Friday, October 28, 2011
What a beautiful mess we are in God’s sight, beautiful in our imperfection and fears. I know I am not strong enough to rise above each and every struggle I face; at least not alone anyway. Lately I have been reaching deeper than ever before into my faith, believing my anxious heart can see past the unsure moment of now, knowing I have nothing to fear despite the voices of uncertainty closing in on me. Nothing can separate His love from my life, even when I doubt Him; He is there with me, holding my life in His hands even when I am running full speed in the other direction.
The world’s dreams slip like water through my hands on a daily basis but does that mean I am empty, that I have nothing left to hold on to? Sure I have been to the darkest of places too many times to mention. Sometimes I can see the darkness coming; sometimes it sneaks up on me. Either way I am generally frozen as the sky begins to grow dark and the clouds roll in full of worry, fear, despair and chains eager to tie me down to my own insecurities and failures. When the darkness sets in it can seem as if there is no light in sight, we may feel as if we have been abandoned, left to the wolves, dropped into an endless dark ocean, even a flash flood, all alone without a life preserver. Life can take all we know and turn it not only upside down but sideways. We can fall into each pothole, trip over each fallen branch, each rock in the road as we stumble through the endless darkness of night.
Sometimes, when life takes a sharp twisted turn down an unknown road, full of cries in the dark, winds whipping across our faces in agony and vines reaching out to pull us further into the dead of night we tend to freeze, to close our eyes and hope it will all just go away. But what happens when we finally open our eyes and nothing has changed? Do we fall deeper into the darkness, do we give up or do we fight our way through it? Change will come, night will pass and the Sun will rise, no doubt. The rain falls, yet the sun still rises and shines down on our faces does it not? We can lose count of the nights, the cold icy sleepless nights we spend out here in the wilderness. It can seem as if the pain is here to stay, permanently attached to our hearts but the truth in my life, in the faith I hold to is when we are hurt He hurts, when we cry He cries, His mercy reaches to lift us up from the pits of despair, wrapping His warmth all around us through the cold dark night.
God hears us; we are His children, we are apart of His heart. His hand is always there for me, even when I cannot see it personally, I can feel it touching me, I can feel His love surrounding me despite the deep dark empty space I am way too aware of around me . I am always in need of His grace, but no matter what the day brings, my faith is found in this grace, this mercy and this love. My hope is never-ending because I know I am never alone! Don’t give up friends, stay the course, wipe the dirt off your face and know that these tears flowing from inside your heart is the courage of your soul pouring out!
Go ahead, grab up those sticks and branches of what you see as failures in your life and stir a fire within your being. Let it stretch up into the darkness of your night, dance and sing; let your voice rise above the fear surrounding you. Go ahead let the lord of darkness know the Lord of Light is coming for you and His light will chase the fear, the despair and the eeriness of night away. Joy comes in the morning light as mercy comes running, and it is then we can see what we thought was unbearable, what was so freighting has passed.
The truth is we all come undone, fall apart, but God’s embrace, the touch of His grace pulls all those broken pieces back together again. Sure they may not all be in the same place we had them, but the truth is sometimes it’s the revelation of brokenness that creates a whole new work of art in our lives. Sometimes these dark, dusty, back roads full of things that go bump in the night is actually our Father working ahead of us, reinforcing the path in front of us, making it wider, paving and setting the road for us to travel down with Him.
So when the darkness rises again and it will let me assure you, I know fear will slip her way into my heart, but I am also fervently aware peace will overcome the shadows of fear and despair because I am not defined by the mistakes I make, I am made new each and every morning by the same grace within me. Did He not calm the seas, say Peace be still? So then why do we doubt He can calm our own chaotic lives, fill us with His grace, and bring the waters of fear and despair to a peaceful calm? Maybe now is the time to stretch our arms toward His grace, maybe this is the hour He will heal our broken hearts, calm our worrisome and fearful souls awakening our hearts, shining light through the darkness of our deepest night? All we have to do let go of all our expectations and believe, taking that first step of faith knowing He can make all things new! Does this mean everyday we will rise above flying across the sky, strong and courageous? Well courageous yes, strong not always but the one thing I have come to know without doubt is our struggles here on earth define each one of us; mold us into men and women of strength, of real true courage. We are made for more than the brokenness life brings us and even when the demons of night come to steal our hope, it's never truly taken from us is it? Looking back at the old road I was traveling before the night fell, I can tell you I am grateful for the darkness I have had to face, because with the rise of the Sun, a new day has begun and I can see all the new possibilities He has carved out for me.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Have you ever asked yourself how people with what you may feel are hideous scars, deep, penetrating reminders of something gone wrong, face the mirror? I ask myself this question everyday as I catch my breath and a glimpse of my own scars out of the side of my eyes. I see where the beast came and ran her claws through me, scratched, dug and caused not just my body but my heart to bleed. I see the devastation she brought to my physical body, the loss, the pain and her name tattooed into my chest, a reminder she has marked me for all my days of my life here on this earth. At times I wonder if I am little more than the remnants of one of Dr. Finklestein’s experiments gone wrong. I can honestly say I have felt many times as if I am Sally from Nightmare before Christmas sewing her arm back on time and time again, always with a smile, yet still locked up in a tower trying to escape, as Dr. Finklestein keeps her hidden away from the town below.
I have spent many a night on my knees, pouring out my fears, honest tears and hopelessness to the Lord wanting to escape this tower of terror I have felt myself trapped inside. The difference between God and Dr. Finklestein is that He has not locked me away, in a tower all alone, truthfully God sees a work of timeless art, beauty beyond measure, and a life forged from broken glass becoming perfectly designed stained glass in the fire. This broken road breast cancer intended for my life, has become a brightly lit detour leading me to freedom. In all this time I have had breast cancer burning her name across my chest she has never once taken my hope, my faith or my belief that life still waits for me outside this tower, this dark town that she wants to tie me down to is not my fate.
Morning still comes, despite the darkness night brought. The suffering of the beast’s grip can be at times almost overwhelming, but during those times I have learned to push the pedal down, close my eyes and keep my hands on the wheel. I may be broken, I may be disfigured and I may look to the eye upon first glance as hopelessly un-mend-able but I am not Humpty Dumpty. The king’s men may not have been able to put him back together again but my God, my King has made me whole again despite the broken pieces dumped at His feet. Sure to the naked eye, to the mirror in front of me I may still seem broken, torn apart and ruggedly stitched back together, but by God’s grace I have been glued and sewn back together, reconstructed into a beautiful, living, soul. I have been touched by His grace, given life in spite of the beast’s death roar. He has taken my lifeless, deflated spirit and breathed new life back into me, shown His light, taken me by the hand and faced the mirror with me, side by side, hand in hand.
Yes I am the face of cancer’s brutality, she has striped me of my breast, pulled out each and every strand of my hair, the very ones God took the time to count each and every day, left me watching my own tear drops fall but my hope is in the Father who has restored my life. I am a survivor today not because of my own doing, but by the grace residing inside this demolished, worn out, broken, cut upon, stitched back together again body. By God’s grace I have been rescued from the gates of death and fear, I am a life scared by breast cancer, but I am also a woman whose life has been rescued from the clutches of despair, reclaimed and placed back on solid ground by His love and mercy.
My faith runs deep through my veins, despite the fact I have had to cry out from the ashes. I may have fallen flat on my face, I may not have the once perfect canvas I did in my 20’s but I have this amazingly, designed, scared, chiseled out work of art of for a life I see facing me back in the mirror all these years after the C word came kicking my door down. Sure the sting of pain still likes to sear through my body, reminding me the beast has marked me, still I have faith, I trust in my Lord, the one who sees beauty inside my soul despite what they world may see as they look imaging what my scared physical body must look like.
Friends, I have been weary and afraid, I have felt the weight of this world, felt robbed of my outward beauty, of the life I had planned but I have felt God’s hand heal me, touch my body, my heart and fill my spirit with hope. I have been renewed despite the shape I am in, despite Dr. Finklestein’s experiment gone sideways. Sure to the world I may seem nothing more than a stitched up rag doll, but to my Father I am beautiful, I have been perfectly and wonderful made, delivered from the clutches of despair and given a second chance, scars, stitches and all, to live life out loud, not just as a survivor, but as a brighter soul ready to live life gloriously in the light of day. Heart ache has tried to make my heart her home, time and time again, but no matter what I trust each brush stoke my Creator makes across this canvas is part of a bigger picture. I may not have the insight right here and now to understand why He has chosen blue and not yellow hues but all the same I am humbled and amazed by His love, burning like a fire inside my heart. How is this possible, because He has made me whole from the inside out, where I go, is where He is and I am never alone, ever!