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.

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We Share the Sadness

I always wonder when to write about someone. When to introduce them on the semi – public part of my life. I’m weird about it. Just like I’m weird about becoming friends with them on social media or keeping their phone numbers in my phone, stored away as permanent. It takes awhile. Especially if I’m really interested in someone.

It’s a control thing, ya know? A safety mechanism. Maybe if they aren’t intertwined it won’t hurt as much if they leave. I always think back to that night deleting everything that ever existed between the Jock and me. If I could just erase him, maybe I would wake the next morning and realize the last 5 months had been a bad dream. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind style.

So I’m hesitant. And maybe rightly so in some ways. I’ve been written about, as a girlfriend and ex-girlfriend, and it’s curious and terrifying to read how they process the end of everything. So I’m cautious and maybe calculated.

It’s usually when I think they will stick around and be a permanent part of my life. When I think it’s safe and I won’t look like a fool if I get rejected. When I hope it’s something worth shouting from the rooftops and letting everyone celebrate with me. And yet, this time, I wrote quickly. I shared soon. I opened up in a time when things were uncertain and unknown and unsafe. Because this Mystery Man can no longer be called mine.

There’s something to be said for the timing in our lives. For the patience and steadiness and waiting. Something I maybe didn’t pay as much attention to as I should have.

And while it hurts to process this loss of sorts in a public way, I have learned so much from Mystery Man. He’s known since the beginning about this place I’ve carved out for myself and has said my words and my thoughts and my feelings are mine to give, regardless of other people’s opinions, and that’s partly what makes them precious. He’s given me permission to say the things. And maybe that’s why I said them so soon. Because I could.

and it stings when it’s nobody’s fault
’cause there’s nothing to blame at the drop of your name

There was a moment, not too many weeks ago, when the air crackled between us. There was palpable tension as we just looked at each other. Almost curious in a sense. Wondering if we had been kidding ourselves this whole time. Afraid to admit it but wanting it more than anything. I ignored the voice in my head. The one that sounds suspiciously like my counselor’s. Because that tension. That crackle. That draw. That feeling of home. And safe. And waking from a deep dark slumber.

I still wish you’d fought me ’til your dying day
don’t let me get away

But the space crept in. The distance. The complicated. The days and nights. The tears and the wounds still tender to touch. They couldn’t be reconciled. They couldn’t be erased or forgotten or ignored. As we both hung on by the skin of our teeth, we watched it fade. Wandering into the wilderness of each other’s heart. Both wanting more but not being at the place to give it.


we share the sadness, split screen sadness

So we find the sadness. Together but apart. Drawing close but pushing away. Walking fine lines around the boundaries of his heart and mine. Trying to find the balance, sometimes getting it right and sometimes getting it wrong.

Which leaves me in a place of hitting my capacity. It was like this last year too, around this time. I found myself looking in the mirror wondering who the girl was looking back. The striving and the wondering and the fighting for more. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least — emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally. I was in the emergency room, only to leave the country a week later, only to get stranded in a foreign city because of snowstorms, only to come back to the ending. My heart has been trying to find which way is up. Which it tends to do to the point of weariness.

I had been feeling the stretching and breaking and pulling when I jumped on the plane to Mexico. I knew it was there, lingering like an unwelcome guest. I hoped the sun and sand and salt water would ease and mend.

And while it did in some ways, I know time and rest is the best cure for the weary. So I’m taking some time. Time to detox and re-focus. 21 days of no booze, boys, or bumming. To quiet my heart with some good old fashioned time on the treadmill and swimming in a pool. A chance to make space and room, clear the clutter, and find my way back gently.

I can’t wait to figure out what’s wrong with me
so I can say this is the way I used to be

For now, I’m hopeful these few weeks will be good. To choose to be quiet and alone, instead of being forced in to it. I don’t often choose quiet and alone. I often choose loud and many. One to distract from another. Keep walking forward regardless of how slowly or quickly. But this time, I’d like to just stop. And let things settle a little bit before I keep moving on. Because there are wonderful things ahead. And I see them. And I hope for them. And I believe they are there. Nothing wrong with taking a little time to make room for them with anticipation of what’s to come.

The Decoy Love

It wasn’t like I didn’t know about her.

He had mentioned her one night, three months after the second time we split. We were trying to be friends. Trying to be in each other’s lives, something that didn’t really work for us, when all was said and done.

He hesitated when he first brought her up. Reluctant to tell me he was returning home from a date. I was just starting to get to know the Missionary so I felt mildly apathetic. But as it happens when the past creeps into our present, I found myself curious about this woman who was now in his life.

I built a narrative in my head. Crafting moments and personality traits that I have no idea if they actually exist. I imagined all the ways she was better than me. Better at loving him, better at laughing at his jokes, better at giving him space, or maybe he didn’t need space at all with her. She probably understood him better, challenged him better, asked less of him. In all of the ways I lacked, she excelled.

I knew there would be others. As much as he tried to convince me and himself he was better off alone, I knew he craved intimacy and wanted to be known and loved. When we tried again I asked him about the ones he used to fill the void between our first break-up and that December phone call. He didn’t sugar coat it and I wasn’t upset. I understood and I think I always knew.

But this one was different. This was was him very clearly moved on. With someone I’d always worried would be the type of woman he should date instead of me.

Being sick gave me alot of time to think and alot of down time. I started watching a TV show and a moment happened that gave me an image of what I do every time I dwell on the past.

On the show, these people were trying to lure a bad guy into a trap. So they concocted this plan — disguise something made of clay as the real thing this villain wanted. In order to maintain the mirage, another character had to keep doing something to trick this villain. And it worked! The villain entered and totally bought into the mirage assuming it was what she wanted.

All of a sudden the character responsible for keeping the mirage up faltered. And the decoy came crumbling down into a thousand shards of crumbled clay. The plan was foiled. The villain enraged. But the prize still safe somewhere else.

I watched the decoy crumble and felt my heart respond in an uncomfortable way. Rach, that’s you. You’re gathering up all the shards of clay telling Papa that this crumbled decoy, this counterfeit, this mirage, is what you want. When in reality what you really want is tucked away somewhere safe. But love, you HAVE to stop gathering up the pieces trying to put the decoy back together. 

I’m tired of trying to put all the crumbled pieces back together. Tired of tormenting myself over all of the ways all of the shes might be better for all of the hims than I am. The cold hard truth is that with all of the men I’ve cared for, there is someone designed to care for them better than I am. In a unique beautiful way. Just like I believe there is someone far better for me than my hopes or expectations or dreams.

I think I’ve finally realized that I want more than a decoy. I want the real thing. And I don’t want to waste any more time gathering up the decoys. There are no unrealistic expectations of a prince charming or a hero to rescue me. Only the hope of a kind, steady heart that will see the glory of Christ in me.

I don’t know if it’s because it was so long before I had my first date, kiss, or boyfriend that I find myself constantly settling. Constantly making excuses. Constantly defending. Constantly trusting without reservation. While there is something to be said for allowing vulnerability, there is also something to be said about allowing someone to earn my trust. To fight for me. And I’ve never had that before. I’ve never asked them to fight. I’ve never kept myself at a distance to allow them to show Christ in them sees Christ in me.

But all of that is about to change. Because this year… this year of looking ahead… this year I am going to do it differently and better and smarter. No more more excuses, no more defending, no more settling.

 

 

 

 

Be Kind to Yourself

On top of the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, I came down with a wretched cold. One that has kept me blowing my nose and coughing and a general sense of malaise. I know I am susceptible to colds and have a weak immune system. It was one of the things that spurred me on towards finding a diagnosis and not just letting my symptoms go unnoticed. However this cold has had the worst timing.

Where the potential has been to find a few good days, more energy, less pain, this virus has swooped in and knocked me down to the ground. Which means I have even more time. Time to be idle and think and stew and wait. Time I could be praying for others or talking to Papa or all sorts of “holy” things that are all the right answers.

The truth of the matter is that I haven’t really done those things.

I scroll Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… I look at the perfectly manufactured images crafted to convince the world that all is right. I read about Paris and Beruit and my heart breaks for this world. I wake up only to wonder when I can go back to sleep. I try to conserve my energy for the work week yet longing to be with people. I bargain for my old life, one with the Jock or the Missionary or even without them.

You got all that emotion that’s heaving like an ocean
And you’re drowning in a deep, dark well
I can hear it in your voice that if you only had a choice
You would rather be anyone else

be kind to yourself

I have to confess that there has been an unexpected darkness in this journey. There have been moments when I’ve screamed in rage at the hand I’ve been dealt. The despondence and disappointment and depression rolls off my tongue and hits the tears streaming down my face. I’ve been face down trying to catch my breath at the overwhelming thought of a new way of life to live. Feeling my hopes and dreams stolen from me.

I know it’s hard to hear it when that anger in your spirit
Is pointed like an arrow at your chest
When the voices in your mind are anything but kind
And you can’t believe your Father knows best

be kind to yourself

And after these fits and rages and freak-outs I find myself ashamed and embarrassed. Knowing the reality and truth of my emotion but believing years of Bible School Teaching telling me to ‘have more faith’ or ‘be better’ or ‘try harder.’ To not let any one in to my mess and the utter ugliness breaking out of the my perfectly crafted shell.

How does it end when the war that you’re in
Is just you against you against you
Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too

be kind to yourself

 I’ve only let my kind and patient mama into this dark hole I’ve fallen into. I’ve let her cradle me in her arms like when I was a small girl. Reminding me that I am not nor will I ever be alone. She allows me the space to be where I am without judgement or fear. She climbs into the darkness and holds me there, stopping the free fall. She gives me freedom and courage to admit that all is not well. And it allows me to hear from another gentle heart  that I am in good company. And I can allow this to be what it is. And I allow myself whatever space and grief and emotion. But I do not stay and I do not wallow. I do not become of a victim of something but I become a victor with battle wounds.

You can’t expect to be perfect
It’s a fight you’ve gotta forfeit
You belong to me whatever you do
So lay down your weapon, darling
Take a deep breath and believe that I love you

be kind to yourself

Jesus has been infinitely gentle with me. He continues to meet me in my moments and whisper the sweet words of comfort and knowledge. Of peace and understanding. Of love and redemption. Of His glory and my refinement.

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He’s shaping your heart

be kind to yourself

So when my breath shudders out of my body and my swollen eyelids finally shed their last tear of the night, I fall asleep as one who conquers and not one who has been conquered. I will fight to be kind to myself.

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
     Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord

be strong and take heart and wait. 

*lyrics and music by the brilliant and wonderful Andrew Peterson. Check out the awesome video for this song here.