I bought a pink and white quilt in college. It was one of my very first purchases that was truly my own. I carried that quilt with me through all four (okay five) years of college, it adorned my hospital bed each time I gave birth and eventually became everyone’s favorite blanket. Over the years it saw its fair share of spills, dirty diapers and everything in between. We used that blanket everyday, all day until suddenly and unexpectedly it had unraveled until it was not good for keeping you warm and cozy anymore. It actually became an unwelcome aggravation, trapping your feet in its tangles until you got frustrated and threw it down. And so it is with humans, too.
We go through the motions year after year, taking care of the people we love but in the midst of it all, we also subject ourselves to a little abuse and neglect along the way. Like any good human would do, we push through and continue to care for others the best way we know how. Until suddenly and all at once, we’ve become completely unraveled.
I have always had a unrealistic, overly optimistic view of this great wide world and all the people in it. My husband would continually tell me how naive I was. I like to think it’s one of the reasons he chose me-the light within me shined the brightest when I believed in the goodness of people. But somewhere in the last few years I’ve become completely unraveled. And it’s been messy. While running my race I’ve crossed paths with people who have completely destroyed my belief in humanity. I held tight to my family and my church and that was it. Perhaps thats why the last month had left me in such sorrow and despair.
My church, my home for over a decade, the place where I’ve brought each of my newborn babies to be prayed for, the place that I just knew I could be my messy, sometimes horrible self, it split. It was nasty and vile and I saw the absolute worst in the people whom I’ve sat shoulder to shoulder with in my church home. My prayer partners and friends left abruptly and without so much as saying goodbye. It kind of felt like an adulterous man leaving home, trading in his “wife” for a new one and then carrying on with business as usual, like his old family didn’t even matter. Although I’m sure not many people did things to hurt others on purpose, I was left with the sting of betrayal and abandonment. I reached out in hurt and confusion and was met with passive aggressive lectures and condemnation and was finally “un-friended” and blocked on social media. I’d like to tell you I prayed and recovered gracefully but I haven’t. I told my husband that I finally get why church people are the reason some folks don’t go to church. I felt like the foundation upon which I’d built my life had crumbled underneath my feet. I’ve contemplated quitting church all together and reverting back to my old ways, I’ve wanted to cuss and fuss at people, I’ve wanted to do all the bad things you can think of and then some. I felt a mourning and loss for myself because something within me had fundamentally changed. If church hurts, where do you go to get healing?
Yet in the midst of all my mess, God, being himself, was working on my behalf. He sent me some precious women who wanted my daughter and I to go to a Casting Crowns concert. I didn’t want to go. It was a school night and I get tired and cranky. But I didn’t want to disappoint anyone so I went. And right there in the middle of it, God wrecked me. Tears flowed down my weary face. The Holy Spirit gently tugged on my heart and the words of the music spoke to my soul. My healing came in the most unexpected place, in an unexpected way. God is a master weaver, have you ever noticed that? He takes unraveled, broken people and weaves their stories together. He weaves up our messiness and uses the expensive fabric. Beauty for ashes.
People are just people. They disappoint. They make choices and hurt people. Sometimes on purpose and sometimes by complete accident. And that is why we need God. He reminded me last night that we are made in his image so even when I feel disappointed by people, even when they hurt my feelings, they are still good. The goodness of people must exist because God is good. It was in this quiet revelation that God also reminded me that I have, on occasion, been on the giving end of someone’s pain. Sometimes I get a little carried away and let my mouth get the best of me. In those times I have needed others to show me grace and be quick to forgive, even if I hadn’t ask for it yet. And so now, I must do the same to those who have intentionally or unintentionally wounded my heart. People can evoke the best and worst feelings in us but feelings can be deceitful In themselves. We can either serve the God of our feelings or the God of truth but it is impossible to serve both.
I am still a complete mess most days. I do not claim to have all the answers or be the most righteous person in any room. I am a horrible sinner and I have to take up my cross daily. Sometimes hourly. But I refuse to let My unraveling be the final chapter in my story. I believe that warriors are made in the valley and that Gods love extends further than any church house. I believe that people are made in the image of our King and I believe that grace is new everyday. I am no longer bound to the idea that any one “place” is where we go to get our help. I believe that God sends us unexpected friends and takes us to unusual places to heal our wounds. And Above all else, I am thankful that perfection isn’t a requirement to get into Heaven.