Tag Archive | relationships

Filling Her Shoes

I was raised in a 2-parent household.  But not in the traditional sense.  Instead of a mom and dad I had a mom and grandmother, whom I fondly referred to as “gramma”.

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When I think back on my childhood, it consisted of these two women.  We moved away from extended family when I was young so they were all I had.

Things weren’t easy, but I never went without.  Birthdays and Christmas were always a big deal.  I woke up early, excited to open the things I had written down on my Christmas list.  And things that I hadn’t.  Meals were always provided for, even if I qualified for “free lunch” at school because of our income.  Good night’s sleep were had, even if my mom and I shared a bunk bed and a room.  They made sure to keep me out of inner city schools even if I had to catch a few city buses to get to the suburban school, or lie about my address.  We did what we had to do.

My mom and I had our ups and downs and my grandmother prayed vehemently for us to stay in the ups.  Sometime around her own passing, I can see, God started answering her prayers.  He filled the gaps.  He started a plan of restoration and healing and love.  There was always love there but sometimes it was hard for me to see it in the midst of the brokenness.

My most fondest memories are towards the end.  The three months He gave us when the brokenness was healed.  The humility and redemption and love.  Now I could see the love from her shining so brightly.  Every time I came home and she greeted me at the door, wanting to hear about my day.  The grief she held when I was being persecuted by my employer.  It was like they were persecuting her too.  Her presence at the hospital when I had surgery, never leaving my side.  The safety I felt, sitting next to her in Bible study, learning the Word together, sharing the gospel.  Sitting between her legs as she braided my hair, like she did when I was a kid.  Playing pool together and her rooting for me to win.

Her, always rooting for me to win.

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Those are the things I didn’t know I would miss.  I only thought about the things I wouldn’t.  You can never anticipate the loss.

My one friend asked, “How can anyone fill her shoes?  How can anyone, when she was your biggest supporter?  Your most faithful ride or die?”  I understood what she was saying, but I thought about it and knew the answer.  “You are right, there is no one person who can fill them.  But that is why the Father gave me so many people to fill them.  He gave me one to sew my clothes like she did because I can’t sew for the life of me (and have no desire to learn).  He gave me another whom I have viewed as a mother figure for the last 12 years.  He gave me sisters while my own refused to speak to me.  And of course He became Father, when my own abandoned me at 2 years old.

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But the truth is her shoes have been so great to fill and I have battled this last year with that fact.  I didn’t know how her passing would affect me.  I thought I could bounce back or be strong or pull myself up by the bootstraps like I had so many times before with different hard things.

Instead I have ran from the pain.  I have self medicated.  I have retreated in isolation instead of choosing to trust the One who has never let me down. 

I have felt let down.

Anger has been a constant companion, but I know that is only a mask for the pain.

There have been so many days I have felt alone.  Not just because I am single with no immediate family, but because His presence has been so far away.

I remember standing at the grave site, before they buried her.  I stood at my grandmother’s grave for the first time since her passing.  I never had a desire to go because I knew her spirit wasn’t there, but now, there is where I needed to remember.  I stood there and wept and so many women stood over me.  They held me and wept too.  My loss was there loss.  This was how He was now manifesting His presence.  Through them.

It is now one year later and I didn’t grieve the way I would have liked to.  I wanted to check off my checklist with my healing process. But some things are too great to be neatly categorized onto a list.

Today I will meet with the women who have been family to me.  Being with them is life and love and comfort.  We will have French-pressed coffee and share our hearts.  I will have my first counseling appointment for the first time this year and I will take a road trip with a woman who has been relentlessly by my side these past 18 months.

We will meet other women, one blood related, one not, but both who love me dearly.

As difficult as this last season has been, I am grateful for the people.  They avail themselves and restructure their lives just to be what I need.

They are love with skin on.

And even though the nature of our relationship has changed, E is there too.  Being what I need him to be in this season.  Rooting me on to heal.

I have to remind myself my mother chose to leave.  She was sick and she didn’t want to put me through the experience of longsuffering as a caregiver that she went through.  She also knew the people that I had in my life.  That I would be ok because of them.

There are times that I am alone and that is apart of my story.  But there are so many times where I don’t have to be.  For that I am grateful.

And I know, that even though I can’t sense Him, feel Him, the way I used to, He is there.

Always there.

Rooting me on.

And so is she.

 

SHALOM

 

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The Royal Treatment

Have you ever liked someone so much that you bent over backwards for them?  You stretched and stretched yourself, trying to prove your worth and value.  Trying to get them to see how amazingly, awesome and perfect you are?  And how you can fulfill every idea of a partner they could possibly have?

Been there, done that.

And I know I’m not the only one.  I’ve talked to other women who have been dangled on a string of hopes and dreams never to come to fruition, while the one doing the dangling watched with amusement as you danced and twisted yourself into idealized versions of femininity.

To be fair, we have a choice in these types of relationships (or situationships).  We choose to be treated a certain way.  Even when its less than what we deserve.  But still, we make that choice.  And why do we make that choice?  I think the underlying truth is, we don’t think we can do better.

I remember walking in the movie theater coming from the bathroom, fighting back tears.  I was with my mom and I had learned some news about the guy I was seeing.  I had learned he was out with someone else.  That fact probably wouldn’t have hurt as much if he had not been resistant to taking me out.

Why am I not good enough to be taken on a date? I wondered.  I eyed myself in the bathroom mirror, studying my reflection.  Was I not pretty enough?  Did I not dress well enough?  Was I not fun enough?

Why was I not enough?

These are the insecurities I am coming to realize so many women share.  We compare ourselves with each other and with society’s standard of beauty.  We think we are “too this” and “not enough that”.  And then we get involved with others who send us the same message more than likely because of their own insecurities.  At least in my situation that was the case.

Thank God I made it out of that situation.  It took me a while, but I did.  And I was so scared to let it go because I did not think I could do better.  In fact, I prepared myself to be alone.  I knew how to be alone and that was my comfort zone.  Not necessarily my preference but at least it was familiar. 

But I didn’t have to be alone.  Because as soon as I closed one door (very shortly after) another one opened.  And then I learned that there are men who are secure enough in themselves to value a woman.  There are men who are mature enough to treat a woman according to her worth.  And there are men available who will set the standard for what a real gentleman is.

After having this experience with a real man I know that I will never settle again.

I know that I am worth being treated well.

I know that I am worth the royal treatment.

And so are you.

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful…”

SHALOM

 

Panera

I stood in one of my favorite places.  Panera.  Not sure why but I’ve always found comfort in its wooden booths, warm fire place, and doughy aromas.  At least, I have since grad school.  This particular location was truly a reminder of my time in school because it was the very one I often visited near the campus.

I stood there and had flashbacks of working diligently, pouring over debits and credits for hours on end, and drinking lattes to stay energized.  So many hours and months and years, working towards a goal I would eventually achieve: my MBA in Accounting.  But while I was driven and excited and encouraged at this endeavor, I still felt the longing of a single soul awaiting companionship. 

The longing burned within me.

No matter what I did to ignore it, it lingered.  I thought about this and how many years have passed.  On that day at Panera I didn’t feel the intense, burning, longing that I felt in my 20s, and even in my early 30s, but I still felt…alone.

I liken my desire for a romantic relationship to fasting.  When first starting a fast the hunger of food feels overwhelming and the task nearly impossible.  Yet as time goes on the desire simmers.  It’s still there, but it feels “dulled”.

With fasting, you learn how to be full off less.

The stomach shrinks and with it so does your mindset.  As a friend once told me when not having enough for a meal, “Well, there’s always water.” She said this because she has experienced several 21-day “liquid only” fasts.

Water becomes enough.

Memory after memory visited me as I waited for my order.  The painful ones.  The hard ones.  I thought about how time had moved but my circumstances had not.  I also thought about the guy I had met recently.  We were in the early stages of getting to know each other and I had not yet received a phone call.  I started debating on initiating the call but decided against it.  That just wasn’t me.  Within moments I felt my phone vibrate.  It was him.

We talked that night for the first time.  I sat and ate my food while looking out the window and being very much aware of the Father’s provision.  I had reached a place of understanding that we do not always get what we desire in this life.  We are not promised that.  I understood self denial and waiting and humbling one’s self for the sake of the kingdom.  In fact, I am still learning those lessons.  However I think there are new lessons He is teaching me, hence He is moving in a new way.  Because in that moment, while sitting in Panera, looking out the window and having the first of many to come conversations with a man who has great purpose in my life, I knew the Lord was saying, “See Nicole, your circumstances are changing.”

And more importantly, “Nicole, you are not alone”.

To prove it He brought me, Emmanuel…

SHALOM

Healing Fast

I remember years ago a dream I had. The details are fuzzy but what stands out to me is that I was in trouble and a dear family member came out of nowhere to rescue me. The interesting thing about it was that she was in a wheelchair when she did it! She literally flew out of the air in a wheelchair and came to save me! The message to me was that this person deeply cared for me and would allow no obstacle to hinder her from getting to me in my time of need.

The issue with the dream is that I felt the exact opposite in real life about our relationship and there always seemed to be a battle between us. Isn’t it interesting how God sees one thing and it looks totally opposite in real life? He sees the end from the beginning and as an intercessor, I have been taught that His heart is to manifest heaven in the earth.

I believe in heaven everything is perfect and that includes our relationships. There is no offense or hurt or sorrow. We have perfect relationships with everyone.

At the turn of the year the Father started moving rapidly in the area of this relationship. I had given up. I was so deeply hurt and wounded I did not believe it could be repaired. I was wrong. Not only did He repair it but He did it quickly! Decades of pain were healed in one conversation!

I accredit my loved one with her heart of repentance. Sometimes we have hurtful tendencies but that does not mean we intend to hurt. It just means we are broken.

It is beautiful to watch so many years of intercession being rewarded. To see the unfolding of a flower that has withstood so many wars.

It is a new season between us and I do not take this experience for granted. The weight has been lifted from my heart and I am grateful for it. Sometimes we can carry pain for so long that we do not even know it is there until it is removed.

Thank You Father for removing my pain and giving me a deep desire of my heart.

SHALOM

The Exception

I have a friend who notices patterns.  He’s pretty analytical and I like that about him.  I too notice patterns.  I’ve noticed that I attract certain personality types.  I’ve taken a few personality tests and know that my personality tends to be more “melancholy”. As a result I attract the opposite personality type in my close circle of friends.  That would be “the sanguine”.  Sanguines are upbeat and positive.  They tend to see the glass as half full even when its half empty.  I have noticed that in both friendships and dating relationships in my life the Sanguines are there in full form.

But recently I’ve attracted someone even more melancholy than myself.  That forces me to be “the sanguine one”.  Now its not that I’m never upbeat or happy or positive, its just that I’m used to taking the more serious, analytical, deep thinking role in my close relationships.  So it surprised me that I would become close to someone whose personality did not fit the mold of my close circle.  That’s when I remembered that I had one very close friend who also did not fit that mold.  She too is “melancholy”.

And as I thought about it, I remembered a saying my new friend says often.  As much as he likes patterns he says that there are always exceptions.

At the end of the movie, He’s Just Not That Into You the main character finally gives up on this exciting, romantic, passion filled love and settles for the safe, dependable, responsible relationship.  She was told by another character that she was “the rule” and the rule did not get the kind of love she dreamed of.  But at the end of the movie that same character pursues her.  He lets down his guard and bears his soul.  She looks at him hesitantly, unsure of weather or not she should trust his display of affection.  After all, he was the one who coached her through the whole movie about men and how she couldn’t believe they were really interested in her because of their lack of pursuit.  So she says to him, “I thought that I was the rule.  You said that I was the rule.”  And he reaches for her, leans in and counters her statement.  “I was wrong.  I was wrong, you are not the rule.  You are the exception.  You are my exception.”

There have been a surprising turn of events these last few months in my life.  I’ve allowed myself to be open and being open makes room for new people to come in.  I have followed a set of ideas and ways for most of my spiritual journey and I’m not throwing it all out the window but I see the need for change.  I’ve felt it this past year.

So instead of choosing the rule, I’m now choosing the exception.

My exception.

SHALOM

When Your Best Friend Gets Married

My best friend got engaged.  We knew it was coming but then again we didn’t.  We talked about the possibilities and played out the scenarios but nothing makes it real until it really happens.  Well it really happened.

And all of a sudden, memories of our shared singlehood flash across my minds’ eye.

Like that time we laid in bed giggling all night about her then boyfriend and the possibility of them getting married (they didn’t by the way).  Or the time we lay in bed on my trip to her beloved Haiti sharing the sorrows we had of walking out extended singleness. I prayed for her that night, feeling the weight of her longing and pain.  I had such an amazing time during my visit.  If only I would have known that would be the last one, where she would be–well–alone.

Or the time she turned one of those early 30’s numbers and I talked to her for 2 hours on the phone (because she was in another country and that’s all I could do) about how God was trustworthy, and extended singleness was hard, but He was still good.  Only a few years later would her season change.  But we didn’t know that at the time…

I never knew this woman would become so dear to me.  She entered my life when things were questionable and I didn’t think I needed any more friends.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  I have needed her desperately especially in this season.  I have needed her to intercede for me and war when I couldn’t remember my own identity.  When I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the face staring back.  I needed her to call me each morning when I was recovering from one breakup or another.  I needed to hear her voice when I no longer could hear the voice of our Father, and I questioned His existence…

She was faithful.  Faithful to be with me regardless of my choices and decisions.  Faithful when I wasn’t sure if I was coming or going.  We walked out a difficult time, but our sisterhood added sweetness to it.

We are like minded.  We have similar values and a similar desire to manifest true wholeness.  We share a call to stand out and be set apart in this generation.  And for the first time since we met (a nice summer day in 2007 that we both remember) we are in different seasons.  Very different seasons.

God is purposeful.  And I believe each season is to prepare us for the next season.

This has been a season where He has not ministered to me directly by His Spirit.  Instead He has used people and circumstances to reveal Himself.  She is one of those people He has chosen over and over again to do so.  Her pureness of heart, vivacious appetite for life and fierce loyalty are character traits I admire and am not deserving of.

When your best friend gets married you have a host of emotions.  SO much change.  So little time.  The time you waited for has finally come, but when it comes, it comes suddenly.  It is a reminder that seasons do change.  And that we must cherish them while they are here for that very reason.

When your best friend gets married, you wish her the best because she is so worth the best.  You are reminded that as similar as you are, and as close as you have been, you are still two different people.  I have my path and she has hers.  And God willing, we will still walk together on this path of life.

Congratulations to a woman who has been more than a friend to me.  She has truly been a sister.

Always rooting for you Ji❤️.

Love,

Nicole

Building Slowly

I admit I can be an impatient person.  Even after all these years and all the tests God has used to develop patience w/in me, it is not my preference to wait.  But in the world of getting to know new people and developing relationships, I have come to value a person that takes their time.


This summer has allotted me with several occasions to meet new people but no matter the person, the outcome was the same: things moved fast.  There were frequent phone calls and text messages and connections made, but always a tone of urgency and even insincerity.  This time however I am intrigued to have a different experience.  In the short time of our meeting, he takes his time.  There is careful balance of showing interest, but not diving in too deep.  It is nice when someone can correctly match the emotions and physical boundaries of a relationship with its developmental stage.  I have been in so many situations where that was not the case and for that reason I appreciate it all the more.

I heard it said recently that women lose their mystery quickly these days.  As Christian women that can be easy to fall into because many of us do not get pursued often so when it happens we can get so excited that we give away too much too fast (I have always struggled in that area).  Then afterwards, often the man does not feel the need to earn what has already been given.  He does not feel the need to rise to the occasion, because instead we lowered ourselves to it.

I’m trying to learn from my past mistakes.  All things are redeemable with God and He makes all things new.  I want to use this new opportunity to value myself better, stay true to my identity, and enjoy the slow building in the hopes that taking our time will produce something a little bit more longstanding.

SHALOM