Grace…

Grace

Grace:  Love and mercy from God, not because of what we have done but because of who He is!

Hebrews 4:16  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Peter 5:10  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

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This weekend, I spent some much needed time away reflecting on my walk with the Lord and getting to know some beautiful women.  I went expecting to converse, learn, teach and grow in my Christian walk.

Well, let me just say, God made sure that all of those things happened and so much more!

I headed off to this retreat in the mountains, broken but surely healed from many wounds and ready to battle the world.  I was prepared to lead, to watch others grow, enjoy friendships and laugh.

I came home a broken woman, unsure of everything, filled with emotions I have no idea how to handle and yet I am filled with an abundance of peace because I know this is exactly what God had in store for me.

He knew that I would sit here and pour my heart out to you in some of the most tender, vulnerable moments of my life.

This weekend, I didn’t overcome a fear but I tackled it.

I am terrified of praying out loud.  I’m just not confident enough to do it.  I’m weak in that area.  Very weak.

This weekend, I prayed out loud because it was what I needed to do.  Some would say it was from God.  Some would say that’s crazy.  I can tell you that my closest friends know I am not comfortable with praying out loud and in the moment, I did it.  I had to do it.  I believe it was God.

We had just prayed over gifts we would soon share with strangers.  We spent time in prayer for others who were hurting and broken.  But it was time for us to come together and face the subject of forgiveness.  This time needed to be about ourselves and not those we had just prayed for.  In that moment, I had a choice – I could turn from God, go on with the study and hope that these women hear what they need to hear, or I could pray for them, straight from my heart, so they could hear those words, they could hear the hopes I had for them.

I prayed for them to open their hearts to their own wounded places that needed healing and forgiveness.  I don’t know what my prayer meant to them.  I don’t know if it had an impact in their lives.  I don’t even think they knew I had never pray aloud before.  What I do know is that God wanted me to pray, right then, right there, and I had to do it. 

Later, I faced another difficult situation.  Weeks ago, I had offered to share my testimony at this retreat.  Most of the attendees were women I didn’t know very well.  Most of them don’t know me very well either.  I was prepared.  I was strong.  I was armed with the armor of God.  Right?

Of course!  As nervous as I had been about preparing to share my story, part of God’s story, strength shined through and I was able to share without any issues.  Tears fell from the crowd, but my eyes couldn’t release the drops of salty moisture that clung to my eyes.  No tears fell.  I couldn’t let them fall.  I couldn’t let these people see me be that weak, could I?

Not at that time.  I was not prepared to allow sharing my story to bear any feelings.  I was fighting to keep it safe, to push away any emotion and strictly focus on the darkness I have walked through and the light Jesus has shined in my life.  That’s exactly what I did.  These women knew, right then, right there, that God was a light in my life.  They could see clearly the impact He has had on every little bit of pain and suffering.  They could see the Grace He had given me.  Maybe through my story, they even felt a little relieved that they were not alone.  I don’t know what they thought or what they felt but I know their tears fell and their hearts were open to God’s glory!

Afterwards, I expected to just go on with the evening and weekend like things had already been.  I thought we would just do more learning, more teaching, more talking and laughing. What I wasn’t prepared for was what happened next.

Instead of feeling relieved that I had done God’s will, I felt exposed and vulnerable.  My heart was heavy.  I was filled with emotions I thought I had long ago forgotten or healed from.  And though regret began to surface, I had shared my story, His story.  I had told of the Grace He had given me.  I had shared about His forgiveness, His redemption and His love.  I had done what I believe He wants me to do.  And yet, I was filled with fear … fear of the unknown, of what’s to come.

What would they think of me?

How would they treat me now?

Would they love me, even knowing I am so broken?

Would they think I was dirty?

Would they see my shame?

Or would they embrace me, just as I am, me and all my imperfections?  Yes!  I could never have imagined the love they would pour out.

I had spent my whole life waiting for this moment.  Many years and sleepless nights were spent praying for a loving family, praying for a mother’s love that would wipe away the tears, protection and safety, security.  I prayed to feel unconditional love, the bond of a sister, support and encouragement.

Today, for a moment, I felt all of that.  I had the embrace of women who loved me unconditionally, just for me.  I had mother’s and grandmothers tell me how much they loved me and how proud they are of me.  In that moment, they became my family.  In that moment, my life was changed.  I felt a love I never imagined I would be able to feel, a love I felt I had missed out on, a love I had waited my whole life for.  Today, the little girl that longed to be loved, cared for and nurtured found freedom.

And in those moments, as I fought to keep the tears away, friends prayed for them to flow and that is just what they did.  What a relief!  I don’t imagine they will flow much easier now but it’s a start, right?

But…

The day is ending.  Everyone has gone home to their families, to their own little worlds.  Our time together has ended.  My moment, the moment I had longed for, is over.  It has ended.  Where does that leave me?

I sit here tonight, still broken, filled with emotions I thought I had long ago forgotten, memories of today and memories of a past that still haunts, afraid of what tomorrow brings.  Those questions of doubt and insecurity still plague my mind.  Some things just don’t change quick enough.  Healing doesn’t happen instantly.  Though the weekend was a huge step, I still have a lifetime of hurts to live with.

The difference?

I have a family of sisters who even though they aren’t with me constantly, are with me in my heart.  This is a weekend I can treasure, memories I will hold dear, thoughts of the embraces, the prayers and the love they so selflessly shared … with me … a broken little girl who just wanted to feel loved.

And when they aren’t near, I can rest assured that my God is always near.  He was so evident this weekend.  His presence was undeniable.  His grace covered me.  And even though I may question, worry or doubt.  Even though I am so unbelievably broken, he loves me anyway!

“I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway
See now, I am the man that called out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life
But You love me anyway
Oh, God… how you love me
You love me anyway”

Sidewalk Prophets- You Love Me Anyway

And just as God would have it, I checked today’s verse on my Bible app and this was what I read…

John 10:10  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

How appropriate!  And most definitely well orchestrated by a God who loves me anyway!

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9 Thoughts on “Grace…

  1. Pat Dahl on August 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm said:

    Jenny, you are so right in all that you wrote here. I am one of those blessed to have been there and impacted by your sharing. I also know/sensed that the Lord was leading me to get up with you on a personal level after the retreat was over. I’m looking forward to doing just that and will set a time and place asap. God’s leading and timing was evident in your sharing and it was truly Him that spoke through you and used your words/story to minister to those who were there. Can’t wait to have a heart to heart! Love you, Pat

    • Thank you so much Pat! I am so looking forward to talking with you more and God’s light sure was shining throughout that whole weekend! So blessed! Love you!

  2. I really needed this today, wow, such encouragement. Cant wait to read more from you!

  3. God beckons us to expose ourselves, to be vulnerable and become broken. All the while walking with us, remaking us into just the vessel He needs. Praising God, Jen, that you faced your brokenness resting in His grace. Blessings.

  4. Great post, so honest and heartfelt. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Kasey

  5. Pingback: Oh the lessons... | The Imperfect Princess

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