I Felt Like Damaged Goods

 My Life

I have referred to pain in my past a number of times on this blog. You know bits and pieces. But you have no idea how truly difficult it was for me. Pain left me broken, upended, with hopes dashed. I had given it my all. I had tried my hardest, but my efforts were never enough.  God was with me, and us, the whole way.

In my naivety, I once upon a time believed that being a Christian and having a strong belief in God was enough … to carry me through just about anything and everything. But I never expected my life would know the harsh side of several of the biggies, and in their aftermath, the long and arduous road to recovery, and that it would so utterly and completely impact and change me. Part of my journey was hard, harder than I ever thought possible.

Every story has a reason. You can find its meaning if you seek it. I’ve learned to not regret my life. I now know what I didn’t know then, that God is the keeper of the flame. He doesn’t waste anything. I could not share what I talk about today if I hadn’t been stripped of everything I’d depended upon, and then still found God as enough. He will always be enough. Every time you look at his beautiful creation, God is whispering to you that he is enough. God is love. I know it is true because he is the maker of us all, and he is the keeper of us all, and he is the lover of us all (adapted from St. Julian of Norwich).

I shared on Facebook that it has been ten years since I first went public with my story of pain for my church family. You should know that it took a great deal of courage for me to talk about personal issues involving others in my family. I debated it back and forth for well over a year. I was scared to tell it; scared that I might break down and cry, scared that I would say too much, scared that my ex-husband might become angry with me, worried that it would embarrass my family or they would resent it, worried that I wouldn’t carry it off well, and worried that it would backfire. Most of all, I feared that people would think I was foolish by the choices I had made, that had, ultimately, caused me much pain. I didn’t think people would understand how much was required of me in the making of those hard choices.

For twenty-five years I had lived in a self-enclosed bubble. The barrier effectively kept others out and kept me in. I couldn’t be real because I could not openly share my life with others, about what was behind the mask. I was a ministry leader and teacher in three areas in my church and that put a condition on it. I had avoided talking the personal stuff should I break down and cry. I feared the sobs would be forceful and unstoppable. I avoided women’s retreats for fear of becoming emotional. I knew I dared not risk it. Besides, there were secret sorrows I had protected out of respect for my loved ones–my children and my extended family and my Ex and his extended family (we were still friends).

But God had healed me, he had deep down inside healed me. I reasoned, he had given me a gift that should be used to help others. My speaking would be the fulfillment of a vow I’d made, to give out of what I had been given. I asked my spiritual father, Pastor Pete, if I could share my story with our church family. Much of what I had learned wasn’t textbook Christianity but was helpful. I wanted to help some of my friends, the ones who also suffered in silence, like I had suffered–sad for what wasn’t mine and wishful for what I wished was mine, and that life wouldn’t be so hard.

It is unfortunate that Christians used to, more than now, teach that feelings are undependable, sometimes counterfeit, unpredictable and that truth stands alone. Truth does stand alone, but the way it is presented can be skewed. We’ve all seen truth used like a hammer to badger people. True truth is verified through the outpouring of the emotions and feelings. It is because of GOD’S LOVE that we have the capacity to love. We love because God loved.

I know God loves me. I know in a tangible way that his love sustained me through hardship and emotional turmoil. I was so alone. God carried me through. I grew in him. I loved him. I clung to him. I sorrowed with him. He was there every time I was wounded and sat under a walnut tree to sob, pray, compose my emotions, regroup, and then return to my children, husband, and their needs. God taught me more than you can imagine. God was, and is, my strength, hope, and joy. Greatest of all, I learned to trust him. In the quietness on numerous occasions, the thought came, “Trust me.”

To Be Continued.

Last Friday I said I would include an audio recording of my testimony today. Sorry, I got the cart before the horse. I do have the audio recording ready to roll but whether it will be posted at all depends on the permissions I receive from the people in my story. If it is to be, it will be. God knows. In my heart of hearts I would like to share my story with you. But it is not only my story, it also involves others…. and they have to be comfortable with it or see the good it can do. I will keep you informed.

I hope you have a good week.

Norma