How does that work when you’ve been affected by another person, or your past, or by a hurtful or painful set of circumstances?
It begins to take place as we see that person, or our past, or that set of circumstances as a chapter in our story, rather than a definition of who we are.
Can I share with you a short chapter of my story?
I was born to a beautiful young mom (prettiest mom in my school) who had her first child at 16. She married her young sailor. Her mother told her that she had made her bed, so she needed to lie in it.
So she did.
She soon found that this bed was one of abuse, and cheating, and near poverty. She lost her first baby at the age of 2 years old, and then had another little girl.
After a series of terrible fights and physical abuse, she fled. For the first time in a long time she felt safe.
Her husband found her and asked if he could be with her. He held roses and said he was sorry. When she said no, he assaulted her sexually and left her on the stairwell.
Weeks later she realized she was pregnant.
I was that baby.
Growing up was hard, but I’ve always been grateful for the courage it took for my mom to keep me.
Later she met and married the man who raised me, the man I call dad.
But mom was broken, and dad hid behind a newspaper, hoping it would all go away. That brokenness, and the fact that our dad didn’t rescue my mom or us, fractured me and my siblings as we grew up. It was chaotic. Hard. There were punishments or rages that were scary. But there also moments of absolute normalcy.
I had no idea about God, or a plan for my life. All I knew is that by the age of 13, my mom was now suicidal and I was angry.
When I became a Christian, I wasn’t churched in any way, but everything on the inside of me began to change. Later as a young mom, I began to pray that my heart would heal.
The more I prayed the more I sensed this word was key: forgive.
But how, God?
At that point all I had was the Holy Spirit saying, “forgive” and no clue where to begin.
It’s 30 years later now. Several chapters have been written in my story since then.
I’m a mom of three. Gramma to four beautiful babies under the age of 2.5. Wife to Richard. An author, speaker. Cancer survivor.
And my mom? Oh, she has her own story of healing that took place years later. I love her so much. I’ll share a little bit more about our story later in this, but I understand fully that you may not have a happy ending to share.
But my story isn’t about a happy ending. Because I didn’t get a happy ending with my bio dad, or other loved ones that I wish I had. It’s not about happy endings, but the growth that happens when we open our lives to forgiving. It’s the in-between parts that make up the greater story. Things like:
Trusting God when I couldn’t do it on my own.
Discovering that a chunk from the past had fallen from my heart and God filled it with compassion or joy or direction instead.
Hitting a brick wall in the process, and then walking straight into mercy as I got back up and started again.
not what was, but what can be
There have been so many chapters written in my story, and there are more chapters to write because forgiving isn’t a one-time event.
My past shaped me, but it doesn’t define me or limit who I can be or how I can spiritually grow, with God’s help.
This is my hope, that one day when I’m a kickin’ old woman that I’ll still be stretching, growing, and discovering what God has in store for me.
What about you?
Are you ready for the next chapter in your story?
Did you read the Introduction of The Unburdened Heart (click here to read Intro free) this week?