That one time.

So I’ve been working through some significant church wounds and last night, I was hit with an old memory.

Most people know that I’m the type of girl that makes the first move. I’ve always tried to make it really easy for the guy. I can handle a gentle no. Rejection is a part of life. What I can’t handle is what happened two years ago.

I had been attending this church for a few months, making friends, getting settled. My community group leader was someone I had known for about seven years. He seemed like a stable guy, level-headed. He seemed to value people and had a gentle heart.

I started to develop feelings for him. Usually when this happens, I make a move pretty quickly. I like to know soon if things are going to go anywhere.

So I told him I liked him. If I’m honest, I fully expected a no. I just wanted to be sure.

He didn’t say no.

He asked me to leave the community group. He said he couldn’t lead effectively knowing that there was a girl in the group that liked him.

I was taken aback. I thought that was a really extreme way of responding to my feelings. I went to the pastors, fully expecting them to say it was wrong.

They didn’t say that.

They said I needed to leave the community group. He was a leader and they said that I had made him uncomfortable. The lead pastor said that they needed to look for the interests of the leader.

I had been making friends in the community group. I was finding my place in the church and suddenly, because I had been honest about my feelings, I found myself kicked out of my community group.

It shook me. I never imagined that something like that could happen. I’ve always been really upfront about how I feel but I’ve realized that experience still has me shaken up. I don’t think I can make the first move anymore. I make a big talk about female empowerment and initiating with a guy but what happens if he treats me like that again? With that other guy, I could have never suspected that he would behave that way. And for a church to support that kind of response, what’s to say that won’t happen again? Every church comes across healthy until they’re backed into a corner.

I love my life. I don’t want to risk everything falling apart because I put myself out there again. That leader eventually had me removed from the church. He was vindictive and cruel. And it all started because I told him I liked him. He was someone I didn’t recognize and I haven’t really trusted my perception of people since.

I guess I’m just waiting for a guy to take the pressure off me. Trust me, if I spend time with you, talk to you, ask questions about your life or your past, I like you. It’s really not that complicated.

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Faith

I knew a woman once who told me this amazing story upon our first meeting.

She and her husband had two children and were living in California when they heard of a ministry opportunity to serve in a Muslim country. In order to pay for this opportunity, they would have to sell everything they owned and relocate to this country. So they walked in obedience. They had a plan; they were sure of what God would do.

It was not until they had sold everything they owned that they discovered that the ministry organization only wanted the husband for the first year of ministry. So he went to this country and the wife, along with her two children moved in with family in Arizona. The plan became that they would join the husband in a year. It was during this waiting period that I met this woman.

She was a breath of fresh air as she told me this story. She was sure that God wanted her family to serve in this ministry. She did not mention until years later that she was struggling financially, was without the support of her husband and sleeping on couches with her children. Her family never made it to this country and her husband eventually returned back to the States.

It was years later that she told me she would never make a mistake like that again. She had acted in faith and put her family and marriage in jeopardy. She projected this fear on me repeatedly, as I struggled to make decisions. And I fought her every step of the way. Something was off, it seemed wrong.

She hadn’t acted in faith by selling her possessions for this ministry. There was nothing faithful about what she had done. She had done something with the expectation that she knew what would happen and when it turned out she was wrong, she concluded that she had been misguided. And she was right. By assuming she knew what God would do, she placed her faith in her understanding of the situation, not God. If she had sold her possessions without expectations of a particular return, she would have been acting in humility.

*On a side note for my readers, it is never biblical to sell all your possessions without first making sure you have enough to live on. God does not ask foolish things of us.*

I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately. As I’ve been learning more about faith, I’ve been contemplating what it means to look at the assurance of things unseen. What it means to act in faith.

It means saying you’re sorry without expecting forgiveness.

It looks like forgiving even when reconciliation isn’t a possibility.

It might be joining a church in spite of the fear that you’ll just get hurt again.

It means opening up to a guy when you’re not sure it’s going to go anywhere.

It looks like taking a job that’s out of your comfort zone.

I’ve tried not to judge that woman. She went through a lot in a short amount of time but I don’t agree with the conclusions she made about what she should have learned about faith through the choices she made. It was really sad. She trusted more in her logic and reasoning to protect her than understanding that what she lacked was humility. I have walked in faith and had horrible things happen but I don’t regret doing so. God doesn’t have to give me what I want in order for me to trust Him. I don’t stop following the leading of the Holy Spirit. If I only walked in faith when I was sure that I wouldn’t get hurt, well, that’s no faith at all. That’s just me and self-preservation.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and regret the choices I didn’t make. I have rarely regretted the pain I’ve gone through because of choices I made in faith but I have regretted all the times I told God no.

I don’t talk to that woman anymore but I hope she’s learning what faith really is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me Too

I don’t ever talk about it.

I woke up this morning to a social meeting campaign, where people were sharing their sexual abuse/assault cases with the hashtag #metoo.

And by people, I mean women, because the narrative has effectively excluded men. It’s also portrayed men as the sole predators.

If you knew my story, you’d understand why I’m angry.

I thought about sharing my story in some heartfelt post but couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Because social media cheapens my experiences.

I’ve often thought about what would happen if people knew about my experiences. Typically, when I talk about my history of sexual abuse, I don’t talk specifics. I don’t talk about my grandfather. I don’t talk about staring at his hands or the red shirt he wore with a white stripe. I don’t talk about the massive amounts of porn he exposed me to. And until two years ago, no one knew I had spent most of my life struggling with a porn addiction.

Because girls don’t struggle with that. And while I knew early exposure denied me any opportunity to see sex in a healthy way, I blamed myself for my addiction. It was not until I was sitting in front of another woman who also struggled with porn addiction that I was able to find freedom.

My story doesn’t end there, because it happened again. This time at a church by an older girl. It went on for months. I struggled with sexual identity until I was in my late teens, because once again, I thought it was my fault.

Recently, I sat in my foster care class and we were talking about the feelings associated with sexual abuse. And I blurted out that guilt is a common emotion you experience. Because you think it’s your fault. It takes a lot of counseling to understand that it’s not your fault.

I have no judgments for women using the #metoo campaign today. I just want you to remember two things:

  1. Men are not the enemy. They are not the sole predators. The prolonged sexual abuse I experienced was at the hands of an older girl.
  2. Men are also survivors of sexual abuse. They need to feel safe enough to talk about it.

So that’s my story. I don’t talk about it often but I’m starting to understand I should. I read somewhere recently that when you share your story, you open up another person to get healing.

He loves me

Once a month, I attend a women’s group through my church. We share what’s going on in our lives, what we’re struggling with, what victories we’ve had. Slowly but surely, I am learning to let these girls into my heart.

There’s one thing I haven’t shared with anyone. It’s not that I stopped believing in God; I just stopped believing I mattered to Him. My prayer life was dry and my bible reading was a headache. I started to doubt that God cared about my coming and going. I felt insignificant, like I wasn’t on His radar. And why should I be? I have nothing to offer Him.

So I’m sitting in this women’s group and we’re talking about marriage and someone asks me why I want to get married. And I respond by saying I want a partner to help me do the dishes and pay the bills, pick up the slack so that I don’t have to do it alone. And she responds by saying those aren’t very good reasons to marry someone. A maid could do most of what I’m looking for. She doesn’t tell me what I should be looking for but I break down anyway.

I don’t believe anyone will love me. I don’t believe anyone will be jealous for me. I can’t imagine anyone thinking of me and smiling or praying for my well-being. I give so much of myself to other people, encouraging, helping, praying but I never expect anything in return. It’s not selfless. It’s because I don’t expect anyone to love me back.

My friend suggested that I ask God why I would need a husband. What His heart is for marriage. Because I’ve studied marriage at length but something isn’t connecting. So I asked Him.

A few days later, I was sitting in this meeting surrounded by sixty plus people when I felt God in the room. And He was beckoning to me, I love you, do you not know how much I love you.

In this room full of people, I started crying. I felt like I was 13 again. I remember it vividly, sitting in that church and the pastor was talking about grace, that I didn’t have to earn God in order for Him to love me. No one had ever told me that before.

God loves me. He is jealous for me and chases after me when I stray. He takes care of my needs and considers my wants. He loves me because He wants to, not because of anything I’ve done.

No one can love me like God does but could I believe that my friends and family love me? Could I believe a man would love me? Honestly, I believe the reason I’m not married is because I don’t ever believe anyone loves me. I don’t believe anyone thinks fondly of me. I love others because that’s what God has done in my heart. Could I allow others to love me? Could I be that vulnerable?

It’ll be the scariest thing I’ve ever done but I think God is asking me to go there.

The number 3

When I worked with children, one of the young girls drew me this picture. She said I was standing on solid rock, with a cloud hanging over me and a chocolate-frosted donut to comfort me. It has become a metaphor for what my life is like.

***

I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook but I do like how it shows you memories of things you have posted on that day on past years.

Yesterday, it popped up this post I had written late that night two years ago. I had been job  hunting for three months since moving to the Valley and three months before that in Tucson. I had gone to a job interview at a nonprofit and had been rejected for the position, only to discover that it was because the interviewer saw that I was a better fit for a higher, better paying position.

It blew my mind.

The problem was that it shouldn’t have. And not because it was a given that God would provide me with an awesome job. A job He spoke into my life months before it happened. There were snapshots of what this job would look like and be like and my heart would leap with excitement. Because I knew God would be faithful.

There were three jobs I thought would fulfill this promise, three times I doubted God’s faithfulness when it fell through. I remember the final time. I got so close. It seemed for certain it would work out. The job had so many things about it that matched what God had whispered in my heart. I was devastated when it didn’t work out.

No, it should not have blown my mind that I got this job.

Because God asked me to apply here. Several times.

It meant picking up and moving to the Valley. It didn’t make sense. So I resisted. I never told anyone because I was sure I was wrong. And oh man, when I finally did apply for a job there and they rejected me, I was so confused. What did God want from me? I sobbed my eyes out because, for a brief moment, I stopped trusting God.

And then I got the phone call that changed my life. I was asked to interview for a higher position. I got the job. And because God had asked me to apply, I should not have been surprised when I got hired.

Recently, I was asked to write down my testimony for a pastor. I saw a pattern there I had never noticed before.

Everything in my life happens in threes. Three days, three months, three years. Three schools, three jobs, three promotions.

God has clearly been trying to get my attention for some time. I started to research what the number 3 means, according to the bible. I learned the number 3 signifies God’s sovereignty, His ability to complete things in our lives.

The more I look at my life, the more I see the number 3. The more I see God’s consistency.

That blows my mind.

During that dark period in my life when I was waiting for employment, I heard a message from a pastor where he challenged us to ask God to “do it again”. What he meant by this is that we all have hallmarks in our lives where God has answered big prayers. I remember thinking back to the day I asked God to bring me back to Him. Three days later, He did just that, turning my life upside down so that I could get the help I needed to rise above my abusive past. I figured God could “do it again” and give me a job that would not only provide for me but be something I thoroughly enjoyed.

Three months later, He did just that and I’ve been so grateful.

So why does this matter?

Because almost three years ago, in October 2014, I asked God if I would ever get married. I was ready to walk away from the idea of marriage if it meant that God had something better in store for me. And He was faithful. He spoke into my life and said I would get married.

And man, have I questioned it. I’ve been like Sarah, laughing at something so far-fetched. I’ve been like Abraham, seeking to fulfill this promise on my own. I’ve run to exactly three guys, each time wondering which guy would fulfill God’s word on my life. I’ve made bigger messes than I know what to deal with.

I wrote about the last guy a few weeks ago. I questioned whether or not I liked him. Some may argue with me but I think if you’re questioning your feelings for someone, they’re probably not the right person for you. I have been in love exactly one time in my life and even when he would drive me crazy, I still wanted him. I never questioned whether or not I wanted to be with him and while I’m ultimately grateful it didn’t work out, it taught me a lot about what it means to choose someone, for someone to be more than an option you choose because it makes the most sense.

Last week, I started to get excited about my future spouse. It’s been very reminiscent of the end of my job search, these moments when my heart would leap for joy. The closer I got to receiving this gift, the more excited I got.

That’s how I feel about marriage. Even as I type, my heart is skipping beats.

Here’s the thing: For years, I have listened to other people’s stories in the hopes that somehow, I could predict what would happen in my life if I encountered the same thing. Each time, I was sorely disappointed. Before I wrote out my testimony, I had never considered the way God works in my life, that it is uniquely different than other peoples’.

I feel really foolish for writing this but I know it’s coming. I remember how foolish I felt waiting for a job. It didn’t seem like anything would come through. I began to look for any job because I figured God would provide but to expect Him to give me what He had supposedly promised, well, that was asking too much. I feel like I could settle for any guy that God gives me but I know He’s bringing His best.

It’s scary to believe that God will do what He says He will. Because what if you heard Him wrong? What if this is just your wishful thinking? I thin k we all have things in our life that we believe God has spoken into our lives, that if we told someone, they might caution us to be careful.

What they’re really saying is God doesn’t love us enough to reveal things to us.

And yes, it is God’s discretion to conceal a matter when necessary and reveal bits and pieces of something when appropriate.

My advice?

Believe God loves you enough to guide you and when it turns out you’re wrong, because that will happen, follow Him anyway. Be the little child that takes God at His word always, without condition. I knew a woman once, who upon being disappointed that she had taken God at His word and things did not go the way she expected, she stopped trusting God. She questioned every time the Holy Spirit told her to do something. She lived in constant fear that she would hear wrong again. This stopped her from fully being obedient to God. And that fear was pushed onto me for a long time.

But I never wanted to live like that. I wanted to be so faithful that I could fall down over and over and still trust God. This is what waiting for my husband has been like, falling down, getting rejected, failing over and over and still trusting that God would keep it at His word.

My prayer is this: Do it again. 

Race and Reconciliation

Why are we still talking about race?

A few years ago, a question like that would have sent me spiraling in anger.

I remember the night that marked a shift in my thinking. I was attending a lecture at a church about race and reconciliation. I should preface this by saying that I am a light-skinned Native American woman who was raised in a Mexican-Native American home. I have had many conversations about race with my friends, swapping stories of prejudice and mistreatment. But I have never had an experience quite like that night.

Because, you see, I was the only non-white person in that room. And the lecture was meant as a discussion, meaning the audience could ask questions.

Now, I don’t remember specific questions but I remember that all the questions fell under the same umbrella.

Why are we still talking about race? Isn’t racism over? Aren’t you perpetuating the problem by talking about it? Can’t we just ignore race and just accept people as all the same? Aren’t minorities just overly sensitive? Why can’t we just move on?

And I remember going home and bawling my eyes out. It was as if their lack of awareness revealed every wound I had been carrying around since I was a little girl. I remember writing a blog post (in my old blog) about how I felt as a light-skinned Native American woman and how I felt in a predominantly white environment.

Because I look white so people think it’s okay to saw certain things around me that they might not say otherwise. I still remember driving home with my college roommates and they were discussing how “those Mexicans” should die, spouting hurtful words as they jabbered on. And remember, I was raised in a Mexican home. I moved out of that apartment not long after.

So I have long questioned if I had my sister’s dark skin and brown eyes, if the people in that church would have been so quick to say what they said.

Because asking why we still need to talk about race is like asking why we need to fight poverty. We live in one of the richest countries in the world, the land of opportunity! Why do we need to fight poverty? Can’t people just rise above their circumstances and get rid of their poverty?

I don’t know about you but I didn’t get out of my poverty without the help of others.

The thing is that we need to talk about the hard stuff because it’s not going anywhere. Especially as Christians, we should know better. We know we live in a fallen world and that God is still in the process of redeeming and restoring us. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away and on some level, we may get close but it won’t go away completely until Christ returns.

Yes, there was a shift that happened that night. For a long time, I hated that I look white because I was the safe space for a white person to unload all of their issues about race onto. It was a heavy burden. They would say things and ask questions that they would never say or ask of another minority person. But that night, I realized how powerful a position God had placed me in by creating me the way He had. It means that I have an opportunity to speak truth from a peer perspective, even though I’m not truly a peer.

So I didn’t get angry when my friend asked that question but I walked away acknowledging that I had a responsibility to educate and to be compassionate. To do the best I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Growing up

I’m not very good at meeting people. I get tongue-tied and quiet. I’ve been wanting to meet more people, mainly because I’m trying to form meaningful relationships but I really connect more with people when we are doing something together. The first time I fell in love was with a guy who I connected with through serving our community. Give me a food bank and some trusty helpers and I will become your new friend.

Getting drinks, having dinner, etc. are not my idea of a good time. It’s probably why I don’t like dating very much. Give me a man who serves and I will swoon.

I was talking to my dad last week about a guy (I think) I like when I made a point of saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The point I was trying to make was that I have always done the same thing when it comes to guys. I fall head over heels, irrationally, think about him constantly and get to a point where I profess my affection for him directly.

I don’t flirt because to me, that’s more scary than just being frank about my feelings.

My first thought is not to show up at parties he’ll be at or make sure I sit next to him.

I got to a place where I had settled into a routine. I wasn’t interested in anyone, no one attainable anyway. I was fine, just God and me. After the last few years I’ve had, the idea of trying again is just so difficult. And the worst part is I made a promise to my friends that I would not make the first move again. Because it always results in a disaster.

I’ve been arguing with God the last few weeks over this guy. I don’t have time to have feelings for someone. I have no more patience for nonsense. I’m not willing to compromise my relationship with God, my self-worth or my priorities for a guy.

I think I like him. Some days, I’m able to talk myself out of it. This is so different than anything I have ever experienced. I don’t have chaotic feelings for him. I don’t think about him constantly. I’m not convinced we’ll end up together. I don’t read into the things he says or does. It’s the healthiest I have ever been about a guy. I have talked to exactly two people about this and both of them have commented on how different I am in this.

When I have been my most lonely, I have found myself daydreaming of the guy I had wanted for seven years but the same day I decided to be a foster parent was the day I walked away from him. I even deleted him from my social media accounts, which was incredibly hard but I am grateful I did it.

Here’s the thing: You can’t let love in until you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone. At some point, you have to trust that God is for you. That means growing up, taking responsibility for why your life is the way it is. It means going out and meeting people when you don’t want to. It means creating opportunities for a guy to get to know you when you’d rather just hide in your bubble and Netflix and chill by yourself.

It means trying, really trying, even when you feel like you are fumbling through the darkness because everything you do feels like uncharted territory. It means trusting God has your back and won’t allow anything to happen to you that’s not for your ultimate good.

I’m trying to change and I’m scared and frustrated and argumentative and totally at peace all at the same time. For the right guy, I hope he’s patient with me. I don’t know if this is the right guy. I really don’t know. He might end up being a bookmark I tell my daughter about one day. All I know is that what I am learning though this is significant and that’s encouraging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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