This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

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Pretending vs Faking

I can’t stand fakers. I really have no patience  or empathy for someone who fakes life, their intentions or who they are. One of my core values is integrity and faking goes directly against that value. It’s like scraping nails on the chalkboard of my inner being.

Today I had to spend a lot of time pretending and I thought it important to note the difference. There are things in my life right now that mean that for quite some time to come, any day can be detailed at any moment. One email, one phone call and I fall apart. That happened this morning. It started with an email that led to a phone call, and I fell apart. I was a weeping ball of mush, self questioning, life questioning and wanting to run away. Intense pain will do that. I liken it to being a scared kitten. You might scratch at things that are good and trying to help you. You might make sudden and erratic movements. It’s important to move slowly and breathe. I took the breathing part too fast though and ended up with an anxiety attack 10 minutes before I am supposed to be on a video conference for work. Fun times.

So I pretended. I got on the video call and did everything I could recall from my theatre classes in high school and I pretended to be ok. I fought tears for the first 20 minutes but I eventually gained a good hold and the minute I got to click the end button it all came out, but I made it through what I had to do. I wasn’t faking, but I was pretending and there is a difference. I dont think fakers are very honest with themselves so how can they be honest with others? Someone who pretends does it out of necessity. It is permissible to not tell everyone you encounter that your not ok, but it’s not healthy to not tell anyone. Someone has to know, hopefully more than one person, but people who you can trust and who can help.

It does not cross the value of integrity to pretend so you can still function as a mom, as a businesswoman, as a friend – as whatever you need to be. I think we err on the side of pretending too often (especially to our kids) but there are necessary times, because unfortunately life doesn’t grind to a halt to let you fall apart and have time to recover. So while your in that stage, you can pretend just to get through. You do need to take steps to recover though, or your just faking.

Don’t be a faker.

so speaking of recovery, I’m going for a run.


Companion to My Soul

I felt very alone growing up. I didn’t have a really close friend until high school. There was no one to share my thoughts, hopes, dreams or fears with. I needed someone who could see my heart.

The relationship I yearned for is the relationship I see between Jesus and John. J. Philip Newell describes John as one who listened for the heartbeat of Jesus, and Jesus showed the secrets of his heart to John. They had a mutual indwelling: John 15:4 – Abide in me as I abide in you. John was the disciple whom Jesus loved, as he self described himself. Johns gospel is very, very clear about his relationship with Jesus and the intimate love he felt.

Newel uses a term, “Companion of my soul” as someone who has kissed you into greater wholeness in your life. Its like, “looking into one anothers heart to release depths that hitherto we have not known.” He says that “when you find someone who looks into your soul, it releases streams of yearning for life and creativity and peace”. Someone who looks into your soul hurts with you, they experience joy with you, they live life with you. They can be a friend, a mother, a brother, a grandfather or a lover.

I am so blessed, beyond blessed, to have as many companions of my soul that I do. As I mentioned, it wasn’t always this way. I know what it feels like to have no one to share your soul with, to bare your soul with. I also am very aware that not everyone has that either. Some don’t even have one companion to the soul and that is the feeling of sheer and utter aloneness, emptiness, unworthiness. I think the Goo Goo Dolls encapsulate this in their song.


And I’d give up forever to touch you
‘Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You’re the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be
And I don’t wanna go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
When sooner or later it’s over
I just don’t wanna miss you tonight

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am


We are yearning for someone to look into our heart, to know who we are, to be a companion to our soul.

What if the pain in the world comes from a lack of companions of the soul? What if that’s what we need to heal? This is not an easy solution because to find a companion, means you have to be one. You have to risk vulnerability and opening your heart to share what is there in order to have that connectedness. Too often people have taken that risk, been rejected and shut down. There is no other easier solution than to risk again. Find the right person and take the leap of faith. It’s worth it. My life is better because of these relationships. No amount of wealth could compare to the richness of having a companion of the soul.

I don’t want to fit in – ever, anywhere

Through my life, I have consistently felt like the ugly duckling. The one who doesn’t fit in; I’m too loud, to firm, too blunt, too different. Anytime I found somewhere that accepted me, I have clung to that deeply. I think the first time was when I was 14 and I sat in the back row of a church and a boy in that church decided that he wanted to be friends with a girl who would show up at 14 in church alone. He’s been my best friend ever since.

My husband has family in Mexico and the first time I ever met them they made me feel like a part of the family, not because I was married in, but because they accepted me and wanted me. When my husband and I divorced, none of that changed. We actually grew closer. I had somewhere that I belonged.

Brene Brown has written about the difference of fitting in and belonging. She says, “Fitting in is about assessing the situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are,” (The gifts of imperfection).

Dear Church Leaders – knowing the difference is CRUCIAL. In school I always tried to fit in. I felt that who I was would never be good enough. Because I had been abused and grew up in a dysfunctional family, I didn’t believe that who I was had value or worth. So I constantly tried to change who I was to fit the group I was around. This resulted in me hating myself even more. I compromised who I was, to try and get acceptance and ultimately would reject myself. I often wasn’t accepted that way either anyways, so my efforts were wasted.

But isn’t this EXACTLY what the church does? We expect people to change before we make them a part of our group. You have to fit in, in order to be a Christian – at least that’s the theology people actually practice. It’s 100%  contrary to the Bible and we NEED TO STOP THIS!

Christ taught belonging. Come to me, as you are, who you are and I accept you. Christians panic because they think this is a permission to sin, but it’s not. It’s permission to be real, to be honest, open and vulnerable. That sometimes I act in ways that God never created me to, but He loves me anyways. He has already planned for my mistakes. My sin didn’t take me off course, because God already knew my sin and he has planned for that. He is still going to use me even though I mess up.

Can we as Christians not also do the same? Can we also not accept people for where they are at, show them unconditional love and know that God has a plan?

Brene also writes, “We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.”

I was not functioning as I was meant to, because my needs hadn’t been met. Too often I found churches that wanted me to “clean up” before I could be accepted by them. I couldn’t clean up because my needs weren’t being met. If we meet peoples needs for love and belonging, then their behaviors will change. It was true for me. It was a long process, but as I found more and more people who loved me for who I was, and I felt I didn’t have to try and change who I was for them to accept me, I had less pain to numb. They loved me even though I was loud and blunt and different. God made me this way. I have to know when to temper those things, but it’s who I am at my core.

Stop trying to make people fit in, when God created us to belong. We all belong to Him.

What if no one believed me?

I have revisited my life in bits and pieces, exploring manageable chunks at a time. Right now I am going through a season where God is showing me the bigger picture and I am looking back at it all, at once. I have commented a few times that if I were to tell someone my whole life story, no one would believe so many of the things that have happened could have happened to one person – well for sure not to one person and still be reasonably sane (hopefully I am).

I shared this same concern with my counselor Tom; he is amazing, both as a person and as godly counsel. We started wrestling with the ideas of being thankful to God for what we went through and we landed on the story of Job. Job is significant because God was bragging about him and that actually was the sources of his troubles (BIG TROUBLES). Tom shared his perspective when he hits difficult times – that God must have been bragging about him to Satan and now Satan is trying to tear him down. I don’t think this might always be the case, but two truths are: even if God isn’t bragging about us as the cause of our trouble, it’s still a great view of how God sees us and also that so much of what happens in our lives isn’t about us, but it’s about whats going on in the heavenly realm.

The next stop on our wrestling tour took us to Luke 17, where Jesus healed ten lepers but only one returned to glorify God, and that one was made whole. Tom explained that there was a difference between healing and wholeness. See, lepers lost body parts and had all kinds of gross things happen to their body, but when they were healed they no longer had the disease of leprosy. The one who returned was made whole, so he no longer had the disease but also any body parts he lost grew back, any hard skin was made soft and and physical deformities would be gone. It was as though he had never even had leprosy.

Tom said that he believes I am at a stage where God isn’t about just healing me anymore – He wants me to be whole, to be restored to be like before anything ever happened. It was then that I realized that I now have a deep desire that if and when I tell people any part of my story, let alone the whole thing, I HOPE they don’t believe me! What if when people looked at me they saw such freedom that they could never believe I had been through those things? I would be ok with that, because I could point them to my Savior and tell them that those things did happen to me, but He has made me whole.


The voice of the tree

There has been a sequence of events this year that has opened so many wounds – so many old wounds.

It has taken me back to childhood. A lot of bad things happened when I was a child, some around me and some to me. I have dealt with all these things in different levels and sometimes when you are brought back it’s for a short time and you move forward, but this year it’s not that way. It’s been a long time that I need to lean into and not fight against. It’s painful to go back so no one ever really wants to, but there can be healing when you do – sometimes a deeper healing than there was before.

This time I have had to revisit many places and not just once singular event – I am sure that’s why it’s been harder but it also had a purpose. I looked back with an overall view of my childhood and it’s very painful. It’s given me a deeper realization for all the things that happened in a cumulative way.

I looked back and I saw myself and just myself. I love my parents deeply but they were battling their own issues. I have countless brothers and sisters but I hardly lived with any of them and when I did it was not the best. I look back and see this girl who was on her own, had to fight for herself and find my way by myself. It has been painful to see that that was the reality of my life. Children are not meant to be alone.

And as I grieve this reality, God meets me there. I know He was with me the whole time – it’s not the same as growing up in a loving family who cares for each other, but God is there and He is enough. He was then and He is now.

Stepping back and looking at the big picture I see something else as well. The best illustration I can give is that I am like a tree. Like a Christmas tree. Please bear with me, because Christmas is not my favourite holiday nor do I like decorating. But I am like a tree and there have been significant people who came and added something beautiful to my life. Each is different and though I didn’t have one or two central people who were always there, I had many who each added something. Some of my branches are bent or even broken off. Because of the deformities of my tree and the fact that there is no consistent pattern or decorative theme to my tree – since all the people who added to it were unique and added unique contributions, it is very much a Charlie Brown tree.

No one ever wanted a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. It was scoffed at and ridiculed. Everyone wanted the asthetically pleasing tree with its perfect balance of lights and matching ornaments. That made people feel good to look at.

Things have changed and my generation and younger are challenging the status quo of what is acceptable. We’re tired of fake. We’re tired of putting on a show and pretending that in real life everything is perfectly put together. If you need an example please read about the fiasco in Montreal and their “terrible” Christmas tree which initially drew public scorn but was quickly turned around and that tree now has its own twitter account. People are now wanting imperfect trees publicly displayed. Being real is ok. Being vulnerable is strength not weakness.

My life purpose is to bring glory to God. The most significant way that I do that is to be a voice for those who are voiceless and to help others find there voice. I realize this passion comes because I had to do that for myself and those times that I had someone beside me deeply impacted me. Voices together are beautiful. If being alone created in me this bold voice that I proudly have – then I will take it! Not everything good comes out of blessing. God can make amazing things come from the deepest, darkest places. Because he is awesome like that.

The difficult life

It is common to think that the ideal life is the easy life. How great would it be to not struggle, to not have to work very hard and things all came together. I long for that at times – for what I think a normal life would be, with a white picket fence and the days would all be the same, but at least they are calm and relaxed. You work a 9-5 job, wave to your neighbours when you water your plants and take normal vacations with your family.

Last night my family and I were reading from Max Lucado. He talked about God’s reason to exist: and that is to glorify God. That doesn’t appear to make sense at first but he unpacks it really well. If you are drowning and there was someone who could save you, would you want that person to be very quiet, meek and timid? You would want them to shout and call out so you know where they are and that they can save you. This is why His purpose is to bring Himself glory. Only He can save us so He works to direct people to Himself and show them that He can save them.

My life purpose, now that I know Jesus, is to glorify God. It’s easy to think that a life that glorifies God is a wonderful easy life that is problem free. We are all cleaned up now that we are saved and our lives are the epitome of perfection – no more struggle, no more hard work, just kick back and relax time and watch the others flock to Jesus because of how blessed my life is. Clearly this is not what happens, but why not? Why would God not instantly make things easy for us now that we are following him and have given him our lives and hearts? Maybe it’s because we bring Him MORE glory when we walk through difficult times, when we work hard, when we persevere through the struggle.

Please know that I absolutely believe that there will come a day of the “easy life” when we will spend eternity with him and there will be no more tears, no more struggle and no more pain. Today is not that day, and as long as I am breathing tomorrow, then that’s not likely it either. So while I live in this moment and face what we are facing, I do it to bring glory to Him and show that even in the midst of the storm, He is still God, He is still the one who saves. I am not drowning, though so many times it feels like it. I feel overwhelmed by pain and grief, but my feet have not moved from this solid rock on which I stand.

This current struggle will subside, the tears will eventually flow less often and my brain will be able to process more things than just this trauma. Each struggle has its own timeline and depth of impact. Sometimes it feels like I just live from one struggle till the next but the truth is that I live for Christ and that one day He will come to take me home. This is not my home, a world of pain and suffering, but my home exists and until the day I get to permanently live there, I will do my best to be real about who I am and how God is at work in me- through the struggles, because that is what will bring Him the most glory.

Be glorified by my life Lord.

Have You Unknowingly Helped a Rapist?

I had my wallet stolen out of my purse by a pick-pocket. It had never happened to me before and it was very shocking. I was walking through a park and I had it before I went in the park because I bought a juice to drink on my way and I stopped at a cafe after the park and it was not there. It was not my fault. I did not want my wallet to be stolen. I did not invite or entice anyone to steal my wallet but there was an opportunity and they took it and I became the victim. I absolutely could have not walked through the park. My purse was unzipped and that could have prevented it. Had I known what would happen of course I would have done things differently but to live your life never walking through parks or anywhere because you might get pick-pocketed is ridiculous.

Perhaps the thief thought I wanted him to take it because my purse was unzipped. Of course it makes him feel better about his crime if I am in some way encouraging it or asking for it. He doesn’t bare the sole responsibility in that situation then right? His conscience can be clearer than it would be had I not walked in the park and left my purse open just for him.

If at this point you don’t see the absurdity in this analogy so far then please stop reading and go get some professional help. The victim is always the victim. They are a victim by nature of the crime committed against them and nothing else they did before or after changes it.

When someone is raped or sexually abused it is horrifically ugly. We will go to great lengths to lessen the ugliness because imagining in our minds these things happening is revolting and against our very nature as human beings. It is supposed to be this way because it is the greatest ugliness and we have to stop enabling and encouraging predators by putting even one ounce of blame on the victim. Victims already blame themselves so STOP IT. I don’t care what she was wearing, I don’t care how much she had to drink, I don’t care if it was her boyfriend, I don’t care his social status, I don’t care her social status, I don’t care where she was at the time. Several of those statements apply to me and how I blamed myself and why I don’t share many details of my rapes because I know that others have been blamed for those same circumstances.

We do need to talk about ways to stay safe but don’t ever do it in a way that puts any blame on the victim. Think about things you say and type and know that with such high statistics on sexual violence it is extremely likely that someone who hears or reads your words has been assaulted – so what would they take from your words? Would they take that you want them to be safe and protected even in vulnerable situations or could they in anyway feel at fault for being victimized?

Finding fault in the victim makes us not tell our stories. It also encourages predators because they are looking for invitations and you are affirming for them that those invitations are there and thus they are not totally at fault. Until we lay the blame 100% on where it should be we will never end this epidemic. Use your voice to protect those who are vulnerable, not to enable predators because you are either doing one or the other. Choose wisely.