>I wanted to address something, just to touch base and move on. I didn’t keep a journal during either pregnancy. Last year, while I was pregnant with Abbie, I did both email and blog updates for family and friends, mostly so people would know what was going on and how they could pray for her.
Some things are so etched in our memories that I doubt we’ll ever forget them. Ask nearly any mother what time her baby was born or to tell you details about the day her baby was born, and she can. Where were you when you heard that JFK had been assassinated? Where were you on 9/11? People answer these questions without even having to think about it.
Many are memories like that of last year. The Day I wrote about last week is one of them. There were other Days that I’ll talk about, because I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and the past 7.5 months… how God has worked… what could have been and what is. It’s amazing! Some things I didn’t talk about because I was too freaked out about it to even say it aloud or write it down, such as, my baby could die. Some things were so incredible and showed God’s faithfulness, that I’ve treasured those things in my heart until I can share them.
I don’t want to really rehash things, but I think it is important, for me, anyway, to inspect them one last time before putting them away. I want to acknowledge what we went through, honor what God did and, hopefully, show the glorious work He did for my daughter. Because, can I tell you? Can I really tell you enough of God’s goodness? Hardly. I talk a lot, you know that for sure, but I never want to shut up about God’s faithfulness. He’s been too good for me to not talk about it for eternity.
So, if you will bear with me, over the next 5 or 6 months, I’d like to re-trace my steps one last time. Not to proclaim how good I am, because I’m not. But to show you how true the words of the poem, “Footprints” really are.
Real Me vs. Perceived Me
I’ve been thinking a lot about things. This blog and what I’ve written on it have gotten me into hot water on a couple of occasions. Some of the things I’ve said here haven’t been nice. Some things have shocked people. Other things have hurt people. Though never my intention, that is what happened. While I know I should apologize for crossing lines and hurting people (and I have), should I be apologetic about being honest about who I am? About being honest about where I am life?
My question lately has been: should I apologize for trying to be real? Because, really, all I’ve tried to do here is be authentic, even when it wasn’t nice or pretty or even a good testimony of my faith. This is the tricky thing: when you say you’re a Christian, the slightest variance off the path of righteousness can cause others to point their fingers and call you a hypocrite, a liar.
I’ve never wanted to be those things, ever. I just want to be transparent. Even when I’m not the person I want to be. Because I think that unless we bring our faults to light, unless we confess, in one way or another, what our sins are, what our imperfections are, what our blemishes are, so that He can restore us completely, what’s the point? I mean, if all I am is someone who dresses up on Sunday, puts on make-up, behaves one way, but secretly struggles with a myriad of things, why say that I believe Jesus died for me? Why say that if I won’t say, “Hey, I’m messed up. I can’t do it on my own. I need Jesus every day. I’m broken, but He’s not finished with me yet.” Because none of us is a finished product. We are all broken and in need of mending. Pretending otherwise just negates the point, doesn’t it?
While I realize that me being so open about things opens the door for criticism, I still believe that being open about who I am will, in the end, be ok.
Maybe one of the problems in this is, there’s the “real” me: the broken, damaged, sinful me who lives day to day, failing all the time, but always trying to be the person I think God wants me to be.
Then there’s the “perceived” me, the side of me you would only know or observe in passing, the me who looks like she has it relatively together, who matches the family’s clothes on holidays, the “best foot forward” me who you would only know if you didn’t really get to know me, talk with me, go beyond the cordial platitudes of social settings and put forth the effort to really get into the nitty gritty of life, examining or talking about the hard stuff we all go through, and the things that only a few of us go through.
I will admit, I haven’t let many people know me well enough to let me let my guard down and really open my heart. I’ve been hurt too many times and have learned to not put it all out there because, in the past, I’ve had the most hurtful things that have happened in my life thrown in my face. I am very slow to open up to others about things. But I’ve found that most people are so busy with their own lives and schedules that we no longer take the time to build friendships that are strong enough for the kind of intimacy I’m talking about.
In the beginning and still today, this blog is very much about examining life, taking life by the horns, enjoying life and living life. It’s also about finding the Life only One can give.
But it’s also about me, how I fit into the equation, and how God can take someone as messed up as I am and hopefully, make something out of it.
Listen, I don’t like where I am. I haven’t for a long time, but I can tell you that things have gotten a lot better. If you really knew me and knew where I’m coming from, you’d so understand that. I’m growing. The thing about plants…. they grow and that growing is continual. It’s so slow, you don’t even notice it, but it’s always growing. I think–no, I hope and pray–that is the case with me.
My most sincere hope and prayer is that my faults and shortcomings will somehow show God’s glory. If I am nothing, He is everything. If my quilt is full of holes, I hope His light always shines through.
As I faced my MAKER at the last judgment, I knelt before the LORD along with all the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives, like the squares of a quilt in many piles. An angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares of cloth off the pile.
I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all. I glanced around me, nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and bright hues of worldly fortune.
I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air. Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose, each in turn, hold up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and death, and false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it.
I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been help up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the FATHER in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me. And now, I had to face the truth.
My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was. I rose and slowly lifted combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes, then I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image – the face of CHRIST. Then our LORD stood before me, with warmth and love in HIS eyes.
He said, “Every time you gave over your life to ME, it became MY life, MY hardships, and MY struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let ME shine through, until there was more of ME then there was of you.”
May all your quilts be threadbare and worn, allowing CHRIST to shine through.