2.11.2017

Response To Readers: Learning To Trust Again, episode 1

This is the first installment in my "Response To Readers" series.

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"I've had a very painful past with my father leaving our family for another woman when I was just a little girl.  Because of that, I have a very hard time trusting people and feeling secure.  I recently started seeing someone.  He has given me no reason not to trust him, but I can't help but wonder when he's going to leave or when will he want someone else.  And I hurt his feelings by feeling this way.  He understands my past, but it still hurt.  
How do I stop having trust issues when he has been nothing but trustworthy?"

This was probably one of the most heart-breaking questions I've received.  "Trust" is such a big part of life and I've never been in any sort of situation to experience such betrayal and pain as this girl had.

I sat here, staring at my laptop, for a good ten minutes, wondering just how I was going to reply to her.  I seriously had no idea how to say everything I was thinking - and if what I was thinking was even a good answer.  I feel inadequate to be answering such a deep, painful question.

To the girl who submitted this question:
Thank you for trusting me enough to ask it.  I know it's a painful part of your life, and I feel touched that you would ask my advice on it.
Sweetie, even if your father hurt your family by leaving - and continues to hurt you by ignoring your letters and phone calls - your Heavenly Father will never leave you.  I know it's hard to try to grasp the concept of the Creator of the universe being there for you, but it's something that none of us will really understand how and why.
But it's a promise that He gives us in His word.
"I will never leave you or forsake you".
The boyfriend you have in your life right now sounds like someone special.  It sounds like you think a lot of him and that he has become a prominent person in your life.  But if you're still struggling with trust issues, it may be wise to back away from him for a little while.  If he understands your past and has given you no reason to not trust him, then he must respect and care for you a great deal - and will gladly do whatever you feel is best for you at this time.
For you to "stop having trust issues" isn't an overnight thing.  It takes a lot of time, patience and love from the people around you.  If your boyfriend is still hurt with your difficulty on trusting him (even though he knows about your father), that's not your fault.  If he's a good guy, he'll give you the space and time you need.

My biggest suggestion and advice is that you strive to grow closer to God through this time.  Seek God's will for your life.  Trust Him with your life.  He loves you more than any mortal man ever could.  And He cares for you more than your father or boyfriend ever will.

If you still feel insecure about who to trust, and if someone you grow close to will soon just decide they don't like you anymore and not want to be around you, you need to bury yourself even more in God's Word.  And I'm sorry to say that you will encounter people like this.  People will come and go.  It's a part of life.  It's a part of growing up.
But I promise you that the ache and pain of betrayal and denial won't be as sharp if you remember that God is within arm's length from you.

Stay grounded in His Word.  Stay focused on Him.  Rejoice in His love for you.  Trust that He will never leave you...

...

'And they that know Your Name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken them that seek You.'
- Psalm 9:10

2.10.2017

She Chose

She didn't lose him.  She let him go.

She didn't let him go.  She pushed him away.

She had to walk away, she had to move on.
Not because she didn't care for him anymore or because she was bored of who he was.
Not because she wanted things to end.

But because it was what was best for her.

Staying was hurting her, leaving was painful, trying to love the person he used to be was killing her.

She didn't want to cut him out of her life.

She didn't want things to end.

She did try to make it work.
She never doubted he wanted it to work out too.

But sometimes, life is against us.
And life was against them.

And she was forced to choose.

And she chose, she decided, she walked away with her head held high and her heart torn.

And with every step, she reminded herself that things weren't the same anymore and no matter how much she tried, no matter how much she waited, no matter how much she went back to square one to start all over again, to try again, life was changing.  And she was changing with it.  And he was too.

She didn't forget him.

She didn't hate him.  She never could.

She was just tired of being unhappy and thinking that they would be happy together.
She was tired of asking him why he was hurting her.
Instead, she asked herself why she allowed him to continue causing her pain.

Because, truth is, in another life, she would run back to him in a heartbeat.

But right here, right now, she was walking away.

And it was the right thing to do.

And it was going to be okay.

2.09.2017

What If We Had Been Warned?

It seems that they forget to tell us, as children, that life hurts.

Life will hold painful moments for us.  

Life is sad sometimes. 

I get it.  

Adults don't want to be raising us, telling us all these horribly depressing things.
But I wonder if it's worse to find it out on our own than to be warned...

Would someone take a puff of their first cigarette if they knew what it does to their lungs, slowly, over time, and that smoking a pack a day would result in a shorter life?

Would someone trust a friend with a secret if they knew that you shouldn't trust so easily?

Would someone give themselves, their heart, their body, to someone else, if they knew that not every first love chooses to stick around and not give up on you?

How differently would this life be lived if we were warned of people, places and things?  We learn about them as nouns in school, but why aren't we introduced to their schemes and wily ways too?  Why aren't we warned that life will hurt us, even when we have done nothing to encourage it, to invite the pain, to want to feel the sharp sting of betrayal, of lost love, of anxiety and depression, of self-consciousness, of fear?

What if we had been warned?

2.08.2017

6 Things I Learned After Moving Out


I didn't move out of my family's home until I was 20.  It wasn't an act of rebellion or because I hated my family/parents and wanted to get away from them.  It was just simply the right time.

I first moved in with two roommates in a house about five minutes from my family (see? I wasn't running away).  Then moved in with an uncle for about six months.  Then, most recently, moved to a townhouse, in which I live in the private bottom level of.

Moving out and being independent has taught me many lessons.  A few of which I shall now share.

1)  I miss my family.  Like, a lot.
I grew up in a family of 9.  There was always some sort of noise, voices, chores being done, laughter, cleaning, etc.  The only time there was peace and quite was at night, after everyone was tucked in bed.  Since moving out, it's nothing but quiet at my house.  I crave the times I get to go visit my family, and it physically aches whenever I drive away from them, from the home I grew up in, from all the hugs and kisses I get when I am there.  Moving out has taught me even more to cherish my family and the times I get to spend with them.

2)  Home-cooked meals are life.
Living on my own has definitely taught me that eating out and grabbing something here and there isn't always the best option.  Cuz, holy crap, will it cut into the budget.  I do love cooking, though, so grocery shopping is life-saving, and making meals that last me a couple days are the best.  But, going home and eating an amazing meal cooked by Mama...well, there's nothing better than that.

3)  Budgeting is key.
Keeping track of every nickel and dime, asking myself "Do I need or want this?" at the store, making sure I keep receipts, write down how much I spend each day... This has all been something I've forced myself to do when I moved out, and it has saved me a lot of pretty pennies.

4)  Don't become complacent.
One of the millennials worst traits is being apathetic and complacent.  "I'm bored af" is a commonly used phrase.  And one I never use.  Why?  Because the moment I start feeling lazy is the moment I can find something to do, some way to make this world better, some time to do something new, to do something that matters.  Living alone, working hard, coming home to a quiet house can sometimes just make me wanna go plop on my bed and watch Netflix for the rest of the day.  But I know that isn't profitable, and it's not gonna get me ahead in life.  I'm not saying that Netflix and chill is never a good idea.  But just don't make it a habit.

5)  Adulting.
You really aren't an adult until you move out and can live a year without calling your parents up for money.  Let's just say that. #responsibility

6)  You learn lessons.
Okay so I've screwed up on certain things when it comes to being independent and making my own choices and choosing where to live and work.  But hey, life is about making mistakes and learning from them.  Moving out has given me the opportunity to learn knowledge and skill on my own.  And it really has been good for me.

2.06.2017

Heartbreak Healing

"How long does it normally take to get over a heartbreak?"

I received this question on my ask.fm recently and
dear soul, let me tell you.
There is no deadline, no normality, no certain period of time that is exceptional for healing from a heartbreak.
Every human is different.
Every heart gets hurt differently.
Every healing depends on so much of what occurred.
There is no way to be able to say how long it should or will take you to recover from something that affected you so deeply.

You see, healing from a lost love is no easy task.  It's not something you can make yourself do.  You can't "get" a new heart.

You're never going to forget them.  Your brain doesn't function that way.  I wish it did.  I truly do.  But you're always going to remember the color of her eyes.  You're always going to remember the way your fingers locked with his.  You're always going to have the memories hit you whenever you hear a certain sound, catch a scent of their perfume, drive by that one place you parked and made out for a few hours.  You'll miss their hugs on lonely nights, their laughter during summer days, their lips on your neck and hands.  The nights will come, and sometimes random moments throughout your day, when you will feel literal physical pain at just the mention of their name.
All the feelings will rush back.
And you'll have to suppress them just to be able to breathe again.
And yes, suppress.  Not forget.  Because you're never going to fully get over them.
You're going to miss them with every fiber of your being.

People will tell you to just "fall out of love", to "just forget them", to "move on".  And you could try to do all those things.  Honestly, you probably will fall out of love, you will be able to move on one day.
But you'll never forget them.
And you won't be in love with them, but darling, you will always love them.  A piece of your heart will always be theirs.  You will always have fond memories of times together.

And how does this answer your question?

How does this help?

Because even though all of this will happen at one point in your path of healing, you're going to be okay.

You'll get through it, I promise.

You won't be in love with them, but you'll still love them.  You'll care for them - maybe even moreso than you ever did.  But in a way that says "We were each other's once, but that was in another lifetime.  And now, we've gone our separate ways, but we'll always have our memories."

And damn it, maybe you'll find someone else.

Promise me something though?

Promise me that you won't give up on love.

If someone comes along and makes you feel things you have never felt before, or makes you feel a way you haven't felt since "they" exited your life... Darling, please.  Please don't let them go.

Never stop hoping for love.  Never stop hoping that someone else is just around the corner from you.

Never stop thinking you won't fully heal.

Time heals all wounds.  It really does.  Give yourself that much.  And know that there's no set end time.  No formula to follow.  No pattern to memorize.

Live.  Love.  Heal.  Repeat.

2.03.2017

Loneliness Is Lethal


Since moving to a new area, one of my main priorities was to find a home church to plug in to.  Back when I lived in Washington for six months, I had found a good, solid young adult group that I visited every Sunday evening for a fellowship dinner, worship service, and sermon.  I was sometimes asked to lead worship too.  I loved being a part of that group.  And felt encouraged after every time I went.

After moving, though, I am now about an hour away from said group, and I was eager to find a new church to transfer my roots to.

During the time I had been looking for an apartment, I joined a Facebook group in which Christians all over the state, posted ads - either looking for roommates or offering places to live.  One couple contacted me about an apartment they were moving out of, and asked if I would be interested.  I was but the rent was a little high and it wasn't in the area I was looking to be.  Regardless, we stayed friends on Facebook and I noticed the husband post things about a church in downtown Portland.  Turns out he was the pastor of it, and after I commented on one of his posts, he reached out to me, inviting me to join them one Sunday.

It was a couple weeks before I was able to but when I did, wow was I blessed.  Not only did I feel that God had led me to this church through mysterious ways (looking for an apartment + meeting the pastor through a Facebook housing page + him reaching out to me + the church is only twenty minutes away) but the message was so, so good.  And one of the points the pastor touched on was how loneliness is lethal.

"Loneliness is as unhealthy for the human body as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.  But to the spiritual soul, loneliness is lethal."

We, as humans, are not meant to do this thing called "life" all alone.  We were created with a need for relationships and security.  And we, as Christians, aren't meant to fight by ourselves.  The enemy knows how lethal loneliness is.  And he'll always try to get us at our weakest points.  He'll try to make us think that we've failed, that we're worthless, that nobody loves us, that God doesn't care about us.  And when you're lonely, sometimes you start listening to his lies.  You're just too tired and weak from fighting, and because there's no one else there to speak truth into your life, you tend to give up.

This is why, in whatever way possible, you need to connect yourself to believers who will encourage you and pray with/for you.  You need that support system.  Everyone does.  Search for a place to call "home".  Church isn't just about going once a week, sitting in a pew and listening to a sermon.  Church is about family; about fellowshipping with siblings in Christ.  And you can't gain personal relationships with people when you're sitting in rows.  You need to connect, to talk, to get together during the week, to gain trust, to feel like you have a safe environment to share your struggles and get counseling and encouragement.

Seek and you shall find.  God will always honor His children who strive for a closer walk with Him.  And He will always provide in times in need.  He loves us and wants us to continue in His joy.  And loneliness definitely isn't included in that.

My advice would be to start looking in your community for faith-based outreaches and places you can plug in to and get to know believers in your specific area.  It might be hard at first, but start visiting some churches, and then inquire about any groups they may have.  Either Bible studies, or adult groups, or action groups, anything that would surround you with believers who will befriend you and make you feel welcome.  If there's absolutely nothing in your area (which I will find a little hard to believe) or you've tried out places but don't feel like it's where God wants you to be, try reaching out to online Christian communities, and maybe even meeting up with people in person you meet through that.  Everything is available at our fingertips nowadays, including Facebook groups and Twitter accounts that are aimed specifically to different Christian age groups.

Seek and you shall find.  Pray that He'll provide the best place for you to get involved in.  And He will.  I promise.

"For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great Name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself."
- 1 Samuel 12:22

2.01.2017

I Taught You What Love Is


One of the deepest and most agonizing questions someone could ask themselves is "Why was I not good enough?"

When I did all I could do, when I said all I could say, when I loved with all I had in me...but in the end, it must not have been enough.  I wasn't enough.

Or so you thought.

See, the thing about being vulnerable and loving someone and investing in their life is that you are giving them every open door to hurting you.  Like Augustus said in The Fault In Our Stars - "You don't get to choose if you get hurt in this world.  But you do have a say in who hurts you."  Loving someone and trusting them to not rip my heart out from the seams is an act of faith that takes all the courage in the world to muster.

But when it all crashed in a myriad of shootings stars that dispersed, one of the first questions that came to mind was a simple one word:

"Why?"

It can be asked in many different forms.  A cry, a scream, a gut-wrenching sob, or merely a whisper.  I think I may have asked it in all of those ways.

And over time, I've missed you.  I've missed how you loved me, how you made me feel, the things we used to do together, the connection that we had.  But what you may not know is that I've realized something.  It took many sleepless nights, long, arduous thought processes, furrowed brows, and quiet tears to unravel all the knots of confusion and pain.  And I finally realized that: how you loved me was so much of a reflection of everything I was, everything I gave to you, and everything I am.

Looking back now, I must've been so blind because I see now that it was I who taught you.  I taught you how to feel again.  I was the example you needed in your life to make you see and understand that there is such a thing as unconditional love, and there is such a thing as faithfulness, and there is such a thing as a woman who wants to be with you and only you.  And that woman was me.

I wondered "Why?" for so long after, but now I no longer ask that.  Because I know I was enough.  In fact, I was too much.  It scared you.  I scared you.  The strength, peace, love and beauty I felt when I was with you, I thought it was because of you.  But it wasn't.  I thought I enamored you and loved you in ways you never knew existed because you couldn't take your eyes off of me.  I made you feel alive again.  I taught you what love is.  But you didn't know how to accept it.  And then I thought I was the problem.  I thought I wasn't enough.

But I know now that I was already these things.  Long before I met you.  And I continued to be all of this, even after you left.

Because the person I am when I'm around you isn't because of you.  It's because of my love for you.  And even if you aren't around to see it, I'm still strong, and beautiful, and full of love.  And I always will be.

I started writing this for my audience, in an attempt to encourage the recent heartbreaks that I know of, but not even halfway through, I realized that I was writing this for myself.  About myself.
And the tears were freeing.