Every time I come to Texas my heart swells with gratitude a little more. Over the past five years, I’ve made multiple trips to visit my two oldest boys. They are now reaching adulthood and making their marks in their own spheres of influence, but the beautiful city of Frisco, Texas is where they have called home for several years. If you are paying any attention, you know that home for me is in Florida.
To make a long story very short, my two eldest children have been raised primarily by their dad and bonus-mom for the past several years. That is one of the truths of my story and often the one that people get very hung-up on. It is usually the point in the conversation with others, including members of my own family, where I get to experience the confused looks, behind-the-back gossip and unfortunate judgment of people who I don’t trust enough to share the whole story. However, regardless of the circumstances that led to it, my reality is that at the time the decision was made for them to stay with their father, I was in no place to care for them the way they needed or deserved. None at all. We made a decision to give them the best possible life we could and that meant they would be raised by their dad and I would be there as much as was possible.
This decision was simultaneously the single most painful and most mature I’ve made to date. It left me shredded, broken and oh, so wounded, but became the catalyst for my commitment to living the Jesus-centric life for which I’d been redeemed.
Throughout my life, I have learned a lot about brokenness and restoration. In fact, the process of being made whole makes up the entire storyline to my book. But at the moment I am overwhelmed by the reminder of God’s grace and ability to restore. And that is what I want to share with you.
Throughout the last decade, specifically, God has strategically placed and anchored people in my life who were committed to speaking life to me and to giving me the opportunity to be whole again. Some of them knew me in brokenness and others only met me after wholeness had been found, but all of them provided ongoing truth and encouragement which helped to hold high the light necessary to navigate some of the darkest and most painful places in my heart. Those that witnessed my self-destruction and prayerfully stayed nearby understood something that so many others fail to see.
The broken are like severely wounded and caged animals. We are trapped in what appears to be our imminent doom and are terrified. And so we do what comes naturally to us in the moment; we bite, scratch, claw, attack, cower and growl. We lash out viciously believing that doing so is the only thing that can save us. While you are standing in front of the open cage door coaxing, encouraging and offering help, trying to draw us out of our own filth and tend to our wounds…we can only see you blocking the open door. We cannot begin to trust you to help us while we still feel trapped in our own devastation. Sometimes it takes creating intentional space, backing away and sitting silent and still beyond the open door for us to see that freedom is not impossible. It may take us a bit-one slow and tested step at a time but once we realize that freedom and wholeness are even an option for us, we will let down our guard enough to accept your kindness and help.
There were very few people patient enough to do this for me and still just a few gracious enough to hear me tell the story without judgment. Truth be told, we need more people with this kind of heart in the world in which we live. People that understand that wounded and broken people do not want to be wounded or broken. People that are so full of the love of Jesus that their primary goal is to tenderly and patiently create spaces for those precious souls to heal.
That is where my calling has come to rest. In purposefully creating those love-drenched and grace-filled spaces where the broken have the opportunity to see the light of the open door and the Savior who patiently waits on the other side.
As I drive down the streets of a town I do not call home, as I have lunch with my second-born at a school in which I know not a single teacher, as I write this very post from the guest room of a family who has only ever known me as the mom who lives in Florida and whose only connection with me is my son, I am consumed with the great mercy of my Father. Without it, none of this would be possible. I wouldn’t be whole. I wouldn’t be welcomed here. I wouldn’t be able to experience the sheer joy of watching my son play football or anticipating the arrival of my oldest and his girlfriend from college a few hours away. I wouldn’t be able to share my story over eggs and coffee with a lovely young woman who has stolen not just my son’s heart, but my own. And I most certainly wouldn’t be able to share it with you.
If you are among the broken and wounded, I pray that you know that you are not without hope. Let me be the first to stop trying to fix you and to get out of the way of the door that leads to healing and wholeness. Jesus has swung it wide and is sitting, arms open, on the other side. He will heal your wounds. He will give you the nourishment and rest you so desperately crave. He doesn’t care that you are bleeding or filthy. He is not intimidated by your anger or heartbreak. There is nothing about you or your past that could ever scare Him away.
He makes all things new-a truth for which I am immensely grateful. New: not old and refurbished, not recycled, not pieced back together…new…including me…including you.