god

In Observation of Lent

I have unplugged from Facebook for Lent. Being someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder, using food as a means for fasting is never a wise choice. Because, you might not know this about people with eating disorders, but we can nail the depriving ourselves thing really really well. Too well. That’s not helpful, nor is it spiritual and pardon my French, but it sure as hell defeats the purpose. That is straight up (but figuratively) feeding the devil that lives within us. We can out not eat anyone. Huh?

Anyway, I notice a few things immediately when I put Facebook down:

  1. I look at my phone less. Well, first it starts with staring at my phone, but finding nothing useful to do with it. Then I start getting caught up on current events (the ones that I can stomach), but that gets old quick. And, eventually, I’m not picking it up as much anymore, because I’m not nearly as attached to it.
  2. Facebook has given me a need for validation that did not previously exist before. Well, I think we all need validation on some level, but Facebook feeds our validation need, until it becomes a monster. Think circa 1980’s musical Little Shop of Horrors. The need for validation gets all “FEED ME, SEYMOUR!” And so we do, because its like… right there, so we can. There’s no real reason for it aside from convenience. We were fine without it before. I mean, those of us who lived without it. Y’all are on your own who grew up with it. That shit is wired in you. Good luck and God speed to you, my friends.
  3. There is a lot of writing in my brain that gets wasted in one liners on Facebook posts. I could be elaborating on that stuff, and writing books, and making bank. But instead I’m all witty and hilarious in two lines on Tuesday that will quickly be forgotten until the same date rolls around next year and I repost being all, “hey, y’all, I was funny once. Look! See?” And at that point no one cares anymore.
  4. All that time I save. Seriously. Facebook is a time suck. You are flushing a lifetime down the drain. Stop that shit. Life is precious and short. Go live!
  5. Unplugging from Facebook makes me want to unplug from TV too. Eventually I realize that, while some TV is useful for relaxing, it can be as much of an addiction as picking up our stupid little phones. I have the urge to turn it off more, and go do the valuable things Facebook was keeping me from too. Like writing.

So, here I am. Writing. I am also going to try to write daily. I was going to do that privately, because not all of my thoughts need to be published, but then I decided to do it here, for accountability.

Down to the main reason I take part in Lent. We all have those things. Those things we turn to that are unhealthy for us. For many of us, Facebook is one. Think about the things you’d like to get back to. Knitting, meditating, reading, biking, running, crafting, writing, reading, praying, volunteering, playing with the kids, singing, music, painting. Whatever it is, we all have valuable things we could be doing with our time other than checking out mentally and arguing with strangers on Facebook. Things that feed our souls and feed the good in this world. Heck, maybe something that literally feeds the needy. That is why I choose to give up something in my life that has been robbing me of my living. Something that has become a crutch.

It doesn’t really matter what it is, what matters is the way we use our time doing something more valuable. THAT is what gets us closer to God. That is living. I cannot think of a better way to challenge the things that steal our joy, and to learn what rewards we will discover waiting on the other side. It is indeed the epitome of spiritual nourishing.

Our Soul Mission and A Lifetime Alone

The other night, I asked God to explain to me in a dream exactly why I’m destined to spend my life alone. I asked for the dream to be thorough and clear, and for the ability to remember all of the details.

 

This is what followed.

 

I woke up at 4:40 am remembering vividly the two different dreams I had just had. Though I remembered them so thoroughly, that I felt the need to write them down immediately, I also felt very intensely, like I needed that last hour of sleep. I went to the bathroom, and when I lied back down, I prayed, as I quickly found myself hovering in a space between both awake and aware, and also in an REM state. As I prayed in that state, I asked for the ability to remember the details when I woke, if I was still in need of sleep. And I did.

 

I woke just after 6, and needed to start getting ready to go run. I prepared and as I drove there, I made a voice note recording the dream. This is my first time writing it down. I knew it must also be written, in order to be both fleshed out and processed.

 

The first dream began as I entered the apartment of a couple I am friends with. The apartment was old and filthy on a level that was beyond cleaning, but they obviously took very good care of the place, to make it was as nice as it could be. They were cleaning up after dinner and preparing for winding down for the evening. When I walked into the apartment, for what must’ve been the first time, I noticed the old wall next to the door had, at some point, been dug into as though someone were trying desperately to either get out, or get to something inside the wall, or perhaps just out of sheer madness. I noticed three specific layers in the wall. Maybe paint, plaster, then brick. Even the brick had been carved at, but not penetrated. And I was amazed by the fact that, as old as the building was, and as hard as that mystery person had tried, the wall was still fiercely resilient and standing strong. It also struck me that, rather than building the door there, the builders had decided to build the door right next to this individual’s feverish digging. It kinda seemed sadly ironic, and also a like a slap in the face to that person’s hard work.

 

As I sat in the kitchen, talking to my friends, they had moved on to doing things in the other rooms. Their cat proceeded to walk into the kitchen, stop right in front of me and sit, watching that area of eerie wall. It sat completely still and just watched for the longest time, and I thought to myself, “its as if the cat is watching the person who is still digging, after centuries, never realizing that the years had passed.” At that point, I was pretty thoroughly convinced that the place was haunted.

 

I followed my friends into their living room and sat on a loveseat perpendicular to their couch, chatting with them. I mentioned the unusualness of the cat’s behavior, and my friends rolled their eyes, as though people had commented on it before. As I moved my hands while talking, and tucked my hair behind my ear, I kept feeling a third hand on me. The hand wasn’t aggressive, or chilling, but rather, offering my hands support. It was trying to help me, as though it were my own, third hand. Totally creeped out, I mentioned the feeling and stood up. I moved to their couch. My friend then stood up, all huffy and annoyed. She said, “I don’t appreciate what you’re implying about our home. I know all of the superstitious things you believe, but you can keep that to yourself.” She also expressed offense at my suggesting that they’d make their house sitter who was coming soon stay in haunted environment. Obviously offended by my comments, I apologized frankly, and shut up. That pretty much had killed the conversation, though. And as awkward silence took over, that scene closed, and another began.

 

Dream number 2:

 

In this one, I seemed to be in a commons area of a church. It was hard to tell if it was a small church or a mega church. Two of my pastors were there. My female pastor from my most recent church, and the only pastor of my church in North Carolina. My female pastor was explicitly ignoring me the whole time I was there, which was hurtful and very similar to one of our last interactions in real life. As my North Carolina pastor pulled me aside, my other pastor pulled aside someone else.

 

My NC pastor spoke with me, checking in to see how I was doing. As we talked, the conversation of a group of men from my North Carolina church was starting to drown us out. Now let me say, the men in this church were the kindest, most polite, gentlemanly, and respectful men I have ever come across. In my dream, however, they were shootin’ the shit like a regular group of guys. I was generally ignoring them, but when something totally inappropriate was said, my pastor reminded them that I was in their company, to which one replied “well, she’s a bitch.” He said it very articulately and spitefully, making eye contact with me as it came out. I was totally unaffected by the comment.

 

The guy who was leading the disrespectful conversation sticks out to me. It is someone from that church who was a serial dater. He was one of those people who goes from relationship, to relationship, and so on, ad infinitum. They never lasted terribly long, and he ended up dating almost every woman in the church at some point. He recently became engaged, and as far as I know, that relationship still stands. (He seems to have deleted most of the people from our church off of his Facebook friends list, including myself. Which is cool, because I don’t have to worry about his seeing this. I guess things get awkward when you have a history with every woman in a church. Haha—I’m not included in that list though. Just sayin.)

 

Anyway… While this was all going on, the guys were around a coffee table, playing a strategy game. The game was a series of stacked circles, 3 or 4 to each row. The board was actually reminiscent of the mat in Twister. I watched closely and diligently trying to understand how the game went, as they had invited me to play the next round. I was almost able to understand the game, when it ended.

 

In real life, playing new games is one of my biggest anxieties. Despite being a gifted writer, everything else has always been difficult for me to understand. I suck at reading comprehension, and the number of repetitions needed for me to understand a concept, far outnumbers most people. Even the most basic concepts are like a foreign language the first 38 times I hear or see things. So, games are always stressful for me, as I fear my inability to understand the rules will reveal how utterly stupid I’ve always believed myself to be. The only game I’ve ever excelled at has been scrabble.

 

So, just as I started to learn the game, it ended. And that board disappeared, and a new one appeared. These circles where in an oval, curving, kind of resembling the outline of a lake. Apparently, the board changed with each round. My stomach dropped, right when the guys decided they were done playing for the night anyway. At this point, a wave of relief washed over me.

 

Reflecting on this part of the dream, the pastor from my North Carolina church feels like a very Jesus-like figure to me, which seems accurate. He was listening carefully, engaged, and invested in what I had to say, though there wasn’t much. I think it is interesting to consider, knowing that, the fact that I paid him very little attention. I was too focused on the guys and figuring out how to play that damn game. Sooooo, that’s an interesting side note, that means so much more when I read it back to myself. Yikes.

 

It has been days since this dream, and I have had a lot of realizations since. I’m not sure whether to include them here, in a new post, or at all, as they might be revelations best left to my book.

 

I will say this, the next day I went to have a reiki session after a yoga class. In the session, two Netflix shows came to mind, which both feature a group of people intensely connected, whom are on very important missions in the world. One is Sense8, about a group of spiritually connected people who can pop into the lives and experiences of each other. The other is Travelers, in which a group of time travelers have gone back in time to, of course, save the world. Both of these groups are fighting powerful evil forces, and are deeply, fiercely connected. But what they both most importantly have in common are their soul missions on this earth.

 

Similarly, during the session, my practitioner got the image of two energies, one being my own, and one being another. At first, these energies were raised up on a platform together, but then they split off from each other, going in opposite directions. She said that she got the word “mission” as if these two souls were parting to go serve and important earthly mission, but she said she got the sense that they would reconnect down the road.

 

What she reported seemed very interesting, as I had not told her of the question I had asked to have answered in my dream the night before. Only that I had asked one, and it was answered. I gave no indication of what the question had related to. The vision she received seemed to pose the possibility that the question itself had been based on a falsehood. It seemed to be a confirmation that my belief in a lifetime alone was wrong. That being said, I cannot really say whether these souls will reconnect in this life, or realm, or another. Only time will tell. Unless, of course, I ask another question.

 

Honestly, whenever I have a question for God, I have simply asked for an answer, and He has consistently offered answers to what I have asked. I truly believe, He will tell you anything you want to know. All you have to do is ask.

The Poem I Did Not Write

I’ve been going back and reading old posts, which I never do. My mind has been revisiting the things I used to feel, and I happened to be led there. It might not be a good idea, but it is a good reminder from where I came. I’ve been reading a lot of my posts about suicide, and my attempts. One, which I wrote on the anniversary of one of my attempts, I intended on adding another poem to, but it seems I did not. So, I want to add it now.

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The Poem I Did Not Write

I see my life in seasons

unfolding behind me

like landscapes:

rolling hills with greenery,

the brilliant colors of trees in fall,

unexpected snow,

or sunsets over water

in my rearview mirror as I drive away,

and it is gone.

I revisit these places

that once were home.

Each previous address.

The walls, they do speak.

The men that came and went;

The labor it takes to remove the smell

of vomit-drenched carpet;

The ghosts that waved good-bye

when it wasn’t my time.

The echoing of sobs.

 

I am making this journey in solitude,

but aren’t we all?

At the end of the day,

it is only ourselves

and God.

And those who drop in for a visit

once in a while.

 

I’ve spent years wondering

if my wails will rattle these walls

long after I am gone.

Will I haunt this place

like it still haunts me?

 

When I was 12, I wrote a poem

in which I stated

“I was meant to die by my own hand.”

I have not forgotten the line,

it rings loudly in my mind

like a catchy tune

that you cannot shake.

And the only way to ease the urge

is to listen to it

one more time.

 

When I was 31,

a medium told me

that I would not wed,

and those words too,

they will not leave me,

though everyone else has.

 

I never realized until now

That each morning is the clean slate

I was searching for

for years.

That each sunrise is my chance to try again.

Each face I meet, I memorize

inside my heart,

appreciating its beauty,

savoring its presence

before it is gone.

Though I am not sure

whether the recalling

either harms or heals.

 

And this is where I’ve found myself

stopped along the road.

The joy, my God,

is warmth

and light.

It is infectious.

Vibrant and healing!

And I come alive.

It soothes me in the waiting.

It holds me in the dark.

My loveliest companion.

 

And even so,

I still have times

when I can hear the darkness whisper,

calling me back.

And despite my knowing

how deeply it aches

I find myself tempted

to revisit it as well.

 

 

 

Take This Cup From Me

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Luke 22:41-44 NIV

This is not only my favorite part of the Easter story, but quite possibly my favorite moment in the entire Bible. We know Jesus is God in human form, but this is his most human moment. I imagine the prayer/conversation going something like this (paraphrasing, of course): “So, God/father, I know I have to be crucified and all, but I was just wondering if there might be a way to get around that whole part of this? Its going to suck pretty badly, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to ask if there was any other way to do this? I mean, at the end of the day, its your will, not mine. Just wanted to check.”

Who of us would not feel like that with such a task at hand? Overwhelmed, scared, full of dread. And yet, who of us would have the strength to surrender to God’s will with such an impending fate? I love that God sent an angel to strengthen him. It shows the ability of God to strengthen us in times of desperate struggle. For us, the angels may be literal or figurative, referring to people that He sends. Either way, He strengthens us. He sends help. He listens to our anguish. Jesus knew the reason he came. He knew this event was unavoidable and would feel unbearable, and yet he asked God for a way out. And yet, he ultimately surrendered to God’s will. He knew his mission and the purpose, and knowing how it would feel, he ultimately agreed to it… For us.

He knew the purpose it would serve was too great.

How many times have I begged God for a way out?

How many times have I pleaded for another way?

And did he listen? Always.

And did he strengthen me to get me through? Absolutely.

And did my anguish end up serving some greater purpose, either for myself or others? Every. Single. Time.

Did my ultimate surrender to God’s will help me accept the task at hand? You bet.

God is faithful when our fears distract us. God is present in our struggle. He will give us the strength to get through and accomplish great things. He is there. He is there because He knows our anguish. He has felt it for himself. He knows our desperation and fear. He’s been there. Even when we feel like He has forsaken us, still, He remains at our side.

He knows.

The Fear of Commitment and My Walk With Christ

Seven years ago today, I sat in church pews long after the congregation had left. Tormented about making a decision to follow Christ or go home and die. I had questions, tons of them. And fears and doubt and hesitation and anger. One thing I did not have was anything left to lose. And that’s how this all began…

My parents like to frequent the same restaurants. They find one they like and go there loyally from that moment on. There was a tea room in a nearby town they discovered, and fell in love with. Once they became regulars, they got to know the family who owned it. The family had lost a son to suicide some years back, and they got to talking about me. I’m not sure exactly what those conversations looked like, but obviously my having lived a suicidal life arose at some point. When I moved back to the area, I became a pet project for that family. No one in the family was more relentless in this pursuit than Kathryn. Kathryn was obnoxiously enthusiastic about Jesus. Like… she REALLY effin loved Jesus. Her spunk drove me insane. I was low energy, grumpy, and wanted to be left alone. I’m not sure how I responded when she started inviting me to church. In my head I imagine smiling, nodding, and shrugging it off. She did not stop asking. Eventually, I decided I’d just shut her up by obliging. “Then,” I thought, “She’ll leave me alone.”

So, that Saturday night, I went. I was planted in my chair through the entirety of the ordeal. My arms were crossed. I had a scowl on my face. I did not sing. I did not stand. I said nothing. “I’ll go, but I don’t have to enjoy it.” I guess I thought if I was enough of a jerk, it’d scare them away. Or maybe I just assumed I knew how church went, and I thought it was all a crock of shit, and all Christians were the same, predictable. As I heard the pastor preach, though, something in my heart started to open. I was certain he’d say something to piss me off, but he did not. Everything he said, I could get behind. It was hopeful, and beautiful, and inspiring, and yet, I was dead set on never going back after that. Kathryn, on the other hand, had different plans. Kathryn kept inviting me back. So, eventually, I surrendered and kept going.

I’d heard the “altar calls” many times, before the night of March 27th rolled around. I don’t know if it had crossed my mind. It probably had. But I’ve always been one to question authority. If this Jesus had so much hope and love and forgiveness, why were Christians often the worst of the jerks? Is God a man? Why is God a man? Men had never done any favors for me. If EVERYONE has access to the forgiveness of Jesus, then that means that the people who abused me when I was a small, helpless child had access to that forgiveness. “Some things,” I believed, “are simply unforgivable.” Where was God in all of that? The altar call came and went that night, and I wanted to go up there, but I wanted answers to all these questions and more, first. As ridiculously impulsive as I’ve been all my life, I wanted to be certain before I committed to this nonsense. I let the call pass, and after service, I started assaulting the pastor with questions. Eventually, he had to go. I sat in the pew, the church now empty except for Kathryn, her sister, and myself. I looked at the clock, then the door, and thought to myself, “If I go home tonight, I’m going to kill myself.” I figured, that this decision could not hurt, so I was going to try it.

With Kathryn and Bekah by my side, I bowed my head and prayed out loud.

Someone recently asked me what exactly it means to “accept Christ.” Here’s the thing, I didn’t really know at the time either. Truth is, its pretty simple. All it takes is a prayer, you’re own version of, “God, I’m tired of doing this alone. I need your help, your forgiveness, and your love. I believe that Jesus did all these awesome things to offer me that, and I am accepting that gift now, and accepting you into my heart.” Feel free to paraphrase as your heart guides. You could do it right this second, if you want.

God is not imposing. He waits for us. A lot of non-believers wonder where God is. God will not interfere in your life if you do not wish to have him there. He’s just waiting for an invitation. After you’ve offered that, he will take care of the rest.

I’d never doubted God’s existence. That belief came naturally to me, although the Jesus thing seemed weird. I didn’t get the death and resurrection concept. Seemed odd, zombie-like, and also there’s the cannibalistic symbolism of the last supper. It was pretty far out to me. I had been told numerous times in high school that I couldn’t be Christian if I didn’t do X, Y, and Z, and I thought “guess I’m not Christian, then.” So, for years I had left it at that. “Guess I don’t qualify.”

What Kathryn, and others in that church taught me, is all the hope that is found in Jesus. I had heard all the zillion things Christians are against, but not once heard about all the hope Jesus had to offer. Hope was something I could get behind. Hope was something I needed desperately. And who doesn’t need unconditional love?

After that night, things did not change instantaneously. It was a process, but it changed my life forever. I still had struggles, and sometimes still do. But the ball was set into motion. That was March 27th, 2011. In July, I had a near death experience that opened my eyes to spiritual truths I had previously been uncertain of, which led to my sobriety. By November, I was off to residential treatment, for all of my issues. Five months of treatment was covered 100% by my insurance. There, my meds got straight, I let go of my addictions, and my eating disorder. I had a chance to process a lifetime of trauma and grief. I moved to California on my own after that (somewhere I’d always dreamt of living), and started my life in recovery. I met a wonderful sponsor with whom I am still very close. I became strong in my recovery, and built a community. In the years since, every time I think things could not possibly get any better, they do. They get better to a new extent to which I had previously thought impossible. I have an incredible life. I have everything I need, do all the things I love, and have accomplished new goals, and set my sights on new heights. It is unimaginably awesome, and it only gets better. God certainly had way more in store for me than I could’ve ever dreamt for myself. I had previously believed I’d just be suicidal until I eventually succeeded in that, and that would be my life.

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I am a different person, inside and out.

In the past two years, I’ve lost 130 lbs. Thursday, I’ll celebrate one year of running. April 15th, I’ll be doing a TEN mile race!!! I’ve written this blog, and shared my triumphs and struggles, and helped numerous people. I have several sponsees, and find myself being told over and over that I’ve inspired someone in some way, or helped people out of ruts. All without even realizing I was doing it. And honestly, I feel like the wealthiest person in the world as a result. Sometimes, I pity the people who think they have it all, when all they really have is material wealth.

Did I know ANY of this was possible on March 27th, 2011? No. I had no clue. All knew was I had an option to go home and die, or try something new that could possibly help in some way. So, I took a leap. And this is where I’ve landed. It was literally the best decision of my life.

God has healed my heart of so much hurt. I was so relentlessly bitter back then. I was angry at God. I thought he was punishing me. I wanted nothing to do with a male God. I blamed him for it all. In the years since, I’ve recognized God’s presence in even my darkest moments. He never gave up on me. And I see it now. Little things I was blind to before. Look, I know people have hurt you. Maybe the church has hurt you. Your pain is very valid, but God is neither those people nor the church. Every time you were hurt, it hurt God’s heart as well. He hurts where we hurt. It pains him to see us mistreated and abused. I have learned this to be true. God is not angry at us for our mistakes. He sees us as beautiful works of art, and loves every little quirk about us. No, God is not a man, so don’t get it twisted. God is beyond our earthly limitations. These very concepts are boxes God cannot fit into. Many languages default to the masculine when referring to something ambiguous in that way. Is it right? No, but its easy. If you have a different pronoun you’d prefer, go for it. God does not want to punish us. God just wants to love unconditionally, and help us in this process we call life. God is always there. He is faithful and reliable. Does everyone have access to this forgiveness? Absolutely, but you should know that many people will not choose to pursue it.

I am a kinder, more compassionate person these days. I make healthier decisions. I am a septillion times happier, seriously. I will always be a work in progress, but how far I’ve come is nothing short of miraculous. Anyone who knew me before will wholeheartedly attest to that.

I’ve had all of my questions answered. If ever I have new ones arise, God answers those as well. My heart has been healed. I can attest to God’s faithfulness. I celebrate this anniversary more than any other and always will. It is the longest I’ve committed to anything. There is no turning back, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

If you have questions, feel free to reach out. There is so much more to say, but this is just a blog, not my memoir. Stay tuned for that. I’m just happy to share this hope wherever I can. It is too wonderful to keep it to myself.

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When It Rains, It Pours: The Race Set Out Before Us

Running is hard. It requires endurance, and movement, and dedication. I naturally have an inclination for laziness, and depression often causes me to feel incredibly unmotivated. So, when I started running, I invited God in the process, because I knew I could not do it without Him.  I’m notorious for being unable to maintain anything long term, however, my recovery and my relationship with God have shown me that it can be done. I have had both of these for nearly 7 years now.

When I started running, I immediately found myself having times when I wanted to quit. I felt like I couldn’t get through the discomfort, or I couldn’t find it in me to get out and do it at all. It was too hot, or too cold, or too hard, or I was too sleepy; but I did it. Three times a week, I woke up early, and got out there and ran. When I had moments that I felt I couldn’t finish because it was too excruciating, I prayed. Each time, I prayed that God would end it. I pray the ending was close. In the process, I quickly discovered that God didn’t want me to pray for it to end. He wanted to pray for His help to get through it, despite the discomfort or difficulty. That was when I realized my running was a metaphor for my life. Often, I’ve found myself praying for the pain to end. “Make this situation go away or stop” or “take me God, end my life, please!” I always begged for the finish line, but sometimes, finish lines are far away, and though God could pick it up and move it for you, you need to learn that you can get through it. There is an important lesson after a finish line. I can do it. It can be done. I can get through it. Even when things are hard, I will survive and I will overcome.

I did this every time I ran. I’ve learned to listen to my body now. If it gets excruciating, I can slow down. I can pace myself. If I am experiencing pain, it is okay to pause. And I’ve learned that when I feel like I’m having moments when I want to give up or quit because it is just too effin hard, I can ask God for the strength to get through it. And I realized, I can do this in life. Do I have moments when I ask for Him to end it sometimes? Yes. But I always, eventually remember to ask for strength instead. And while I make the mistake of begging for an end, I can always feel God waiting patiently for me to realize my error. And when I have asked for the strength, God ALWAYS answers the prayer. And As soon as I get through it, I praise God for answering it.

And again and again He answers it. Every time I run, God answers it. I pray for the strength to get out of bed. I pray for the strength to get through the hard moments, and I pray for strength to finish.

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It is for this reason that I love to run my longest runs Sunday mornings, before church. Because I do this, I always come to church in a state of praise and worship for all that God has already accomplished in my day and in my life. And I revel in God’s faithfulness. Faithfulness in my running process and in my life.

Last Sunday, God showed up in an incredible way. When I reflected on the run, I realized there was a poignant message there that I must share.

I’ve gotten more used to my Sunday runs, and I am excited to accomplish them and see God show up, so getting out of bed has become easier. When I got out there Sunday, I was wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt, with a jacket over it. I didn’t pay the forecast of rain much mind as I usually find that to be wrong, or the rain to be light. All I knew is that it was going to be 55 degrees in February, and I was excited for shorts running weather. When the run started, I was feeling good. The previous week, I had been so exhausted that I kicked my own ankles the entire time. My ankles were bruised and had open wounds from the constant kicking. It definitely hurt. I was throwing around the massive cuss words, ALL OF THEM, by the end. This Sunday, I was better equipped. I had gone to bed earlier and had my coffee. I was doing well. Around two miles, my friend noticed it get darker and mentioned “uh oh, its about to rain.” I was feeling so good, I hadn’t even noticed. When we turned the corner, I could see a downpour up ahead pretty quickly. That’s when my “uh oh” moment happened. I am used to light rain while running, but I don’t have a lot of experience with rains like that. I got nervous. I knew I was going to be cold. As soon as we crossed the street, we were hit with a wall of rain. The winds became violent as well. When the first gust came through, it was so strong, it made a whistling sound that made me very nervous. I come from North Carolina and have been through my share of tornadoes, and they often start with winds like that. We were also close to Lake Erie, and there is a small chance that water spouts can come onto land. I was certain either was about to happen. I looked for ditches to lie in and there were none and I thought “omg we’re screwed.” As we crossed an open wind, the sideways walls of rain assaulted us. The winds blew so hard at us, that I was reminded of the winds suffocating me when I skydived. I struggled to breathe. At points, I had to close my eyes, for fear my contacts would either get too soaked to see through or blow right out of my eyes completely. I was freezing, and my fingers and toes were going numb. My friend offered an extra shirt to stay warm. At that same moment, we hit a hill to run up. Looking back, I find that hilarious. It was so much like obstacles in life, it had literally taken on the the phrase, “when it rains, it pours.” That was epitome of a moment that I had to ask for the strength to get through.

Once we passed through the storm, I felt more relieved that I have ever felt during a run for getting through a challenge. I thanked God for the strength. As I tried to catch my breath, my friend informed me there was another open area up ahead where winds might be difficult. I began to mentally prepare for a repeat of that experience. I became increasingly nervous as we neared that area. Once we got to that, I was surprised and delighted to find that these were entirely different circumstances. The ran was nice and light. The wind was strong, but this time, it had become a tailwind. I found the wind propelled me. It basically picked me up and pushed me further. I loved it! It made running so easy! I wanted it to last forever! Haha That too, I found poignant. Sometimes when we expect challenges, we find ourselves finding benefits instead. Sometimes challenges turn out to help us in incredible ways. They carry us farther, faster than we are able to do on our own. Once that moment passed, again I found myself praising God for giving me the wings.

These experiences were so beautiful, I found myself smiling for the rest of the morning. I also found myself so grateful for the lesson there, because it was so clear to me. Once I was nearing the finish line, again the tailwinds picked up, launching me forward!

God is so cool, y’all. He is faithful, and wonderful. God is shows up to help every time, and all you have to do for the assistance is ask. Jesus said we have not because we ask not. And it is true. God is eager to help you get through anything. He is waiting for your call. God is excited to hear from you. The truth is, finish lines can’t be moved, but God can get you through any race. Any obstacle you face, God is willing to give you the strength. If you are going through ANYTHING that you feel like you cannot withstand, God wants to help you overcome that, and come out the other side. I have seen this to be true. Again and again, I have seen this. I have experienced this. God will show up every time you ask. Even if you don’t believe, or think you aren’t a good person. Even if you doubt. You feel like God is angry or vengeful, or or wants to punish you? These misconceptions are not true. God wants you desperately to ask, but God has boundaries, and will not come into any situation without being invited. God is not one to impose. But if you ask, like clockwork, He will show up. I promise. With everything I have, I promise you that.

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When The Ghosts Try To Find You

Hmmmm….. Where do I start?

I’m a positive person… so let’s start there.

When I hear people’s stories I am amazed by the tapestry woven in this world by each of us. Our struggles, our triumphs, our pain, our joy, our grief, our growth, our journey. It is incredible. I’ve heard so many of them. Some quite tame. Some more harrowing than even I have ever ventured to fathom. Everyone has survived some hurdle of some sort. Everyone started at nothing and transformed into a unique creature. And no two stories are alike. There are similarities, sure. That’s how we relate. We all have regrets. We all have stories that pain us to recount. We all have something to be grateful for, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, there’s something to be valued there nonetheless. It is beautiful.

When I take a step back from the canvas to take a better look, I’m in awe of God’s handiwork. The detail is incredible. And the colors… my GOD, the colors. When I take it all in, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude, because I am a part of this work of art. This makes me a work of art. This makes each of us a work of art. And valuable beyond words and beyond our wildest dreams.

Honestly, this blog post has been on my mind since I started writing again. This subject matter is what brought me back to my writing. And it is one that is very close to my heart. I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not to disclose what I’m about to disclose. I know people are going to read this and honestly believe I’ve lost my fucking mind for sharing it. That’s fair, but can you lose something you never really had? That being said, this, like everything else I share here, and plan to share in my memoirs, affects me quite deeply. It is no different than my depression, or my eating disorder, or my addiction. I have a past that isn’t pretty, and its a mess, but it is a valuable mess. It has brought me to where I am, and despite the painful moments, life is so much better here and thus, I am infinitely grateful to have arrived where I am.

I think I’m going to start with the story, and tell what it is about at the end. Not to make you suffer for it (mostly heh heh), but because I’m reconsidering how I always deliver this information. And I don’t want you to get lost on the subject and either stop there, or not hear anything I have to say after that. I think that’s where most people get hung up. Or maybe I won’t tell you at all, we’ll see. My writing just writes itself sometimes, I’m just here to transcribe.

Let’s refer back to the fact that everyone has a past. I have shared far more of my struggles on this blog than I care to go back and read about. My archives are just that. You’re welcome to read, just don’t forget to focus on how the story ends. Because its a happy ending(ish). That being said, I have a trauma history that I am careful to disclose in little pieces when getting to know someone new. We typically don’t know each other long enough for them to know it all. They usually get halfway(ish) through. *Insert funny meme about depressing subject matter here, to soften the blow of this part,*

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😀

So… that’s about how that goes. (I’m trying to figure out how to follow that… positive… right) My life is the tapestry. Everyday there are many things to grateful for. I see on a daily basis how God works in my life. He reminds me constantly of how much He values me, and how GOOD He is. (I think I wrote that part for me.) And… then the past is dark. There’s the trauma, the destructive tendencies that came from them, and now… the medical ramifications of it all. This is where things start to come back to haunt me. I have an uncanny ability to forget the past. I forget the people who hurt me. I’ve forgotten most of my traumas. I forget guys most easily. I’ve had guys come back to me 10-15 years later telling me they’ve loved me all this time (super convenient for me, right?) and I have barely or not at all remembered who they were. Yesterday, I found a blocked voicemail on my phone from a “Mike” who proceeded to tell me that I was wicked and evil and to lose his number. It was weird because I have no recollection of who it is, and I had blocked and deleted him from my phone, so apparently I used to know. The funny part is that he told ME to lose his number. Oh the irony! Anywho, I am able to wipe my past away, and I believe God has blessed me with that. It is hard for me to beat myself up for anything when I can’t remember it anyway. When my eating disorder recovery caught up to me, my heart stopped working. I had medical ramifications. They were serious, but I overcame them. I am starting to have pretty serious side effects from years of taking the same meds. It is requiring me to address new medical issues brought on by that. Everything comes at a cost, right? But one thing I have because of my past that never lets me forget is herpes. It barely affects my life at all besides taking a medication for it daily. But I take like 13 medications, so what’s one more? I don’t ever have to think about it until I find myself starting a romantic relationship. Then it plagues me. When is the right time to say it? How do I say it? Should I say it? Should I even try relationships at all? Most of the people I’ve told up until 2018 have taken it quite well. It has never ended a relationship until now. Most people are ignorant on the matter, and I’ve memorized all the data to relay. I’d share it here, but I’m feeling real “who gives a fuck” at the moment now, so I don’t really care. I guess that part was redundant. Others know enough about it, to realize it shouldn’t be a concern with someone informed on the matter. My vision is starting to blur.

Allow me to refocus.

A lot of people get to my age and have shit. They have regrets, failed marriages, failed careers, kids to raise, they have a lot of stuff. Luckily for me, I have an advantage here, because I’ve worked diligently on overcoming my shit. I’m now doing better than the majority of normal people I meet. That aside, since 2018 began, this issue has come up for me. And it has been a hangup every time. I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong here. Like, have I suddenly lost value? Something about me just isn’t THAT wonderful now? Maybe I’m less interesting. Maybe people see my face and don’t really listen to a word I have to say anyway, so when they bail, they think “just another pretty face, the world is full of those.” Or maybe people have developed a superiority complex, or I’ve developed an inferiority complex. Maybe it is my delivery? Maybe it is my timing?

But the gist is that I walk away having taken a significant blow to my self worth. And I’m not sure I’m equipped to put myself in that situation again. So… I have two options in that case. Stop telling people, or stop being open to romantic relationships entirely. Obviously, I don’t consider the former a legitimate option.

Every time it happens, I recount every mistake I’ve ever made. It all comes back. Every choice. Every regret. “If I just hadn’t gone here.” Or “If I had never talked to that person.” And by the end of it, I am so daunted that I’m buried in everything I’ve ever done wrong. And it all looks like too much to ever escape it, Which is a really horrible place to be, because the truth is, I already HAVE escaped it. I’m on the other side. I am a new person. In these moments, I forget this. I forget my value. I forget my worth. I forget God’s grace, and the way God sees me. I forget that I deserve someone that sees me through THOSE eyes, and loves me in THAT way, and I really don’t need to waste my time on anything less anyway.

You know… I have these moments and I wonder what good God’s redemption is when I have to live out the rest of my life in a world full of people who only see what’s wrong with me, and with each other, really. If my mistakes will always define me, even though I’ve let them go. Again and again, I’ve let them go. What’s the point? Is there no escaping this? Will I be punished for my past forever? Should I just walk away from relationships entirely?

Luckily for me, I have my writing. Seriously, I realize I just poured my guts out, including a lot of TMI, but here’s the thing about my writing… People have ALWAYS read it and come to me and said “me too.” “You put into words what I’ve never been able to express.” They’ve related. I know from the research that I’ve done that this is an EXTREMELY common issue. And I know there are A LOT of people out there who suffer through this in silence. I seriously doubt there are many other people out there willing to share that. Since the beginning, one of my biggest frustrations about this is the fear surrounding it. It is shrouded in silence, and no one wants to say it, and so no one knows anything about it. And if people knew, it wouldn’t be nearly as scary.

So, this is where I come in. And my words. Because they are all I have, and that is where my power lies. So do with it all of it what you will.

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