Sunday Thoughts…

It’s Sunday. It’s the Lord’s day. It’s a day of rest. It’s a day of worship. It’s a day of regrouping for the week ahead. It’s an extra special day to thank God for all He’s given me and is to me. It’s a day to be thankful and at peace.

If that’s what Sunday is, why am I doing the complete opposite. I’m being a hypocrite. I’m lying to myself, to my friends, to family, to God.

On the outside, I smile. On the outside, I laugh. On the outside, I wear makeup to hide swollen eyes and a tear stained face. On the outside, I act strong when inside I’m falling apart. I’m hurting. I’m exhausted. I’m still loving someone without being loved in return. My heart continues breaking no matter how much I tell it to get it’s act together.

People ask me how I am or holding up or if I’m okay almost every day. And I reply “I’m good” or “I’m fine” or “I’m healing”.

It’s a lie. It’s a lie to them. It’s a lie to myself. It’s a lie to God.

But if I answer honestly, I’m going to cry. I won’t be able to tell you how I feel or of my pain without falling apart. I would be a blubbering, pathetic fool. I can’t show that weakness.

So, I wear a mask. It’s a pretty mask– one I’ve taken time to craft and bedazzle. My mask is a part of me– I never leave the house without it. I put it on every morning and take it off every night. My mask knows more about me than I know about myself.

To the outside world, my mask makes me everything I want to be: strong, brave, loved, valued, needed, confident in my worth. My mask is my protector. The less people that know my feelings and struggles, the less exposure I have to burn me.

Have you ever seen The Phantom of the Opera? It’s one of my favorite movies. The Phantom wears a mask to cover his disfigured face. It covers his insecurities, his battered and bruised heart, and his true inner beauty.

I’m the Phantom of my story. My mask prevents others from knowing the pain, hurt, or defeat behind my hazel eyes.

I’ve never liked two-faced people. I’ve never wanted to be one. I’ve never considered myself one. But, I just admitted I wear a mask. So, am I a two-faced person? Technically speaking, yes! One face is beautiful, near perfect, full of strength, and capable. The other face is broken, tainted, weak, worthless, and lost.

Am I the two-faced person that talks cruel about others behind their back? No! Am I a gossiping queen? No! Do I treat others poorly? No!

As a matter of fact, I’m the first person to give you the shirt off my back. I’m the first person to feed the hungry. I’m the person that wants to adopt all of the orphaned children and love them hard. I’m the person that wants to save all of the helpless animals from shelters. I’m the person that sees someone eating alone at a restaurant and pays for their meal. I’m the person that hops out of a moving vehicle to save a turtle, crossing the street, from oncoming traffic. I’m the person that cries from the magnitude of starving, disease stricken people in third world countries to something so petty as my mom’s beta fish dying. I’m the person whose heart is so full of love and care and compassion.

Am I boasting? Absolutely not! I love the heart God gave me. The people I love deeply, the people I care about, the children I sponsor, the students I teach, the animals I rescue are all for His glory. He made my heart what it is.

If my heart is loving and caring for His glory, why am I wearing a mask? Do I not trust Him enough to share all of me with the world? Does God approve of my mask? Will God protect my heart if I walk around exposed and maskless? Would people around me be respectful of my feelings? Will my friends be there to hold my hands and guide me? Does wearing my protective mask make me less of a Christian? I believe it’s okay to not be okay. But, how long is that okay to last?

I wish I knew all of the answers to the questions above. But, I don’t.

I don’t know the point of this entire post except to say if you’re wearing a mask, you’re not alone. The struggle is real. For some of us, covering our hurt is our super power. For some of us, protecting our heart is our number one goal in life. For some of us, suffering and healing alone is our preference.

Are you wearing a mask? If so, let’s take each other’s proverbial hand and tackle this together. Let’s slowly peel off the mask just as the Phantom did with Christine. Let people see the real us. Whether for love, for family, for friendships, for job opportunities, for spiritual or personal or emotional growth, or simply for ourselves. Don’t let people have power over our emotions, over who we truly are. It’s unhealthy. Let’s just give it to Him.

Is it going to be easy? Probably not. Will we fail and revert right back to our mask? Most likely. Will our mask always be sitting on the vanity waiting to be picked up and used, like any temptation? Yup.

Let’s remember this:

If you want to be TRUSTED, be HONEST. If you want to be HONEST, be TRUE. If you want to be TRUE, be YOURSELF.

Here’s to less mask and more you (me)!

Xx, Rachel

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Summer 2018

This past summer, I fell in love…twice.

I know that’s blatant, but it’s true. I’m not a public person when it comes to my feelings or private relationships. I feel these things should be guarded, protected, and personal. I’m also not one to post pictures of us or tag us in “check-ins” on social media. Sure, I’ll post teasing and cheesy quotes like “being near him makes me smile” but my social media friends and followers will likely never see my significant other until we reach the point of no return. To explain the seriousness of my private-ness, this past summer unfolded without one person in my family, other than my mom, knowing it occurred. I shared bits and pieces with a few close friends, but even they don’t know the depth of it. Nevertheless, I hope those reading this blog respect my vulnerability and take my growth and what I’ve learned to heart.

On to the good stuff.

Summer of 2018 was one for the books, one I will never forget. One I never want to forget. It was a summer of happenstance, weird beginnings, unpredictability, happiness, closeness, deep friendship, butterflies, and love. I’m even smiling as I write this. When the story began, I had absolutely no idea the road I would travel, the feelings I would feel, and how it was a complete God-sized, God-ordained summer.

I met him on June 1st.  (FYI, he shall remain nameless since we share mutual friends). It was an unexpected meet and it wasn’t a very good one. He interrupted a conversation I was having with someone and when he was introduced to me, he gave me a weird look- one I can’t even describe. All I can say is, he was a rude jerk. (P.S. he’s fully aware of my thoughts on our first meet). Thinking of this encounter still makes me giggle. I rolled my eyes and walked away from the conversation, going about my business. I didn’t see him again for the remainder of the night.

The following weekend, word got to me about something negative he said about me. I mean, I knew nothing of this guy and he knew nothing of me, so why was he bashing me to other people? And the nerve of him. I dislike confrontation, but I dislike male arrogant, jerks more. So I found him on social media and sent him a message.

Ya’ll it was downhill from there. Literally. To this day, it blows my mind how one confrontational message turned into the fastest, deepest friendship I had experienced. We became inseparable. We talked nonstop. We talked from sun up to sun up, no joke. There were plenty of nights we said “goodnight” at 2, 3, or 5am. We talked about any and everything. From him asking if I liked tacos and chicken nuggets (because he’d never met a girl who didn’t like them) to his obsession with Star Wars. Side note: We made a deal. He’d watch Jane Eyre (my favorite movie) and I’d watch Star Wars (his favorite movie). Well, he failed to tell me the order of these ridiculous movies, so I watched them completely out of order and was utterly lost. Haha.

Somewhere in our talks, things turned serious. Not romantically (yet) but spiritually. I began learning how passionate he was about his faith. First, let me back track a bit before proceeding. At this point in my life, I regret to inform you that God and faith were not at the top of my list. Things have happened throughout my childhood and recently in my adult life that pulled me away from God and put a bad taste in my mouth for all things (and people) faith-based. So, if his sincere and deep passion for his faith had been the first thing I’d learned about him, I would have said “Adios” in heartbeat without ever blinking an eye. I know, I know… I’m no longer in that dark place.

Back to the story. After several deep discussions about God and him baring his soul to me (all of his dark pasts exposed), I began to slowly open up too. It was rough in the beginning because I just knew this guy was going to think my stories were insane and he’d wash his hands of me. But it wasn’t like that. It was like he wanted to know all of the parts I didn’t love about myself and my life so he could know where to begin caring (or loving) and rebuilding first.

Imagine meeting someone who understood all of the dustiest, darkest corners of your mixed-up soul, but chose you anyway. Imagine the countless texts containing scriptures of “I will be with; you are precious in my eyes, I love you. Fear not for I am with you.” Imagine the hundreds of hours spent talking through Bible passages and praying with and for each other. Imagine connecting so deeply and emotionally and spiritually that it scared the living daylights out of you. Imagine finding the one person who laughed at your jokes and sassiness, the person who actually asked how you were, the person who told you things straight up, the person who said he cherished you and you were good enough and pretty enough and worth his time. Imagine the person who was so happy to have found you as a friend as well. Imagine the peace in your heart when you know you’ve found the one God has created for you.

I fell…and I fell hard.

I bet you’re reading this and thinking how perfect this guy is and how white his horse must be and if he has a clone to give to your daughter or best friend. More so, you’re probably wondering when our wedding date is and when our little redheaded “Allie” (inside joke) will be running around.

I wish I could answer those questions for you, but regrettably I can’t. You see, my person (so I often called him) broke my heart. I won’t go into the details because we share mutual people and I’d never want others to see him in a bad light. I still don’t see him in a bad light, just as someone who has made poor choices and actions where our relationship/friendship is concerned.

NO ONE IS SENT TO ANYONE BY ACCIDENT.

In the last few days, people close to me have found out about what I’m assuming is our ending. If I’ve heard the above words once, I’ve heard them a million times. While I believe those words with my whole heart, I didn’t want to apply them to him. At times, I’m okay with applying it to him, but some days (or moments) are a lot harder. I guess those words finalize things in many ways.

You see, not only did I fall in love with him, I also fell in love with God. Despite his actions to me and the broken heart he’s left me with, I owe him everything in regards to finding my way back to God and my faith. Maybe this is the reason he was sent to me. Maybe this is why we connected so deeply and so quickly. Maybe this is why I fell for him, trusting him with my deepest, darkest secrets. Maybe he was placed in my life to hold my hand until I found my way back to the cross. Maybe my broken heart is for the good. Maybe, just maybe, we were only meant to be temporary.

Falling in love with God has been the most magical, romantic thing I’ve experienced. I can honestly say that my love for Him now doesn’t even compare to the love I thought I had for Him years ago. My soul is at peace more often than its not. Somehow, I smile on days when I feel the worst. I find beauty in the pain and hurt. I find reassurance in knowing that He is wiping away all of my tears and those breakdowns lessen each time because He is comforting me. After years of silence (I’m being real), I kneel by my bedside every night to pray and talk to Him. Each day, I find strength to keep going. And for the first time in my life, I’ve trusted Him with my heart and my cares and my future. Friends, let me tell you, that’s a beautiful and freeing thing.

While he broke my heart, He mends and protects it.

While his words were careless, His are true and empowering.

While his actions are wounding, His are loving.

While his promises failed, His are everlasting.

While he moves on without me, He will never forsake me.

I’m not going to lie, at times, the pain sucks. At times, I break down and cry. At times, I smile thinking back on the good times. At times, thoughts of slashing his tires doesn’t sound too bad (LOL). At times, seeing him makes me sad and hurt all over again. And at times, seeing him still makes my heart skip a little beat. But through all of that, I can truly say IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL. God has things (and people) in store for me. He tells us that all things work together for good to those who love Him. He has good for me. I don’t want great or amazing, I just want His good for me.

Xx, Rachel

 

*An Open Letter To My Person*

Dear You,

I miss you. I miss your friendship. I miss the late night talks and laughs. I miss hanging out. I miss the way we’d be in a deep conversation and when our eyes locked, I blushed and you’d smile. I miss the times I’d be ranting on about something meaningless yet when I’d look at you, you’d be watching me so intently it’d give me goosebumps. I miss listening to you go on and on about history and religion. I could sit and listen to you talk for hours. I miss the numerous times I’d try to force you to watch Mamma Mia or I’d break out in song and you’d just shake your head, laughing. I miss the times where I’d opt for a donut and you’d opt for an 8 mile run or when I’d accidentally knock my glass at dinner and the wet straw would fly across the table at you. I miss the way you sought me out and the way you knew how much I needed you. I miss your effort of telling me constantly how much I meant to you. I miss your never-ending encouragement, always lifting me up. I miss us. I miss my friend.

If I meant that much to you, why did you hurt me?

You chose the sweetest words to get to my heart and the most poisonous actions to break it. You broke down my walls, then broke me too. We had conversations that were impossible for others to understand. But what I miss the most are the little moments when it seemed like you really cared about me and when it seemed I was important to you. You said there was no expiration date on us. You said I was in your circle and I’d always be good enough for you. You said, you said, you said. How could you throw that all away?

No matter our ending, I thank you. Thank you for bringing me back to Him. Thank you for lighting a spark inside of me and now my faith is ablaze. Thank you for boosting my self-confidence because I am worthy, I am enough, and I do matter. Thank you for the months of friendship you gave me. Thank you for your time. And even if we never speak again, I want you to know that I forgive you and I am forever altered by who you are and what you meant to me. You’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

Xx, Rach (because you hated that nickname)

Hideaway

beachblog

This morning, I woke up and followed my heart. It led me to the beach. I have always loved the beach. The salty smell of the water, the sand between my toes, and the warmth of the sun beaming down seems to cure all of life’s worries…if only for a short time. One of my favorite places is my secret hideaway at Vilano Beach. The tall dunes isolate it from the rest of the beach. This is probably why I love it so much because when I go there, I desire to be alone to think or write or read or pray, but most importantly to inhale and exhale.

I can’t explain why, but I have never felt farthest from God and myself than I did in 2016. There were times that I felt God didn’t care about me or the desires of my heart. I felt completely alone and an outcast more times than I can recount. I tried to please everyone and make myself someone I wasn’t meant to be. I tried to fit in and be loved by people who were never meant to love me in a way that I wanted. I lost track of who I am and what I am meant to do and be. I lost sight of His plan for me. And I hated myself for it.

I only visited our spot once the entire year. The drifting feeling is one that sickens you and one you try your best to ignore it. Until the realization hits that while I may have felt so far from Him, that’s when He was the closest to me. I may have not felt it or sensed it or accepted it, but He was there to hold my hand, dry my tears, and carry me when I was not strong enough to walk alone. I guess that’s why I like the beach so much because it reminds me of the poem Footprints in the Sand. There were two sets of footprints walking in the sand. One was God’s and one was man’s. And then man noticed that there was only one set of footprints trailing the sand. And he felt God had left him. But then God reminded him, when you only saw one set of footprints in the sand, it is then that I carried you. Powerful, right?!

Everyone feels God differently. We all feel closer to Him in different places or times of the day. I feel closest to Him at the beach. The view never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Why do I feel closest to Him there? Maybe it’s because He created something so breathtaking and because only He can tell the waves how far to come or because only He can provide the peace that is found there. The waves roar and crash violently on the shore. Similar to how the trials of life crash violently into our souls. But just like He does with the waves crashing onto the shore, He controls how far the waves of trials come into our souls and how much damage they will do. Some damage can ruin us and some damage will strengthen us. But past the waves, is a calm ocean. And past our trials is a calming peace we find in Him.

The ocean silences me, both verbally and mentally. The inner chaos of my mind and soul come to a screeching stop. And for a few minutes, I am at peace. I have no worries or cares. My spirit is lifted and all is well with my soul. It is a special place that God regroups me. He reassures me and comforts me and heals me and mends the broken pieces. It is the place that He reminds me of the one set of footprints because He is carrying me. I don’t have to face life by myself. I don’t have to feel alone. And I don’t have to stay broken.

So, when my heart led me to the beach this morning, I became vulnerable again. To accept His comfort and peace again. To set my eyes on Him and only Him. To no longer walk through life alone. To please Him first and then myself- no one else matters. To believe that He is my anchor, my hope, my strength. To inhale and exhale. To smell the sea and all of its saltiness and feel the sky and all of its warmth and to let my soul and spirit fly.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things of which you do not know.”  Jeremiah 33:3

X,

Rachel