Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Pretty Lies and Ugly Truths

Have you ever told a lie to make yourself feel better about a particular situation? You didn’t just tell a lie but you dressed it up nicely and made it sound real good? You weren’t speaking life over yourself, you weren’t walking out on faith; you just didn’t want to deal with yourself and your emotions. Maybe you did it consciously, maybe you didn’t, but if WE’RE honest with ourselves, we can admit we’ve done it before. Those pretty lies we tell ourselves are music to our ears. We bask in the ambiance they provide until we’re forced to hear the tune of ugly truths. The piercing sound we can’t wish away.

I don’t have a temper. I don’t care what other people think about me. I’m not a jealous person. I’m over him. I don’t need them. It wasn’t that deep. I like sticking to myself. I don’t want the attention. I’m happier now. We’re still friends. My relationship with God is fine. I don’t need their approval. I didn’t try that hard anyway. I’m not worried about it. There’s nothing to tell. Pretty lies have a way of mistaking confidence for insecurities. If we can convince everyone else, we think eventually we’ll start believing it. And sometimes we can, but only for a little while because we always find a way to tell on ourselves.

I don’t think I’m that pretty. I’m not where I want to be in life. My feelings are really hurt. I want my mom’s approval. He doesn’t love me. I’m not sure I believe in God. I’m not good at making or keeping friends. I don’t think I’m smart. I want to be well liked. I want to be noticed. I think about dying every day. I don’t think I’ll ever get married. I spend too much money. I don’t want to forgive. Ugly truths tell a story we want no part of, only to find ourselves listed as the main character. It’s a reality we don’t want to face but it stares back at us like our reflection in the mirror. The farther we try to run from it, the closer we find ourselves to it.

Once you uncover the pretty lies and recognize the ugly truths, now what? Sing this with me: Take it to the Lord in prayer… We have to be willing to admit where we are weak, so why not admit it to the one whose strength is made perfect in our weakness? Ask God to help you make friends. Ask God to help you believe in Him. Ask God to help you express your hurt feelings effectively. And when the opportunity to believe the lie presents itself (I’m telling you, it will), choose to acknowledge the truth and let God be strong. It may be uncomfortable, you probably won’t feel like it, it may even seem contrary to your character, but choose to follow God and His truth anyway.

John 8:32, 36 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

July 2019

God: The Ultimate Event Planner

There are some people who have every second of their days planned and others who have no idea what is happening, they just show up. God is more of the former while I fall somewhere in the middle, closer to the latter. In planning events, one must pay attention to detail and be ready to deal with the unexpected. Someone is not a great event planner because all their events go off without a hitch, but when things happen, they are able to recover and still put on a great event. This makes God the ultimate event planner.

Think about it, He already knows the plans He has for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11). If we would simply go with the plan, we wouldn’t find ourselves in as much mess. Of course we don’t do that, but He takes the mess and makes it beautiful. He incorporates our desires into the event we call life when we give Him control (Psalms 37:4). He allows those bad times to work out for our good (Romans 8:28). He also has the connections to open doors we need opened, if we ask Him (Matthew 7:7). In order to receive these benefits we have to acknowledge Him as our event planner and consult Him about the details (Proverbs 3:6).

Again, it’s not about everything going according to your plan. It’s about trusting your event planner (God) to still make whatever happen good for you. When I bought my house, a man who has been like a godfather to me, told me to enjoy my home no matter what happens. He reminded me that God had brought me this far and everything was ALWAYS going to work out. I have dealt with many things as a homeowner (leaking roof, being robbed, etc.) but I always remembered his words. And recently, I have been trying to be more intentional about applying those words to my life as a whole. No matter what happens, my event planner has it under control.

June 2017

Handle With Care

I am my own worst critic. Jocee you should have said this, you should have did this. Why did you look like that? Why didn’t you do this? I’m never satisfied with what I present to the world. Even with writing this blog, you have no idea how many times I reread each post, questioning if it’s good enough. However, I’m learning to handle myself with care. The same grace Jesus asks us to give to others (Luke 6:36), is the same grace we need to extend to ourselves.

We should set expectations for ourselves but if we don’t measure up to those expectations, it’s not the end of the world. A toddler who is potty training is going to have accidents. We don’t yell at them for not reaching the goal of staying dry all day (or rather we shouldn’t). The next day you encourage them to keep trying. We should take on this same attitude when we mess up and fail to reach our goals.

As a teacher, I have some of the best ideas and literally spend hours planning. Once it’s time to actually teach, some days it seems like everything is going wrong and it’s all my fault. Why didn’t I make the copies earlier? Why did I choose that story? Why didn’t I use a different example? Why didn’t I account for little Timmy being a jerk today? And if I get caught in that downward spiral, I ignore all the things that went well. I successfully talked Timmy out of running out of the building. They thought my joke was funny. When I asked for all eyes on me, all eyes were on me. I made a real world connection to the standard and they actually understood. Celebrate what went well and make notes of what you can do better and tomorrow, do better.

Galations 5:22-23, list the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance). This fruit is not just for others, it’s for you. If someone were to overhear you having a conversation with yourself about yourself, what would they hear? Would they feel bad for you? Or would they marvel at how kind you are even under the worst conditions?

Jonathan McReynolds once said the things we are most insecure about are the things we think everyone else is “hating” on. What if I told you, you were your biggest hater? You don’t give yourself permission to have a bad day or moment. You’re not allowed to mess up. And I get it, maybe you have too much at stake. Maybe others are depending on you to get it right all the time. But in helping everyone else, make sure you’re helping yourself by handling yourself with care.

Empty Your Hands

I was babysitting my goddaughter, Safiya, and her sister, Naima the other day and Naima, who is two, found an eraser that looked like a strawberry. She did what all two year olds do: tried to eat it. I informed her it was not food and I told her we could get some snacks if she was hungry, but she clutched the strawberry eraser and ran away shouting “mine!” I had something better but she thought she had the best. Too often, we are Naima. We are so content with what we find, we ignore and sometimes run away from what God has for us, not realizing that what He has is so much better. If we would just empty our hands, God can bless us.

I remember being very unhappy at my job as a family therapist. I just did not like it. However, compared to most beginning therapists, I was making pretty good money and my hours were fantastic. But that did not seem like enough. I technically could have continued to work as a therapist as I applied to teaching jobs but something in me knew I needed to empty my hands. I didn’t think of it as that then, I just knew I was sick of being a therapist. I had some savings and I was going to live on that until God made a move. During these times of empty hands, I learned how to pray. I knew what it meant to put a request before God and trust He was going to make good on it. I would not have been able to experience this total dependence, had my hands been full of family therapist stuff. Maybe I would not have scored as well on my teaching certification exams. Maybe I would not have taken as many substitute jobs (which is actually how I got my full-time teaching job). I had to put down what I thought was best and trust in God’s better.

Fear kills. Fear cripples. Fear stunts growth. Of the million and one things I want to do in my life, if you ask me why I have not done them, my answer for the majority of those things would be because I’m afraid. I’m afraid I won’t do it right. I’m afraid no one will like it. I’m afraid I’ll look stupid. I’m afraid. So instead, I hold tight to all the things I already know how to do. I hold tight to my views of the world. I hold tight to my stuff. I don’t trust that what God has is better. What I have is good enough… Who really wants to live a good enough life? Not I. So as scary as it may seem, I NEED to walk around with empty hands, awaiting God to fill them.

We can usually tell when God is calling us to something better. It’s usually uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and relies solely on Him to make work. For me, it was a job. For you, it may be a relationship. Yes, y’all have been together for five years and of course you love the person, but it’s going nowhere. You know it, he/she knows it, and maybe the thought of being alone is scary and the thought of having to get to know somebody else is overwhelming (don’t even get me started), but it’s necessary for better. It could be unforgiveness that you need to let go of. You know they were wrong, they know they were wrong, all of your social media knows they were wrong. Empty yours hand of it, so God can give you forgiveness. As much as we want to believe we can hold unforgiveness and forgiveness at the same time, I assure you we can’t (I’ve tried, several times). Let your “secret” sins go. Maybe nobody else knows about them but we both know, God knows. He can’t give you everything He’s promised you because your hands are so full of sin. Free your hands up.

Today I challenge you to drop the strawberry eraser, with the belief that God’s better will fill those empty hands.

424 Miles

That’s the distance between my house and Cleveland, MS. Yes, there is a Cleveland in Mississippi. It’s closer to Arkansas than Alabama and is as Southern as you think it is. What’s in Cleveland, MS? Delta State University. The Grammy Museum (random, I know). But my reason for going was to visit one of my closest friends from high school. It was a trip I almost didn’t take, but a trip that was necessary.

Of course I wanted to see my friend, but 424 miles though? That would be a 6 hour, 39 minute drive… one way. Issa no for me. I literally considered almost any other option. Savannah. Daytona Beach. Fort Lauderdale. Chicago. Charleston. Boston. Panama City Beach. Those options were either too expensive, out of rooms, or just as far as Cleveland. Then, I remembered, Cleveland was on my list of things to do in my 27th year (click here, this is why you should write goals down). So off to Cleveland I went. It was one of the best trips I have taken in a long time. It inspired me to go after the things I want in life. To do what I was called to do even if I am afraid. To reassign people’s roles in my life story. To take care of myself. To live life unapologetically. All of this came out of a 424 mile journey, a journey well worth it.

Too often, we become so complacent in life, we allow goals and dreams to fall by the wayside, locked away in our thoughts and journals. The journey seems like a waste of time, so much so, when the opportunity to take the journey presents itself, we say “it’s too far,” “it’s too much,” “it’s not enough,” “it’s not going to work,” “I’m too old,” “I’m too shy.” Excuse, after excuse. You could be right, but what if you’re wrong? What if your healing is there? What if your multi-million dollar business is there? What if your self-esteem is there? What if your husband or wife is there? What if your degree is there? What if your ministry is there? There will always be a “what if,” if you never take the journey.

Moses was the king of excuses. “What if they don’t believe me? I have slow speech and a slow tongue. Let someone else do it” (Exodus 4:1, 10, 13). He was having an actual conversation with the God of the universe, and was still like “nah, that’s not for me.” Moses did not think he could lead. He did not want to take the journey. Touch your neighbor and say, “ohhh, but when he did!” He performed miracles. He helped set a whole nation free. And although it took the children of Israel a minute to figure out life, Moses was still able to be the leader God called him to be. Thousands of years later, we’re still talking about him. The journey was worth it.

My journey took 424 miles. Yours may take going to the gym consistently. Writing and rewriting your manuscript. Going to class. Studying. Saving money. Investing money. Going to therapy. Saying no. Saying yes. It may not always be easy. God told Moses He had hardened Pharaoh’s heart and would not let the people go right away (Exodus 4:21). And God even sought to kill Moses at one point (Exodus 4:24), but it was all part of the journey. Those bumps in the road may come, but we serve a God who can do above all we could ask or think according to the power that worketh in us (Ephesians 3:20). You think the journey is taking you one place, but when you finally get to the destination… In the words of today’s preacher, you’ll find “much better and much more.” Take the journey, even if it is 424 miles.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Grammy Museum (April 2018)

My friend Susan at the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, MS (April 2018)

I Love Me

I love me, I really do.

But do I love me enough?

Enough to not give the random dude at Walmart my number simply because he asked and it’s been a minute since I’ve been on a date?

To dream bigger than this world thinks possible and be crazy enough to believe I can do anything?

Do I love me enough to continue to strive for perfection, no matter how many times I miss the mark?

 

I love me, I really do.

But do I love me enough?

Enough to say no when I really want to and yes when I really need to?

To wait because as the saying goes it’s better to wait long than marry wrong (and I really don’t like being wrong)?

Do I love me enough to be everything God called me to be even when it seems out of my norm and makes others uncomfortable?

Even when it’s difficult and my actions make me seem unlovable?

 

I love me, I really do.

But do I love me enough?

Enough to smile when I am happy and cry when I am sad?

To forgive myself for stopping to get something to eat when I know I have food at home?

Do I love me enough to take leaps of faith knowing God will always catch me?

 

I love me, I really do.

And it’s enough.

Valentine’s Day 2016

Be a Superhero

Me and my superhero! (September 2014)

Me and my superhero! (September 2014)

I walk with my grandmother’s air, when I enter a room you will notice. For years I’ve tried to quiet it, make my presence less known, make myself invisible, merely a fly on the wall but I was not bred for such an existence

I have always looked up to my grandmother (both literally and figuratively). She always seems so confident about who she is and what she is doing. I know she is human and has her moments of despair, but she is like a superhero and it’s hard to take your eyes off of a superhero. She’ll tell you herself, “I don’t get caught up worrying about other people; I just work for the Lord.” She’s uninterested in who may be watching her, but because she is who she is, she’s always being watched; it’s not a good or bad thing, it’s just something that happens.

My mother often tells me, “you never think anyone is paying attention to you.” And I respond, “they don’t and that’s the way I like it.” This is not to be confused with thinking of myself as being unworthy to be looked upon, but I like being in the background and blending in with my surroundings. I don’t want to be the center of attention. Although I did well in school, I was never the kid to volunteer to go up to the board or raise my hand to answer a question (even if I knew the right answer); that would be too many eyes on me which I brought upon myself. Even as an adult, this is still an area of my life that needs improvement.

My theory has always been: if no one notices you, no one notices you messing up, but if you do well, they’ll be surprised by the girl they didn’t notice before. It’s all about expectations. I can’t let you down if you weren’t expecting anything anyway. This logic works well until I want to be noticed or rather I want to do something but don’t want all the attention (good or bad) that may come along with it. I joke with myself that I have this split personality. There is the girl who wants to fade away in the background but then there is the girl who wants to do all these things which require people to notice (I’ll talk about those things in a different post). I struggle with both parts and two questions steadily ring in my ear: ‘you can, but do you really want to? What difference would it really make?’

Superheroes are focused on their mission. Even if there were no accolades or people were unhappy about the outcome, they would still complete their mission because it is what they were created to do. Jesus is the greatest superhero of all time to me. He was sent to earth on a mission and even when times got rough, he did not let that deter him. If he focused on people watching Him, and decided it was too uncomfortable or too much pressure, there would be no hope for us. Pushing pass the pain, pass the betrayal, pass the people, pass death itself, His actions saved a whole world. So often, we think our inaction does not hurt anyone. Who cares, if we don’t share our testimony? What does it matter if we don’t use our gift (poetry, speaking, evangelizing, playing a sport, teaching, etc.)? Will saying ‘hello, how are you doing’ really make a difference? If we never do it, we will never know how many people we can impact.

A former college professor told me, “you have such a warm personality. I can feel it when you walk in the room.” This was odd to me because there were about 60 people in this class (I sat all the way in the back) and he probably had around 300 students he was teaching that semester, but somehow he noticed me. More people notice you than you think whether you are trying to be invisible or not. You were created with a mission in mind; make sure they see you living out your mission, not trying to hide it. Be a superhero, that’s what I want to be.

Ephesians 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in

It’s Me

Not too long ago I met a guy. We went on a few dates and he seemed like an okay guy, good conversation, made me laugh. This went on for a few weeks, and then he disappeared. Stopped calling, stopped texting, just vanished. And of course I did what every girl does (and maybe every guy): start questioning myself. I replayed every conversation, spoke with friends, until finally I reached a conclusion. It was me. Me, who was waiting for marriage, who didn’t curse and didn’t drink or party, who was heavily involved in my church. It was me. Of course there could have been other factors which influenced his actions (or rather inaction), but it being me makes sense. It took a while to put all the pieces together (although many of my friends tried to tell me), but once I did, I was okay with it. “It’s me, not you,” always seems like a cop-out but sometimes it’s reality. As Christians, our God fearing nature seems to be all other people see, whether they’re potential partners, family, or friends. We can’t love Jesus and be funny. We can’t be sober and know how to have a good time. This world cannot handle us and all of our dimensions, which has led me to say, “I’m sure it’s me.” Me, who loves Jesus, am amazing, multi-talented, and original. Yes, I’m sure that’s me.
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This blog is about embracing the many parts that make up me (and you), especially my commitment to God. This commitment does not make me less fun or life less enjoyable, it makes it all the better and with some interesting stories to go along with it. I am a Christian, who is also a family therapist, has friends from all walks of life, enjoys traveling, and I lovingly refer to myself as being chronically single. In this blog I’ll discuss failed “situations” (such as the one mentioned above; and hopefully new situations as they arise), weird encounters, and inspiring experiences. During Testimony Tuesday, I’ll share people’s testimonies of how they came to Christ and how it has changed their life (myself included).  On Tip Tuesday, I’ll give advice regarding certain topics (my sister says the name sounds like something associated with a strip club but I like it 🙂 ).  It is my prayer that people all over the world will be encouraged to be every bit of themselves without having to sacrifice one part for another and every part being informed by and through their faith. I hope everyone who reads this blog will be able to smile and say, “I’m sure it’s me.”

Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord