What If…?

What if…

What if I had done this, or said that? What if this had not happened? What if this had happened instead? What if I never…? What if I always…?

Chances are that if you are a human with a conscious mind you have had these thoughts. I have in my life been plagued by these thoughts. I have come to realize that this track of thought is a trap. Taking inventory of mistakes is important so that I can learn from them. It is valuable for me to comb through the mess I have made and see where things went wrong, however the moment that I take those mistakes and say what if… Boom! The trap is sprung!

It is so easy to go about life and forget that there is an enemy out there roaming around seeing whom he may devour. I forget this all the time. I don’t forget this because I don’t know it, nor do I forget it because I haven’t known the attacks first hand. I forget because I am reasonable and logical. Reason and logic are useful tools but are often at odds with the realm of faith. I get so wrapped up in what is right in front of my eyes that I forget there is a world unseen.

I recently went through quite the life event. I chose to begin a relationship. At first it was wonderful but pretty soon there were more than a few bumps. Looking back I can now see that there were warning signs long before that. There were little knocks on my heart; checks in my spirit like blinks from the lighthouse on the shore that there was danger ahead. I ignored all of that chalking it up to apprehension, fear and inexperience. Maybe there was nothing to worry about. Maybe it wasn’t moving too fast and getting too intense too soon. Maybe I was feeling anxious about the pace of things because I was afraid of getting hurt. I was afraid of getting hurt after all. That is partly why I haven’t dated before this point in my life. Fear. Fear that it would turn out just like it did.

You know you would think that after everything I have learned about self fulling prophecy in regards to my weight I would know better but apparently not. Back in high school when I was the weight and size I am now I used to feel and think that I was the size and weight I eventually became. You become what you behold. Anyway I digress…

I was always afraid that if I ever allowed myself to fall in love that I would get my heart broken. I finally came to a point in life where I was willing to risk my heart being broken by allowing myself to possibly fall in love. I met this man who seemed like he might be okay so I gave it a chance. He seemed to really be interested in me. I had never experienced anything but rejection and he was pursing me, and he was so sure I was the one. He had a past, but who doesn’t? Anyway I do believe in redemption so as long as a person is open and humble about their past then that shouldn’t be a barrier. Unfortunately he wasn’t completely honest about everything and as is always the case with secrets it came to light. I had been lied to by the man I had fallen in love with. I was devastated. I confronted him. It was over. It was hard. He tried to explain, and I was willing to consider giving another chance but after seeking the Lord and counsel it became crystal clear that was not what God wanted. After the first initial shock I began digging around myself, and found out some other things… It really was over.

My heart was broken. He was not honest with me, and I could no longer trust him. He seemed so genuine. I thought… well you know.  My heart is still broken. I am very aware that I am single now and the holidays are coming. Awesome.

So now I am combing through the ashes trying to figure out where it went wrong so that I can learn all I need to from this mess, and as I have done this came the questions: What if…?

What if I am making a mistake?

What if I am wrong?

What if no one else ever comes along?

What if I end up alone?

What if I never have children?

So I did the only sensible thing. I took these questions to my Daddy. I also ate some chocolate. This is how the conversation went:

What if I am making a mistake?

-I told you no. Why would listing to Me be a mistake?

Well duh. That one was just ridiculous. I’m sorry.

What if I am wrong?

-You are not wrong. I told you I would confirm  it. I did remember?

Yes.

What if no else ever comes along? He is the only person who has ever pursued me. What if I end up alone? What if I never…

-Stop! Don’t give into fear. Can’t you see that you are allowing the voice of fear into your head? You are allowing something more dangerous to take root in your mind as well: doubt. That question is a trap. You are allowing doubt to come in and to limit your understanding of my goodness. My goodness has no limits! Rachel my darling daughter my goodness toward you has no limits.

——

Wow. That was a moment. Mind blown.

Did you catch that?! God’s goodness has no limits! God’s goodness toward His beloved children has NO LIMITS!!

“Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open. If a child asks his father for a loaf of bread, will he be given a stone instead? If he asks for fish, will he be given a poisonous snake? Of course not! And if you hard-hearted, sinful men know how to give good gifts to your children, won’t your Father in heaven even more certainly give good gifts to those who ask him for them?” -Jesus (The Sermon on the Mount)

He is a good good Father.Fly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

No Means No.

imageThere is a little boy in my class (we’ll call him “Davey”) who doesn’t seem to know what no means. In fact there are several kids in my class who need to be asked the question: “What does no mean?” at least once a day by me or one of the other teachers. Anyway, Davey has a particular problem with this word no. To Davey the word no seems to mean burst into tears and throw your body on the ground until the grownups give in to your every whim. It also seems to mean make an angry face, pout in the corner, negotiate, argue, kick the furniture, yell at your teacher and tell her she is not pretty… You get the picture. He doesn’t like to hear the word no.
In Davey’s defense he has come a long way in a short time and he is learning that when one of us says no we are not insulting his immortal soul, or rejecting his very being, we are just saying no. Some things that children think would be super fun would in fact maim, poison, or destroy them completely which would totally suck.
For example there are bushes that grow along the fence in the play area. These bushes are slightly toxic. Sometimes the children want to pick the berries, and leaves and eat them. We teachers say no to this activity as it could lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and a possible visit to the hospital to get your stomach pumped. Super fun! No. Also not as fun as it seems to a four year old: Running into the street! Look at all that wide open space to run!! Awesome!! NO!!! You see we grownups know that the cars that use those roads will run you over and destroy your body. Therefore running around in the street is not allowed.
I was seeking the Lord recently about something. It was something I wanted Him to say yes to, and I thought He would. I really didn’t expect Him to tell me no, but He did. In fact He told me no louder and stronger than He has ever told me no in my entire life. Not only did He tell me no, but He confirmed that no several times even though I did not ask Him to. It was a big fat no. Huge. Galactic. That no was hard to live out. In fact that no broke my heart, but I knew that it was something I could not ignore.
imageSometimes obeying God is hard. Sometimes I want to eat the poison berries because it just loos like it would taste good. I mean they are red! Red is sweet like strawberries! NO!!!! You will puke and die! Stop it!
I don’t know about you but sometimes when God tells me no I act like Davey. I freak the freak out! I have even been known to kick a couch or two. Okay maybe not literally, but still. I can see how there are so many times in the past both recent and distant where Abba being the good Daddy that He is, told me no and rather than accept it and move forward I negotiated, argued, kicked, screamed, etc, and basically threw a tantrum the size of Jupiter. Part of the reason I did this is because like Davey I didn’t understand. Another part of the reasons is that I can be a bit of a control freak. Yet another reason (and the biggest one at that) is that I felt rejected when God told me no. I thought no meant something else.
No means no. No dose not mean I don’t love you. No does not mean I don’t want you to be happy. No does not mean I do not want you to have fun. No does not mean I don’t want you to see your dreams come true. No dose not mean I want you to be shattered. No simply means no. No means I love you. No means I want you to be happy. No means I want you to have fun. No means I want your dreams to come true. No means I want you to be whole.
God can see the whole picture. God’s perspective is vast! He loves me more than any human being ever has or will. If God is saying no then there is a reason. I know God is good, so if He says no then that reason is good. Not only is that reason good but it is for my good! I don’t say no to my students because I am a jerk, I say no because I want them to remain healthy, alive, happy, and so they can learn. Honestly sometimes I say no because I am tried, or I have cramps, so maybe sometimes I am a little bit of a jerk, but I am human. Thankfully God is better by far than I.
No means no. Accept it. It is yet another way that God is a good Father.
No is love.
No means no.

©Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

Stuck

Do you ever feel stuck? Do you ever think that no matter how hard you try to move forward it just seems like you are spinning your wheels? I feel that way. All. The. Time.

Here’s the question I keep asking myself: Are you really stuck because you are actually stuck, or are you stuck because you aren’t really trying to move forward? In other words; maybe I am stuck because I am only doing enough “trying” to appear to be trying. If I appear to be trying I have an excuse or evidence that I am trying but I am not actually really for real trying to move forward.

I think that pretty much sums up the last decade of my life. I have been trying… sort of. I recently had someone who loves me tell me that I have the emotional maturity of someone in thier early twenties. This may not seem that bad, but I am in my early thirties. Ouch. I was hurt and slightly annoyed. I didn’t think that it was true. I shared this with a few people (like two) and they didn’t think that was a fair assessment of my maturity, but I have come to realize that in some ways that is quite accurate. I am pretty immature in some ways… perhaps even in many ways. Am I trying? Yes. Am I doing my best? No. No I am not.

The other day one of my students was working on a coloring page. He chose one color and wildly scribbled all over the page and then brought it to me. I asked him if he had done his best work, or if he had done his fastest work so he could go play with toys as fast as possible. He admitted to the latter. I then asked him to write his name, take his time and do his best work. He did. That was the first time he had written his whole name that I have ever seen. I was so proud of him!

This got me to thinking if when it comes to my emotional growth if I am doing my best work and taking my time, or just breezing through it as fast as possible so I can do other things. The problem with breezing through it is that the details get missed. When it comes to emotional maturity and character details matter a lot.

I think one of the reasons that I have been stuck is that I have refused to really let people in. I have been trying to do everything myself. I have been letting people in just enough that I could fake it. You know pretend that I am healthy when in truth I am not really as healthy as I want to appear.

I have realized that although I have been mentored and been through intense decsiplship I have never really dug deep. I haven’t really let anyone see the big terrible awful stuff I was terrified to let anyone see. The problem with that is that no one really knew me. Not letting anyone really see you has its benefits you know? That way when someone shares a truth with me that I don’t like I can just say, “Well they don’t really know me.” Or, “They don’t know everything, they don’t understand where I am coming from, or what I have been through.” It is a really convenient way to lie to myself. If I never fully open up then I always have this clever little cushion to lay my head to delude myself. That way I am thinking I am doing pretty good when in fact I am knee deep, stuck in the muck of emotional turmoil. Emotional turmoil sucks.

Very recently I went through a really dark time and I  descended into madness. I self medicated, and withdrew from all the people who love me the most. Then I got involved with somethings I shouldn’t have and made a pretty decent mess. I realized that I was in over my head and I asked for help. I was afraid to ask for help. That is not my traditional way of approaching life crisis but this was a pretty epic mess and I thought I needed a different approach.

With this trial I didn’t pull away. This time even though I was embarrassed and dare I say even humiliated and felt very foolish I went to church. I faced my friends even though life had flung mud on me and I was lower than ever I experienced love like never before.

As I wept my eyes out I was held, and others wept with me. I was quite literally surrounded and comforted. I was prayed for over and over even though all I had done was stand there and weep. It was amazing. I have realized through this trail how much I am loved. Like real, in your face, deep, pure, sturdy love. I have been supported, encouraged, and bathed in prayer.

A few days later I did something I thought once to be impossible. I shared my big terrible awful pain with two dear friends. I was afraid to open my heart and let them see the wound there. I was afraid that the ugliness of how it felt would be too much. I thought that if I told them it would change how they saw me, or worse that they would love me less. They didn’t. They embraced me in my deepest darkest hurt and loved me, cried and prayed with me and told me I am not alone. It changed me. That moment did something to my heart that has never happened to it before. The light of God’s love began to shine in what was before the darkest place with in me.

I feel different. I feel stronger. I feel a need to rise up from all that I have been stuck in and allow others to help me grow beyond the pain and turmoil. I want to be made whole. I want to allow God to work through these amazing things called relationships and allow my heart to be free of the shackles that have entained it for so long. Trusting people is  scary but it is the only way to really heal from some wounds, maybe even most wounds. I suppose I could do it alone, but so far it seems to be the long way. Also going it alone is, well lonely. God never meant for us to do this thing called life alone. Through this trail I have learned that I am not alone. I have an incredible family, and extended family.

I have amazing people in my life and I am grateful. My heart is still broken, but it is healing. Let people in. It will change your life.

Cafe’

Can you imagine how it feels to be sitting alone in a cafe’? 

All the couples. All the families sitting together chatting. I sit alone with my breakfast and my coffee with… my iPhone.

I watch young men and women carrying two mugs to thier tables. I carried one. 

I don’t want to carry one anymore. 

Recently I got a small taste of what it would be like to share my life with someone. He turned out to be a liar, but still there were aspects of my time with him that I miss. I knew I was single before. I felt single before, but now I feel… Like an island in a sea of happy couples. I feel alone. 

I know I have many people who love me, and I am not really alone. Still I sit here in this cafe’ alone. I will walk into church here in a few minutes alone. I will eat dinner tonight alone. I will go on my walk this evening alone. I am sad.

I know that, that relationship was not the best for me. I know that everyone believes that there is something better out there for me. I want to believe it too. I want it to be true. 

I am going to choose to trust my loved ones more than I trust myself and believe that it is true even though right now it feels so impossible. 

I am going to finish my mocha and go to church and sing praises to my maker with everything I have in me. I won’t sing because life is perfect, but because even though I have a broken heart God is still so very good. Even though I am alone (so to speak) God is still good. Even though I am sad God is still good. Even though I am single God is good. 

It is well with my soul. 

-R. 

 ©Rachel Anne Redfiel 2015

Waves 

I am not sure if I can explain. I am not sure if any of it will make sense, but I feel compelled to release the words anyway.

I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, and that makes life tricky sometimes. Depression is the clinical term for it but I think of it more like an ocean of despair. I am the shore. I cannot escape this ocean no matter how I may wish to. My entire life I have been plagued by its waves. Sometimes they are gentle, and other times they are a tsunami.

How does one explain to a person with normal brain chemistry what this is really like? I cannot. For many, many years now I have chosen silence. As the years went on the silence was unbearable so I began a road of self medicating. Fried food and sugar were my drug of choice. French fries, ice cream, chocolate bars, cheese burgers, chips, Mac and cheese, cookies, oh and did I mention ice cream? So much ice cream. If it had sugar, cheese, grease, or cream I was all about it. I once ate and entire cake all by myself in one day. A whole cake. *face palm*

Eventually that wasn’t enough so, then there was television, movies and video games. When that was no longer enough I tried pot. Pot is great. It is fun. No matter what you read, or hear pot rules. However it is not for me. I do enjoy its effects, I mean who wouldn’t enjoy traveling to another galaxy and tasting colors? Although it was loads of fun and all, I need to be present on this planet and in my right mind to actually experience life, so I put the joint down and moved on with my life. I admit when things get dicey I sometimes temporary forget that I learned that lesson and descend into madness for a short time, but eventually I remember and return to earth. I wish I were not so weak. I wish I were not a dog that returns to my vomit, but alas much to my dismay; I am human. I muck things up royally form time to time.

This past year the ocean threw at me a tsunami and unfortunately I revisited all of my old habits and tried a new one: Drunkenness. Also fun. Also vanity, or vomit. Both are accurate descriptions of what it was. I have decided I do not wish to become an alcoholic any more than I wish to become a stoner, a food addict, or return to being a nearly five hundred pound couch potato.

Life is unpredictable. Some say life is a bitch and then you die. I find this to be an unsatisfactory description of what life is. I think that the type of person who embraces this outlook likely chooses to themselves become a bitch who will eventually die, and therefore views all things this way. I personally do not want to go through life being angry, rude and unhappy, all the while blaming life, the world, and/or the universe for my misery as I wait for, and embrace the inevitable oblivion of death.

I think life is many things. Life is messy, chaos, fun, glory, despair, bliss, loss, discovery, adventure, risky, rewarding, wonder, terror, ecstasy, disappointment, joy, new, familiar, disgusting, delightful, dark, radiant, beauty. Life is life. Life cannot be summed up in one cynical sentence, nor can it be defined by a single failure, or victory.

Have I made mistakes? Yes. Have I succeeded? Yes. Have I made bad choices? Yes. Have I made right choices? Yes. Should I have had pretzels and a Heresy’s chocolate bar for breakfast? No probably not. Was is delightful? Yes. Yes it was.

Sometimes I can rail against the waves. Sometimes it is easier to surrender to them. Living with depression is never ever going to be easy. Also pretending that I don’t live with it will not make it so. I have a chemical imbalance in my brain called clinical depression. I have a mental illness. However I am not defined by this. I walk this life wounded, slightly broken, but I like life I am many things. I am not depressed. I am not depression. Sometimes I am not okay. Sometimes I am just okay, and sometimes I am fabulous. I hope that the fabulous far outweighs its opposite, but only time will tell.

Waves will come, and waves will go. Life will be life. I will be me and through it all God will love me.
-R.
© Rachel Anne Redfield 2015

Me and the Ocean

Are You Okay?

*WARNING THIS POST CONTAINS MILD LANGUAGE. IF THAT SORT OF THING OFFENDS YOU READ ON AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION.*
Bells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hey!”

“Hi! Good to see you! How are you?”

“I’m doing good. How are you?”

“Good thanks.”

**********************

“Hey. I was thinking about you. Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I’m okay. Thanks for asking.”

***********************

Have you ever had conversations like these? If you are breathing and don’t live in a cave chances are that you have. This is the thing though, sometimes when I have exchanges like these and I am the respondent, I am lying through my teeth. I bet chances are that you have too.

Let’s be really honest for a second what if things went like this:

“Hey!”

“Hi! Good to see you! How are you?”

“It’s good to see you too. I have missed you. Really I am not that great. My relationship with my girlfriend/boyfriend just went down in flames and I am barley holding it together most days. I feel really lost and hopeless most of the time.”

What would you do? What would you say? Would you feel like a deer in the headlights? Would you feel like that kid? You know the one, last inning, bases are loaded, two outs, two strikes, the team is down by one, and he is starring down the barrel of a curve ball coming right at him. Sweating bullets. BULLETS!! AHHHH!!

Why is it that honesty can be so flipping terrifying? Not only is it terrifying to hear stuff like that but to actually be that honest… that takes serious huevos. For reals. Sometimes I think I would rather lick my floors clean than be honest about my feelings. Am I alone in this? I reckon that I am not. What I am learning though is that to be that honest is necessary. If I am ever going to have relationships that go beyond the superficial and have any real fruit I have to be willing to be the purest version of myself, warts and all.

I don’t currently have literal warts, but I have had them. They are painful. Also let me just say they are not pretty. Warts go deep, and when they die and fall off your skin has a hole where the wart used to be. If you have struggled through any emotional difficulty of any kind it will change you. As you go through the healing process you might have some “craters” left from the “warts.”

The other thing is this: Is it okay not to be okay sometimes? 

Recently I went through some serious sh** so to speak. All kinds of hell was breaking loose in my life. Most days I would get into my car after my shift at work and burst into tears and cry all the way home. My commute is typically 35-50 minutes depending on traffic. Sometimes I’d continue to cry for an hour or so on my pillow. I was a mess. I tend to retreat from the world when I feel like I am coming apart at the seams, and I was.

During this time my dear friend Tasha called me and left my a voicemail while I was at work. She was checking to see how I was doing. I called her back thanking her for calling. Because we have been friends for over twenty years I am a bit more comfortable telling her the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God. I told her “You know I am trying really hard to be okay, but I am having a hard time succeeding.”
Her reply was simple and amazing.

“Rachel it is okay not to be okay.” I burst into tears. I so needed to hear that. She went on, “Rachel you have been through a lot of really hard stuff. Any one of them alone would have been hard, but you just got hit with a bunch of crap all at once. It is okay not to be okay right now. Give yourself some time. Take time to process all that has happened. No one expects you to just get over it, and if they do they can come and talk to me and I’ll be happy to explain to them to leave you the hell alone, and kick their ass if need be. Remember that God is here for you and so am I. You aren’t alone.”

This is one of the many reasons why I adore Tasha. She tells me the truth and adds her own little ginger spice in there for good measure. I can’t even describe the relief those words brought to me. I felt free to actually just be a mess for a while. It was okay not to be okay. It was okay to give myself some time to process all my grief. It was okay to take lots of long walks alone and yell and cry to my heavenly Father about all the things that had broken my heart.

It’s been six months or so since all that stuff hit the fan. The dust is finally staring to settle a bit, however it is still pretty hazey. I can’t really see things very clearly and most of the time I still don’t know which way is up, but I am getting through it. Sometimes I am not okay, and that is okay. Give yourself  some time to breath and find the ground beneath your feet again. Don’t for the love of God try and force yourself to just get over it already. Now of course there are some instances where someone needs a little kick in the butt, however that is sometimes. I think in our society we try way to hard to be productive and have it all together and all of the time. I think that this attitude is toxic and counterproductive to emotional health. That is nuts! Think about it. We are not in control. The universe is filled with chaos. Nothing, NOTHING is guaranteed. Anything at anytime could happen, and sometimes it does. Life is precious, and it is fragile. Sometimes life will throw you a curve ball and sometimes it will throw a hurricane. When that happens for goodness sake allow yourself the respect and decency to not be okay. The only way to find your way back to okay is to admit that you aren’t. If you don’t admit you are lost then how will you find your way back home?

I am lost. I am searching for the shore. I am not okay,  but I am on my way.

The last really crazy amazing thing, is God is okay with that. He is with me. He hasn’t left me. He is in the mess with me. I have been in some dark shocking places and He has been there the entire time. Being in the midst of a mess sucks, but in this mess I am discovering context for this:

“I am with you and will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” -Genesis 28:15

“It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“…for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” -Hebrews 13:5b

I am learning that God is really, really, REALLY good. If I had run from this mess or denied its existence I would not be learning that to the deepest places of my heart. God did not cause this mess, but He is bringing beauty to me from the ashes of it. He is so very good. -R.

© 2015 Rachel Anne Redfield

Today I wonder…

I wonder what it is about gossip and scandal that causes people to get so fired up? From how someone sees a dress to how a wealthy man surgically altered his body, people just love to spew their opinions all over the internet. It seems we all relish picking a side and making our case. Like vultures circling round road kill, we all look at controversy from our perspective and start pecking away at one another.  I once watched, and sadly participated in a rather heated discussion over a rooster’s “right” to live after nearly taking off the finger of a child. (Don’t even get me started) It’s all so empty in the end.

I suppose I may be being a bit cynical… still aren’t there things more deserving of our attention than a dress being this color or that, or how a person in the public eye chooses to live? Where is all the encouragement towards helping our neighbors and ending world hunger? I think if we really wanted to, we as a planet of people could do that. Where is the outrage over the fact that slavery still exists still exists?! Why isn’t that plastered everywhere?

I wonder…

-R.

© Rachel Anne Redfield 2015