Choice as a Superpower

Three months ago, my therapist Jill and I began a ritual of combing through my past relationships and choices. Every single date I’ve ever been on and boyfriend I’ve ever had would be examined and analyzed by her from all angles. “We’re seeking to identify any unhealthy patterns that might be present so that we can create new, healthier ones,” she explained. It was a terrifying level of vulnerability.

As the pattern started to reveal itself, I couldn’t help but feel incredible shame. The choices I’d made throughout my past were unquestionably naive and reckless. Seeing it laid out in front of me was terrifying.

Most of my bad choices were bad men. Seeing that admittance written out on the page feels dramatic, but it’s the unfortunate truth. My history doesn’t lie. In looking back at Rob*, the boyfriend who abused me, I used to have a tendency to view myself as a victim and in a sense, I was one; he must be held responsible for his own actions. Anything less would be reckless, the start of a dangerous, steep descent into victim blaming.

But the truth is that I wasn’t passive. I chose to enter into a relationship with someone who was unhealthy. I chose to stay as long as I did. It’s a sobering reminder, but it’s an important one nonetheless.

This past winter, my boss called every employee into his office. In preparation for a game we’d play at our Christmas Party that would allow us to better know our colleagues, we each had to answer questions about things such as the first concert we ever went to or what animal we’d be. One of the questions was, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” This question is fascinating, mostly because I think that your answer says a lot about you. The answers ran the gamut from invisibility to superhuman strength. Whoever wished for superhuman strength probably does cross fit, and therefore thinks that pushing tires up hills sounds like a jolly good time. One person even said that they’d love to be able to read minds. I answered that I’d love the power to heal others. I don’t think this is a superpower I’ll ever acquire, but there’s one I already have.

Choice is my superpower. It’s yours too. We all have it. I’m trying to remind myself of that consistently. Too many of us move through our lives passively, and when it hits the fan, we view ourselves as the victims. Oh, woe is me. In reality, that’s rarely the case. We have the power of choice, yet in that instance we chose wrong. We chose unhealthy.

Or maybe we chose nothing, but that’s still a choice we made — a choice to stay passive and stagnant, allowing things to happen TO us, instead of being active participants in our lives. We choose to stay still instead of laying down the bricks to the kind of world we wish to inhabit.

The power of choice is something we are always exercising, whether or not we’re conscious of it. It’s for that reason I recently decided I was no longer content to sit passively as my life happened to me. I was going to be an active participant. I was going to start taking responsibility for my own actions and make emotional health a priority so that I could make healthy, empowered choices.

There are times in life when bad things do genuinely happen and are completely out of your control. I don’t doubt this. But I also believe that to play the victim when you were the cause of your own undoing is in some ways an insult to those who were stripped of their agency. Choice is a superpower we all have but it’s not just that. It’s also a privilege and a responsibility.

What will you use your superpower for? What kind of decisions will you make with this privilege you’ve been gifted?

My hope is that you choose to be kind in the face of cruelty.

My hope is that you choose the courage to fight for justice in the face of injustice.

That you make good decisions for yourself, taking good care of yourself, and also choose good, emotionally healthy people who want to help you do that.

I hope that you give yourself permission to be imperfect and messy, bleeding outside the lines, and that you give yourself grace for unfolding in a different timeline than what you’d hoped.

You have a superpower. I hope you use it like one of the good guys.

What Rob and Harry Taught Me About the Power of my Words

Every relationship I’ve ever been in grew from a seed of curiosity.

An irresistible, dangerous curiosity that calls you to it like siren song. I think too much and often find myself turning past romantic encounters over and over in my mind. Just as river currents smooth out the rough edges of a rock as it turns it in its midst, it’s as if I think that if I reflect on them enough, perhaps the power of my mind can smooth out the unforgiving, snagging edges of my memories and make them into something neat and digestible. I reflect on them and think and think and then think some more, but I rarely speak about them out loud.

My therapist Jill once told me that healthy doesn’t attract unhealthy, only unhealthy does. “Hurting, broken people attract others just like them,” was the way she put it. I saw in my mind a parade of broken, passionate albeit responsible men I’ve loved throughout my story and wondered what it meant.

In the past few weeks, I’ve started to face this reality with a new willingness to ask the difficult questions about what truth might be tangled up in it. “What does it say about me that these are the kinds of men I continue to attract?” The question lingered around me like a haze. I would whisper it to myself when I was scrubbing grease off my stove, tasting the bitter weight of it on my tongue. I voiced the question over the phone to my cousin Neema this past weekend. He mulled it over for a few seconds before thoughtfully listing off a few possibilities but among them all, there was one name that he returned to again and again. “Rob.”*

It’s not often that my people say the name aloud.

The sound of it is sharp. It has the jagged echoes of a slur and refuses to be palatable when it arrives on the tongue. It’s etched itself into my spirit.

Three years ago, I lay with a man on a pile of worn Russian blankets in panels of sunlight that came through a large loft window. The window was open to the crisp, warming sun of an early New England fall. His strong, snow-colored limbs weaved their length around the curves of my frame and he wondered aloud as the sounds of Cambridge hummed five stories below us, “What were you like before it all?” I had no response. The question turned around and around in my head and I became more aware of the humming voices below and less unaware of the tugging warmth of his fingers moving through my hair. I was filled with nothing but emptiness.

What a question. I tried to imagine the girl who was, holding her up next to the one who is, comparing and contrasting the two. The girl from the past felt distant, like a stranger. Who was she? What was she like? It was an uncomfortable thing to reflect on and at the time, the answer was hard to unearth. I’d shrugged it off like an uncomfortable garment and said whatever I needed to in order to move on from it, “I don’t remember.”

Rob. I think it was hard for me to see her in my mind’s eye because the memory of him is so overpowering, occupying all of the space, creeping into all of the corners until there’s no room left for anything else.

I haven’t touched on him in my work too much, or at least not with specifics. I’ve sometimes asked myself why that might be. Maybe it’s because there seemed to be so many grey areas about what occurred in our relationship that I didn’t want to risk being wrong, destroying someone’s life because I paraded a misunderstanding as cold, hard fact. Maybe it’s because he’s still out there and I’m afraid that putting his name down in writing will call him back to me when I want mountains to stand between us, tall and strong and too dangerous for him to scale.

Finn has been encouraging me to write about it. “Being scared to say his name out loud keeps you imprisoned,” he said, “Screw him. Own your story. Say his name so many times that it ceases to have power over you.” Rob Rob Rob. I recently talked to him about how in Harry Potter people called Voldemort, “He Who Must Not Be Named”; their fear was so paralyzing that they couldn’t say his name. At the beginning, Albus Dumbledore is the only one who can and coincidentally, he’s also the one who doesn’t fear him. “Do you think Dumbledore could say Voldemort’s name because he didn’t fear him, or do you think he didn’t fear him because he was willing to say his name aloud?” I wondered.

“The words we speak have power,” was his reply. He told me that it was the reason why, in his mind, my writing was as much of a spiritual vocation as it was a creative one. “You are much more than ‘artist.’ You are also a healer and wise woman and call-up-higher.” Words have power. We see this principle at play in titles. I didn’t think that I was all of those things yet, but I gave myself permission to rest in sacred potential, praying to grow into them, instead of pushing them away and saying, “I’m not enough.”

Rob Rob Rob.

The power that words have can be seen just as much in what we choose to say as what we carefully avoid saying. As Harry’s courage grows against Voldemort, he too starts to choose truth in his words instead of fear. In the last movie, before his final fight against the darkness, he calls it out by name. Not He Who Must Not Be Named. Not even Voldemort, the name he took on after he acquired power. Instead, Harry challenges the enemy by calling him the name he had when he was a boy: “Tom.” With his choice, he strips the enemy of his immortality and turns him into a man. I plan to start doing the same thing to my own nemesis, one word at a time, with each brave decision I make to not avoid his name.

This past weekend, I hid from the chill of winter’s arrival by curling up underneath the warmth of my favorite throw; it’s all warm yellow and gold threads and makes me feel safe because my friend Nick brought it back for me from an archaeological dig in India. I drank white wine and breathed in the scent of my amber candle and listened to the Ed Sheeran love songs playing on the stereo.

There in that safe place and with a newly heightened awareness of the power of my own words, I thought back on Alexey’s question from three years ago. “What was she like? The woman you were before it all?” Neema is trying to teach me that it’s not healthy for me to dwell constantly on the past so although it’s no longer uncomfortable for me to think on, I also don’t think it’s a question I’m meant to answer. My words are meant for the present.

They’re better suited to speaking truths over and affirming who I am right here and right now, today, as I live in this God-given moment.

Who am I?

I am a dreamer. I am creative. I weave tales in my head and then tell them and I recreate the images I see in my head by taking paint to canvas.

I am extremely passionate and when I love and am loved by someone whose soul is made of the same stuff, the electricity between us can light up a city.

I am strong, stronger than I’ll ever know. I prove this to myself over and over. The intensity of my resilience makes me capable of being someone’s rock and the depth of my Love can make me into his Light because I firmly believe in the words of Abdu’l-Baha when he says, “Where there is love, nothing is too much trouble and there is always time.”

It can take a lot for someone to dive into my depths. I can be emotional and moody and withdrawn but this is not a bad thing; they’re symptoms of the fact that I am all water, and to be honest, I am happy being an ocean, thank you very much.

I have been called “funny” and “vibrant.” An Irish man with eyes like the sky once told me on a date that I was a “total woman” and he added that he meant it in the best of ways.

I stand up for people and against hatred and I try to be a comforter.

I like pie and red wine and books and art galleries.

I am many things, and I am not defined by him.

I am defined by Me. 

The Discipline of Forgiveness

“Tonight, I pray for those who have wronged me, used me, abused me — whether knowingly or unknowingly,” I wrote while a flood of emotions began to rise up within me as I came to a resolution. “I’ve decided that it’s between them and God.”


I had just gotten home from our weekly Saturday night prayer meeting at my church. My heart weighed so heavy, I just had to pour out my every thought into my prayer journal as soon as I got home. You see, that night after prayer, my Bishop had challenged our church to do something I honestly feel we as Christians don’t do enough. He asked us to pray for our enemies. He referenced Job 42:10 where Job prayed for his friends and the Lord gave Job twice of what he had before.

“We all know those ‘friends’ were really Job’s enemies,” Bishop Huntley continued, “The only thing keeping us from our double blessing is not praying for our enemies.” Then, he had us do something that changed the way I will approach forgiveness forever. He had us call out all the names of those who wronged us before the Lord in prayer. It was the most powerful and emotional end to any prayer meeting I’ve been a part of.


Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat on my bed and began to list the names of each person I have been hurt by in my 24 years of living. Staring at a once empty page, I noticed the list had turned out longer than I had expected. As I turned over the page, I began to do something I’ve never done before… I asked God to move on their hearts. I pleaded with Him to turn their hearts back to Christ and to have His way in their lives.

I then began to ask the Lord to work on MY heart. To take me back to those moments of pain and hurt, and to free me from unresolved bitterness and anger in those moments.

The flashbacks began to crowd my mind. Tears came, streaming down my face as I began to remember every detail. Every word cut like knives. Every tease, every painful moment came rushing back.

“They’ll never know the hell they put me and family through some days,” I continued writing as I relived every battle I’ve ever fought in my mind, “…Through it all, God had me.” Tears began to stain the paper as the words kept coming. I couldn’t stop. And then, I wrote down all the things every situation had taught me.

And as my entry came to a close, I looked back at those things and gave thanks. “So I guess if there’s one thing I could say, I would say thank you… Like gold tried in the fire, I know we can withstand the flames.”


There is so much I could say on the topic of forgiveness, but let me just leave you with a few thoughts…

Forgiveness is a daily decision. We always hear the expression, “Forgive and forget.” Well, excuse me for being a bit cliché but that’s easier said than done. A lot of times, there are situations that arise and little things that happen that can trigger a painful memory or hurt. It’s in these moments where we begin to feel the same emotions rise back up to the surface.

When this happens, we have a decision to make. We can allow ourselves to be bitter. Or we can forgive again. Each day, you have a choice to make. I pray you choose to forgive.

Unforgiveness creates resentment. I was talking with Nina a few days ago and she said it like this:

 Unforgiveness creates resentment in our hearts for the things we feel they stole from us. Suddenly, we begin to think of all the things we harbor resentment for and replace them by saying, “They stole _____.” Or, “I’ll never be able to get back the _____ they took from me!”

You may feel like someone stole something in your life. Whether it be the time you had with them, the idea of a perfect relationship, whatever it may be… Though it may be true, unforgiveness will cause you to harbor resentment and bitterness toward that person. Please, choose love.

True forgiveness means to wipe the slate clean. When Jesus died on the cross, the blood He shed was enough to wipe away every sin we ever committed. We should be the ones paying for our sin and shame, and yet, Christ paid a debt He never owed in the first place.

The same happens when we truly forgive others. True forgiveness is saying, “You don’t owe me anything.” Even if the person apologizes or admits that they were wrong, it can’t make up for lost time or change the fact that the damage has already been done. It simply means that you are moving forward. Choose grace, and move on.

So I want you to take a moment and search deep within yourself. Who are your enemies? Who have you been harboring resentment toward? It’s time to be like Job and pray for those who have wronged us. Write their names down and call out their names before the Lord. And then… let go.

Why I’m Not Ready to Be a Wife: Perspectives on Biblical Marriage

“So, something happened,” my text to Kristina started out as I sat on my bed in the lotus position, listening to Bethel Music and crunching on almonds. “Boyfriend asked me how I like my apartment building and when I told him I love it,  he then said, ‘Maybe we can look into the two-bedroom apartments there if we get married.'” She replied with an emoji seizure.

When I was with my last boyfriend who lived all the way in Russia, marriage was an ongoing conversation. “If this is going to work out, one of us has to move to a new country and I wouldn’t do that without marriage,” was how he put it; the limits placed on us by distance rushed it. When I explained it to my friend, Lisa, I told her that I didn’t think I was ready to get married, “A part of me doesn’t want to get married until my late twenties or maybe even early-thirties. I really enjoy singleness.”

Now that New Boyfriend has brought up the M-word, a lot of my old worries have started to resurface. I’ve been telling friends my images of him reorganizing my bookshelves to accommodate his library and his clothes lying on the floor all over the apartment. Of course, with each of these fears, they had quick and wise solutions. I could hear how petty and insignificant my fears sounded but to my ears, they were better than the truth.

So much of biblical literature reveres and jubilates women who are good wives and homemakers:

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.'” Proverbs 31:28-29 NIV

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” 1 Peter 3:3-6 ESV 

“He who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22 NLT

“I’m not sure I’m ready to be married,” sounds so counter to what we’re taught by the conservative church about biblical womanhood.

It seems that friends and classmates are getting engaged or married left and right. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have friends who are doing neither of those things yet intensely wish they were, coveting what our peers have. I’m in none of those groups; I’m not married or engaged to be married, nor am I coveting the experience. I’m content and fulfilled with the gift of singleness that the Lord has blessed me with.

I no longer feel like I’m less of a biblical woman for saying I’m not ready to be married because the truth is that I’m not ready to be a wife.

Marriage is something that was created by God for a particular purpose:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33

So many Christians approach marriage the way the world approaches it: we want to get married because we think we’ll no longer feel lonely or that it’ll make us look like we have it together. Like the world, so many of us idolize marriage until it becomes all about how it would make us feel and what it could do for us or give us, completely forgetting that God created marriage for His purposes, not for ours.

The role of marriage in God’s kingdom is to glorify Him, a living representation of Christ’s relationship with the church. The role of a Christian wife is to be an ezer to her husband, helping him fulfill his spiritual calling and meet his full potential, becoming the biblical man God has designed him to be.

The Christian wife is a prayer warrior, an intercessor, an accountability partner, a bible study buddy. She’s called to fight for her husband on her knees, to speak truth and the Word of God over him, and to convict him in love when he falls short of God’s standards.

Being a wife is a sacred ministry position in the Kingdom of God with a holy responsibility. For me to treat the role with the reverence it deserves by recognizing that I’m not ready or strong enough to fill it is a sign of godliness and spiritual maturity.

I sometimes say that I’m not sure I ever want to get married. The truth is that I think I’d like to get married one day, but only when I’m ready to be a wife. Until then, I will pray: Father, may I be worthy.

Faith Can Be Scary

“Why would you share something so personal with complete strangers?” This is what the voice inside my head was saying as I contemplated writing my book. I was 41 years old and not who people thought I was. I had a secret and was about to go public; and even though I had a sick feeling every time I thought about it, I knew that God wanted me to do this. I had been called.

It all started about a year and a half earlier… I was struggling with the guilt, shame, and doubt that accompanied a life of abuse. I was an only child and had survived a life with an alcoholic mother and sexually abusive father. After being estranged from my parents for many years, I began to worry. I would be unable to sleep at night thinking about what I would do if something happened to my dad. My mom was a stroke victim and he took care of her. As much as I tried to ignore my conscience, the thoughts wouldn’t go away. My sons wanted to know why they couldn’t go visit their other grandparents. As I wrestled with this, God knew it was time for me to face my past and spoke to me very clearly one morning.

It started out as any other Sunday as my family headed to church. Our four sons went to their respective classes, and my husband and I sat next to each other enjoying the worship music. When our pastor began to speak, I froze. He started talking about forgiveness. I knew he was talking to me. The message hit my core, and I was confused and angry as I thought that forgiving my parents would release them from their actions. I talked to my husband and he suggested that I talk to our pastor. Scared to open up about my past, I was hesitant to talk to my pastor but I knew that I needed to. After telling him about my past, he told me the truth about forgiveness. By forgiving my parents, I was not excusing them from their behavior. Rather, I was releasing myself from the pain of the past.

Six months later, my father died and I was left to care for my mother. During this trial, I sought the advice of a Christian counselor. As I unpacked my complicated, messy past and current situation, she smiled and said, “You are a perfect example of God’s grace.” I thought about it and realized that I was. During our next session together, she said it again and then asked me a question that changed my life, “Would you ever consider sharing your story to help others?”

I left her office feeling scared, excited, and nauseous. I immediately made a list of all the reasons that I wasn’t qualified. I tried to forget about it but I’ve learned that when God wants to get your attention, He will keep trying until you respond. I had spent most of my life trying to avoid and deny my past for fear of being judged by others and was fearful of how the people in my life would respond when they learned the truth. I prayed and asked for wisdom and as scary as it was, I knew that I needed to trust God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5–6 (NLT)

As I timidly told my closest friends about my past and that I was going to write about it to help others who may be hurting, I received overwhelming support.

As I reflect on my journey to writing this book and speaking to groups, I am amazed by what God has done with my life. By sharing our stories, we allow God’s good works to shine and give Him the glory that He deserves.

Is it scary? ABSOLUTELY! But God calls us out of our comfort zone so that we can show others what true faith looks like. Are you willing to take the risk to show God that you fully trust Him?