I wasn’t quite sure how I would approach you today.
Time has passed. So much time has passed. And I always struggle with how to gently lead you into my process.
Because -- as we all know, process can be untidy, messy, beautiful, horrible but nevertheless always, always necessary.
And I’ve dodged, bobbed and weaved (woven?) my way through writing this post, because I knew I was going to be honest.
I still have a bit of trepidation, even after writing to you for over 10 years, but alas, here we are – and here I go…
I remember the exact day I heard the song “Yellow” by Coldplay.
I don’t even remember fully digesting the lyrics, but I first heard the song with the music video. And I was captivated. It all seemed to make sense.
Like—that song made my life make sense.
That’s such a strange thing to say. But it was true for me.
The mood and tone of the song carried this beautiful and sad longing, and yet, there was utter contentment, even in the midst of a reaching forward.
It’s like when you see someone across the room, and they are so striking and intriguing. And yet, it’s not fully their look, but also their demeanor and the quiet stillness they posses.
Within that moment, there are feelings of vulnerability, strength, love, adoration, admiration but mostly curiosity.
I found myself last summer staring at someone in such a way as to not get caught.
He reminded me of the song “Yellow”.
And I thought to myself, isn’t it beautiful and wonderful that there are still unseen people on the planet that emerge at such a time in our lives, to simply show us that flowers still bloom.
And then this year happened.
I moved back to my hometown.
And in certain ways, it felt as if everything was moving backwards.
And then I thought, oh, this new guy is potentially pursing me – but rather beautifully friend zoned me. And I humbly curtseyed my way out of the room, and licked my wounds.
And then the world seemed to fall apart:
Violence, deaths, cries, shouts, injustice, ignorance, and a cloak of what could only be labeled as “a hopeless situation” according to all of our news outlets.
And at the same time, we were all yearning for a little bit more tenderness.
But the reprieve wouldn’t come just yet…
In May, something seemingly random happened to me.
My “permanent” retainer of 20 years on the lower portion of my teeth, popped out of place.
The next day, I simply went to have it completely removed – although the orthodontist tried to convince me that my teeth would shift horribly, and that I should contemplate getting another retainer as soon as possible.
But little did they know, I’m at the age where I think crooked teeth are hot and endearing. Sooo, there’s that.
But the next morning, when I woke up, I felt extremely nauseous and had a bit of vertigo. It was such a strange feeling. Not like anything I had felt before. I immediately thought…”Hmm, I wonder if that was some heavy metal residue?....” But then I shook it off. And the sensation faded after a few hours. I simply thought… “I guess that was it.”
But fast forward to a normal Wednesday about a week and a half later, when I go to country line dance – Now if that statement comes as a surprise, let me say a quick hello and hi – Ha! And yes, I frequently country line dance. I know, I can barely believe it either – but I loves it and can’t imagine not doing it…but let us continue with the story...
So as soon as I got into my favorite dance hall place, the right side of my body felt as though I couldn’t move it completely, and I was having a hard time articulating my words (more than normal…) – I thought I might've been dehydrated, so I ordered some water.
The water helped, but the right side of my body still felt WEIRD. But I was stubborn, and I chose to dance anyway.
I didn’t tell anyone that I was feeling like I might be having a stroke, instead-- my way of dealing with the scare and shock was to simply dance it out.
I know, it sounds so stupid.
It gets even dumber.
I then ordered my cocktail favorite of a rum and ginger beer. I thought somehow that would calm me down. And it did. But my mind was still boggled. I kept thinking, what is going on with my body??
I danced using my core to stabilize me, but it took so much concentration.
But I didn’t pass out, and I took that as a victory.
I was able to drive home and the next day I woke up, hoping that it was all some weird nightmare, but instead, my right leg and foot didn’t feel completely connected to my body. And then I began to have crazy muscle twitches all over my arms and legs.
The whole time, I was thinking, “Wow, is this how it all ends…? I mean, is this going to be my story? And I never even got married or had sex…”
Oh. Did that statement surprise you?
If it didn’t, and you simply said, “Ohhhhh, Ha.Ha. that’s just classic Patrice…”
Then you already know about my “Unicorn” post.
If you have no idea what I mean by my “Unicorn” post – Pause this blog post right now and go here: T.M.I.
But back to our story at hand, so as I woke up that morning feeling stranger than ever, I tried to recount all of my movements, what I ate, who I was around, anything and everything to account for my right side acting like an outlander – and then I did what you are NEVER suppose to do when you have weird body symptoms: I Googled WebMD.
NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
Please don’t do it.
Public Service Announcement: Go to your own doc first, before jumping to any conclusions.
I know you think I’m a pillar of faith and strength, but when your body starts doing things outside of your control, you learn where you faith truly is.
And I was scared out of my mind.
A good friend of mine convinced me to head over to my local urgent care facility to make sure, I didn’t have a small stroke.
Now let me preface…
The word that I felt impressed upon my spirit for 2018 was REST.
It was a word I felt that God was speaking directly to my soul.
And yet, prior to all this, I had turned 2018 into a high octane fuel machine, as I tried to figure out how to run a brand new small business, continue my television freelance work, volunteer, weekly dancing, trying to keep up a semblance of my friendships, and all that southern California commuting.
Needless to say, I was working about 18 hours a day with little to no sleep and barely eating.
And yet, our culture values the “Hustle”, but in the midst, God was constantly asking me to work from a place of REST. I know, I see the irony in this as well.
I want to make sure you see the full picture. Because before my body had this breakdown of sorts, my stress level was the highest it’s ever been, as I was putting pressure on myself beyond what I was meant to carry.
Matthew 11:28 never sounded so good:
“Come to Me, all you who are weary…”
And yet, I remember praying to God in this season, and crying out,
“I don’t know how to stop. I just don’t know how to rest in the midst of what feels like purpose, mission, and calling. Show me how. I want to know how. Truly.”
And then of course, I quickly continued going at the frantic pace I had been running at for so long.
On the outside, you might not have known anything different.
But my insides were churning. My neck and shoulders were as hard as rocks. And my mind was racing at night. It wasn’t a terrifying tension; believe it or not, I was full of excitement of all the ideas that I could possibly implement in my small business. And yet, I never turned it off. I never fully trusted that God would do the “above and beyond” portion and I could do the remainder in a peaceful and restful state. I felt invincible and had to charge ahead. Simultaneously, I also felt pretty darn autonomous and that I could somehow maintain this pace forever.
And then my metal retainer popped.
And here we are back into our previous story.
I had lost control of my body.
And everything felt out of control.
And then my anxiety kicked up.
I was partially afraid to go to urgent care, because I didn’t know if I was prepared for a bad report.
But I mustered up the little bit of courage I had left and went.
Meanwhile, my mom was a rock. Before I left to go, she looked at me with her gentle eyes, smiled, and said, matter-of-factly, “I know you’re fine. You’re okay.” And went about her merry way.
And all the tests proved that I was.
I was fine.
The current science said so.
But I still felt weird. And my body still didn’t feel like my own.
And nope, I hadn’t had a stroke. Thank God.
And so then I went home.
Full of temporary peace, but mostly anxiety.
I had no real answers.
And the right side of my body was still weak and weird.
So I decided to Google my symptoms again.
Just don’t ever do this.
Please. For the sanity of yourself and all who love you.
But I had a light bulb moment in the midst of my searching. And I forced myself to stop.
I realized I was looking for “information” to give me peace and a sense of control. And that I was somehow starting to worship information.
When in actuality, I needed an encounter and reassurance from the ultimate Prince of Peace: Jesus.
The Fruit of the Spirit is: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
And Who is the Word made flesh? Yes. Jesus.
The one Who calmed the waves of a raging sea.
“Peace, be still.”
I needed something—No. Someone beyond the laws of nature to become real Peace to me.
It’s funny what gets exposed when you have to slow down.
Rushing had become a means to suppress the fears that I had brought into this new season:
Would God truly be kind to me? How would I take care of my loved ones in the future? Why does the world seem so overwhelmed with pain and grief in this particular season of life? Why do I feel so helpless? God are you really there? Knowing about heaven, why am I still so afraid to die? And I don’t know if I’ve ever truly forgiven you God for taking my Dad to heaven before he could even meet my future husband…
In all my rushing and doing and trying to become a success, I was running away from these heavy weighted, crushing questions. And there would be no way that I could move forward in love, life, and vocation pulling these weights steadily behind me--by way of my heart and neck.
To note, these revelations of my ‘rushing unrest’ have only just been revealed to me in the last week. But day by day, I would sense just a little bit more peace. Some days, I had to push a little to truly feel it. Other days, I just sulked and brooded.
And yet, day by day, I was starting to feel somewhat safe again.
I didn’t need to be in control to feel safe.
That was God’s job.
God in His presence among us. And in His presence:
“It was all Yellow.”
It took about a month for my body to return to being 100%. With incredible prayer from my spiritual fam bam, to the help of an amazing chiropractor/holistic doctor-- we’ve gone to the ‘foundation’ of my body to bring forth incredible healing.
Starting from the foundation upwards.
And doesn’t that just parallel much of my spiritual journey in this season?
My foundation had been replaced and become faulty.
And true to character, God wanted to ‘restore my soul’ – in essence, my foundation and what I was truly leaning on.
In that month of recovery, my emotions were all over the place, but I learned to practice work from a place of rest: God’s designated rest for me.
I had to take multiple breaks – rest, sleep, eat (more than once a day…). I know it sounds funny, but it was a humbling experience. Previously, I was used to being a steam roller. Pressing forward at any cost, and clearly wreaking havoc on my body.
But as I continued to get real, raw, and humble towards God, He would meet me every time.
Last weekend, I was ‘randomly’ watching “Hour of Power”, which I don’t normally do, and they just happened to be in this beautiful series titled, “You are Beloved” – And what is the name of that particular teaching in that series that I start to watch?
“You Don’t Need to Hurry”
But of course.
Then I go to church, and what is the sermon about?
How Jesus wasn’t in a hurry.
And being alone with God.
Even with such great purpose and mission. Jesus was focused, yet relaxed in his purpose. Often the disciples would panic about something important, and Jesus’ response was never dictated by their anxiety or the frantic rush of the moment.
Often Jesus’ response would be ever-so-chill or He would change the subject. Which I actually think is hilarious. (Read Mark 1:35-39 and tell me that Jesus didn’t bob and weave, in responding to: “Everyone is looking for you!”)
But even more so, observing the moments where Jesus would go away and pray in solitude.
He always made time for that.
Time and space for Him to be alone with the Father.
In this particular season of life, I’ve learned that God gives us all space.
And in that space, we have the choice of either melting into it. Which involves a surrender and giving up of control (And often inconveniences us). Or we can fill it with our own manufactured peace – in my case, work and cupcakes and anything else with tons of sugar, for others, it’s a different type of addiction.
I thought I was getting away with my current underlying mindset and thought life. But most of you are savvy enough to know that thoughts do actually hold a frequency and significant real estate (thank you, quantum physics), especially in our souls.
And there were certain thought patterns that were holding me in bondage. I had no way of removing the shackles on my own. In fact, I didn’t even really know I was in bondage.
And isn’t that just the way it is sometimes.
We don’t even know.
Until something happens.
And then we’re like, “What the heck is happening? Why am I responding like this??”
But God knows.
And once we get still.
He brings His peace.
And it is the very peace we’ve been looking for all along.
Feels like Yellow.
And as I continue to wrestle and surrender, and surrender and wrestle, I remember that flowers still bloom.
That the sun still shines.
And Love still exists.
And just because things happen slowly, doesn’t mean they’re not happening at all.
There is something to be said for a foundation that is slowly being poured and laid down with such focus and purpose.
Only then can it hold the weight of many, many storms-- of many hearts, of many dreams, and of many years.
The story is not over.
I’m finding that a seemingly long drawn out walk across the beach, may prove to be more purposeful and life changing than one might be led to believe.
It might just lead us back home.
To the place of safety, purpose--and rest.
Oh yeah, your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
You know, you know I love you so
You know I love you so”
- “Yellow”, Coldplay