“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” Brennan Manning

Monday, June 23, 2014

Not Forgotten

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:




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.    

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Letting Go

Dear Dad,

It’s hard to just let you go, but the reality is that our relationship was never built on love and trust.  I have tried my whole life to earn your love and approval, but you couldn’t give me something that you didn’t have.  I forgive you for that.

I don’t know all that you experienced as a child growing up and I can’t explain the choices you made once you married my mom.  I don’t know why you weren’t faithful and didn’t value us, but chose to chase after deviance and deceit.  I know how I felt: unloved and unwanted.

I don’t understand why you hurt me or mom or our family.  I wanted to believe you were nice and that you loved us.  I have good memories with you, but so many times you turned on me.  You would make me feel guilty for your struggles and anger like everything was my fault. I tried to make you happy and fix our family, but your own words tell your true feelings towards me, “Paula, you have been a bad daughter and I have been a good dad.”  All I can say is that I tried my whole life to please you, and I was never good enough.  I can’t keep sacrificing myself for you.  I belong to Jesus now and He has set me free from having to please others for approval. He accepts me as I am.

After you hurt us, you would try to make up for it by gifts or making us feel bad for you, but we were never allowed to acknowledge that you hurt us.  You never would admit you were wrong or say you're sorry.  And if you said you’re sorry, it was only to get what you wanted.  I forgive you for manipulating me, but I will not continue this pattern with you.

Even though you may never be able to see or recognize the ways you hurt me, I am letting that pain go. I pray that God will give you light.  I forgive you for being manipulative and only seeing your own needs.  I forgive you for hurting me and our family.  I forgive you for raping my innocence and calling it love.  I forgive you for not loving me because you couldn't give me something you didn't have.

I pray that you will desire to walk in truth and light and that God will have mercy on you.  God is my Daddy and I belong to Him.  I choose to walk in the light and not deny the truth any longer.  I am not going to let other people control my life anymore.  I am God’s and He will protect me and keep me safe.

What Satan meant for evil, God works to good.  There is always Hope to turn to God and I pray that you do.

In true love,