I once met a precious 20-something woman. She has a relationship with God, two adorable little girls, a handsome husband, a good church family, and …. a past that read like a good storyline for a made for TV movie.
She shared her story with some 200 women at a ladies event I attended.
It went something like this:
Fatherless as a child, sexually abused, addicted to drugs and homeless. She lived a life of a prostitute, and not until after she was raped did she seek a way out.
Then, Restoration came.
She married and they had two beautiful children and now they live happily ever…….
Oh wait, that isn't part of life, is it?
You would think the messy life she lived would have been enough. She could retire quietly from drama and pain behind a white picket fence and enjoy life. After all this, their oldest daughter is born with developmental issues that leave her speechless and with motor skill issues. Her husband recently had a bone marrow transplant, and their youngest daughter has the same condition as Dad.
But that isn't how life works no matter what we desire. After all this, their oldest daughter is born with developmental issues that leave her speechless and with motor skills issues. Not long after that, her husband had a bone marrow transplant, and their youngest daughter was then diagnosed with the same condition as Dad.
Where's the happily ever after? Where's the perfection?
The Illusion of Perfection
There was barely a dry eye in the room by the time she was done speaking. As I looked around at the sobbing women the Lord impressed upon me that many of those tears weren't empathetic but reciprocal. The sobs and tears were not because ladies felt bad for the speaker, but because they could have been the speaker. Not in a sense that everyone was raped, homeless or experienced the evils of prostitution, but because of the messy details of the past lurk around every corner, shaping the way we perceive and react. They cloud judgment, they distort the truth and keep us trapped. But our fear of not being perfect controls us, even if we don't realize it. We know we should not live “of the world” yet, our view of reality is distorted by what we see around us. So we go on living an illusion.
Perfection is an illusion we create in our closets and in front of our mirrors. Perfection is the words we rehearse in our heads before we head out the door. Perfection is a perfectly crafted blog post or Facebook update that shows only the best of our lives.
Here's the truth:
The prerequisite of perfection before relevance is a requirement of man, not God.
We want perfect lives, but perfect lives are no more required than they are guaranteed. Nowhere does it say our lives on this Earth will be easy. That does not mean we aren't supposed to be used by God. Look through the Bible; what perfect people were used by God?
Okay, one. Jesus was perfect because He was God. Otherwise, not one person in scripture was perfect. Yet, over and over we read of triumphs, victories, changed lives and sold-out-for-God people who changed the world around them.
The woman I mentioned above, she stood before a crowd of women, all listening intently to her story, and declared even though her life is not what she thought it would be, she knows it is all part of God's plan. His restoration power is seen in her life. She said she gets discouraged and even angry, but she knows God is with her.
Her life is a beautiful example of God's redemption and restoration.
After the program closed, I found her and thanked her for sharing her story. I know there were women in the audience who needed to hear her and be encouraged. More of us need to share our stories. More of us need to stand up and say we're not perfect, our past was hell, but God!
What's Your Story?
We all have a testimony. All things considered, we probably have several testimonies of God's faithfulness, grace, love, mercy, kindness, redemption, and restoration. One of my biggest messes has become a message. When I wrote Restoring the Lost Petal is was to share my ugly story so other women could be freed from their chains. What's your mess?
Your story needs to be told.
Somewhere around you, another sister in Christ is struggling with the same issue you've overcome or are working to overcome. We don't need to be perfect or have it all figured out to be a light in someone else's life. Honesty and authenticity with a willing, submitted heart are all God requires of you.
Your messy life is not an excuse not to share. It's a brilliant example of a life redeemed and restored by Christ.