I thought that surely speaking my truth would lead to my rejection, my being cast out, my being abandoned and removed from relationship. I thought that it surely would be the end. But here’s the beautiful, mind-blowing reality: it wasn’t.
I’m silencing the voices of shame and kicking fear in the ass to declare that the darkness does not get to win and have power over me any longer. The time has come to tell my story.
Once upon a time (because this is how all the best stories begin), I met a girl named Macy. I can't remember the specifics, but I knew that I had heard so many great things about her from so many people around my church, Hope. She just seemed like somebody I wanted to be friends with. Now, I've probably known her for more than a year, and I'm so incredibly grateful I get to call her friend.
This girl is a gem. She has this infectious joy and radiance about her that just lights up every room she's in. She's absolutely beautiful, completely genuine in every way, and one of the sweetest people I have ever called friend. She has a warm and welcoming way about her that makes you feel loved and valued when you interact with her-- she asks great questions, encourages endlessly, loves deeply, and is just such a delight.
You know those people that just make life sweeter and brighter and better? That's Macy. I love it.
Macy chases after Jesus in a way that is just so evident and so beautiful. Every conversation I've had with her, it's so clear that her heart is completely for Him, and that she's living every day in pursuit of what He has for her, even if it's things she never expected or necessarily wanted herself. That's true faith.
I'm so grateful for the times I've gotten to sit with Macy over iced chai lattes and just catch up. She doesn't live in Richmond anymore sadly, and I treasure the times she comes through town and I get to grab time with her! I've always left feeling encouraged and a lot less alone in whatever season of life I'm going through. She just gets it.
She's always adventuring around the country (and making me jealous), making time for the people she loves and always making the most of her trips and explorations. Even though she's a new teacher this year and I'm sure busier than she's ever been, she still took time to be part of this project and support what I'm doing here. What a friend.
I'm so excited and honored to share Macy's story with you!
My name is Macy. I am 22, a recent graduate of Clemson University, and a Social Studies teacher at Blythewood High School outside of Columbia, South Carolina. After years of saying I never wanted to return to the Columbia area, I have once again found myself here. And I love it. Navigating through the waters of post-grad, “real world” life is beautiful and scary all at the same time, but I know that wherever I am His hand guides me. This story is just a glimpse of my life, but it needs to be shared because it seems to follow and impact me throughout every season so far.
When I was four years old, I remember standing in front of my bathroom mirror, barely tall enough to see myself in it. I was wearing a turtleneck, jumper, and my hair was a wreck (some things never change). I asked myself, “Do I think I am pretty?” Immediately I heard a voice in my head that said, “No.” Unknown to me at the time, but my war with insecurity had just begun.
Insecurity followed me and planted more roots within me throughout the following years. It seemed like the older I became, the more I grew displeased with myself. In high school, this led to bad decision after bad decision in a search to find fulfillment, satisfaction, and a sense of belonging. This search mostly occurred through an obsession with relationships with boys. As long as I had a boy’s attention, I was silent about anything else that happened. I remember the first time a boy took advantage of me. I did nothing to stop it because I thought that a moment of desire from a boy would be enough to fill the insecurity in my heart. It never worked, but for some reason I kept thinking it would. I entered a season of continual sexual involvement with boys, never once finding strength within myself to fight for my worth. I’ve been taken advantage in many situations, from a room full of people to riding alone in a car with a boy. Insecurity makes us do things that we know are wrong, but appear to be easier to do than stand our ground and fight. So we give in. And we may feel okay for a moment, but that quickly fades.
When I began walking with the Lord in college, insecurity still followed me. While the impact of insecurity looked different than before, I still felt it deep within my soul. Insecurity left a constant feeling of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. If anything, it actually continued to increase and plant more roots within my soul. I am pretty open now about the fact that I did not enjoy most my college experience. I never felt like I belonged and experienced some of the loneliest years yet. It was a hard season, both emotionally and physically (ask me about breaking my foot some time). Yet, I endured. And I learned. And I grew.
Insecurity is often coupled with an abuse of the word “enough.” If I could just be skinny enough, pretty enough, rich enough, funny enough, smart enough, cool enough, then I would defeat insecurity. When Jesus went to the Cross, He took all of this with Him. The only “enough” that mattered after the Cross was that Jesus became enough. He is the only thing that is truly enough to satisfy me. The mindset that if I could just be enough for someone or something then I would defeat insecurity was not necessarily wrong. It was just flawed. I tend to fill in the position of someone or something with temporary things, but rarely turn towards Jesus for help.
The thing that annoys me about how we handle dealing with insecurity is that we treat it like a battle. A battle is a one-time thing. Insecurity is not a one-time thing. It is something that has been deeply driven into so many of our souls by sin, culture, and the enemy himself. It’s difficult to accept, but when I think poorly of myself, I actually insult God Himself. In Genesis, we see God looking down on Creation with favor. Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good….” Who am I to look upon an aspect of his creation, myself, and tell Him I don’t like it?
If we are going to truly fight and defeat insecurity, we have to be ready to endure the many battles that accompany this war. The sweet thing about this war is that we already know the end result. If we endure and fight, we will be victorious. Our anchor is in our Savior, not anything of this world. Our Savior is ready to bring beauty to these ashes.
Insecurity has brought me many scars. The thing I love about scars is how much we can learn from them. Scars show us the painful effects of a decision, situation, or choice while teaching us to not engage in them again. My scars hold me accountable. They allow me to be able to better help others. Do not be ashamed of your scars, they are part of your story. Insecurity may be a part of your story, but it is not your entire story. Jesus’ last words on the Cross were “Tetelestai.” This translates to “it is finished.” This means that insecurity is finished for us. It no longer has to keep domain over our lives. We can fight it.
August was wild and full of adventure and movement and nonstop busyness, and I somehow though September would be slower. I was so wrong. I realized today that this month is half-way over, and I've only finished one book. When I mentioned that to my Rethink team, they were actually concerned and wanted to know if they needed to call my doctor...
Safe to say, life isn't slowing down any time soon. There has been less time for reading, more time spent working, more social plans and outings than I've had in a long while, and less time to stop and reflect on it all.
I don't have much to say in this space today, but here are a few things I wanted to pass along:
A new Story Seeker post is coming tomorrow from a friend I love dearly. I can't wait for you to read it.
This post from an old friend is such a good one for anyone struggling with anxiety, control, or feeling like life is heavy and hard.
This post on Verily about the "Seven Types of Friends Every Woman Needs" is a good one.
This video below...a beautiful mashup of two beautiful songs. Just listen.
Happy Tuesday, friends. Enjoy this start of autumn weather!
Since I'm currently on a two-week road trip across the country and back, there won't be any new stories this week or next. Have no fear though, here are several amazing stories back brought to life from the archives of the past year!
"Surrendering my own sense of control is something I’ll always struggle with because it is such a deeply rooted habit. In the past year though, I’ve learned the beauty of total surrender. By putting my trust in something bigger than myself, I’m taking a huge risk. But this risk has completely changed me."
this story was originally published july 23, 2014
"The reality of the situation, however, (and the reality I had managed to overlook as I struggled with my decisions) is that I never played the game simply to make the NHL. I play for the sound of skates hitting the ice. I play for the smooth, glistening, fresh-cut sheet. I play for the sweat, the soreness, the pain, and the pressure."
this story was originally published october 8, 2014
"It has now been a year, and we’ve discovered that it is the uncertain, anxious, and expectant waves in our marriage that has taught us to love more than we thought imaginable. In faith, we decided to get married when we did because that’s what we felt God was guiding us to do. Today, we have no doubt about His plan, as He has opened doors left and right for us to continue walking forward in the intention He has for our marriage."
Interested in sharing your story? You'll find everything you need to know here-- drop me an email and let's chat! I can't wait to hear from you.
Way back in December, I got an email from a girl named Samantha who wanted to share her story with me. I have to admit: the email got totally buried in my inbox. Blame it on a busy holiday season or just a totally forgetful brain of a girl who is really bad at responding to emails...
Fast forward to April, and she emailed again. Thank goodness for people who give me grace and don't give up on me even when I totally drop the ball! In her email, she shared that because of how things had played out since December, she now clearly knew the story she wanted to share. How cool is that? I never meant to leave her hanging for so long, but it was in that season that the Lord worked in her life to really bring about a story she wanted to share with the world.
She emailed me and shared so much about her life and I absolutely loved it! Email is not the best way to get to know somebody (I would always always rather meet someone face to face for coffee to really connect) but she was so warm and friendly and sweet and I knew we would get along great!
And guess what? I dropped the ball AGAIN. Like, come on, Rachel, EMAIL PEOPLE BACK. I felt horrible. I had read her email right when I got it and was so excited to reply...and then totally didn't.
She gave me even MORE grace. She STILL wanted to be part of this whole thing. I was shocked, honestly. I had totally let her down not once, but twice, and she still was willing to share her story with me, to be vulnerable with a stranger, and to let me publish her words for the world. Wow. That floored me. I had completely given her no reason to trust me...and she did anyway. I've seen so much grace and love come from her and it's been a beautiful thing.
That's what I love about this whole Story Seeker thing-- people that I never would have crossed paths with before, people I never would have gotten close to, people I would have never reached back out to again...they become people that change me. They become people that grow me, that inspire me, that move me, that push me to be better, and that remind me with their gracious hearts and their powerful words that our stories matter and are so worth sharing.
I am so honored to share Samantha's story with you. This girl is one of the good ones.
Hey there, I’m Samantha. I love writing, be it on my blog, movingpeaces.com or with my husband when we write songs together. We live happily in a little yellow house in Raleigh, NC, tucked between our garden of veggies in the backyard and the chocolate shop across the street out front. It sounds really cute and fun, but sometimes I struggle knowing how to tell people who I am or where I belong. Occasionally, I let my identity get caught up in other things--whether it’s my job, my husband’s job at church, my weaknesses or my strengths. Thankfully, there’s one identity that matters most and that’s in Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we think the story is already over when we’re barely halfway through it.
I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, although I haven’t always realized how important it was to me. My major was in journalism and mass communication, and my minor was in English. (I’m super well-rounded, huh?) The funny thing is, I didn’t actually know how much I loved writing until I wasn’t doing it.
By the end of graduation, I was newly engaged and offered a position in the public relations department of an ad agency. It wasn’t my dream job, but it was a job in my field that sounded glamorous to my peers and friends. I knew I would get good experience, and I needed some time to figure out what my dream job might be.
While I gained a variety of experience, it came at a cost. I worked crazy hours, was stressed out and spent the majority of my first year of marriage incredibly sick. I learned a lot at that job--that my marriage was a higher priority, that I had no interest in climbing a career ladder if it meant stepping on toes or pushing people aside in the process and that I believed I was meant for something more.
I found another job and found rest, but before long my husband and I felt it was time to move halfway across the country. That is another story for another time, but the short of it is this: we quit our jobs, said goodbye to our friends and picked up everything without jobs or guarantees waiting for us on the other side.
Having just moved on a whim, I found myself looking into a different career path and considering grad school. I began working in an administrative office at a major university and while I did well, I missed working creatively. I missed writing and challenging myself in the way that would best suit me. I couldn’t foresee a future in the field of higher education anymore, so I returned to what I knew by working in a web development agency.
I told myself this was the job I was going to stick with for awhile. It didn’t matter what happened, I needed a long-standing position on my resume. While I still missed writing, I figured I could make it work as a project manager. My determination was strong, but the business was not. Due to some financial instability, we all went weeks without our paychecks. Clients and employees were dropping, leaving me without much to do and no choice but to step away, too.
After all the struggle and effort, I felt like I came up short. A failure. Some days I wondered if my career was over forever, if I would never amount to anything. I questioned and doubted myself and my abilities. Was I weak? Incapable? Naive? Why had my career path looked like such a mess?
For nine months I scrambled and panicked--applying for jobs and desperately hoping for acceptance. Instead, I met rejection after rejection and was the “runner-up” job candidate on several occasions. In that time, I also managed to slowly open myself up to new opportunities. I finally shared my blog with more than just close friends and family. I planned the women’s event at my church, and I agreed to play in a band. My writing and creative work soared.
Then, in February, I was offered the job I had been looking for all along, a creative communications position with a small company. I felt triumphant as I accepted the position, grateful to have found my strengths and skills in the process. It was perfect, and I was ready to put those days of job struggles behind me.
It was then that I contacted Rachel about writing my story, thinking it was in the past. I was ready to look back at it with ease knowing that the hard part was behind me and the lessons were already learned.
I wanted this journey to be nicely wrapped and tied with a bow. Everything in me wanted to finish this story up and present it for all to see. I wanted to tell the story of success and accomplishment. Instead, here I am, vulnerable, exposed and recently unemployed. Just like that, my new job was gone, and my story started a new chapter.
That’s the thing with stories, they are never really over. Our life continues and it doesn’t all end in a bow. But the story still matters. It still carries impact, lessons learned and wisdom gained.
Your story matters, no matter what part of it you are on. I don’t know yet where my story will go, but I know I’ve grown so much in the process. My faith, my marriage, my friendships and my creativity are all stronger. Instead of panic for what is to come, I am so excited for the opportunities ahead of me. This story is not over yet, and I could not be more thrilled.
I swear, if it weren't for #fireworkpeople and the season of my life full of Twitter parties with creative, fired-up women all over the world, I don't know where I would be. SO many incredible online friendships came out of being part of that community, and I'm grateful for them every day.
Annie is one of those friends-- from the very first times I saw her name pop up online in my feeds, I knew I wanted to be friends with her. Then, I discovered that she's a gluten-free vegan like me, and I knew having something as crazy as that in common would pretty much guarantee we would get along!
This girl is just the greatest. I've been a fan of her and followed her blog for a while now, and knew when I relaunched Story Seeker that I wanted her story in the mix. Selfishly, I just wanted to get to know her better and really get to be good friends with her. I knew she would have an incredible story to tell, and I was right. The story she's sharing today is beautiful and made me fall in love with the city she loves and writes about. The stories we continued to swap over long and honesty emails were incredible-- there are few things I love more than two people openly sharing the ways the Lord has been working in their lives and the connectedness and closeness that comes about as a result.
Annie is so full of joy and it's evident in everything she writes and says. She's someone who truly makes the most of every single day of this life, adventuring and exploring and trying new things and loving people and places so so well in the process. I'm pretty sure everyone that meets her instantly loves her-- she's so warm and inviting, always quick to encourage, support and let others know that they are beautiful and beloved. She's like a sunbeam that dances around life freely and confidently. I love that about her.
I'm so grateful that I've gotten to know Annie, and I'm so honored to share her story with you.
I’m Annie. Newlywed twenty-something with a knack for sassy comebacks, sleeping in past my alarm and dancing awkwardly in public. A lover of exploring, encouraging and passionately pursuing dreams. A lover of Christ, animals and really, really good gluten-free bagels. Trying not to waste this one precious life.
I grew up in the land of the Chesapeake Bay, where black-eyed susans grow wild and free, and the spice factory downtown fills the humid, summer air with a delicious spicy scent. I grew up in the land of water, where you romp in the Bay with your rambunctious friends in the dog days of summer, you catch your own dinner of blue crabs and you ride bikes in the street after dark.
I grew up in the city of baseball, a stadium filled with orange and black, a triumphant cheer of “O” during the last line of the National Anthem rises from the crowd. The city of neighborhood upon neighborhood spilling together, hill after hill, to create a sprawling span of city pouring out upon the earth. Each neighborhood uniquely different and distinguishable, brightly colored row houses, cathedrals-gothic and mysterious, historic monuments left from the past for us to cherish. I was raised in a city where brightly colored dragon-shaped paddle-boats spotted the harbor each Saturday, your dad takes you to the busy, pulsing market for lunch and ornately-dressed horses pull carts with produce through the streets. I’m from a land of history, the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, and the talent of Babe Ruth.
I grew up in Baltimore and this is the land I’ve always known.
When I was in high school, someone graciously did me the favor of removing my rose-colored glasses, and subsequently all wonder with the city, so I could join the masses and see the city for what it truly was- Dirty. Dangerous. Racist. Trash floating in the harbor. Six shootings in the city last night. Mugging in the park. Teenagers stole the city bikes again. Homeless on every corner. Lowest high school graduation rate in the country.
I was clearly living in the dark. They were right, how could I ever have found this place to be beautiful? My innocence and wonder grew dim and my heart became cold.
When I graduated, I knew college out of state was my only option. Maybe everyone else was complacent enough to stay here and just complain about the conditions, but I am a go-getter and I was getting out. So I moved to the First State, Maryland’s tiny neighbor to the east. The land of no shopping tax, main streets and small town festivals. Delaware.
After one month of living on campus, I quickly realized moving away to college was not exactly how it was portrayed in the movies. It actually was nothing like the movies. I felt small and stupid for being bullied by the people I lived with. Doesn’t bullying only happen to kids in the throes of puberty? I started to spend as much time as possible outside of my dorm. Coffee shops, a random nook in the student center, a bench on Main Street, the dining hall, the grass on the other side of campus, anywhere I could hide with my journal and pen.
As I ran away from the problems at my dorm, I poured out my heart to Jesus, a Friend I had found when I was 17 at Young Life camp while staring at the stars. His Love overwhelmed me and for the first time, it felt real. And he began to heal years and years of insecurity, hateful self-talk and pieces of my broken heart. If he could heal that, he could certainly heal the mess I was in now. I was alone, exhausted from running, and I could feel the seams starting to come loose, the seams that Jesus had so tenderly sewn to piece my heart back together a year earlier.
As I poured out my heart and told God that this isn’t what I wanted, that I was miserable and I couldn’t take one more night sleeping on the sofa in the lounge, I felt a whisper from within. “Home” and I felt a sudden, sharp ache for something familiar. “Baltimore. Go home.” That was my answer? Leave? Quit? Become a transfer student? Not many excited college freshmen dream of the day they’ll give up all their hard work of college searching, essay writing, financial aid meetings and awkward new student orientations just to pack up, leave and head home.
After praying, and seeking advice, I made the call to transfer to Towson University, become a commuter student, and move home to Baltimore. When I finally made the decision, my heart leapt with a joyful dance and an ugly heavy pressure disappeared from my shoulders. I packed and sang and smiled as I told everyone the news that I was somehow thrilled about- I was going home to Baltimore.
And I moved home. I started classes at my new school. Once a week, I headed downtown to get coffee alone and relish in my new excitement to live here. And guess what? I got my rose-colored glasses back. I started to see the beauty in the cobble streets, the hometown pride in every passerby wearing an Orioles jersey, the story of every homeless person, the murals on every street corner, the quirkiness of every small neighborhood. My heart beat in time with the pulsing of the city. I was where I was meant to be.
A few weeks into my first semester, an old acquaintance from my time at Delaware called me. He had just received a job at the National Aquarium downtown. Could I show him around? Of course! I intercepted him before someone could pull him aside and convince him to join the crowd in seeing the worst in the city. No. Let me show you the beauty. And I did. And he saw it. And he took my hand and told me he was with me in this. He would help me love this place.
I’ve been back in Baltimore for three years now. I’m now married to the boy from the Aquarium. He did what he said. He’s helping me love this place. We live 10 minutes from the city line. This is OUR place, now. My heart melted as he agreed to move from Delaware to Baltimore, as I watched him fall in love with this entire area, as I felt our hearts both begin to beat in time with the city.
In April, my heart was shattered into somewhere between a million and a billion pieces, as I watched my city burn on national television. I watched our people- angry, hurt, confused and outraged- destroy their own community. I watched our leaders, freeze, not knowing their job description came with handling riots and police brutality, while CNN reporters crowded our beautiful streets, like hungry animals, waiting to pounce on the first person to make a wrong move, and perpetuating a sense of unnecessary fear.
The rest of the nation may think we are still burned to the ground. They may pity the people who call this barbaric city home. They may criticize our leaders, and our people. They may cancel their plans to visit. They may wait in the shadows for the next soul to make a wrong move in the management of our city. They may think we have nothing to offer. That we are empty, ugly and poor.
I am not naïve. We have many issues in our city.
But while they were distracted with the negative, they were never moved to tears when they saw their community come together the next morning to sweep up the glass from broken windows, and broken hearts. They never witnessed people sitting on their stoops, praying over the city in a time of darkness. They never saw the police officers playing basketball with kids in the worst part of the city, weeks after the national news lost interest in Baltimore because things stopped burning and people stopped looting, so there was nothing to report anymore.
They’ve never smelled the sweet, salty air of the bay and the spice factory mixing together in the air to form a cocktail that is meant to be sipped slowly through a deep breath, as you stroll the cobble streets of Fells Point at dusk. They don’t know the best coffee is on Pratt Street or that all you have to do to make a friend here is buy them a Natty Boh. They are unaware the most breath-taking view of the city is on Federal Hill and watching a sunset there might change your life forever.
Their hearts don’t thump with hope as they walk the city streets and know something better for this city is right around the corner. They don’t see the colorful dragon boats spotting the harbor again, the sound of laughter and street music in the air, wrapping around you like a warm hug. They don’t laugh with the neighborhoods of the city, as the hills run madly over the ground, packed with history and lives and stories and beauty. They don’t see the black-eyed susans growing, wild and free.
But I do.
Last year, a group started online that brought the most incredible women into my life (so to speak). That group was full of the most fiery, passionate, talented, and brave people I've ever come across on the Internet, and quite a few of them quickly became good friends of mine.
This girl is one of them. From the start, she went out of her way to not only encourage and pour out love, but to intentionally get to know these ladies (myself included) and connect with them in ways that were genuine and meaningful. In a sea of compliments and Twitter parties, her words held power that was unmistakeable. She stood out because of how she loved-- humbly, graciously, endlessly, beautifully.
She is hilarious (the stories she tells on Facebook about her life will make you crack up, I'm not kidding), she is selfless (she was a nanny like I was to two little ones who she poured heart and soul into day in and day out), and she is gold (she just is). Her words on her blog have floored me time and time again.
Even though I've never met her or hugged her in real life (but let's be honest, we wouldn't hug because hugs are gross), I am so grateful to call this woman my friend. She has added so much goodness to my life.
I'm so honored to share Jordan's story with you.
Hello friends, I’m Jordan. I’m originally from Iowa but moved to Nashville, Tennessee on a God filled whim about three years ago and could not be more grateful for it. I’m almost 25, and absolutely love long talks around the kitchen table about things that really matter. I dream of being a writer and a speaker who isn’t afraid to dive into these hard places but brings armloads of laughter and encouragement in too. Some people might say I have an “unhealthy attachment” to comedic sitcoms, but I prefer to call it commitment. Let’s be real life friends and you can decide for yourself.
My dad is a really awesome guy. Every ounce of compassion, every heart-beat of service that reverberates in my bones is an echo of the sounds in his. I love my dad so much and I spent a long time wanting to be just like him. His stories of the sweet people he took care of, people with special needs, captivated me as much as they broke my heart. I never got to meet these people in the stories my dad would tell me. But I grew to love the sound of my dad’s voice when he talked about his people enough that the stories of their lives led me to pursue a degree that allowed me to follow in his footsteps.
But, I haven’t known where my dad was for most of my life. My parents divorced when I was in preschool, and after a few on and off years of my sister and I spending every other weekend with him at our old mobile home, they just stopped. I knew my dad had a drinking problem but I didn’t really understand how drinking something could take him away from me. I didn’t know how those many sips left him unable to keep a job, unable to keep a license, unable to see me and be my dad. I didn’t understand how he could spend all day taking care of these funny people he always talked about, but couldn’t come home and take care of me, too. I didn’t really know what all happened.
I would often ask questions about the man my father was. I would beg for stories from my tiny years that included him. I tried so hard to learn more about who he was and who he wasn’t. On the days he promised he would call and I would sit beside a silent phone, my mom would hold me close and whisper stories about how loving he was to us when we were babies. How happy they were on their wedding day. How sad he was that he couldn’t stop this drinking, and how much he wished he could be different. We would get a card or two every few years for Christmas and our birthdays. Every once in a while he would break the silence and call or surprise us at our school as we waited for the bells to bring us inside and start our day. On those occasions he never once forgot to tell me exactly how much he loved me and missed me and prayed that things would change. I never left those surprises feeling unloved, but as the sunny glow of the brief reunion faded, the emptiness that constantly hid right below the surface would always come back. As I grew to know that emptiness more than I did his presence, I began to give into that heartbreak and see things through a darker lens.
A couple years went by after the divorce and we were a family of four again. We lived in a blue house on the main street of a little Iowa town, and I walked to first grade every morning with my best friend who lived across the road. I loved to be over at her house because I didn’t always like to be at mine. The man who swooped in with a superhero’s cape, said he loved my mom and had promised to take care of us had revealed his true colors and left us trapped in his home. He told us repeatedly that our dad didn’t want us and left so he could take care of other people instead. He hurt us deeply and tied our minds up in knots so tight, we’re still trying to untangle them all.
After almost ten years we were able to escape that blue house and I entered my teenage years in a brick townhouse. It was our first true home for my mom, sister, and I. A home that held our rebirth of joy, freedom, and laughter. But still, it didn’t hold my dad. As I continued to shake off the years of pain, my mom would lovingly point out all the good things about my personality that were just like my dad’s, and even though I still loved him, I began to fear that I would end up just like him.
For the majority of my life, so many prayers have been said to a God who I could never quite call Father. So many times I would reach out to him with a sinking feeling that I would be left hung out to dry, asking questions that I just knew would always be answered with that painful silence that had taken residence in me. I would read so many promises that the Bible said God had for me, but all I could see through broken pieces of my heart was the son he had sacrificed on the cross. A son who cried out for mercy, was met with silence, and left to die. I believed in this God, and loved him in a way that showed humbled respect, but I was wary of his heart.
When I was twenty my heart began to soften towards my creator. I began to allow myself to explore who he is but only from a safe distance. I started feeling him whisper into my ear and tell me words of love. I allowed myself to slowly give more and more of my time to him, and begin to entertain the thoughts of him as a father. I started my blog, Trusting Adventure, as a way to write out and process how he’s working in my heart and to trust this adventure he has for me. I slowly moved away from the community I had grown up in and made my way to Nashville. About a year ago, as he continued proving his faithfulness to me over and over again, he brought me to a place to call home, free of cost, two weeks before my lease was up at my apartment and my bank account would hit zero. I moved into a domestic violence shelter and had a chance to speak the same words God had whispered into my ears to women and children with the same rips and tears on their hearts that I had on mine. I continued growing with him and fearing his abandonment less and less. He never stopped speaking into my heart.
He’s brought people into my life that challenge every aspect of him that I thought I knew. He brought me to The Belonging, Co. a church whose practice of their faith allows me to be adventurous and fall much deeper into my own. He brought friends in who love me and care for me like family and speak scriptures directly into my heart. He’s opened doors and walked with me through them and closed them after leading me out. He spoke through my people that twenty-four would be a major turning point in my life and he’s sealing a season of hurting, a season he never intended for me but used and flipped around completely for my good, on my twenty-fifth birthday.
I still struggle to really, truly call God my father. I’ve held a lot of disappointment towards him and have held so much of my heart back from him. Recently the Holy Spirit moved in me to forgive my dad. To release him from the blame of the years in that blue house. To honor the living God who is working in him and love him for everything he is instead of hold what he wasn’t in my hands. I’m so lucky to take after an earthly father who is a beautiful picture of selflessly loving compassion, I couldn’t be more thankful for the ways my heart mirrors his. But I’m even more blessed to have a father in heaven who so sweetly shows me the joy he carries for my dad and has never once abandoned me or left me alone. Day in and day out, when I call out for him, he answers. When I choose to trust in who he says he is, he blows my mind with his love. When I need his guidance, he lavishes me with wisdom. And all those times when I remember how my father fell short and the pain I still hold from him, when I run away from the truth of who my creator is, he sends his son. The son that for so long I believed was abandoned on the cross. Jesus comes and helps chip away at the hardness surrounding my heart and reveals it’s true, tender nature, speaking life back into it. He reminds me of how his father wept with the agony of what he had to do, and how his very love brought life back to his son’s body, all so I could breathe that same life someday too. And then, even when I’m basking in the power of his love he does more. He fills me with his Holy Spirit so I’ll never again have to feel that empty, aching, pain of being fatherless again.
Last summer, a bunch of conversations and questions and searching culminated in the launch of a new project. I was seeking a richer life in Richmond, craving community, and longing to be real with the people around me. I wanted to share my story and I wanted to hear the stories of others.
Story Seeker was born last June.
Exactly one year ago today, I wrote this post about it.
From June of 2014 through April of this year, 18 people shared their stories. 18 people bared heart and soul and spilled it all onto the page. 18 people grew me in incredible ways, opened my eyes and my heart to pain and joy I had never considered, reminded me we're never alone, and became parts of my heart.
Story Seeker is an amazing thing. It's also a hard thing. I realized as I sat across the table or sat at my computer that these stories were going to wreck me and break my heart and feel heavy. They were also going to put my heart back together, to make me celebrate, to fill me with joy and hope for humanity.
Life got busy. We say that so much, and it's a poor excuse. What happened is I let it slide. I let the stories fall to the wayside and let other things take priority in my life and with my time.
But now? Now I'm in a season where all community has been put on pause, and I find myself craving connection and community and coffee dates all over again. So I'm committing to bringing Story Seeker to life again.
This month for Speak Up, we are going on a picnic. It's been about 60 degrees and constantly raining in Richmond for days now (my favorite kind of weather maybe EVER) so it was a little tricky to try to get in that summer picnic state of mind...but here you have it, ants on my keyboard and all!
Also: That turkish towel I talked about? I got mine in Sevenly's Causebox (seriously the best box subscription out there), but it's from Give Perf and I love it. // When I mentioned you should listen to Hillsong's EMPIRES album, I wasn't kidding. You can find it here. // If you're interested in reading some incredible stories and testimonies, you can find them all here: Story Seeker
See you all again next month for another vlog! July is all about INDPENDENCE. Can't wait.
It still amazes me every day how social media brings people together from all over the world in such meaningful and lasting ways. Through #fireworkpeople Twitter parties, I met an absolute gem of a PR pro/poet named Kayla Hollatz. Kayla began her own Twitter party called #createlounge, and through that chat, I met another gem named Rebecca DeLuca. We chatted all night as Kayla prompted us with questions about how we write online and our authenticity and vulnerability there.
I kept loving things Rebecca was tweeting, and she kept replying to my tweets with similar feelings, and I knew I had to follow her and stay connected to her beyond just that one hour on Twitter.
At some point during that hour, my Story Seeker project was brought up. Rebecca jumped on it instantly, saying she was glad someone brought it up because she saw it on my site and wanted to know more. What?! So cool! I'm constantly blown away by people who want to dive into my little project headfirst and boldly share their story with a total stranger. It's incredibly.
Rebecca and I began emailing about it, and I loved her enthusiasm for her story before I had even heard it. She's truly a communications genius in her work, but as I got to know her a little better, I realized she's full of that same kind of passion in her heart too. She's a girl that is full of courage and a "go get em" attitude that I know will be world-changing.
I'm honored to share Rebecca's story with you today. Here it is.
My name is Rebecca DeLuca, I’m a 24 year old Canadian who fell in love with Boston. I’m a communications pro, a chocolate lover, a die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, a proud feminist, and am still waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter
When you first asked me if I had any idea what my story would be, he was the first thing that popped into my mind. Naturally, I fought it. As a proud feminist, no man will be my story. I wracked my mind for the many other things I’ve experienced in my life - graduating the top of my class, moving to a different country all alone, falling in love and earning my Master’s, but it all came back to him. I realized that he’s the reason I’m so passionate about women’s rights and ending violence against women. He’s the reason I was determined to move to Boston. He’s the reason I’m so clearly able to see the difference not only between a bad man and a good man, but a good man and a great man.
I met him when I was 17. I never yearned for a boyfriend. I was satisfied with “boys that were friends.” But, meeting him was so grown up, it was hard to resist. We met at a halloween party - me a hockey player, him an escaped convict. He added to his costume with my name on his arm minutes after we met - that should have been my first clue. Our best friends left the party together and he stayed behind to “watch me.” Red flag number two. He kissed me outside, and it began.
The first few months of our relationship were normal. He lived an hour away, and would drive to see me on weekends. He met my family and my friends. About three months into our relationship, he told me he was falling in love with me. It was exactly what I wanted to hear at the time. Little did I know what “falling in love” meant to him.
In his mind, it was us against the world. Any time we spent apart needed to be made up. If we watched a movie with my sister, we needed to spend extra time alone. If I went out with my friends, I had to stay home with him an extra day. Gradually this wasn’t enough. He’d take away my keys so I couldn’t go out, read my messages while I was asleep, show up at my work to make sure I was there, tell me who I could and couldn’t hang around with, and arrive at my house unannounced. When he found out I applied to a University two hours away, he threatened to finish a bottle of vodka and drive off a cliff.
One night in May he decided one of my closest male friends was gay. He mocked him, and questioned my motives for defending him. Realizing he wasn’t getting enough out of words, he moved on to destroying my things - and when I say “things” I mean possessions I’ve had since I was a child. I cried and begged him to stop. He stared right into my eyes while he finished. Finally something snapped, and he threw himself onto the floor crying, begging for my forgiveness. Scared for my life, I told him I forgave him and let him fall asleep.
My parents were right upstairs the entire time, not only that evening but for our entire relationship. They love me, and would have protected me from this entire situation. But I never called on them. I never called on my siblings, my friends, or anyone in my life. I was confused, ashamed, and I thought this was natural. It wasn’t until that evening, when I wondered if he would hurt me while we slept side by side in my twin bed, that I realized I needed to get help. I ended it the next morning. He still texted me after that, and I know I saw his car a few times outside of my work and home, but I was free.
I’ve had one boyfriend - my current boyfriend - since that moment. He knows about him, he knows about my fears and my triggers, and he’s the greatest man I know. I volunteer with women’s activist groups, organizations fighting to end violence against women, and sexual response centers. I’ve moved on, and I’m living a life I’m proud of. He isn’t my story, but he’s part of it.