Five Steps Behind

All my life, I’ve been the girl with a plan. By the age of eight, I already knew everything I wanted out of life. I used to feel sorry for people who didn’t feel that certainty early on—people who stand at their high school graduations with no answer to the question of what they plan to do with their lives.

Now I feel sorry for the people who do have an answer—the people who set out to do everything they’ve planned to do since they were eight years old only to find out it wasn’t what they wanted after all. The people who spend all their lives focused on the goal and miss the everyday miracles that take place around them.

I was that girl.

I am that girl.

And now, I’m finally learning not to be.

This year has been one of transition for me, and I had hoped it wouldn’t take the entirety of a year for me to find my purpose for this season of my life. But alas, December has come and I’m still hoping, still searching for direction.

Last night, I finally gave voice to my fear that this may be exactly where God wants me right now. Like, what if He actually took me seriously when I told Him I want to be a candle that shines alone in the dark? What if the whole time I’m tugging at my hair in frustration, God is sitting up there in heaven saying, “Sorry, sweetheart, but you asked for this”?

I feel like the rug has been ripped out from under my feet and I’m looking at the world from a whole new vantage point (on my back, on the floor). And while, it’s a painful thing, it’s also a surprisingly beautiful thing. Because in all the years I’ve been staring straight ahead, I’ve never noticed the intricacies of the ceiling pattern before.

Maybe God just wanted me to stop and marvel at the ceiling for a change.

I can hear Him now, whispering in my ear, “Little one, little one, why are you always five steps ahead when I’m lingering five steps behind?”

Over the past few years, I’ve talked a lot about embracing the moments and living the journey, but it’s not because I’m particularly good at that; it’s because it’s something I constantly struggle to do.

Last year was extremely hard for me. God stretched and challenged and broke me in ways I’d never been broken before. I guess you could say I was hoping this year would be easier. It was, but it wasn’t. Because, honestly, I don’t remember a thing.

I was too busy staring ahead, plodding forward, just trying to get on to the next big thing.

And I missed it.

I missed this year.

And I’m sorry it took me until December to finally notice the ceiling tiles.

So, while I’m not one for New Year resolutions, my goal for 2015 is simply to live it. To take this girl who walks too fast for automatic doors, and make her slow down and admire the simple things.

Because I’ve spent too much of my life trying to stay five steps ahead, and I’ve missed out on so many things.

From now on, I hope to be found five steps behind, lingering over the simple masterpieces of life.

Bring Me That Horizon

Four years ago, I was a bright-eyed, nineteen-year-old girl walking out of a writers conference with the word platform pounding in her brain. I still hate that word just as I hated it then, but at the time it sent me to the internet searching for a place to plant my feet and find my audience. And this is what came of it—beyondwaiting.com.

I don’t like to leave things unfinished, and at times that was the only thing pulling me back to this corner of the internet. I started something, so I couldn’t just leave it there with weeks stretching between the words. I had succeeded in finding an audience, and I owed it to them to keep writing.

So I wrote. I wrote and my skill grew, and now I cringe to look back on those earlier posts because I don’t know who wrote them, but I hope it wasn’t really me. Because the girl who wrote those posts had room for a lot of growth.

And I have grown. I’ve changed. My words have taken on a new voice, though my heart has thus far stayed mostly true to her original course.

The winds are shifting now. There are new horizons to pursue.

And maybe the path I am choosing to take seems a detour from the one I have so faithfully paved over these last four years, but, honestly, Beyond Waiting was the detour from everything I really wanted for myself.

Because I’ve known since I was fourteen years old and writing snippets of stories as school assignments that crafting worlds was what made me come alive. I’ve known since my mother first held up that notebook containing pieces of Elena’s story and told me, “Rebekah, this is really, really good,” that I was going to be a novelist.

If this blog has been silent of late, it’s because I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into the first installment of a Young Adult Fantasy series. I’m in the editing phase, trying to make the words sing before I attempt to ship them off to an agent who expressed interest in the idea.

I’ve never been so excited. I’ve never been so horrified. I’ve never had butterflies dance through my tummy as hard as they do when I think about releasing this story into the hands of someone who may or may not love it as much as I do.

I’m focusing all my time and effort on writing novels now because this is the one thing I really want for myself—to be able to tell the stories beating in my heart and share them with the world. I don’t know what that means for beyondwaiting.com. I hope I’ll still find something to share with at least a little bit of consistency, but I’m through guilting myself into penning words for this space when my heart longs to spend those hours stitching stories.

I hope you understand. And I hope you know how very grateful I am for the support I have found here these last four years. I will carry the imprint of this season in my heart forever.

But for now…

Bring me that horizon.

horizon

Sidekick to Your Superhero

A friend of mine once performed one of those tests where she asked a group of us questions that were supposed to represent different aspects of our lives.

“I’m a little concerned,” she told me. “You said your favorite color is green, but you don’t know why. Your favorite color is supposed to represent the way you view yourself, and I wish you were a little more excited about it.”

Disappointing, perhaps, but accurate. (I don’t know why I like myself; I just do.)

“I think your second answer is really sweet though,” Alina continued. “Your favorite animal is supposed to represent how you view other people.”

This brought a smile to the entire group because, while I may not have gotten excited about the color green, I had a pretty cool monologue going on about why I like horses.

“I just think they’re incredible creatures,” I said. “I love to watch them run. Like, I could watch them for hours and not get tired of it.”

This conversation came to mind last night when I was trying to convince my brother that I think my purpose in life is to come alongside someone else. Because I would rather play sidekick to a superhero than set off to save the world by myself.

My brother insisted that two Batmans were better than a Batman and Robin combination, but I disagreed. Batman doesn’t need an exact replica of himself; he needs a Robin.

But if I absolutely had to be a superhero, I would be Violet from The Incredibles. I would be the girl who stands invisible on the sidelines until her brother is in mortal danger. I love that scene where Dash is cornered, certain he is about to be shot, when Violet throws herself over him, envelopes them both in a force field, and confesses she doesn’t know how she did it. Then Dash does what Dash does best as Violet continues to guard them from enemy fire.

That would be my superpower—the human shield. I know this because even in video games I adopt that role.

My sister taught me how to play Gears of War (because “guys dig chicks who play video games”), and while my siblings and their friends are all charging into the fray in search of bonus points and achievements, I make it my duty to keep them alive. So while they’re out there armed only with chainsaws and scorchers, I’m hanging back near the base, picking off anyone who would cause them harm.

And it makes me happy.

I find absolutely no joy in that game when I don’t have a partner to keep alive. Sure, I’m still shooting the same mutant creatures, but I’ve lost my purpose. I’ve got no one to protect. No one to support.

And though my brother was hard pressed to accept it, I’m the same way in real life.

There’s not a whole lot I want for myself, but I want the world for you. And I may not get excited about many things, but I will always be moved by watching you run, seeing you fly.

And I would be happy, always, to just be the sidekick to your superhero.

gears of war

 

Dance to the Beat of Your Fears

I used to harbor a deep fear that the Indians were going to scalp me.

That probably sounds ridiculous to anyone who didn’t grow up across the valley from Zane Caverns where war drums can be heard at various times of the year. Maybe it sounds ridiculous even if you did grow up within earshot of the caverns because maybe you didn’t have an older brother who was dead set on convincing you that the natives were coming for your scalp. (Brothers can be pretty doggone convincing.)

Even when I wised up and grew skeptical, arguing that if the Indians were coming they would take his scalp too, he responded with a statement so logical I lost the willpower to doubt him: “They won’t want my scalp because my hair is black like theirs. Yours is long and brown and beautiful. The Indians are going to want it.”

I take that as a compliment now, but at the time it served its intended purpose.

From that moment on, whenever the drums would start to pound in the distance, I would stick close to the house lest some Magua-lookalike would appear in my woods and come for me with bloody, outstretched hands. (This is why you don’t let small children watch The Last of the Mohicans. Cough, cough, Dad.)

And I remained confined by the boundaries of irrational fears.


Funny Fact about Fear: so much of it is, without question, irrational.

Our minds conjure up multiple scenarios and we fret and we worry and we dread all these things that never come to pass.

But they might, we think. They could.

And we confine ourselves to the same kind of boundaries I set for myself as a child.

Don’t leave the house. Stay away from the woods. They’re out there waiting, but you’re safe here. If you remain behind closed doors, they won’t find you.


As a child, I resented those festivals at the caverns. I resented them because I loved the woods. I loved climbing trees and splashing in the creek and painting tablets of slate with the juice of wild berries.

I resented the drums that played in the distance because they crafted fears that held me captive indoors when my little feet wanted to create a rhythm of my own, pounding down paths that had been carved by a thousand footsteps that had gone before.

But I was never brave enough to chance the woods when the Indians were on the warpath. I was never reckless enough to face my fears head-on.

Then I got a little older and discovered that the drums were a performance, the natives were friendly, and my scalp was never in any danger after all. And once I realized all of that, something strange happened…

I learned to love those drums.

And the same rhythm that once struck fear into my heart became music to my ears.


Some of us will spend our whole lives believing the natives are hostile. Some of us will never step outside the four walls of our homes because we’re afraid of what lurks in the woods.

But we are restless.

Though our fears may strap us down, the fact remains that, deep inside, We. Are. Restless.

And we want more than these safe little walls offer.

We want the world.

We want wide open skies and and an endless path before us, brimming with new things just waiting to be discovered.


Darling, you have two choices when those drums start pounding in the distance: you can hide, or you can dance.

I hope you dance in complete abandon, twirling to the beat of your fears.

the beat of your fears

Letting Go of Me; Holding on to You

Over the weekend, my housemates and I took a personality test—just for fun. There was a lot of laughter as we tried to guess each other’s answers, pinning each other with words that didn’t fit at all, before giving a serious response. Overall it was an edifying experience, pointing out the strengths in each other and remembering certain occasions when Lynn was thoughtful and Ellen was inspiring and Amber was a mediator.

I learned a lot, mostly about the people I live with, but also about myself. Sometimes as I was poised to give one answer, everyone else would say another.

“Will the real Rebekah please stand up?”

There are things in myself I don’t see.
There are things in myself no one else sees.
There are things in my life people assume I’m good at because I’ve spent so much time forcing myself to be those things.

And I wonder what my life would look like if I learned to be a little more transparent. I wonder if maybe there’s a place for taking down the walls and letting myself be known just a little deeper.

I just finished reading Victoria Schwab’s The Unbound, where the main character is afraid of letting people too close because when she makes physical contact with someone, she can hear the noise of their lives. She can read their thoughts like a book. Their memories play like movies in her mind.

While I may not share Mackenzie’s supernatural gift, sometimes I think I’m also afraid of the noise. Afraid if I let someone too close, they are going to encounter mine, and I’m going to get tangled up in theirs. And by and by, I’ll be forced to realize that life is messy.

There are no simple answers. No perfect solutions. No easy way to navigate this big old world in which we live.

I’m pretty good at putting on a face and letting you see what I want you to see, but I’m not always good at letting it unravel and saying, “This—no, this right here—is who I truly am.”

Just this morning I was encouraged to be the kind of person who makes whoever she is with feel like they are the center of her universe. As I read those words, I knew that I wanted that. I knew I wanted to ascribe that kind of worth to everyone I encounter. But the longer I reflect on it, the more I realize I can’t be that kind of person if I’m withholding pieces of myself.

I’m realizing that God didn’t make me a whole person so that I can be half of one; He wants all the pieces of me to shine forth for His glory.

And it’s hard. It’s hard to expose that much. It’s exhausting to try to put your whole self into everything.

But this world deserves our everything.

You deserve my everything.

So here’s to being the kind of person who bares her heart, embraces the noise, and lets everyone be the center of her universe for however long they need to be.

center of our universe

Double Life

And I’m so tired of living this double life. Of trying to be my own, and trying to be Yours. I’m torn between the life You ask of me and the life I demand from You.

And I’m sorry I try so hard to do life my own way. You know that ultimately I want Your will. It’s just that mine so often gets in the way…

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Can I be honest with you?

It’s been five months since I first penned this prayer, but I feel like I’ve been writing it every day since. So much of what I want is not what God wants for me during this season of my life. And it’s hard. It’s hard to keep pushing through the muck of this life when I don’t know what’s waiting for me on the other side of this mess I’m in.

I’m in transition. I’m making a move—a literal, physical move out of the town I’ve called home for the last four and a half years. People keep asking me if I’m excited.

I’m not. Not really.

Sure, there are things I’m looking forward to, but it’s hard to get super excited when you don’t know what you’re moving toward. When you don’t know what’s waiting at the end of those five hundred miles.

Can I be really honest now?

Sometimes I forget to practice what I preach. Sometimes my Beyond Waiting journey is paved with more anxiety than adventure, more pouting than praise.

Sometimes I don’t believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. Sometimes I don’t believe in the impossible at all.

Sometimes I try to live two different lives—the one God weaves for me and the one I desire for myself. And let me tell you, it’s really, really, really hard to be two different people. One of them takes over. One of them wins. And I feel so often that it’s my own selfish will barreling the other out of the way.

If I’ve been quiet here of late, it’s because Rebekah’s voice has been trying to drown out God’s voice, and anyone who has tried arguing with God before knows how this story ends—with me being too tired to raise my voice and too stubborn to listen to His.

And so there’s silence where the words used to flow freely.

And there’s that whisper in the back of my mind—those words I once humbly confessed:

“You know that ultimately I want Your will. It’s just that mine so often gets in the way…”

Let today be the day my will shatters.

Little Faith; Big God

I don’t know why I ask such big things of God while expecting so little. I don’t know why I can’t manage to muster that mustard-seed faith that moves mountains. And I really don’t know why God is willing to overlook my doubts and hesitations and move the mountains anyway.

I wore holes in the knees of my jeans on Thursday morning, only to be surprised the following afternoon when God showed up and said, “I got this,” by proving that He does.

In my heart, I know that He does. But somewhere in that culture-tainted, life-stormed, tragically-logical part of my mind, I’ve stopped looking for miracles. Stopped hoping that God will redeem that which has been torn apart by the world.

Why is it that I can dissolve into puddles of tears, begging for redemption, and then be surprised when God proves to me again that such redemption exists?

God looks at me and shakes His head. “O ye of little faith…”

That gentle reprimand sticks to my heart, convicting me as it has a thousand times before. And I find myself repeating the words of the man whose son was demon-possessed. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

I’m thankful for a God who is bigger than my faith. A God who doesn’t need my unerring belief to make beautiful things of the messes. I’m thankful that, regardless of my unworthiness, God still works miracles in my life. He still allows me to be part of them—to observe from a distance or stand in the midst of it all.

I may have little faith, but I have a big God.

I stand in awe again.