While I am now a sold out lover of Jesus Christ, Mom, wife, hope broker, public speaker, blogger, bible study leader, worship team member, I also am a “former” pit-dweller... and I DO mean PIT!
You know those people in your life that are always in something hard right? The ones who seem to be perpetually stuck in a pit, I’m talking about in a deep place of struggle with something every time you see them? That person’s story has also been my story...
Allow me to unpack for you how my mess has become my message and my pit of shame and guilt became my road to redemption. I spent the first 35 years of my life shackled by shame. Thinking back on it now, I realize I had always felt it at various times throughout my life. Shame had been a part of my life since early childhood.
I felt shame by the lack of time my father gave me as a little girl, which often made me feel of little to no value to him and inevitably those inner vows I made, lead me right into the arms of a young man at age 15, we'll get to that in a moment.
I felt shame when my mother and I were physically abused by my father and we couldn’t tell anyone. We couldn't hide or go anywhere. And I believed it was somehow my fault. We were trapped. The one time we had the courage to escape, we were unsuccessful and he found us. The punishment from attempting was far worse than if we'd just stayed put.
I felt shame as my mother compared me to my best friend as a child who was smarter and better behaved. I felt shame when my mother left my father when I was 12 and chose to leave me behind. While my mother moved an hour away to finish nursing school, I remained there, with my Dad, and things only got worse. She received a new lease on life. Was I not worth saving too?
I felt shame at 15 yrs of age the night my father made me strip naked behind the shop on our property and whipped me so badly that there wasn't a place on the backside of my body that wasn't cut, whelped, or bruised. I felt even more shame the next day as Child Protective Services made me strip down once again to take pictures of me.
I felt shame as a 16 yr. old teen Mom, yes, that boy I was dating at 15 had been my refuge and had talked me into having sex at 16.....what had I done? What will people think of me? No amount of showering could wash it off, I was forever changed inside. My soul ached to take it back, to have not done it. I felt shame as we walked down the isle of a CHURCH for goodness sake and got married. I felt shame as we tried to make the best of it, but 6 mo. after our son was born, that High school sweetheart I thought was my refuge left our lives claiming the military was the answer for him, and leaving me with the responsibility of parenting alone. Now, a 17 yr. old divorced teen mom, working two jobs, living in low income housing and trying to finish school. SHAME. Everyone in my world walked away from me, I was alone with my baby night after night in the projects, trying to study, make dinner, feed a baby, all the while yelling, thumping music and the occasional gun shots going off outside of our apartment where I’d put a chair against the door every night.
I remember thinking, I'm bound to be like this forever.
I felt shame at an even deeper level a yr. later when I became pregnant from a string of bad decisions with a man in this "Pit" which lead me to choose abortion. The shameful thoughts that crippled me were something like, "If my baby's grandparents find out I'm pregnant they will take my baby from me!"
"I can't take care of another baby, I'm not capable, not worthy of the one I have”. SHAME.
The shame had never been so crippling though as it was in that abortion clinic. Cold, dark, and yet again I was alone. I had driven myself there and then drove myself home. Suffering the pain that weekend in my apartment all while taking care of my baby, it seemed so surreal, almost as if I didn’t even deserve to hold and enjoy my baby. And yet later, stuffing it down as if nothing had happened.
Shame. It owned me. And had continued to own me even as I tried to get-it-together, "multiple" times. And by multiple, I mean 3 marriages, 3 kids with different fathers all by the time I was 26 yrs. old. All failures. All just a memory of how I chose the wrong path, the wrong man, the wrong way one after another.
Feeling tossed to and fro in life by my choices, I remember thinking, Did God even know my name like the Preacher had told me in church camp when I was little and received salvation? I was so sure that “nothing” could separate me from God even at that age, or was I? Was I just smiling and nodding to blend in? Was I just going with the motions to not feel LEFT OUT because after all, being left out and left behind had become my label in life. I knew somewhere deep inside at 16 that I was on the wrong track, and that track was leading me directly into Sin. Sin that “was” in fact separating me from my family, my friends, people who loved and cared about me, but most importantly, my relationship with God. Because of my choices, I wondered, had He forgotten about me because I was used, dirty, unworthy, a mess... A habitual pit-dweller? Continually going off into the ditch. Let me just tell you, if you think you think your pit was so deep you'd never be able pray your way out then you are in good company with me friend!
Fast forward to 11 yrs. ago when I met my now husband. When we came together we were broken, both morally, emotionally and spiritually. Constant fights, disagreements, sleepless nights, and a hamster wheel of emotional upset on the daily it seemed. Imagine with me if you will, that you’ve just purchased a new puzzle. You open the box, so excited to put it together and display it for all to see because everything on the front of the box looks SO good, appealing and desirable.
But then, you start noticing, some of the pieces are broken in the brand new box, some missing, and in fact, some don’t even fit or belong in the box. If your anything like me, you hate see “such a good thing” go to waste, so instead of returning it, you begin trying to force and pry the pieces together as best you can to make them fit! You even start banging on it trying to smash the little suckers into place to make SOME form of a decent picture out of it. You get mad and tear it apart and start all over. You even throw it in the trash a time or two and out of sheer stubbornness you get it out of the garbage and begin the cycle all over again. You finally get it looking as good as you can, hodgepodge glue over it to make it "stick"... But the problem is you know that it's just a hopeless mess!!!
What I have just shared with you is an exact picture of the first 5 years of my marriage with this NEW love I’d found. See I thought when we got married, my 4th husband and I, for SURE this would be the one that “sticks”, the one that would be forever. Problem is, we were trying to fit painfully broken pieces together. We were trying to change one another to fit the mold we thought the other ought to be. We were “dealing” with each other from our broken places, life wounds and inner vows we’d created in our hearts along the way.
I remember mad furious tears, face down in the fibers of the carpet of our closet floor after yet another fight one day, for just a moment I thought....”God just take him from me. Just take him out of this world so that I do not have to go through ANOTHER divorce, Lord I can't bare it any longer, I want him gone, take him in a fire at work, please God, I CANT DO THIS ANYMORE”!! See, He was a Fire Captain, and in my victim way of insane thinking, I thought that death would have been a noble one. Yes, I know what you are all thinking as you read this wide eyed, ”What kind of God fearing woman wants her husband to die, and would ask God to grant that request?!!” A desperate one. One who has felt so much shame, hurt and regret that she cannot fathom moving forward in it any longer. What happened next is still as clear as crystal in my mind....The Holy Spirit is so kind, even in our unfathomable selfishness.
As I sat at the kitchen table sobbing, I got up, went to the window to wipe my eyes, looked outside and I literally heard Jesus “speak” to me for the first time. It was audible, it was recognizable even. That still small voice I’d always heard people speak of was real, and it was talking to ME, and it wasn’t so small in this moment, and NO it wasn’t my conscience! Jesus said to me "Dearly Mine, how can you not love my child the way I do?" He was speaking about my husband. He loved my husband, and wanted to see him healed. JUST like he loved me and wanted the same for me. God was asking me to love my husband the way HE loves. He was asking me to SEE my husband the way HE sees him.
My life, in that split second turned on a dime! I had never been startled in my soul by such a whisper. I sat there frozen staring out my kitchen window. From that moment on, I had new eyes to see my husband the way Jesus saw him, broken and hurt... JUST. LIKE. ME. Was it easy? No. It was like watching layers of an onion being peeled away one painstakingly layer at a time. But the FRUIT that has come from that first prayer is STILL producing.
I didn't know what a praying wife was supposed to look like. I hadn't wanted to be one, because up until that moment I had always wanted him to hurt just as much as he'd hurt me! But that day, I became the praying wife...Literally down on my knees, face buried in the carpet, just like the day I cried out for God to take him. We had never been members of a church since we’d been together, but two weeks after this prayer we visited church for the first time together! Week after week, month after month, I watched layer after layer of pain and bondage melt away from each of our and our marriage. Jesus Christ came into our lives, our home, and our marriage, and He's had us on a fast track to relentless freedom from that life we called a pit since. God’s word tells us that “it is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free, therefor we can stand firm in that and not be burdened by slavery to sin.” That pit had been my slavery!
I don't know where you are in your life today friends, or where you are in your marriage, or family, or work or whatever pit you may feel is too deep to pray your way out off. But I KNOW that even when ALL we have is the strength to utter the words “Jesus HELP”, He is right there, longing, waiting to hear those words from us. He has won my heart, captured my mind, and has bound them both together. He has defeated me in my rebellion, conquered me in my sin, welcomed me into His presence and invited me into the fold of HIS Family. I am no orphan anymore. He has made Himself the object of my sight, flooding me with joy in the morning and Grace at night! From my kitchen window, the mess looks a lot more like a message.
From My Kitchen Window 2018