Raising Up the Broken

Most people who know me don’t know my story. I may occasionally joke about growing up in the woods, but I like to keep it lighthearted. There is no need in most circumstances to bring such pain into a relationship or give glory to the devil’s handy work. Here in this blog, however, I would like you to be able to see the great things Jesus has done for me. My deepest wish is that others will find hope in my story and that they will continue to persevere, and ultimately, find their own path to healing.

There are great tragedies in my life which left me with sadness and scars. Some of the sadness and the pain of the scars surface from time to time; yet, I do not live there. My life now is filled with blessings. Before, I could not sleep for fear of the nightmares that haunted me. I lived in fear of being found. I was afraid to venture out of my home without my husband or a relative. My heart was filled with anger and distrust, and I hid from people, basically, refusing to socialize. In fact, my dearest friend in the world became so only because she forced me to interact with her. For that, I am very grateful.

Today, I have many friends. My home is filled with love and laughter. I am blessed with a great job where I have the opportunity to help our company and our employees grow. In a business setting, I have the awesome privilege to apply what I have learned about love and empathy to help nurture a work culture of trust. I am involved in business groups in my local community. I am involved in several ministries at my church, and I volunteer in my community. My acquaintances see a person of success and blessings – not the scars I carry. All of this is through the grace of God. Jesus has saved me; and with each day, He makes me more and more whole again.

In the Bible, Jesus has been given many names. To me, these names are promises, and I claim all of them! Jesus is the God of Comfort, our refuge and strength, Wonderful Counselor, Father to the orphan, Prince of Peace, The Potter, the Light of the world, and our Everlasting Father just to name a few. He loves us even when we don’t yet love Him. He is faithful. His mercies are never ending. He is a help in trouble. He comforts us in all our affliction. We need only to reach out to Him; ask Him for help.

“All these pieces
Broken and scattered
In mercy gathered
Mended and whole
Empty handed
But not forsaken
I’ve been set free

You take our failure
You take our weakness
You set Your treasure
In jars of clay
So take this heart, Lord

I’ll be Your vessel
The world to see
Your life in me

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind but now I see

Oh I can see you now
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying yourself down
Raising up the broken to life”

These words in the song Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong remind me of how much Jesus has done for me. If you are on the way to healing already, I hope this song helps you see how much God loves you. If you are still in the midst of pain, may this song give you hope. May it give you the courage to reach out to Jesus and see what He can do in your life.

 

That Can’t Be True

Frequently, when I share stories of my childhood, I get the sense that people don’t believe me. Not that they think that I am a pathological liar. They just can’t seem to balance what I am telling them with what they know of the world. Maybe this is all inference on my part, but I don’t think it is. I do have to remind myself that my childhood experience is unbelievable. And while others have crazy stories as well, most people I interact with have the suburban life style perspective with little exposure to what else is out in the world. We are so used to our developments, apartments, and trailer parks. Of course, that is how everyone lives, right? Not so much, especially in areas outside of the United States, dark places on the edge of large urban centers, and hidden in the deep woods of Appalachia. Though even while I lived in Appalachia where people built porches on small RVs just to build it in and add on another porch, even there my teachers didn’t believe how we lived.

The social workers who drove me home one day after school didn’t believe me either. And they couldn’t imagine that anyone had to walk two miles to get to a bus stop. And who could blame them. Haven’t we all heard the old story “I had to walk uphill two miles in the snow – both ways!” Well, there was definitely an uphill, but it was only on the way home.

These ladies were escorting me home because I had fallen in the creek on my way to the bus. By the time I had finished my walk and the bus showed up, my shoes and jeans were frozen. I remember a feeling of fear as the bus driver had me sit on the floor in front of the heater to try to get my feet warm. So the social workers were taking me home to confirm my story.  They probably thought I decided to play in the creek on my way to school. Really??? Truth was, the creek crossed the lane I lived on seven times. The further the lane extended beyond our property the wider it became. The final crossing was wide enough that it had a small foot bridge (a board stretched from one bank to the other). Unfortunately during a rain storm, the board washed away. I must have been the only one to use it so no one either noticed or cared to replace it. I never considered mentioning it. With a running start, I could jump it so all was well except that morning. That morning was on the tail end of a storm and all the crossings were wider. I ran and jumped but didn’t make it.

The social workers had a small sedan to bring me home. I was just thankful for a ride and someone to talk to. Unfortunately, but not surprising, we had to leave their car at a neighbor’s house about 3/4 of a mile from where I lived because their car couldn’t manage the ruts in the road. And there was no way they would be able to cross our portion of the creek where the bank in the road rose about 12 inches into a steep climb. Most vehicles couldn’t get to our place. They hadn’t counted on that. So they had great pleasure gasping up the hill on the final stretch – navigating my off road walking path which could have easily been mistaken for a deer trail. I knew they were already a bit shocked by the reality of my situation. Then we came to the clearing with my home. “This is where you live?!?” They were staring right at it and still didn’t believe.

Why share all of this? I want to ask that we all consider that our sense of normal and reality isn’t necessarily the same as other people. And we shouldn’t immediately assume someone is lying because what they are saying doesn’t fit into our view of the world. With all of my experiences, I am very sensitive to a lack of integrity and lying. I don’t want people to assume I am lying or to be lied to. I don’t want written off just because doctors have no clue how to help me. And I would love if, as friends, we could be real with each other. Life is hard enough as it is. And through honesty and taking down our masks, we could possibly help each other walk through the challenges life hands us.

Great Sadness

Someone who has never experienced great sorrow cannot relate to those of us who have. And just because other people may not understand does not make us less of a person or some sort of freak. I frequently feel like some sort of freak when I am overwhelmed by sadness. But the Holy Spirit, thankfully, meets me there and reminds me that I am his special creation. That He made me as I am for a specific purpose. And even though the world has wounded me, His love is unending and unchanging.

If you have never experienced deep sadness, you may think that we are being over dramatic, that we are weak or attention seeking. Speaking from my own experience, I do not chose to be sad. There is usually a trigger of some sort to bring on my sadness. And my reaction can be at varying degrees. Sometimes, I can quickly pull through by listening to an uplifting song or spending time with my family or a friend. Other times, the sadness can be overwhelming, outside of my ability to influence and it can linger for days. And, we are not weak. Many of us who struggle with this kind of sadness have been to hell and back. The fact that we can perform normally in society is a testament to the internal battles we are winning. For me, the Holy Spirit is a great source of strength to continue battling.

You may wonder what I could possibly be battling. The wounds of my past, unfortunately, provide a platform for the devil to attack me. He loves to whisper the old lies of my past. Everyone has these voices. Maybe it was kids at school, or a cousin, or even a parent. Things like, “your stupid,” “your ugly,” “you’ll never amount to anything.” Some people even have voices from past church experiences where they live with constant guilt and feel like they can never live up to what they are supposed to be. (This lie really gets me fired up. Jesus loves us right where we are and gives us grace. It is a gift, not earned.) My personal lies are demoralizing telling me I have no value even unworthy of love. The lies can attack my very existence. The devil uses these lies to keep us from being who we are meant to be. Lies to keep us from healing, growing, and meeting our dreams. Lies that can even keep us from getting out of bed. Or lies to keep us isolated from the people we love. And the sadder we become, the more the lies sound like truth.

But why do I call it a deep sadness? Because it is a sadness that goes to your very soul. In 1 Samuel, there are verses showing how Saul’s son, Jonathan, loved David so much that his soul was connected to David (18:1 and 20:17). Think about that for a moment. An emotion or experience that goes to the depths of your soul. It may be hard to imagine especially in a world that is so focused on the surface. This kind of connection is sometimes seen in elderly couples. They have spent so much of life together and shared such a love that when one spouse dies the other spouse dies shortly after. This phenomenon is common enough that it even has a name, broken heart syndrome.

Yes, there are situations that can positively or negatively impact our souls. That is the kind of wound I am referring to. We can have experiences that damage are very being: betrayal, rejection and abuse by those who are supposed to love us. Imagine if your parents sold you into slavery. Imagine if they did it just to get drugs or alcohol. While our body is magnificently able to heal broken skin or even bones, only God can heal soul wounds. And God’s timing for healing is almost always different than what we would want. Yet, He knows what is best for us, and we gain more from the slower process, and sometimes, so do the people around us. Even though Jesus has done so much already to heal me and give me strength, there are still so many triggers in my life that I imagine I will struggle with this until I go home to Him. Maybe, God leaves some old scars in me so that I can have empathy and provide encouragement to others.

If you are like me and struggle with sadness, I encourage you to find someone you can trust to reach out to when you are sad. I also encourage you to reach out to Jesus. Ask Him to help you. If you mean it, He will respond to you. If you feel unloved, alone and do not know Jesus, please try finding a church where you can begin learning God’s love story for you that is within His bible. If you do know Jesus, go to His word when you are sad. The Psalms are filled with people crying out to God who find their way to peace through Him. And look for the verses that remind you of how much He loves us. There is so much in Ephesians, John, 1 John, Romans – really, through-out the Bible.

If you still don’t understand people’s sadness, that is ok. But please don’t trivialize their sadness or mock them. Instead, extend to them your love and patience.

Thanks for reading.