Everyone has a voice - a story to tell - full of depth, heartache, joy, wisdom, and beauty. I have allowed fear and shame to tell me that I am not good enough and not worth listening to - that my perspective doesn’t count, but I am so thankful that my Jesus bought me with His very life and declared over me:
YOU ARE MINE CHILD AND I AM WILDLY CRAZY ABOUT YOU.
YOUR LIFE IS VALUABLE. YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO MAKE ME LOVE YOU MORE OR LESS.
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE.
YOU HAVE NOTHING TO PROVE.
When I feel shut down, I have to remember whose opinion really counts. Will I let people - even family - who want me to be a certain way define me? Or will I reserve that place for the One who made me and loves the way I am already?
Our stories carry the handprints of our Maker. When we own our story and offer the unpolished, honest version to others, we make room for God to be seen.
We don’t deny the painful past or the ugly mistakes, but we declare that there is hope for new beginnings and fresh starts. God works with the raw materials of our lives to create beauty. As we share our true selves with one another, our hearts are knitted together and mend.
When I first began to share my story with a couple of friends, I would sink into a deep pit of shame - even wanting to just die. I had covered up so much hurt and anger, sorrow and disappointment that opening my heart to feel again was completely overwhelming. I had never admitted that anyone hurt me or that I had any needs. I believed that no one wanted the flawed, broken parts of me.
Shame drove me to work harder, smile often, and make other people look good. This made me fake, denying my true self, and my story.
But a miracle happens when we allow someone to see us - flaws and all - and love us as we are. A little bond forms called Trust. As we open our hearts and receive Love, more bonds and bridges form, and we become REAL - willing to admit our mistakes, hurts, regrets, and joys without our worth attached. We begin to live loved. There is so much healing here - in relationship - where God abides.
True friends 'like' us - struggles and all, and see Beauty.
I now give thanks that my life fell apart, leaving me unable to perform - just shattered. I didn't know who I was - just that I hurt and I wanted to be made whole. This has been a long, hard process of being honest with God, myself, and friends that have earned the right to hear.
One day when I was feeling like 'too much' - that this journey to wholeness was taking way too long, my friend reassured me, "Paula, you don't ever need to apologize for the contents of messages to me - or the quantity, either. Healing and trusting and being redeemed are unique for everyone who seeks to be made whole. I'm grateful you're willing to deal with what you know is going to be uncomfortable stuff. It shows much courage - and also that you refuse to let junk define you. Grace and peace, hope and encouragement to you... " and another day, "I'll listen anytime, Paula. There's a lot inside of you that just needs to be heard for once."
I really can't explain how much those words meant to me, but I know I couldn’t stop crying and read them over and over again. They touched deep - and brought healing. To me, they meant that I am worth listening to, that my life IS valuable and God doesn't make junk!
The grace I have experienced through sharing my life with trusted friends continues to bring healing to my broken heart. I'm thankful for friends that are in the arena with me and stand by my side no matter what. I didn’t learn God’s love from a sermon, but from people who came and washed my feet.