Everyone always assumed that when I grew up, I’d be doing something in the public eye. My grandmother thought for sure I’d be an actress. I was so full of energy and always the center of the room as a young child. But acting wasn’t for me. It requires becoming someone else, and I don’t hide my true self very well.
I have so much extra emotion flowing through my soul that it inevitably overflows into the world around me. It’s just how I’m wired. If I’m upset, you’ll know it. If I’m happy, you’ll know that, too. And if I’m moved to tears, well, you’re going to see those tears. Lots of them. Sometimes they are happy tears; other times, I weep over the condition of this world.
I remember well the day when the brokenness of the sports world brought me to tears and changed the trajectory of my life. At the time, I was the first female host on SiriusXM College channels.
On that day, the stories being reported within the sports industry made me sick to my core. We were smack dab in the middle of the Penn State and Baylor University scandals. The daily news revolved around issues that gave the sports industry such a black eye. This bothered me. I knew so many college coaches and players who were genuinely good people doing extraordinary things with their platforms. Why wasn’t anyone telling those stories? Instead, the major networks reported nothing but negative news.
Not long after, I was at my mother’s clothing boutique, and I overheard a woman say, “College football players aren’t anything but a bunch of _______.” You can fill in the nasty word. Something rose in me, and I said, “Oh no, ma’am, they are not. They are husbands and fathers and sons. Yes, some have made bad decisions, but that is not a representation of the whole lot.”
Not long after, an article I wrote for GridIronNow.com called “College Football Is Breaking My Heart” went viral. This led me to think that perhaps I could help players and coaches trend for something other than negative news. I could teach them how to create and project a positive life narrative and use their sports platforms to impact the world for good.
I started a movement called “I’m Changing the Narrative,” and I wrote a curriculum for athletes. At first, I developed it for high school athletes, then college coaches from schools like Florida State University and Clemson wanted to hear me speak. This movement soon expanded outside of athletics to schools and corporations, and now it is heading into the prison system.
It’s my greatest joy to help others change the narratives of their lives. But you may wonder how I gained the insight to do so. It came through the process of having to rewrite the narrative of my own life.
Like many, I lost my way during my teenage years, and I headed down a dark path that nearly destroyed me and those around me. Frankly, I should be dead in a ditch somewhere after almost a decade of hard drug use. But thank God, I’m not. That dead-end path wasn’t the end of my story, and God is the reason.
God chased me down, and He rescued me. He gave me a new identity as His child, restored my broken heart and confused mind, and patiently loved me to wholeness in Himself. Then, He helped me pen a new narrative. And to this day, He continues to write new chapters, with twists and turns that far exceed my wildest dreams and expectations (Ephesians 3:20). It is my greatest privilege to help others experience this life of adventure with God.
I know what it is to be suffocated daily by shame and regret. It’s a heavy weight that I don’t wish for anyone to carry. I also know what it is to be free of that dead weight. And that freedom is what I want to help others, maybe even you, discover.
I started down that dark path after I learned I was adopted. I was in my teens when my father, David Baribeau, commented that he hadn’t known me my whole life. The idea that I wasn’t his biological child hit me like a ton of bricks.
Upset, I ran into the house, found my mother, and confronted her. She looked a bit confused and said, “Honey, don’t you remember? We told you that you were adopted when you were a little girl.” The magnitude of what they had told me obviously hadn’t computed in my five-year-old mind. But as a teen, it changed everything. Suddenly, I had so many questions.
Why had my biological father left? Why hadn’t he ever returned to meet me? Didn’t he love me? I developed the notion that I was unlovable, even though my mother and adoptive father had loved me unconditionally. He’d even stood by me after he and my mother divorced, but at the time, that was insignificant.
Determined to discover my true identity, I located my biological father and half-siblings. That tumultuous event further rocked my already shattered world. I loved God and knew He loved me; I had put my faith in Him at a church camp in middle school. But the issue of my fathers weighed heavily on my teenage soul and led me into confusion. And then my mother remarried, and yet another father figure came into the picture. To ease my inner turmoil, I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
I graduated from high school, left home for college, and embraced the party scene full force. Yet many good things were happening for me as well. I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was launching me down a career path in the world of sports broadcasting that He would later use to touch many lives.
It all started when I joined the Eagle Eye team at Auburn University. Our job was to report the happenings around campus. I found myself covering football games and interviewing players. I fell in love with every aspect of broadcasting and football. The game’s intensity, the crunch of the helmets, the speed of the game, the adrenaline, the cheers of the crowd—I felt it all, and it was intoxicating to me. I asked for more sports assignments, and I got them.
My broadcasting career quickly took off, but I had a double life. I was partying hard on the weekends. Soon, those same “good times” spread into the weekdays. Before long, I was relying on the bump of cocaine to give me the confidence to face each day. Sometimes I would party all night and then do my radio show the next day.
This double life was exhausting.
You can believe that Satan, the enemy of my soul, reminded me daily how messed up I was. And I believed him too; I was so ashamed of my life.
I can’t tell you how many times I yelled at myself. I knew better. My parents hadn’t raised me to live this way!
My adoptive dad was an Army man who’d taught me how to live with discipline and a sense of adventure as we moved around the world.
My mother had taught me the importance of having integrity and protecting my name. She had instilled in me a love of reading and learning. Most importantly, she’d taught me how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. My mother chased God with a vengeance, unashamedly exposing her flaws, pain, and brokenness so that He could restore her. He always met her with arms of grace.
Despite having the love of my parents and the love of the Lord, I chose my own way. I was sure I could fill the holes in my heart with the offerings of the world. But that was like trying to fill an open-bottomed bucket with sand. There was no end to my labor.
I lived nearly ten years like this, and then, at 29, I couldn’t go another step. I was so tired of trying to matter. My crazy lifestyle had taken its toll; I couldn’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. I was a skinny shell of a person who didn’t keep her word for most anything.
Then, one night, the Lord revealed to me the inevitable consequences of my choices. He showed me through a vision that if I didn’t make a change, I would either break apart my family, end up in jail, die, or kill someone. I saw myself as a runaway train, heading full speed down the wrong track into danger. This vision frightened me; I didn’t want my life to end so tragically.
But it would take another vision to bring me to a place of total surrender. Before I share it, I want to add that the entire time I was doing things my way, the Lord never stopped calling out to me, courting me, and reminding me that I was created for more. His pursuit never felt like condemnation either, rather, it was grace-filled conviction. There is a difference. And knowing the difference is how I knew the Lord was speaking to me.
One night, I woke up to see an image of Jesus standing in the corner of my room. He was looking at me but not with an “I’m angry with you” look. He looked sad. Then He said, “Oh, child. I didn’t create you for this. I created you for so much more. Come back to Me, Rachel, I love you.” I’ll never forget the look in His eyes and the tenderness of His voice. It stirred something deep in my soul.
I attempted to use cocaine one more time after this encounter, but as soon as the drug hit my nose, I began to weep. I knew it wasn’t what God wanted for me. A friend saw my struggle, and he stayed with me until the morning to ensure my safety. When the sun rose, I ran for the door and headed straight to my momma’s church, where I fell facedown at the altar and gave my life to Jesus.
The Lord set me free from drug addiction that day, and I have never looked back. Instead, I have chased after God with a vengeance, just like my mother. I’ve dived deep into His Word and sought after His truth. And I’ve made it my mission to help others find the freedom He freely gave me. I know that only the Lord can truly change the narrative of someone’s life. Only He can heal a person’s broken heart and rebuild their shattered dreams.
The Lord began restoring my life by uncovering years of pain, shame, and regret that had come with a decade of rebellion. I had needlessly hurt so many people, especially my mother and adoptive father. I wished with every ounce of my being that I could go back in time and make things right, but I couldn’t.
I’m sure you’ve had opportunities for regret too. Maybe you didn’t tell someone you loved them, and now they are gone. Perhaps you betrayed someone’s trust, or you weren’t the parent, sibling, child, or spouse you should have been. We’ve all said and done things we regret.
But here’s what the Lord showed me about regrets. If I didn’t deal with them, they would cripple me and keep me from the life God intended (John 10:10). What’s done was done. I couldn’t go back and change the past. I could only move forward and live a better life.
The Apostle Paul had to do this same thing. He says in Philippians 3:13–14, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
God had a plan I was to pursue (Jeremiah 29:11). But to experience it, I had to identify my regrets and the other emotions holding me captive. I had to accept responsibility for my mistakes, make amends for them, and then give them to God. Hebrews 12:1 taught me to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” Only by doing this could I run with perseverance the race marked out for me.
Giving up my “funky junk” wasn’t an easy process, though. (That’s what I call the enslaving emotional junk I carried around internally.) I had to ask myself the hard, uncomfortable questions like: Who have I hurt? What have I done or not done; said or not said? Who have I not forgiven? What do I wish I could go back and make right? By writing down the answers to those questions, I identified the things that were holding me back.
Then it was time to present my past to the Lord. As King David did in Psalm 139:23–24 (NIV), I had to say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” And He did. Then one by one, He showed me how to make amends.
One of my greatest regrets is that I avoided my adoptive father during my decade of rebellion. The parties and my ambitions had been more important to me than spending time with him. I was so, so misguided. Sadly, he passed away before I had the opportunity to ask for his forgiveness. He never got to see me, his baby girl, become everything he had desired or know that I had embraced all he’d taught me. But I know he sees me now, and I can feel him cheering me on from heaven (Hebrews 12:1).
Thankfully, I did have the opportunity to make amends with my mother and be forgiven by her. Her Christlike love covered my mistakes, and she embraced me like only a mother can. Before her death in 2019, we lived each day to its fullest. We put the past in the rearview mirror, where it belongs.
It was much easier to move past regret when I was able to say, “I’m sorry,” and to show the sincerity of my apology. It was also easier to move forward when that person spoke their forgiveness, as my mother did. But that doesn’t always happen.
Sometimes people pass away before we can apologize and make things right. Other times, people won’t accept our apology. Here’s how, with God’s help, I learned to handle these situations.
In the case of death, the next best thing would be to give a sincere apology to the closest living family member. Write a letter or visit that person’s loved one (if and when appropriate). Honor those whom you have hurt and, when possible, make the situation right.
But what if someone refuses to accept your apology? Well, you have to leave that person with God. You cannot force someone to forgive if they don’t want to. Only God can touch the heart. All you can do in this situation is be sincere in your apology and then be different in the future. That’s all the Lord requires.
God knows your heart, and if you are genuinely sorry for what you’ve done and have asked for His forgiveness, He has forgiven you (1 John 1:9). Your transgressions are under the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and He will never remember them again. (Read Psalm 103 and Ephesians 1:7.)
Don’t hang on to the past. Drop that dead weight of regret. God did not design you to live with that two-ton weight around your neck. God wants you to be free; He died so you could be free!
The devil is the one who wants you to wallow in regret. He’s that never-ending voice in your head, reminding you of your failures, chaining you to them like a slave.
Jesus invites you to come to Him and find rest (Matthew 11:28). Come on—give Him all your funky junk. He’ll take it from you so you can walk away free.
It is time, my friend, to tell the devil to shut up. Do it. Say it out loud: “No more, Satan! God has forgiven my sin. I am not going to wallow in guilt and shame any longer. I have done all I can to make amends for my wrongs, and now, I am going to move forward with God to the best of my ability. You have nothing more to say to me.” Then refuse to listen to that voice of defeat any longer. Refuse to be shackled by regret.
Instead, make it your life motto to do the best you can with what you have, to the best of your ability. Every day, look for someone to help and help them. If you’ve done someone wrong, quickly ask for forgiveness—from God and from the person you offended. Then move forward better.
No matter what your life has been thus far, it’s not too late. It’s never too late for God to change the narrative of your life. Give God the pen and let Him start writing a new script. Give Him every one of your regrets and trust Him to use them to impact the world.