HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
I am old.
Yes, I know I’m not old, but I needed a good opening for this blog. Bear with me, Cleetus!
Yesterday I was on the Facebook and a friend of mine posted a few songs that are 20 years old now in 2017. Included in that list were songs by following:
~Diddy (you know, the artist formally known as Puffy, Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, etc)
~N*Sync (you know, the boy band Justin Timberlake was a part of before he became Mini Michael Jackson)
~Aqua (you know the guys that sang Barbie Girl)
~Backstreet Boys (you know… the group whose songs soundtrack my entire childhood)
While listening to all these throwbacks… I couldn’t help but think, 1. Wow. ’97 was a great year for music and 2. WOW! What a week of throwbackz! How things have changed…
Straight Up, Now Tell Me
Last week, I was afforded one, last opportunity to relive my late teens and early 20’s (besides jamming out in my car to Throwback Thursday on Pandora). How? My favorite, beyond favorite band (The Early November) put on a 10 year anniversary tour for the album that introduced me to their genius- The Mother, the Mechanic and the Path.
Just so you know… THIS is The Early November (TEN):
Side Note 1: If you want to listen to their genius… click here. (I recommend starting at track 23 and going from there. #fangirl)
Side note 1. 5 because I can: The song to which this blog is entitled “The Truth Is” can be found…here. I want this sung at my wedding by TEN. Future Husband take note.
#superfangirl. Okay I’m done…
Needless to say: I. Had. To. Go. And now that I’m an adult and don’t have SATs to hold me back… I went. The nostalgia was so real. The screamy, emo sounds of my generation brought me waaay back. Unfortunately, the time period it brought me back to was one of the most angst-ful and darkest times of my life. Times that I want to forget but I can’t because it’s a part of my history. It’s a part of what makes me…me.
A long, long, time ago…
I really don’t know how to begin this part. Hmmm…
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… I made some toxic relationships.
Relationships that eventually hurt me to the core. Relationships that would take years of undoing. Relationships that if I would have just listened to God in the first place… I could have completely avoided everything said in prior sentences!
I will refrain from saying names because some of you may know these people and I don’t wanna cross to the line of gossip. Remember, there’s two always to sides to every story so I’m not claiming innocence in any way. This is just my side of what went down.
So, right. I was in a few toxic friendships over the years. What made them toxic? Well, a lot of things, but namely, these particular individuals had a way of making me feel like I was nothing–unless I had them in my life and/or obtained their approval. Every opportunity they had to bring me down, they took it. When I had victories they turned it into a battle all about them. When I had triumphs they took the moment to bash me instead of congratulate. Anytime I would feel good about who I was… they managed to point out everything that was wrong. And the more they put me down, the more I wanted to prove to them that I was good enough to be in their lives. I tried every minute of every day trying to entertain them or help them or be there for them in any way possible. I bent over backwards for these individuals, not realizing I was giving all the good parts of myself away… all while taking on all the bad parts of their character.
Again, hear me out, I’m not trying to play the victim! I’m just trying to help you understand how I felt because of these relationships. Yes, they used me to make themselves feel better about whatever was making them miserable; but the cold hard truth is this: as crappy and terrible as these people made me feel, I made the choice to believe everything they fed me. I made the choice to keep going back to my vomit as the proverb says. And as Glenn from the Walking Dead seems to say a lot :…that’s on me!
The truth is… through action and word I was told I was worthless. I was told I was unlovable. I was told I wasn’t enough. And because, at the time, I was more concerned about making these people happy and essentially worshiping every word they said… I believed what they had to say and took their junk to be my own.
People, the Bible isn’t joking when it says we need to feed on God’s Word. As humans, we eat whatever we’re putting in our hearts and minds. And if we’re consuming negative thought patterns, bad things people say about us or really anything BUT what the Bible says…there’s bound to be repercussions. And in my case, there were. Oh, so many.
Like the old saying goes: hurt people hurt people. And we were all a hot mess of hurt back then.
Ah…so we meet again?
Okay, I gotta fess up to it once again: I have daddy issues. If you guys aren’t “up on the know”, feel free to throwback this blog to get my back story.
Long story short, my dad wasn’t around when I grew up and he died when I was 11. As much as I would like to say I didn’t need him or not having him around didn’t affect me… I can’t. Fathers are huge part of anyone’s life. That’s just how God made it to be. A lack of anything God intended means there’s a lack in God’s perfect design. Even though I hate to admit it, there was and is a lack in me because my dad wasn’t around. Now, while I didn’t go down the road of most people who have absent fathers go… there’s no doubt that I still felt the same things and acted out of a broken sinful place because of it.
I longed and still have issues with acceptance.
I never felt and still don’t always feel secure in myself.
I wanted so much to be loved and valued or at least know it.
I had an unhealthy need for guys attention and unhealthy relationships.
And my heart hurt. My heart hurt badly.
In my pain, I thought these friendships were exactly what I needed to make me feel important. I failed to realize that these toxic relationships and sinful acts I gave into couldn’t fill all the voids and needs my dad left… Only God could and can do that.
And the Lord tried to warn me…time and time again. Yet, instead of being obedient and fleeing from all these toxic people and behaviors- I chose to do my own thing and revert to the temporary fixes I had done so well to build up in my life. I became blinded and I became numb. Eventually the hurt and abuse became my normal. And there ya have it. Classic, Monz.
Side note 2: if you think you were or are in a toxic friendship or relationship… please know you’re not alone! You don’t need those people’s love or acceptance. Don’t allow the abuse to continue. As you will read on… you can get out of the crazy and you can be transformed. God wants better for you. Don’t keep punishing yourself. You are loved. You are precious and you are valuable!
Get Up, Stand Up
For those of you who have known me a long time… I’ve always had trouble sticking up for myself. I still kind of do… but I’m far from the doormat I used to be. I’m only different now because of one, Godly, “on-time” conversation had many years ago.
One day, one of my BFFs approached me as I was walking back from the bookstore. I can’t remember why we were chatting- but something sparked us talking about me and a certain toxic friend I had. In this moment, my BFF did something that, up until that point, no one had really done . She spoke up about how badly I was being treated. She spit so much truth that evening… it was ridonkulus! She showed me I was worth more than what I was allowing myself to have. She pointed out the toxicity of this particular friendship and she said didn’t like how they treated me at all. I remember her saying something along the lines of :
It took everything for me not to say something to them! I know they’re your best friend and I know you love them… but you HAVE to stop how badly they treat you. It’s just not right! I don’t know why no one else sticks up for you! They all treat you like garbage!
Now, I don’t know if this was something she’d planned or if it just vomited out of her passion for people. But, I am forever thankful for this moment because (however it came about) it was a Divine appointment for me, myself and I.
For the first time, I could see clearly someone truly valued me enough to tell me the truth. She saw me for someone other than who I had made myself. She came down into the pit of lies, deceit, depression and hurt that I’d made myself so comfortable in and showed me I didn’t have to be there anymore. And even though I wasn’t ready to hear all that she had to say… she loved me in that moment. She loved me through that moment. And she loved me past that moment.
God used her speaking truth, in love, to wreck me in the best way.
I don’t know if any of you are LOST fans… but if you are not, spoilers are afoot! ((Honestly though…the show has been off the air for like 7 years. You should relax.)) I promise this has everything (and nothing) to do with my story:
So! There’s a whole half season of LOST dedicated to the LOSTies (what we call the group of characters in LOST) digging and finding this hatch found on the island.
Don’t ask questions, just accept it.
Eventually, they find some dynamite and break the sucker open! That was the season finale. The next season it starts off with some guy starting his daily routine, listening to this classic song. Working out. Eating breakfast. Doing his thing. Whatever. Now, the average LOST viewer would think this is a flashback of one of the LOSTies before they were trapped on the island. (LOST is popular for doing this. Also, I promise this has everything [and nothing] to do with my story!)
Something blows up! Turns out…it’s the LOSTies outside! Locke and Jack (the main LOSTies) just blew up the hatch to an underground home where this man, Desmond, has been living for years. Desmond’s home-underground, that he’d grown to know as normal, was just wrecked by old, man Locke and pretty, boy Jack. His life would be forever changed. #NotPennysBoat.
With all that being said, when I think back to the moment when my BFF told me what what was up, down and all around… I think of this scene from LOST. It may not have been crazy at the time; but in retrospect it was as insane, dramatic and life altering as any episode of LOST!
The fake, facade I had grown to know and love needed to be broken down. Like that hatch/Desmond’s underground abode in LOST, it wasn’t healthy and it was wasn’t real. God used my friend to shake things up and ultimately be a catalyst for His movement and true transformation in my life. God knew He was the Answer to all my problems and I needed this moment for Him to become all the things I had been searching for. And the truth is, I don’t think I would have ever truly understood the transforming power of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross had He not intervened at that very moment in time.
Side note #3: I know we live in a world where “you do you, boo boo” and “mind your own business” and “bring your our chairs” …blah blah blah is the culture. However, how the world works isn’t how the Kingdom of God works. We need to get up, stand up and speak up for the broken and vulnerable. Even if those people aren’t ready to hear it. EVEN if we offend someone. Even if it’s not the popular opinion. God uses these moments for His purposes. He uses these times to save lives. It only takes one voice to change the world. So please, don’t sit back and bite your tongue on things of importance. Be prayerful always, yes. But be obedient and be bold. Someone’s life quite literally may depend on it.
So, what does this have to do with The Early November?
LOL right…there’s a whole point to this thing, huh?
Well the point is, when I’m sad… I like to listen to sad music.
I know it sounds crazy… but I also know: WE ALL DO IT!! You get mushy-gushy…you put on some mushy-gushy jams. Feel like falling in love? 90 R&B. Feel like punching someone in the face? Screamo/NWA. Not quite sure what you’re feeling? Enya.
It took a little bit of time and a whole lot of drama before my good friend’s words really sunk in. Eventually though, I decided it was time for me to get with it and move on. God showed me that He loved me more than I could comprehend and I finally did something positive for myself. The time had come. I released myself from toxic relationships. And guess what?
But only at first. It sucked because I was depressed. I was depressed because I couldn’t believe I had allowed myself to become the type of person I had become. And while these friendships were terrible for me… they still were friends of mine! I was sad to see them go! I was angry. Angry at them. Angry at myself. Aaaand this is where The Early November (TEN) came into play.
I would listen to TEN over and over and over again. This particular album had songs that spoke to just about everything I was going through. That and Adele. ((Oh, Adele’s 19 got me through some rough patches during that season too.))
You see, it wasn’t that I wanted to stay depressed, so I listened to emo and sad love songs. I just needed to process. Everything. I made my life all about those people and suddenly they weren’t there! I didn’t know what to do. So, those particular albums were something tangible I related to, at the time, because I had no other point of reference.
I’m not saying this is what everyone should do. We all cope with loss in different ways and it took a lot of prayer, repentance and tears to help me deal with and move from the cold, hard truth of things. I know TEN/Adele weren’t and could never be the healing agents that got me through by any means! However, I believe God used some of it to get my attention. Why? I started my journey with me, my Bible and TEN/Adele. Then as time went on…it became me, prayer, my Bible and a little Adele. Eventually it was prayer, Holy Spirit and my Bible and I. And as God began to work and Holy Spirit began to reveal more and more, I realized it had always been me and Jesus walking together even if I didn’t see it clearly at first.
Jesus never left me. Even in my disobedience. Even in my hard hearted-ness. And especially in my losses. He stayed there with me. Constantly beckoning and convicting me through Holy Spirit. Relentlessly speaking to me through God’s word. Faithfully walking with me through every joy and heartache. I realized through that sad and difficult journey that I had a Father Who loved me in that season, loved me through that season and He still loves me past that season.
So what about that concert then?
Right…full circle! Keep me on track.
You see, folks… going to that TEN concert last weekend wasn’t a last hoorah for my youth or a time to fan-girl over my favorite band. It was just another beautiful reminder of who I was, who I am and who I’m becoming in Christ. It was a flashback of how loved and cherished I am by my Father. And it was another moment for me to appreciate my friends and the good people God has placed in my life. Sometimes you gotta glance back to treasure what’s now and motivate you for what’s ahead.
So, in conclusion…
Thank You Jesus for The Early November, both the month and the band. More importantly, thank You for yet, another, successful rescue of myself from myself.
Well, wait…one last thing!
If you’re reading this have seen me through crazy seasons of my life and still stuck around… in the words of The Golden Girls: Thank you for being a friend!
Until next time,
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
~Psalm 40: 1-3 NLT