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Redemptive Grace

Loving Jesus, Loving People….(including even me).

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March 2016

Shame Undone

I am the girl who musters all her strength just to walk into the doors of church on Sunday morning. It takes me tremendous effort to get into the building; I fight the want to turn back every time. The faces that I see in there seem to have it all together; they smile at me and ask me how I am. What do they expect from me? I wonder.

Some truly do just want vague responses and general niceties. It makes it easier on them and doesn’t ask that they face their own story. Others ask and seem shocked or disappointed when I tell them I’m not well (No, God didn’t answer your request for a miracle today, sorry). Few seem to be okay with my not-okay-ness. On “Good” days I have learned to tell [something reflective of] truth with a smile…a self-deprecation meant to assuage the guilt-inducing responses that they feel and that seem to come so easily from my lips.

And yet in this place are people that I love. Deeply.

I have days of strength too. Days when I am able to face my inner insecurities with honesty and gentleness; when I allow the anxiety to come unbidden and look at it with curiosity. These are the days that I am mindful of who I am, and in whose arms I am held. Grief doesn’t threaten to strangle the life of this body, and I am so bold as to believe my theology of a God who redeems. It is my balance of the simultaneous knowledge of death and life.

There is such a strong contrast in what I believe to be true about God and what I experience in the environment that tells me that this is where He is. It creates this disconnect that is hard to reveal. Like understanding the idea of the stars in the dark night sky. You might believe that they are as science describes, gas on fire; beautiful. Riveting. But do you really know? In the daylight they don’t exist. Are they still present when the fire burns so brightly that they are lost? So it is with me. I believe that God delights in me. I know of waves of mercy, I have tasted contentment.  I believe that my God loves me deeply, is my warrior.

Aslan.

I also know anxiety is seriously incapacitating. That the hard things that I have known have changed my ability to utilize my brain to its fullest potential. I know chaos in my mind. I have ways of coping that are temporary at best. Ways that lead me to sin, to get lost in my own daydreams; that cause me to miss today. To lose perspective. To turn away from God because the pain of my reality supersedes my ability to remember that circumstances are temporary (Psst. They are relatively temporary, you know).

Will can’t make me obedient. It doesn’t heal my hurts or save me from temptation. Cobwebs remain, and Will is stuck dangling like a fly…incapable to save himself from impending death.

I am not among the lost souls. I know who God is. It’s just that I also know that there are days that are unbearably hard. This is where my shame comes undone: when these two truths collide, when my theology allows for hard days, weeks, years…even lifetimes, and the promise of redemption remains. To allow space for my story, a story that holds both sides of me to be true. The side that loves Jesus, loves people, believes that I am good; and also the side that is mired in hidden heart sin. When both exist at the same time, I am free.

Shame Undone 2:The (Suffering) Repentant Heart

Shame Undone 3: Holy Discipline

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Walking Wounded

We were sitting in my living room when she said it. I had only known her for a few years, and mostly by proxy at that. Marriage does that though, it throws together people that likely would not choose to be in relationships otherwise. Even still, I BANDAID-HEART1wanted to know her. We had been learning about each other with the normative niceties and polite observations that are customary to Christian culture. Perhaps that is why I’ll never forget the way she said it, seemingly out of place and with a hint of disdain… “You are so sensitive.”

My first inclination was to refute such a degrading label; the word held a very negative connotation to me. Sensitive? Excuse me? I’m anything but sensitive. I’m strong, bold, and sometimes even defiant. The word fragile got mingled in with that in my mind too. How dare she! She clearly doesn’t know me at all.

In the midst of engaging in my own trauma therapy during the time of this conversation, I reacted to the language of being sensitive with a guarded perspective. I had yet to learn what it meant, but I knew that I didn’t like the way I felt when she said it to me. I was just getting to know that I was broken, but sensitive? No, that was dramatic, weak, vulnerable; it suggested to me that she believed I held an unrealistic perspective and that purported that the people around me should walk on eggshells so as not to damage me…because…who knows how I would respond (insert eye-roll).

Hypervigilance at its best, but sensitive? Not exactly.

My story knows great harm, I have known trauma. It has changed me. I am not sensitive, I am aware; I have had to be. My senses are finely attuned. I hold no space for intentional damage from one person to another.

I am among the walking wounded.


You know who I am. You have passed by me, and have sat in a room with me. You have watched me and wondered. You are drawn to me…or intimidated by me. You have assumed many things about who I am. Yet, you don’t really know me. Few do.


The walking wounded are those who have been emotionally wounded. They walk with the rest of us, hardly seen and yet never missed. Theirs are the faces that hide that something thatBlessed_are_the_cracked you can’t quite name. The ones who are most unsure of themselves, but who hold the wisdom of experience.

They have known a wounded-ness so pervasive that it permeates their souls. It has changed the very structure of their brains, they are not the same. When they have followed their stories and sought healing, they hold a greater capacity for intuition, compassion, empathy. To know them intimately is to be invited into a sacred space, so listen closely.

They are fragile, not because they will break but because they feel deeply. Their brokenness in spirit is the very quality that is redeemed to tell the story of incredible growth adorned in grace.


You can’t know who the walking wounded are by looking at them, their wounds are not visible on the surface…unless you, too, are among them. They don’t want your pity, and often not even your well-meaning concern. They just want your whole presence. To be in the room with them, to give credit to what they have learned, what they have grown through, and the unique perspective that they hold.

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