I loved my childhood. I had a great upbringing with supportive and loving parents and grandparents who were heavily involved and always there for me. I have happy and fond memories from school, had fantastic friends and made good grades. In middle school, I was 1st chair in band *shameless plug – because I absolutely loved it*, got my first cell phone (and covered it in sticky jewels), and was finally old enough to ride my bike to the movie theater to meet my friends all by myself. Exhilarating! In high school, I did all of the things high schoolers do (or at least did when I was in high school). Friday night football games, winter formals, after-school parking lot hangouts and Sonic runs, sleepovers that ended with our bellies sore from laughter. Life was good.
As I got older, I, obviously, had to start adulting. Eww. And with that came adult responsibilities, adult jobs, adult decisions, and all of the adult things. Over time, I started to realize that I wasn’t nearly as carefree and joyful as I used to be. Naturally, right?
I was experiencing the hard things in life - lies, betrayal, heartbreak, loss, judgement, self-doubt. And along the way, I let the wrong people have pieces of my heart who ultimately didn’t deserve it. Friendships that I once cherished and valued ended in betrayal and broken trust, and relationships that I put all of my effort in to were nothing but negative for my spirit and toxic to the way I viewed and appreciated myself. I let people lie to me, take advantage of my heart, and walk all over me, simply because I was too timid and reserved to stand up for myself at the time. Someone once told me, “Rachel, you’re just too nice.” It was spoken as a negative statement; a problem that needed to be fixed. And at the time, I received it as such. But as I got older and the more I thought about it, the more I thought about how beautiful the world would be if everyone’s goal was to just be “too nice”.
It would be several years before I would begin to acknowledge, see and feel the damage of the hurtful things that were done to or spoken over me, and several more years before I would begin to learn how to deal with them. It’s hard to fix something that’s broken. Painful, even. And even if you can get it put back together, sometimes the fix is just temporary, like a Band-Aid covering up a wound. But I think something that we often struggle to understand is that all of those negative things that have happened in our lives, the bad decisions and mistakes we made, the hurts caused by mean things others said to us, the people who took advantage of us and broke our hearts, they broke God’s heart, too. They made Him sad, too.
I talked with a friend a while back who couldn’t find it in herself to believe that God still loved or cared for her after everything she had been through. In her eyes, she wasn’t worthy of that kind of love. Not anymore. Oh, how it made my heart hurt - it was the farthest thing from the truth. It occurred to me that so many of us struggle to believe that God loves us, even when we are messy and fall. In response, we find it hard to fully let Him into our hearts because of everything we carry around with us on a day to day basis – shame, hurt, guilt, brokenness, frustration, you name it. I don’t think it’s intentional, but there’s something in us, deep down, that believes that if we mess up, make mistakes, fall apart, we aren’t worthy of the love and tenderness that God so effortlessly and freely gives to us. We feel like His love is earned by our good deeds and honorable behavior, and once we mess up, that’s it. All is lost.
Sweet friends, God can turn your brokenness into beauty.
Into strength, boldness, passion and joy. Because He wants that for us! He doesn’t want us to live in hurt and sadness. He wants us to experience the freedom that comes from a life with Him, totally and completely surrendered. He is never so let down and disappointed in us that He gives up and leaves, never to be heard from again. His love is relentless, His pursuit steadfast and constant. He loves us, despite all of our mistakes, hurts and messes, because that’s just who He is! And the best part? There are new mercies waiting for us every morning, no matter what. I’m not defined by my past mistakes or the negative things that have happened to me. Jesus made sure of that.
The thing is, we will never deserve the amount of love and grace God shows us every day; the amount of love and grace Jesus professed by dying on the cross for us (here’s the part that gets me every time) long before we were ever even born! But guess what? He gives it to us anyways. Because that’s God! That’s His heart!
I walked through a very difficult season about a year ago where I struggled to believe that God still wanted to use me for what He was calling me to. I was doubting myself and the direction He was leading me in, and truthfully didn’t believe that I was the one for the job. “I’m no one special. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other people who can do this way better than I can; who are more deserving of it than I am. No one cares what I have to say.” I was believing lie after lie about myself and what I was capable of, reverting back to the negative things that were spoken over me by people that were undeservedly given influence in my life and pieces of my heart long ago.
I physically, emotionally and mentally felt like I was drowning. I was mean, hurtful, exhausted, and beyond frustrated and resentful. I couldn’t fully wrap my mind around the battle waging war in my life, heart, mind and soul. Old memories and lies pouring over the edge into this beautiful thing God had created inside of me. Hurts from my past clinging to anything they could find just to stay afloat, keeping me from being able to move forward and be at peace about anything. The enemy has a way of doing that, doesn’t he? And there God was, always pulling me in the other direction – towards Him. It quite literally felt like game of tug-of-war. It was confusing and exhausting, and, if I’m being honest, I hated almost every second of that season. Then, one day, after I took the time to actually sit down, ask and listen, the Lord so sweetly spoke to me about my value and worth – game changer. I understood. I understood it all.
In case you aren’t sure how it ends, *Spoiler Alert* God wins. Every time.
You see, it turns out that God loves you through your messes and all of the broken pieces. And it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or been through. You aren’t too broken or too far gone for His love. You can doubt yourself all you want, but He knows and believes the truth. He knows you more intimately than anyone else, and friend, He still wants you! He’s after your heart, not your accomplishments and successes. He doesn’t care what your past looks like. He can erase all of the tears you’ve cried, all of the hurt you’ve felt, and all of the decisions you’ve made that were anything but life-giving to you. Because He’s God and He wants to! It’s not our job to fix our brokenness. It’s our job to lay down all of the broken pieces in front of Him so that He can get to work on mending them.
We live in a world where hurt people hurt people. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. There will be people you don’t know, people you trust, people you love and people you are friends with, who will cause cracks in your beautiful heart. Maybe even break pieces off. Don’t let that keep you from believing in your value and worth. Don’t let that keep you from loving people well.
He's after your heart. He makes brokenness beautiful. And simply because He loves you, you are worthy of that. Don’t ever forget it.