Growth

I have just finished writing out a four page prayer to God. I was thanking Him for taking the negative friends out of my daughter’s life. I also acknowledged  how lonely she is and asked Him to bring new healthy friends into her life. I thought I would end with a peace and joy in my heart.

I had accomplished my goal as her mother. I had kept her safe from people who would hurt her. I had kept her protected from people who would challenge her value. I should be awarding myself the mother of the week.

Before I wrote out my prayer, I talked to a trusted friend. She agreed with me. We need to keep our children from non-christians who cause them to question the character of God. She reminded me that we could pray for those people when God brings them to mind.

So why don’t I have peace and joy in my heart. Because these friends ate at my table, had sleepovers and saw me in my morning attire. I spent hours giving these friends rides home and talking them during the car rides. A few these friends called me Justina’s mom and some of them called me “mom”. I grew to care for them.

I can’t just pray that God protect my daughter from pain. I have to pray that God will develop character in my daughter through  the pain. I feel her loss and I have to pray that she would experience the joy of reconciliation because we serve a God of reunification. In fact, He sent His Son to the earth in order for us to be united to heaven and all the treasures it has to offer.

So the last two pages of my prayer ended up being a petition to work in these teenagers and young adults lives so that God’s kingdom would be realized on this earth. I was challenged to move toward the uncomfortableness of the cross and away from the safety provided by the walls of religion. The cross is heavy. The cross is covered with blood. It is a reminder of pain. The walls of religion shut out the reality of the struggle that the world deals with everyday.I have to believe in the character of God because I have hope in nothing else.

My nature is to run from conflict and discomfort. I don’t want to pass that on to my daughter. I want her to know the joy of finding strength in the struggle. I want her to grow towards the awkward weight of the cross and stretch her wings in order to find her value in the Jesus who modelled true compassion for all people.

The parenting struggle is real. My job is to fulfill God’s purpose and I can’t pray for God to work in others lives unless I am praying for the same thing in my life.

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.

Scars

“A scar is never ugly. The scar makers want us to think they make us defective. We must see all scars as beauty….A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

When events in my life keep happening over and over again. I begin to question my heart. I not only questioned it – I begin to despise it. Why did I love again? Why did I take that risk? Will I never learn? What is wrong with me?

I remember the day I realized my heart was wounded. It was the day it stopped hurting. I was driving along the highway and was reflecting on the days events. Suddenly I grabbed my chest because for the first time in years there was no pain. I had grown so used to the pain that I didn’t even notice it anymore. I had asked God to heal me, but I never believed He would do it. My wounds had become a part of me. My pain was who I was.

The day I was released from it. I felt free. But I also felt naked. I had spent so many years focussed on the pain that when it was gone I was confused and disoriented. Now where should my focus be. Who was I? I felt like I needed a new identity.

I wanted to protect my heart because it felt so soft – so vulnerable. I didn’t recognize myself. Instead of looking at my heart, I turned my focus to others.  I didn’t understand my own wounds enough to help others. I just wanted to fix the people who came across my path. Somehow I thought if I could fix them, I won’t have to acknowledge my scars.

When I went for my Masters in Counselling,  I tried to learn the language and posture of counsellors. I said “It sounds like you are saying…..” I watched the body language of the other counsellors. I sat forward in my chair with my legs crossed looking straight at my client. But that didn’t fit who I was.  There were some people whom I could not relate to. Not all scars form in the same way, and therefore, the treatment for each scar is specific. I recognized pain but I couldn’t see the details.

I was a trustworthy person. I was loyal. I was always there, but never too close. I saw God work in others lives, but I couldn’t see His hand in mine. I prayed for other people often. I even became an answer to those prayers. I was terrified to pray for myself. I knew I had scars, but I was ashamed of them. The people who were put in my path were important to God. I kept them at arms distance because I felt their pain and I didn’t always know where mine ended and theirs started. I didn’t hear them because I was putting too much energy into trying to cover my own imperfections. I didn’t want to be reminded of the pain that created the cuts and bruises on my soul.

The formation of a scar is a natural healing process and  every scar has a story to tell, particularly those severe ones which require time to heal. I longed for intimacy but was terrified of it. My blemishes were my secret. My imperfections became who I was behind the facade of counsellor and teacher. Behind the protective image of counsellor, I never let the tenderness of my heart become exposed.

I knew the brokenness of my heart was healing but  I  couldn’t get used to the change. The closer I came to wholeness, the more exposed my scars became. I didn’t want to be known as the broken survivor.

I have always been ashamed to admit that I was damaged. I was hurt. I was weak. I wanted to feel whole but it was the strength of the scars that held my heart together. I began to really see Jesus.

As the filter was lifted from my eyes and I began to see my journey to wholeness as opportunity to connect with those who were hurting. I saw my scars as channels of hope.  My scars are my strength. My scars are not who I am. They are the tool that shaped me into who I am. They are the reason I found life and purpose.

Jesus’ scars give purpose to my life. This Thanksgiving weekend, I am thankful for the pain that caused the scars because they lead me to seek Jesus and find my strength and identity in Him.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so.

Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him.

He endured the breaking that made us whole