I was twelve years old when I first knew I wanted to love the hurting. I was watching a tv show about a van that would set up camp on the side of busy streets offering help to women who were caught in the web of prostitution. I can look back now and see this pivotal moment undergirding much of the direction of my life...my passion for digging until I find the root of human behavior...my gravitation toward the mental health field and eventually my Master’s in Counseling...the pull I feel toward the unloved and hurting... But somewhere along the way I began hurting, myself. In fact, so much life came crashing down on me, so many deaths, betrayals and shattered dreams, that I dug a hole deep within the trenches of safety and there I remained for much of my life. I became so very good at running and numbing and hiding-- so good that I had nothing left of my heart for others who were suffering as well.
I chose a profession that had always been a part of me, one that came naturally and fostered my need for control. Inside I could be a tumultuous mess but as I long as I held it together on the outside, I was a success--I was something. The gravity of the importance now placed on my appearance only exacerbated my need for control I lived in constant fear and shame knowing that one day others would find out the truth: I was not worthy of the title Model but instead just an ugly imposter walking the runway. Behind closed doors I scrambled in a desperate and vain attempt to be enough.
My identity was model. My identity was death. My identity was betrayal. My identity was not in God.
Hope happened. There is absolutely no explanation for what happened next except to say that God rescued me. I can finally look back now and be strangely thankful for all that He has allowed in my life as I can now see how it all fits together. I see the early longings of empathy, the poetry written as a child because no one else understood, the gift of counseling, the understanding of death in ways I wish I didn't have, the feelings of shame of unworthiness and the reality of living in total isolation. But the picture I see now is quite stunning actually. I can look back now and see Him in every memory. I can see my life as a refinement under the refuge of his wings. I can see it all coming together now and I cannot wait for the show.
Bravery is welling up in my heart like a tidal wave heading toward the shore. God has made me a writer, an artist of words and pictures and a holder of hearts. He has pierced my heart with the cries of others and given me insight only a Creator could give. Our hearts were not created for the world in which we live but the whispers of hope are like salve for our souls. Can you hear them?...Our refinement under his refuge...the redemption of pain...beauty redefined...finding God in our pain...unearthing our stories...May I listen with you and maybe even for you. May I hear. May I obey.