As many of you know, I have five beautiful children and have been married to the love of my life for all of my adulthood. They are the light and joy of of my human heart…a gift directly from heaven, but I didn’t always know that. Sometimes God has to give you a swift kick in the nether regions to make these things clear. Especially when dealing with a shallow, selfish and evil woman like I was. Please, don’t argue that point to me. I know who I am and what I have done. It is only by the grace of God that I came through with depth, caring and goodness.
I’ve written before about how I nearly starved myself to death, or how I once took a bottle of pills because I just wanted to die. I’ve told you how early in my marriage my husband and I treated each other carelessly. We cheated. We lied. We sabotaged. We hated. And honestly, you can’t go through all of that and not have some resentment and bitterness. You have wounds that need tending or they will fester, your soul will darken and you allow more evil to invade. You invite it right in through the cracks of your shattered self.
This kind of broken can only be mended by God. Before God can fix what you broke, you must confess, take responsibility and ask forgiveness. Otherwise, how will you know what He did for you? How can you exercise your faith if you are unwilling to yield? How can you share the story so others may find hope in their brokenness?
I have done all of that and continue to, but I have yet to share the story of my greatest shame. I certainly don’t have to share my guilt with any of you. God knows what I have done better than I, but I feel now is the time to break myself open again for those that need a little hope. Because if God can work wonderful in me, He can with you also. No matter where you are in your darkness.
As I mentioned above, God has to get our attention. In late 1998 and early 1999, I was in the most shallow, most selfish and most evil time of my life. You would think the whole nearly dying thing would have straightened me right up, but that was only the beginning of God’s work. There was so much repair needed to not only my body and soul, but my mind. It was jaded from years of twisted perceptions and lies. I really bought into that “me, me, me” scenario. I loved my four children, but if I am honest, I hated them also. I remember thinking those words every time I looked in the mirror and saw the body they mutilated, the dark circles under my eyes, the stretch marks that meant I would never wear a two piece swimsuit again. I remember thinking those words and thinking they and my husband were the reasons I was so miserable. They were the reason I hated myself. They were to blame for all the ills that haunted me.
Now, do you see my shame? Dear, God, forgive me. Even now, I can’t think about this without feeling dirty and horrible. But I have vowed to tell the truth that most would never let pass over their lips so you can see how God works. How God has a plan for all situations. Let me now tell you how God took my shallow, selfish evil and made something beautiful and eternal.
Fall of 1999 brought news that took the wind out of my sails. I had survived that last year and really thought I had pulled myself together. The stick read +, even though I had insisted it would read -. I was pregnant. That should be joy, right? But for me, it was like a slap in my face and I just knew my husband would leave me because I became fat again. I was 25 and my life was over…again. Never said I was the brightest light in the room.
For four months, a life grew inside of my body and cried myself to sleep each night while I screamed at God inside of my head.
How could YOU allow this to happen again? Don’t YOU know these children are the reason for my torment? Why are YOU punishing me again? I can’t take any more!
Then one night, between my raging, a voice sounded in my head. It wasn’t God’s voice. Although, I know He placed it there. It was my Granny’s. It was something she said one day when I was a teen.
“How you look at your life and all that is in it, is exactly how it will be. If you look at it as a burden, it will be the heaviest thing you’ve ever carried. But if you look at it as a blessing, your life and all that is in it will be a blessing to you and every person you touch.”
And there it was. The shame I felt at that moment was so great that I couldn’t breathe. Tears came again as the scales fell from my eyes and light poured into me. God had blessed me so immensely and all I could do was wallow in my hate. Peyton, for the first time I felt, kicked the inside of my stomach and a wave of more shame washed over me. This beautiful child already loved me, needed me, wanted me. The least I could do was do the same for him. He was a blessing and I had to see that or else what was the reason God allowed me to live?
A few moments later, Quinton rolled over in the bed, wrapped his arm over my belly and sighed. a little smile worked at his lips. The raging calmed to peace. This was the man I promised to live for, love for, fight for…It was time I realized God had plans for us. They were good plans.
In May of 2000, two weeks before Peyton was born, my husband caught on fire while working under the hood of a car. He was holding a cup of gasoline and the car backfired, sending just enough of a spark to ignite the fumes that wafted around Quinton. He was rushed to the hospital and then on to Parkland Burn Unit in Dallas. I prayed. He sustain burns to his arms, hands, head and neck. His wedding ring melted to his hand and had to be cut from his swelling finger. His hair looked like a smokey brill-o pad and ultimately had to be shaved. He should have died or at least sustained horrible scars. I prayed.
Cleaning his burns was a lesson in pain. I didn’t know a face could leak fluid like tears. I didn’t know that the whole idea of him not being was worse than any pain I had ever felt. I didn’t know how much I loved him.
Two weeks later he stood in the delivery room while we welcomed our 5th child into the world. He held our son with bandaged hands. And I felt like the Grinch, who’s heart grew and grew and grew.
Quinton has three very small scars from his accident. Can’t even tell they are from burns.
I thank God for every part of my life…even the horrible parts. Especially the horrible parts. They have taught me to find contentment in all situations and have faith that God is working…in the shadows if need be…to wash us clean and bring us home.
Peace, love and God’s will.