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Peace Seeker: Intro

There are a lot of adjectives that have been used to describe me. My mood, my voice, my attitude, my personality, my decision(s), my life, my future. “Peace” was never one. (Well, “peaceful” may be more accurate, but still, never used.) A lot of the words used to describe me I laugh off, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t sting or cause hurt. Recently I read a post, encouraging moms (and dads!) to speak carefully around our children, no matter their size, no matter their assumed comprehension. Ah the guilt trip that has followed! I am keenly reminded again of all the words thrown at me and the result, sometimes pain, sometimes love, and realized I have fallen short and need to think carefully before speaking to my boys.

I am Rachelle. I am a wife and mom. I am a daughter, a sister, a woman who prefers the tomboy side of life and all the good foods. I am so many things, so many words can be put here but they don’t always accurately reflect me, all of me. I am sure you would tell me that the same can be said of you as well. Our pasts do not define us, but the shape us and impact us. We are whole beings, made up of many parts and they do not all shine through at the same moment. I hope this blog, Peace Seeker, will speak to you in the midst of the busyness that is our life. I hope to share personal stories, funny and serious, how I left the Mennonite church but found my faith in the process, of being adopted and navigating those hurts but not being a victim.

I see things very black and white, right or wrong and sometimes my written words do not always accurately reflect the grace I want to express. Sometimes, too often maybe, I seem like I am spouting judgement. This is not my intent! 

I am sharing because I wish in my journey I would have had internet and access to someone who could share honestly the positives and negatives and I could have taken better roads. Though as an opinionated person, I know changing my mind may have been difficult.
The inspiration for my blog has been dwelling inside of me for so long, I struggle to open myself up and some of these posts will be tearfully written followed by a day or two of needing to emotionally recharge! If these posts speak to you, please post your thoughts and/or questions!
I introduced myself briefly above but here I will add more “fun” facts. I do love to cook and bake, however I hate to clean my kitchen when I am done! Can you relate? I have a tiny kitchen and too often I allow that to keep me from being more adventurous with my kitchen fun. Recently I made cinnamon rolls from my newest Pioneer Woman cookbook. My husband bought it for me! (Full disclosure: He didn’t know in advance, however when he spied yet another box from Amazon, I was sure to thank him from the bottom of my heart! Of course, as I thanked him, I scurried off to the kitchen to bake something. Coincidence? Maybe.) I also love being a mom, a woman raising tomorrow’s men. An avid TV drama watcher while I fold laundry or work my at-home business, or a sleepless night with a young one. I love a good, stimulating conversation and I love challenges! I am a Christian and I hope to show clearly God’s hand in my life as I share experiences and memories here. I also enjoy watching my boys’ imaginations at work. They have such avid imaginations that are typically right in synch! I am learning to enjoy weekends of downtime with my husband of 7 years! Yes, you read that right. In case I haven’t mentioned it or made it clear, I am not like a lot of women. And I am learning to blend and learn from them but still be comfortable with myself. A job in and of itself!
Thank you for joining me as I share here, laugh and cry with me but when you’ve finished reading, go share a smile with a stranger.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers (and sisters). Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

Love, Rachelle 

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Peace Seeker: Thankfulness & Grieving

And once again, I tap this on my phone. I delivered my boys to a babysitter and am sitting to write this while sipping a delicious coffee from a favorite local shop.

So please excuse typos and spelling errors. Because there will be some of both, I am sure.

Tomorrow is a holiday, a national holiday of remembering our blessings. For work, I looked into the history of Thanksgiving, and I learned some fascinating things.

My post today will not hold quite the fascinating facts, but again, a glimpse into life after.

In October it was a year since we were plunged into the longest waiting game ever.

And on the day before Thanksgiving was when the pain started. I bent to pick up a light laundry basket, I had experienced some light discomfort earlier during the day, and all of the sudden I had sharp pain. I dropped the basket and quickly sat, holding my stomach, unable to sit up.

Just a day or so before had been a doctor appointment, another devastating and emotionally draining visit. At that appointment, hope had again been decimated and the words “no hope” had been applied to my pregnancy, to the fluttery movements of life.

As I called Lamar in tears, I was terrified. Were we going to meet our baby? What was going to happen? Could I do it? Could I say hello and goodbye?

Of all the questions I had, there was one thing I knew: I was not ready.

Lamar told me to the call the doctor and that he would come home if needed.

(I have always prided myself on being quite independent, but my pregnancy with Liam made me much more needy, much less independent.)

I called the doctor and was immediately connected with a nurse. There was no advice other than it could be labor starting. And a bit carelessly she added if I kept going, “I could get it over with” or something along those lines.

I do not love pain. Not in any sense of the word. So I began a period of rest. Because the pain wasn’t just pain. There was the physical pain, emotional pain and this big wall we were staring at.

Many people have remarked on my strength.

There was no strength in me. Anything you saw, that was God. Still is.

Because this journey has easily been one of the hardest I’ve ever walked.

So tomorrow, as I gather with family, around a feast my mother and sisters-in-law have lovingly prepared, it will be different.

There will be no physical pain to smile through. But there will be the emotional pain.

I have come to edge of myself, my will to live has been crushed twice in the last year.

And yet, here I am.

Not because of me. But because of God.

I will sit at a large stretched out table with my family. And together we will eat (so much good food), we will laugh, we will allow our children to eat too much candy and drink sodas, men will nap, maybe even a lady or two. Kids will play and enjoy time with their cousins. It has all the ingredients to be a marvelous and amazing day.

It also has all the ingredients to be a hard and awful day.

While I am grateful for this life and the many, beautiful blessings.

I am also sad. Because so many things have been lost. In the past year, in my lifetime.

And I’m not alone.

There are so many others who also feel these same type of pains as they gather with their loved ones this season.

So understand, I am thankful. I am also sad. I am heartbroken that my wish for a living child, my prayers for a miracle, my desire to be a mother again have all been met with a resounding no. A pain-filled no.

No. No. No. NO.

Two times I’ve been given healthy, amazing boys. And I am grateful for them.

So while you gather tomorrow, and the holidays are considered to have officially arrived, be a little extra kind to someone you know is grieving. Understand that their joyous season also holds great grief.

With Thanksgiving & grief,

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: finding myself

I knew from the time I was a teen, I didn’t fit. I was loud. I laughed too much. I was too messy. I was not cool. My flaws were glaring and clear.

I tried though. Oh my, did I try. I fell in love. I trusted. I gave him my heart, and in turn he shattered it. (Thanks, man.)

I was drawn to the tomboy side of life. I needed speed, I needed music, I loved cars and trucks.

And about 2 months after the breakup with the one I loved and adored, I bought my favorite car.

I had my dream car, a job I loved, and life was relatively good. I mean sure, I was recovering from the emotional fall out of a sexual assault, I was struggling because I invested all that I was in a boyfriend who had started dating someone new.

And sure, you tell yourself that maybe he cheated or maybe his feelings weren’t real … but it doesn’t diminish what YOU felt.

But I started to meet people. I opened my eyes. I made new friends. I stopped judging. I started listening. And I realized something, there were folks who liked me for me.

And then I met my husband. He didn’t use any of my past against me. Didn’t bother him. He says he knew from the moment he saw me that I was meant for him. He made me feel safe. Still does.

And soon after being married, I quit wearing my covering.

And felt peace.

I wore jeans.

I felt peace. AND there was no loud voice of judgement or lightening bolt from Heaven.

I found me. Part of me. And then I lost her. I got lost in a world of living to please, depression, frustration, and alcohol and wrong friends.

And then we were invited to church.

And from day 1, we were loved.

We are now 4, 5 years in ? And there’s been nothing but sunshine and roses. Juat kidding. Real live humans go to my church. So we have real, live sin. We also have a real, live Savior. And grace and forgiveness.

One of the first pastors I met, I asked him what he’d do, as preacher, if a young child was assaulted by a member of church. With no hesitation, he responded: “we would call the proper authorities and care for the child.” I think he mentioned caring for the one who assaulted but I don’t remember.

(I was flabbergasted that it would be handled “right”.)

It has been a long, pain filled road to where I am today.

I have been bullied, even as an adult. I have made mistakes. I have struggled. And often I have wondered what on earth God was thinking when He chose to make me.

But on Sunday, at I listened to the sermon, I heard why.

I’m here to share.

I didn’t find myself, my title is misleading.

I was found. I was made free. I was forgiven. My sins, and the sins done to me, HE HAS REDEEMED.

I am here to share.

I am here to say His strength is why I’m here. His divine intervention is why I’m here.

He is why I am here. I attend church, I worship. Not because I must. Not because “what will people think if I don’t?”

I do it because though all the pain, through all the cruelty, through all the human failures .. He has shown Himself to me.

A still small voice. A well-timed card, text, song.

The God who created the universe has shown His love to me. For me.

My flaws are loud and evident. Bigger than what I can hide or stuff under a facade.

I have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

I posted a blog last week, and I took it down. I posted it too hastily. It wasn’t complete.

In all I write and share, especially here, I want Him to be seen.

Love,

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Oceans

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

 

We used to go the  beach when I was younger. One year I misjudged a wave in my attempt to be a wave rider, and got flipped end over end under water. For a brief period of time, I was stuck under water, eating sand and swallowing water. Those seconds felt like minutes, I was sure I was going to die.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t. 

When I first heard this song, I was going through a painful season. Feeling rejected by many I had considered friends. Sleepless from nightmares, reliving trauma, and in a season of absolute pain.

Pain lasts for a season, and then suddenly it ends. I was able to see the blessing in the friend turnover, and developed other friendships. I sought help and am (mostly) nightmare free again. It was gradual, but yet one day I was able to look back and say: “Oh! That season has ended!” 

When a painful season begins, you don’t get a warning. You don’t get a text message, or a heads-up nudge. It just arrives, bluntly. And there you are, with the water closing over you, stuck in a place of pain. A choice needs to be made in those beginning moments, fight or flight.

“Your baby has Potter’s Syndrome. We cannot find a majority of organs. We are sending you to _________ for a better ultrasound. But your baby will not live. I am so sorry, Joy.” 

And so began my painful season. Again.

October 24. We had just lost a dear family friend. We were anticipating the arrival of another baby in our home, and everyone was hoping that the ultrasound would tell us to go buy alllllllllll the pink things. I sat alone in the ultrasound room, the weight of what had just been said laying squarely on me.

I think my first phone call was to Lamar, then to my Mom. A nurse called my friend who was watching my son.

I walked out of the room, pictures of babies on the walls. I stopped at the reception desk. I don’t remember the words, I just know I was to be at another appointment. I texted my best friend, I called my pastor.

My mind was spinning, yet blank. I drove to a near-by fast food place, and went inside to use the bathroom. I ordered a fruit cup, killing time until my next appointment. I went to the car and talked to Lamar. I had no idea where I was going, no desire to even get there.

My best friends dropped their responsibilities and met me at the next doctor appointment. Another ultrasound, a few more organs were found, but zero hope. A bit more information, but short of a miracle, this baby would not live. The doctor was kind, compassionate, and so sorry. He was a Christian man, I believe, and his heart was so kind. My friends walked me out, and I got to my car, at the top of the parking garage.

Briefly, the thought crossed my mind that if I were to drive off the building, the pain would stop. At this point, the dullness had worn off, the pain was sharp and excruciating. It was overwhelming. As I navigated through the city, destination home, I sobbed. I cried. I got home, because God. And collapsed. Lamar met me there, and together we went for Callan. It was now supper time, if I remember correctly. My head was pounding, light of any type hurt my eyes. I took a dish towel and ice pack, covering my eyes.

When we finally got to my mom’s house, I needed to steel myself. I couldn’t let Alex know. We knew we would need to tell him, but in that moment I needed him to be free of the pain I felt.

And that was the hardest part of this entire journey, Alex. Often my grief was put on a back burner, waiting for me to process it and feel it until after my boys were asleep. And I have no regrets, I am simply being honest.

We went for testing. Most came back inconclusive, and a part of me just knew this pregnancy wouldn’t go much longer.

Abortion was brought up, once. Never again.

Our lives were forever changed on this day one year ago. And so many emotions have been felt since.

I have used this blog to speak my heart, reveal the pain but also the beauty in these moments. I have appreciated the support, from family and church family, friends.

If I could go back, would I do it again?

There are life lessons, I do wish I hadn’t learned.

But my pregnancy with Liam? I wouldn’t undo that. As hard as this season has been, pain-filled, and life-changing, I would do it again.

A few days before this life changing appointment, I was headed to church. I was on worship team that morning and as usual, running a bit late. It was a cool morning, so I opted to take the route with less deer. As I was pulling out, I dropped something and bent over to pick it up, and Liam kicked. A sharp, hard little kick. I was so excited. And as I said, I was running late so I was speeding. And suddenly, as I came around a turn, there before me stood a big deer. I had no time, I simply prayed. And that quick, he was gone. Disappeared into the brush from where he had come out of. It seemed to be a sign, I am here and I got you. We were deep in mourning Kevin, and my fears were running a bit rampant at the time.

I have no regrets, I fought the best way I could. I prayed constantly, begging God for a miracle. I spent days in tears, days trying to keep life normal for Alex and Callan. I spent nights crying, praying. Begging for a miracle. I finally needed to start a sleep aid, it was the only way to sleep. I withdrew from many people, finding public outings harder and harder. I wanted so badly to hide my pregnancy, I did not want anyone to see my little belly and ask details. No stranger wants to be saddled with: “yes, I am pregnant but the baby will die.”

I have no regrets. The prayers we prayed were answered, just not all of them the way we wanted.

In all things, He is good. It’s taken me about a year to say it and believe it.

He is good.

And He hasn’t let me down.

Through the most challenging parts of my life, He has been there. He has carried me on the days I couldn’t do it. He has forgiven me the days I have been angry, resentful. He has given me grace to extend to the people who say things… He has given me strength, for today. He has given wisdom, and in the moments when life seemed too much, strength to go on and showed me His love.

In all things, He is good.

And today, while I mourn. I can also rejoice. Because my Liam is in the best possible place, Heaven.

With love and tears, 

Rachelle 

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Peace Seeker: to the Mom

Dear Mom,

Today your arms are empty. And they shouldn’t be. You should be smelling stinky diapers, scrubbing stained bibs, bragging about baby’s growth. You see pregnancy announcements, and complaining moms. You should be one.

should. deserve. wish.

Your eyes fill with tears, as you mourn what should be.

Your arms ache when you see those babies. but the words don’t come.

Oh mama, my heart aches with you when you read those articles about children being hurt because people are selfish.

As you survey your life, as you think over the should, and wishes of your heart, and list your good qualities on the “I deserve” card.. I am right there with you.

Dear mom, we are one and the same. Our journey to this destination may each be slightly different. Some have never had the privilege of a pregnancy that ends in a healthy baby. Some know why they can’t, some don’t.

We have all heard the word “but” followed by a crazy statement that makes your eyes roll. We have all extended grace, and smiled through the pain, knowing this pain is unique and their hearts are in a good place.

I’m sorry. On this day, Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, I see you. I see you standing there. I see the silent tears, the emotions you hide. I see the pain you tuck away for the safety of your “spot”. I don’t know your spot, but I have one too. It’s a place we go, mentally or physically or both, to release the pain we feel. There is no time limit, this grief and pain never goes away, yet those outside this group cannot seem to grasp that. And there’s this invisible cut off date, where we realize our pain and grief isn’t welcome where we are present. So we put on these masks, we keep our emotions in check until we get to our spot.

I visit my spot less lately. I’ve been happy. I am choosing joy. But there are some hard dates coming up, and I know my spot is there, ready for me.

Today say that baby’s name. Do something for him or her. If it’s an unnamed baby, a pregnancy lost to soon, do something for that baby too.

Liam. This is for Liam and the other babies I lost too soon.

This is for all you mamas and daddies who lost a baby before you got to meet him or her. For the moms who hear the comments, feel the pain, and feel “stuck”.

I see you. I care for you.

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I wish..

I deserved..

I should have..

My days are quiet. While my oldest is at school, it’s me and Callan. I am very rarely not caught up with laundry anymore, unless I intentionally let it go for a day or two. I do the grocery shopping, I clean the kitchen. I am looking for a job even.

My days are quiet and routine. I sleep all night. Last night I was in bed by 9:30. And I am grateful for the life we have, but I can’t help but wish it were different sometimes.

BUT in all things, HE IS GOOD.

And yes, it’s very hard for me to say that. It was hard to believe it. I remember singing that song one Sunday and looking at my pastor, in tears, unable to even say the words. He is good? How so? I believed, I prayed, I trusted. He is good?

He is.

I am here. I am sharing. I am wanting you to know, you aren’t alone in your invisible cloak of grief. I see it.

I never ask this, but I am today. If you know ANYONE on your friends list who has suffered this, share it.

If you’re reading this and you have suffered a loss, I am here for you. I care for you. I feel your pain. And after I am done typing this, I cannot promise to have anything awesome or perfect to say. But I can nod as you share and say, “I get it”.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalms 18:2

May your spot, your place of safety include Him.

Love and hugs with a definite forecast of tears today,

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Now What?

(Toxic series, part 3)

There was a situation once, where A was unhappy with me, again. I remember exactly where she and I each stood, and I remember inwardly bracing myself, feeling frustrated. I remember asking her plainly, “What are your expectations?” There was a moment of silence, and I have not forgotten that defining moment for me. While at the time, it was me asking for “rules” basically, I needed a how-to manual, a way to stop feeling like everything I did was wrong. Later in counseling, my counselor would encourage me to think more like this, asking for others expectations and even evaluating my own in relationships.

Another situation entirely.. I have a neighbor who is unkind and very vocal about their unhappiness. After having the police called on us, I attempted to make amends. After listening to a long, angry tirade about how awful we and our friends were and being thoroughly insulted I asked kindly, “How about you let us know when it suits you for our friends to come and go?”  My intent was not to be rude, but it may have interpreted that way. I wish that was a defining moment and we all lived happily ever after, but we are learning the art of long suffering in the meantime.

So you feel you are in a toxic situation and are wondering “Now what do I do?” 

Every situation is different. In some cases the toxicity is caused by both people, in some cases it’s not. A dear friend and I sat and discussed this last week, and we were trying to come up with a clever title. And she shared pieces of her personal story. I planned to take my laptop away this past weekend to our family cabin trip and write, but instead I reflected, and thought.

mistymountain18

It was a beautiful weekend, and in the end I was glad to be wholly unplugged and allow my mind to just think. fishingpondcabin18

I thought while I ate, so much food. I thought while I watched the fish in this beautiful pond completely ignore my bait. I thought while I walked and biked with family members.

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(These last two photos were taken by Lamar) This has always been one of my favorite scenes. A waterfall spilling down over the mountain. And it’s beautiful. But now there are those black pipes and stuff, and it sort of ruins the view.

And as I walked and biked past it numerous times this weekend, this scene stuck in my head.

I think, as I said before, we are all a little toxic sometimes. And it’s easy to point out the ugly that someone else displays, right? I mean, I have excuses for my “ugliness”.

But so does someone else. 

We all have bad days, bad moments. We all have times we have taken our bad stuff out on someone who doesn’t deserve it. I judged everyone harshly and had unrealistic expectations after I lost the baby this summer. And deep down, I knew I was wrong so I retreated. I snapped off and “set people straight” during that period too. I was miserable and unhappy and there was no magic cure. I simply needed to take time an work through all the junk that was in my life. Which basically sums up my life, forever working through “junk”.

We need to take another moment again, to pause and maybe even have honest conversations about what is troubling you in the relationship. So many are quick to scream “TOXIC!” and run away, but maybe the person genuinely needs support and help.

Here are my tips:

A) Talk directly to the person. Bring up a situation (recent) and explain what bothered you. Ask questions, and really hear them.

B) Consult a friend, IF the behavior continues. Ask someone else who maybe likes you both to weigh in. Be prepared to show grace and recognize you are not perfect either.

C) If there is indeed proof that it is toxic, then it’s your call and how to proceed. My friend, V, said when we talked about this “WALK AWAY!” and she isn’t wrong.

We all have toxic traits, we all react differently to life and it’s curveballs. I recognize fully that I was not an emotionally healthy person, and I also contributed to the pain in the friendship with A. And I am sorry to others I have hurt. As I have thought and prayed over these posts, I have thought of all the seasonal friends I have had over the years, and I wonder if I was toxic to them. I have definitely gone into some dark places, places of pain and blame over these posts. These posts were not at all easy to write, a lot of emotions and painful stuff needed to dredged through.

But these posts were necessary to write. There are many people who feel stuck and lost. To each of the people who messaged me, entrusted me with their story and their pain.. I am sorry. To the children who feel like a parent doesn’t really care, like they can never, quite attain the approval and measure up for the love other siblings get, I am sorry. To the ones who suffer, because it’s their husband or wife, I am sorry. A sister, a brother, a best friend, someone you are sure can’t NOT be a part of your life.

There are no easy answers, there is no go-to response. And every situation is so different. Whatever decision you come to, it will be hard and awful. It will not be a quick 5 minute decision.

There are no rules or how-to’s that fit every scenario. But here’s what I wish for everyone to know:

You cannot control them. BUT you control you. And being respectful and kind is never the wrong decision.

I do not have permission to share specifically, and I won’t. But I have seen friends who still go above and beyond to be respectful and kind, for the sake of the children they love. And that is so hard for them, I hear their pain in doing it. But I see the point, I see their reality if they don’t.

A wise person once told me that to hold a grudge, withhold forgiveness is me keeping someone prisoner. Someone I may have stated I never wanted to see them again, and needing to visit them daily to feed and water them. Of course, I had a smart retort for that, but she wasn’t wrong. When you withhold forgiveness, you need to feed that grudge, live in the pain, and stay angry.

Life goes but one way.

Forward.

Forgive. Be kind. Maybe you move forward and part ways. Maybe you keep them in you life, minimally. Maybe you take steps slowly. Maybe you jump ship immediately. Whatever you choose, choose also to be healthy in the meantime. Forgive. Get therapy. Be kind.

“When someone can make you see this broken world as beautiful, they’re worth keeping around.”

And to close…

See your value, add to it, and then go add some value to someone else. ~ Sonya Dudley

May we be the ones who add value, and help others see beauty in the broken. Because that’s my heart’s desire.

Love, 

Rachelle 

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Peace Seeker: Understanding

(This is part 2 of my Toxic series) 

Last time I shared my story, and today I want to share more about realizing.

Toxic is the new buzzword. We tend to overuse it, apply it to folks who aren’t toxic. And I do not want to add to the misinformation.

I did not realize the relationship I was in WAS toxic. My dear friend, S, told me over and over. And I didn’t understand how she meant, I justified everything by saying “Well, I have flaws too! And I did __________!” 

Looking back, I am so grateful for the truth she spoke to me. I am so glad S never gave up consistently reaffirming that I was not crazy. It took a long, long time for the truth to reveal itself, maybe in part because I wasn’t looking at things as they were, but instead through lenses of unworthiness and self-disrespect.

I think we are all a little toxic.

Yes, I said that. Because the other word for toxic is: selfish

So I will say it again. We are all a little toxic sometimes. I have grieved hard the loss of my son, and my unborn baby. And during that time I “needed” and wanted any relationship to cater to ME. I was unable to step in and carry anyone else’s pain. So I retreated, hard. And Lamar and my family bore the brunt of that. It was as I began stepping towards my friends again, trying to find the inner strength to be a friend again, that I began realizing and understanding this post I am finally writing.

When I think of someone being selfish, I think of children. Not that I believe adults are incapable, I mean, look around. But the best example of the childishness of it, is children. My oldest will pick the biggest cookie, the nicest one, the one with the most chocolate chips. He never pauses to consider the younger brother behind him. My youngest will pick whatever toy he believes, Alex wants, and determines to NOT SHARE. And unless Lamar or I intervene in any of these two situations, they will not automatically “get it” and change their ways.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” I Corinthians 13:11

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 

We don’t just reach a magic age where we realize our selfishness, our sinfulness, and BOOM we quit. We need to be taught, we need to be trained and shown. We need consequences and awareness that our selfishness impacts others. As children, it doesn’t really change much if we choose the bigger cookie. But as adults, when we choose selfishness in relationships, it hurts other people.

Selfishness as adults hurts others, deeply. I asked people to share their experiences with toxic people. And more than one woman messaged me, stating a parent was toxic and the deep wound that left in their life. It isn’t just women though.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3 

“For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:16

As a mom, I can definitely speak to the disorder part of that last Bible verse. Cries of “NOT FAIR!!!!!!” can be heard resonating loudly, followed by retaliation. If you’re a mom, you get it. (Or a dad.) But let’s get a bit more personal.

I have made no secret of the fact that my house makes me crazy. The kitchen is too small, it’s set up weird, the list of complaints can go a mile long. And I allowed it to negatively affect my friendship with someone. I was jealous, she got her dream house, and I felt stuck and miserable where I am. And I still struggle very much with this, because of many reasons. But it does not need to ruin relationships.

We all have these things, the things that make our inner selfishness rear it’s ugly head. But if we allow our selfishness, this ugly sin, to rule us, we become toxic. We then make everything about us, with little capacity to truly care for and love others.

Sometimes life hurts, and we find ourselves unable to love others the way we want to. That’s okay. True friends will understand. But you can’t stay there. You can’t unpack all you’ve been taught, and allow this to change who God has meant for you to be in this life.

I hope this post helps you understand a bit more and in turn helps you to recognize and realize what a toxic friendship is. It is not easy when you find yourself stuck in over your head, struggling to make sense of the other person’s selfish thinking.

And I can’t tell you what to do. What my breaking point was, will be different for you. And I can’t tell you how to heal either, because the temptation will be there to retreat and become selfish yourself with your needs. And retreating is good, self-care is good. But it can’t rule your life.

I often wonder if Jesus met toxic people, and what His response was. And while I highly doubt the term “toxic” existed in Jesus’ time, I do believe He met them and dealt with them. I believe His response would have been kind, direct. As was His style. I don’t believe He would have rejected them, but I do believe He would have shown them Truth.

No one is exempt. It can happen in sibling relationships, parent relationships, friends… It can happen to anyone, anywhere. Maybe there is a common denominator of deep pain that was never addressed. Men and women all across our world are suffering silently because it’s their mother, their father, their partner, someone they love deeply. It has worn down their self-esteem, they feel deserving of the treatment and they justify and even defend it.

It’s a sin issue. There isn’t a magic realization pill and cure. There isn’t a magic cure to recovery and healing.

But there is Jesus. There is safety there. That was where I began, by turning to him every time my phone dinged multiple times with yet another victim based, life isn’t fair multiple messaged text. It took me a long time to not have a mild panic attack when my phone dings multiple times.

I will close now, but with a heavy heart. Because this is hard stuff. This is pain filled, heavy issues.

love and tears today,

Rachelle

Uncategorized

Peace Seeker: Realization

This is part 1 on my “Toxic” series.

Before I dive into this series please know: I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, or any type of “professional”. I am relating what MY private research shows, what I lived and learned, and if it’s another’s experience, I am crediting them.

My story…

I met “A” a few years ago. Alex was very young and I was a lonely woman. I was making terrible life decisions, and my life was not great. Immediately we “clicked” and were quickly best friends. We texted, Facebook messaged, Facebook interacted all the time. And looking back, there were signs of this being a doomed and toxic friendship and I wish I had recognized them.
We got together often, and she often paid for meals and shopping trips. She and I shared many similar opinions, and I was glad to have someone who seemed to accept me as I was.
But I was naïve.
Other friendships fell by the wayside, for if I vented anything or she met them, she would “share” what she felt was them not being nice. And it totally made sense. (At the time.) We early on had an agreed upon get together night every week. And when busy summer months, or holidays prevented us getting together she seemed personally offended.
A was opinionated with politics, and one time there was a comment made by my husband to her Facebook status. And it caused a massive fight, that honestly to this day still does not even make sense to me. And that was my first, massive red flag that made me stop and pause and wonder. Especially after, when the fight ended, she could never quite seem to “let go” of some things and it eventually led to her unfriending us on social media. Our relationship changed. After that fight I tried to go out of my way to keep the peace, even offering a “no politics” boundary because she would get so heated and dismissive of any view that was not her own. I started to feel very anxious and by Friday evening I was a stress ball, and then it would take me all weekend to recover, it was so draining.
I didn’t know the term “toxic relationship”, I did not know even how to deal with this all. I sought advice constantly, which sounded like complaining, but I was in so far over my head, I felt like I was drowning.
There were instances where I would go to two of my friends, and they’d point out the signs I was missing. I could see they were right, but then I just didn’t know how to walk away. I didn’t want to hurt feelings, I did not want another huge fight.
A eventually decided “it was okay” for us to be friends on Facebook again. And it was good. I thought things were moving forward in a healthy manner.
And then it happened.
A friend of mine posted a public meme. I commented. Because it was public, it came up on her newsfeed. And she responded to it as well. It was a snarky, sarcastic comment. And that was a final straw for me. I knew she did not know him, nor was she friends with him. She was so full of hate and anger towards what the meme was about, that she could not handle even scrolling by.

And that broke something in my heart and immediately I began to back away. If she texted, I waited to respond, thinking carefully through responses. I no longer shared big life news with her, or struggles. I started investing in me, growing spiritually and healing. I started investing more time in my two friends, and my husband and my sons. I was pregnant then, and eagerly anticipating a new baby to love and snuggle. Life seemed good.

It was August of 2017, I do not remember the exact course of conversation. Lamar’s friends were over. I had run out to the store for something when she texted. The entire “break up” came via text, she refused to answer when I called. I stayed firm, apologizing for being hurtful yet calmly stated I was not solely to blame for the friendship disintegrating.

Maybe I am half-guy, because in all my years I have never felt the need to announce to someone I was not going to be their friend anymore. Drama like that goes beyond my comprehension. It’s an attention-seeking behavior, a grab for the control they have lost.
We have not spoken since.

I have missed A tremendously. I have often felt the urge to text or call her, but because of how things ended I honestly have no idea what the rules are. So I never have. I carried that hurt, that pain for a long time. It was the starting point of a long hard year for me.
I believe I can honestly say that I am healed. I am moving forward, with more wisdom.
In a relationship that SEEMS two-sided, but behind the drama and manipulation, is toxic and one-sided, the first step is realizing.

Realize and acknowledge the traits that are making you feel “less than”.

I imagine if A read this, she would have an entire argument on how wrong I am. She would raise valid points, as I fully realize I am not perfect. I am sure it was very hurtful when I backed off the way I did. But up until then, if I had ever felt like something was wrong and brought it up, it turned into an ordeal that would cause so much frustration for me. And all through my life thus far, I have struggled with friendships. I just accepted than I must be a terrible, needy friend.

Make a list, talk to a friend. No relationship is perfect but realize that a healthy relationship is very two-sided.

There is room for misunderstandings, there is room for different interests and hobbies. There is room for growth and change, for moving forward towards each person’s individual goals. There is room for mistakes and other relationships, obligations. Relationships grow through what they go through, as should each person. There should be a mutual cheering on of each other, of supporting one another.

I am not perfect. I carry toxic traits myself. I think we all do. I carry fears and scars. I want desperately to be a person that others love and want to be around. But I also don’t want to sacrifice the healthy I finally am. And as I unpacked my story and contemplated various things, I think that’s a universal truth.
WE ALL want be loved and accepted, without sacrificing who we are.

I have growing I must still do, so do you. And our relationships should have room for that. As well as encouragement for it.

Until next time.
Love,
Rachelle