Sometimes, I’m absolutely terrified to tell my own stories.
The funny ones were never difficult, I’ve always been able to easily spin and weave those into any and every conversation. Nothing brings me joy like making a room full of people ache with laughter.
But the ones that require me pulling off layers of skin, cracking open my rib cage and letting you peek at the cracks and crevices of my core?
These are the stories I have always been afraid of.
I have driven to the places that haunt me so many times, that I know each tree that lines those gravel streets.
I used stockpile restaurant napkins to keep in the glove box of my little blue Nissan, for all the times I would sit in grocery store parking lots, legs crossed, tears pouring down my face.
I’ve worn out the words “I love you” to people who will never and can never say them back to me.
All by myself, I have stumbled up to houses, hands shaking & stomach churning to apologize to people who probably didn’t deserve it.
I have given out hand-written letters with splatters of my own heart painting the page. I have said words that made me cringe, words that left me feeling bare and exposed because I really believed those people needed to hear the absolute truth.
I lost myself in fears that threatened to swallow me whole. I gave room to a series of imaginations that paralyzed me and barricaded me. I let myself forget the feeling of sunshine on my face and fresh wind filling my lungs.
I’ve lost best friends. People who have seen the best in me, the worst in me, who let me fall into their embrace and told me “it’s all going to be okay”.
Those people left me and it nearly killed me.
I told myself that I needed to hide these parts from the world; that strangers and friends alike didn’t deserve to hear about these scars, they didn’t earn the right to know the pieces that aren’t so pretty. They are not ready for the i’m-not-so-perfect-after-all confessions of a preacher’s kid.
I prided myself on my ability to lock up my disfigured limbs and the unlovely layers of my heart.
But I’m starting to think people need to read and hear the stories that make another person human. They need to know that they’re not alone in their despair, that they aren’t the only ones who have been kicked and thrown dirt at.
They need to know that they weren’t the only kids who trusted someone who took advantage of them.
They need to know that they are not alone in their questions about the God of their childhood, who looks nothing like everyone said He did.
You’re not the only person who is angry at someone for breaking every single promise they ever made to you. You are not the only one who came limping home, head in their hands, feeling like they’d been kicked in the gut because someone should have protected you, but didn’t.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming into my pillow from the nightmares that plastered themselves to the walls of my unconscious.
I’ve been broken by memories that are stuck on repeat. Nights of trust and truth that were erased by ones of betrayal and misery.
I have beat my steering wheel. I have used words that, if she had heard them, would have caused my mother to wash my mouth out with bars of white Ivory soap.
Because I am human and that is glorious and chaotic.
I am often broken and sometimes smothered by harsh realities, unanswerable questions and heartbreaking losses.
But I am beautiful. I am so absolutely, unmistakably, breathtakingly stunning. With all of my flaws and blemishes and imperfections, I am still worthy of love.
I have wrestled with the emptiness that weighs heavily on my chest, I know well the pain of having something and someone you love deeply taken away from you.
But I am learning to be open about that.
All the parts I try to cover up, the wounds I try to sew up that seem to keep cracking open at the first signs of disappointment:
I am done with trying to erase them.
I am so done with the idea that our bruises and our scars are not marks of beauty. I am finished with refusing to look at them. When the truth is, they are my marks of redemption and grace.
Those things that I have called ugly are reminders of His unfailing affection and His immovable desire to come for me, even when I hated Him.
I don’t want to push it all away. I don’t want to clean up and look pretty. I want to show the world the marks I bear on my heart and my body that scream HE LOVES ME! HE LOVES ME!
The ones that I don’t have to hide any longer because on His own body he wore the scars that brought healing to mine.
I am not ashamed of who I am, where I’ve been, the brokenness I’ve felt and that He came down and pulled me out. I will not hide those stories that make you wince and cause you to see my grief.
Because I am not ashamed of the power of God to take what is absolutely hideous and make it the perfect picture of freedom and redemption.
Not only did Jesus let his friends see his scars, He let them put their dirty hands on the places where he had once been ripped apart.
He is not ashamed of suffering.
So, I refuse to cover my wounds. I refuse to hide my marks of past suffering. Because He has redeemed them. He has carried them and He put pain on display so that I could have the right as his child to display His grace, His healing and His forgiveness.
But I cannot show you how He heals, unless I show you what was first broken. I cannot give proof of how He washes, if I will not show what was dirty before He came. I cannot convince you of the greatness of His love, if I do not first show you how He took away the shame of all the things I think are unlovable about me.
I’m so sorry if the church has made you feel like you can’t show your scars. If they made you feel ashamed of all that you have done or have carried.
I’m sorry if we seem perfect, with our pressed church clothes and words like modest, pure, and consecrated and have made you feel like that we were always clean and tidy; born with a Bible in our hands.
I’m sorry we have been afraid to tell our stories.
That somewhere along the way we forgot that they are what make us relatable, human and displays of infinite grace.
I’m sorry if I haven’t let you see the parts that sometimes still bleed, the limbs that are still a little crooked. I’m sorry that I sometimes still cover the insecure places with my fancy words and deeds.
But I am human and I am flawed. I have known the feeling of weeping on the cold tile floor. I have done things that dulled the life in my eyes. I’ve been the girl who has felt used and worthless.
But I am loved. I know it when I read of how He continuously rolls up His sleeves and lets people remember Him naked, hanging on a tree, mocked and rejected.
He doesn’t let us forget His pain. He doesn’t try to cover it up. He reminds us over and over again of all that He endured.
But He also doesn’t let us forget His resurrection and that He overcame that so that we could also overcome.
So, I will not be ashamed of my stories. My stories tell the world of His ability to love the unlovable and find worth in the unworthy.