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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Church Wounds


TW: church trauma; spiritual and religious abuse; reference to sexual abuse; and possibly finally labeling something you’ve been through but never knew how to put into words.❤️

Almost three months ago, my family and I made the difficult decision to step away from our church. Since then our days have been filled with anger, heartache, shock, disbelief, and lots of grieving. Unfortunately, for me, this isn’t my first encounter with this type of heartache, but for my family it is a first.💔

Lately, I feel like a pendulum swinging between sobbing broken tears and fits of pure rage. The ways this heartbreak has triggered me seem unending and the exhaustion from the inward and outward fight is palpable. And by far the most excruciating part has been doing all of it alone without the bulk of our support system or the people we once thought were our friends. 

I know that the typical response to these types of things-especially within the church-is to stay quiet. I was taught for most of my life that doing anything that “distracts” or “takes away from” the “work of the Lord” is selfish and a sin. 

So for the last few months, I have been relatively silent. Only speaking to those who come to me earnestly seeking answers. 

But, honestly, it has been difficult for me to bite my tongue and hold back-especially in the season I have been in for over 6 months.

As someone who was born and raised in the Heartland-where the Bible Belt cinches at its waist and squeezes a little harder-I will be the first one to tell you that it was never apart of the plan for me to question my faith or Jesus. I didn’t plan on doubting the Bible or being met with the overwhelming desire to walk away from everything that has been the core of my existence from my earliest memories. 

And I definitely didn’t plan on navigating this crisis of faith without the people I once considered to be my safe place. 

Something I don’t talk much about is that over the years, I have been on the receiving end of a lot of spiritual and religious trauma. Trauma I didn’t know how to put into words or even know I was allowed to acknowledge until very recently. 

I’ve known for the last 8 years that a lot of what I have experienced in my life are considered “church wounds”. But let’s face it: anyone who has lived through two church splits and the shunning of two of your childhood churches is going to have some wounds. Period. 

But, I never considered up until last year the way that the extreme fundamentalist teachings and twisted rhetoric played into that trauma or that the things I went through or the things I was taught were actually forms of abuse in many, many ways. 

Over the last 6 months, I have had the opportunity to sit in the presence of some amazing and profound people. People with wounds similar to mine who are living, thriving, and changing the dialogue around religious and spiritual trauma and abuse. 

People who are acknowledging it for what it is, calling it by it’s name, and championing for change. It’s beautiful and inspiring, and in many ways has restored my faith in humanity. 

It’s been refreshing to see and hear that not everyone wants something from you, and your healing isn’t conditional or inconvenient-the way so many churches make it out to be.

In case you didn’t know, there are actually people that exist that just want you to be healed, whole, and successful on your journey, and they want you to have all the tools to do it. This alone has been a real source of hope for me. 

But as a result of sitting with these exceptional and wonderful humans, I can no longer “unsee” or blindly follow any leader or their teachings. 

I especially cannot follow them if I feel what they are doing or teaching goes against the very Bible they themselves claim is God-breathed. 

I have seen and lived the damage that blindly following a leader and their twisted interpretation of Scripture can do to many, many people and I will always stand against that in any capacity.

To be honest, I’ve become quite comfortable in the shade of black the “church” has chosen to see my wool in over the last 8 years. 

Yes. I know there are good, wonderful, safe church bodies out there. I have yet to encounter one myself-but I know they exist. 

I MUST believe they exist for all of us. 

And to be clear: when I speak about “the church”, I’m not speaking about a building or a denomination or even a particular church. 

I’m speaking directly to all of us-anyone who believe in Jesus Christ. 

Which is why I feel so strongly that THIS needs to be said.

So silence your phones and pull up your chairs… 

It is time for the church as a whole to STOP protecting abusers in ANY capacity. 

It is not GRACE to turn a blind eye to the sins of a pastor or any other person who is in leadership within a church. 

👏🏻👏🏻It is actually being an accomplice in the spiritual execution of those around you.👏🏻👏🏻

👆🏻Feel free to read that again. 

For a long, long time mainstream media has focused on financial and sexual abuse within various religious groups and church bodies. These forms of abuse are egregious and those in leadership at those churches deserve to be held accountable even to the point of jail time and restitution. 

 But little spotlight is given to the most prominent forms of abuse within tens of thousands of churches throughout the United States: religious and spiritual abuse. 

Many local churches in communities all over America have chosen to turn a blind eye to these forms of trauma and have instead chosen to protect and empower the abuser instead of holding them accountable. 

They often choose to subscribe to their false rhetoric and teaching, because it’s easier and safer than doing the right thing. 

And by doing so, they have opened up the door for religious and spiritual abuse to be used as stepping stones into the other more well known forms of abuse and trauma such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, and emotional abuse. 

I realize this may be new terminology for some, and that’s ok. 

But these terms and their meaning aren’t just words on a white page. 

They are real. They exist. And THEY are a huge factor in what is killing the church from the inside out. 

I know what you may be thinking: how do I know if this is MY church? 

Well, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:

🤔Does it seem like my pastor or others in leadership are “hiding” something? Does it feel like you have to be “in the know” to get the answers you seek? (2 Cor. 1:12-23)

🧐Are my pastor or others in church leadership open and receptive to questions about decisions being made within the church? Even decisions that seem to be of a disciplinary nature? (Matthew 18:15-17)

🤔Is Biblical accountability in play for all members of leadership but especially the pastors and elders? If accountability is questioned, what is the reaction? (Gal. 6:1-5; James 5:16; Luke 17:3; Hebrews 13:17; Luke 12:41-48; James 3:1; James 4:17; Eph. 4:25) 

🧐Does it appear that “sin leveling” is in play? Sin leveling is the beliefs that some sins are worst than others. And if so, does it seem that leadership is picking and choosing which forms of abuse they will “allow” because that’s what’s in the “best interest” of their congregants? (Rom. 3:23;  1 John 5:16-21; 1 John 1:8-10; Gal. 5:19-21) 

🤔Do the teachings within your church and from behind the pulpit seem to be “targeting” some and not others? Do the teachings answer questions that you may have or do they make you feel even more in the dark? (1 Tim 6:3-7; Hebrews 10:24-25; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Peter 2:1; Eph. 5:11; Matt. 7:15; Col. 2:8) 

🧐Does my church seem to care about the congregants that are deeply triggered and further damaged by any form of abuse they might be seeing? When people are leaving-especially in large numbers-does anyone seem to notice or care to question why? (Proverbs 10:11; Psalm 9:9; James 3:10; Eph. 4:29; 1 Thes. 5:11; Psalm 103:6; Psalm 72:14; Matt. 5:21-22; I also encourage you to look into the book of Acts and God’s intentions for creating the Church.) 

😞What about the people who were already unsure about Jesus? What kind of picture of Christ is your church painting to those on the outside looking in? (If you are seeking Scripture references for this point. I urge you to go back and read the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Focus on the life of Jesus. Who did he speak too? Talk too? Eat with? Heal? That will tell you a lot about Him and what was most important to him.) 

Unfortunately, what is happening in many churches in the “name of Jesus” is frankly disgusting and it needs to stop. 

Immediately.

If you think God is going to bless anyone for protecting any form of abuse-think again.

The church has spent valuable time and resources protecting the wrong things and if they do not stop they will continue to lose people and dishonor God in the interim.

So go ahead and denounce “deconstruction”. Turn your face away and keep your blinders on so you can’t see those crying out for help.

But for those of you who have made it this far and are willing to listen: it’s time to sit up and pay closer attention. Maybe it’s time for the church to invest in the people who need help in the healing part of their journey instead of the people who are causing the damage.

I know I personally will no longer affiliate myself with ANY church that promotes and protects abuse in any form.

And for now, I’m just over here trying to plant my feet through faith based therapy and my support group for survivors of church trauma while focusing on my family and what is best for us in this season. 

Thankfully, I am slowly finding my footing on the solid ground of this new path forward. 

A path that will NOT include toxic church culture or hours upon hours of investing myself or my family into becoming marketing tools for someone’s false teaching or harmful rhetoric. 

Instead we’re getting back to the basics over here. We’re doing a deep dive into who Jesus actually was and what the church is actually supposed to look like. 

If your questioning your place in your church, I encourage you to do the same. I am happy to share ANY and ALL of the resources I have found over the last several months. You can PM me for that information. 

And maybe you’re one of the lucky few to have found one of these unicorn churches. The churches that are truly committed to people-all people-and loving Jesus for the long haul. The churches who know that their purpose is to care for the widows, the orphans, the sick, the refugees, and the oppressed. The ones who speak not just the truth, but also Light and Life. And if this is you, I hope you know just how lucky you are! But you may also be asking how can your church do it better? 

💕You can start by making intentional contact with the new faces that show up in your church. 

💕Learn their stories. 

💕Strive to be a safe and inviting place for the hurting. 

💕Be open. 

💕Listen. 

💕Set aside the traditional Christian platitudes and pity. 

💕Show up.

💕Be genuine in a world where everything seems filtered, edited, and censored. 

💕And know that those of us in this space with deep church wounds, we don’t need your best marketing plan. We just need your honesty and your willingness to show us that the Jesus you know-doesn’t look anything like the Jesus they said He was. 

Maybe in addition to the above, your unicorn church could be one of the first to consider these forward thinking initiatives: 

✅The hiring of a licensed professional counselor who has received extensive training in all forms of abuse including religious and spiritual abuse and who can be available to anyone inside or outside the church who needs their services.

✅Training and space for peer lead support groups on any and all forms of trauma. 

✅Curriculum that focuses on recognizing forms of abuse for all ages and empowers individuals to speak up and out when it is recognized. 

✅The implementation of trauma preventing practices such as asking yourselves what should one on one counseling look like? How can support groups or Bible studies within our church offer a safe, healthy environment for all? Should certain sermons, blog posts, or teachings be prefaced with a trigger warning out of courtesy? How can we openly address hard topics while still being sensitive? 

✅The cultivation of healthy church environments where ideas are openly shared, questions are willingly asked and received, and transparency is key. 

I know this is long-even for me. I know some of you may actually hear what I am saying while many of you will not. And if you don’t get any of it, at least hear this: The Church is not doing enough to love and support the ones who have been hurt in Jesus’ name and it’s beyond time for them to realize that and correct their course. 

The church can blame the media and the world all they want for the people they are losing.

But, the people at my table know that simply isn’t the case. 

It’s time for the church as a whole to focus inward and ask the hard questions. You may not like the answers, but the world is waiting for us to acknowledge our part in the chaos, and actually do something about it. 

The generation coming after us can see right through our facades and they aren’t buying the watered down lemonade we are peddling on street corners. 

And here’s the hard truth: we are going to lose them, Church, if we don’t start addressing the hard truths for what they are instead of pretending like none of it is happening. 

To many, many people’s dismay, I have been bearing my soul as honestly as I can for the last 8 years, and I don’t plan to stop any time soon. 

But do you want to know why? Because I think that’s what the world is craving-especially those on the outside looking in. 

They want to see something real. They want to see something raw. They want you to acknowledge the monsters in your closet-even the ones you are still scared of and haven’t quite figured out how to escape. 

They already know we have them. 

So let’s stop pretending and fighting for all the wrong things. 

Church was never meant to be a building with pews and comfy seats, and it should NEVER be a place where any form of abuse is justified, protected, or excused. 

Church, we are supposed to be a haven. 

An oasis in the wilderness. 

And as long as there is injustice, hurt, and abuse in the world, our voices should be the loudest ones against it. 

Every. Single. Time. 

This. 

This is how we do it better and this is where we start. 

Jesus is point A. And the people who need Him are point B. 

Period. 

And when we-the Church-finally start to focus on those things, we will all be better for it. 

I promise. ❤️

Friday, June 4, 2021

Last Words

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1DfzPG1Xck_FwJM_XpHGiFhAc4wyZXiUW

I don’t know if it’s weird or not for people to worry a lot about the life you would leave behind if you died. I think as a writer, I get fixated on “famous last words” and “closing scenes” which make me want to leave behind something worth remembering and deserving of this one great life I’ve been given.


I think a lot about what people will say about me; the pieces I have written that they will turn too; and the memories of me that they will hold dear. 


I think 10 years ago, the memories of me would have been different. I was devoted to my SAHM life. I was a milder, quieter version of myself. 


But fast forward through my father’s abandonment, my affair, my divorce, and about a dozen more bullet holes and stab wounds and you get me: the brazen, determined, guarded girl standing in front you.


I think the only time I am truly transparent is when I write. I think through my words I am able to let others into a side of me that often times is not as visible to the naked eye. I think my writings reflect a lot of sadness and the grief process, but I think there is also an undercurrent of bravery and courage in some of my pieces. A girl who literally rebuilt herself from rock bottom, and who stands before you a brilliant shining example of God’s grace and unfathomable goodness. 


But while my writing reflects this, my life right now does not. 


In my day to day life this is what I think the people closest to me see: a girl who is stressed beyond comprehension, who is void of joy, and who wears wounds like armor. 


And you know what? The more I think about this-the more crucial it is becoming for me NOT to be remembered like this. 


Because where my writings may reflect hope, my everyday life seems to reflect hopelessness. 


Where my writing reflect courage, my everyday life reflects a fear of change. 


And where my writings reflect a tone of joy for my salivation from my pit, my life reflects a girl who is still very much stuck there. 


And the more I dwell on that reality-the more it feels like a sucker punch deep in my gut. 


Because the people who are stuck with the girl in the pit are my family. 


My husband. Our daughters. 


The people who will remember me most once the rest of the world forgets I was even here. 


And for me that needs to change. 


I want my family to remember the way I prioritized them. Above my not only my current career, but the things that keep me tied down emotionally and spiritually. 


I want my family to remember me as joy filled, and that I was at peace with them and with our life.


I want my family to remember me as having an open and loving heart that was willing to meet people right where they were at regardless of where they came from or where they were going. 


But mostly, I want my family to remember me for the way I loved Jesus, and the way He was my Rock and my portion through all the things I have overcame in my life. 


I don’t want anyone to remember me as the girl with a bunch of baggage she couldn’t put down. 


I want them to remember me as being free and living my life out in the freedom that comes with knowing Christ. 


I’m not sure how to get there, but I think laying a lot of stuff down is a good place to start, and recently I off loaded the two biggest pieces of baggage that I’ve been carrying around for a very long time. 


So here’s to the rest of it: the current career that is literally sucking the life out of me; the alcohol that is helping me cope; and the depression and anxiety that make me feel trapped. Here’s to finding a way to set these things to the side so I can focus on what’s truly important and what’s not. 


This current version of myself is not the person I wish to leave behind. These are not the memories of me I want for my children. I will not leave the people I love most to wonder or worry about where my heart was, because despite the heaviness right now-it has and always will be with them. 

I am going to get to the other side of this. I’m going to find my freedom. I’m already a lot closer today than I was 6 months ago. 
And I can’t wait to see the way He rewrites the closing scene. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Living After Death

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=19OoRfIRdtn25r1fiJtckabzJzCgKnZgF

I died here.

I remember it so vividly.

Sometimes when I close my eyes, I go right back to this place.

I remember the way the dock felt underneath me. 

The way my friend’s legs held my head so gently. 

I remember their confused faces. Their wonderings how on a bright, muggy August morning things could go from normal to so gutturally devastating in just a few short moments. 

To be honest, I wondered that myself.

I am listening to Lisa Terkuerst’s new book, “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget”. And at the beginning of the book she invites us back to the moment we experienced our own personnel B.C. and A.D. 

“Before Chaos and After Devastation”. 

This is mine. 

A lot of people would think it was the night my dad left my mom for the first time; or the night my parents told me they were done for good. 

Many people would assume it was the day I called my dad and asked him to come pick up myself, my oldest daughter, and the few belongings that I needed to leave my first husband for the final time. 

And still there would be others who would be sure it was the day my divorce was final and I sat there surprisingly crying on the witness bench reeling from the last almost 10 years and the choices we both made to bring us to this point. 

But, no. None of those things broke me the way that day at this place did.

While they were devastating and gut wrenching in their own way, none of these moments shattered me wide open and left me bare and bleeding out the way as I was on that day.

In many ways, I’m still healing. I’m still growing. I’m still picking myself up from this dock where I fell apart in August of 2013. 

Over the last 8 years, God has been teaching me-mostly unwillingly-about forgiveness. About what it looks like and how holding onto these deep hurts only keeps us broken and unable to fulfill our true potential.

For a lot of years, I thought forgiveness meant I was giving the culprit of this moment in time a pass. 

That I was looking my monster in the face and telling him that his misuse and abuse of me was okay. 

mean, I’m still here, aren’t I? 

What’s the big deal? 

I thought that if I forgave him the way everyone else already has that he was finally getting what he needed: his free pass from the person he damaged the most. The closure he needs in a neat little package to continue to move on with his life and forget all about the girl he killed that day. 

But God is teaching me through Scripture, and worship, and wise counsel that forgiveness isn’t ANY of these things. 

Forgiveness is me releasing myself of years of bitterness, sadness, and pain.

Forgiveness is finally allowing myself to get up from that dock. 

Forgiveness is taking back control of my story and removing control of my heart and my emotions from the one who broke me. 

As long as I stay on this dock, he wins. 

I get to continue being the bad, evil person he needs me to be to feel good about himself. 

I stay the villain. 

The girl who took something she was not supposed to have. 

And that’s where the story stops.

As long as I stay on this dock. 

Well, I’m tired of laying here. 

I’m tired of feeling attached to this moment in time.

I’m tired of the way I’ve allowed it to damage me, change me, and mold me into an even more broken person than I was before he came into my life. 

I’m tired of the depression that wraps itself around me and strangles the life out of me some days. 

The moments. The memories. The things that keep me chained here unable to move. 

I’m tired of missing someone that clearly has not thought about me for one single second since the moment he left me laying here. 

I’m tired of waiting for an apology I’m never going to get, and feeling like I need it to move on.

I'm tired of feeling like I’m somehow entitled to it. 

Simply put: I’m just tired. 

This burden is heavy.

I feel my Father calling me away from the dock. 

I feel Him asking me to let Him lead me to freedom from this. 

I feel my body stirring, moving, sitting upright. 

I feel my hands on the wood pushing myself to my feet. 

I feel my legs taking steps. One foot in front of the other. One step at a time. 

Down the finger of the dock. 

Toward the gangway.

Onto solid ground. 

I’m not 100% there. 

But I’m moving in that direction. 

Freedom sounds so sweet. 

And I know He’s calling me towards it. 

2021 will be the year I finally walk away from this place. 

Watch me. 

But for now, I’m just trying to stand up. 

I’m trying to find my brave. 

And I’m finally starting to recognize the things I need to do to get there.

Friday, April 16, 2021

An Ending




You know what they don’t write a lot of books on? Grief and broken families. 


Grief when there is estrangement. Discord. Deep hurts that happened long before the death.

They don’t talk about grief when there have been lines drawn in the sand. They don’t educate you on what that looks like or how that feels.

Grief is often spoken about in the context of deep love. When you can hardly imagine what life is supposed to look like without that person. 

But it’s not really talked about when the person is a distant memory. A broken piece of us.

They don’t write endless novels on how to process that, and how to move forward. 

There is not a step by step instruction manual for how to come to terms with what was and what wasn’t.

My grandmother died this week. She was my last living grandparent. 

She had Alzheimer’s, and I am truly glad she’s no longer suffering in her prison of a mind. I’m thankful she no longer has to be alone in the nursing home like she was when COVID-19 was at it’s worst. I’m glad her 3 beloved sons got to be with her in the end.

But, the truth is: my relationship with her was complicated, because my relationship with my dad is complicated. 

Broken family dynamics are hard. They destroy us in such a unique way. I am convinced that no one knows how to hurt you better than family. No one knows how to exploit your insecurities, your ugly places, or your shortcomings more than flesh and blood. 

Grief is always hard, but grief in the midst of a broken family dynamic is so much harder.

I’m struggling with how to be. How to act. How to overcome what is and what was for what is expected.

Over the last few days I have found myself sitting in the middle of waves of anger and grief. And the days just feel heavier than normal.

Grief always makes others uncomfortable, but grief when they don’t think you’re entitled to it makes them lose their minds. 

Because grief they don’t think is yours leaves them trying to dictate it. They write off the grief because you weren’t “close with her” and your relationship was “complicated”. They down play the facts of the night she died to minimize your reaction. 

Don’t start! Be quiet! Do not cause a scene. This is your role and you will play it. 

Isn’t it funny how when people hurt you they think they get to dictate how you feel about it too? They think they get to choose your reactions and how you carry the weight. They become the thief and the judge all at the same time. And they convince those around them that they have that right too. 


Grief is always messy business, but today it just feels messier.

We will bury my grandmother tomorrow. 

I will play my part as I am expected too. 

But something I’m learning about grief in this space is that it deeply changes you and it finalizes the shift. 

The step back. 

The closing of doors.

For me, her burial tomorrow symbolizes the end of many things. 

Because there is no going back. 

There is no way to re-write the story that has already played out. 

So, here’s to ugly endings.

To stories that don’t end as they should. 

Because they are the stories that build us. That make us better. And serve as reminders for how we want our story to end by showing us how we don’t. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Guilty Motherhood


 

I drove over 15 miles like this today. 

Holding my screaming, sobbing, over tired, toddler’s tiny little hand while she BEGGED to be released from her seat. 

My arm fell asleep. My back was tweaked in a weird position. And I’m pretty sure I was going 10 under the speed limit and swerving. 

The people on my road this morning HATED me. 

But, we made it. 

I dropped my crying, screaming toddler off at daycare as I apologized to her teacher and attempted to leave her favorite blanket behind to console her. 

It didn’t work. ️

This morning NOTHING worked. 

It was a BAD morning. 

And several times this morning on the drive in I wondered if I should call in today. 

I wondered if I was failing by making her go to daycare.

I wondered if I was heartless to leave her with her teachers like this. 

I wondered for the seventeenth billion time if working really is “worth it”. 

If I’m somehow damaging my child by choosing NOT to stay home. 

Her older sister got me, at home, for three years. Do I owe my youngest the same? 

These are the questions. 

The guilty thoughts. 

The daggers to my soul. 

My constant internal struggle. 

My decision to work outside the home, and the career I’ve chosen, doesn’t necessarily make me popular in mommy circles and sometimes I think the PTA at my oldest daughter’s school has all but given up on me. 

Sometimes I’m late for pick up. 

Sometimes I don’t make it for dinner. 

Sometimes my Saturdays are spent in meetings I don’t really want to attend-but that’s the job.

I’m on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

I carry two phones: a personal phone and a work phone. 

Some nights my children get my undivided attention and other nights I’m stuck in my bedroom putting out the next “fire”. 

And you know what sometimes I really suck at the juggling act. 

I’ve been listening to Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In” on Audiobook. (I HIGHLY recommend this book if you are a working mom!) 

I’m on Chapter 10, “The Myth of Doing It All”. 

In the chapter she explains that we often make a big deal about babies and “separation anxiety”, but really “separation anxiety” is more about the parent. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be it all and do it all for our kids that we forget how resilient our kids actually are. 

This struck a cord with me because days like today I feel guilty. 

I feel like a failure. 

I feel like I could do more and be more.

But at the end of the day all I can do-is all I can do. 

Being a stay at home mother is a thankless task! Trust me! I know! I’ve been there. 

But, so is working outside the home. 

Motherhood is just hard. 

Period.

Some days we have it all together.

And then some days we drop the ball and our toddler screams at daycare, or our kid doesn’t pass the spelling test, or the dinner is from a drive through, or we lose our tempers at bedtime. 

Some days we let them watch too much iPad and we read only one book instead of three and they eat suckers for breakfast. 

And sometimes you drive like this for over 15 miles just to try to console them. 

Because this morning we both barely made it to drop off-but you know what? 

We made it.

And at the end of the day-that is all that matters.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Here's To The Boys


 Photo courtesy of Heather Greubel Photography.


Here’s to the boys who love the broken girls. 

The ones with daddy issues.

Trust issues. 

The ones with too many scars.

And deep gaping wounds.

The ones whose path has been lined with more mistakes than victories.

The girls who have turned their pain into power. 

Their regrets in stepping stones. 

The girls who wear their scarlet letters a little too boldly. 

The girls who don’t fall easy, but when they do-they fall hard. 

Here’s to the boys who don’t try to change them. 

Don’t try to erase them or silence them. 

The boys who show up-even when it’s hard.

Even when she’s hard.

The boys who anchor them. 

Who remind them that some boys do keep promises. 

The boys that give patience and grace-even when it’s the least deserved. 

The boys who let them fall and break and rebuild as many times as it takes. 

The boys who don’t shy away from the past, because they know that’s what brought her here. 

To this moment in time. 

To this path. On a warm fall day. Doing the thing they will always do better than anyone else in the whole world:

Putting a smile on her face. 

Here’s to the good ones.

The diamonds in the rough ones.

The ones with boots and blue jeans and callused hands that are more gentle than all the hands that came before them. 

The ride or dies.

The ones who say forever and mean it until their very last breath. 

Here’s to the boys that love the broken girls. 

And help to put them back together again.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Hard Places


 

Do you have places that hurt?

Physical places.

Locations.

Buildings.

Roads.

A church.

A school.

A restaurant.

Places that conjure up memories you have spent a lot of time healing from and forgetting. 

Places that can send you 1,000,000 steps backwards in a single second. 

Maybe it’s the place where you got the diagnosis or experienced the break up.

Maybe it’s where you learned a truth you didn’t want to hear. 

Maybe it’s where good memories and sad memories co-mingle in an unbearable way.

Places that breathe death instead of life. 

This is one of my places.

People who love me and who are deeply familiar with my story understand why this is one of my places.

Last week, during a particularly rough day that had nothing to do with this place or the memories of this place, I had to take a road trip here for work. 

As I drove down this road and past my personal “do not go” point, I was hit instantly with emotions and memories I haven’t visited for a long time. 

I was proud of myself for not losing it.

And as the day went on, I only felt myself slightly starting to spiral. 

I fought hard against the spin out and the backwards motion, and I came out on the other side slightly bruised, but without giving up any of the hard fought ground I have gained toward healing and forgiveness.

Two years ago I started the serious work of forgiveness.

I have two people in my story that I have held deep-seeded anger and resentment toward. 

People who have caused me unimaginable pain and grief. 

People whose choices resulted in collateral damage in my life.

They are people I will never get an apology from and I will never get to tie up their loose ends into a nice little bow of resolution. 

They are my Everest.

Those of you with similar people in your story. You understand. 

You understand that those are the hardest people to forgive, aren’t they?

The ones we don’t get to sit down across a table from and ask them why. 

The ones we don’t get the answers from that we so desperately want. 

The ones that root themselves so deeply in our soul that they become like poison in our hearts. 

The ones we allow to make us calloused, angry, and cynical. 

They are the hardest ones to let go.

The most painful ones. 

And over the last two years during my deep dive on forgiveness, I have learned that with some hurts the process of forgiveness is ongoing. 

A few weeks ago, I was talking with an amazing sister in Christ and we were talking about “baggage”, and the things we need to lay at the foot of the cross.

And she said something that struck a cord with me. 

She said that sometimes you have to visualize yourself physically laying it down.

And that sometimes you have to visualize yourself laying it down every single day. 

Like a morning ritual.

“Here you go, God. I’m going to let you carry this burden today.”

That visualization has been therapeutic for me, especially over the last week. 

Every morning this past week when I’ve woke up and my mind has tried to zap me back to this place, I stop and I visualize myself laying it down. 

This stretch of road.

That hurt.

That anger. 

That unforgiveness.

I lay it down. 

Right there. 

Right at His feet.

Forgiveness is a process. 

And for some hurts, it doesn’t happen overnight. 

But, Jesus knows my heart. He knows where I’m at and where I’m trying to go.

For me forgiveness symbolizes forward motion. 

A desire to be unstuck in a place that no longer serves me or my purpose. 

And as long as I’m trying.

As long as I’m committed to getting there. 

To the other side of all of this.

He will bless me.

He will see me through.

It may not be today or tomorrow or even a year from now.

But we’re getting there, because He’s got this.

And He will continue to carry this place that I no longer want to carry.

As long as I’m willing to continue to lay it down.

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