So, I was taken by surprise today, not by convicting words that pointed to wisdom and truth…
But by the invitation of open arms and a hug that accepted me right where I was—hurting and afraid.
There isn’t a time that I get to attend a Beauty For Ashes Conference when my heart isn’t rendered wrecked at the truth of the brokenness that is a part of past hurts, both mine and those I journey with during the week, and this time is no exception.
Though this day, I was brought to tears at being made profoundly aware of the painful gulf between the things that I truly experienced…and the heartbreak of knowing that it was so utterly different than the way I wish it would have been…
I was tired. I hadn’t slept well the night prior. It was late when I laid down to sleep and even then, I woke several times in the night to a lingering nightmarish thought that someone had entered into my living space by invitation of my daughter. I saw him with a frightful smirk conveying without words that it was his domain and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. The evil grin haunted my thoughts.
The next morning, I saw that my daughter hadn’t grabbed the lunch I made for her on the counter and then fear began to rise. I hadn’t actually physically checked on her to say goodnight because I didn’t want to wake her. And this morning, I didn’t hear any moving about—did I really sleep that hard through it all?
I checked my phone to see if she had let me know her plans. No text. I sent her a text to let her know I was going to bring her the lunch because she usually will meet me at the doors of the school. No answer. I pulled up to the school and let her know I was there. No answer. I told her I had to go to the conference. No answer. I dropped off her lunch at the front office and got in my car. I sent a text to a teacher she was a TA for and was told she looked to be ok. Though it’s not my preference, to not have some sort of communication with my child, I put my vehicle in drive and headed to the conference.
My heart missed the connection time with her and my mind kept recalling the sneer of the man in my horrible dreams. With those on my heart and mind, I entered into the conference. It was supposed to be a light hearted day for the participants and leaders and here I was—tired, intense and distracted. It took all of my concentration to hear the presentations and gather myself together so that I could function as an acceptable group leader. So, as the participants filed out to transition to the small group rooms, I sat and to listen to a song that came over the speaker system.
I let the words wash over me as I hung my head and rested my elbows on my knees.
“You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God…”
With my hands up, as if I were giving him the words I was voicing, I began a conversation with my God. Speaking about the terrifying dream and the fear I felt around the situation with my daughter in the morning. With the words of the presenter sharing about a relationship that is finding some healing in his life…I allowed tears to fall as I felt a deep sadness, recognizing that though I continued to journey toward healing, I had still been protecting myself from being hurt in relationships. In choosing to protect myself (and in essence keep others away) I had unintentionally created distance between my daughter and me…
My heart and soul desired desperately to be close to her…to show her she is loved…to be there for her…and the truth is—she didn’t believe those things about me.
…but not because of her…but because of me…the things that I have already chosen in the past…
In the middle of the sorrow I was feeling, I had become painfully conscious of the fact that my emotions seemed to be so much more than what I could handle and though I have always been tremendously skilled at shoving them aside—I didn’t have the strength to push it away this time. I let my God know through my whispers and the tears that dropped to the floor, the sadness that I felt as I endeavored to empty my mind and emotions of the gravity in my core. My heart thoroughly felt the depth of this pain that I caused and it ached physically to be aware of this piece of it…
It was then that one of the MC’s of the event came to me with gentle openness and let me know that he saw me—
His words didn’t just convey being seen physically. In my spirit I felt that he saw the wrestle and the angst and sadness and he came over to me anyway and entered into that pain-filled space with me.
As my tears fell on to his kuspuk I told him of being woke by the nightmares, the lack of communication with my daughter earlier that morning and the revelation of the chasm I dug as protection for myself in relationships (specifically with my girl) and my deep sadness in regard to my decisions that hurt my daughter as I sought to just have a family to belong to…I wounded her in my desperate longing to belong to people who would call me as their own.
Fresh tears poured down my face and he opened his arms…and then he held me.
He let my tears soak his shoulder and never pulled away as I shared my heartache…and in the end, he honored me.
He let me know that my tears anointed his shirt—and at first I laughed—and he said he was serious and he told me that my tears are sacred. I received his words and in those very few words, at that moment, he conveyed to me that I was deeply valued and tears streamed down my cheek. I gave him a hug again and just whispered, “thank you…”
Tears fall again as I write because his response to my thanks wasn’t just a nod or even a word of thanks—he took that moment to remind me that I do have family. He said that they, the people who have journeyed with me for years in FWWI, are my family…and that he and he knows others love me deeply.
In that moment, I knew I was on hallowed ground. I felt loved and I felt accepted. The honor and value that I was shown in admitting to another my sheer brokenness could have only been a miracle granted by the God Who Sees Me. I knew that my God in this moment had heard the heartfelt lament of his girl and moved through the loving words and arms of this man.
I knew God heard me…I know God held me…I know God loves me.
I am in awe!