Monthly Archives: May 2016

Life Is A Giant Roller Coaster Ride

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Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you like roller coaster rides? I wouldn’t call myself an adrenaline junkie. However, I do love a good roller coaster ride. The ups are thrilling, the downs are scary. Together, they equal fun.

Thinking of roller coasters, I have come to realize that life is quite like a roller coaster ride – one we can’t get off of at will. If you’re anything like me, the thought is initially a good one. However, the ups and downs can be terrifying when you recognize that they are essentially never ending.

This is the trap I find myself in at the moment. I just want a breather. I want to do more than just pretend life will ever be any different.

The trouble with this, right now, is that I am finding it more and more difficult to grab a hold to those good times – for fear that the crushing and depressing times are just around the next bend. I recognize that it’s a function of embracing the moment – of loving life, right where I am. Truth be told, I do that. And at times, I am not able to.

Right now, I find that I am in the part of this eternal ride that is scary and feels almost like the cart will jump the rails, and crash. Sigh. I just want to break the cycle – and I’ve pretty much given up hope of even that possibility.

Is it too hard to ask – to just be able to raise my hands, yell with glee as I enjoy the ride? I think it is.

I’m not going to lie. I have come to really dislike the familiarity and predictability that the roller coaster ride brings. The highs and the lows – the ups and downs. The emotions and feelings that refuse to give up their grip.

So, here I sit – looking for the exit. There has to be one somewhere. So far, I haven’t found that elusive escape route.

Please, someone – please tell me this life still has the potential of love, hope, compassion and even freedom. Freedom to just live.

For anyone who will point me towards faith, counseling / therapy, talking it out, friends, is any other great coping mechanism – proceed with caution. I do stand on faith, seek help through counseling / therapy, I clearly ramble too much as it is – but I do talk when I can find friends to talk to. See, in theory, a great support system is in place. But, frankly, that system is broken. See my previous post. People sometimes don’t say what they mean, mean what they say – and their actions most certainly don’t match their words. Please don’t be that person.

So, as I sit here today, I just pray for the strength to keep going. Taking that a step further – I also pray that I continue to WANT to keep going. My fear, if I’m being honest, is that the voice of depression and grief that clouds my thoughts will grow louder than that of hope.

So, for better or for worse, that’s where I am today. Here. Breathing. With my heart still beating. Yes, there’s life yet to live.

When Pain Hurts Deeply, Tears Speak

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Tears.

Some would say they’re cleansing. Others would say they sting, while others feel they’re a form of expression of the things we struggle with and have no real way of expressing. There are also happy tears. This is not about those right now.

If the truth is known, my thoughts and personal experience encompass all these things.

To be honest, I have had a mixture of these tears streaming down my face this morning, and across the lines of history. My tears are born from pain, but also out of empathy. You see, pain seems to be a universal language that all understand.

Case in point. My heart sank, just broke with news of a friend hurting over the loss of someone they hold very dear. Their pain is tangible, and I can relate to it through my own experiences. My heart hurts, and tears express that pain in a way I can’t with words.

I guess the bigger lesson here is that everyone hurts. Everyone has struggles. Every person alive knows what pain is. It may not be your pain, but it is theirs, and ur hurts still the same.

Pain manifests itself through tears sometimes. We need to recognize that, sit back, and listen to the message that our tears are trying to communicate. Don’t be so quick to wipe away your tears. There can be strength in allowing them to flow. Sometimes, you allow nothing, as they also seem to have a mind of their own. Just ride the wave, and pray it doesn’t take you under.

Right now, my tears have stopped. For the moment. I must have heard the message. My particular message in this moment is that it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to feel pain. Just feel. Allow yourself to not be okay when that’s your reality.

Also, hurt when others hurt. Even when you hurt deeply, there is a level of unspoken comfort when you don’t sit alone in your pain. Be a friend in a way that isn’t self centered, and heart what you’re friends tears are saying too.

Don’t be afraid of tears – for they are valuable. They speak the language you’re unable to express without them. They serve a purpose. They know the pain, and they know how to release it. Let the tears flow when they need to. It’s hard, but worth it.

Please Mean What You Say

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I will start by apologizing ahead of time for the selfish nature this post is about to take on. Also, for the rambling, jumbled thoughts about to jump from my brain to this page.

I’m tired of believing that people mean what they say. I’m tired of expecting people to speak reality just because I do. For the love of God, people, just be real.

To the eighteen (yes, 18) people I messaged last night, I want to say thank you to the exactly NONE of you that responded. To the three people, in that moment, that reached out to me via message without my having messaged you first – know that I’m sincerely grateful.

I’ve just come to realize that people don’t often mean when they say “message me any time – day or night – and I’ll be there to talk or just listen” and they may mean it in that moment, but the proof is in the pudding. I messaged you. You slept. That’s actually okay. It just helps me recognize reality. A reality that sometimes bites.

To those I know would have answered that I never actually messaged, I’m sorry. I couldn’t. Not after so many other attempts tried and failed. See, I don’t always hurt and feel pain as deeply as last night. So, part of this is simply me figuring things out. Which also kinda sucks.

You see, last night, I couldn’t see beyond the pain. I needed a friend. I needed a hug. I needed to just be. The tears were very real, freely flowing, and exhausting. Crying myself to sleep hurts. Thankfully, I don’t experience this often. However, when I do, I’m learning that well intentioned people that have no follow through just add to the pain instead of being the voice of hope and love I was evidently so desperately seeking.

So, to those who tell me to contact you when I need it – pardon me if I laugh. Or if I cry. I know you won’t mean to, but you’ll teach me a lesson that will become a reality that I wish I didn’t know. That, simply, is that I’m not important to you on the way you say, and you really won’t be there in those moments. It seems that if I commit that to memory, it’ll hurt worse initially – but I’ll be better off.

To those wondering if I’m okay – I’m not. To those who read this and have the urge to reach out – don’t. Well, you can – but be willing to talk. Be willing to not walk away because you don’t have the words. Tell me that. Offer to just sit with me in the pain. That’s where healing even has a chance at beginning. But, do feel free to pray for me, if that’s your thing. You can even tell me you’re praying for me. Just be prepared for whatever my response is.

To the handful of you who you KNOW this doesn’t apply to you – please don’t feel the need to just say something for the sake of saying words. Please don’t do that. I know there are those of you who love me for me. You don’t have to say it. I already know. Thank you for that.

To those of you who suddenly feel bad, I’m sorry. Just hear my words and consider your own words. You be you. But please let your words be true.

To those who will undoubtedly remind me that it’ll all be okay, that I have reasons to live, and that other people need me. I get that. I already know this too. I’ve actually been encouraged to make a list – of all the reasons I have to live, and all the things I find value in. I’ve done that. I look at it. I’ll continue to do so.

Oh there’s another group of you I’d also like to address. Those of you also knee deep in your own pain. Why can’t we hurt together? For those of you that my daughter dying IS the reason for your pain, and talking to you only causes more pain – all I can say is I’m sorry. I wish that weren’t the case, and my heart breaks because it is that way. I’m not asking you to change that – but only to realize that hurts so much. To think I’m at fault for causing you pain. When I reach out and ask if you’re okay, I legitimately am concerned. I want to do life with you. I just wish that it didn’t cause you pain. Maybe one day it won’t. I hope that one day comes.

To everyone reading who may have zero clue how to act, react, or respond – that’s okay. Thanks for just hearing my heart here. Thanks for listening as I give my heart a voice. That voice may be happy and smiling one day, while broken and shaky another. Thank you for allowing that to simply be.

Dear Christian Mom Who Walks Away From Gay Son

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The following is a letter I wrote to a friends mom after she opted to walk way and cease contact with her gay son if any contact revolved around his significant other. This was what I felt very strongly urged to share with her. If you would like to read what he and his fiance are walking through with this, check outPart 1 which was followed by Part 2 and this will shine light on why I wrote the things I did.

Dear ( mom) ,

I wanted to take a moment to share a couple of thoughts with you about ( your son ) and ( his fiance ). Before you write me off and stop listening to anything I have to say, I ask you to please hear my words.

I understand that your faith requires you to take a step back and not having anything to do with him or his living another man. Or at least, from the outsider looking in, that’s my take on the situation. Before I go on, I want you to know I don’t judge you, or put you in a category of an uncaring mother. Instead, I see you as a mom who cares deeply.

I will share my own why behind my words, and why I felt so strongly the urge to connect and write to you.

But first, I’d like to pose a question to you. Is the faith you cling to really more important to you than your son? I’m not actually saying you’re consciously making that decision – but, in reality, you are. This is the part that I’d like to challenge. Without knowing the specifics of the faith you hold dear, I’d like to just say that the God I know, love and serve is a God of love. Let that sink in. He loves. He loves me, you, you’re son, his fiance, and all the other heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, or whatever sexual orientation the person identifies with. Note the theme is love. He loves us all – exactly where we are, with whomever we also love.

I want to take a moment to stop and remind you – I’m not trying to change your mind, or to judge your decisions. Instead, I’d like to offer a vantage point different from your own.

Let me pose another question to you. If your son was gone tomorrow, would you miss him? Taking that a step further, would you have any regrets in walking away from him and the love he still freely shares with you? I’m just asking this to make you think. If you have even a doubt about any of these questions, I’d urge you to step outside of your comfort zone and ensure your son knows you love him. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to fully grasp or even like at all that he loves his fiance , and intends a beautiful love filled life with him. You don’t even have to tell either of them that you are okay with their actions. The only thing I hope you can find in yourself to do is to give love a chance. This “tough love” thing will only drive a wedge deeper, and you will not have a relationship based on love – or even a relationship at all. Your son loves you. He reaches out. He doesn’t ask that you agree with his being gay, but rather that you love him. For who he is, and the amazing individual God created him to be – without regard to who he loves.

If I sound passionate, it’s because I am. For multiple reasons. I’ll explain.

First, I am the mother of four children. Two boys, two girls. Two residing with me here physically, and two in Heaven. I lost a child during pregnancy, and just this past February, watched as my 7 y/o daughter took her final breath this side of Heaven after a three year fight with brain cancer. I tell you all that simply to say that life throws us curveballs, and – as a mother alone – I understand the need and desire to walk by and in faith. The need to protect our children. I’ve also come to challenge my own thoughts and beliefs – and I believe that’s made them stronger. I’ve learned perspective, and how to prioritize things in my life.

I’ve also come to the realization that loving someone doesn’t equal agreeing with the way they live their life. This leads me to my final point.

*******adding this to simply let anyone reading know that I discussed this fully with my child, and he’s okay with my sharing it. His heart hurt when I explained the story, and why I was writing a letter to my friends mom. His hope is that people can see love as a way of communication instead of hatred and anger. *******

I have a open line of communication with my children as well. This doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else. Instead, it makes me available. But, as such, I recently had a conversation I didn’t think I was prepared for. My teenage son reveals that he is gay – or, at a minimum, bisexual. Upon hearing these words, I expressed love to him. I told him how proud I was that he trusted me with this deeply personal information. While it wasn’t the love I saw him embracing, the fact that he could be honest with me was a blessing more than you could imagine. I continued by telling him that I’d love him, no matter what sexual orientation he identifies with. When approached with his concern of the church (or even me) wanting to “pray the gay away” my heart broke. As a Christ follower, my goal is to love like Jesus loves. In that moment, I felt a need to apologize on behalf of Jesus Himself for all the people who spew hatred in His name. He calls us to have and walk in a reckless love. This is a love, even in the face of something not seemingly worthy.

In challenging my own beliefs, I came to realize that Jesus died a brutal death because of love. He loves us enough to take on the sins of the world because He loves all of us. He died this brutal death do we didn’t have to. He loves us in a way that promotes life. Ultimately, His grace is freely given to anyone who chooses to accept it. We don’t deserve it – but it’s freely given.

I’ll conclude by reminding you that I don’t judge you for essentially walking away because you can’t fathom loving a person who loves someone of the same sex. I just wanted to share because you don’t have to love what they do to actually love them. I identify as a Christ follower. As such, I am to be the hands and feet of Jesus to ALL people – not just the ones I agree with. So, my only challenge to you really is will you join me in loving people as Jesus loves? That’s all I’m asking you to consider.

Thank you for taking the time to read, and I’d be honored if you’d share your thoughts in reply. Much love and many hugs to you. You, also, are loved – exactly where you are.

Sincerely,

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Forgiveness And Healing – Even After Rape

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First, I will start by simply mentioning that this is part two of a two part blog post, centering around rape – and even forgiveness that is possible. I recognize that this is an incredibly sensitive topic, and you may not feel comfortable reading further. No harm in this.

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To everyone reading these words, know this – forgiveness is possible after something as horrible as rape. However, before I go any further, I want you to know that just because I was able to come to a point (years later) that I was able to forgive – I do not expect you to be in that same place — and that’s okay. My prayer for you is that you find peace, whatever you are. If you’re tormented, having nightmares, thinking about ending your life to escape the pain – know that you aren’t alone. However, PLEASE DON’T! Your life matters, and what was done to you does NOT define who you are. Or may have been able to sculpt parts of your life – but it doesn’t have to maintain that hold on your heart.

Recently, I was listening to a message from a pastor (Craig Groeschel – sorry, Craig, if I butchered your name) of a church I’ve never been to. It was a message online. This topic was about forgiveness. He had a little or graph and talked about when we forgive people – it’s not for their sake, it’s for ours. The age old saying that mentions “when you forgive a person, the prisoner it sets free is you” rings so true. In this message, Craig also mentioned taking forgiveness a step further and pardoning people. To recognize that they don’t deserve our forgiveness, and they can’t realistically repay the things they’ve stolen.  That wasn’t all there was to the message – but that was the main part(s) that stuck out and grabbed my heart.

Later that evening, I continued the thought process a lot. The very next day,  I made the conscious decision to write this. A crazy thing happened. I actually also began to pray for these people – that, somehow they’d come to know Him.

Did I send these letters? Nope. Not a chance. Not yet. Plus, I don’t actually have an address to physically send TO anyway. All said, these were written for me. To allow my heart peace. To give my heart freedom.

This is what I had to say:

I’d like to bring up the inappropriate sexual contact. Okay, sugar coating this isn’t going to get us anywhere. You went from inappropriate touches, and advanced to sexual assault, attempted rape and rape. Sure, over time. It was wrong in every way. You stole things incapable of being replaced. You physically hurt me. You broke my heart. You took innocence. As much as you do not deserve it, I am choosing forgiveness. That’s the thing. You DON’T deserve it. But, I didn’t deserve forgiveness of my sins either, but Jesus died a death He didn’t deserve so my sins, and your sins would be washed away – as far as the east is from the west. So, I do not want fear, disgust or hatred to color my vision of you. I want to see you through eyes of grace. I mean it when I say words I never thought I’d be able to utter – you are forgiven. Though I recognize that you took far more than you could ever repay, I want you to forgive yourself for this too. You owe me nothing, and what you did will no longer have that hold on me. I choose to no longer give it power. I know you may not think you need forgiveness, or that you need to forgive yourself, but you should. You deserve joy in your life. You deserve to be loved. You need to know that you are, by virtue of being a human being, loved. Even when/if you’re seemingly undeserving. Walk in freedom today moving forward. I am. Be free to love and be loved. Understand that grace is a free gift, and I want you to have it. Please take care of yourself. Please love and cherish your family. Be a father. Know how much your words have power. Ask yourself if you want your child to only see pain and anger – or if you want him to know love. It’s a choice. It’s a decision. He’ll grow up before you know it. I don’t have to tell you that none of us are promised tomorrow. Love today. Start with yourself.

Okay, and then we have you. You hurt me. You learned from him how to do it. How to essentially hurt me. You learned how to rob my innocence. You knew how to cause fear and self hatred in that way. You should have been able to be trusted. You violated all levels of trust. To feel what you forced me to feel isn’t right. With what you, did you could never repay me. It isn’t realistic to think there is or ever can be justification for sexual trauma or rape. In any form. You took things from me that can never be returned. I am tired of holding onto the hatred, hurt and anger. It’s not fair, and I’m done. I don’t allow this to maintain it’s grasp on my heart. Even though you did terrible wrongs, more than once, I want you to hear the words “you are forgiven” and know that they are yours. Let them free you, as they are freeing me. No, I am not the same person I once was, but I am stronger now. With God’s help, I am able to see you through eyes of grace. Grace, backed with love. You are also loved. I want you to know that God loves you, and wants you to come to Him. Just as you are. Allow your past to remain there. Allow forgiveness to permeate your heart. You don’t deserve it, but not one of us do. I truly hope you cry out to Him and allow Him to give you the same grace, love and hope. You are God’s creation, and thus beautiful. Smile. Know that you are forgiven. I am free of the hold this had on me. I want you to be too.

This was difficult to write in so many ways. However, the freedom I’ve found and the grace and love I truly feel in this moment is like nothing else I can put into words. I genuinely feel the call to prayer for these individuals. I want them to know the freely given grace and love that I know. Though they once caused unbearable pain – I have decided today to not allow that to maintain any form of control in my heart. They are forgiven. Not only forgiven, they are pardoned. They are free. I am free. Blessed by grace, covered with love and filled with hope.

Forgiveness After Rape – Is It Possible?

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As the title suggests, I am going to be talking about rape, self harm and depression in this post. I understand if this is a sensitive subject for you and you can’t read it.

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Before I go any further, I have to say this. If you are in my family, and feel betrayed because you didn’t know – I’m sorry. Not all that many people did – for what I thought were valid reasons. As such, please don’t pry to find out more or specifics I’m not sharing at this time. You won’t know or guess, and that’s intentional at this point.

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As you can imagine, it takes every ounce of energy I have to address this topic. Not in a way where I relive the trauma, but in a way that something hiding is coming to light. You see, it’s far easier to live in shadows of anonymity. I was going to guest post about this on another blog, but I decided to acknowledge what happened and allow there to be power in my words – for my story to be told. Not just told anonymously – but by me.

I will just stop finding words to say it. I have experienced sexual trauma, including rape. Sigh. Those words are scary. But, what I need to hear – and if this is something you need to hear, then listen up – this is not a dirty little secret.

The fact that you were raped doesn’t make you suddenly become damaged goods. It makes you a human being who was hurt. A human being with – no matter your age – an innocence stolen.

Yes, something was taken from me that is impossible to get back. Feelings of security were replaced with fear and anger – with a brokenness unlike anything I had ever understood – let alone experienced. I began a road that led to self harm and depression. I was that person who loved life – and all it has to offer. Turns out, not all it has to offer. I retreated inside myself, and struggled to let others in.

Getting hurt was not on my list of things to do. It didn’t have to be for the experience to repeat itself. They took lessons, it would seem, and reconstructed a way in. Trust was broken, and so was I. At a time I was finally starting to feel almost safe again, that dream became a nightmare, and I felt as if I was shattered – but beyond repair. I almost felt as if there was nothing more to live for. I couldn’t protect myself. I felt doomed to a life that included nothing but heartache and pain. Humility and shame.

That went on for a while. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned to months that turned to linger and longer. So much time being unable to escape these things I had come to know as reality – my own personal hell on earth.

Then everything changed. A ray of hope. I learned that I could be valued for more than I was – and for more than had been done to me. I learned that there was more to life than betrayal. I learned that love wasn’t just a concept for other people – it was also for me. Until then, I had virtually no clue how much I ached to feel deserving of love. I firmly believe the desire to love others, and to be loved rests in each of us.

I will tell you this though. The first person to break through to my heart – helping me break down those guard walls – wasn’t a person at all. It was no less real though. I’m talking about God. Yes, He was always real, and I always knew (somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain) that He loved me, and desired me. He wanted all of me, with nothing held back. So those broken pieces – I began seeing them as puzzle pieces. Those delicate pieces were in His hands – in the hands of my Maker. He was putting together a beautiful puzzle – a masterpiece. Yes, I started trusting God to hold my heart, and to bring healing to some dark places. I started to have faith that not all people would stab me in the back while playing the part of a thief. The kind that steals the unseen, but nevertheless real things – hope, security, love, safety, innocence, etc. I could go on.

I was angry for a long time – and rightly so. I felt violated, and I had been. I felt like hope is a different future was a lost cause. It wasn’t. Through having an encounter with the God of all creation, this changed.

Little by little, I started seeing myself the way He sees me. Truth be told, seeing myself that way is still something I struggle with. I still look in the mirror and have to remind myself that I am a child of God, and loved and adored by Him.

In time, this recurring theme – forgiveness – kept coming up. Surely this is a sick and twisted joke right!?  I wasn’t expected to forgive this asshole was I? (pardon the word there, it’s what replaced any names for a long time.) They didn’t deserve to be forgiven. They deserved to pay for what they’d done. What he did was unforgivable – or at least that idea had been burned into my head. But there was conviction that came in time. I didn’t HAVE to forgive anyone – and no, they certainly didn’t deserve it. But – at some point – that all changed.

I began to pray, and (as cliché as this is about to sound) give it all to God. I mean it though. I decided to give Him all the broken pieces and trust that He’s capable of protectively handle with care. Healing was – much to my amazement – starting to happen. I’m not going to lie though. Forgiveness wasn’t on my radar for quite some time. With words, at a few different things, I may have said that I forgave them – but I didn’t fully. I reserved the right to be angry. I reserved the right to despise even the thought of their names. I might have seen them on a regular basis,  but that still didn’t include interacting or connecting outside of what was needed in that moment. So, my words uttered forgiveness – but that’s about the only part of me interested in that concept.

It actually wasn’t until recently that I became aware of this. That I actually realized that part of me may have forgiven, but the rest was still in shackles. Chained and bound by something beyond my control, and way outside of my reach. I was being held captive – in small and large ways – by these acts. Yes, my past had indeed defined the person was – who I had become.

But it didn’t have to. For the sake of time, and all of our collective sanity, I will save the rest of this transition and how it took shape in my heart for the next post. I will share how I was able to learn and truly walk in something different – something other than all the heartbreak and pain that defined me for a considerable amount of time.

Before I go, I simply must share a real life example that happened in between when I started this until now it’s completion. I had a function to attend. As I was making small talk with a few in attendance, something of concern caught my eye. I saw some dear friends of mine that were visibly upset – both with tears freely flowing. Something had happened, and I didn’t want to be nosey – but wanted to let them know that – no matter what, I see their tears, hear their cries, and that they weren’t alone. In a split second, my friends daughter came over and just stood in my embrace. After a moment, and just holding her – I asked what was wrong. After a pause and an attempt to not lose it, she bravely told me that her moms attacker was there. Being unaware of all the details, I went to comfort and spend a little time with her mom also.

*** I will stop to say this — I have spoken directly with them, and have been given the go ahead to share briefly their story. It is painful, but it is real. ****

It was at this point that the rest of the story unfolded with such heartbreaking and painful details. The truth of the matter is that mom was violently raped (and had to go via ambulance, as a result) and her precious daughter was forced to watch in terror. This asshole (no, I don’t generally use this term, but I am giving myself a pass because honestly it doesn’t even begin to describe him) came to this same function, and made it a point to ensure his presence was known to them. You see, our justice system failed in this case. He wasn’t convicted of her rape – or the (at least) two other rapes he had part in. So, this man is free while the fear was brought right back to the surface in an instant.

At another point during the function, he was walking directly in our direction. As he approached, their fear was visible. He was visibly pleased. I took the time to (obviously safely) place myself in between them and him. I would not allow mom or her daughter to make eye contact with a monster trying to continue to enslave them in this bondage – the fear that they currently live with and have nightmares about. So any further damage in that moment was thwarted.

But, friends – the damage has been done long before. The fear was no joke.

I’m telling you – this is what rape does. It enables a person to maintain control of a person – not just during the physical act of forced non consensual intercourse (yes, that’s one definition of rape) but also for a long, long time to come. That fear and anxiety takes control and runs with it.

What I will share in my next post will be about how I got to where I am today, what that looks like, and the thought process that got me there.

If this tells your story, I want you to know so many things. But the most important is knowing that you aren’t what happened to you, and you and you absolutely are not alone. You do not have to feel such pain alone. If you would like, I’d be honored to listen to your story. You’ll find out that I can’t do anything to erase history, or even to make it better. But, you’ll also learn that there is freedom in sharing your story. There is healing mixed into that freedom – and control and power taken away from your attacker when you can face what happened (not in a way of re-living it, just in the way that shares with someone else that wouldn’t judge, would empathize and let you know it’s okay to hurt) and just know its okay to feel how you feel. You can be okay again. So, again, if this is you or anyone you know, understand – I’d be honored to stand by your side and heart your story. If you feel like it, you can share or comment in the comments before. If this doesn’t feel comfortable (and God knows I understand that one) then please feel free to reach out via the contact me button. I am here.

Tired Of Wearing Masks

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See that!? It’s symbolic of masks most people put on every – single – day. Well, I speak for no one other than myself – but I can honestly say that I’m sick and tired of it.

Let me explain.

Reality now tells me that people want transparency. People need authenticity and, at times, even vulnerability. It’s common knowledge that those things aren’t always easy – but they ARE worth it.

See, I’m simply tired of needing to put on a strange variety of masks. I honestly don’t have the time or energy to figure out what I’m supposed to feel, look like, or act like around whatever company I’m with. I have recently concluded that people will either like me, or they won’t. (No big revelation there.) That said, I’ve also decided that I want people to know me for ME – not the me they envision I should be.

I want to know others, and be known. I want to love people, and allow myself to also be loved. I want to be valued, you see, for me. For what I am. Not for what I can do, or for who I know.

It is absolute truth that my heart, though healing, is also shattered – and prone to break at times. It is during these times that I’ve learned to simply be me. No more facade. No more masks. I know with this sorry if “take it (me) or leave it” attitude, many may walk away. If that’s the case, know that it’s okay. I need real people to connect with. I need people who are present and accounted for. I need community, and so do you.

Let’s address you.

You wear masks you (maybe even secretly) that you wish you could take off – but you don’t I will spare you the awkwardness of asking you why. I know why. Because I AM you. So I can tell you this.

You may have grown comfortable with a mask. The longer you wear a mask, the longer you stay to mold to it. At some point, it’ll become difficult to tell the difference in the mask and your true identity.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The longer you keep up a facade, the longer it will try to cup away at and ultimately destroy the real you.

I challenge you THIS DAY. Take off your masks. Let down your facade. Stop pretending to be something you’re not. Stop seeking the temporary strength you might feel from covering up the beauty that is the real you.

You be you! You’re the very best person to tell YOUR story. Don’t tell their story. Plow your own way through – and don’t be afraid to tell your story – even the painful parts.

What you will find as you take off the mask is maybe some brokenness. Maybe some cracks that need mending. Don’t be afraid of those places. Love them. Be gentle with them. See their value, and give them a voice. You will find yourself surprised at the sheer beauty you’ll find hiding – hiding behind that mask.

Will you do this for yourself? But, is also like to ask – will you also do it for me? You see, I need you, and you need me. We can sit together in this pain – and we can be broken together.