I was a newlywed.
One year hadn’t even passed yet, since we first said our forever wedding vows. But, I was already counting the days. Circling dates on the calendar like First Kiss, Anniversary of Our Engagement, and other cringe-worthy sappy-drenched remembrances. I once thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life because my 30th birthday had passed and well, I just never fell in love. So, you can imagine how amazed I was to find myself married to the love of my life.
You know, I kept these special dates private. But, for a small group of girlfriends, the ones who threw a bridal shower for me, I thought it was safe to be a little… you know… sentimental.
So, I thought wouldn’t it be great to throw a one year get together for those who came to my bridal shower — and share the wedding photos and catch up with each other.
What I really love is connecting with others by swapping stories.
There’s a coming home feeling that happens, when we can share stories with each other — as they’re happening, don’t you think? That’s what home feels like. When we’re all on the journey and we can share the sugary happy stuff as well as the bitter heartache as well.
I had gotten so excited about the idea of a reunuion, I even started thinking of the different themes we could do for our little “party”.
But, my heart was struck frozen, when I picked up a phone call from one of my girlfriends.
Just Too Much
“So… you really want to get together… ” she begins. My friend read my email about the reunion. “a one year gathering of the bridal shower…?”
“Yeah! Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get together again? I could show you guys the pictures we finally got back from the wedding… and we can all catch up!” I was taking a breath to start talking about all my different party ideas when my friend continued her words.
“Bonnie, I hate to tell you this. I know it’s a really big deal to you that you got married. And I’m happy for you. But, getting together just to see the wedding pictures– for a first year reunion? That’s just too much.” My friend started telling me that there was something that’s been bothering her about me. She first chalked up my starry eyes to being in love and all the wedding bliss. But, now that after I’ve been married, it’s getting worse. Always talking about Eric and I did this. Eric and I did that.
“It’s really not that big of a deal. But, you talk about it as if you two were the most romantic people on the earth. It’s just too over the top. You’re not some teenager anymore, Bonnie. Life isn’t always a fairytale, you know.”
I was completely shocked. And totally. Completely. Embarrassed.
My first thought was, What was I thinking?
I took my friend’s words into my heart. And checked myself. It’s true. I’m not a teenager anymore. I told myself. So I cancelled the reunion.
The Most Beautiful Gift
I became very guarded after this conversation happened. This wasn’t the first time something like this happened. I often would take people’s criticism and adjust myself to avoid being misunderstood or judged. It was one of my greatest fears — that I’m unlearning as I take steps to find my voice and heal — afraid that people won’t like me. That I’ll be rejected or inadequate.
But, now that I’ve journeyed through two years of working through PTSD, I’m learning that people-pleasing was really a protection for my heart. It wasn’t that I was being fake around people. What I did choose to show them was authentic and real. But, the problem is that I hid myself a lot. My opinions, my preferences, my passion. My dreams. And in the process of hiding those things I felt were special, I also hid my heartache, fears and disappointments too.
All this is giving way to a new journey: being whole. Being vulnerable.
All the pieces of my heart have been coming back to me through my journey to heal.
And I’m learning the greatest gift God has helped me to live is my story.
The greatest gift God has given you is your story.
And it’s the most beautiful gift you can offer to others: your story.
Not some of it.
All of it.
Not just the hard parts — but the good parts too.
Even if your dreams and passions feel too big for your hands, they are not too big for your heart.
God put them there and your voice is found there. In the journey of those desires.
Taking The Risk
All of your story is worth sharing — because your memories and experiences make you uniquely you.
Honor your journey because God is especially close to those parts of us we often hide.
The truth is we all have a story. And we all want to be free to tell them.
Because we all long to be known.
I’m sharing this story with you — not to make my friend look bad — because we are all human and we all fail our friends in our moments of weakness.
I share this story with you because I am having to make peace with my fear of how people will judge me or view me when I release my story to print.
I’m revisiting this memory because I’m learning to feel again the shame I felt. Except this time, instead of hiding, I want to mourn the sadness. Feel the grief.
I want to accept that the risk of being present in my joyful moments — as well as my sad moments — is part of living.
Accepting the risk of getting hurt is a part of living. Showing up. And being present with Jesus. Holding His hand and allowing His arms to wrap around my shoulder. So, I can walk the little girl in me out into the world.
Yes, I’m not a teenager anymore.
But, I am still God’s little girl. His beloved daughter.
With friends who love me for who I am. They don’t have to be many. They just have to be real.
Rewrite New Memories
Next month April 25-26, I’ll be taking a new step to be present in my story.
I’ll be sharing my story as a speaker for (in)RL, an online conference created by (in)courage and it’s totally free.
My hope is that by sharing my story, others who are in the middle of their faith journey will see the beauty in their story — all of their story. And as they hear my story, they’ll be reminded in their hearts what they’ve always known, but somehow found it hard to believe: you have a story worth sharing.
Even though I’m speaking at (in)RL, I have to challenge myself to invite my In-Real-Life friends to get together and do this (in)RL gathering.
Because, as you can imagine, I find it hard to write the email to invite my friends to this year’s (in)RL gathering. There are a cast of wonderful speakers who will be sharing their stories, so I’m tempted to pick out segments that skip over my story.
But, I have a pressing feeling that Jesus wants me to rewrite a new story and create some new memoires.
How about you? Is God calling you to rewrite some old memories?
Does inviting a group of women — or joining in an existing group of women — feel hard or easy?
Real relationships require taking risks.
I want to take some now. Let’s take them together.
I’ll be writing up that email, to invite an small number of friends I know In-Real-Life for an (in)RL meet up. You can register here too.
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. I’m curious what you think.
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Your words today are so on point with my personal journey, and I want to thank you for sharing your deep-down heart♡
I want to participate in the (in)RL weekend; however, it falls during a craxy busy time on our calendar. Bonnie, you have the gift to do this- go for it! I have been encouraged by your heart and others will, too.
thanks, Kristin. it’s great to see you are writing & sharing *your* story. your encouraging words mean much.
I’ll have to say that what you wrote resonates with me as well. The (in)RL conference sounds like a good vehicle for women. I submit to the LORD to lead me to join in as He sees fit. I do believe He is also re-writing my story in His Name, Author and Finisher of our Faith. Continued blessings to you and all the brave and real (in)courage ladies in Christ.
how poetic, Lisa. He is writing your story in His name. *love* this. it resonates. beautiful.
I am so thankful for the way you share your heart and your struggles.
I am 62 and am on a very similar journey.
Thank you for sharing with us even tho its hard!
I love how God knows how to bring a plan together for the healing of His children.
we are all young at heart, little girls on the journey with Him. and each other. thanks, Ann.
(((((((((hugs)))))))))) Amazing my dear friend! I am so excited for you and praying. I love to see you bloom and grow in your story. It is an amazing and scary thing to share your story and feel it as you share with others in front of a crowd. I have done it at a women’s conference and when I teach the lesson at my recovery group. Praying for your heart.
Remembering where I was in my story years ago, this week has encouraged me to know that even though now seems dark, I am still farther along than I was. I risked and told my Bible Study group what was going on Monday night. My recovery group already knew. I had women just listen and encourage and embrace me. I don’t think I can do the InRealLife as I work most weekends, but so wish I could so I could hear your story from your own mouth. But I am reaching out and talking to those around me.
alright, katie! love hearing you find your voice and sharing it. thanks for the encouragement!
I wish I lived where you do and could come join you in person! My life is a crazy one and right now I cannot commit to a group, but I will be praying for you as you plan and prepare and speak, and wish I could be there with you. May you find that you have more REAL friends than you imagined!
aw. that would be awesome, mary. 😉
Thank you for having the courage to share your stories with us!
I can relate so much to putting a guard up and checking myself. Especially, after a constructive criticism. But like you I’m taking the risk and sharing my story. (Little by little)
I am definitely going to be doing the inRL! I will be at work but you better bet my earbuds will be on and I’ll be sneaking peeks until I can sit down later and watch. I’m so excited for you as you get to share your experience 🙂
yes. little by little. like a cherry blossom budding in the spring. your voice, Krista. 😉
I see so much of my story in yours. I love your courageous heart, for sharing even when it seems scary to do so. Your blog really was the catalyst for my acknowledging and embracing my story and being willing to share it with others.
Our words hold so much power. What might be an impulsive, off the cuff comment can deeply wound another. In time, we learn that are feelings don’t matter, in essence, who we are doesn’t matter, so we choose to withdraw. The beauty in sharing our stories is that it re-awakens the parts of us that we feared sharing and many times, we discover that our stories have more in common than not.
Love the in courage website and excited that you will be sharing your story! 🙂
Veronica, you have no idea how happy it makes my heart to hear you say that. my soul is strengthened to know something I’ve shared has become part of your journey. we are soulful kindreds. yes, we are on this journey of faith!
I don’t comment often, but your words always touch deep places in my heart. Thank you for sharing the hard parts of your story.
You have no idea how hearing you express this makes my soul feel befriended. thank you for pulling up a chair today. anytime, karmen. happy to know you’re a kindred with me on this journey, friend.
Oh, Bonnie, I love how “real” you are. It always makes me feel I’m not alone on this journey. I have a long way to go to “make peace with my fear of how people will judge me or view me.” Some days I can release it all to Jesus, but other days I feel so defeated. I’m not sure those dates for RL will work for me, but if I sign up, I can still listen later, right? Praying Jesus will hold you close and give you courage to speak the “whole” story, not just segments. There are so many who need to hear it.
A year or so ago when someone judged me and hurt me, I was so devastated. When I told the details to my counselor, she looked at me and said, “It sounds to me like she was being very selfish.” As we talked it out, I had to admit she was right, though I still would rather believe I’m the selfish one, not her. Often when someone says something hurtful or critical, my default mode is, “What’s wrong with me?” Another person can be in the same situation but think, “I wonder what her problem is.”
By the way, Bonnie, I would have come to the one-year anniversary and rejoiced with you. 🙂 Please go on being starry-eyed about the love between you and your hubby, no matter how many years it’s been. It’s a priceless gift.
yes! thnx, trudy. starry-eyed me is awakening and coming alive. and i’m happy to see you here on this journey. together!
It is hard to share the broken parts with others. Thanks again for your encouragement to share the real me with others.
I am in a place I need that reminder this week as I go to see a friend today.
I will be keeping you in my prayers in regard to the conf.
we all need a friend to remind us of who we really are. you’ve been that for me reading together. and i’m happy i can have a part in returning that to you this week, danyalle. be you. 🙂
I was 28 when I met my fiance. I was single throughout high school, college, and my twenties, watching my friends fall in love, fall out of love, fall back in love, get married, and have babies and I was alone. For the most part, I was okay, but I spent a lot of time on my knees crying out to God because I wanted so badly to have the kind of love that had evaded me my whole life.
And then I met John. And it does feel like being a teenager because I didn’t get to be all lovey-dovey and giggly over a boyfriend as a teenager! I still talk about how we met and our first kiss and how he proposed to me and how sweet and kind he is and how he’s the man I spent my whole life praying for.
But I have learned to temper my excitement and giddiness because I have friends who are still single and either close to or in their 30s and I don’t want them to feel bad. I don’t want them to roll their eyes at me or groan at the mention of John’s name because they’re still waiting for the right man to come along. I don’t want to be “that” coupled/married person who tells them, “Aww, the right guy will come” and try to give them advice when it was God who brought John to me and nothing else. My head still spins at times with the way God orchestrated that meeting.
It’s hard when you’ve waited for so long to have that kind of love and it’s even better than you ever imagined and you’re so thankful to God every day for it, to keep quiet about it.
i love the story of you and john that you’ve shared here, amy! happy you’re not quiet about it here, friend! i *love* love stories. esp. the real-life ones! thanks! 🙂
I think there was nothing wrong with having a get-together with friends that were at your bridal shower. And there definitely is absolutely nothing wrong with you talking about your husband and yourself; being excited about things you both did together. I think you are very blessed to have such a wonderful marriage. I feel sorry for your friend who doesn’t have that, otherwise she would not have criticized you so easily. Don’t take such criticism to heart but enjoy the blessings you have given to you by God.
I, too, had been caught in that horrible people-pleasing trap and it practically destroyed me because people are never satisfied. Better to please God than man.
Have a great day!
so awesome to find real friends with whom we can just be me. thnx, Christine!
I’ve been there–sharing myself with people I thought would embrace me and they didn’t. What I got was nothing I imagined. So…I hid myself until I couldn’t any longer…also. But…I found a close relationship with God…and shared myself with Him. My husband also embraced the me I really am, so that was another human that did. Slowly, I found new friends that liked the me that I am, so I’m free of the critics now. Each day…I continue to embrace the me that I truly am and I feel Him hold me as I make tentative steps out into the world to find more who enjoy me. So…there are those who do not…I realized I couldn’t be a woman for all…just for Him…and He blesses every step forward that I make. God be with you. You are amazing–like a beautiful butterfly with gossamer wings–you’re a treasure!
I couldn’t be a woman for all.. just for Him. *yes* that’s powerful. thnx, Dee.
I have been trying to get my story written now for three years. Luckily my publicist is gracious and is letting me take the time I am needing. You see breast cancer happened so had to put things off for a while. I am better now but still have a bit of reconstruction left. My biggest hurdle has been editing. Maybe you can help. My program in Libre Office has too many steps for strikethroughs and font color changes. I could have rewritten the entire book by now with the time it takes to do this to each manuscript. Any suggestions on editing programs that work better? I am working on a Mac so will check with them about programs too. Last year at The Wanted Campference I hosted Deb DeArmond kept influencing us by asking, “How’s that book coming?” I have the content and cover just stuck in editing. Look forward to reading yours. Would love to be considered also to speak (in)RL someday…..another goal.
Oh one more thing. Yes, I am rewriting something in my life. For 19 years I had belonged to a very legalistic church that demolished me and my children. All I thought of God back then was that He hated me and there was nothing I could do right. (One day my car stopped running in the middle of traffic. The pastor of that legalistic church told me that God was punishing me for something I did wrong.) I left that church and had stayed away from all churches and God for 10 years but Jesus wooed me back and showed me that the legalistic church was wrong and that He was very loving. Now, I have actually taken a step to being a member of another church again after searching for a long time as to where I belonged. I have the opportunity to make friends with some wonderful women and heal all the hurt from the past.
I’m so glad you were able to get away from that legalistic church! In fact, the church is really people. And so I hope you can find some real, faith-filled, grace-filled people who love and know Jesus in this new church community. There are always going to be some legalistic people sprinkled in.. 😉 but, it’s important the leadership is committed to authentic faith of Jesus. So, definitely look for what culture they are nurturing and teaching. BEcause you know, the truth is that we are all healing from our past… until we get ot heaven.
I went thru a period of time a few years ago when I did tell my story and gave it as a testimony but then I got hurt again; old buttons got pushed over and over again by someone I’d trusted. Now I just keep my story to myself and a lot of times don’t even journal it as the old fears of “paying the consequences” if I anyone finds out I’ve told any of the story resurface. I’ve not even commented on here for a long time due to these same feelings but I’ve mustered the courage to read your articles again and am mustering the courage thru God to put words to my story again; even if those words on only ever seen by me.
for sure, we have to find people that are safe and begin to share with them to heal. I started with a very small one or two. and as I’ve gotten stronger and put boundaries/said no to other unsafe people, I’m learning to choose. and as I do, I feel more confident and have a “home” with real friends — that are walking alongside me as I step out to tell more about my story. so when (not if) I am rejected, I have in-real-life people who know me and are for me. it’s a very hard journey and long journey, but it’s worth it and I know you can do it, Betty. you share beautifully here and as you can see from the comments, we are not alone on the journey of rewriting memories.
I think true friends want to hear and share in the good and the bad times. If I were part of your bridal party I would love to see the pictures and share in the joy of your life. I would be there for the hard times too. I would not wish to spoil the bliss… I celebrate such anniversaries… but only with the closest of friends. It is hard to be rejected when you just want to share life with them… you would not just be looking at pictures of you and your husband but they would be in them also. And they might talk about their weddings or what they wished for … I have discovered that those who only like to share your miseries are not necessarily true friends. True friends should be able to rejoice with you and cry with you. Yes, share the true you but why not the giddy, happy in love you too ??? The old saying “Misery loves company” seems to be just about complaining… not sharing and being part of one another’s lives.
preach it, sister! uh-huh. 🙂
Cheering you on, Bonnie!
BONNIE!!!! I am so thrilled to hear that you are speaking…I am hostessing at my home in Rhode Island. You just made my day. Oh, see me doing a dance of joy! Happy, happy , happy!
Wow! Speaking at (in)RL is another big brave step in your journey. I am looking forward to sharing your journey in the pages of your book (my church is having a women’s seminar the same weekend as (in)RL). I too have struggled with being a people pleaser. I want to be a Jesus pleaser! I like the way you put it – “Being whole. Being vulnerable. ” Thank you for sharing. I’m praying for you.
I know exactly what you are talking about! I tend to be a very happy person. But, the happiness is really a deep joy that comes from the Lord and what He has given me: LOVE and PEACE. Sometimes, I have to remember Romans 12:15–“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” When we are chastised by friends for our joy, we tend to rethink and reflect on our words and actions, but we must never allow our Light to dim. I speak from experience–hiding my Light because it is too brilliant or hiding my brokeness because it is too painful. But, over the years, I have grown in faith, maturity and joy. I just refuse to hold back much of anything. If I’m filled with joy, you will receive a glimpse of this joy. If I am filled with hurt, I’m going to share it. It is just too hard for me to keep my feelings to myself. Someone out there is watching us…how we handle our joy and pain. I want them to see that I have pain, as well as joy and that my belief in Christ will keep me no matter the circumstances.
Congrats on your speaking engagement! Much joy and abundant blessings!
I really hate that you had to receive that reaction from a friend. I would have felt the same. I think those of us with PTSD, feel a little stronger, deeper about life’s experiences. Whether it is good or not so good happenings. Please keep the youthful zest! Since I missed out as a child, I plan to catch up! P.S. I’m 57!
Hi Bonnie. I was sitting here, honestly looking for other ways to avoid the writing that calls me. Ironically, I was having the conversation with my therapist yesterday, friends at church today, and still I sit here…and I just. don’t. want. to.
Honestly, when I opened the email, I saw “take the risk. write old memories. tell your story.” (woooooosahhhhhhh)
After reading and rereading the post, I scroll back up to the title, and notice that is says, “rewrite old memories”. Maybe that’s just enough hope to start. My heart and soul long for renewal, perhaps it will come as I venture back into the darkness, to share the story I keep hiding from.
I know we never have met, but I understand your pain. I want to scream for joy about a anniversary of mine, but I. just. can’t. Everyone is to busy to hear about it. Anyway, just wanted to say that if you’ll tell your story, I promise on the river styx that I will tell mine beginning to end. Is it a deal? Write me and please tell me. We all will get through this some how. Talk with you soon
I’d be really curious to know if you are still friends with this person. Did this conversation end the friendship?
I think it is a good idea rewrite old memories. I have a lot of funny memories, and a lot of sad ones too. One of my happiest is when I was in 4th grade. I was either nine or ten(my uncle had recently started molesting me) and I was in my class room minding my own buissness and off in my own little world. Out of nowhere, I look up and see this great big angel looking down at me. She looked at me and smiled the prettiest smile I have ever seen! She was beautiful and glowed. She had gold hair and all white on! She waved and then disappeared. Two years prior to that I had started to seen angels and demons everywhere! It was scary, but the image of that angel has been inn my mind since it happened! I told my teacher, but she acted like she didn’t believe me. Maybe you won’t either. Anyway, that gift has disappeared recently. Well, that is my story.. Hope you liked it.
My story? Every story of mine is the same: my life of ministry as pastor/missionary family is one of either on the edge of elation or the edge of despair. Most often despair. It is lonely. No one wants to hear of a struggling missionary. No one wants to hear about the times I want to walk away. No one calls. I was the pastor’s wife, now I’m the missionary’s wife. They never call to see how I am. They never ask. All the blogs/community videos say we need to put ourselves out there – let people know we’re not perfect and that will open the doors for others to be vulnerable also and it will build community. That has not been my experience. My experience has been that people don’t really want real. They don’t want my mess. I think they want to believe that I have it all together, even though I keep telling them I don’t. Any “community” I have experienced has ended up being a sham – people investing in favors that can be cashed in later. When I have nothing to offer, the community is gone.
I am caught in a bad place. I feel things deeply. I can’t help continuing to crave community, someone – anyone – who will hear my story and stay. Yet by continuing to hope, I continue to be disappointed. At 42, have I now missed my window of opportunity? Has my chance faded with my 20-something year old idealism?
Lord, help me, I sound so mired in self-pity, someone I myself would view with much eye-rolling disdain. Write my story? Why?
It’s lovely to have an anonymous internet.
Gosh! Where to begin? What to share? What not to share? Or share it all?
Life has been very challenging from when I was a little girl, remembering encounting God in a big way at the age of 8, when my world was broken into a million pieces! My heart out of control, singing to the birds outside to come take me away? I wanted to leave this planet as I didn’t know or understand what to do with my emotions, & no one could help me either. My Brother had just committed suicide & my parents decided they couldn’t work it out & decided to get divorced! I lost interest progressively & watched my sisters life spiral out of control with Anorexia & Bullimia & my mom drink herself to numb The pain of losing a child, I can only relate now as I’ve got a 8 month little treasure now whom I can’t imagine living without, Levi Philip Fisher, my world, my ALL.. Philip was my brothers name, precious lost soul who I believe is with Jesus today!
Tears are rolling as I type as I can’t believe the destruction my family had to endure, the pain, the confusion left behind such a close little family…. Changed in a heartbeat!!! Gone forever but he will never be forgotten.
I headed down a road I’m not proud of but I guess it was my way of trying to make sense of it all.
I lost a my virginity at the tender age of 13, I wish I had help & council, & I believe if we all had some kind of help, it would have never got so bad. My rebellion began with smoking ciggarettes & drinking & I found myself in the predicament of being sexually assaulted, left for dead on a sports field, black eyes, 8 stitches later with my leotard torn & attempted rape, I was not meant to die that night, a caretakers dog sniffed me out & I was transported to the neArest hospital, still drunk, not recalling a thing, I remember looking in the mirror at some stranger, with allot of questions, mainly who could do such a thing? & how could my so called friends just let me go? We never had closer on that but from then I entered the next part of my teen in numbness & rebellion, smoking grass was a part of daily routine morning, afternoon & night it became my escape & my so called friend, & I could not function without it…. This carried on for years until I decided I wanted more & a bigger high now, so I experimented with LSD, ecstasy, magic mushrooms & speed, I dropped out of school & all I could do was think about the next time I would be in my safe, happy place, on the dance floor, trance dancing to endless beats of pain, anger, frustration & again to be numb! I believe I encountered the Living God on Drugs & He made a way by intervening on one of my trips.
Finally my family had an intervention & I was sent to a Christian based rehab, I gave my life to Jesus & was baptized there, it was only the beginning of my healing journey, I’ve had some relapses but I’ve been sober for 11 years now, I live with chronic facial pain & believe Gos has used it for his Glory to heal me emotionally & restore me. I’m married now to a wonderful Man of God & my little boy is wonderful. I believe I will be healed from this chronic pain I’ve endured for 12 years, no doctors understand & no drugs work either, God knows the root & I will touch his hem.
Thanks for listening
Jayne ( South Africa)