Because You’re a Survivor

I sensed her whimper before I heard it. My eyes sought her out the moment the words were spoken aloud. I watched them register. Watched her flinch away, closing her eyes against the memory. And all I wanted to do in that moment was wrap her up in my arms, clamp my hands over her ears and whisper, “You didn’t hear that, baby.”

But she did hear it, and nothing I could do would remove those words that had already dug their sharp claws into her fragile heart.

If time could be rewound, I would have spared her that reminder that stabbed like knives into an already bleeding heart. But then, if time could be rewound, she’d go back a month and make it so that there was nothing to be remembered. No tragedy would befall a girl who held all of time in her hands. But the only place time rewinds is in her eyes where she relives the moment for the hundredth time.

And I realize that she will always be this way. She will always cringe as certain words—certain sights and smells and sounds—send her back to that moment of helplessness and despair. And even if I could have sheltered her in that moment, I can’t shelter her forever. And the hardest thing is realizing that she doesn’t even know what it means to be sheltered anymore.

And as she drowns in the depths of her pain, these are the lyrics that beat in my heart:

Baby, baby, you deserve so much more than a lifetime of being trapped in that moment where the victim song became a familiar melody to you. You deserve to be sheltered a little bit longer—just a little bit longer.

You weren’t meant to be an empty shell, broken and haunted by events that were always beyond your control—even when you were in the thick of them, they were beyond your control. You were meant to sing. Loudly. And you were born to dance. Freely. And you were always made for shining your light even when you’re shining all on your own.

And I know it isn’t fair that you’re the one who has to relight the candles when the whole world has gone dark, but, baby, can’t you see that you’re the only one brave enough to rekindle the flame? And I would wrap you up in my arms and carry you the rest of the way, but I think your legs are actually stronger than mine if you’ll only remember how to use them. And I know the world has been rocking crazy here of late, but you’re more sure-footed than you realize. And you—you know the way. Even in the dark, you’ll find your way.

I’ll be here to hold your hand if you need me. I would never expect you to try to navigate this life all on your own. But, girl, if you’re looking for someone who will simply cry with you, you’ve turned to the wrong arms. Because that’s not what you need. It may be what you think you want, but it’s not what you need.

And mine will always be the voice that whispers, “Girl, you’ve got this. I know you’ve got this.”

Because you’re a survivor; not a victim.

There are no victims here.

And maybe I can hold you while the world rocks crazy, but, baby, you can take it from here.

you can take it from here

Encouragement Hurts

Encouragement hurts.

Maybe you laughed when you read that. Or maybe you scratched your head and said, “Wha—?”

Because “hurt” doesn’t follow our definition of encouragement. Somehow we’ve come to believe that encouragement is to agree with someone. So we tell them they’ll be great at something when, in fact, they’re probably not cut out for the job. We feed their fantasies because that’s what we think they want.

We think we’re being encouraging.
We think we’re being a good friend.

But what we’re really doing is selling each other short.

I think that’s been the main problem in most of my friendships. I get tired of people who claim to be my friends telling me what I want to hear in the moment, only to find that their “supportive” claims are detrimental in the long run. Because they should have known that my gifts weren’t aligning with the shape of my dreams. And they should have been the ones clear-headed enough to see that he really wasn’t that into me.

en·cour·age

a : to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope : hearten
b : to attempt to persuade : urge

I always needed someone to encourage me by the standard of Mr. Merriam-Webster.

I needed the kind of friend who would try to persuade me. The one who would inspire me with the courage to find a new dream instead of letting me cling to that hope, that chance, that slight possibility that something may come of this.

I needed the kind of friend who would help me pack up and move on when my heart is still longing to linger in a place that was only meant for passing through. The kind of friend who would sit on my over-packed suitcase as she rips the zipper into place.

“Move on, Rebekah,” she would say. “It’s time to move on.”

She would be the kind of friend who would not only take me to the airport, but walk me to security and sit there and wait until she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t go charging back out those doors. Because I would keep walking if I knew she was waiting. I would keep walking and not turn around.

And I might get upset with her for a moment. I might tell her she isn’t helping when really she’s helping more than anyone else ever dared.

Because, while she didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear, she gave me what I needed. And I would always much prefer the friend who would give me what I need.

And, deep down, past the part of me that wants to stay here, I know that she’s right. The skies hold brighter things for me. There are uncharted lands that wait to be discovered. And maybe I’ll circle back to this place sometime in the future, but it wasn’t meant to hold me now. There’s no way it could hold me now.

So I’ll sit with my head pressed to the window, watching my dreams fade into clouds.

And, yes, it hurts right now, but it will be so much better in the long run.

In the long run I’ll be thankful for that painful encouragement that sets me free.

watching my dreams fade into clouds

Don’t Even Think About Quitting

Last weekend, I watched a friend attempt to run a 100k. (That’s 62 miles for those of you who are as uneducated as I was before this momentous day.) So there I was at the halfway point with this big sign that read, “Don’t Even Think About Quitting” when I saw him walking in the distance.

That’s right. Not running; walking. And it wasn’t even speed-walking or “just saving my energy until the next stretch” walking. It was a genuine “something went wrong and my friend was well-past-the-point-of-merely-thinking-about-quitting” walking.

So, my sign didn’t work too well because my friend blew his knee and sort of had to quit. Which is really not an encouraging end to what was supposed to be a motivational story. But the thing is… sometimes quitting is the best possible thing you can do. Because sometimes running makes it worse, and then you’re down for weeks with an injury that could have easily been avoided.

But I’m willing to bet that in this race called life, most times—most times—when your lungs are burning and your calves are cramping and you’re thinking you won’t be able to make it over that next hill, you just need to hear someone cheering you on. You simply need to look up and see that sign that reads,
“Don’t Even Think About Quitting.”

That’s what gives you the drive to make it through another mile, another checkpoint, another incline.

So if it’s all right with you, I want to be your fan club today. I want to be the person who stands on the sidelines, jumping up and down while screaming my lungs out that you -yes, you- can do it. You’ve got what it takes. I believe in you.

And I would be willing to jump in the race and run alongside you if that’s what it takes to convince you that you can make it a little farther. Just a little farther. Because you’re almost there, really. At least, you’re much closer than you were a few miles back. You’ve got this. Really, you’ve got it.

So no matter how loudly your lungs scream for air, no matter how greatly your calf muscles are protesting, no matter how daunting that next incline appears…

Don’t You Think—Even Think—About Quitting.

You Deserve More Than Fear

I see you there, trying not to let past experiences define you. Courageously trying to keep your heart open to love and trust and the fragile bond of friendship. But I also see your fear.

And I understand your fear.

I know you’ve been hurt many times in the past. I know you’ll be hurt again. Just as you know you’ll be hurt again.

And it’s hard to hold onto hope when your hopes have been crushed. It’s difficult to take a chance on someone or something that may hurt you. So you accept those feelings of loneliness rather than overcome the roadblocks in your mind. But worse than simply accepting them, you justify them.

You tell yourself that you are strong—that you can stand alone—but we both know that you’re bitter and jaded. And afraid. So very afraid… Of trying again. Of failing again. Of risking rejection for the thousandth time.

Because you’re not strong. And deep down inside you hold onto the belief that one more heartbreak could kill you.

But you know something?

You are more than your fears. More than your failures. More than the clutter that litters your past.

You are strong enough… to break down these barriers. To overcome the insecurities that have confined you for so long.

You have what it takes… to trust again. To hope again. To love again.

You deserve so much more than what your fears have supplied;
You deserve freedom in its most wondrous form.

Today is the day to embrace it. And to live—fully live—free of fear.

Courting, Dating, or Single?

I’ve avoided reading the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye for years now. I finally broke down and picked it up, thinking I would suffer through it “for research purposes.” Why the negative attitude? I had previously been misinformed by several people who read it that the book was about courting.

Ugh. Courting is a serious turn-off word for me. I think I dislike courting for the same reason many people dislike Christianity. “Well, Christians say they are one thing, and then they turn around and live just like the rest of the world.” The few people who have described courting to me talked like dating was a huge sin, but when they actually told me what courting was, it sounded a whole lot like dating to me. When I pointed that out, I received responses like, “But with courting, you don’t go to any compromising places together,” or “No, because when you court someone, you are actually planning on marrying them.” Okay then, so you just explained to me the difference between dating and stupid dating. It’s the same thing. The only difference is the name you call it. At least, that’s how I see it. But if you have a better definition that can clear things up for me, please let me know, and I will gladly stand corrected.

I haven’t completely finished the book yet, but after reading eleven chapters and not finding anything but a brief reference to the dreaded “C” word, I think it’s safe to assume that the book is not about courting. And according to author Joshua Harris, it’s not even about dating; it’s about living a pure and purposeful singleness. Even if it’s just for a season.

Ironically, the book I’ve been avoiding for most of my teen years is the same book I’ve been searching for most of my teen years. It was like a breath of fresh air to read the writings of someone who actually feels the same way I do about relationships. It was refreshing to realize that the thoughts that caused me to write a book and start this blog are spinning in the hearts of others like me. So now that I’ve discovered that the book already exists, why am I still writing? Well, I guess it’s because there’s still so much to be learned about passionately pursuing God with your singleness. So I’ll keep embracing the moment, living the journey, and sharing my experiences along the way. Who knows? Perhaps my own dance with singleness will encourage you as much as Joshua Harris has encouraged me.