Preface: I almost didn’t post this. I wrote it last week, typing as fast as my fingers would go (which is pretty fast thanks to my 9th grade typing class at Blume Junior High in Wapakoneta, OH – hometown of Neil Armstrong … and I know I just dated myself by saying that 9th grade was part of Junior High when I was in school. That’s ok, my son’s fiancee told me last week that I only look 38. I pushed for 32, but she said to be realistic. 😉 I’m ok with 38.) Anyway, I share more of my story here, which is always scary. You never really know what people are going to think. And, as a trying-to-be-reformed people pleaser, it is that much scarier. I am getting more comfortable sharing my story in person. I can kind of gauge by looking at someone and seeing their responses whether I should share more or less. You can’t really do that on the internet. So, here we go…
There’s not a person alive who hasn’t been touched by some hurt, sadness, or tragedy in this life. It’s just a part of living in this world. Life doesn’t always work out like we planned. Even when we win the battle, it may not look quite like how we thought it would. Sometimes, we can see that as a failure. There are still battle scars, even in the biggest victories. And too often, we can let those scars, those broken places, bring us embarrassment and shame. But if we bring them before God, He is so faithful to redeem them and use our stories to bring hope and healing to others.
My dream from the time I was a little girl was to be a Pastor’s wife. I didn’t just play “house”; I played “Pastor’s wife”. I pretended to take my dolls to “church” and we sat on the front row listening to my imaginary husband as he preached. I was also going to be one of those wives who got to celebrate the big anniversaries – you know, the really big ones, like 70 or 75, where all your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren come to celebrate with you and eat cake (I love cake). And for awhile, I thought my life was going to turn out just like that… It sure looked like it would.
But here I am today, living a life I never thought I would have as a single mom. I am okay with it most days (now). In fact, I can see that God is turning things around for my good. I can see Him working and using my story to reach other women. But there are days that are hard; like when my daughter danced at the nursing home, and I overheard the elderly couple tell someone that they were celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary the next week. While I was happy for them, sadness gripped my heart because I looked at them and thought that was supposed to be me.
Those are the times I have to take all the broken bits and lay them down at His feet again. The awesome thing about God is that even when we try to pick up our own broken pieces and put them back together, He is still right there beside us, patiently waiting for us to realize we can’t do it on our own.
I love this chorus from the Jason Gray song, “Nothing is Wasted”, that says, “Nothing is wasted, in the hands of our Redeemer, nothing is wasted.” I know that God doesn’t cause the bad things that happen to us, but I also know that He will redeem them. He will make it so that they are not wasted, if we allow Him to come in and put our broken pieces back together, to heal us. Of course, then fear likes to come in to say that we can’t ever tell our stories, that people won’t understand, they will judge us, they’ll look at us differently. The true depth of our stories is not for “everyone”, but it’s amazing how many people God sends along our paths who have gone (or are going) through what we have and who need to know they are not alone. They need to know that someone else understands the brokenness and, most of all, they need hope.
God spoke to my heart a couple of years ago about ministering to women and sharing my story. Then He brought others across my path who told me the same thing and encouraged me. And I said no. Oh, sometimes I was outwardly shaking my head yes, but my heart was saying no way. I didn’t want to do it, mostly because I kept telling God “this was never supposed to be my life!”. But He waited and nudged me along as I worked through some pretty hard and scary stuff, trying through it all to keep my heart pure, knowing that even in the midst of hurt and anger, I could never let bitterness take hold. And then a few months ago, I started to tell Him that it was okay. I would do what He wanted me to do. I don’t know what that looks like yet, but I have started praying that God would just send people across my path who need to hear what I have to say. And, you know what? He’s been doing that. I sat down today to think about the last few weeks and realized just how many women I have been able to talk with and minister to. Women that I never would have thought could relate to my story. And it’s been different parts of my story for different women that I’ve been able to share. (I have been through some crazy stuff! 🙂 ) I see that when they realize they are not alone, it brings hope. Even if their circumstances don’t change right away, or ever, just knowing that someone else has been there and can empathize with how they are feeling and what they are struggling with is huge. And in sharing with them, they share their stories with me, which allows me to feel less alone in this world, to feel more connected to them, too. Connecting with others is so important for all of us.
I still deal with being afraid of sharing my story. I still try to be wise in what I tell and to whom. But I also know on the other side of that fear is freedom, not only for me, but for other women who are dealing with hard things. I have been very surprised by not only who they are, but where we’ve met. I’m still working on trying not to figure out who it might be or why God wants me to talk to someone because I can kind of mess that up when I try to figure it all out. I don’t always get things right; that’s why I’m glad God is bigger than my mistakes and I’m thankful for His grace as I follow Him.
I’m praying for you today. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to admit you’re broken. I encourage you to stop trying to put your own broken pieces back together, but rather, lay them down at the feet of the One Who loves you above all else, the only One Who can bring true healing and restoration. Then begin to ask Him to send you those people who need to hear your story. I know that you all have some amazing testimonies of how God brought you through hard times, even if you’re still on the journey to wholeness (like me). And I know that those stories will be a blessing to the others God brings across your path. Push past the fear or shame. Your story is not for everyone, but it is for someone. Ask God to show you who that is. You never know. She could be asking God to bring her someone who understands what she’s going through and who can speak life and hope to her heart. You could be the very one God wants to send to her. 🙂