Beauty for Ashes

beauty for ashes

I wish I could look at 7 year old me and tell her that she would turn out all right.  That the stinging pain of rejection, chaos and confusion that she is feeling at the moment would one day be the broken pieces God uses to give her a testimony and help her find her truth.  If she could have only known then maybe she wouldn’t have spent so many years searching.  Filling the numbing pain and endless void with the approval of others-even at the expense of her self worth,
with alcohol, with reckless behavior, destructive thoughts and disrespect for herself.

I wish I could tell her that the years she spent crying and confused would one day be the very fuel she needed for the determination to raise her own family and be a Godly wife and mother.  That the broken pieces of her childhood would be the exact references she would need when building her own relationship with her Heavenly Father.  I wish I could have told her that what the devil meant to harm her, God would use for her good.  But she couldn’t have known.  In reality, it would take her 39 years to discover these truths for herself.

Most of what I remember as a little girl is painful.  It is memories of a family abruptly being destroyed because of adultery followed by years of feelings of betrayal, abandonment and rejection.  I learned not to trust others and felt insecure giving my love to anyone.  I filled empty spaces in my heart with worldly things hoping that one of them would make the wounds feel a little less raw.  No matter what I tried to fill it with nothing seemed to work.  The wounds would still bleed out and ruin everything they touched.

In spite of all the chaos in my childhood there is another truth that has shaped me more than any single event.  My childhood was also touched by the steady hand of Jesus.  There is a common thread that was knit into the story of my life and it is the unrelenting love of Jesus.  When my mom was shaken to her core while going through a divorce, I can remember her and my nanny talking about the love and grace of Jesus.  I can remember my nanny effortlessly incorporating scripture into her conversations.  I know my mama cried out to the Lord when she was stricken with grief.  They were not perfect by any means, and we spent quite a lot of time suffering and in chaos but I knew that they found their rest in Jesus.

I was always taken to church and I heard scriptures and stories of hope embedded into every aspect of my life.  I took it for granted at the time and to be honest, there were times when I’ve doubted God’s love for me.  Sometimes that happens when you’ve been broken.  But God, in his perfection, is true to his word.  In Deuteronomy 11, 18-21 he tells us:

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Despite pain my mama and nanny managed to weave God’s word onto the tablet of my heart.  The evidence of this is more clear to me with each passing year.  Let me tie this all together for you with a little story from a few nights ago.

I have been feeling really defeated as a mother lately.  Can we all just agree that being a parent is really, really hard?  I look at my children and I wonder if they are ok?  I wonder if there are things they aren’t telling us that weigh heavily on their minds.  I wonder if they feel alone even in a crowded room.  Are they showing kindness to others?  Are others being kind to them?  It’s an endless battle that rages within me constantly.  I do the same thing with being a wife.  I see my husband’s sacrifices and the life that he has lived and I wonder if I am loving him enough?  Am I showing him the respect that he deserves and desires?  Does he feel fulfilled and am I encouraging him to chase his dreams?

After a particularly hard morning a few days ago, my husband and I got into a horrible argument.   It escalated quickly and both of us are fairly stubborn so even though we knew it was ridiculous neither of us retreated.  I stormed off into the next room and was fuming mad at him-the kind of mad where you wonder if you could make it onto the next episode of Snapped.  I was slinging clothes and contemplating who he thought he was talking to me like that when I heard the stillest, smallest voice whisper, “love covers a multitude of sins.” I can’t tell you the exact verse but I know that it is God’s word.  It is written on the tablet of my heart from a lifetime of exposure to it.  Later in the day, I was watching my boy play ball and looking at his tired, weary face.  I could see my younger son sitting beside me and I wondered if he was okay.  School has been hard for him and he gets anxiety more easily than the others.  Tears began to puddle up in the corner of my eyes as I thought of the fight with my husband earlier in the day and my sweet children.  I felt defeated and exhausted by the stress of it all.  Again, I was comforted by the still, small voice that whispered, “when my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

I believe that honesty is a ministry and so I wanted to share all of this with you.  If you are broken by a lifetime of hurt, if you are a mother overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising children in a scary world, if you are experiencing a situation that you fear will scar or hurt your children and leave them as hurting adults, take heart.  You may not be able to change situations or heal hurts on your own but you CAN be sure that your children, your husband, your friends have scriptures written on the tablet of their hearts.  God is so faithful.  Out of the ashes of my brokenness he has made me whole and he is faithful to do the same for you.


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