I just returned from four days in Austin, Texas at the IF:Gathering conference. I am still trying to gather my thoughts, process everything I heard, my body is so spent, and my heart is undone. I am a mess.
Yet among all of that are glimpses of sunlight which are bringing me fresh clarity on some long-held struggles.
Here is some rapid-fire thoughts on one....
I have a Good Good Father (link to the You Tube Live version). When this song first played at IF this weekend, my heart hurt. I was so cold in this area...it took me until yesterday to process through the iceberg.
I do not have a good good earthly father. I have a deeply flawed earthly father whom I adore and idolize YET I cannot figure out how to have a day-by-day relationship with after 43 years of putting myself out there only to fall short. I spent the first nine years of my life worshipping at his knee and believing he was the most perfect and wonderful person who walked the face of the earth. I spent the next few months and years trying to figure out where he disappeared to and grasping to hold onto him and our family which was dissolving around my nine year old body. I spent my teenage years trying to love his replacement as a father only to find myself a disappointment to him too. This led to most of my 20s where I hated and resented the replacement and went searching for the original. More disappointment and missteps on both sides. During my 20s I came across Search for Significance and I devoured it, but the mountain of work to become whole was overwhelming to my very damaged faith and self-worth. I was a wreck, and I knew it. I so wanted to be strong, and I worked hard...VERY hard...to project strength in every area of my life. I had everything under control. Inside I was broken and cracked and bleeding and weeping, but no one knew.
There is a lot of story still between then and now, but what hit me this weekend was that I have not fully dealt with my own father issues and it is reflected in my poor choice in men and relationships as I try to find acceptance and unconditional love somewhere with someone...anyone. I have spent the past three years telling myself I am fine and healing, but I am not. The absence of painful relationships and the avoidance of romantic relationships is not healing, it is hiding, and I for one know better. I. Know. Better.
It is time for me to find true healing. My earthly parents are broken and they brought their brokenness to their parenting. I am a broken product of that, but I am also the product of a whole and good God who loves me unconditionally. He has remained with me, in me, every step of my life. It is time for me to trust him with ALL of me and ALL of my brokenness...not simply the ones I am "ready" to deal with...but these hairy, gnarly places I am so NOT ready to deal with....
Ann Voskamp spoke at IF this past weekend and she challenged us with I Samuel 7:3, and I would do ANYTHING to get those words unspoken because they are wrecking me and dredging up stuff that I would rather walk over hot coals than confront, face, and generally deal with....but I know...I KNOW that on the other side of the work that simply Must. Be. Done. there is great healing for the nine year old girl that still wants a family, her family, a love, her love, to be known, to be remembered, to be cherished, to be valued, to be seen....
I got to see my Haiti girls (as I have nicknamed them) while I was in Austin, and it was so good for my soul to simply listen to them speak to others and each other. They are smart, funny, thoughtful, and full of love for others and Jesus. They are passionate. Over ice cream yesterday, I was speaking with one of them about her youth group and their needs...later between flights we were texting about passion and renewal....then I played Good Good Father on repeat for the final leg of my flight home. I knew that God was trying to get through to my heart. My heart that has been closed to healing in this place. It took my Haiti girls to convict me to do this work that I must do....they see a strong, single woman who loves Jesus. I am very much all of those things, but I want to be able and worthy to show them the whole story...the hard stuff...because one day the hard stuff will present itself to them in their lives. Their faith will be shaken. Someone(s) will disappoint them. They will question God's love for them. They will be challenged past their possessed wisdom. Life. Will. Happen. and Growth. Will. Be. Waiting. On. The. Other. Side. and I want to be a lantern to them in their walk to share wisdom and love them unconditionally and generally let them know that God is real and that he loves them and that They. Will. Make. It. Through. I can't do that if I haven't owned my walk...and met with God in this place of brokenness.
I have a good, good Father and he has been waiting a very long time for me in this space...in this garden where beauty resides at every turn...where hard work is confronted...where He and I walk hand-in-hand together.
The scars are so deep...they touch so much of my life. This isn't about my parents or my childhood or the whatmighthavebeens. This is about my life NOW. My future. My walk. My gifts and calling...and honoring and acknowledging that God can make beauty out of the ruins...those inflicted upon us AND those self-inflicted again and again. This isn't about imperfect parents, but a perfect God.
I am undone, but I am hopeful. Maybe not hopeful...yet...but I know that soon I will feel that hope again. First comes my surrender...then healing...and maybe after that hope in the new day that will come with the sunrise on a fresh season. Right now I need to surrender to the winter that is upon me.
My God and I walk through the fields together.
Here we go...
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)