They don't get it. They don't understand what happened.
They read my posts and wonder if this is the same girl they knew. Because the girl they knew wasn't super-religious. She didn't talk about God or act any differently from them.
They probably think my mind has been usurped by some sort of fringe cult. Or maybe that Elliott brainwashed me or something.
And although some probably muse at my oddity in silence, others are tweeting and conversing about me openly, asking, "What the heck happened? Who is this girl?"
I have a few things to say in response.
The first thing is that I was shamefully silent about what was really going on internally during all those years. I may have seemed confident, happy, and carefree, but I was seriously torn up. Although I have had active periods of running from God, I have never been separated from Him (I am living and breathing proof of Romans 8:38-39). I was living in a constant state of befuddlement and confusion and wrestled daily with the Lord. I wanted to think that it didn't matter -- that He didn't matter -- and that I could live my life the way I wanted and be happy. But although you may have known one version of Rachel -- the outer shell, as I like to call her -- there was always another Rachel brooding underneath. So if you look at my blog posts and status updates and wonder who the heck I am, the truth is I've been this person the whole time. The only real difference is I am no longer fragmented because I have been made whole in Christ.
Which brings me to my second thought: despite what it may seem, my personality -- as a whole -- hasn't changed. I am still goofy and slightly strange and still care about people. I know, from truthful conversations, that some fear I have jumped off the deep-end into the scary-loud-evangelical-fundamentalist fringe. I haven't. The "Christians" that make the news -- those that picket funerals and preach a false gospel of hatred -- have nothing to do with me and the Lord. I don't know what Bible those people are reading, but it's not the same Bibles we have in our home and at our church. If you're interested in knowing the Christians that don't make the news, talk to me (or go here or here or even here). And please know that I am always willing to have a conversation. If you're wondering how it is I believe what I believe and what exactly I believe, just ask me: chellysimko (at) gmail (dot) com
And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I need to be honest and tell you what I told my friend the other night. I have a friend who, over the course of the last 2-5 years, has experienced an immense amount of loss and suffering. When we talk, it's hard to know what to say. But the other night I said some (long overdue) things to her that I also want to say to you, whoever you are (I'm not exactly sure who reads this, but I have some ideas).
You need to know that you have inherent value because you are made in the image of your Creator. No amount of "bettering" yourself -- through exercise or education or comparing to others -- will allow you to know how valuable you are in comparison to knowing that God. Created. You. Specifically. You have value because you were created. Period. Accepting this will help you understand the love of God more clearly. Psalm 139.
Another thing to know is that as long as you put your trust in anything of this world, you will get let down. My friend mentioned that even when I have suffering in my life, I seem to be able to deal with it really well. This doesn't mean I slap on a happy face and just dismiss suffering because "everything has a reason." I do cry, I do mourn, I do question. But I have hope because my trust is in the Lord -- not in Elliott, not in my family, not in myself. If I put my trust in those things (as I have done in the past), then I am prone to despair because everything and everyone will, at some point, disappoint. I trust in God because He has shown again and again to be faithful -- in my life, in other's lives, in the Bible -- and faithful not only in the way that I expect, and not only in the way that makes me happy, but faithful nonetheless. I also trust in God because He asks me to, and He is God. He is Sovereign and I sure-as-heck don't know what's going on in this world or my life. But He does. And so I trust. (And no, it's not easy, but that's another discussion altogether.)
I also have hope because it's not about me. This has been a huge paradigm-shift in my life, as I once bought into the lie that my life was about what made me happy and fulfilled. Let me tell you straight up: if life was about me, I wouldn't be here. I would have given up long ago. I have suffered deep depression and severe anxiety beyond my own comprehension. And if life was just about me, I would have said enough and just ended it (not recently, but in the past, this was a severe struggle).
But one huge indication of the fact that it's not about me is the reality that if I were to end my life, it would affect others deeply. We are all connected to each other in community -- we need each other -- and that is the way God designed it from the beginning. I cannot do my own thing -- whatever makes me happy -- and not have it affect another human being.
And I have been given hope in knowing that not only is it not about me, but it is about God and the Greater Narrative. When I doubt what is happening or ask why or want to throw my arms up and just say, "ENOUGH," I can remember that I am only part of the Greater Narrative. And I am so thankful for that revelation. It is incredibly freeing.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of Gods one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."