why I totally broke tradition

I broke the rules of my own life today.

It was Easter and for my entire life I’ve gone to church.

Now, before you think that this is about me becoming a heathen and denying church, let me tell you, it is not. Instead this is about me discovering strength and breaking down walls and norms that I thought were unbreakable.

So today instead of doing the normal Easter thing I tied on my shoes, put my hair in a ponytail and ran.

The trail was deserted.

And as I ran I thought about life and all the things that I had grown accustomed to doing without question. Easter and egg hunts. Christmas and presents. Birthday traditions. Showing up here and there. Having the smile on my face. And I thought about how even when one does the normal thing over and over that when it’s done without deeper meaning and thought and done just because – well, there is something really hollow there. And I don’t want to live hollow much more in this life.

Years ago when my marriage fell apart most of my church abandoned me. I think I didn’t fit in the box anymore – my life was messy – and messy is uncomfortable. So I ended up finding myself really really alone. It was this painful place, perhaps the beginning of the unwinding of expectations that I placed on my own life and heart.

I started to question why I did the same things over and over.

Was I walking in there because it was important? Or because it was expected?


As the years passed I unraveled more and more of my heart — and thus today — running on Easter morning. For those of you who are Christians, listen, please as I’m a believer but I came to this place where I realized that I didn’t need to stress about my perfect outfit and my kids appearance and sit in church today. I realized this because it was ABOUT me, not the reason to be there.

I was doing without thinking why. 

So much of life has become this mask of fitting in and today I didn’t want to fit in. I wanted my own spiritual journey and time and a dropping of everything I was told I needed to do.

So I ran.

Mile after mile.

Passing cars filled with families going here and there.

Breathing in and out and in and out.

And as I wrote on Instagram – with each mile baggage dropped and healing and space for joy found room.

Sometimes it’s really hard to look at our own hearts and to see where we’re just existing. It’s hard to look at the parenting and realize that we’re on autopilot. It’s easy to spend time doing everything just because we think that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Challenge the norm.

Have breakfast for dinner. Go a new way home. Create new traditions.

We still had our Easter celebration. Colored eggs. Talked about why our family celebrates Easter. Ate WAY too much chocolate and Peeps.

But this morning?

It was different. I said no to what I’d always done and yes to learning to breathe again and make choices with deep intentionality.

Because I want my kids to know that we don’t just do without thinking – we do because we believe in something or we value the tradition and so forth. And sometimes it means breaking the norm and discovering that all is okay.

And it was good.

So I’m daring you to look at your own life and to peel back some of the layers and to see where you might just be operating out of expectations versus choice. And I am daring you to take that breath and believe that when you take control of your time and choices that you begin the journey of discovering joy and getting the margin of breath in your life.


20 Responses to “why I totally broke tradition”

  1. April 16, 2017

    Cheryl Reply

    yes. always yes to intentionality. thank you so much for this post.

  2. April 16, 2017

    Jacki Trujillo Reply

    I’m so sorry your church wasn’t a place and community of love for you, especially at a tough time. I agree we need to do things we believe in and love and NOT because it’s the thing we’ve always done. My experience has been very contrary though. My faith family and church have been an integral part of my finding my voice and my children’s stability again. My relationship with God and Jesus have pulled me through. I love your writing and sharing this journey with us!

  3. April 16, 2017

    Jill Reply

    Rachel, I’m so glad that you had this experience. In the midst of your own personal heartaches over the years, you wrote words that woke me from what had been my parenting on autopilot. I wear a necklace every day that says choose joy because of you and your blog! I wanted to share that I am praying that you find your joy as a Christian now, not being on autopilot. Perhaps God has a perfect new church family for you in your new state. Happy Easter!

  4. April 16, 2017

    Dana Reply

    Me too! When I went through my messy life and divorce, the church didnt know how to help. So they ignored me and hoped I would change myself to fit their expectations. I’m still hurt. Today I didn’t conform to the norm either: my kids and I needed a day to breathe. And we did. I ended up laughing with them so hard that my tummy hurt and tears ran down my face. Best day ever.

  5. April 16, 2017

    AJ Reply

    What an irony that I read this today. This is the holiday that is a constant reminder of how low people can stoop when they are cheating. Thank you for the confirmation it is fine to live outside the box according to what works for my sanity. In the last seven years, I have learned to say no if my heart is not feeling it. This is something I have no regrets and I also let my kids know to do what makes them happy not simply for the sake of going along with the program or trying to be a people pleaser. Hopefully, my example will pay off for them as they navigate this journey.

  6. April 16, 2017

    Heather Reply

    I should have went running.

  7. April 16, 2017

    Gretchen Deveaux Reply

    Yessssss. Just yesssssss.

  8. April 16, 2017

    Erika Chowning Reply

    Rachel-thanks for always sharing your honest heart! So proud of you for always finding healing and truth!

    This was my much shorter but wildly similar post from this morning …. funny how these journeys of ours go.

    Celebrating the hell out of Easter | Restoration You

    Many blessings,


  9. April 16, 2017

    Kelly Reply

    Wow. Just two days ago I texted that I’m so tired of doing things “I have to do” simply because it is expected. Great read. Thank you for sharing.

  10. April 16, 2017

    Tabitha Panariso Reply

    I really appreciated this post. Particularly when you wrote, “Was I walking in there because it was important? Or because it was expected?” My husband and I recently left our church home after him being in ministry for many years – and this was our first Easter at home. We didn’t go anywhere. It felt so strange. And I knew that I was battling against Religion and Expectation. And as I scrolled through my feeds, seeing happy pictures of families — I couldn’t help but feel less than. All lies, I know. But clearly, I’m still working through it. Anyways, thank you for these poignant questions. They’ve given me some clarity. I don’t want hollow either.

  11. April 17, 2017

    Lisa Reply

    I love this article Rachel. Thank you for sharing this. I think my whole life has been so closely linked to the value placed on my own and others expectations of me. The career I should have, the woman, partner, mother, daughter I should be. I had forgotten I had a choice until I read your article. However, I tend to feel lost and overwhelmed by choice. There is something comforting for me about expectations. I don’t believe it’s necessary healthy or giving me a happy life but I guess I need to find a way to break free. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Lisa xx

  12. April 17, 2017

    Alley Reply

    I found this such a good read, thank you. My marriage isn’t the happiest and even though I have a lot to be thankful for, I am often feeling unhappy and dissatisfied with life and I constantly wonder if religion would be the answer. The families I know who go to church are so happy and settled. But then I think perhaps not, because it would only be me going to church or me and the kids. I’m never really sure what the answer is.

  13. April 17, 2017

    Carol Reply

    My eyes filled with tears when I read your post. Not tears of pity..but tears because I’ve ran that empty trail on Easter morning before, and I’m feeling the joy of meeting a kindred spirit. I know exactly what you mean: “doing things because we believe in them, not because they are expected”
    I gave up my position and employment at my church because it became something I had to do, not something I got to do. I wanted the joy I had with Jesus when I first believed, so I hit the reset button, and went back to square one. I now have more balance, I go to church sometimes, but never because it is expected, but because I choose to. I value fellowship with others but know some people will always have and try to project their expectations on others. But Jesus understands my heart completely and that’s all that matters to me anymore..and more and more I’m finding there are more of us out here that are jogging this same trail. 🙂

    • April 17, 2017

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Oh Carol, your comment is so beautiful, so raw and so full of deep truth. Thank you for sharing your heart with me. I was totally blessed.

  14. April 17, 2017

    linda Reply

    I am glad you were able to celebrate Easter in a meaningful way for you and your family. Sadly, the church can really fail us. Thank goodness He doesn’t. After all, it is full of messy people and sinners. And some amazing ones too. I don’t mean that as sarcasm. It is the truth I know and have experienced through years of being part of the good the bad and the ugly. I have struggled adn still do with this through the years. I chose to not go sometimes too. Sometimes I just haven’t been able to face them. Thank goodness He doesn’t. These celebrations are remembrances. Sometimes, the solitude is the best way and it does not fail our kids.

  15. April 17, 2017

    Jane H. Reply

    It always hurts me so when I see how Christians hurt other Christians….we shoot our own. I’ve been hurt and I’m sure that I’ve hurt others…..I’m glad you are finding your way and that yesterday was a breakthrough day for you. We did go to church and 3 of my grands were with me…..that doesn’t happen very often and so my day was blessed in that way. Your words always resonate with me, Rachel. God’s Word tells us to speak the truth in love….you do that and I’m so grateful. Much love.

  16. April 19, 2017

    Angela Reply

    God doesn’t want our “traditions”; He wants our “Intentionality”. Our relationship with the Father goes deeper than going to church. …it is having conversations with Him wherever we are…..in nature, in community, in Him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.