So often I’ve heard phrases used as encouragement that are somewhere along the lines of “you can’t see all the pieces but He’s working it together for a beautiful picture.” While true, the cliche often holds little comfort for those in the midst of a particularly grueling snapshot. My life has been several painful pieces that have recently culminated in a beautiful picture. You see, I’ve been blessed enough to be able to look back on the hardest things I’ve had to deal with and understand the WHY of the situations.
I understand why those boys rejected me and said the things they said. I understand why friendships were destroyed and taken away. I understand why I lost three of my dream jobs within a year. I understand why I had to go back to the place I despised. It makes sense. And you know what? It was all worth it. Crazy, right? So crazy that less than a year removed from the end of a terrible time in my life I see the beauty.
A few weeks ago we had a last minute hiccup with our speaker for SOFA. Granted SOFA wasn’t for an entire week but we were a little frantic on who was going to be our speaker. Don had planned out a really great series exploring the love of God from different angles. He was pretty picky on who he wanted to speak only because he wanted someone who really got the message of Grace.
So somehow I ended up as the replacement. I made the mistake of asking Don the topic and then shared how I had taught that same message to our Monday night group and I thought it went well. “Looks like you’re teaching, Rachel!” “uhhh… wait. no. that’s not what I meant… I… uhhh..” Oddly enough, about a year ago I felt God stirring my heart to teach at SOFA. Because of my long line of “look at me” public displays I immediately shut it down. “NO freakin way” I thought ” I am no longer the girl who has to get up and do something in front of all my peers for affirmation. No.”
And the stirring subsided. Every now and again the feelings would resurface but my own insecurities and inadequacies would push it back down. As soon as Don agreed that I should teach, my heart was excited. Speaking in front of people has never been an issue for me but as I started to process through more of this message, the weight of it began to surface and I started to panic a bit.
Thankfully most of what I felt like God was calling me to say was pieces of things I’ve spoken about before. As I put together my message and the parts of my story I wanted to tell, I realized the enormity of the events in my life. They all started to make sense. My talk went well. I felt like the things I needed to say were said with minor awkwardness and minimal inappropriate jokes. I had a great team around me that helped put together some of the visual elements that I wanted to incorporate but didn’t know how.
My talk was broken up into two parts. The first part was showing awkward family photos and sharing one of my most humiliating moments to date. It then led into my woundings and the lies I started to believe about myself – I identified four majors ones. Unwanted, Unattractive, Unworthy, and Unlovable. All of these things were communicated to me through various mediums in my life.
If people around me said these things were true about me then naturally I assumed God believed the same. I then shared how God had to strip everything away and bring me back to the place where the wounds were inflicted to heal them. I ended the first part asking everyone in the room to write a lie they believed to be true about themselves and tape it to a piece of white butcher paper. Once everyone had done that I came back up, quite emotional, and recognized those things for what they were – LIES.
It broke my heart and infuriated me that the enemy had a hold on my dear friends. Which led me to my second and third points that in order to believe those things are lies, we have to believe that what God says about us is truth, and before we can do that we have to believe that God is who He says He is. I used several scriptures and a few examples of what that looks like. I finished by reading a passage from Truefaced.
As I finished, I silently walked off stage, grabbed a can of red spray paint, and started writing redemption words over the lies. Covering most of the paper, I walked off stage completely and we worshipped with an image of our newness written over our lies. It was a powerful time for me.
Several people came up to me after and wanted to talk about their lies, my lies, and their stories. I was humbled and moved that they wanted to share with me. I went home that night exhausted and wrestling with a new situation that wanted to throw me right back into my own lies.
The next morning I woke up and felt like I could see my life for what it was. Several hurts that I didn’t understand for years and years made sense in this context and I saw how the Lord took my woundings and used them to heal and restore my life.
It seemed to all lead up to that moment and if ONE person walked away believing truth about themselves and living in freedom, all the years of hurt, tears, and confusion were worth it. Completely worth it. I don’t think I could have gotten to that place without being back in Colorado and learning what community looks like in an entirely different way. How ironic now that I still wonder if He can redeem and restore several other facets of my life, yet I’ve just seen how powerful and involved He is in MY story.
How quick my heart is to forget. I am like the Israelites wandering in the desert wondering if manna will come in the morning. Maybe this is why Psalm 27:13-14 is one of my favorite passages.
I am STILL confident of this:
I WILL see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
you make beautiful things. you make beautiful things out of the dust.
you make beautiful things. you make beautiful things out of us.