I am reading Psalm 139 when I pause and look up. There’s this moment – one I can’t adequately describe – when I know: I love each and every one of these women. Like…really love them.
I want to sit beside each woman in the room and read this Psalm to her. Look in her in the eye and make sure she believes it – deep, deep down.
Before emotion overtakes me, I continue speaking. Except, I am not really speaking at all. I always have a plan and notes; I glance at them intermittently. But, I never really know what the Spirit will bring.
We close with selfies…it is part of His message. (This is my selfie with Tyla Boyd who led worship. She’s amazing! You should look her up and buy a Forever Redeemed t-shirt!)
I walk to my seat, remove my earpiece, and sit down. I feel this mix of joy from the gift of sharing his Word with these women. And of burden for each tear shed and head bowed.
Tyla closes us with Jesus Loves Me and those words sink deep into my soul…yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so. It’s my niece Chloe’s favorite song, which makes it all the better:)
We pray and dismiss.
And then they come. One by one. Hurting and broken. Stories of divorce and shame and loneliness.
“I am going through a divorce.”
“ I’m rarely in pictures because of my appearance.”
“ I apologize over and over for myself. You spoke directly to my heart. “
I pray with one woman immediately as her anguish is tangible.
One gal takes my picture…”I plan to look at it when I think I am not good enough, and I want to give up,” she says.
I give a long hug to a woman who silently cried the entire time. I don’t know the source of her tears, only that her life is hard.
“I plan to quit mentioning that I am divorced. I want to stop apologizing for being me.”
“I’ve been divorced for 10 years. God does bring blessing, but I am lonely a lot.” Tears slip down her cheeks.
Later I get a message from a woman, mother of four, who ran late because of her kiddos’ schedules. Went to the wrong church. Almost gave up and went home. But decided to come anyway. She’s thankful because God had a word waiting just for her.
And another very young woman who feels she’s not pretty anymore. So very critical of her appearance (and she is so pretty!) She’s decided to repeat Psalm 139 to herself in the mirror. To claim it and believe it.
Women of ALL ages – hurting, lonely. Feeling less than.
I bite my lip, overwhelmed by the brokenness in this world.
Friends, we may all look like we have it together, but we do not. That woman that just popped into your mind? The one you SWEAR has it all together? SHE DOES NOT. I promise. And even if she does – maybe she’s Miss Perfect 2016 – it does not matter. Her story is not your story. Walk in his path for YOU, not for her.
And I tell you all of this because…
I lost Sarah a long time ago, beginning in about 2007 – almost 10 years ago. Pieces within me broke as life rammed me from so many sides. This girl I knew so well slipping away…
I’ve hardly known myself for the past three years especially.
But, as I stood on a stage Tuesday in Tennessee, I found her. There she was – so unexpectedly. I wasn’t delivering a message to those in front of me; I was talking to myself. Every single word. I felt like “me” again. The same but different – in a good way.
And as I greeted sweet woman after sweet woman afterward, I knew…all that stuff you’ve read about how God will take a mess and make a message (I’ve always laughed at that)…how He will redeem the broken and wastes nothing (I always WANTED to believe that)…
IT IS TRUE. I promise it’s true. Yes, it took almost 10 years…so God might not be in a big hurry…but HE REDEEMS.
I am not sure what you’re walking through today, friend. But, that girl who used to be you? She’s still in there. Sure, He’s refined and chipped away at her character and beliefs. But, the little girl whom he crafted in your mother’s womb? Whom he fearfully and wonderfully made? The heart of her is still in there.
I pray you find her, embrace her, love her, and live out exactly what He made her to do.
Meanwhile…I am celebrating my spunky, Husky-jeans-wearing, third-grade self who just got pink and blue glasses with her initials in the corner. I really like her! And I am so glad she’s back.
(And it is always sweet to make new friends! )