The Weight of Worthy

I didn’t realize how badly I needed to hear the words, “You are worthy,” until I found them in my inbox on a Thursday afternoon. Just a random Thursday afternoon, in the midst of chaos and confusion and stumbling to figure out how exactly I was going to make it through this valley of death’s shadow.

This wasn’t the first email I had received from this reader. It was, in fact, the second—her response to my response to the email where she said she was so grateful that my words had traveled across the internet to find her.

Apparently, without my knowledge, a guest post I had written three years earlier had been recycled into an e-devotional that made its way into this girl’s inbox. And then, carrying with it the sting of conviction, it found its way into mine. Because of course I had to look it up to figure out what exactly this girl was thanking me for. In a way, I wished I had simply accepted her thanks and let it go, because the post I found when I went digging sang the bittersweet tune of loss.

I had lost the girl who wrote Beyond Waiting. The girl who determined to redefine the purpose of singleness and live the journey of once upon a time was long gone and I did not know how to recover her.

I don’t know why it is easy for me to be honest in the inboxes of strangers—I can’t say what it is about a screen with a cursor blinking against a backdrop of white that feels so safe—but I wrote this girl a most truthful reflection of who I was then versus who I am now. I wrote her of lostness. Of the valley of the shadow. Of how far I had fallen from the pedestal I once fancied myself to stand upon.

And she responded—like an angel in my inbox—to tell me I was worthy.

“God’s grace is sufficient for us,” she quoted, in the joyful exuberance of one who has been redeemed. “Not just some of us, not just sometimes. For every person in everything!”

And then she hit me with this truth-bomb: “I can sense you don’t feel worthy of the message you once wrote. I want you to know that that is not true. God makes us worthy. In his eyes every one of his children is worthy. You are worthy.”

Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.

It’s not a word I would choose to ascribe to myself. Not because I struggled with a low self-esteem or self-loathing, but because it seemed such a lofty title. Though I’ve long said I have the gift of vanity, calling myself worthy seemed a bit too much, even by my standards.

And yet, here the words settled like a cloak upon my shoulders.

Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.

I am undeserving; God chose me anyway. I guess that makes me worthy.

Because if that is all it takes for something to have worth—just for someone to scoop it up and deem it valuable—then I am worthy indeed.

There’s me in the mud, thick in the grime of unrepentance and God still chooses to say, “That one. Yes, that little mess right there has immeasurable worth. More than the sparrows. More than the lilies. I choose that one to wrap in the weight of My love. She’s worthy. Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.”

That thought clung to me so tightly—moved me so deeply—I cried real tears to the tune of “Would You Still Love Me the Same” on my way home from work that night:

“If I showed You my flaws, if I couldn’t be strong, tell me honestly, would You still love me the same?”

“Yes,” God replied. “A thousand times, yes. I choose you again and again. Every minute. Every day. You are worthy. Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.”

Though I don’t always feel it—though I certainly do not understand how such depths of grace could exist—I wrap the weight of that word around me like a blanket, like a shield.

Worthy. Worthy. Worthy.

I am undeserving; God chose me anyway.

I guess that makes me worthy.

Jesus and I Walk Into a Bar…

It wasn’t what I had in mind when I told God I needed to get out more, but the invitation was so timely (and more importantly, so persistent) that I couldn’t imagine it to be anything but God saying, “Okay, here’s your chance.”

“Call me when you get off work,” he said. And because I’ve grown to love this man via stolen snippets of conversations in bathroom doorways, I found myself standing at a gas station at eleven o’clock at night, punching his number into my phone along with the words, “Do you still want my boring company?”

Next thing I know, he and his buddy are pulling into the parking lot, telling me to climb into the car. (This is what my mother has since referred to as “not very smart,” but I had weighed my options and decided—however illogically—that there was simply no other choice, so into the car I went.)

Somehow, I’m the one who is expected to make plans, only I’m terribly bad at making plans in general. I am especially bad at making plans when it comes to having to think of something to do in town in the middle of the night, since I’m normally at home reading books at that time.

This is when they find out I don’t drink. There is somewhat of an uproar from the backseat as my friend is trying to wrap his alcohol-hazed mind around the fact that I have never in my twenty-four years of life had an alcoholic beverage. Never as in… never.

“Here’s what I want to know,” he said. “If you don’t drink, why in the world did you think it was a good idea to hang out with us?”

I couldn’t very well tell him about the conversation that had taken place between me and Jesus that afternoon (the one about how I never actually do anything and how I really should be more intentional about spending time with other human beings), so instead I reminded him that technically he invited me, almost to the point of begging. This was his idea and I was just along for the ride.

So they decided to initiate me into their world. And that is how I ended up in bar with two guys I barely know in the middle of the night. (Again with the motherly admonitions of “really bad idea.” I know, I know, but God dumped these guys into my life and I was just trying to figure out what to do with them.)

We’re nodding our heads to the beat of “Another One Bites the Dust,” when my friend surmises that I probably want to leave. At this point—dare I say it?—I am immensely enjoying myself and I will leave whenever they are ready, but they don’t need to fuss over me. However, they did fuss over me, probably because I was somewhat of a contradiction and quite obviously out of place in this bar.

“So, you don’t want another drink…” (Yes, I did let him buy me my first drink, mostly because his brain was impossibly close to exploding over the fact that I had never—wait, really, never?—drank alcohol.) “…but you don’t want to leave?”

That pretty much summed it up. So we went out for air (and by air I mean, my friend pulled out a cigarette while I tried my best not to breathe too deeply of the secondhand smoke).

“I don’t get it,” he said. “Why are you here?”

“Because you begged me,” I playfully reminded him for the thirteenth time.

He shakes his head, unamused. “I just feel like this is a bad kind of different for you. Isn’t it?”

He is looking at me like he is daring me to disagree. Like he is half-expecting me to pull out my soapbox right there on the street corner and start preaching hellfire and damnation. And I think about how it would be a great place for a soapbox. I can imagine a white-haired, scowling-faced man with a sign standing right under that street light, declaring that the entire establishment and everyone in it was going to hell, probably myself included.

Me, I don’t have a soapbox. I just have a heart full of love for the man that makes me laugh with his endless supply of jokes about wheatberry bread.

So the question. Is this a bad kind of different? Who gets to determine which kind of different is good and bad? While it’s not a lifestyle I would choose for myself—not one that would appeal to me on the daily—it is his lifestyle, and that is inherently what he is asking me about. What do I think of his lifestyle? What do I think of him?

A bad kind of different, isn’t it?

I leaned against the other side of the pole where he stood and did what Jesus would do in my situation. I answered with a question.

“I came, didn’t I?”

It’s the kind of question that can pass as an answer because he knows I am aware of his lifestyle. I knew exactly what I was getting into, and I chose to come anyway.

His eyes clouded in confusion. “Yeah. Yeah, you did.”

I’ve spent the last three weeks mulling this experience over in my mind, trying to figure out how to tell this story in such a way that I can tie it up with a pretty little bow. But the truth of the matter is that life is messy, and sometimes the threads of our stories don’t weave together as perfectly as we might hope. Just like it’s true that sometimes we find God in bars more profoundly than we do in church services.

My life has been loud lately. Loud, and messy, and confusing. And when I sat down this morning to try to sort through some of the messes, I found myself disgusted with some of the things I uncovered. I sat over my Bible, picking out promises of hope in the midst of it all, and couldn’t help shaking my head. Because I don’t get it.

“Why are You here?” I found myself asking. “Why do You bother picking me up when You know I’m going right back down, probably tomorrow?”

And I heard God’s answer, soft and smiling. “I came, didn’t I?”

Yeah. Yeah, You did.

And I’m glad He comes. And I’m glad He stays. And I’m glad He is not the kind of god who stands on soapboxes and tells me how wrong I am. I’m glad He braves the messes where I would choose to walk away. And I may be right back in the thick of it by tomorrow, but I know I won’t be alone.

And that means something. No, that means everything.

Father Abraham

Since I was about thirteen years old, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Abraham of the Bible. That was the year my dad moved us out of the church I had grown up in, having been called “like Abraham, not knowing where he was going.” At first, I hated the patriarch if only for being the Biblical justification for the cause of my teenage angst.

But let’s face it, there are so many other reasons to hate Abraham. Who can forget that whole fiasco where he claimed his wife was his sister, thus bringing undeserved curses upon Pharaoh’s house? Coward. And what about when he slept with his servant because he had not produced an heir in the bajillion years he had been on earth? Creep. And if that wasn’t bad enough in its own right, he ended up treating the servant and the son she bore him like dirt. Jerk.

But there are a million reasons to love Abraham, as well. Like the way he steps up to the plate and rescues his idiot nephew from invading armies. And the way he bargains with God for the redemption of Sodom. Even though he lost that wager, it spoke volumes for the compassion in his heart. And of course, there is the famous story of that trek up Mt. Moriah when Abraham obediently prepared for the ultimate sacrifice, thus proving his devotion to the God who selected him to be the father of the Jewish faith.

Abraham has a crazy story of ups and downs, high points and low points, great triumph and great tragedy.

A story like mine.

Let’s be honest, it is hard to judge Abraham for his foolish mistakes when I make them just as often. (So perhaps I will not make a mistake so monumental that it causes war between nations for thousands of years to come, but if Abraham had known in advance the consequences of his actions, you can be certain he would not have taken them.)


So here is Abraham—a story I have returned to a thousand times. Abraham, who was called by God to leave his country, his people, and his father’s house to go to the land God would show him. Abraham, who believed a promise that would take years, decades, even centuries to come to fruition. Abraham, who followed God through the wilderness, trusting it would be the inheritance of the children who had not yet been born to him.

What I’ve realized through Abraham’s journey of lost and found, of victory and setbacks, is this: The people God calls do not find themselves magically at the finish line. More often than not, they find themselves wandering through the wilderness for years at a time.

Even Jesus had his wilderness season. He wandered in the desert for forty days. What was He doing there? It’s hard to tell. Obviously the God of the universe did not have to go on a journey to “find Himself” or His calling. He had the entirety of His human life mapped out already. So why would He take to wandering?

Maybe He just wanted to let us know the wilderness is an essential part of our stories. Maybe He wanted to remind us that He meets us in our deserts like He cannot on our mountaintops because we find Him only when we are not so distracted by the view.

God calls us all, like Abraham, to follow Him. Not knowing where we are going and clinging to a promise that seems tenuous at best, we obey. We stumble, we fall, we get back up and wipe the blood and dirt from our knees. And we continue on this journey of lostness and foundness,  walking through the wilderness hand-in-hand with the Creator.


a voice calls us out

Learning to Be All the Things

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve taken a break from Beyond Waiting for a season. I had been pursuing other things for a while, and this just seemed to be taking up more time I didn’t feel I had to spend. And, to be honest, there was always The Fear.

The Fear has been there since the idea for Beyond Waiting first sprouted in my mind. The Fear that nonfiction was out of my comfort zone. The Fear that my voice would just be adding to the noise (because there is a lot of noise when it comes to singleness and praying God will bring the right man along soon). The Fear of branding.

That was one thing I had learned about the publishing industry. You had to be branded, like cattle, which sounds like a painful and demeaning exercise to me. I was scared of it anyway—to be crammed so precisely inside a box and confined to writing in a way my readers would expect. I had bigger dreams than that. I read all the things and I wanted to write all the things.

Except this thing. Because if there was one thing I knew for certain, even at eighteen years old, it was that I did not want to be branded as the Singleness Guru.

Still, in obedience—often begrudging obedience—I wrote the book, published it through ANM Press, and left God to do the rest. That was part of the deal. I would write it and He would market it, and I wouldn’t have to worry my pretty little head about what became of Beyond Waiting.

I moved on with my life, trying to leave that book in the past as much as conviction would deem possible. I started writing what I always wanted to write. It was only fair, I reasoned.

In writing fiction, I’ve managed to push everything else aside. I told myself my moments were better sent ironing the wrinkles out of this novel I’ve created. I blamed Time. I blamed Priorities and Calling and a handful of fictional characters who pop into my thoughts at any given moment.

But I never blamed The Fear. And I certainly never blamed Resentment.

Yes, in many ways, I resent writing Beyond Waiting. I resent that this is the work that declared me “published.” I resent that I’m going to have to try explaining it to a secular publisher some day. I resent that it might make the marketing people want to publish me under a pen name. You guys had better believe I’ve spent the last month praying I’m married or at least engaged before my first novel comes out… just in case I need an alternate name that is, in fact, my own.

That’s how much I resent Beyond Waiting.

But this morning… This morning I got online and I thought to myself, “I really should check the Beyond Waiting email. It probably has tons of junk that needs cleaned out.”

And it did. I deleted no fewer than forty-three emails. But there were also a rare couple of gems in there. Two people had popped in to tell me how they had just become acquainted with my words.

I turned my rolling eyes heavenward. “You would work like that. You would wait until I have nothing new to say. You would introduce someone to an article I wrote four years ago and then have her tell me it was still fresh and relevant to her today.”

God laughed, because sometimes He’s a little too pleased with His clever ways. But then He said something serious, a hint of that smile still tugging at His lips. “Rebekah, you try so hard to compartmentalize your life. I want you to be all the things.”

I know there’s a verse in 1 Corinthians about being all things to all people, but I thought that was about meeting people where they are at. So here I am, arguing with God about the proper interpretation of that verse—okay, whatever, God, just change the meaning as You see fit—and finally concluding with: “I’m not big enough!”

“But I AM.”

I AM. It’s a name, it’s a statement, it’s a fragment for crying out loud. I AM… what? What exactly are You? God’s the only person I know who can perfectly sum Himself up without even bothering to finish that sentence.


You are. You are, You are, You are.

And because He is, I have far more power than I ever gave myself credit for. But then, I don’t deserve the credit anyway.

Lately, I’ve been writing for myself. I mean, I hope one day the words I’ve been painstakingly crafting will be shared with the world, but for the moment, they’re mine alone. And I’ve gotten pretty selfish in my unsharing.

But if there’s one thing I agree with God on this morning, it’s that He didn’t give me words so I could lock them away. As this stunning article I read just yesterday informed me, “Nothing beautiful belongs behind barbs.”

So I’ll be back, dear ones, with the words I’ve been so hesitant to say. And Katie and Rebekah, I fully intend to respond to your emails personally, because they are beautiful, and you are beautiful, and you’ve reminded me of  the reason I’m on this earth.

I’m truly and finally thankful for this space and the people who make it worth coming home to. See you soon, lovelies.

Exactly Where You Want Me

The other night at Bible study, someone got brave enough to confess she was “just done.” She was frustrated beyond the point of inviting God into her daily life and hadn’t read her Bible in months.

She shared that with us. In Bible study. And I thought back to the many Wednesday nights I’ve sat quietly in my chair while feeling much the same way.

Rebekah, Rebekah, let down your hair…

So I’m sitting there beside her, feeling my heart completely break. Like, I just wanted to wrap this girl up in my arms and say, “I know exactly what you’re feeling. I was there not so long ago, myself.”

Then I started thinking about what it took to work myself out of that funk, because obviously if I know the way out, I want to share it with her. I don’t think I realized exactly how it happened until I wracked my brain trying to find answers last night. And I hope to God He has an easier way out for my friend.

Last fall, I was struggling pretty hard. The way life was meant to look in my head and the way it was panning out in reality didn’t exactly match up. I was in transition, and if you asked me, the transition was lasting way too long. I needed guidance, I needed direction, and, mostly, I needed the assurance that the place God had brought me to wasn’t the place He had intended for me all along. Because I was scared to death God had me exactly where He wanted me and I would just have to suck it up and get on with life according to His plan.

Then there was The Guy.

I reconnected with an old friend and we started tossing around the idea of a lifetime together. Suddenly everything made sense. Suddenly my discontent fell away and this transition became bearable. I could stick it out for another year if I had forever to look forward to.

“Forever” lasted about three months. That’s how long it took me to wake up from my fantasies and realize this guy wasn’t actually the best thing for me (and I probably wasn’t the best thing for him). It didn’t make sense at first. When I walked away from this relationship with absolutely nothing, I didn’t understand what God was doing.

You see, my first relationship wrecked me. Instantly and completely. Beautifully and poetically. There’s the Rebekah from before her first date and the Rebekah from after she said goodbye for the last time, and the two are pretty incomparable. (To the friend who told me “None of this will matter in a year or two” …you were wrong, and I am thankful.)

So of course I assumed that this more recent relationship wasn’t meant for me at all. Maybe God had something He needed to do in my boyfriend’s life, and I was just the vessel He chose. Because, yes, sometimes I am that narrow-minded.

But because of the honesty that greeted me the other night, I’m seeing that once again, the Rebekah I was before the first date and the Rebekah I am now that all the ties have been severed are not the same. Maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as the first time. Maybe it didn’t grow me in grace and redefine my worldview to the same extent the other did, but it was just enough to pull me out of that prison I had built using misplaced expectations.

God had to give me everything I thought I wanted so He could show me just how wrong I had been.

And it was hard at first. I felt like I didn’t have anywhere to put my feet because the path upon which I had been walking had been ripped out from under me. I was treading water, unable to discern up from down. And then finally, finally, there was the calm.

I stopped being scared God had me exactly where He wanted me, and simply accepted that, yes, this is His plan for my present. When I finally stopped refusing to see that God had a purpose for me in this space, I was able to catch a glimpse of what that purpose might be.

And for the first time since I moved home last summer, I can say I’m truly happy here.

While I want an easier path for my friend, I’m willing to pray for whatever it takes. Because, though the journey may be hard, it is nothing compared to the emptiness of trying to make it on your own. And I have a feeling she, like me, is going to have to do it the hard way. Because she knows all the Sunday School answers, but when the heart has wandered, answers are never enough.

Sometimes we silly sheep have to wander off into the woods because it’s not enough to hear the Shepherd’s voice echoing through the valley. We want to be found. We want to be lifted. We want to be cradled in His arms and carried out of the dark so we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, yes, this is exactly where He wanted us all along.

The Sound of Diamonds – Review of a Dream

sound of diamondsYou may remember a few months back, I posted the cover reveal of an upcoming novel. Well, because Rachelle is so anxious to share her dream with the rest of the world, I was given an ARC (advanced reader copy) of The Sound of Diamonds and asked if I would review it. And because I will ever be a lifelong fan of watching a dream come true, I accepted.

After I accepted, I grew very, very nervous. I had to write a review, and God knows I don’t know how to write anything other than honest reviews. What if I hated it?

This was a legitimate concern, especially since The Sound of Diamonds is a giant leap outside the typical genres I read. I don’t do Christian fiction anymore, I’m only drawn to Historical stories on occasion, and I never, ever touch Romance.

So here I am, breaking all my own rules because the internet has blessed me with this tenuous connection to Rachelle Rea and God has blessed me with a love for her that is beyond all logical reason.

The Premise (in Rebekah’s Paraphrase):

There’s this girl named Gwyneth and she’s in a bit of trouble, but she doesn’t realize how much trouble she’s in until this guy, Dirk, shows up to save her. However, she hates Dirk because, as far as she’s convinced, the jerk killed her parents. So of course she doesn’t go willingly, and Dirk sort of has to abduct her, which is another crime altogether, so he’s doing a really sloppy job of clearing his soiled name. But, hey, whatever. He has an entire cross-country trip to convince her of his innocence… which should give him just enough time to fall in love along the way.

My Thoughts:

Rachelle wrote a book! And it’s being published!

That was seriously on the forefront of my mind the entire time, so it was impossibly hard to focus on reading/reviewing.

But, seriously, for all you readers out there… I was mostly impressed with how Rachelle handled all the aspects of faith in her debut novel. I find most Christian fiction to be a little preachy and cliché—like someone who wanted to preach a sermon decided it would be cute to dress it up as a story.

The Sound of Diamonds is definitely not a sermon, even though there were countless Biblical truths scattered throughout the plot. While the setting of the Iconoclastic Fury presented a perfect opportunity to debate the differences between the Catholic and the Protestant faith, Rachelle managed to do so without straying from the storyline. The author’s relationship with God resounds clear as diamonds, and the characters’ purposes are further fulfilled through their expression of faith.

My greatest dislike in the reading of this book can probably be summed up by the simple fact that it is a Romance. This was not a cute little story with a dash of romance in it; it was ultimately about Dirk and Gwyn falling in love.

Well, duh, you’re probably thinking. That’s what a Romance is.

And you would be right. That is what a Romance is, and that is precisely why I don’t read that genre. I don’t believe in love at first sight, and romantic clichés leave me rolling my eyes or fighting a gag reflex. (This fact surprises most people, especially the ones who know I live and breathe fairytales. Call me a contradiction, but it’s just the way I work.)

So, the love story was hard for me, as I prefer a little less mooning over each other and a lot more butt-kicking action.

But I will say, The Sound of Diamonds did have a touch of that fairytale magic that I live for. Not the pumpkins or witches or hundred-year-curses that can be summed up in a handful of pages, but the kind of magic where blind eyes are given sight and the rogue becomes the redeemed and good triumphs in the end. (Oops. Spoiler alert.)

Not bad, Rachelle. Not bad at all. Sorry that Dirk and Gwyn couldn’t quite win me over with their love story. Maybe they’ll have another shot at it in Book 2.

Rachelle Rea

Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college. You can find her online at

The Sound of Diamonds releases this very Monday—June 15th—so go check it out on Amazon.

The Villain in My Own Story

“Trusting in so much
That’s not worth trusting in
The person she’s now
Meets who she could’ve been.
There are two roads to travel
She chose the wrong one
Now there’s no going back
What’s done is done.”

The first time I read those words in Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely, they broke a more hopeful heart. A heart that believed in fresh new pages with every sunrise. Today, they still break my heart, but I don’t rage against the truth of them as surely as I did then.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

God, I don’t even know who I could have been. Can hardly remember who I was. And I am trying so very hard not to think of what I am today—the villain in my own story.

I come before You wielding my anger like knives, my discontent as katanas. But when I stand before You in all my glorious rage, You don’t reach for Your weapons. You make no move to defend Yourself against my deadly advances.

It’s like that scene from The Mask of Zorro when the teacher instructs the pupil to choose his weapon, and Alejandro spins around, sword in hand, to find De La Vega holding a spoon.

A spoon.

Just like Alejandro, my anger morphs into confusion.

I came here to wage war and You are extending a dinner invitation.

And I know what will happen should I choose to sit down. You’ll tell me how You know I chose the wrong path. You’ll tell me how long You’ve been waiting for me to come home. You’ll tell me it’s high time I stop Taylor Swifting my way through life, because the lyrics You’ve written fit me better than Taylor’s ever could.

You’ll tell me redemption is only a heartbeat away, should I choose to accept it.

That’s where this whole plan breaks down—in the accepting. Because I am tired of blindly accepting things. Tired of being the observer in my own story. Tired of being the duty-fulfiller and the girl who simply does what needs to be done.

I sense You smile at that confession. You’ve been waiting so very long for me to stop merely drifting through life. My rebellion is a spark that might make You proud if I would only learn to rebel against the proper things.

I’m a little misguided, a little bit lost. And I am far from ready to release this spark that has led me astray.

Anne Jackson was wrong. It’s not that there is no going back; it’s that it is so very hard to find the willpower to turn around when the desire is still rooted this deep.

I would ask You to rescue me, but that would make me too much of a damsel in distress. I’d rather find my way back on my own.

You can leave the light on, though. Maybe sprinkle the path with bread crumbs, so I can pretend I’m the big, strong girl who can navigate the woods on her own, even though I know You are there, waiting in the shadows, bringing me from lost to found.

But that’s my pride talking. That’s the part of me that wants to go on pretending I am strong enough without You. So if we are going to get this right, you should probably come out of the shadows and take me by the hand so we can walk this path together.

And when I feel like looking back over my shoulder, squeeze my hand a little tighter to remind me that You’re there. Leading me out of the woods. Into the light. Guiding me home.