Thursday, December 3, 2009

Follow Up

I am writing a follow up to “That’s Love” based on feedback that I received from a very good friend. I love honesty. Sometimes I don’t like honesty but I do really love it and appreciate it. I think this might shed a little light on some of the undertones of my previous post.


A few months ago, I read, “Your Scars Are Beautiful to God,” by Sharon Jaynes. It was a wonderful book and I highly recommend it to anyone who has been scarred by life (ok…raise your hand if you have NOT been scarred by life….***silence***). The author explains that even though our life experiences may be hurtful or even tragic, God can and will use that scar for His good. A scar is the difference between truly sympathizing with someone and simply projecting empathy. For example, a woman who has never experienced a miscarriage can imagine what the loss, anger, physical tolls and fear may feel like. And although her intentions are pure, she cannot provide the same comfort as a woman who has been there. A woman who has had that experience can say, “I know what you are going through and I know it hurts. It will hurt for a while but one day, it won’t hurt as bad as it does right now,” and really mean it. 

The book made me think about Jesus in a different way. For 33 years, he walked on this Earth and did a whole bunch of good while he was here: giving sight to the blind, healing the lepers, raising the dead, curing the woman with the issue of blood. However, his true purpose was not fulfilled until after he died on the cross and rose from the grave. The scars on his hands and feet and side sealed my salvation and proved to Thomas, and the rest of the world, that Jesus was who he said he was (John 20:24).

We can do a lot of good in our life but maybe, our true purpose and our best testimony will only appear after we have been scarred in the valley. Taking that thought a step further, how can we share our best testimony if we keep our scars covered up?

So here I am…uncovering my scars and sharing some of things that I have experienced in my life.

When I was 16 years old, my life was turned upside down. The leadership of my church found out that I had slept with my boyfriend. To control “the situation” there was a special service. Pretty much everyone was there and I sat on the very back row with my parents. I don’t remember much about the service except that the speakers used phrases like “playing with fire,” “getting burned,” “fornication” and “unrighteousness.” I was no longer allowed to sing in the choir. They might as well have taped a big, red “A” to my forehead like in the "Scarlett Letter."  If you have ever been sixteen, then you know that this is a very dangerous place for a teenager.

I remember being humiliated. I remember mentally putting Christians and God in a box. I filed them away in the “thanks but no thanks” file. From that day on and for a really long time, I wrote then all off...Christians, including my parents, and God.
My life totally changed as a result of that experience. I was in and out of my parent’s house the last two years of high school.  I didn't want to go to church at all.  I partied a lot; was very bitter; was very angry. I wasn’t a bad person but I felt like a total screw up and that no matter what, I could never be as good as the rest of the kids at the church. I wondered what was wrong with me.  This was the beginning of a lot of years where I thought God and Christians were judgemental, critical, impossible, untrustworthy, cold-hearted, intimidating and callous.

Fifteen years later, my life looks a whole different.  I know that God used that experience to draw me closer to Him.  As for my boxes...well, God isn't filed away in some box in my head anymore.  I am pretty sure that the big, red "A" has been replaced by the scarlett blood of Jesus Christ.  People, Christians and non-Christians alike, are all filed in the "sinner" file.  We are all sinners.  No one can measure up to Christ.  We will make mistakes and we will need forgiveness. 

I do not attend church with my parents these days.  My husband and I attend a different church across town.  I am happy at my little church.  I feel like I am an important part of the body of Christ.  My heart breaks when I see teenage girls looking for acceptance in all the wrong places.  I reach out to them and tell them about the things I went through.  They believe me because they can see my scars.  There is a 17 year old girl in my youth group that calls/texts me almost daily.  I think she is comfortable because I don't judge her.  I listen to her and I welcome her.

When I visit church with my parents, a lot of those old feelings come back to me.  They did last week when I attended the Thanksgiving Revival services.  I might have been a little harsh when I said that they see the glass "half empty."  A church is made up of many people and it is not fair to say that everyone there feels that way.  I love the people at that church.  I love visiting with my parents.  I am so thankful that I was raised with a solid foundation of belief. 

But....I experienced a very traumatic event within the walls of that church and maybe that scar is still healing. 

I want this blog to give God the glory.  I want to broadcast to everyone just how good He really is.  I want to say the things that He wants me to say.  I want to say, "Look!  You will never believe where I used to be.  You can never imagine how my heart was broken in a billion pieces.  You cannot even understand how God picked up the pieces of my heart and restored it...better than it was before!!!!" 

If I ever stray from that message then I am doing Him an injustice. 

11 comments:

  1. Erin, our stories are similar and I too have prayed that there would be a revival in our church, but especially in our youth (because they can change the next generation!)
    I've been a believer for 8 years and every day God strips away another form of insensitivity that I may have had toward someone. I am grateful for this! You know, during a week I may visit about 20 Christian blogs and I am so happy to see the transparency of these moms' posts...I realize that we can't share everything, but for the most part I think blogging has had such an impact on mothers especially. FYI-I have a good 10 years on you, I know your story is just beginning! :)

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  2. What an awesome post! I didn't have the same experience you did, but I had not good experiences as a preteen/teen. My heart is also to the young girls at church who are acting in certain ways, especially in attempts to find "love".

    Blessings on your journey.

    In Christ,
    Mimi

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  3. What a blessing to read such honesty that is instended only to bless others and edify Christ.

    I think many of us know what it's like to be singled out in the manner you did. I have not had your experience as my parents were not church goers. However, I can see how that experience would sour you to church. I believe that was handled incorrectly. Looks like God still gets His glory through you and that's what counts!

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  4. RYC: Thanks for sharing. That's why I'm convicted to pray for moms who resent--cuz they need my prayers more than my frustration.

    Don't feel guilty. God restores years we mess up (my testimony is living proof!)

    If you ever want to write a guest post on this subject, about how God changed your heart, I'd love to have you do that!

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  5. PS:

    you said on this post: I am pretty sure that the big, red "A" has been replaced by the scarlett blood of Jesus Christ.

    Amen!

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  6. Thank you for your transparency, but that you for using the scar to honor the Lord. I've read Sharon's book and agree that it's a great one; I've given it to others in the midst of the healing.

    You mentioned women who have miscarried... pray for my friend Sara today who is in the hospital with twins that may be lost. We are asking God to preserve their lives and hers. I'm praying for women who have shared her experience to really praying with "understanding" for her, and I know that this awful day can be a scar the Lord will use.

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  7. Julie, I am praying right now for Sara. I am praying that she receives comfort, peace and health. Our God is the ultimate healer, Jehovah Rapha. I hope He wraps His loving arms around her and those tiny babies.

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  8. erin,

    thank you for posting this. i found your blog through "sharing the pages of life" we left a comment on the same post. i am glad that i came to your blog and read this. i am so encouraged by your words. you are reminding me how god takes all the things that i have done that hurt him and still use them for his glory. i have a new energy to share parts of my past experience with my boyfriend (now husband) and trust that my story really will help someone.

    Thank you!

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  9. Hi Ida Red! Thank you so much for visiting my blog today and posting your comment! I just wanted to say that I agree with you...I don't think the leadership of the church handled that situation the best way. But, I would not be writing this blog right now. I am not even sure that I would be walking as closely with the Lord. It took me a long time to say this...but I am thankful for that experience. I am also thankful for my parents for sticking with me through the bad years.
    Only God can take something like that and make it good. He is good.
    Erin

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  10. this is such a good post and help all of us not to judge others, you never know what will happen, you are a good example of that. You have done a great job with a blog etc. and life in general!!
    kim

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  11. To my very good friend,
    I want you to know i am very proud of you and what you have shared. the truth will set you(us)free. please continue to be true to your heart and prayerful about your blog. i look forward to the next chapter.
    chris

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