I sat in the CVS Pharmacy parking lot. Here I was, again. This time I was not picking up a medication for me for but one of my children. My stomach churned. I wanted to be at home, curled up under my electric blanket, safe from heavy cares and concerns. But my child was sick. Not with a cold, or pink eye, or an ear infection, but with a chronic disease. It was no longer in remission but it had reared its ugly head again.
When faced with the disturbing symptoms, I did not fall to my knees in prayer. I watched Netflix. Every time I tried to pray, I was unsuccessful. I could not think about it. Facing reality was too painful. Thinking of the disease wracking my child’s body broke my heart. Over and over and over. Every time I would think about it, I was crushed.
So I watched Netflix. And read romance novels. And went shopping. Because my fantasy world did not hurt as much as reality.
I quietly rolled over in bed, trying not to wake up my husband. We were on vacation, and I was doing my darnedest to let him sleep until 7 am. So I did what I usually do when I awake early: think and pray. I prayed for friends who were struggling, friends who were sick, and for family members who needed help.
Then I began to pray for my fledgling speaking ministry. As I prayed, I felt a familiar knot in the pit of my stomach. All of my hopes and aspirations were rolled up in that pang of uncertainty about my future.
As my body woke up from a night of slumber, so did the constant fear that rolled over and over in my stomach. I had recently completed a three minute speaker promo video and I had shared it with my family and friends, including a lot of pastors and ministry leaders. I even shared it on Facebook. I was unsure how people would receive it. I felt vulnerable. Exposed.
I was terrified of being rejected.
How would people describe your home? Friends describe my home as homey, cozy, and peaceful.
As you walk into my foyer, you are welcomed by warm, golden walls and a room filled with cranberry red accents. My plaid couch is as old as my 20 year son, and the slight fraying just adds to its personality. You can sit on that comfy couch and put your feet up on my dented coffee table. You can reach over and grab the afghan that will warm you up on a cold day.
Let’s turn on the gas logs, plug in the twinkling lights on the mantle, and light a few candles. You will hear the sound of peaceful music through the speakers, see the light streaming in through the skylights, and hear the soothing sounds of water in the fountain.
Do you remember your teenage years? Mine were 30 years ago but I remember the 90s quite clearly. Confession: the life I presented to those I wanted to please was much different than the life I was living. On the outside, to my church family and teachers at school, I was kind, helpful, a good student, a good speaker, and a youth group leader.
But on the inside, I was just as the Bible describes sinners in Titus 3. I was foolish, disobedient, envious, hateful, deceived, and enslaved to lust and pleasure. I will spare you the details, but I was not the person you would want your teenage daughter to be. I did my best to keep this side of me hidden from those I wanted to think well of me, but my friends certainly saw my rebellious side. I was not the perfect little church girl. Far from it.
I got out of my car and hugged my friend. No, it was more than a hug…it was an strong embrace, and I didn’t want it to ever end. I typically don’t enjoy hugs (it’s a sensory thing) but on this night, I needed her hug. I needed the strength of my friend to hold the broken pieces of my life together. I needed the strength of her spirit to communicate with mine that it all was going to be okay.
We have a tradition of having my daughter’s boyfriend over for dinner on Saturday nights. On this particular weekend, he was home from college, so I planned to “pull out all of the stops” to fix him a nice, home-cooked meal. We were having chicken lasagna, filled with yummy noodles and cheesy goodness. I had gathered my recipe, looked over the ingredients, and declared that I was good to go. (more…)
This is a guest post by my dear friend, Elizabeth Mckenzie:
The phone rang. It was a person very dear to me and she was upset, and had been absolutely mortified. As she explained what happened to me I began to sympathize with how she felt. She told me she was on her way home and she stopped by a family member’s house. Before arriving she was unaware that they had a full house with company. And upon entering the the house her family member’s granddaughter said “What are you doing here? I’m tired of seeing you here!” They all laughed as the child proceeded to keep saying “What are you doing here? It’s you again?” None of the adults reprimanded the child but instead laughed and she did it more.
Something happened in my friend as she stood in that room full of people laughing at her. She felt embarrassed and rejected. Feeling hurt, she made her visit short, not because of what the child said but more so of how the adults responded. Not one person welcomed her as they snickered at the child’s rude behavior. In that moment she felt unwanted and rejected.
Let’s start with honesty. I have a broken heart. For weeks, my heart has hurt. At times, literally hurt. Looking at my life, it’s hard to see why. My children are healthy, my marriage is sound, and the bills are paid. But lately I have encountered a lot of conflict with people. I’ve been the subject of gossip, I’ve been hurt by trusted friends, and treasured relationships are in tatters. My heart is in tatters, too.
It is hard to admit, but in defense of those who have hurt me, some of this is probably my fault. I’ve probably made some mistakes. But I’ve been following God’s leading to the best of my ability. I am sure there are things I could have done and said better. And I wish I had done it better. I’m left with a heart that is broken and friendships that are shredded to pieces like confetti. Jesus!