Embracing: Becoming Myself

I’ve been reading a book by Stasi Eldredge called, “Becoming Myself: embracing God’s dream of you“. I’m halfway through and I’ve loved it. I’ve hated it. I’ve denied it. I’ve flat out ignored it. I’ve cried. I’ve laughed. I’ve identified myself, my hurts, my lost dreams, and so on, in so many places. It’s no secret that I’ve been on a journey of learning to truly become myself for awhile now. I mean, those who have been around me have seen the frustration, tears, triumphs, and even the hysterical laughter out of the sheer uncomfortableness, especially in the last month. Shall I go on? No, because it makes me all itchy and twitchy thinking about it. But, I am enjoying how this book is challenging me and encouraging me.

In this phase of the journey, somewhere in the beginning, I’ve been learning to accept who I am regardless of what anyone else thinks. I’m a people pleaser to the core. I will do what I can to make sure I don’t rock the boat. Because heaven forbid I have a different opinion than you. Or look different. Or BE different. And like most people pleasers, I want to be accepted by you. I want you to appreciate me and like me…so I have learned to change to become what you expect me to be. But, of course, it’s not me you are liking, but rather, who I think you want me to be. It’s exhausting!! So in this early part of my journey to truly become myself…the myself that God created me to be, I’m realizing I have to embrace and be happy with and accept, myself. The Raelynn that more than likely is different than you. Quite possibly, even different, than what you hope I would be. And hey, here’s a thought, it’s okay, more than okay, that I am different. There’s nothing wrong with being ‘different’. We need to quit judging ourselves for being different. Being different isn’t a bad thing. Different isn’t a bad word. Sheesh. If we were all the same, how boring would that be?

To embrace that side of me I’ve been writing down truths of me….the good, bad, ugly, funny, quirky, and so on. My likes, dislikes. It’s been even amounts of easy to tough to do. Because being honest with yourself, about yourself, is not always easy. Especially when you start thinking about those differences. All those things you hide – because you don’t feel good enough.

But as I’ve been writing down these truths of me, it’s come out a little like this:

  • I’m loyal!! Unless you get rid of me, i’m sticking to you no matter what
  • I need to learn balance and when to walk away, (ahem, see above)
  • I want to fix things, find solutions, and make life happy — to a fault at times
  • I’m funny, witty, and quite the entertainer
  • I’m smart and enjoy learning
  • I’m a worrier. I just am. Even though I know God has it…the worry is there.
  • I’m stubborn and must have the last word
  • I love, Love, LOVE, with every ounce of my being ~ even to the jerks & meanie heads
  • I will always choose to see the good in people
  • I say “I’m fine!” even when I’m not
  • I’ll apologize 1st ~ even if I shouldn’t be apologizing
  • I’m from a dysfunctional family, some may say from the wrong side of the tracks
  • I love ALL music ~ it just has to evoke an emotion or memory in me
  • I’m Oklahoma proud
  • God speaks to me often through Disney movies
  • I’m a weeper, a feeler, and sometimes, a downright emotional basket case
  • I’m quirky, nerdy, bratty
  • I hate change ~ even the good change
  • I want to be right
  • I stuff and avoid the things that make me uncomfortable
  • RealityTV makes me happy – yeah, i said it
  • Sometimes I say too much, drink too much, love too much, fix too much, feel too much, and even feel that I AM too much ~ even for myself
  • I make messes daily ~ figuratively and literally: small ones to big fat colossal ones
  • I could seriously add so many more bullet points but I will stop here

As I began writing down all things Raelynn – and there are pages and pages and room to add more – I began to see that all these normal, weird, average, quirky, and different things are just fine. Because they are me. I’ve spent so much of my life having this ‘secret’ side that I thought people wouldn’t appreciate or like because it looked different than what the world, and even I, felt was acceptable. But I’m over trying to be someone different. I’m so over it. I’m just me. Flaws and all. A beautiful mess. Full of God. Lover of Jesus. And though it’s easier written than done, every day I’m learning to accept me. And not just because of the attributes and things I’ve written above. But because I am worthy. I am important. I am lovable – and loved. God says so. He doesn’t lie. And if I am made in the image of Him, why would He deny Himself? He doesn’t deny me. I am spending so much time trying to get myself perfect for Him and for you – the world, that I am missing so much of the unique things that God appreciates about me, but more importantly has PUT IN ME. I am His creation. He says that I am wonderfully made. Wonderfully!!

I’m tired of hiding me. I’m tired of feeling like the things I am and enjoy need to be a secret. I’m okay with the world knowing what my “secrets” are – because they are all uniquely and creatively me.  I’m going to work on being kinder to myself and give myself room to grow. But what I most look forward to is hearing and seeing what God says about me and who’s made me to be. I’m more than excited to dream with God as He continues to define and polish me in to His masterpiece – quirks and all!

 

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You Should Know (Vol 2)

Grief is a beast. And it can sneak up on you anywhere, anytime, however it chooses. You can be driving along in your car and break out in uncontrollable sobs. The ugly cry. The deep soul groaning’s that only grief can give you. Or you can be sitting at your desk and have tears start falling down your face like a rushing waterfall. Not fun when you’re in the front office. Maybe you’re laughing and joking around with friends, and then out of nowhere the deep laughter turns into heart wrenching aches deep within that manifests itself again in unruly blubbering. It doesn’t help that I’m already a weeper and feeler. So when these moments happen, I’m finding, there is nothing you can do but lean in to it, embrace it, be in THE moment. Because the longer you shove them down, they just come back at you stronger, harder, and again at those most unfortunate times. Even still I’m learning that God is with me in those moments. He’s walking along with me because He knows the grief will end and bring new life. I used to be afraid of grief. I didn’t want to feel the pain. I didn’t want to deal with “the why” of the grief. I’m learning to not be so afraid. Grief will grow you, shape you, and make you a stronger person.

Fear. Oh fear. Such a tricky little bastard. Yeah, I said it. Fear has been prevalent in my life for so long. Keeping me from being me. Keeping me from my dreams. No, actually, keeping me from dreaming. Fear is always there, lurking, trying to tell me everything I’m not and what I can’t do. I’m not listening to fear anymore. Fear has no power over me. Oh, but he is there. Trying to trick me in to believing his lies so I will stay paralyzed. Fear knows that if I give myself over to it, then I will not move forward in my destiny, in the plans and purposes that God has for me. My God is bigger than any fear I have, so instead I’m choosing to remind myself that with God all things are possible. I’m learning to tune my ears to God’s whispers. Because God’s whispers are so much more powerful than fears shoutings.

The need to be silent is still with me. Trust me, there are many times I want to shout back and state my case. Defend my name. Stand up for me. Fight for you. But God has told me to hold my tongue. To remain silent. To remain in Him. Because in the silence, I am learning so much more about Him, His character, His love for me. I’m also learning about myself. What a concept?! It’s in the silence that you make room for growth because you aren’t filling up your mind with distractions. Truth prevails in silence. I’ve been following Him as He leads me to those still waters, so He can indeed restore my soul. But for that restoration to happen, I need to quit trying to distract myself with noise, and remain in silence. Only then can I hear Him. And be open to truth.

SIMPLE IS POWERFUL!!

Forgiveness is a mighty thing to give; but even mightier to receive. I’ve been pondering on forgiveness. Not to forgive only with my words, but also with my heart. It’s a work in progress. I’ll get there. Sometimes, the words are spoken because we do forgive in our minds and with our words; and then the heart part of forgiveness comes along and then it’s sealed. Done. Forgiven. As far as the east is from the west. Not just in our minds and words, but with every ounce of our being. FYI: I can forgive you, easily. However, I’m not so gracious and forgiving with myself. I am my own worst enemy. Forgiveness is key to my healing. I’m understanding that forgiveness is heavy, weighty, life giving, and so much bigger and broader than I understand. I’m excited to learn more about what true forgiveness is; and not just what I want it to be because it will make me feel better.

When things get all discolored, scarred, and scary, rest in knowing that GOD IS GOOD…all the time. And though you might not be able to see it, He is working on your behalf. And mine. I’m believing that more and more every day.

JESUS LOVES YOU!

Mountain Walks

This past Sunday I grudgingly took a walk through the mountains. I say, grudgingly, because at the time, I did not want to do it. As an extrovert with heavy introvert tendencies at times, I have been spending 75% of my time alone these days. More due to the fact that my heart has been needing to mend; and lately, I just need time alone. And that’s okay too. Don’t worry, friends. Your vivacious Raelynn will be back soon. It’s odd for me, too. But right now, I need some time. But, I digress, so with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, I went along on a hike because I said I would the Sunday before and I wanted to be true to my word. That whole, “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ be ‘no’! And that, my friends, takes work. Because when you want to be alone, sometimes you want to turn that Yes, into a No! Not just a no, but a hell No!!! But like I said, I want to be true to my word, and as I secretly hoped it would rain…it didn’t, so off I went.

As we drove toward Silver Lake the sky turned grey and cloudy. Inside I was like, Yes, they’ll want to turn around. But onward we went because the sky was full of bright sun and grey spots. So there was much hope, no on my part, that our area would be full of sun. As we pulled in to the parking lot, it was pouring down with these odd snow/hail pellets. Affectionately termed “snellets” on this trip. And we sat in the car, waiting out the grey and snellets… then gratefully, it happened —yes please not the sarcasm here–the sun shone and called us forth. I was literally pulled out of the car, because again, my heart wasn’t in it quite yet.

We began our walk around the lake in the slightly grey–but not grey enough to keep us from going, yet still with bright sun peaking out of the clouds. And since I was on route anyway, I gave myself over to the adventure. So I walked, talked, and enjoyed the beauty that I was surrounded in–breathtaking. And slowly as I walked, it began to happen. You know…that moment! God began to speak soft, fatherly, comforting words to me. As it happened, I intentionally began to wander on the journey alone. Due to the fact that tears were so near the surface, my heart ached and needed healing, and I knew at that moment I was desperate for a moment with my Father. Which for any of you who know me, this was new to me. When it comes to God the Father, I tend to shy away. Due to not feeling as protected as a child, I’ve always kept myself distant and wary. Knowing that He was good and is good–all the time; but more toward you, and not toward me. Because again, I didn’t feel as protected…even now I can say that. But that was all about to change.

For any of you who know me well, know that when I’m in the mountains..and it never fails, He always puts a song in my heart. Something I just can’t help but sing. Sometimes they are super serious and worshipful, or even pensive, upbeat and happy, and at times it’s been “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. After all, I am a Native Princess. But, anyway, I began to hear “You Found Me” by Loud Harp. One of my most favorite songs about God loving His children who feel lost and far away, yet He comes to rescue them. Like a Good Father does!! As the lyrics talk about how we wander and feel lost and are even caught neck deep in the mire–of our shames, guilt, and so on; that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for some time now. Lost and wandering. Wanting a safe place to belong and call home. A place of total acceptance; and not based upon what I can do for you, or how I have to change to fit your personality in order to feel love and belonging. Truth be told, I’m quite transparent about much, but YES there are walls that I have had up for years and with good reason. And I have always longed for that Father acceptance and embrace; but felt it wasn’t for me. Such a long story that I understand and don’t understand. (It will take some time for a trained professional and I to sort out. But, with God, we’ll get there!) But, I heard God keep saying, “Be still and be with ME!” Which I felt terrified and anxious, but so needy for His comfort. As we walked He kept bidding me to know Him, but more importantly, to allow Him to know me. Basically, He was letting me know that He wants to know me–open and transparent–too. He wants to be with me. He wants me to tear down the walls I have and share myself with Him. And that terrified me.

Though I was terrified, the amazing thing about God, our Father, is He is loving. And He woos us. He knows I’m terrified to let myself be fully known. He knows that I am scared to let someone in fully to see the messes I’ve made; or to see what I truly think/believe of myself; or to see the hidden shame I stumble through trying to restore myself…which really is getting me nowhere. He already knows all of that, but He is allowing me to let Him in so I don’t feel forced in to it. He just waits for me. He waits for me to come to Him. And in that moment, I realized the depth of His love for me. When I could look at Him with all my flaws and mistakes–past and oh so present, and didn’t feel like I needed to lower my head. But instead, I could lift it high and wrap myself up in His arms. He was ready, more than ready…as I said He was waiting for me, and was oh so willing to rescue me when I opened myself up to Him. It’s the beginning of a new adventure of me understanding God the Father and His love for me..and you. I’m excited to move forward. And all I could hear as I continued my mountain walk was more of the song that says,

“You’re a good Father, this is a good home
right in the palm of Your hands,
You’re not letting go!”

I’m getting there…I’m embracing the journey…and soaking up every bit of good, bad, ugly, and awkward that comes along with it. I have no need to fear, though it is me, He knows I’ll get anxious at times, but I’ve got my Father along with me on this journey.

Check out Loud Harp if you haven’t yet! You won’t regret it.

Words!!

Words. I love them. Always have. I love learning new ones. I have a plethora of favorites because I love hearing them spoken and enjoy how they roll off the tongue. Words like: resplendent, lackadaisical, brouhaha, conundrum, insipid, persnickety, etc. Growing up I would try to learn one new word a day. Words are yummy to me. Meaning, I could devour them up they are so good. I have always been a reader. I could get lost in books. From an early age, I read books that had LARGE, smart, words. I remember sitting with a dictionary and when I’d get to a word I didn’t understand, I’d look it up. Then, viola, I had another word added to my Raelynn dictionary. I think Jason Mraz expresses it best in one of his songs. It goes like this…

“See I’m all about them words, over numbers, unencumbered, numbered words.
Hundreds of pages, pages, pages, forwards. More words, than I had ever heard,
And I feel so alive!”

You can string words together to create a fantastical image of emotions, thoughts, points, and recollections. For me, words, were how I expressed all that was going on within my head. I’m a thinker. Most times, I can get too lost in my own thoughts. So many words happening all at once can create a perfect storm of catastrophe in your mind. And to be able to journal it out helped stopped some of the inner processing that was unhealthy. Words are also strung together wonderfully in music. You can generally tell the mood i’m in by the songs i’m listening to. I’m not a genre snob when it comes to music. It can be pop, country, rock, rap, R&B, opera, folk, yodeling…the point being, the lyrics are what draw me in, those beautifully strung together words, within the song. They speak to my emotions, happy and sad. Reaching deep into my soul. Telling of all that is going on deep in my heart. Or, solely, expressing fun and being alive.

I’ve always been expressive. Ask anyone who knows me. It’s rare that i’m at a loss for words. Though, i’m sure many wish I was at a loss for words in some instances. For that, I say, I’m sorry. But not really, it’s just who I am. I’ve always been verbose. It’s me, I’ve accepted it. Please for your sake, accept it, too.

Lately I’ve been pondering on the power of words. Words have power for good and bad. I’ve been thinking about how words can bring life or bring death. They can build up or they can tear down. And as verbose as I am, I have felt the need to be silent. See, even a wordy, gabby, talkative, expressive person can be quiet and still. I’ve been trying to tie together what i’m feeling with my words. But I’m getting mostly silence. The words have stopped. It was frustrating at first. But God has been speaking to me in the silence. He’s been quieting my words and speaking to me His words. God is gracious and faithful. And He’s been speaking life to me as I’ve been in a place of grief, healing, and uncertainty. He’s been quieting my words, when I want to lash out at what’s hurting me. He’s been wooing me with His loving kindness and speaking words of healing that remind me that no matter the words I tell myself or that others speak over me, I can’t get farther than His grace can reach. With a sound of his voice — His words, brings forth healing. He heals us from all our diseases…even the disease of negative words that are spoken about us, from us, or over us.

I’m going to cover in another blog, or two*, more about what I’ve been learning about the power of words. Lately, as much as I love words, I feel like words have been shooting arrows at me. Word arrows from myself, from those closest to me. From those that I love, and those that love me. From the expected and from the most unexpected places. There have been many tears in the last month as I’ve pondered, or analyzed to death, the words that have been spoken over me…and my choice to believe them. But, with God, we are on a journey to overcome them. To find healing and freedom from the negative. And to only accept in my life what is truth and life giving. We all know its easier to believe the negative, than the positive. With Him, I’m on a journey to use the power of words to build up, not tear down. Because this is what you need to know…once a word has been spoken, heard, and/or seen, it sticks on us for better or worse. And it can bring encouragement and life; or such heartache and grief. I want to bring encouragement. I want to bring LOVE with my words. I choose not to tear down, because I don’t want anyone to feel what I’ve been feeling lately with the words that have been taunting me.

*I didn’t want this to be any longer than it already is….see, verbose! So it was easier to break into more blogs. 

Communion Sunday

My first recollections of communion are from going to church with my great grandmother. But before I go into that there are a couple things you should know. 1st, my great-grandma, aka MY granny or G-ma, was my world. There is no one on this earth that I believe loves me like she did. My grandmother was the most loving; awesome, coolest, wonderful, amazing…continue adding adjectives here about her wonderfulness. She was all of that, plus some. And y’all, I’m just going to say it…my grandmother was better than yours. And I’m certain I was her favorite. Yeah, I said that too. 2nd, my grandmother attended a small town 1st Baptist church where she was very influential and well respected. You know, a pillar in the community.

Now, let’s get into my recollections of communion. When I would visit my grandmother, I always attended church with her. I remember when the communion plate would pass I was always told to not take it. I would get a very assertive look from my grandmother and other churchgoers that I was to not take it. As a young kid, at first when this was happening, I was more concerned why I was being denied a snack when everyone else got one. The other kids got to. What’s up with that? I mean, really! It was never spoken of why, but I knew deep in my soul that it was serious. And in my young mind and heart, I even felt the weight that something was wrong with me. I must have done something wrong. Even more so, that I was wrong. Finally, after multiple communion denials, one day I asked my grandmother about it. She explained the importance of communion. She went through the process of explaining the elements.

  • Bread, or mini hexagon shaped cracker, was to represent His body and life given. We take it to remember.
  • Grape juice, not wine, as it was a small town Baptist church, was to represent Christ’s blood and sacrifice for our sins. We take it to represent the new covenant.
  • And overall, with communion, it’s an examining of oneself. Presenting yourself right before the Lord.

Okay, I get all of that. I can get behind that. I think. Maybe that “right” thing I got an eye twitch from because, again, I knew something was wrong with me. But overall, I agreed with the communion process. So, again, why was I denied? Now here’s the kicker of where my struggle with communion began. My grandmother and this church, and many other churches I attended, believed that you could not, and definitely should not take communion unless you were RIGHT with Him. Do you know what I mean by right? Yes, that…not just right, but perfect. It wasn’t stated, but most definitely implied. Only the “good people” without flaws and mistakes were able to take communion. Insert now…shame and an even greater building inside of me of the truth that I created in my little mind, I’m not good enough. So, here you have me, little Raelynn, who is a lover to the core of all that’s within me. Even then, before I fully gave my life to Him, I loved Jesus. And I wanted Him to love me too. And I learned in Sunday school that He, in fact, did love me. But with this communion issue, I understood, that even though He loved me, I wasn’t good enough. I quickly learned and knew I wasn’t good enough for a multiple of reasons that would take too long to explain in this post. But super short version is…being in small town Oklahoma where Native American’s were considered heathens and less; not to mention, my Father’s family name was associated with trouble and all manner of negativity. Plus, I never felt right. I always felt I was messing up. I was just a little shame bucket. I was far from RIGHT!

Fast forward to my adult life. Communion Sunday’s still make me anxious at times. Even though I’ve prayed, discovered, and explored my own thoughts on communion; I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe it’s that cut and dry. But honestly, at times, that need to be perfect still creeps in. Shame and fear rear their ugly little heads in my thoughts and remind me that I am not good enough to be standing before Him. They point out my flaws, sins, and those ugly things I don’t like about myself. And then I start thinking about His sacrifice and life and compare it to where my life is. And I want to run. I want to hide because I have made, and continue to make, doozies of mistakes. I am reckless with my life at times. I forget to remember Him in those times and I want the fleshy part of me to reign a little more because I want my own way. And this may come as a surprise, but I am not perfect. I know, weird, right? The only thing I feel perfect at is being perfectly flawed. So for me, it’s always been a bit of a struggle when it comes to communion. I feel like that little girl who was not good enough. Who understood because of the not so great circumstances of her life, is not allowed to stand before Him until she is perfect. This belief created a whirlwind of striving within me and I have yet to measure up. Because I know me. I know I’ll mess up again. I know i’ll make mistakes. I know I’m not perfect. I know, that even recently, I have been reckless and have made said mistakes. So how will I ever be able to stand before Him and commune with Him truly? It’s created quite a conundrum of sadness in my life through the years. How do I work this out?

The last couple of weeks I’ve been working through some hurts and mistakes. You know, those things that hurt deep in the soul. The ones you worry you can’t come back from. We all have them. But I always feel mine are greater and bigger and unredeemable. And I was laying in my bed thinking, okay over analyzing to death, the unbearable mess-up-ness that is Raelynn. And I heard God clearly say to me, “commune with my Son.” And I said, “What?” He said, again, “commune with my Son.” And I began to list off to Him all of my flaws, mistakes, sins, and why I shouldn’t really be communing with Jesus right now. Basically, I was like, can I get a rain check? And I was heartbroken. But God, being who He is…gracious and merciful, began speaking to me about the truth of Jesus life on the cross. And why it is important to remember; but more importantly why it’s important to have communion with Christ. Communion means to communicate. And then it happened, the Aha moment! Yes, Christ died on the cross for me; yes, He gave His body and shed His blood to cover all of those things I was listing off on why I couldn’t and shouldn’t come before Him. The enemy does that to us. Reminds us of our flesh and mistakes. He shames us. But the power of the cross is greater than that. More powerful than any of those mistakes or any shame that I am trying to get right before I can stand before Him. And then I realized if communion is a remembrance of His life on the cross, then at those desperate times of my flesh, I should be running to Him. I should be running to communicate with Him. I shouldn’t be shamed in staying away, but instead should be in His presence. I understood that it’s okay, actually more than okay and allowed, that I should be taking the elements as a symbolic act of remembrance of His life and work on the cross. It’s so that I can freely come before Him and commune with Him. To have an honest conversation of the good, the bad and at times, the even uglier moments I’m dealing with. Remembering that those things that I’m working through are just “stuff” and He’s bigger than the stuff. The work on the cross is more powerful than the stuff. I don’t need to be shamed. Again, I NEED to be running to communicate with Him. Because in that communication the enemy loses his hold, he can no longer keep me from my freedom that was freely given me because of Christ’s work on the cross. I no longer have to live under this cloak of “perfectness” in order to have a relationship with Him; because let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen.

It’s liberating. It’s freeing. It’s true communion.