Sundays With Rae

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

My Sweet Joshua


Prior to last night, I’ve never felt like I’ve been punched in the guts before; like all the wind had been knocked out of my body. I’ve experienced great loss, unexpected loss but for whatever reason, this was different. My sweet Joshua left this earth a few days ago. He wasn’t a best friend or even a close friend, but Josh had a way of making everyone who came in contact with him feel special. We spent two years together in graduate school and during that time, I watched Josh transform into living unapologetically as himself. Occasionally, he would give me a pep talk using colorful language and as I sobbed in the bathroom at church today while the praise team sung, “live, live, live, live, live,” I summed up those pep talks as Josh daring me to live. Him telling me to be okay where I was.


Moments like these I can find myself being in a dark space but today I didn’t go to that place. I was surrounded by friends and reminded God was still good. I stared at my fiancé and was reminded that God was still good. I celebrated the birthday of a woman diagnosed with cancer a year ago and was reminded God was still good. God is still good. Today I am weak, and He is still strong.

August 2012

I am forever grateful for Joshua’s life and the influence he had in mine. And I’ll always choose to dare to live.


2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Good is Coming

My dad dying was like God taking my favorite vase and dropping it on purpose and the shock of it all left me speechless. But I let my silence speak volumes, because I had nothing to say to God. As far as I was concerned, He’d made a mess and left me with the broken pieces. I know the Bible says all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord but maybe I didn’t love the Lord because surely no good could come from this.

Those were (sometimes still are) dark days. I’m grateful I’ve grown to a place where those days are few and far between, but when those bad days come, sometimes it’s really bad, making the good seem nonexistent. And it’s a pity, because there’s so much good. So much, that even if I tried to hide from it, the good would find a way to me. And maybe this seems impossible to believe right now. Maybe you don’t have dark days, but you have dark weeks and it’s been months since you said the word good and meant it. Misery may love company, but you’re doing just fine all by yourself. I know that feeling.

Grief is difficult. It just is. There are no shortcuts. You are where you are. Other people may not understand it and they don’t have to. You don’t have to see it right now, you don’t have to feel it, and I’m somewhat tempted to say you don’t even have to believe it (although, it helps if you do), but know that one day you will be able to genuinely smile again. You won’t measure time by loss. God will be friend to you instead of betrayer. He won’t just be seen as taker, but giver. One day, your bad days will be few and far between because good is coming to find you.  

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Enjoying the good (November 2020)

Related

I have an older brother and sister, as well as a younger sister. My older siblings and I are over a decade apart, almost two (they won’t appreciate me saying that lol), while my younger sister and I are two years apart. Maybe it’s because of our closeness in age or us growing up in the same household, but it is because of my younger sister that I understand the complexities of relationships and how different they can look over time.

If you were to see my younger sister and me out together, you’d think we’ve always been two peas in a pod and in some ways that’s true. We have a similar sense of humor that often times makes sense to no one but us. We have similar taste when it comes to clothes (yesterday she showed up at my house wearing the same brand of shirt unplanned, see below; this actually happens a lot). In a lot of ways she knows me better than I know myself. Countless times, I’ve had to ask her what some of my favorite things are (music, stores, etc.) and she’s right every time and I do the same for her. We used to watch a show called Twinning, where twins were tested to see how well they knew each other and we would answer the questions as though we were on the show and got a lot of the answers correct. There are things she can tell me and if no one else understands, she knows I will, and vice versa. With all of these similarities, people still see us as night and day. She can appear a lot friendlier and more outgoing than me (keyword: appear). I’ve been described as quieter than her. Contrary to popular belief, she’s more sensitive than I am (well maybe that belief isn’t so popular). We have very different ways of handling conflict. Our idea of a good time can also look quite different. But as we’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that for years, I’ve allowed these differences to color how I’ve viewed our relationship instead of paying attention to how our shades of similarities filled in so much of my life.

When I was in high school (maybe a freshman in college), I told my younger sister that if we weren’t sister, I wouldn’t be her friend. Ouch, I know. I wasn’t angry with her. We weren’t in the middle of a heated argument; I was just making an observation. She agreed with me but it wasn’t until years later that she told me I hurt her feelings (in the middle of a heated argument). Back then, we both understood we didn’t get along. We laughed and dealt with each other but that was as far as that went, at least that’s how I saw it. Once I left for college, weeks would go by without us talking. We weren’t upset, nothing major happened, we just knew where we stood with each other.

Even through this physical and emotional distance, there was still an undeniable bond. When my parents decided to buy me a car, she was at the dealership texting me about what they were looking at. When she was having a rough time in college, I sent her a care package with some of her favorite things. I used to send her a scripture every day for years (okay, maybe it was a year), and when I would forget, she would remind me. When I didn’t believe I could accomplish certain goals, she was the one I felt most comfortable confessing those things to and she was the one encouraging me. It was so easy to forget all of these things and tell people I didn’t get along with my sister but that simply wasn’t true.

To this day, I tell people no one can get under my skin like she can. I thought it was because we were so different but I now see it’s because our bond is so tight. When she offends me, it’s not someone just hurting my feelings, it’s the person who knows me best hurting my feelings, and it’s the same for her. We tend to focus on the negative feelings when it comes to our relationships, especially those within our families but take time to look at the positive.

As the big sister, I realize I was trying to raise a mini me. I would encourage my younger sister not to talk to other people because I didn’t talk to other people. I wanted her to like the same music I liked. I didn’t give her much space to be herself and when she would attempt to create that space, I would see her as doing life wrong because she wasn’t doing it like me. I now see the flaws with that mindset and as adults our relationship has improved exponentially because we’ve both become more accepting of who we are as individuals. We still call each other out when we’re tripping, but it’s not because we don’t like each other as people but because we love each other and know we hold the power to encourage each other to be our best selves.

So I said all that to say, show grace when dealing with family, even the ones you can’t stand. Yes, they’re your family, but they’re people and a wise man once told me that people are going to people. They’re going to let you down, they’re going to upset you, they’re going make dumb decisions, just like you will. It may very well be true that if they weren’t related to you, you wouldn’t be caught in the same room as them but don’t say that out loud (learned that the hard way) and don’t be so quick to write them off. It’s easy to throw the whole relationship away, but sometimes it’s not only unnecessary, it’s detrimental. You’re right, you all may never be besties and that’s okay but you don’t have to be miserable around each other. Find ways to connect with each other, whether that’s watching a TV show together or sharing a meme. One of me and my sister’s favorite things to do is complain about our mother to each other. Whatever works for you! My life would look much different if not for my younger sister. Through the good and the bad, we’ve decided to let the good outweigh the bad. I’m glad we’re related.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

edandearl.com (September 2020)

Not All Dates Are Good…

Have you ever been on a date so terrible, it made you consider being a nun? Okay, this date wasn’t that bad but it wasn’t good, like, at all. My name is Jocee, and this is my story.

He was almost seven feet tall, caramel complexion, muscular build, with a few dreadlocks on the top of his head that were brown at the tips. They had been freshly re-twisted which sounds like a good thing but it wasn’t. He had on a muscle shirt with joggers that were tighter than my jeans and if I had the courage, I would have walked out of the lobby of that movie theater then but I told myself I needed to be open minded and just because I didn’t like how the gift was wrapped, didn’t mean it wasn’t a gift. After all, he had drove over an hour to go to the movies with me which sounds sweet but was a red flag. None of our conversations had been very in depth, so he really didn’t know me well enough for such a sacrifice to be considered sweet. But again, I’m trying to be open minded, maybe the Lord told him something that He didn’t tell me.

As soon as we sit down in our seats, I could already see what kind of afternoon it was going to be. Some people enjoy talking throughout a movie. I’m not necessarily opposed to this if I know you and we can laugh about things together. This was not one of those situations. He commented on the commercial before the movie regarding his car being better than the car that was in the advertisement. He commented on the commercial about tipping the waitress (dine in movie). He commented about putting his phone on silent. This was all before the actual movie came on! I’m sure he was nervous like I was, and perhaps this was his way of trying to loosen things up but it was not working. The movies is not a good first date, especially if you’re not doing dinner too, and to add insult to injury he asked what I enjoyed doing and the movies was not on my list (although I do enjoy the movies), so a part of me thinks he just wanted to see this movie. Once the movie got started, things didn’t get any better.

At some point he alluded to us being in a relationship and him protecting me from bad guys… Sir, I don’t even know if I would want to be your friend. He asked what I would do if he was as short as one of the characters in the movie, which to me felt like he thought he was better than because he was over six feet tall. Little did he know, I would have much rather been sitting next to a guy who was five feet and would let me enjoy the movie in peace.

All of this was annoying if nothing else, but the worst part of this whole date was when I realized he was using the same balled up tissue to repeatedly wipe his nose. I’m not sure if it was allergies or a cold, but I know it was unattractive. This was pre-pandemic, so I wasn’t nervous about COVID-19, but I wanted no parts of any other germs he had. Y’all, I’m not talking about one or two wipes; he had to wipe multiple times. I have really bad allergies year around so I know what a struggle it can be, but that balled up tissue was attempting to kill me softly. Then he looked over at me and I’m pretty certain he was trying to figure out how he was going to put his arm around me. Let me tell you, God was with me that day because I don’t know how I would have reacted if he had figured it out. Maybe slide down in the seat or act like I had to go to the bathroom, pretend I got a phone call, and maybe even holler, I just don’t know. But I do know, there was no way he was touching me.

Soon enough the movie was over and I was praying he didn’t want to go anywhere else. It would have made sense considering he drove that distance and we really didn’t get a chance to talk (well, he talked), but the Lord smiled on me again, and we said our goodbyes. I honestly would have agreed to go sit in a coffee shop or go get ice cream, hoping it would make up for the movie but I’m grateful I didn’t have to. We texted a few more days after that but eventually I had to tell him I wasn’t interested. I did feel kind of bad but I’m too old to waste my time or somebody else’s. He wasn’t a terrible person, he just wasn’t my person. So that was my not so good date. What’s yours?

*Certain details have been changed out of respect to the other party involved 

Wasted outfit

Something New

Those who know me well know that my favorite holidays are my birthday and Valentine’s Day. Both are real holidays so don’t try to convince me of otherwise; I’ll simply think you’re delusional. New Year’s Day is slowly slipping into this category of favorite holidays. I’ve always looked forward to setting goals and creating vision boards. It’s like no matter what happened the previous year, I made it to the new one and it’s filled with all these unknowns I’m excited to uncover. Of course I can’t predict the low moments and I don’t anticipate them; I choose to take them as they come. Those good times though… The ones I can’t even dream up if I tried, experiences that will unexpectedly etch a happy place in my heart, creating connections that will last a lifetime, this is what New Year’s Day represents to me: the hope of everything good.

I know we can choose any day to start new and make plans and set goals, but I like that there is a particular day we acknowledge something new, marking the beginning of whatever will be. On January 1, 2013, I was happy about the possibilities the year held, completely unaware my dad would die almost 11 months later but I won’t discount that moment on January 1. I’m learning not to allow an event, no matter how impactful, to define time. It may influence my view of a particular time in my life, but I won’t let it take the joy out of the happy days and the wonder that filled them.

I’m not sure what 2019 was like for you, how many wins and losses and everything in between you took but expect great things in this new year; I do, and God willing, I always will.

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

December 2019

Breathe

Take a deep breath in, hold it, now let it out. Do it one more time. Take a deep breath in, hold it, now let it out. When’s the last time you stopped and simply breathed? Not because you have to in order to live, but just to remind yourself that you’re alive? That you’re here in this moment?

We have so much going on in our lives. Once we’re done with one thing, we’re on to the next. We’re securing the bag, doing the work of the Lord, accomplishing goals, achieving success. We’re holding our breaths waiting for the next best thing, never really living in the moment. If we’re not careful, we will have collected memories without experiencing them. Last night I went to a gospel concert and in the middle of worship, I took the time to breathe, to be present where I was. I didn’t worry about who was coming on stage next, I was there and could feel myself alive.

This week I’m encouraging you to breathe. Take a deep breath in, hold it, and let it out. We often think of needing to take a breath when life gets overwhelming and things aren’t going so good but be sure to breathe through the good times. They too deserve to be lived in.

Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

October 2019