Well... this weekend I had an opportunity to go to Women of Faith. I went last year and it was amazing. I had a sneaking suspicion that I would have a hard time at this event. I was pretty sure it would be a multiple tissue weekend. The theme for the weekend was "Survival to Revival" and so many of the speakers talked about overcoming life's hurdles. I heard more great advice and scripture than I actually remember. I really should have taken notes... the entire conference seem directed at me... faithlessness in difficult times. Understanding what to do when life doesn't go the way you planned... becoming hopeful again after loss... and as I expected, I cried a lot and even though I LOVED the whole weekend, it brought me to the place that I had been hiding from by being busy. I finally was unable to avoid my grief... I reluctantly was giving myself permission to 'go there.' I had no where to go, no one to dote on, nothing to clean... expect for my heart, my soul and my grief.
Many of the women speaking talked about feeling like a part of their story... something from their past, precluded them from God's grace. I think, if I am honest with myself, I can say that when Dex passed away, I felt that way... It made me question everything... from wondering why God would allow Declan to die when I know He could have prevented it, changed it, or reversed it... to looking at my own story, my own life and starting to question if I was enough for Him and how my past mistakes potentially played into this horrific experience that I have to live. We all have a story and the speakers at Women of Faith talked relentlessly about coming to terms with that story and that includes the secrets that we often don't want other people to know. My story makes me feel like I am not enough... I am ashamed for many decision I have made in the past. In attempts to comfort myself, I would like to think I am not alone in that and that we all hang our head in shame at a few of those indiscretions. One quote that stuck with me this weekend was this, "Bring your not enough to His MORE than enough." His MORE than enough...
I spent this afternoon working on something... I wrote on a piece of paper these words "My ugliness. My unworthiness. My brokenness. My STORY." and I wrote down things that I feel I fall short at. I wrote down those secrets I was talking about. I confessed things I felt were ugly... than I looked up Bible verses about God's grace. I found one that I liked... that spoke to me. It's from Ephesians 2:4-9. "4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast." Then I remembered that my confirmation verse was somewhere in the book of Ephesians as well. So I got out my Bible and found that book... what happened next gives me goosebumps... I started to thumb through the chapter and I found my verse...it's Ephesians 2:8-9. THE SAME verse that I had just looked at! I remember reading that verse back in 8th grade and wondering what Pastor Kevin was thinking. I remember being confused by it. I remember being disappointed that it was my verse and I always wanted to know WHY that verse... what about me, made him think of Ephesians 2:8-9. I almost wonder if Pastor Kevin had no idea why that verse came to him for me...however, now I understand and know that God's hands were ALL over that decision.
I know I'll never know why this happened... I actually am ok with that. Knowing would only make me mad because NOTHING would be a good enough reason for me. What I do know is that my "not enough" is NOT why this happened. I know that because of Ephesians 2:8-9 and at church today, as I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face I heard 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 say to me, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the OLD IS GONE, the NEW has come!" Praise God. The ugliness of my story does not define who I am... it does not hunt me down and ruin me... although there is NO promises that the remainder of my life will be smooth sailing... there is NOTHING that guarantees I will not suffer another loss, but I can confidently say should something like that happen... it is not because God had precluded me from His grace. Far from it.
This weekend, I've realized I have been busy hiding from grief because I didn't want to acknowledge my disappointment in my own story, my own self... because my grief IS my story, mixed with poor decisions and imperfect love for everyone, I was afraid to look to deep into my hurt... at this point there is no separation. Right or wrong everything about me, about who I am... IS MY GRIEF JOURNEY. Looking grief in the eye is looking at all my hurts, all my pain and all my disappointments head on.... and that is huge for me. Thank goodness our God has big shoulders.