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.