Trust is H.A.R.D.

I have struggled with trusting God for as long as I can remember. I’m really trying to pinpoint that actual moment where I stopped having childlike faith. The exact moment where I transitioned from faith in to fear and doubt mode. It could have been after my sexual assault, that seems to make the most logical sense to me. Or it could be a series of events that chipped away at who I was because I wasn’t firmly rooted in who He is. I’m going to have to dive into that. However over the course of the last year and a half, I have slowly and consciously made the choice to trust God even if I don’t feel it. Like I’ve literally prayed those words, it’s something like this, “God I trust you for J and I’s future, just kidding, I actually don’t. I know you know this and I’m just being honest cause you know anyway. So I’m struggling with trusting you and I don’t right now but I want to and I’m trying.” That’s kind of how that conversation goes.

I find sometimes with God it’s so difficult for me to trust because it would be so much easier if I could see Him. If I could hold his actual hand, feel his arms hugging me, cry on his shoulder, whine to Him about my day and watch his facial features as he looks loving and comically at his incredibly dramatic, overly animated daughter. I am so much like Thomas, who needed to feel the holes in Jesus’s hand to actually believe it was him after he was resurrected. I am Peter selling out Jesus because was afraid. I so want and desire to be be bold and courageous like David, slaying giants and dancing in the street, unashamed worshipping the Lord. I want to content and joyful in all situations and circumstances like Paul, knowing that whether I am in chains or free, I am 10000000 percent content and trusting in God’s plans and His purpose. I have the desire to be like these great men of the Bible. But I’m currently Thomas when he doubted God, I am Peter not boldly allowing his faith in Christ to lead him but his fear to paralyze and deny Him. ( and Peter walked with Jesus in the flesh on a daily basis, no judgement though, cause hello, I am these men.) I am Eve thinking God is holding out on me or holding something back from me so I take things in to my own hands only to have it blow up in my face. I am the little girl in the picture above clinging to that teddy bear not realizing that if I just let go and trust, He has so much more than I could have imagined.

Right now I am where I am but I recognize the need and the desire to actively trust, to lay down self and recognize God is in control. To know that I have to take an active part in my relationship with Him; that I can’t sit idly by and let life happen. I need to be engaged daily with my Father, knowing Him, talking to Him…trying to understand who He is. Just like I would in a relationship with someone I can see, touch, experience. I believe that trusting God has to be an active process. I don’t believe it is at all passive, at least for me. It requires me taking action and stepping out in faith. It requires me acknowledging that I have fear and am trying to control particular situations and when I do that I am trusting self over God.

I know this isn’t much in terms of a blog post, I have felt utterly uninspired for quite some time now. My mind has been completely and utterly devoid of creative thought. Well to be more honest with myself, I haven’t given myself the silence to sit and think, to allow myself to create. I have been filling my time with other things because it’s less painful than actually thinking and feeling and acknowledging the weight of the last 6 months. That however is another post, hopefully coming soon. I just have had these thoughts rolling around in my mind about trust and wanted to share. For whoever is reading this I hope you are encouraged. You are not alone in your journey. You are wholly and deeply loved by a God who sees you in the middle of your mess.

Feeling the messiest,

Elisha

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Fear and Doubting God.

I was recently watching Brené Brown’s Netflix special, “The Call to Courage.” It was incredible. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading my blog and go watch and then please come back and finish reading. *wink, wink* I found myself taking notes and after I was finished with her special, I googled her looking for anything else I could learn from her. I found videos and watched them and then I got on my Hoopla app (it’s basically the library on your phone and it’s awesome, especially for audiobooks. I prefer to read actual books, so I can smell them (weirdo, I know) and feel the pages in my hands but I digress.) I was able to find “The Power of Vulnerability” and I began to listen to it. Her definition of vulnerability is this:uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. She goes on to say, “Vulnerability is not about winning, it’s not about losing, it’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” All of that to say that this particular topic for me leaves me feeling incredibly emotionally exposed. I want to walk in authenticity, I want to allow myself to vulnerable, to be real, to be my true self. I want to be able to connect with people on a real and transparent level. I’ve spent so much of my life in a “false” self trying to protect myself; when in reality I think I was just cheating myself and the relationships of those around me. So fear and doubting God, I know a lot of us struggle with this and that’s what I want to write about today.

The closer my divorce was to being finalized the more and more anxious I became because I knew that meant I was going to be back in the dating game, eventually. This is gives me extreme amounts of anxiety, like for real. I haven’t dated for ten years. A decade. That is a LONG time. So much has changed in the dating game since I’ve been in it; not to mention the last time I dated I was in my twenties. I am now in my thirties with a child. I have no clue what I am doing. The only male friends I had were my friend’s husbands or my ex-husband’s friends. It’s WEIRD y’all. I literally have no clue what I am doing…which leads me to the FEAR & DOUBT that runs rapid in my mind. Here is a typical thought pattern for me, “How am I going to meet someone, I am a nanny and spend my day with a 1 year old and a 7 year old? I don’t want to go to a bar to pick someone up…pick someone up, *eye-roll* I don’t want to “pick someone up” I want someone to pick me, plus I have no desire to go a bar. I barely went to bars in my twenties, they are loud in my opinion and I don’t want some creeper all up on me and I don’t even drink anymore, alcohol has way to many calories and I am in my mid thirties now and geez metabolism is really slowing down, plus it’s expensive and kind of gross. Next thought pattern, I guess I could meet someone at church but they all knew my ex-husband, are they going to judge me, are they going to actually want to date me, I don’t want to share my story with everyone. Now I am going to have to get a babysitter when I want to go on a date, if someone actually wants to date me, oh my goodness, I have a child, who is going to want to date someone with a kid?! How am I going to do this? Am I ever going to get married again? I want to get married again? Whose going to want to date someone whose been divorced? ” Exhausting right, that’s not even the HALF of what runs through my brain y’all. It is RIDICULOUS.

Those fears are all consuming. Maybe you read that and think well that isn’t fear, it’s just being anxious. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philipians 4:6-7 Sometimes though the fear thought pattern gets louder and louder and it drowns out the truth of what God tells me, Elisha don’t be anxious,present your requests to me, let my peace dwell in you. Elisha, trust in the Me with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Me and I will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, paraphrased to fit my name) I forget this and I allow fear to lead me into a downward spiral that leads to doubt. What does God say about fear? God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 I know God’s word is true. I know it in my heart and yet sometimes I convince myself that it’s not true for me. Like I know God is God and He is good, but what if I am somehow exempt from His goodness because look at my past, look at the things I have done and the situations I have walked in and out of. Maybe His promises aren’t for me. Maybe He is mad at me, maybe He is going to punish me for the choices I’ve made. Maybe what He says excludes me. Sounds like a lot of lies right? Doesn’t really sound like the gracious, loving God I know yet sometimes I allow these thoughts to permeate my day, my being and my heart.

“This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. , etc.” – Jeremiah 29:1 This is the opening scripture of chapter 29 of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was writing to the people who were exiled from Jerusalem. Jeremiah then goes on to tell the people to build houses, settle down, plant gardens, marry , etc. Basically in my understanding it seems like he is telling them to live. He also tells them to seek peace and prosperity and this is all in the midst of them being exiled from their home and taken to a foreign land, with foreign gods and people. He then goes on to say one of the most striking things, for me at least. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” – Jeremiah 29:11-14 

FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU. WOW. They are in captivity and to me it seems God is saying through Jeremiah, be content in your captivity, be okay in the midst of your storm, be okay in your struggle, keep living, don’t give up, create a beautiful life for yourself, BECAUSE I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU, plans to PROSPER you and NOT TO HARM YOU. Plans to give you HOPE and a FUTURE. He then gives us a way to communicate with Him. He says, you will CALL on me and COME to me and PRAY to me and I WILL LISTEN TO YOU. You will SEEK ME and FIND ME when you seek me with ALL OF YOUR HEART. I WILL be FOUND by you. WHAT?!?!? That sounds like a promise to me and if I believe God is the same yesterday today and tomorrow ( which I do) “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” – Hebrews 13:8 and I am His child, what in the world makes me think that He doesn’t have the same plans for me, plans to prosper me, to not harm me, plans for a hope and a future. He also gives me a way to communicate with Him and promises me He will be found by me, ME!!!!! I can have access to the good, loving Father. I can have hope and peace and a future ALL IN THE MIDST OF MY STRUGGLE. I am in the middle of my own “exile” if you will, maybe not the middle, I felt like I was in the middle last year. Maybe a more appropriate term would be, coming out of the struggle but no, not really. I am still in my struggle, still in my captivity. I am a 35 year old divorced single mother. I mean I am reeling and healing from the EXTREME craziness of the last year and really the last ten years. Reeling and healing, hahahaha, I find that to be HILARIOUS, probably because it rhymes and I love when things rhyme, I am typing this and laughing out loud. You know I didn’t intend on the later half of this entry turning into a blog, I sat down to type because I really had some stuff I needed to work out in my heart. Things I am struggling to understand, things I am wrestling with, desires I have, disappointments I am wrestling with. I’m really trying to understand why some things have happened and then God led me to this scripture and really the chapter and here I am feeling some semblance of peace having navigated through it a little bit. I know without a doubt there are going to be times probably in the next few hours actually, that I have to fight tooth and nail to protect that peace and to remember that promise that God gives, even in the middle of my exile. I know that God’s promises aren’t just for the Israelites who were exiled in Babylon or that they’re not only for the really good Christians who have never struggled or for the Christians who are doing amazing things for His kingdom. They are for me too, the woman who fails every single day to measure up against her own impossible standards she sets for herself, the woman who feels the utter weight of loneliness because she has never allowed herself to sit alone and just be with herself and now God has given her this time to be alone (well with a toddler, is that REALLY alone?!?!, haha) the woman who looks in the mirror and wonders if she is enough, does she measure up, is there actually going to be a man who loves her, imperfections and all? Is there going to be a man that God brings her that one, loves God more than anything, two loves her son as if he were his own and three really loves her, dorky, silly, self inside and out, will he really love her the way Christ loved the church? Will she be able to love herself, to be gracious with herself and really truly accept every single flaw and let go of the guilt and shame that tries to hold her captive? 

As I grapple with all of these thoughts, the fear that sometimes paralizes me, the doubt that I drown in on occasion; I can absolutely rest in God’s word. I know it’s true. I know it, I’ve experienced His goodness and His grace and His provision. So when the waves of fear and doubt hit, I have to address it head on and ride the wave until I get to the other side of it. Towards the end of the scripture it says, “…and(I, God) will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:14 This to me is another promise from God saying He can bring you out of what you were carried into. Sometimes we bring the trial/storms/exile or whatever you want to call it, on ourselves. Sometimes it just happens. Loved ones die, we lose jobs we adore, friends walk away, people leave, tragedy strikes. We find ourselves in the midst of brokenness and struggle we never planned for or could have even imagined possible for our lives and yet we are in the thick of it. Yet we have the promises of God to cling too. This post isn’t to MINIMIZE anyone’s storm, that is the last thing I would want to do. I have had friends with the best of intentions say to me, well at least your situation isn’t as bad as so and so’s or “it could have been so much worse”. Those phrases drive me CRAZY!!! I read this quote somewhere, “Someone who drowns in 7 feet of water is just as dead as someone who drowns in 20 ft of water. Stop comparing traumas, stop belittling your or anyone else’s trauma because it wasn’t “as bad” as someone else’s. This isn’t a competition, we all deserve support and recovery.” I don’t know who said this, if this is your quote please let me know and I will give you credit and a hug because this quote gives me so much freedom!!!! Basically all of this to end with the reason for this post is to offer support, love, grace, a safe space for whoever is reading to know that we ALL struggle, we ALL have really hard stuff we are dealing with and YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Hear me when I say that, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I don’t really know how to end this post, I don’t even know it is cohesive or if you can even understand what I am trying to say. Like I’ve said in prior posts, a lot of what I am writing is to work out what is going on in my head and my heart and I hope and pray that this encourages someone else who is struggling. I need to go now, my child has started making noise on the baby monitor and its only a matter of minutes before he stands up in his crib, turns on the light and starts saying, “MAMA, MAMA.”

Messy Momma signing off, in her own form of exile and clinging to God’s promises,

Elisha

To the Girl I used to be.

I had the most random thought yesterday…well not so much thought, memory really. Remember when Twilight was all the craze? I do and I totally drank the Kool-Aid. Like hardcore drank it.

I was laying over in LA. It was 2008ish, I think,  I was leaving to go to the beach there were tons of women EVERYWHERE and I had to know what was going on. So curiosity got the best of me and I asked one of the women what was happening, there was a Twilight convention at my hotel and they were FREAKING out because they got to see Kellen Lutz. ( one of the Cullen brothers, not even going to lie, can’t remember which one and I am too lazy to search and see who he played but he looks like he could have been a greek god, no joke.) I decided I wanted to meet Kellen Lutz, why not right? So I got in line and paid the fee, I didn’t care this man was beautiful. When I got in the room to take the picture with him women were seriously fan girling, I mean how could you not, he was tall, super muscular without being gross and every bit as gorgeous in person as he was in the movies. Shockingly I was not losing my marbles as I did when I met Nick Carter. ( I feel like I’ve talked about that before, maybe not, but he was my fantasy husband for the greater part of my childhood.) Anyway, I was cool, calm and collected. Confident if you will, which is never really a word I would have though to describe myself, except when I recalled this memory yesterday. So it was finally my turn and I don’t know what I said to him, only that I hit on him and proceeded to ask him out. 

I know right?!?! Like I legitimately asked this guy out, actually thinking I had a shot, completely confident and he was incredibly kind and gracious saying he would love to meet me later. In hindsight, I am sure that he was just being kind and trying to spare my feelings instead of flat out saying, “Umm no.” He never showed up, which is of course fine. I was a little stung but I went about flying and gallivanting around the world living my best life.

All of this to say, I asked out a celebrity and really actually thought I had a shot, sitting here writing this makes me laugh out loud. It kind of blows my mind that I had that much confidence in myself. 

As I sit here in my bed with the constant white noise of the rain from my son’s baby monitor in the background, I say to that girl that I used to be, thank you, thank you for reminding me that I believed in myself. Thank you for reminding me that I was worth something of value, that I had confidence in who God created me to be. Thank you for being bold and forward and daring to believe and dream big things for yourself. 

And now to the woman I’ve been for the last ten years, the woman who felt dried up, depleted, empty and void…that girl is still in you, that girl who asked out celebrities and thought she had a chance. That girl who was loud and goofy and silly, she’s still in there. The girl who was vulnerable and TRUSTED people whole heartedly, she is in you. That girl who had everything good in her stripped away. She’s there, she’s you.

And to the woman who is starting to re-emerge, you are strong and you are capable. You are growing and changing and evolving. You are stepping in to exactly who God has created you to be. You are brave and you have a voice. God calls you worthy. God calls you enough. God calls you more precious than rubies.

God says you can, “trust in Him with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) God is walking alongside you, your biggest champion and He will never walk away. He is always delighting in you and you are NOT WALKING ALONE. He has given you an incredible community and He knows the plans he has for you, plans for hope and a future. ( Jeremiah 29:11) You can trust Him and His promises. You can continue to shed the last ten years and use your story to share God’s grace and goodness to bless other’s walking through similar storms and you can without a doubt choose to never ever let someone else dim the light placed in you by your Father. You can be that girl from before, confident and goofy and vulnerable and have peace knowing you are walking authentically and confidently in who God says you are and you can take the lessons you’ve learned over the last ten years and allow it to be part of the story God has woven in the tapestry of your life and be proud of who you’ve become, don’t wear your story, as a broken, battered, beat down victim. Wear it walking in victory, knowing whose you are and that God has infused in your strength to overcome and testify to the goodness and kindness of who God is and who have become.

Growing and embracing my mess,

Elisha

Fully Known.

When I was little I had ideas about what I wanted in my marriage, tainted by Walt Disney; giving me all these grandiose ideas of what it was going to be like to fall in love. The huge sweeping romance that got my young, idyllic mind racing and dreaming about who and what my prince charming was going to be like. The older I got the more the romantic comedies swept my mind even further into my fantasy of what that love was going to be like.

As I became an adult I realized that the big, sweeping, Disney Prince Charming fantasy wasn’t real it was just an illusion and for a minute I was kind of livid with the whole Disney illusion. That happens though you find things to get angry about when you are grieving or trying to figure out where everything exploded, you misplace blame. I’m not mad at Disney anymore in case you were wondering. Lately as I look toward my future and become more and more excited about what God has in store, I’ve been thinking about what I want in a spouse. The things I want differ from the little girl watching Disney movies dreaming of a Prince to come rescue me. After walking through the last decade I have a strong idea of exactly what I want.

I want to be known, fully completely and wholly. Inside and out, I want to have the kind of relationship where we can sit in complete comfortable silence and just be, have the freedom to exist. I want to be able to look at my spouse and he knows just from my look what I am thinking. I want to have the secret looks that tell each other we are ready to leave, or the inside jokes when we see certain things and we both simultaneously laugh. I want to be known. If you have read my prior blog posts you know I love posting definitions. It helps give me clarity. So here we go, what is it to be fully known, as per dictionary.com. Known is a past participle of know.

KNOW: verb (used with object), knew, known, know·ing.
  1. to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty.
  2. to have established or fixed in the mind or memory.
  3. to be cognizant or aware of.
  4. be acquainted with (a thing, place, person, etc.), as by sight, experience, or report.
  5. to understand from experience or attainment (usually followed by how before an infinitive).
  6. to be able to distinguish, as one from another.

So to be fully known, inside and out, that is my deepest desire. I was listening to the radio the other day and this song “Known” by Tauren Wells came on. First of all his voice is AMAZING but the song also struck me deeply.

It’s so unusual it’s frightening
You see right through the mess inside me
And you call me out to pull me in
You tell me I can start again
And I don’t need to keep on hiding

I’m fully known and loved by You
You won’t let go no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You

It’s so like You to keep pursuing
It’s so like me to go astray, ooh
But You guard my heart with Your truth
The kind of love that’s bullet proof
And I surrender to Your kindness, oh

I’m fully known and loved by You
You won’t let go no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You

How real, how wide
How rich, how high is Your heart
I cannot find the reasons why
You give me so much
How real, how wide
How rich, how high is Your heart
Now, I cannot find the reasons why
You give me so much

I’m fully known (fully known) and loved by You
You won’t let go (no you won’t let go) no matter what I do
And it’s not one or the other
It’s hard truth and ridiculous grace
To be known fully known and loved by You
I’m fully known and loved by You
It’s so unusual it’s frightening
I’m fully known and loved by You

Songwriters: Ethan Hulse / Jordan Sapp / Tauren Wells
Known lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group

As I wait for whoever God has in store for me I found peace in the reality that I am already fully and wholly known by God. I let this song saturate my dehydrated soul. I literally drank in the words, absorbing this truth. I recognized that I can take comfort in the fact that I will never be left or abandoned by God. That He truly will meet every single need I have. He is Abba Father, He is my husband, He is my provider, He is my comfort, He is my source of strength. He literally is the Living water I need to quench my thirst. He knows me.He knows what I need before I even ask, He knows the deepest desire of my heart, the ones I speak aloud and the ones I don’t and today I rest in that and I take deep comfort in this truth.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” – Jeremiah 1:5.

You have searched me, Lordand you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” – Psalm 139:1-5

Grateful to be fully known,
Elisha

I need to be seen.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Not that I haven’t wanted too, I just haven’t felt inspired to write. I think that comes with navigating grief and trying to come back to yourself. I’ve had a lot I wanted to write about and then I would sit down to try and get it out and Jameosn would wake up or I would be too tired. During Jameson’s bath tonight I decided I needed to try and work out what was in my head. I have felt off all day today and haven’t been able to shake it. I started thinking about it and in normal circumstances you would tell your spouse or your partner and they would love on you or prayer with you. I started thinking well who sees me, who can acknowledge that I’m doing this alone, who can encourage me and validate those times where I feel so incompetent as a mother and exhausted and overwhelmed. So I thought hey Facebook, I can be “seen”. Someone can “hear and listen” that I’ve had a tough day. Maybe someone will encourage me or just “see” me. I realize navigating being a single parent I need to be encouraged and validated but where do you receive that when you don’t have a partner? My thought process then went to what I know. What’s truly and deeply ingrained in the core of my heart and who I am, God sees me, I am not alone. He sees me at my deepest point of weakness and struggle. He sees me as Jameson is waking up for the 3rd time in a row at night to nurse because he’s teething or going through a growth spurt and I am bleary eyed trying to feed him. He sees me as I ponder what my future looks like when everything I thought I had mapped out is no longer tangible. He knows the deepest desires of my heart to have a spouse that loves me fiercely, that is just as goofy as I am, that is kind and that loves my child as his own. He knows I want to rescue all the abandoned children and bring them home and love on them. He knows my heart to empower and love on women because I deeply believe we need to support and edify one another instead of dragging each other down. He sees me when I want so desperately to weep and mourn and cry but feel like I have to keep it together for the sake of my son. He sees my confusion as I try to rebuild the pieces of my heart. He sees me as I try to peel back the walls I have used to protect myself over the last 10 years. He sees me struggling to find myself again. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4: 15-16 I know He sees me. I know He can empathize with the hurt I’m dealing with. I know He rejoices in my successes and hurts for me in my sorrow and sometimes I forget that God sees me and I just have that deep desire to just be seen and acknowledged from a tangible human being. I want to jump up and down waving my hands saying “Hey I’m here, do you see me?!?!?” It’s a very real need to have someone reach out and say I see you. I’m kind of all over the place in this post. I just think it’s my need for community. We weren’t meant to navigate this life alone. I don’t believe we are suppose to suffer silently or isolate ourselves. I believe God is three in one, the trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If God in His being is all three and we are image bearers of God, created in His image, we must need community. I might be completely missing the mark as far as doctrine goes. I don’t know but God wanted to be in relationship with us. He wanted us to choose to step into a relationship with Him, so it seems to me that we have that innate need to be in relationship with one another. So all of that to say, I want to rebuild my community. I want genuine, authentic, transparent relationships. I want relationships where I can be completely who God has created me to be and that who that is is enough. Thank you for acknowledging my day was hard. Thank you for encouraging me and thank you for seeing me.

Love,

Elisha

I don’t know how to breathe…

“Breathing is the process that moves air in and out of the lungs, or the diffusion of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the external environment into and out of the blood through other respiratory organs such as gills. For organisms with lungs, breathing is also called pulmonary ventilation, which consists of inhalation (breathing in) and exhalation (breathing out). Breathing is one part of physiological respiration required to sustain life.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breathing)

Yes, I googled breathing and I liked the Wiki description. I took an acting workshop a couple of weeks ago and was absolutely amazed that the theme the instructor was teaching us was authenticity. It was woven through everything he was telling us. People respond to authenticity, to realness. Especially in acting. Apparently folks don’t want to know you are actually acting 😉 People respond to authenticity. Anyone can act but not everyone can be good at. Not everyone can be real. I was blown away by his message and the way it paralleled what I have been learning on my journey to rediscovery. It was pretty shocking and when I got out of the class I felt heavy-hearted and overwhelmed and inspired and amazed that God used this teacher to continue to help me in my journey to authentic, transparent, real living. The next day I went to another class of his. It was Voice for the Actor and again he spoke about things that hit the core of what I have been discovering about myself. This time is was emotional blocks and how they stick with you unless you work them out and again more about authenticity. I mean I seriously could have listened to this man talk for hours, he really is a brilliant teacher. Anyway toward the end of class we did a breathing exercise. I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was in my body until I did this. It was like I was standing in the room completely naked, totally exposed and all I was asked to do was to breathe. I couldn’t get comfortable, I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t just breathe. I wanted to cry I was so embarrassed that I was unable to just breathe normally.

I drove home that night listening to music the entire two-hour drive wishing that I could figure out a way to come to Asheville every week and take these classes. Mostly I was thinking how much it bothered me that I couldn’t breathe without feeling like their was a 50 pound weight on my chest. One I couldn’t swallow down regardless of what I did. In my counseling session the following week I was talking about it and my counselor suggested that I seemed anxious. I left thinking about it and then like every human I googled anxiety and started reading about it and then I started crying because I realized sure enough that these were “symptoms” I had been dealing with for longer than I could remember. Then that upset me. I was having anxiety about my anxiety. I was so deeply bothered by this and I couldn’t figure out why…so I went and saw my counselor again. Side note, I had no desire to go twice in one week because I a) didn’t want her to think I was crazy and b) well there is no b. I had this preconceived idea that counseling was for crazy people. I realize how judgmental this is. I realize that I am also very judgmental. Trying to work my way out of that. Ever since I started going to counseling I have realized just how not perfect I am, just how deeply I have lied to myself about my so-called perfect life and that I have a tendency to completely hide and stuff how I am feeling. It’s not wise and it’s not safe and facing it has been absolutely terrifying. Anyway…I am thankful  I went again because I have been able to scratch the surface away to start to uncover and heal and work through my emotional baggage. I am learning to how be emotionally healthy and it has been an incredibly difficult few months trying to face myself.

I have never liked silence. I have never liked to “Be still.” I haven’t ever really like the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God…- Psalm 46:10” I liked the know that I am God part, just not the be still. That requires silence and silence is deafening and suffocating and to loud. It forces and requires me to focus on what I try to run from. This whole journey to authentic living, to being vulnerable, to be real is difficult. I would rather crawl in a hole and sleep. To lay your heart out and be honest is to risk getting hurt or to try and uncover things that have wounded you is scary and painful. I just am tired of running away. I want to hurry up and be better. I want to face things head on even if they are painful and really the first step was my first blog post. That was horrifying. Thank you for reading it, thank you for encouraging me. That was a huge step for me. I was so thankful for your support, your comments. To bring something ugly into the light meant it didn’t have power over me anymore. I am grateful. I am on to that next step of making sure I continue to journey forward, it’s hard and I am trying to learn to breathe without having to think about it. I am trying to learn how to just be. To be me, to exist and be present and real and me.

I lost myself.

lose
lo͞oz/Submit
verb
1.
be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something).”I’ve lost my appetite”
synonyms: be deprived of, suffer the loss of; no longer have
“he’s lost a lot of blood”

2.
become unable to find (something or someone). “I’ve lost the car keys”
synonyms: mislay, misplace, be unable to find, lose track of, leave (behind), fail to keep/retain, fail to keep sight of

This verb is powerful. I am in the midst of the most difficult time in my life. I’ve walked through broken hearts, death in my family, one each year for 4 years. Rape. And this particular time in my life is worse than all of those combined. The reason I chose to title my first post, ” I lost myself” is because I feel like I have “become unable to find” myself. That I have “failed to keep” myself. I am “deprived of or have ceased to retain” myself. I am completely and utterly lost.

Over the last decade I have finally come to notice there have been a fair amount of traumatic events that have occurred. The one event that had the most damaging effect on me was being raped. I was a brand new flight attendant; ridiculously happy to have gotten the most amazing job I could have ever hoped for. I graduated from a tiny little Christian college and I was NAIVE and TRUSTING of EVERYONE and of course ready to see the world; eager for everything flying had to offer. I had only been “on the line” (training was over and I was an official flight attendant, still on “probation” of course, 6 months of that, so I couldn’t do ANYTHING wrong, not even call in sick) for 4 months and I got the layover I was PRAYING for HONOLULU. I was so excited. I was obsessed with the beach and had never been to Hawaii so naturally I was beaming. I was beaming even more when I introduced myself to the first officer. I swear he looked like he walked off of The Bachelor. Yes First Officer Hottie, I will accept this rose. I was smitten, he was so hot. And he asked me out so naturally as a bonehead 22 year old I started thinking, ” Oh my gosh he’s beautiful and he’s a pilot and I’m a flight attendant and we are going to fall in love and get married and life will be perfect.” Ridiculous I know but I had just come from small town Christian college where there was the running joke, “You go there to get your MRS. degree”. Insert eye roll, I know. Anyway he asked me out on the plane pretty quickly and I was clearly thirsty. I swear it was like I’d never seen a boy before.

Fast forward 5 hours through the amazing inflight service, the halfway to Hawaii game, several movies and passengers later and I was in my hotel room in Honolulu getting ready for my date with First Officer Hottie. At this point in my life I was 22, educated, cause of my degree 😉 and confident in who I was. I was excited for this date. I heard him knock on my hotel door and I opened it. I looked hot or so I thought. I can still see exactly what I was wearing. I think that’s normal when you experience something traumatic to have the details etched into your brain. He was standing there like he owned the place and I looked at him doe-eyed and eager for our date. Before I walked out my hotel room door I said, ” If you think I am going to sleep with you tonight its not going to happen. I am not that type of girl and we will need to say goodnight now.” I was a virgin and planning on saving myself until I got married. I’ve often reflected on what I said to him replaying it in my mind over and over, wondering if he took that as a challenge. To me I felt like I creating a necessary boundary and if he wasn’t down with that I wasn’t going to waste his time or mine. But he complied and smiled and said “Not at all.” So I thought I was safe. I thought I was safe. Writing that breaks my heart for that stupid, naive girl. Walking out of her room expecting to enjoy the first night of her seemingly grown up life only to have her entire existence change.

I didn’t drink much at all. It wasn’t allowed at the college I went to. Not even if you were 21, not at all. However I did have my first drink at 21. I went out with a bunch of my friends and I had a “Sex on the Beach”, (ironic huh?) which I shared with ALL of my friends there, so I basically only had a sip and then I did a shot and oh my gosh I was TERRIFIED I was going to get drunk so that was my 21st… Hilarious right?!?! Then my senior year of college I got actually drunk for the first time. I went to my very first party at a friend from school’s house and proceeded to have maybe 3 drinks and I couldn’t walk. It was AUTOMATIC truth serum for me and I was blurting out everything to EVERYONE within earshot. I was like “Guys Jesus is going to be mad at me.” I was really concerned about that and the guy next to me left the couch because I was a “buzzkill”. After a few hours of throwing up everything I had ever eaten I decided I was never drinking again. Well a year later in flight attendant training which was like 6 weeks of straight up movie college life. I was drinking again. Not excessive and certainly not getting as drunk as the first time but definitely lived my college experience at flight attendant school.

We went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and I ordered some fruity Hawaiian cocktail because I was grown and sophisticated and a flight attendant and this is what you do on a date with a hot guy 10 years older than you. I excused myself once to go to the bathroom and of course check that I still looked cute. I can’t remember if I ate or what but I came back and finished my drink and we walked to the next place. We met up with some of his pilot friends because he used to fly for a Hawaiian airline. I remember ordering 2 more drinks that night, I think we went dancing somewhere and I remember his friend warming me to be careful and I thought that was weird but I was too carefree and jovial to even give credibility to what he said or heed his warning. Plus I told him I wasn’t going to sleep with him. I said that. I said nothing was going to happen. It was my terms, my boundary and my body. I’m sure it was a gorgeous night out but I was tipsy and giddy and a total lightweight and just happy to have the company of this guy so I don’t quite remember the details but it was Honolulu in July in the middle of the night so I am sure it was perfect out. We walked back to the hotel and I should have said goodnight. I should have gone to my room and said goodnight. I didn’t. We went back to his room and started making out. Then we were on the bed and the kissing continued. It’s around this time that things start to become really really foggy. I knew something was happening to me, I could feel pressure but I didn’t know what it was, what was happening and I couldn’t speak, let alone think.

Everything went black. I have absolutely no recollection of the actual rape. I came to, had no grasp of the time. I was fully clothed so that was really confusing and then I looked up and saw that he was completely naked. To say I freaked out was an understatement. I had never seen a man naked before and that was not the way I wanted it to happen. I have no clue what I said but there was a lot of yelling and I left. I am thankful to this day that he didn’t try and kill me or something because I was hysterical and couldn’t remember or understand or make sense of what just happened. I was just so so so scared. I went back to my room feeling dirtier than I have ever felt in my life. To this day I have never felt as filthy as I did that night. I unlocked my hotel room and shut it behind me. I went into the bathroom and turned the shower on as hot as it could go and I got undressed and I sat there and bled and bled and bled. I can not mentally go there. I can see the image of myself  naked, arms wrapped around my knees, weeping, water pouring over me and the blood going down the drain. It feels like someone else. Like I am watching a movie. I can’t attach the emotion to me. If I do I don’t know if I can recover. That was the moment I lost myself. I didn’t tell anyone. The shame and guilt was far to crippling, crushing, heavy to bear. I had been saving myself for marriage and know I was damaged. 22 years of waiting for the perfect waiting night, being genuinely excited to wait, totally okay with not having sex even though everyone else was and I was the total weirdo for not and I had that gift taken from me. I wish I could say I called the cops and got a rape kit and he was arrested and prosecuted but I was SCARED, ASHAMED, HORRIFIED. I genuinely thought that somehow, someway I would have gotten in trouble and the airline would have sided with him and I would have lost my job. It was horrific. I didn’t tell. I was silent and the once vibrant, vivacious, outgoing woman I was got lost.

That was nearly 10 years ago and that was the moment I got lost. I am 32 now, married and still lost. Being raped was paralyzing. I have not recovered from that and the ten years of life that happened after has been adding on to that event like Jenga blocks. And finally everything crumbled. All the blocks have fallen down and I am left in pieces. I am a complete and total mess. God works well with brokenness. I know that. I realized in the middle of being shattered I can not fix this on my own. I can’t continue to be fake. I can’t continue to pretend that I have it all together. I can’t keep up the facade. So I have decided to step into finding truth ( being accurate and exact) and transparency (honest and open and not secretive). I want to find myself again and rejoin the world of living people. Understand who I am and who God created me to be. To live as a victor and not be a victim of my circumstances. To rise above trauma and pain and to learn to be emotionally healthy. That’s why I decided to write. This is my journey to freedom and to rediscovering me.