you. Officially. It’s been almost a month now, that I’ve had my bed and clothes here. And roughly two weeks since I took up overnight residence.

I have to say, you’ve been more than I could have imagined.

You’ve been fun nights downtown, quiet nights at home, long days at a new job. You’ve been new friends and unexpected adventures. You’ve been familiar and unknown. You’ve been exhausting and exhilarating.

You see, Denver, you have been something brand new.

I feel like windows rolled down, new city, streets and cabs
I feel like anything can happen, laughing
You take me right back, when we were kids
Never thought I’d feel like this

Because you have almost nothing. Few memories, maybe most notably the airport and two Rockies games. You hold no painful places where love was found and lost. You hold no afternoon hikes or strolling aimlessly down the street. You hold no introductions to my people. You hold no tearful fights in the car.

Instead of a painful twinge at the sight of a restaurant or my old apartments or the bar where he broke my heart, I find myself curiously glancing around to understand my surroundings. I find myself wondering where the closest grocery store is or the best happy hour. I find myself day dreaming about the things to come, the things ahead. Excited at the anticipation.

Like when I close my eyes and don’t even care if anyone sees me dancing
Like I can fly, and don’t even think of touching the ground

But Denver, with the blank page and brand new, comes the ache of lonely. The knowing that 60 miles to the south are my people. New babies and beloved souls. Family and home and comfort. And I find myself wrestling through the draw back. To be known and loved and seen. But there’s this feeling — the movement of time and seasons and space. The feeling of being ready for now while loving the past. And I guess that means I’m a really lucky girl, because I have love and understanding and home and people. I have these things to stand behind me as I take tentative and terrified steps ahead, with a literal move of North. Of forward. Of new.

You’re not my home yet — But you’re well on your way.

Before I left Colorado Springs I tried to let go of the heavy things. I started to take the pieces of my past and set them down. I felt them break apart and fall away. I knew I needed to deal with them in the season where they began. I wanted to bring the best parts of who I grew into the last three years and let the other pieces blow away into the wind. I think maybe I wanted that too much — to forget the painful and the hard and the ugly parts. To pretend like they don’t haunt me sometimes. But the truth is, they’ve made me who I am. The hard and hurtful left their marks and I paid their price.

And grace comes in like a salve. It reminds me that I do not have to let those things define me but they are part of me. I don’t have to actively carry them into what the Lord has given me but they will always be etched on my heart. The men I loved. The people I believed the best about. The ways I experienced love in return. The community who surrounded me. And the lessons I learned.

Denver, I know I’m going to make mistakes while I’m here. In fact, I’ve already made a few. I know I’ll have more awkward dates and uncomfortable text messages. I’ll probably feel left out and wonder if everyone is hanging out without me. My feelings will probably get hurt and I’ll unintentionally tell a boy I smell like ham because I’m nervous. I’m sure I won’t get invited to a Halloween party or I’ll get left off an email chain. I know those things will happen.

I feel like a young John Cusack, like making big mistakes
I feel like for the first time in a long time I am not afraid

But I also know you’re going to have new community. You’re going to have first dates and first kisses. You’re going to have new love. You’re going to have “what? you too? I thought I was the only one!” moments. You’re going to have more yes-es. You’re going to have people and weddings and babies. You’re going to have questions and answers and more questions. You’re going to have my grocery store and my gas station. You’re going to have back roads and shortcuts. You’re going to have baseball games and Christmas parties. You’re going to have all the things and more. Because I’ve learned that life is what you make of it wherever you are. And Denver, I’ve decided you are worth putting everything on the line for.

Like a heartbeat skip, like an open page
Like a one way trip on an aeroplane
It’s the way that I feel when I’m with you, brand new

So dear one, I’m ready. Ready to dance and not care who is watching. Ready to open my heart. Ready to live life fully and completely and with my hands wide open.

I’m all in.

Love,

Rach

Dear Colorado Springs

Hey you, it’s been awhile.

Seven years since I was forced back. Three years give or take since I chose to come home once again. Yeah, you heard that right, I called you home.

I know, we’ve not always had the most positive relationship, but this is what you have become to me. You are home.

You are my high school memories and leaving for college. You are prom and graduation and crushes. You are hope and joy and family. You are all the things I swore you would never be.

You’ve chipped away at my frigid heart the last 10 years. Always allowing me space to be exactly what I needed when I needed it. You held me safely after job lay-offs and broken hearts and scary health issues and loss. You were the parachute attached, always waiting to slow me down if I started falling too hard or too fast.

it’s been ten years on this pavement
and i finally caught a dream
if i’m honest it’s a terrifying thing

Colorado Springs, I have loved you the past three years. I have changed more since I came home than probably at any other point. I have found myself because you helped show me who I am, who I want to be, who I’m not. I’ve found myself because I lost myself when I found you.

So when that cold day in December came around and I found myself acknowledging that I had outgrown my time with you, I felt a tinge of sadness. I didn’t want to outgrow your familiar roads and well worn paths. I didn’t want to find a new grocery store and route to work and understanding of where I’m going. I didn’t want to run away from you. Which is when I knew I was ready to leave.

chase me down outside of Georgia
i was sure i was done
something in me would not turn around and run

You see dear one, you allowed me to start as a baby seed in a tiny little planter. You gave me the protection to grow strong roots, solid, firm, ready to be transplanted to the garden soil. Three years ago, two years ago, even one year ago, I was not ready to be left on my own in a new place. But then that one day, I realized I was ready. That my roots were touching the side and it was time to move so they could continue to grow and deepen and become stronger.

But you did that. Which is why you will always be home.

I will never forget the house where I had my first kiss. I will never forget the first date jitters and the wind sweeping my hair as I walked away. I will never forget the porch we sat on and talked long into the night. I will never forget Christmas at the Broadmoor when he danced with me in an empty ballroom. I will never forget learning how to love the things that broke my heart after he left. I will never forget racing across town to be there when multiple babies have been born.

I will never forget letting my heart cautiously fall in love again throughout that spring and summer. I will never forget showing him my city and my home and my people. Beaming with pride as I declared isn’t it lovely?  I will never forget the nights I spent next to the fireplace talking about life and love and Jesus when he was 1000 miles away. I will never forget my first kiss with him in my apartment. I will never forget returning home to that apartment after a long trip, sobbing on my bed after he broke my heart.

i’ve been scared to death of failing
scared that i’d look like a fool
i’d rather quit than risk that I could lose

I will never forget finding hives and my health suddenly being taken away from me. I will never forget the fear and the panic and the breakdown. I will never forget the healing and the promise and the hope that came after it.

I will never forget the in-betweens who ended up being nothing more than a distraction or lessons learned.

I will never forget seeing community and grace and depth and sacrifice. I will never forget the way my people rallied around me after heartbreaks and sickness and hard days. I will never forget experiencing life like I never had.

I will never forget the last minute happy hours or the texts from my mom to come have dinner or a surprise visit from my brother. I will never forget how much I have laughed and enjoyed life. I will never forget the beautiful things that were cultivated and brought out by amazing men and women who saw my heart and what it could be.

And yet, I’m ready not to see things and think of the hims. I’m ready to have first dates and falling in love with a city that is nothing to me. I’m ready to not drive by a house and know what conversations happened there or remember the sinking in my stomach at the two men who are no longer in my life. I’m ready not to wonder if I will bump in to people I don’t care to see while I’m in sweats and a topknot.

i’m not proud of that position
it’s the hand that I’ve been dealt
as far as i’m concerned
that hand can go to hell

I’m ready to love this place from a distance. I’m ready to say see ya later. Knowing that I will always come back and always love you.

heard the Lord in California
and i remembered who i was
i learned to dance with the fear that i’d been running from

Thank you for changing me and loving me and growing me. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for giving me exactly what I needed. Thank you for taking off the old and leaving the new. Because I am… I’m leaving this city, brand new.

all my love,

Rach

Get Your S*** Together

Not long ago, one of my brothers wrote that to me in an email. It was in jest regarding some small detail but it has echoed in my brain since then.

Get it together.

I’m a week into this detox. Of no boys, booze, or bumming. And I’ll be honest — the no boys and booze I’ve been able to manage but last week I was not great about going to the gym. I’m working on it though.

It’s funny because I always know that detox comes with side effects. When you cut out caffeine or sugar or whatever you feel the symptoms. A headache, sometimes body aches, crankiness. There’s a physical response. I guess I should have remembered my spirit would have a similar response.

The first few days I felt okay. I was aware of the lack in my life but it felt refreshing in a sense. Calming. Quiet.

And then I found the emotions.

The ones who had been wound up for awhile now. The ones that were put on hold while I reacted to situations instead of processing during them. The ones I shoved aside to deal with the moment. The ones I did not pay attention to.

I ran into them at full speed, 100%. And it hurt.

It was like all of a sudden I was faced with all. the. things. and I now needed to decide what was what. And I needed to deal. Because I don’t want to carry the heavy things with me into this next season of life. I don’t want to bring the wreckage. I don’t want to bring the parts I can leave behind.

There is new ahead for me. There is a fresh start and unknown. It is big and scary and will require my attention. So I must deal now with the things I have not dealt with.

Get it together.

I find myself unpacking the pieces to lay them all out. I look at them, decide which ones may be thrown away and which ones I’d like to keep. I let the ones that hurt, hurt. I let the ones that bring me joy, bring me joy. And I keep examining them.

I make space in a place I did not know was full of clutter. And as I make space I have to face the hard reality of what I actually want and what I actually felt and who I really am. I sift through the pieces of my heart and what happened to it and what I find is not what I was expecting. Because it’s not about wanting the attention or anyone in general. It’s become clear what I actually want. And that, is scary. And I could drive myself crazy thinking of all the different “what if’s” in this situation. But I must let them be whatever they are.

So I wrestle and I fight and I grieve and I surrender. I find more pieces I do not want. More pieces to hang on to. I feel alone and vulnerable and raw. But I do not turn to anyone to validate or distract me from them. I do not allow anyone to come in to the mess and put a bandaid on it. I pick up the fragments and hold them in my hands, taking them to the only One who can do anything with them. I ask of Him to make me whole again. I uncurl my fingers and whisper “thy will be done.” Even though I know that my will and His will could once again be at odds.

There’s no guarantee in this process of an outcome. There’s no certainty. There’s no safety. Except for the fact that I know whatever the outcome, I will be better. I will, hopefully, be becoming the woman I am supposed to be. A woman who tries to be more like Jesus in the way she loves. A woman who will intercede on behalf of those in her life. A woman who will open her heart and remain soft. A woman who believes in second, third, fourth, fifth chances. A woman who allows grace to seep through her words. A woman who admits when she is wrong. A woman who graciously accepts truth even when it hurts. A woman who will always believe the best about someone.

This is the woman I am longing to become, a woman I occasionally catch glimpses of but one who does not exist enough. This woman is the reason I am clearing away the clutter. The reason I am not covering up my hurt or looking for someone to take it away. The reason silence can feel like the loudest sound in the world. The reason I must deal with the things.

Get it together.