photography by Anthony
I volunteered to do it. Later when people would call me brave... or courageous... I would joke and say, "Well, either that or I'm just plain stupid." But they wouldn't let me get away with it. No, to them I was brave and courageous... and they were thankful for it.
When the event was over and I had gotten off the stage... they were lined up to hug me. To thank me. To affirm me. To tell me that I am loved. Later would come notes and even today a card in the mail.
It was our women's retreat just this past weekend... and our speaker -- an amazing and dynamic communicator -- needed a volunteer. She had warned us ahead of time that we were going to do something dangerous... and again, this is where I wonder if I was truly courageous... or tremendously naive. But in all honesty... obedient to the prompting of the Spirit.
I had agreed to step up on stage and reveal three different times in my childhood where I felt something was wrong, or I didn't belong or I knew I was on my own. Then we would discuss how I responded to those feelings and see if there was a consistent theme... and from that theme is there a way I respond today in my relationships that is reflective of how I responded to my past.
It is always painful for me... no matter how much healing has occurred... to delve into my past. And sometimes I feel for that little girl who was lost... or sometimes I get engulfed by shame. And I'm sure you'll give me grace on the fact that my thoughts are all a jumble. But here's the deal. I was vulnerable. Raw. Real. Authentic. In front of 90 women. Some could relate to me. Some could sympathize with me. And some... now seeing past the veneer, find me safe enough to be a confidant. And they have bestowed upon me... love, grace and encouragement.
And then on Tuesday, I was lovingly reminded that I am not my past...
"But you are not like that,
for you have been chosen by God himself--
you are priests of the King,
you are holy and pure,
you are God's very own--
all this so that you may show to others
how God called you out of the darkness
into his wonderful light.
Once you were less than nothing;
now you are God's own.
Once you knew very little of God's kindness;
now your very lives have been changed by it."
1 Peter 2:9-10 TLB
From the devotional called His Princess: Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd:
I Will Redeem The Time For You
I know that sometimes you look back on your life with anguish and regret--so much time wasted on things that did not matter. But take heart, My love. I am your Redeemer, and today is a new day. So start now by seeking My plans, which are to give you hope and a future. Just as I used hardship in Joseph's life to lead him to a position leadership, influence, and blessing, I've also called you. I will use your past to carve into your character everything you need for the here and now. I want you to let your past experiences teach you and not torment you. Remember, My princess, I will always turn into good what others meant for harm. I will redeem what was lost and place you on the narrow road that leads to an everlasting life.
Your King and your Redeemer
"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Praying you will find strength in Your Redeemer.