(Warning: if you are not okay with profanity to relay intense emotion than I suggest you do not read this post.)
I used to think the point of life was making it pretty, presentable, acceptable. And so I spent innumerable years and money and focus trying to make my life beautiful – both my experience of it and how it appeared to others.
But my life hasn’t been beautiful and I am finally okay with that.
For many years I walked with God expecting him to fix my life. As though heaven holds a big eraser that blots out entire sections of one’s life.
I’m visiting my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons this week. They moved to Alberta just a few months ago, and so here I am for the first time in sixteen years.
My own personal journey in Alberta was a horror story. A year of starvation, despair, loss, fear, anxiety (and this all seems an understatement) – such that I can still taste some of it.
My grandsons are a lot of work as little ones are, and I’ve been having flashbacks to the days of failure nipping at my heels (as it does to all women raising children) as I raised my own five little ones.
My son-in-law clomps through the house in boots and I can taste (its a bitter taste) of the early mornings, while little one’s slept, pleading with my ex-husband to please put his boots on last before heading out the door, “Just take off the fucking boots!”
How hard is that anyway?…. hard I guess, I think I lost my marriage to boots.
These chronic disrespects can only be lived so long.
My life has been a long, sad story woven through with rape as a child, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, drugs and alcohol, mental illness, starvation, death and loss, poverty, chronic debt, profound learning disabilities, debilitating autoimmune diseases, a failed marriage, repressed anger, fear and despair.
But God has always been there, through it all, keeping me. This I know and have always known. And once I stopped trying to fix my life and once I stopped trying to make pretty then God has really taken hold.
And the last few years have seen me coming to profound understanding and thankfulness for all the difficulties.
When I first stood before a crowd in Uganda and was able to say, “I know what it is to be starving so my children can eat, I know what it is to rely on others for clothes for my children, I know what it is to be disregarded by the man who swore to love me” I gave profound thanks to my God.
“Thank-you God that I can stand on common ground!”
For the message we all need is not, “God uses the perfect people. God uses the perfect lives. God is only as big as your successes, your marriages, your service.”
This message, is balderdash. To put it nicely.
Rather, the message we need is this one, “Bring your broken life to God. Invest your failures in the kingdom of God. Remain in the Lord and ALL THINGS WILL WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD. “Test me on this” the Lord says.”
The summer I was working through rape memories I was awash in grief and shock over what appeared to be the vast wasteland of my life. I was angry with God, so angry. I figured he had crushed my life so that he could rebuild it and then get the praise. What kind of fucked-up god is that anyway?!
But into that place the Lord came and asked this of me, “Now, in light of all that has gone bad and wrong in your life, will you love me, will you trust me, and will you know me to be good?”
And I was right back at square one. Would I accept Jesus Christ (with a little more realism than my 6 year old self that had first invited him) into my life now that I knew how bad it could be and was?
I said yes. I chose to love my Jesus, to trust my Lord, and to know God to be good. And my life has not been the same since.
For in that moment of surrender all the bad and horrific and traumatic of my life has been harnessed forward within the Kingdom of God for the benefit of others.
My pain has become a life-giving reservoir that brings refreshment to many. The hard work done in the secret, silent spaces of my life are now reaping the fruit of lives healed and hope given.
I am continually blown away, in awe, humbled.
I am now really good with my fucked-up life because it has God in it and somehow that makes every. single. thing. okay.
The authority by which I speak does not come from the good spaces, the perfect times, the as-it-should-be-life. Rather, the authority I speak with comes of a life gone bad in so many, many ways yet given over to a God who is big enough for all of it. Every. Single. Part.
I’ve found grace and peace and favour and intimacy and joy and satisfaction with the Lord in the midst of the worst things. And every other person can as well. This I know.
It’s not the worst things that undo us, its the lack of God in the midst of those worst things. God is so big, so loving, so caring, so for us, so all there every day, that we only need to stop wanting the fixing and begin going after him.
God makes our fucked-up lives smell pretty sweet. Seriously. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
With Christmas approaching I am reminded of how Christ came to enter this messed up world and our messed up lives. Literally. He didn’t shrink back, he didn’t go round the trouble, he didn’t make nice, he came and entered in.
And I get the impression that he was really, really, tickle-me-pink, glad to do so. Delighted. Honoured. Humbled.
A few weeks ago I was in a small village in Mozambique. I had been searched out with questions regarding leadership, marriage, men and women, and as the gifts of wisdom (given me at age 16) and the maturity of that wisdom (grown in the difficulties and failures) spilled forth from my mouth in life giving words and understanding, I wept in the quiet spaces of my heart.
The knife of the Lord pierced this last pocket of gangrene and regret, sorrow and sadness, and poured through me his refreshing waters.
The as-yet biggest loss of my life, my marriage, was being harnessed forward for the benefit of others. The pain and sorrow, the knowing and understanding, the fruit of hard years was all coming forward in time.
And the Holy Spirit breathed into my heart, “Thank-you Cyndy for letting me break your life so that we might heal many others.”
It’s been a rough life. My heart still cripples under the sadness of it all from time to time. But what has become bigger still is the awesome privilege of carrying the Living Lord Jesus in the bowels of my being, like a woman pregnant with expectation, and the now-awesome privilege of passing him out to many.
To God be the glory.
“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” Psalm 30:10-12
“Thank-you God for our lives. Thank-you for meeting us in the midst of the worst. Thank-you for your incredible invitation to bring the worst we have forward that you might harness it unto life and goodness, healing and joy. You do not fix our lives but you do make all things new. Amen & Amen”
“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79 The Message