A Beautiful Mess

free girl sunset

I can’t tell you how long I have wanted to ask this question, maybe at thirty-eight I felt brave enough to ask it and hear the truth. But it was risky. I needed pieces of her story to understand mine.

My voice broke as I tried so hard to explain that I didn’t want to bring up the past to cause pain, my hope was to usher in understanding and healing that comes softly and sometimes slowly.

“I need to know if he beat you, Momma.”

I lost it. A daughter should never have to ask her Mom this question.

“Only once. It scared him so bad that he never did it again because… he thought I was dead.”

She was strong for me. She talked. I cried and listened.

“…I thought I was dead.”

We talked about verbal abuse and how words were worse than the hitting, we pieced together bits of our story as we talked about forgiveness and how forgiveness sets us free first before it sets the person that we needed to forgive free.

“We survived because we were smart. We outsmarted the abuse, the three of us did.”

We learned how to be pleasing; children who didn’t need to cry because it could set a person off. We learned how to be invisible. Mom learned how to leave when it became extremely dangerous. Later we learned how to live broken until we learned to walk in a strength that can only come from God. Mom said I taught her how to love and I believe her because I’m ridiculously affectionate and say “I love you” anytime I feel it.

This is a tiny piece of my story and it’s a good one because God has never wasted my pain. Every fiery dart that the enemy has used to destroy me has been attached to a people group that I can reach. I look at my past differently, clearly without the need to erase certain parts.

My story is hopeful because of what God can do in women who learn to outsmart heartache and figure out what to do with it. Eight years ago when I began writing I wrote fiction because I was too scared to write my truth. I was afraid that it would hurt someone and drive a wedge between them finding God. I wasn’t healed yet, but I am now. Something happened inside of me and I haven’t written fiction since. I’m not sure if I could.

I don’t have to hide my story behind fiction, or wish for my story to be rewritten, because of the truth in the Word of God about who I am and what God has planned for me.

My story is entwined with other stories.

For more than a decade I wished that I didn’t have the Dr. Phil version of family trauma and wished that things could have been normal.

A house. A dog. Two point five kids. A marriage that lasted longer than I’ve been alive. Of course my imaginary family would have shards that cut them, but they would be tiny shards like a splinter, not a hatchet. But, if my story was a little more tidy and pretty what would I have to talk about? Would I love God as much as I do and love others so much it hurts like I do now?

My story is divinely connected to my calling; I wouldn’t have one without the other.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. (John 1:6-8)

We come as a witness to the light because we have known great darkness and sadness. One day you will be able to thank God for your story, even the messy parts, because something beautiful can come from the dirty ashes of your past.

Much love,

Jennifer