Spiritual Growth

My Story … We all Have One or Two …

Sitting at the dining table with the only sounds around me – the ceiling fan in rhythmic spin and the sweet sigh of my eight-year-old dog, Hobie.  My view out our back window is filled with the green and blue of foliage and sky and our old fence which I have come to love because it feels well worn and cottagey in a time when everything is praised for being new and trendy.  I’ve stolen a small pocket of time to write in response to a prompt.  She said, “Your Story,” and a flood of images and memories come through, but these seem somehow foreign to me from my current seat.  Stories tell a tale and mostly, they serve to show off the glory of the redemption of God which reveals His heart of love for each one of us.  My story surely does that.

My mentor once said she thinks the first immeasurable number of years when all the saints are together in heaven will be filled with our stories.  We will be making connections and finding out how our actions and words impacted one another and showed off Jesus and gave Him space to do His loving will in our lives and midst.  We will be tying our stories all together to fit in with the One Great Story.  Me, I was just waiting to hug C.S. Lewis, kiss St. Augustine on the cheek and dance with Corrie Ten Boom.  I long to see the ones I love who left here already, like a dear teacher/mentor and others.  After that, I’m good.  But thinking about the exchange of stories gives me a whole new perspective as to why I long for heaven.  I am looking forward to story time as though I am a toddler before bed — “just one more!”


I have a friend who has lived a pretty straight life.  She walked the line and did what was expected.  She is now a missionary and once she told me she used to think her story didn’t add up to much because she hadn’t done anything “that bad.”  She said she almost envied people who had stories about their dark lives of sin and how God saved them from addiction or other horrible backgrounds.  To her, she had a “boring” testimony.  We sat together in that moment as she shared an awareness.  She had faced all those temptations and walked through them without sin.  What a testimony!  Now of course she does sin and did sin, but nothing dramatic and hair-raising.  Not the stuff which makes for a good Francine Rivers novel, you know?  That is Jesus’ story too.  He was tempted in every way we are, but He didn’t sin.  That’s not my story.  My story is one of the other kind.  And, believe me, there is not much to envy in the early years of my life.

My childhood had its carefree moments, but they were framed in by abuse and rejection, perfectionistic expectations, loss, grief at too young an age, bullying, moving across the country, being taken advantage of, attempting to fit in and feeling I wasn’t enough no matter what I did.  In all the chaos and loss God found me as a child.  I had people here and there who reached into my life and extended themselves to me and shared hope and a glimpse of who God really is.

You want to know my story?  I can’t tell it all here.  I once told the entire, whole, ugly mess to my mentor and she sat through it without wincing even once, just holding the space between us like a fragile and sacred ground.  I told her after more than ten years of knowing her and walking together with her into increasing trust for her and Jesus.  She held me without a touch and held me up to Jesus (again and again and again).  I saw myself as broken and incomplete and that, so I thought, was the problem.  I thought I needed to become more: More of anything – more thin, more beautiful, more humorous, more popular, more trendy, more …  I didn’t know that broken was beautiful.

How does it happen that what seems one way at one time seems entirely different at another?  Looking back over my life from this seat in my dining room I see so much I couldn’t see at the time.  I was transported, transformed, reformed.  God called out what He had always planned in me.  He formed me and knew me, but I had become so mutilated and marred that His image and my own unique reflection of Him were unrecognizable.  Even when I left apparant darkness behind, I had the darkness of perfectionistic performance.  I strove for meaning and purpose and value.  I was everything you wanted me to be – whomever you were.  My story became your story just so I could fit in.  I lost myself and became an achiever.  Even in the church we can over-perform trying to prove our value and earn the gift that has been given us so freely.

There are so many shades of darkness and so many ways to be lost.  Even as a professing Christian, we can be miles away from God, though He is always as near as our next breath.  And when we are far off, He sends a messenger.  I’m not making this up.  He sent one to me, but I’ve seen Him do it over and over for many others like me.  And, here’s the crazy, amazing, life-giving, redemptive part: I get to be one now too!  After years of feeling I’d never arrive, I found out I won’t arrive, at least not here on earth.  In the meantime He’ll just bless me right where I am and He’ll bless others through me as I open to His touch for them.  Happily ever after?  No.  Joy-filled along the way?  Absolutely.  Perfect?  Don’t even go there.  And the more I learn to walk by the Spirit instead of trying to live up to the law for all the wrong reasons, the more inner freedom I find in God.

So you want to hear my story?
God told it in the Psalms and He continues to tell it every day:

If this isn’t your story yet, I pray it will be.  If you are struggling to know that God loves you – you, not just the whole world, but YOU – and you feel He is miles away, hang on.  He has not left you, though you may feel He has.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Keep your eye out for messengers.  He sends them when we are lost and in dark places.  He willl send them to you.  And join me at Hearts Homeward on Facebook to share your story.
If this is your story and you want to sing it from the rooftops (or you haven’t yet shared it, but you want to let the world see His goodness as He is moving in your heart and life) I would love to hear from you here or on Facebook as well.

Whatever your story, it matters.  
He is in the heart of it and He is not finished writing His goodness through you for the world to see.

Blurry photo of field courtesy of Stephen Iliffe on Flickr

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Barbie
    May 1, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Redemptive. Beautiful. Brave. Encouraging. Thank you for sharing your story and for helping me to realize that my story is worth telling!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    May 1, 2014 at 9:51 PM

    Your story is worth it and I am glad to be a witness to God's writing in your life. It sometimes is so uncertain and yet we can always look back and see clearly later. Thanks for always cheering me on, Barbie.

  • Reply
    Paola Collazo
    May 2, 2014 at 12:24 AM

    He satisfies my years with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle.
    Truth to ponder…

  • Reply
    Trudy Den Hoed
    May 2, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Such a story of redemption, Patty. "And the more I learn to walk by the Spirit instead of trying to live up to the law for all the wrong reasons, the more inner freedom I find in God." Amen. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    May 2, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    Thanks, Paola. I am so glad you stopped by and commented too. I am pondering that as well today. How our youth is renewed – because of the way He satisfies our years with good things. And those things are not what we expect them to be, but they give us the "it is well with my soul" sensation which is a reflection of being inwardly renewed day by day.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    May 2, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Thank you, Trudy. I am so grateful for your consistent visiting and commenting here. Isn't it something – we fear (or at least I did) that living "apart" from the law means lawlessness, but truly, as Jesus said, we fulfill the law as we abide in God and walk by the Spirit. Just yesterday I was reading through Romans 8 and Galatians 5 and pondering the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit and the fact that we are loved with no condemnation.

  • Reply
    Trudy Den Hoed
    May 2, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    I love those chapters 🙂 Thank you for reminding me of them, Patty.

  • Reply
    Kristen Hamilton
    May 2, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Awesome post, Patty! Thanks for sharing…I pray it touches people…that they will be touched, renewed, transformed, and that they will come to know and accept God's amazing love for them. (I totally relate to your missionary friend's feelings about her testimony. I once shared my testimony for our hometown church and said those very words. Little did I know that the next ten years would be the most unexpected wild roller coaster ride of refinement, growth, and transformation. Mine isn't a story of bad choices and such, but of what God allowed to happen to me to give me that powerful boost to learn to truly trust Him in everything.) Thank you!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    May 2, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    Kristen,
    I am so glad to hear a part of your story here. God knows how to let us experience what we need. Trust is a gift. I am sure you have much to share from what He has given you. Even though some things I have endured and done grieve His heart, He has always seen the end from the beginning. And He has loved me beyond measure. I am so glad you came here and shared. I haven't been by your site in a while (been so swamped I'm behind in reading blogs!) but I want to as I so enjoyed the heart behind what you are doing.

  • Reply
    Mary
    May 3, 2014 at 5:48 PM

    I love your story. Your deep sense of who you are in Christ and how your life is a blessing is evident in every word you write. I know that God will use this message to touch many. Blessings to you today!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    May 3, 2014 at 7:14 PM

    Mary,
    Your words touched me so much. I am so grateful that you took the time to share here. I don't write for accolades or approval, but it is so wonderful when someone truly appreciates what I have written and tells me how it blessed them. Thank you so much. I hope you come by Hearts Homeward again.
    ~ Patty

  • Reply
    Lisa notes...
    May 4, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    "I once told the entire, whole, ugly mess to my mentor and she sat through it without wincing even once, just holding the space between us like a fragile and sacred ground."

    What a precious mentor you have! I love this. It inspires me to remember to listen attentively but not judgmentally to other people's stories.

    I often think my own story is a "boring" one too, but even the "boring" parts are all pictures of grace so I'm grateful. Thanks for sharing these pieces of your story, Patty.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    May 4, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    Thanks, Lisa. Yes, my mentor is truly a gift and she has shown me through her loving example how to listen and sit in difficult spaces with others. God multiplies seeds into lives of others. Just from the stories you share about going into the inner city and caring for babies I know you have that heart in you as well. I would love a more "boring" story, but what is best is that we all have redemption stories which reflect Him differently. I'm always glad to visit your blog and always glad when you pop over here.

  • Reply
    Heather Faria
    May 6, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    This is beautiful! I too have been feeling God's pull to share my story! I love how God reveals His grace and redemption to our perfectionistic selves and sets us free! This has been so true in my own life lately! Thank you for sharing and keep telling your story!

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