Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Tea - God uses every part of our story

Recently I plugged my ear phones into the iPad, located the app for the radio show, and chose the program I wanted to listen to that evening.  I somehow feel safer, listening to alarming news of doom and gloom... while wearing ear phones... stretched out on the sofa with my eyes closed as the last light of the day is escaping below the horizon.

God made me two very different people within one person.  On one hand, my husband says he doesn't know anyone more like a refined lady who always goes by the rules.  He thinks if I were the last person on earth, I'd still stop at every stop sign.  This is the part of me that loves British novels, everything tea time, and fine china.  The side of my personality that is afraid of the dark.

There is another part, one who adores Finding Bigfoot and Babylon 5.  Who was thrilled when Survivorman started making Bigfoot additions of his show.  The me that wrote for a preparedness website and loves to listen to alternative radio and watch disaster movies. Even though that part of me is still afraid of the dark.

God makes each one of us unique and some of us more ummm... different... than others.  But He uses every single part of our story, down to the jot and tittle of the most obscure pages in the book of our life.  He uses the bad stuff.  He uses the good stuff.  When we give our life to Him, He makes it all... gold.

It sounds odd but I didn't realize how desperately unhappy my childhood and teen years were until I was in my 20s.  My world changed overnight.  Literally.  Really.  When my father died suddenly of a heart attack.  I came home from school one afternoon in 5th grade and the house was locked.  He was on a seasonal layoff from work and he was always there when I walked home.  But this time he wasn't.  I didn't know he was dead.

I'm the "ours" of a "yours, mine, and ours" midlife marriage.  While my parents were thrilled with my birth and I'm sure my siblings were happy, I was only really close to my sisters nearest my age and they were married and moved away from home not too long after I was born.  So there was never a close bond one would have if growing up together.

I was always... different.

I grew up surrounded by the dark side of life, knowing it was around me while protected from it by my parents.  Mom always tried to keep me from turning toward the lifestyles of some of my siblings while making decisions which brought further separation, in its' own way.  Two stepfathers, the first who was absolutely crazy and the second... the one to whom she stayed married until his death late in their years... was fine at first but he became darker and darker as the years progressed.

The event which brought about the great chasm was when an acquaintance at school took on the challenge of her pastor to invite the "least likely person she knew who would become a Christian" to a revival meeting at their church.  I was that person.

When I became a Christian, I was not even invited to most family events.  Where before there had just been an age difference, now the darkness did not welcome the Light and I didn't understand as a new Christian that just the presence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life left those in darkness highly uncomfortable.

I was "saved" in the age of the Jesus Movement, when God was calling "the least, the likely, the little, and the lost" to Himself.  The church ladies were aghast when these unlikely souls were saved, boys with long hair and girls with short skirts.  They (we) brought new kinds of music and a different way of worship into the mix.

We were... different.

God blessed me with mentors who taught me how to speak with good English and how to communicate to crowds clearly, who introduced me to great authors and literary teachers, who helped the girl from a dark background to become a lady, who accepted where I came from but showed me the way to that which is far better.

I remember sitting in a board room of a major corporation where I worked and thinking of the girl who was the "least of those".  Thinking of the older friends who would correct my speech and taught me to communicate clearly... and mentally thanking them.

I still have memories such as sitting in the backseat of a car in my pajamas as my mother drove the streets of town to find a drunk family member and take him to his house.  Remembering who I was taught to stay away from and who was safe.  So far away from the childhood of those raised in the church.

But it was the early years that made me strong, that gave me the gift of the gritty side of my personality.  It's why I like the idea of searching for an unknown species and I love stories that take place out in another galaxy.  It is why I have no problem communicating with the girl with the chip on her shoulder or my early days of working in ministry to teenage gang members.

It is why there are two sides of me that come together because God wove the story of my life.  He brought teachers and mentors both in person and in books.  But it is also why I can remain married to someone with extreme mood swings.  Been there.  Seen it before.

God weaves all of our days together if we let Him.  When we can lay the past at His feet, then He takes what was once not so good and makes it lovely as we use our story to help others know His.  While never fitting into the family as did my siblings, I became closer to a few of them.  There were still those who hated me and the God I love.  But they were prayed for, anyway.

Are there scars from the early days?  There always will be.  I still deal with abandonment issues, as do I think all children who lost a parent very young.  I began to understand my mother's decisions as I grew older but I sometimes wonder what life would had been like if she had made different decisions.  If she had not turned against the church in her younger years, before returning to Christ after I found Him.

But the past is just that... it is the past.  The past cannot be changed but it can be redeemed.  When we lay the dark memories at His feet and He works that precious alchemy only He can do by turning the dark into a beautiful golden path of sharing His love to those who are still in darkness.  When we forgive even if we can't forget.

When we trust His writing of our story. 

Artist:  Thomas Carr


The Journey said...

Such a wonderful post. Yes, we are all sorts of thing rolled into one.

Terra said...

You wrote, the dark is threatened by the light. So true, when there is light the darkness is extinguished. How wonderful you bring that light. I think many of us can relate to having different sides, let's call it being well-rounded.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I love your story of God's redeeming power!
When I was very young my mom took us to church, as she had grown up in church, and while moral, she was not a believer. Both my parents got saved in the 70's also, and from then on we were a church going, Christian family, but when I got saved at 9 years old in 1972, we were all first generation Christians. That made us different from many families, but that was okay and while challenging for my parents who were baby Christians, they grew, and we kids grew. I am thankful that our immediate family are all mostly believers, many cousins, a few aunts and uncles are, but not all.

Thank you for sharing how God uses our stories to make us who He has for us to be.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for the beautiful "story" He has made in your life and for the gift of words He has given you. Your post was a blessing today. Blessings to you, Sharon D.

Vee said...

I was going to joke that there's probably a pill for those dual personalities of yours ☺. Then your post took a different turn... depth...that's what this post has. Thank you. Much to ponder.

peggy said...

Thank you Brenda for
passing His message in such a beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

...the past can be redeemed ..." I need to remember that ( I know it can't be really forgotten . ) Just a wonderful post !

Dee from Tenn

Sandi said...

"The past cannot be changed but it can be redeemed."


Thank you for this post.

Susan Humeston said...

I've gone through a great deal of my life thinking I had forgiven my parents and sister for various things, but finding I had not. I was still hurt and reacting to those old hurts. Just recently I realized that I have to give this past over to the Lord to deal with so that I can completely forgive. Your post was extremely well timed for me, kind of like God knows what He is doing when He moves others to write, eh? Thank you so much for this reminder.

Anonymous said...

There are so many parts of your story that are my story also - I read of myself in your words. Thank you for reminding me that God can and does "work all things together" - that He loves me the sometimes "unloveable" with unconditional love. Just what I needed to hear today.


Sherry said...

transparent heart ..
i thank you for this post as it brings to light
particular events in my own life in how i came
to know the Lord in a true and personal way.
and the experiences following that time in how
family responded and continues to respond.

Carrie said...

Beautiful. Love hearing stories of how God has worked across a span of years.

Melissa said...

Wanted to comment today, Thursday, even though I read this on Sunday, thank you for sharing. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing!
Now on to something totally looks like you've changed your Blog page a little bit, no more of who you're following and their updates and the pictures look bigger (that's nice).

Keri said...

I realize I'm several days late reading this post because it has been a busy week, but I'm so glad that I made time to come back and read it. Simply beautiful thoughts expressed in the perfect words. Despite growing up in a wholesome environment and being a church-goer all my life, I still chose to make some bad decisions during a brief time in my twenties. Those years tend to haunt me, thanks to Satan, the accuser. I'm always thankful when I read reminders, like this one, that God uses even the ugly parts of our pasts and our selves for His matter what Satan says about it. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

The dark did not accept the Light... oh this is exactly what happened to me when I surrendered to My Savior. My family stopped been my family and my husband had a terribly hard time been in the same room with me. They were repulsed...yet, HIS Grace and HIS Spirit flourished inside of me, and I am still here, serving HIM. Happily married to my husband still...He saw the LIGHT and follows Our Savior :0) Thank you so much for the depth of this post and for your willingness to share it with all of us that read it. Blessings...

Anonymous said...

"God writes straight - on crooked lines"

Melanie32 said...

Hi there! I just happened to come across your blog while searching for reviews for David Quine's Starting Points curriculum. I've been reading through different posts of yours and the more I read, the more I sense a kindred spirit. I could have written many of your posts.

I just wanted to say hi and thanks for blogging. Sometimes it's nice just to know you're not the only one.