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Nine Whole Months...

Updated: Mar 16, 2021

Today marks 9 months. Nine whole months filled with courage, fear, confidence, failure, passion, numbness, and a twinge of hope. Nine whole months ago God fanned the flame in my heart to launch Feel the Reals, a blog filled with snippets of my personal life to reach other hearts who were a bit too scared alone or... finally ready, to feel the reals of life. All of the ups, downs, and all arounds- even (and especially) the painful ones. I am not too sure who most of my readers are, I am only most aware of those who have commented or reached out to me to let me know if something I shared resonated with their life. [Thank you so much for sharing your heart and inspiring me forward <3]. To be completely honest, I cannot even tell you if my closest family members or dearest friends actually take the time to read any of my six to fourteen minute blog posts. It might be much like scrolling Facebook or Instagram where you just click the Heart or Like button since you know the person posting... and you move right along to the next best thing without actually reading the attachment. And if that is you, well that is A-okay. God made it pretty clear to me that I was to start putting my life in print - whether it reached 1 person or 1 million. So today, I choose to just keep writing even if it's only for an audience of one (insert winking Emoji).

This blog, Feel the Reals, is about feeling those things we would rather hide from or flee. Things like bad dates, broken hearts, abuse, lost relationships, single parenting, starting over, feeling alone, being trapped in a body you hate, trying to find yourself... all of it, every situation involving every emotion imaginable. My motto: 'Embrace your story- Embrace your life' is about making a personal commitment to yourself to be true to you. To tell your story like only you can, so that you might embrace life in all of it's fabulous and rich colors. I know some might argue that looking back is not the same as moving forward, that drudging up that old yuck only contaminates your present, or that you are only healed if you no longer speak of the things that happened in the past. Well, sorry... but I call bullshit on that! In order to fully embrace your beautiful life you must also fully embrace your story, all parts of it- leaving nothing out, especially those things you have made a silent commitment to just 'forgive and forget' so that your best self (the self that you allow the world to see) isn't marred, scarred or in any way jarred. I can understand the crippling fear that exists with just the mere thought of letting anyone- or everyone, look into the pieces of your life. Those pieces that formed you, broke you, built you up, or even injured you. It can be truly terrifying to stand before others absolutely naked without a shield. But wouldn't you rather stand buck-ass naked... than be clothed in garments that are only intended to win the approval, praise, and adoration of others? (BARF!). I know I spent far too many years of my life wearing only what appealed to others. In that, I lost pieces of me. The best pieces.

Your story, that story that belongs to only you... well, that is your life collage. Your life collage (my personal definition) is 'a picture that has been created by the gluing of memories and moments to the fabric of your life'. In full disclosure, I really battled with God on whether I should even post pictures of myself that I find unflattering or that are tied to very painful memories. And God so gently reminded me that those pictures are part of my story, that by leaving them out I would be leaving out pieces of me... and in turn, be untrue to myself. "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man" (credit: Hamlet Act I Scene III. Hell, even Shakespeare valued integrity). And when God does speak to you, no matter how he speaks it to you, he always confirms his truth in some way. It doesn't matter whether it happens immediately, or takes hours, days, months or even years. A great example of this happened just this past week. One of my sisters and I were reminiscing about life, and the subject of pictures came up. We started to rationalize if it is good, bad, right or wrong to keep pictures from past relationships, marriages, and mistakes we have made. My sister made the following statement: "My wedding day was Epic, one of the best days of my life, and just because the marriage ended doesn't change the way I feel about that day". (I want to give you a moment to really let that statement sink in. That, my friend, was God confirming that even pictures of failed relationships are part of your story). I am someone who has thrown countless pictures in trash cans and dumpsters of failed relationships. Many years ago, fourteen to be exact, a female counselor I had been seeing advised me to purge my life of all pictures, cards, gifts and memorabilia from my second marriage... as well as all previous relationships (romantic or otherwise). She argued that by acting in obedience to this 'cleansing ritual' I would be able to walk unhindered and unashamed into my new life. And... I did just that. I tossed them away with a fierce 'to hell with it' and shook the dirt off the soles of my shoes. And today, if I was to be completely honest with you, I would have to admit that in the moment it felt freeing- almost liberating, but outside of that moment, I have felt a twinge of what I believe to be regret. By throwing it all out, I also threw out any of the good memories that were attached. And there were some good memories intertwined even though I have no desire to reignite any of those old relationships. I do know this ritual works for some people, and if that's you, I'm not knocking your style. I am just making an admission that I let someone else pressure me into parting with things before I might have been ready on my own- or not ready at all. Although there is nothing I can do to get those pictures and memorabilia back, I do find that I am thankful today that I chose to keep pictures from my first marriage (and just to be clear, in no way- on any planet, do I want to reconcile with my first husband ). At the time, I kept those pictures solely for my children's sake. Somewhere in me, even if it was way deep down, I believed that they might someday want to pull them out to look at them to see that love did indeed exist between their parents- even amidst all those painful years. And I do feel fortunate to have those pictures today. I have come to discover that I can look at them now, 29 years later, and see them through different eyes. I can see glimpses of a younger me in love with a boy, glimpses of the boy before the addictions and abuse took over his life. I can even look back and see when my appearance became too thin, or I appeared too brittle. I can also look at pictures of him and see what appears to be true unhappiness- whether that was with me, with himself, or just with life in general. All that to say, your story is in those pictures. In those cards. In those long ago letters or gifts. It is your choice, your choice alone, if you choose to keep them... or not. I believe there is great value in storing your story. I have journals from 1989 that have traveled with me through every peak and valley of my life. In those journals are my deepest secrets, my most heart felt prayers, the thoughts that kept me up at night, or the miracles God ushered in when my life felt over. And those journals will remain with me, hidden away in a faded copy-paper box, until I choose to part with them. And yes, I realize that I may never choose to part with them. They belong to me, they are my story.

When I started writing this post, I believed it was going to be about my 9 month anniversary. I wanted to share which posts had the most views, which posts were completely passed over, which posts truly resonated with someone's life. But.... instead, this post became about embracing your story. So, to my audience of one... or one million- embrace your story to embrace your life. There is such beauty to be found in the ashes of what you have been through. And God is still at work to bring even more color to your life. So many times I believed my life was over. Too much pain, heartbreak, regret, and defeat. But each time I crumbled, God was there to help me back to my feet and to start again. He loves me that much! And he loves you that much! He will never leave you broken or lonely. I urge you today to keep those pieces of your story that you would rather rip out of the book that is your life. Even if you have to place those pieces in a faded copy-paper box and hide it away in a dark corner of your garage, just give God time to fill you with the courage to someday look at them with different eyes. There are many relationships in my life that ended up in that trash can or those dumpsters, and even today I wish I could tangibly hold those pieces in my hands. As the years pass, people change. They put in the work to become a better version than the person you knew them as. Just as you do. One of the very hardest things to do is to see someone become a better person without you in their life. Sometimes... it's just supposed to turn out that way. After all, I am becoming a better person without them in mine. #memories #confirmation #godsatwork #brokenrelationships #embraceyourstory #embraceyourstoryembraceyourlife

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