a safe place

Their kindness unraveled me.

There were no expectations.  There were no admonitions.  There was no condemnation.

They listened with calm patience and peaceful understanding in their eyes.  They encouraged with loving words of counsel and wisdom for every aching sigh and wretched confession.

Without judgement or correction, they drew near and waited for this unwilling flower to open.  They were not appalled when a long wilted petal fell to the ground.  The stench of long neglected wounds did not make them flinch.  Nor were they scandalized to see that what remained was lacking.

And when the tears fell and the dam broke and my speech became slurred and incomprehensible, they laid solemn hands over me and called on the Comforter to minister where they could not.

Over and again, another blemish would be revealed as we addressed the last.  I was appalled that the breaking was cyclical, there seemed to be no end.  The healing a wrestling of persistence and stamina.

But these mothers, these Titans, she that had walked in the ways that I was entering, created a holy haven with their Being.

They provided for me what no other had attempted or had fathomed was needed.

These women of faith surrounded me with a shield of anointed protection.  Rescuing me from the harsh elements of this earth, they created a safe place.  They sustained a covering in which I finally felt the confidence to heal. A gentle gathering where truth could be spoken and received.  Where the poignancy of honesty was delivered in the sanctuary of acceptance.

There is a resistant protection built up in every broken person.  When there has been a shattering, the frantic makeshift triage has left a thick scar. Only in a harbor, a place of refuge can we even entertain a thorough repair.

We all need a cove, where our hearts and minds find soothing balm, a place we feel content.  It’s where the violent waves meet the breakers far from the shore.  A shelter where there is love and calm waters and we don’t fret the tides. Tears well up in our eyes from just the thought of being there and our longing to return overwhelms us until the breath in our lungs presses against our heart and all we hear is the deafening beat in our ears.

That is where the layers begin to fall away and  the walls start to crumble.  When we stop trying to pick up the broken pieces with dust-covered hands and press them back into the walls that imprison us.

It’s where the tears begin to wash away the soot and our stories start to fall like vibrant petals from our tongues.

This is the space that every broken girl needs.  It is a gift of grace and love.  It is a place of  beauty and courage where brokeness, weakness, flaws and fragility are not uncomfortable but unconditionally accepted.  It is where you are called blessed because of them.

Beautiful alabaster box, pouring out your sin and hurt and shame at the feet of Christ.

Oh mighty women of valor!  We need you to pass on your knowledge, your intentional acceptance and willingness to serve and save.  So many of us need you.

So many need us to take up that mantle of rescue.  To lift our hands in service and call on the Comforter to abide in the spaces we keep.  To restore warrior princesses and high priestesses to their rightful, whole and fortified selves.

And show your own self in all respects to be a pattern and a model of good deeds and works, teaching what is unadulterated, showing gravity [having the strictest regard for truth and purity of motive], with dignity and seriousness.And let your instruction be sound and fit and wise and wholesome, vigorous and [a]irrefutable and above censure, so that the opponent may be put to shame, finding nothing discrediting or evil to say about us.  Titus 2:7-8 (AMP)

of shadows and light

I don’t remember much. 

The doctors and nurses asked me repeatedly about what had happened that afternoon.  And to this day I have no recollection of it.  My consciousness stops when we rolled under the shadow of the maple tree at the end of the street, and resumes much later in my mother’s arms.

She was crying.

I couldn’t speak.

But I could see the sun peeking through the trees as we passed beneath them.   Their shadows invited me into unconsciousness.  And with each slip it seems my subconscious buried the truth of what had transpired deeper each time.

I couldn’t breath.

The blood was choking me.

I slipped in and out of light.

Urgent voices surrounded me.

I awoke abruptly.

My mother was gone.

The sterile white light was terrible and now I couldn’t speak or move.

I was strapped to a metal table.  Strange men and women with surgical masks surrounded me.  I heard one say “she’s awake.” And another respond, “we’re almost done.”  And then there was pain, and I succumbed again to sweet darkness.

Confused, afraid, in pain, alone, believing I was abandoned, my heart was broken.

That was the day I met fear.

We all meet fear at some point in our lives.  It lies and it bullies and tells us that there is no good in the world.  It says there is no freedom.  It says there are no safe places.  It tells us our hearts will forever be broken and that we are abandoned.

That little girl accepted these lies as truth.

Truth had not yet been fully established in her mind.  How could it? She was 5.  She had no idea who she truly was or the potential and the power that was within her.   And fear made sure that with each slip into unconsciousness she buried any knowledge of it along with the pain and the hurt.

Knowing from the start how her path in life would be altered, the devastation that heartbreaks, broken trust and suffering would cause, could I call it good?

God knew.  And He did.

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good. – Genesis 1:31

He knew that His perfect creation would become imperfect. He knew that His image bearers would become disfigured.  The beginning, knew all the mess of the middle that would ensue and yet He stilled called it good, very good.  He still loved us and believed in us.  He allowed the story to unfold.  He knew He still held the end in His hands.

It is so difficult to embrace the wounds of the past.  To accept that they are an important and integral part of what is good in me.  It is easier to despise all the imperfections that were left behind and the intimidation that fear can still threaten.

The darkness still presses and tempts me to give in.

But I remember the light peaking through the canopy of trees.  And while I do not recall how I suffered lacerations to my hands, feet and face,  I do remember the warm light cutting through the shadows.

Why?

Because God was there. 

He embraced me each time I slipped under, and whispered:  Don’t fear.  I am with you.  I will always be with you.  With every fall into oblivion, he was constant and lifted me from the abyss.

He never left me.

I didn’t know it then, but I know now what I cannot deny:  my wounds brought me into the light of God’s love and the beauty of His grace

Because I suffered confusion, pain, isolation, abandonment and a broken heart so very young, I learned early to rest in the arms of my Father and press into the comfort of his unfailing love.

Yes.  I can call that good.

…………

Today I’m linking up with the Story Sisters on this International Women’s Day as we tell stories of the girls we once were.

show me your scars

” We serve a very persistent God. I might give up, but He never does.”

Not long ago I had the opportunity to hear a compelling testimony that challenged me. Tim Johnson was diagnosed with cancer at the prime of his life. With two small children, and a grim diagnosis, he made a choice:” I was not going to let my thoughts lie to me and tell me things were hopeless. I knew God was working and I didn’t want to miss out on what he would do.”

Tim’s story is an honest biography of the battle fought inside the mind, whether fighting cancer or any other personal crises, often our greatest struggle is against depression. Our success or failure against negative thoughts is the determinant, dictating whether we are on the road to healing, or further hurt.

Often we hear the stories of miraculous healing, and testimonies of how the person never lost hope even when the odds were completely against them. That’s great. What a blessing to be able to withstand so constantly! We all strive for it. But for those of us that have ever struggled with keeping our thoughts positive, and have struggled with feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, resentment, bitterness, and even anger, then Tim’s story will help you.

By enduring unimaginable struggle, he has crossed the threshold to experience God more intimately than most of us have experienced. His perseverance is inspiring and challenging. “I was meant to be more than a conqueror. I was meant to be a liberator…”

In one poignant portion of Tim’s biography, he confesses that immediate healing would have robbed him of the opportunity to see God reveal Himself to him and through him. That is a statement of trust. What if Christ hadn’t suffered agony? What if his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane had been answered? If it is your will, take this suffering from me. What if there had been no scars? Would the sacrifice, this act of salvation, had such a lasting and changing effect on us hundreds of years later?

Without fear, doubt or uncertainty, there would be no repentance, there would be no wonder of remission, there would be no rising. Our strength comes from the intimate knowledge of Christ’s identity and saving power. Our resulting relationship carries with it the privilege and responsibility to show our scars, God’s opportunity to reveal Himself through me to others.

It’s because he pulls us from the depths of our darkness and suffering, that we are so very grateful. The change is tangible. The change is undeniable. We can see again.