A(nother) Goodbye Love Letter

I’m terrible with goodbyes. Like terrible. I avoid them at all costs. In fact, in every breakup I’ve had, I’ve ended with something like… “well, I’ll see ya when I see ya” because I just can’t.

There’s something so final about saying goodbye. I haven’t been ready for final for a long time. I haven’t been ready to permanently untangle the experiences from my life. But now… now I am.

I’ve been reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown. I cannot recommend this book enough. It has been life-changing. But part of what she talks about is this three part process of dealing. The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. The reckoning is the part emotions are identified. They are acknowledged and validated and alive. The rumble is the part you figure out what story they’re telling you. What the truth is.

And you know what?? I get stuck after the reckoning. I don’t rumble. I don’t get into the messy and the dark and go after what the story is telling me and what the truth is. I take my sh*tty first draft (SFD) and make it my final product.

So I’ve been doing some rumbling lately. Rumbling with the Jock and the Missionary and some of the men I went out with in 2015. ‘Cause can we just talk about the fact that I was either dating someone or on a date with someone every month from February 2014? So yeah… let’s just let that be there for a second. Anyway. I’ve rumbled and re-written my SFD’s and this is what I’ve come up with, my another final goodbye.

The Jock — You… you were the greatest surprise of my life. You were movie moments and dancing in the kitchen. You were adventure and laughter. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder with anyone than with you. You understood the nuances of my humor. You enjoyed the outrageous things I’d say and the middle-school boy humor.

You let me fall apart on your living room floor because I was so afraid of what was happening between us. You took me fishing because you heard me say I wanted to go again. You bought my favorite water even though you thought it was ridiculous. You were certain and strong and reassuring. You wrecked my life before you ever wrecked my heart.

When you left I actually thought life was over. I didn’t want to exist in a world that you were in but not part of. I didn’t know that my heart could feel pain like that. I cried more tears when we were dating and after you left than I ever knew I could cry.

I lost myself in you. I lost the girl I thought I was, the one I vowed to be, and the one I knew. I failed you when I lost myself. But you failed me. You hurt me. You left me. You asked for my heart and then threw it away like it was trash.

When you came back, I thought it would be better. I thought we would be better. But the cracks in us became chasms that we couldn’t cross. You broke my trust once and I was afraid to trust you again. I asked for grace in that process and you weren’t able to give it to me.

That very last night you used every word and phrase you knew to wound me. You took the most precious things I had ever told you, twisted them into weapons, and went after my heart.

But, I forgive you. I truly believe you were doing the best you could do.

I know you are capable of more. I believe you are the man I fell in love with. I believe in your strength and humility and tenderness. I believe in the power of the story you have to tell. I believe in you still. I believe you will be better. With someone else.

You changed my life, in some ways for the better, in some ways for the worse, but you left a very indelible mark on my life. I know that it ended up sending me on the journey I am on today… the one I’m fighting to know Jesus first and most. The one I’m fighting for freedom. The one I’m fighting for love. The one I’m fighting to look ahead. And for that, I will be forever grateful to you.

The Missionary — I didn’t want you. Not at first. You were intentional and real and kind. You were all the things I didn’t think I deserved. It felt like you came alongside of me, took my hand, and asked if you could walk awhile. You let me learn how to be ready for you.

I will never forget that moment when I realized I was all of myself. And that you liked me still. I wasn’t hiding or trying or fighting. I was just being. You allowed me to just be. You took your thumb and traced my cheek and looked into my eyes and helped me believe kindness was a possibility in a relationship. It didn’t have to be gasoline and fire to be interesting.

The more I fought to love Jesus first, the more you seemed to fight your fears and keep choosing me. You listened to my words and you heard me. You listened past the syllables and sounds and heard pain, joy, love, uncertainty.

But you weren’t ready.

You went left when I stayed straight. You couldn’t choose trust over fear. The one thing I asked you not to do, is exactly what you did. Even after the words you spoke comparing the two. My hope was that you felt valued and loved and cared for. That you could rest in the certainty of not wondering every other day if I was going to choose you that day. But you wanted what you could never be sure you had. The fatal flaw in your personality.

You hurt me.

You, above all, invited and coaxed my heart out of the place it had been hiding. You went searching high and low, convincing it that you were trustworthy. You asked my secrets and you asked my fears. You talked about a life together and invited me in to your story. But you pulled the rug out from under me. You had no good reasons and no good answers.

You left me to sort the pieces out without any explanation or processing, the very thing you promised to give me.

But, I forgive you. I truly believe you were doing the best you could.

I believe you wanted to be better. I believe you tried to choose trust. I believe your heart for me was good. I believe you wanted that life as much as I did. I believe you are capable of all the things you have hoped for. I believe you will make a great dad someday. I believe you will find love and continue to choose love, day after day. I believe you will be better and that you are better. With someone else.

You helped me understand the beauty in steadiness. You helped me understand that the whole of me is worth loving and knowing. You took a very bad day with very bad memories and turned it into a story of restoration. Even down to the pink roses that you didn’t even know he gave me. Your gentleness, and kindness, and love was a salve to a deep angry wound. For that I will always be grateful.

You both have moved on. And I have too, in almost every way. But I realized I was living in the SFD of our relationship…. the one that made me the bad guy and the one who was too much and not enough. And regardless of the truth of our time together, I was never the bad guy. Neither were either of you. So I’ve rumbled through that… and I want to leave it in 2015. You both existed in 2015 and that’s where I’d like to leave you.

I’m giving you up
I’ve forgiven it all
you set me free

Goodbye dear hearts.

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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.

A Bean Love Letter

My Dearest Bean,

Welcome to the world precious boy!

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My goodness how your mama and daddy have longed for this day. And not just because you were 10 days overdue. They’ve been waiting and praying and hoping and loving on you for quite some time. Dear one, I wish I could tell you how deeply you are loved. Not only would your mama and daddy lay down their lives for you, but they have a community around them who would as well.

Bean, you have been born to a woman and man who love Jesus. They’ve committed to bring His love into your life the best way they know how. They aren’t always going to get it right and may feel like they get it wrong more often than not. As you get older you’ll probably feel like they don’t understand you and their rules are stupid and they’re just being over protective. They’ll embarrass you and maybe tell you to wash your hands well into your twenties. But they will always always always love you. They will never let a second go by without loving you. Have grace for them in the moments where they show their humanity. I know they are your parents but they’re also human and flawed.

I want to give you some secrets about the two people who are raising you. Your daddy is great. He’s generous and kind. He’s funny and sarcastic. He’s always willing to go out of his way to put others ahead of him. He’s got this drive and passion and talent for music that we’re all hoping you get. He’s probably going to get you hooked on great shoes, watches, Mississippi State football, Apple products, and eventually a good Scotch. He’s got this voracious appetite for life and learning. If something interests him he’ll want to know everything about it. He is a good man. He loves your mama. He will teach you to respect your elders, hold the door for the elderly and women, look someone in the eye when they’re speaking to you, and how to give a firm handshake. You’re a lucky boy to get to grow up with him as your father. I’d bet money he’ll be one of your best friends someday.

And your mama? Your mama is one of the most incredible women I have ever known. Bear with her for the first few years because Pinterest came out not too long ago and she pretty much loves it. Bean, she loves to laugh. Make her laugh often. Her eyes sparkle, she tilts her head back, her smile breaks out and pure enjoyment comes pouring out. She’s a pistol buddy. And if your stubbornness on your due date is any indication, I have a feeling you’re going to get some of her fire. It is one of my favorite things about her. She is someone you want in your corner. You more so than anyone, bean. Just a word of advice, if some boy tries to bully you on the playground, maybe don’t tell her every time, because she’ll probably kick his ass. Likewise if you ever bully anyone, she’ll kick your ass. One of the best things about your mama is her authentic love of Jesus. She won’t pretend or put on a religious front just to make other people comfortable. She truly loves Jesus. She strives to be the best wife, mama, and friend she can be. She’s learning how to be vulnerable around those she loves and trusts. Because who she is radiates beauty. Your mama is a rare gem. Someday when you’re looking for a wife, you’ll have a hard time finding a woman half as good as her. But don’t worry, we’ve already started looking. Your chances are pretty good. There’s a rumor Prince William and Kate’s baby is a girl so maybe royalty will work out for one of us!

Beloved, you have amazing parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and a community who wants nothing more than to see you flourish. Never be afraid or ashamed to reach out to us. We will always be for you. Sometimes the way we love might feel tough but its because we want you to have the best shot at the best life you can have. You will always have a family regardless of who we are.

As you grow my prayer for you is that first you find the depth of God’s love for you on your own. That you embrace all He has for you and the pure enjoyment of who you are to Him. Without this understanding life won’t ever make much sense.  My second prayer for you is that you grow up to be a man of integrity and honor. Always do the right thing, whatever it costs you. Third, I pray that you will have love for those who can do nothing for you in return. It is easy to love people who love us back or offer us friendship but to love the unlovable is to know Christ in a completely different way. I pray you have eyes to see who the unlovable are and their needs. Finally, Bean, I pray that you will strive to make the world a better place when you leave it than when you’ve entered it. There is nothing to be gained from a life spent serving ourselves. Our world is full of broken people and you have a chance to bring light and hope to them. Be the man we know you are destined to be. A man of greatness, character, love, devotion, sacrifice, and joy.

We know you are destined for these things because they are being modeled for you in the form of your parents and family. You will be amazing whatever you decide to be. Follow your dreams. Figure out what you love to do, what makes you come alive, and DO IT! Your dad will make sure you chase your dreams and your mom will make sure you have a savings account to fall back on. But chase hard after them. Don’t let a day go by without doing something, anything you’re passionate about.

Above all remember how deeply and passionately you’re loved and valued.

You are wanted.

You are precious.

You are a prayer come true.

Happy Birthday Bean.

ps. I’ll just apologize now for the ridiculous amounts of documentation your life will have. No one has ever been more grateful for technology!!

What I Know.

How “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” broke my heart and killed my generation. Part 10.

I’m sorry it’s taken me a month to finish out this series. I’ve been back from India for about a week and feel like I’m finally getting into a normal routine again. India is 12 1/2 hours ahead of Colorado so my days and nights were reversed. But anyways.

First of all, can I just say, I SO appreciate hearing your feedback. I’ve enjoyed the encouragement, criticism, challenges, and your precious stories that have been shared with me. It’s been such a growing experience to engage with this topic with so many of you. Thank you for what you’ve said – even those of you who vehemently disagree.

This whole series came from several conversations I’ve had over the course of many months. I’ve lamented with girl and guy friends about what has gone wrong in our generation especially in the realm of relationships. As I’ve fully immersed myself in this process I’ve learned a few things.

At the end of the day, good relationships come down to one thing. Healthy people. Because I’m learning that if I’m not a healthy individual, I won’t be healthy in a relationship. It doesn’t matter if I’m courting or dating or something in between. Living in extremes isn’t healthy and I doubt anyone would disagree on that matter. It doesn’t mean I have to pretend I have it all together, in fact I think it’s the opposite. I think it means knowing how much I don’t have it together and inviting someone into the journey of my mess. But not expecting them to fix it or clean it up.

I think being a healthy individual means I make healthy choices for myself and for the relationships I’m in. It means I set good boundaries, physical and emotional. It means I’m careful with the things I watch or engage with. It means that I take a step back when I’m so ready to lead.

I want to offer someone the best of who I am. I want to make someone better because I love them and they love me. I want my life to challenge them to run to Jesus.

I’ve also learned that I’m really good at giving at advice but not very good at living it. I’ve always wanted to be honest in this space and so I need to confess something. Aside from the obvious blogs that include my story, (see: Friendationships) so much of this has been me.

I’m the girl who has a hard time not pursuing a guy. I’m the girl who has a little girl heart inside of her dying to be fought for. I’m the girl who struggles with filling a void with chick-flicks. I’m the girl who can assume that because we’re going to dinner, we’re getting married. I am the girl who desperately wants to understand why boys don’t want to date me. I am the girl who clearly overshares and leaves no room for mystery. I am the girl I’ve ripped apart and challenged to let men lead. I’m the girl who gets to be their best friend but never gets flowers. I’m the girl that believes the best in them but gets her heart broken. I’m the girl who gives her heart too freely because of the depth of love she wants to give.

I am that girl.

And I just don’t know any other way to live. I don’t know how to be mysterious and flirty. I don’t know how to give just enough but keep the rest guarded. I don’t know how to be pursued. I want to be better at it. I want to be at rest enough in who I am as a woman that my spirit invites a man to lead. I want to be mysterious. I don’t want to be too much.

What I know is to offer all of me. What I know is to offer my heart without expectation. What I know is to let others love me. What I know is that life – it’s messy and painful and beautiful. What I know is that we’re all tragically broken and undeservingly redeemed. What I know is that I want to say I’ve risked my heart for love, a love that is greater than what I feel for a boy. What I know is that I want to live a life worth living. What I know is that the days I feel most like a scared little girl are the days I need to let others love me even more.

What I know is that the older I get, the less I know. But something I do know is that life is not a fairytale. It’s not a happy ever after, it’s not a princess in a white dress, or even a prince charming.

It is so much better.