Dear Love: Healing For Your Heart

Dear Love,

So often, we re-injure our own hearts by continuing to open ourselves up to people in hopes that they will be able to heal all the pain we’ve experienced in the past. We’re so blinded by the emptiness and pain that we’re already feeling from past relationships, that we can’t see that the people we keep turning to for healing are just like the ones before. We end up running into the arms of another person who is just like the ones that hurt us in the past. Only to get hurt yet again. Only to run to yet another person just like the ones before. Only to keep ourselves in a vicious cycle that drives us deeper into the very hurt and pain we’re trying rescue ourselves from. The faces may change, but the injury doesn’t. We just keep adding layer upon layer of pain to a heart that’s already been so deeply wounded.

Stop searching, love.

You’re heart can only take so much pain. You can only be broken so many times. You deserve to heal. You deserve to find true love. You’ve been searching all over for it. From relationship to relationship. From person to person. From one thing to the next. But nothing fills that gaping hole inside of you. Everything you’ve found so far has only temporarily numbed and drowned out the pain, but it doesn’t heal the pain like you’ve been hoping it would.

Can I help you out, love?

The only one that can heal your broken heart. The only one that can restore your wounded soul. The only one that can make you whole again is the One who died for you at a place called Calvary. The One who gave His life so you could have life abundantly. He died to rescue you from your brokenness. He died to heal every single pain. He died to mend your tattered heart. He died to save your lost soul. He loves you unconditionally and uncontrollably. Intensely and immensely. His love is powerful enough to restore every part of you that is hurting, empty and sad. But you have to let Him. You have to make the choice to stop giving your heart to people who don’t know how to take care of it. You have to stop trusting those people that are dealing with their own brokenness, to be in charge of your healing. You have to fling yourself into the arms of the only One who can give you what you’ve desperately been searching for. Trust Him with your whole heart like you’ve been trusting so many others with it. Bare you entire soul before Him, the same way you’ve bared it to others. If you give Him your heart and soul, He won’t ever leave you or let you down. Give Him your all: your brokenness, your emptiness, your despair, your pain and your fear. I promise you, He will give you wholeness, fullness, joy, peace, and love that’s everlasting.

He wants to give you “beauty for your ashes”, my love…but only if you let Him. ❤



Daddy, Daddy

As I went to give my stepmother a hug, last night after Bible Study, she loudly complained about how I did not speak to her or hug her when she got there. She went on and on about how I must submit to her because she’s the first lady of the church (My dad is a pastor, by the way) and not the other way around. (Whatever that means!) My dad was there the entire time and didn’t say much of anything.

Comments like that from her are nothing new. I’ve been hearing them for most of my life. Anytime I’ve ever gotten an award, made a huge accomplishment or received a genuine compliment from someone in her presence, she quickly interjects to talk about her daughters or grandchildren and an award or accomplishment they have gotten that trumps mine. When I was a teenager, we got into countless arguments, one of which ending with her putting her hands on me. Even last week, she was upset that I forgot to call her on Mother’s Day. This is despite the fact that she has never been a mother to me. She’s never picked up the phone a day in her life to call and check in on me. She’s never taken me out to lunch or to the movies. She’s rarely ever done anything for me that is truly mothering to me, but I digress. You would think by now, I would be used to it, but last night I wasn’t. I felt the tears quickly welling up in my eyes. I felt the frustration of wanting to say something in defense of myself, but knowing that if I did it would only turn into an argument and make matters worse. I felt the sadness that comes with wondering why a woman, who could have chosen to play the powerful role of nurturing me and loving me unconditionally, has chosen to constantly berate me and criticize me instead. So with a heavy heart I said, “Ok. Thank you for letting me know that,” and left.

On my drive home, the tears I’d been holding back fell like rain. “God! Why won’t she just leave me alone.” I prayed. “The one place I should feel your peace and presence is in church. It’s so hard to focus on You when I’m around someone who brings so much negativity.”

When I got home, I talked to my real mom and told her the same thing I’d told God a few minutes earlier, “Mama, I just want peace in the one place I should have it: at church.”

My mama replied, “Baby, peace is not without, it’s within. Nobody can take your peace from you, unless you give it to them.”

She went on to say, “This really isn’t even about her. If anybody else had said something like that to you, you would have brushed it off. Sarita, you have to figure out why you’re letting this hurt you so much. Maybe God is trying to show you something about yourself that you really need to see.”

It was like a light bulb flickered on in my head. She was right. The tears that were flowing down my cheeks last night and the constant pain I have felt in my relationship with my stepmother have very little to do with her. All the hurt and the pain I’ve been feeling has everything to do with the relationship I have with my fathers.

See the thing about all of those painful incidents involving my stepmother, is that my daddy has been present the majority of the time. All those times that my stepmother brags about her own children and grandchildren to overshadow my own accomplishments and achievements, my daddy is there not saying a word. That time when my step mother put her hands on me during a heated argument, my daddy was standing right there and didn’t even step in the middle to protect me. Even last night, my daddy was right there watching everything happen but not saying or doing much to stop it. I’ve talked to him on many occasions about all of this, but every time I get told that I have to do what’s right by her despite how I feel. I get told that if she is out of line, she will eventually reap what she sows and the Lord will handle her. He says I should reach out to her more and more, no matter how she reacts. He tells me that he has to focus on keeping his own peace of mind and maintaining a comfortable relationship with her so he prefers to keep his hands off of the situation.

Seems like sound Biblical doctrine. Probably even decent advice, but it’s not what a daughter craves to hear from her daddy when she is hurting and broken. I want to hear that my daddy will be my defender and protector and will do everything in his power to keep me safe from harm. I want to hear that my daddy cares deeply about the fact that I’m hurting, and that even though he doesn’t want to me to react from that place of pain, he acknowledges that pain and is there to offer his strength to me as I work through that pain. I want to hear my daddy encourage me as I treat someone with kindness and respect even when I don’t get the same in return. I want to hear that he is proud of me for attempting to do what’s right even when it’s incredibly hard to do.

The messages a little girl gets from her father during her life are incredibly powerful. His words shape her thoughts and views about herself and her life. His actions towards her shows her how she should allow others, especially men, to treat her. I love my daddy, more than words could ever express, and I know that he loves me. However, he’s let me down a lot. After my parents got divorced when I was four years old, I lived with my mom. Ever since then, our relationship has been up-and-down. There have been a lot of messages that I’ve received from my father, both good and bad, over the years. But the overwhelming message that I’ve heard from my daddy, throughout the years of the tumultuous relationship with my stepmother is that I don’t matter. Though, he rarely ever says anything when my stepmother lashes out at me, his silence almost screams the message that I’m not worth the time it takes to speak up and come to my defense. I am not valuable enough to be protected. It doesn’t really matter what she says or does to me and it doesn’t matter how it hurts or affects me, because I’m not worth it anyway. The times that we have talked about this, his advice-although well-meaning- has given me the message that if something is wrong in a relationship it is because of me. There is something wrong with me. If I just try harder to please that person, continue to tolerate their mistreatment long enough, and keep jumping through hoops until they are happy, then and only then will things work out in my favor. Basically, I must be perfect to deserve of love from others.

Granted, I don’t think that the messages my daddy has given me are intentional or done maliciously, but they still leave their mark just the same. I have lived out those messages that I got from my daddy, time and time again, in relationship after relationship. I look back on nearly every past relationship and see the pattern of not feeling defended, protected or valued in some way. I have gotten the message over and over that I have no value or worth. In every past relationship, I have nearly driven myself crazy trying to accommodate and please and tolerate, no matter how wrong or abusive their actions were because the message I was living by was that it’s always on me to make things right. If things are falling apart it has to be because of something I’m doing. If I just keep trying to be perfect, things will get better because I’ll finally be good enough to love.

I could blame my daddy for giving me these messages, but this isn’t about placing blame. Though he has played a huge role in giving me the messages that I live by, this isn’t really even about him. It’s about me and the daddy I’ve been choosing to listen to. In a perfect world, we could listen to all the messages our earthly father gives us, because they would perfectly mirror the messages our heavenly Father wants us to hear about ourselves. But this isn’t a perfect world, and the last time a perfect person walked this earth was about 2000 years ago. Though our earthly fathers should show us our first glimpse of the messages our heavenly Father has for us, that glimpse is often blocked by our earthly fathers’ human imperfection and brokenness. Although I’m 23 years old, I often still view my daddy through the eyes of that four year old girl who hung onto his every word and thought he was the perfect man. My earthly daddy, however, is not perfect and some of the messages that he has given me are not the ones that my heavenly Daddy wants me to believe. This is about me because I’ve been choosing to listen to the messages my earthly daddy gave me about myself, when I should’ve been listening to the messages my heavenly Daddy has for me.

In all honesty, it wasn’t until now that I realized the messages that my two fathers have for me aren’t automatically the same. In many ways, I’ve operated on the same messages that my earthly daddy gave me when dealing with my heavenly Daddy. For example, I really struggle with forgiveness. I really think that struggle with forgiveness stems from the belief that my heavenly Daddy won’t come to my defense or protect me when I feel mistreated. I assume that I have to hold on to grudges to protect myself because I don’t serve a God who will step in to protect me when I’m hurting and vulnerable. Then there are all the times I find myself cowering and falling into the role of a helpless victim, because I believe nothing I say or do matters. Why stand up for myself or do anything to change my circumstances? My heavenly Daddy couldn’t think I matter enough to care about what I’m going through. If He doesn’t care enough to stand up for me, why should I attempt to stand up for myself? I also treat God as if He won’t love me unless I’m perfect enough for Him. If things start going wrong in my life, it’s because I’ve done something wrong. I haven’t pleased Him or someone in my life enough and now I’m suffering the consequences. It has to be me and my deficiencies. But these messages are so not from my heavenly Father! My heavenly Daddy is a mighty protector and defender. He not only stands up for me, but He deeply cares about my heart when it is broken. My heavenly Daddy thinks I’m priceless and knows that I don’t deserve mistreatment. He values me so much, that He has placed the strength in me to stand up for myself and stand strong in Him when people do not treat me with love and respect. My heavenly Daddy doesn’t think I have to be perfect to get His love. He loves me simply because I’m His child, not because I try hard enough or do anything special. He loves me simply because I’m me.

My prayer is that my relationship with my earthly daddy and the relationship with my stepmother will get better soon. But even if those relationships don’t ever get fixed, it’s okay because none of this was really about them anyway. All of the pain and the tears and the heartache were really just my heavenly Daddy trying to get me to see that our relationship was the one that needed all the fixing. It’s time that I start focusing on Him and all the messages about me that He now wants me to embrace and embody daily. And it’s time to learn to love and trust Him enough to heal every wound that has come from the old messages I used to believe.

Just Saying: Wave Goodbye

When people walk out of your life, instead of clinging to them and begging them to stay, wave goodbye and let them go. God doesn’t start moving people out of your life until He’s ready to bring you something far better. Stop grieving over what you lost and start rejoicing and preparing for what’s about to come.

Throwback Thursday: One Thing Changes Everything


(I wrote this in 2011 and posted it on Facebook.)

*Note: Sorry if I’m all over the place, but it’s finals week and you know how that goes*

About a year ago, a man, who I’d never seen before, came up to me after my PaPa’s funeral. I’d spoken at the service so people were coming up to me left and right telling me that I’d done a good job and was such strong person. All of those faces and the words they said all blurred together. All of them, except this one man. He came up to me and told me that he could tell how close I was to my granddad and that he had been very close to his too. Then he said something that will probably stick with me forever, “My granddad died in 1976 and there has never been a day that I haven’t thought about him. Just know that you’ll never go a day without thinking about him because the love you have for him will never let you forget him. It’s not always going to be painful and sad, but trust me you’re going to think about him every day for the rest of your life.”

Something about his words jolted me back into the reality that my tears and sadness had been keeping me from. Even after he walked away, I kept replaying the words he’d just said over and over in my mind. They were so comforting yet they scared me. Comforting, in the sense that his words reassured me that I wasn’t alone in my pain-everyone that loses someone feels this way. But every day is what scared me. I just couldn’t fathom the idea of someone no longer in your life sliding into you consciousness every single day. I thought to myself “I mean I’m bound to get a break. I’m sure I’ll go a couple of days or weeks and not think of him because after all life moves on.”

But then I quickly changed my mind because he spoke with a sense of confidence that only a person who knew an eternal truth could speak. You know, like the sky is blue, the sun rises and sets without fail, and now I could add never going a day with out thinking about my PaPa to that list. I almost didn’t want to believe him, but something in me told me that he was right.

And now as I stand here a little over a year later, I know he was right. There has yet to be a day when I haven’t thought about the man that raised me. Sometimes the thoughts of him leave me with a smile on my face or pure joy in my heart, but more times then I’d like to admit, it leaves me with a tear-stained face and deep sorrow in my heart. Now life does move on. I’ve had more than my fair share of problems since then-family issues, my house burning down, a tornado hitting my hometown, and dealing with the usual heartbreaks and disappointments that come with friendships and relationships. The funny thing is that all those things still pale in comparison to losing him. None of those things has changed my life more than losing him. Nothing. I’ve noticed that I want to practice law one day because of losing him. I’ve noticed that I cling tighter, and sometimes too tight, to the ones I care about because of losing him. I’ve noticed that I’ve learned to love others, even my enemies, with more fervor because of losing him. I’ve noticed that I’ve grown to have a deeper relationship with God because of losing him.

So I guess I said all of that to say this, one thing can change everything and make a new rule for your reality. One thing can change for you and transform you for the rest of your life. Just as the sky is blue and the sun rises and sets without fail, you can lose someone you love and never go a day without thinking about them. It’s simply another eternal truth of your reality. You can choose to wallow in that and wish that things could return to the way that they once were, or you can accept your new reality and build your life within it. As you can guess, I choose to go with the latter, and I’ve found a peculiar beauty in that choice. Even when the worst possible thing occurs and changes your reality, there’s still a quiet hope that awaits you. There’s still the little reminders from God that let you know that His love, peace, and blessings are the ultimate eternal truth and exist no matter what reality you find yourself facing. Yes,there will be tears and there will be changes, but God’s eternal truth of His endless love will always bring you through. Yes the sky is blue, the sun rises and sets without fail, and you never go a day without thinking about losing someone you love. But you can add God’s comforting and endless love to that list of eternal truths too.

Hard Time Reveal True Friends

Hard Time Reveal True Friends

If you don’t show up during my struggles make sure you don’t show up for my success. If you can’t be there during my troubles you definitely can’t be there during my triumphs. I really don’t think it’s a coincidence that hard times come right before a breakthrough. If nothing more, low points in life show you who you can and cannot bring with you when you reach the pinnacle of success.

A Bank Teller, a Stroke, and a Message

So I work as a bank teller, and just like anyone else who works in customer service, you encounter a wide range of people. There’s never a dull moment when you work with the public, but sometimes you come across a certain customer who sticks out to you in a big way. I had a customer like that yesterday.

He was an older man that was probably in his mid-sixties. I work at a bank in a small town, so I usually see familiar faces walk through the door on a daily basis, but I didn’t recall ever waiting on him before. As he walked in, he stopped by the counter in the lobby to fill out his check. After a few minutes, he walked up to my counter. I greeted him with a smile and said, “Hi! How are you today?”

He hesitated and then he frowned. He gave a heavy sigh and finally replied in a harsh tone with, “Well I guess I’m doing alright.”

His reply caught me by surprise. Most people say that they’re doing well, even if they’re not. So when he threw me this conversational curveball, I didn’t really know how to respond or if I even should. I didn’t have to, though, because the next words out of his mouth were, “Can you fill out the rest of this check for me? I can’t write well.”

I said, “Okay. No problem,” as I started filling out his check.

I didn’t think much of his request because a good number of older people make the same request because their eyesight or writing may not be the best, but as I kept writing, I noticed that he placed his head down on my counter. I wondered what was wrong with him and wanted to ask if he was okay, but he seemed to be in a bad mood. “Maybe he just doesn’t want to be bothered. I probably should just mind my business and stick to my job,” I thought.

But something was tugging on my heart to say something even if I was at risk of another harsh reply. I took a deep breath, prepared myself to possibly get my head chopped off, and said, “Are you sure you’re ok?”

He slowly lifted his head off of the counter and said, “I’m just really tired.” I nodded my head and listened. Then he continued, “Ever since I had a stroke, I just get worn out so quickly.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that sir,” was all I could manage to get out. He’d thrown me another conversational curveball. When he said he was tired, I assumed it was because he hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the night before (Lord knows I’m not the happiest camper when I don’t get a full eight hours of sleep!) or that the 88 degree weather outside had worn him out. But a stroke. Wow! I didn’t know what to say. As I struggled to find the words to say, he continued talking.

 “I was supposed to get surgery this Thursday but the doctors told me that I’ll have to wait another two months. They ran some tests on me and they said I have way too many blood clots and I’m at risk of having an aneurism. I just don’t know what to do. I mean how can I wait that long to have a surgery that I need. I’m scared I’ll have an aneurism and die before then, but I guess those doctors know what’s best, right?” he said.

I stammered out, “Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear that. I know that with things like strokes, it just takes a while to recover, but I’m sure you’ll be alright.”

He went on to say that he was just really upset because he didn’t know what was going on with his health and he didn’t really understand his doctors and all the terminology they used. As I watched him talk about his health, I no longer saw the man who seemed to be in such a bad mood that all he could offer was a frown and a harsh response. I now saw a man who was so consumed with worry, sadness, and fear about his own life that he couldn’t even smile if he wanted to. I saw a man who had been carrying around the burden of fighting what seemed to be a losing battle with his health and was frustrated with his body for failing him. I saw a broken man. It was almost like I could literally feel his pain and I felt such a deep sense of compassion for him, but I wasn’t really sure of what to say to comfort him. I thought to myself, “Lord, what in the world should I say to this man? I was not expecting all of this!”

Then he said, “I just got my voice back 10 days ago. I haven’t had it since I had my stroke. The doctors said it had something to do with that. But I just woke up one morning and it was back like it never left.”

I gave him a big smile and replied, “Well that’s a good sign then. That means you’re improving and getting better. It’s going to be fine, it’s just going to take some time.”

He gave a shy smile and said, “Well yeah. I guess so.”

By this time, I’d cashed his check so I counted the money out to him and then said, “You’ll be alright, but I’ll definitely keep you in my prayers.”

He said thank you and left. I felt like there was so much that I could have or should have said. However, I’m thankful that I didn’t ignore God speaking to my heart and actually said something. There have been so many times in my life, where I’ve felt that same tug to speak to someone or ask them if there are doing okay, but I ignored it. I talked myself out of it by saying, “Well they’re a stranger. They’ll never open up to me.”

Or, “It’s really not my business so I shouldn’t pry.”

Or, “If I say something, the people around me might think it’s strange.” 

But as I continue to grow in my walk with Christ, I’m learning more and more to listen to him when He leads me to reach out to someone in love and compassion. My biggest fear in reaching out to someone like that is that I’ll be rejected. The funny thing is though, every time I’ve listened to and obeyed Him when He guides me to reach out to someone, I’ve never faced any kind of rejection. I really think that’s because when God leads you do something, it is on purpose and it is for a purpose. When He pulls on your heart for you to reach out to someone, it’s because He really wants to send that person a message of hope and healing. He’s pulling on your heart because He needs in a willing vessel that He can send that message through. All you have to do is be ready and willing to be used by Him. You don’t have to prepare that message for that person in advance. You don’t have to preach a sermon to that person. You don’t have to say it perfectly and eloquently. You just have to be willing to open your mouth and say it. That’s it.

Honestly, I think most, if not all of us feel those same tugs on our hearts and conscience from time to time. There are so many broken and hurting people in this world that need to hear a message of hope, love, wisdom or healing to help them overcome whatever they are going through. What a beautiful privilege and duty we have been given by God to partner with Him in giving His heartfelt messages to the people who need it most. He desires to use you as a vessel to give words of strength to the weak, words of encouragement to the hopeless, and words of love to the lonely. Our dying world is full of people who desperately need to hear His message from a willing and obedient vessel just like you. So the next time you feel that tug on your heart to reach out to someone, don’t ignore it. Don’t talk yourself out of it because you’re afraid of the possibility of rejection, scared of what others may think of you, or feel you should just mind your business. Trust God and know that if He’s asking you to reach out to that person it’s because He has signed and sealed a message that He wants to deliver through you.