The post that you are about to read is different.
I know, a new blog design and a different kind of post all in one week!
"REEL IT BACK EDEN, THIS IS TOO MUCH FOR US!!"
Promise, this is a one time thing.
This post, it's definitely unlike anything I've posted on here before and something that I thought long and hard about before posting here at all. As most of you know, I'm the founder of a nonprofit in my area. When starting any nonprofit, one of the biggest tasks is integrating yourself into the community and letting people know that you are here. When our organization first started out I was asked to come speak to a woman's bible study and let them know what we were doing. We are are not a religious group but I myself am a Christian and I thought it would be a neat opportunity to share a little bit about how I felt God was working in my life, so I jumped at the chance.
I went, I spoke, and before I knew it I was receiving invitations from other churches of all denominations to come and share my story in front of their congregations as well, and so I did, over, and over again.
Today I would like to share that story with you.
Now as I said, I thought long and hard about whether or not to post this here. While I take a pretty strong stance on many subjects in this blog, I've avoided any heavy religious posts because I want everyone to feel welcome here, regardless of their religious or non religious preferences, and the last thing I want to do is to start a religious based riot.
You know those super loud Bible beating Christians who not only try to forcefully convert people, but who also think that everyone who doesn't fit into a tiny little box labeled "Christianity" is going to hell?
Yea I'm not one of those people.
Not even close.
I don't care what religion or non-religion you are, it's not my place to pass judgments or pretend I know how or why you feel/choose/worship the way you do.
This is about me and because this is my blog, and because this is Easter I've been thinking a lot about this part of my life. Despite what your beliefs are and religion aside, I think that the underlying lesson that I've learned is something that we can all draw upon. I've decided to post below the story that I have shared with hundreds upon hundreds of people before you in hopes that it may mean something to you as well.
I promise I'm not trying to convert you.
If you are feeling particularly anti-Christian today or are just not in a place where you feel able to hear about God right now, well then I'm just going to give you a great big hug, let you skip the rest of this post, and I'll see you on Tuesday with a new post. Should you choose to stay and read, I just ask that you extend the same courtesy that I am extending to you all and to not judge, dissect, or trash my beliefs in the comments section.
We are all adults, we can keep this civil right?
So without further ado, I bring you a cut and paste of my story:
“Mommy, why are you screaming at God?”
Her voice pierced the wailings of my soul and stunned me into silence.
I looked at her face, her eyes were wide with shock and confusion.
How long had my three yr old been standing there? How long had she seen me on my knees, sobbing uncontrollably? How much had she heard of the angry and venomous words that I was indeed spewing up to the heavens?
I felt like the worst mom in the entire world and more than that, I felt like the worst daughter Christ could have.
I ushered her back up the stairs, assuring her not to worry about it, that we would discuss it in the morning. “Oh please Lord, help me figure out how to explain this in the morning,” I thought to myself.
Once she was tucked back into her bed I retreated back to the couch; my weary body sinking into its cushions, while I wished I could simply disappear between the cracks.
“Why God?” I heard myself say out loud, this time a little bit calmer and a little bit softer. “Why have you left me? Are you even listening to me? Do you even care that I spend every night pleading to you for help? Where have you been!? Have you not heard me calling you? I know you say you won’t give me more than I can handle, but if you were watching me, if you truly cared about me, you would know that this is too much. Why, when I have done nothing but love you, have you abandoned me when I need you the most?”
I sat and I listened for his answer, but what I heard… was nothing.
I heard nothing but the beating of my weary and broken heart pounding away painfully inside of my chest.
I sat there for what felt like an eternity before I finally dragged my body up the stairs; a body humbled by the weight of the world on my shoulders.
Before retreating to my bedroom for the night I stopped to check in on my daughter who was now sleeping peacefully in her bed. I knelt down beside her and I kissed her on the forehead.
“Oh baby, I’m so sorry that I’m failing you. I don’t know why your father left you. I don’t know why I let you watch him hurt me for so long. I wanted to leave, I wanted to take us both away from here, but I didn’t know how, I didn’t have anyone to help me. I didn’t any money, any job, or any family to take us in. This is not the life that I wanted for you; this is not the life that I wanted for me. Now your dad is gone, I don’t know where he is, and I don’t know how to save us. This has just all been too much, for too long, and I don’t know how much longer I can go on.”
I started crying then, stifling my sobs into the nook of my arm, one hand on my daughter’s back and one hand clutched against my heart.
It had been three months since my husband had disappeared. Three months since he had hurt me in ways I wished to forget, three months since I’d been told that I was nothing, that I was worth nothing. Yet even though three months had gone by since I’d heard those words, I felt more like “nothing” now than I had ever felt during the duration of my abusive marriage.
It was a marriage destined for failure from the beginning; it was a marriage that try as I might I could not escape. I stayed until the very moment that he left me, tossing me out like the trash he believed I was.
He left for the store one day and just never returned. He emptied the bank account, stole the laptop and my jewelry, quit his job, abandoned his car, and simply walked out of my life forever. I was left with a seven month old son, a three year old special needs daughter, no money, no job, and no hope.
“God, where are you? Why did you leave me here? Why didn’t you help me get out? He abandoned me, he left me with nothing, and now I feel like you have abandoned me too.”
I sat there for a minute, realizing how inappropriate it was to be having this silent argument with God while sitting next to my sleeping daughter, but try as I might I could not pull myself away from her bed.
“Oh baby,” I said to her. “I just, I just don’t even know where to start.”
As I sat there looking at her, I thought back on my life and all that had led me to where I was.
Grappling with the anger I was feeling towards God, I was brought back to one particular memory of a night during the first mission trip I ever went on in one of the poorest parts of our nation. It had been a long and hard day, everyone was exhausted, but I couldn’t go to bed. I felt unsettled in a way that I can only describe as soul wrenching and eventually I found myself sitting alone in the dark, trying to process the overwhelming experience that I was going through.
You see, I had suffered. I knew what suffering felt like, but for the first time I was seeing other people suffer, and watching other people suffer, it was a new kind of hard. I was walking amongst “the unwanted” of our society, and yet in every person I met, I saw beauty. None of them were worthless, they were all just people wanting and needing someone to care, and I was caught off guard at how deeply I loved these strangers, at how beautiful and worthy these “worthless” people were and it got me thinking; I wondered if maybe God saw something worthy in the unwanted person that I was.
Before long tears were streaming down my face and my knees hurt from kneeling, but I didn't move. I heard myself talking out loud: “Lord, I have nothing to offer you. You know where I’m coming from and you know the life that I’ve led. I don’t have much to give you, so I’m offering you my strength. The only reason that I am still here is because I’m strong and if that is the only thing I have, well then I’m offering that to you. Use my strength as you see fit, use me to make a difference.”
It was moment so life changing, a promise that I felt such commitment to, that when my next big life changing moment came with the birth of my daughter, I named her after that trip so that every time I looked at her, I would remember my promise.
Now here I was, rubbing the back of my tangible promise, and I was telling God that I was giving up.
Eventually I made my way to my room and collapsed upon my bed. I was so exhausted, so emotionally drained from the events of the last few months, that the only thing I had left in me was to squeak out the words “help” before falling into a fitful and unfulfilling sleep.
The next morning, the sun rose. It was a new day, I was still here. With a clearer mind and a settled heart I prayed; “I cannot see where you are going with this. I don’t understand why you are doing this to me. I trust that you have a plan, but my gosh do I wish that I could see it now.”
I thought back to all the sermons that I had ever heard in my life about “walking your test of faith” and how “faith is trusting even when you don’t understand why” and it suddenly dawned on me that this was my moment of truth. All those years when I thought that I was already walking my test of faith, they had all culminated to this very moment.
The question now became “would I survive it?”
“Ok God. I’m not happy about this. I really don’t see any way to fix my life. My entire life has burned down around me and all that’s left is me and two kids standing in a smoldering pile of ashes and painful memories. Everywhere I look I see destruction and I’m not even sure in which direction to start walking but I think I’m finally ready to trust you, to really trust you. I promised you before that you could have my strength, but I really need you to show me the way. I’m ready to truly listen now, not for the answers that I want to hear, but for the ones you want to give me. I promise you, once again, that I will be strong for you, just please, please, show me what you want me to do because I can’t stand in this place forever.”
It’s been three years since that morning; three amazing years.
I am now the founder of the nonprofit that helps women who are in exactly the same situation that I was in, in a place where the only strength they have left is to cry out for help and hope that someone can hear them.
This was never where I saw my life landing. Never in a million years could I have envisioned myself doing something like this. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to charge ahead on my own, navigating the impossible road through the ruins of my shattered life, was I finally able to hear the voice that I had been longing to hear for so long.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways” declared the Lord: Isaiah 55:8
God needed me to be broken before he could fix me. I had been living in such a horrible situation for so long; so covered and smothered by things that were hurting me that I could no longer see light. God didn’t rescue me from an abusive situation; he burned my entire world down and allowed me the opportunity to start fresh.
He left me in a state so shattered, so life altering, that I would truly feel how much it hurt. If I had simply walked away from my marriage I would have never been affected enough to want to make sure that no one else had to suffer like I did.
All the times that I felt the most abandoned were really the times when he had his hand on me the most; his plan unfolding all around me.
He had not left me, he was working on me in ways that I could not see.
He shattered me into a million little pieces, and not until the old me was gone did he take everything that was left and put me back together into something that I could have never even dreamt of.
I wasn't alone, I was in training.
God is using me in ways that I would never have imagined. I saw nothing but destruction and yet the entire time the destruction was really just clearing the way for something bigger, something better, something God sized.
“For you intended to harm me, but God intended this for good; the work that is being done now, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Sometimes unique blessings can only come by way of creative lessons.
I’m so thankful that God was patient with me while I learned.
Where I saw nothing, God saw potential.
The funny thing about potential is that it's easy to miss because it's hiding under things we view as worthless.
Worthiness is only weighted in the potential that you are willing to see, where I used to see an end, I now see a beginning.
And sometimes, a beginning is all you need.
"He is not here, for he has risen."
Happy Easter blogland