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Writing your life story
Recently I have been asked by the ladies in my church to tell my story during our class about faith, and it's been the hardest thing I have ever had to face. I realized that writing your life story takes you down roads you don't want to revisit as well as makes you realize that most of the things you hate about other people, you really hate about yourself.
I have a picture of myself. I'm married to a handsome man, I have four well dressed children, nice middle class life, a dog, a cat, and a well manicured yard. We have what you would call curb appeal. Once you get through the door, you find we're just like everybody else. There are pictures of us on our quads, camping, visiting family, and attending sports events all over our house. We have struggles, we make mistakes, but at the end of the day, we use them all as teachable moments. I cannot tell you how many people comment on what a wonderful mother and wife I am, and I think they're just crazy.
Once you're in the house for a while, you can see that our family is different. I have been married twice. I have four children who have 3 different dads. My children have been through hell and back because of choices I have made. I didn't become a Christian until after I married my second husband, and everything before that is a mess.
If you walk a little deeper into our home, you find the closet of shame. We each have one. I've never made it a secret that I was abused by my father. I never made it a secret that I was an out of control teenager. I've never tried to hide the fact that I am on my second marriage with four children from three fathers. I wear that badge shamefully, but it's part of the journey.
When I sat down to write my testimony for this class, I started five times. The first four, I got to age 11, threw it away or 'lost' it and had to start over. The fifth time, I sat down at the computer and promised myself I wouldn't hit delete no matter how badly I wanted to. I also promised myself that I wouldn't destroy or 'lose' the computer.
As I wrote and wrote and the pain poured out of my fingers, I realized that I was going to throw up all over my shoes if I read this out loud. No one was going to believe that this could happen to one person! There was so much I forgot about. There was so much I wanted to leave out or lie about, because let's face it, leaving it out is the same thing as lying about it. My mom used to call that lying by omission. I hated being accused of that. Grudgingly, I typed it out because I knew God would be watching.
All the while, I felt like Grover in 'The Monster and the End of This Book'. You know, the one where he ties the pages together so you can't turn them while he freaks out about the monster at the end, but you keep turning them and he keeps boarding and bricking them up? I have joked about getting Ebola the night before the class, hiding in the duct work of the church, and laughed about needing a Kleenex factory, but through it all, I've realized one thing: There is no way I am getting out of this one.
What's the big deal anyway, right? These people all love me for who I am, not what I've done. When I became a Christian, I was washed clean of all the garbage of the past. I have the power to forgive all that wronged me, not the other way around. I am strong enough to own what I've done, give grace to those who hurt me, and to use my life as a way to show others that it's okay to be broken. It's okay to be torn up. It's okay to be hurt. It's okay to screw up, because we are extended more grace than we'll ever use.
I am not useless, just as you are not useless. We are the same, and when it comes time for you to face the life you've lived, embrace it. Take it into your arms and say, "I love you no matter what" and don't hold back, because eventually God is going to turn your last page, and you're going to see that the monster at the end of the book you were so afraid of is you, and He loves you.