The woman on my right was painted with tattoos. A ring pierced her nose, her bottom lip, and her brow. Her dark hair swung forward over her eyes.
Even for all of this, the first thing I noticed was her arms.
Raised lines ran across her like prison bars. They started at her shoulder and continued to her fingertips. It was obvious that several of the scars were thicker than the others. These must have been the places she cut deeper, pressing in not to numb the pain but to end it.
The tank top she wore left little to the imagination. She was exposing herself for all the world to see. No, not her cleavage. Her pain.
As the waiter refilled our coffee cups, the young woman began talking. She spoke of a childhood of abuse. A lifetime of trauma. A protector who didn’t do his job but instead preyed upon the innocent. She spoke of her addictions: to substances, to denial, to the feeling that would wash over her when she held a razor blade in her hands.
She spoke freely, hiding nothing, holding her hands out before her with the gift of her scars and her story.
As she spoke, the woman across from us listened intently. She nodded her graying head slowly, her kind eyes accentuated by laugh-lines. If ever there were two such different women having lunch together, I have not heard of it.
Suddenly, the grandmother reached her hand across the table and placed it lovingly on the arm of the young lady next to me. She began to gently rub her fingers back and forth, tracing the scars.
“Honey,” she said, “The fact that you are not wearing long sleeves to cover these up tells me so much about you. You are not trying to hide your scars from the world. These scars are so beautiful. They are beautiful because they are a part of you. They are a part of your story. Thank you for sharing them with us.”
She called her scars beautiful. And they were.
It felt holy, that moment at the lunch table. It was a table surrounded by women from vastly different backgrounds, each of us with different struggles and different stories. But in that moment we were all the same. We all carried scars that had been declared beautiful.
What courage it took for that young woman to bare her pain for everyone to see.
What courage it took for that grandmother to reach into the pain and call it beautiful.
What courage it takes for each one of us to share our scars with each other.
I love this quote from Iyanla Vanzant. The heart of what she is saying is true. Your story is a healing agent for you and for others. However, I would add one caveat.
The healing power is not contained within your story. The healing power belongs to God and He allows it to flow through your story.
When God first asked me to write my story, I said no.
Of course, when God first asked me to adopt, I said no then too.
I have a history of stubbornness. Thankfully, God has a history of patience and He leads me gently.
When my husband mentioned the idea of writing a book, my gut reaction was fear. I prayed about it for an entire year before I sat down with my laptop and started working.
Through the writing of my story, my heart experienced great healing. I was able to hold up all the shattered pieces of my life and examine them under the light of God’s love. I was able to see the miraculous ways He used my broken places as an avenue for His glory.
As Liz Curtis Higgs said to that lunch table full of writers, speakers, and doubters (I was sitting firmly in the last category), “Honey, if God has taught you a lesson, you need to share it with others. It is not yours to keep. It is yours to give away.”
I encourage you, friends: give your story away. It doesn’t need to be told to the whole world (although this might be the audience you choose), but it does need to be told. Your story is a gift of great value.
This is my story. It contains all of my messed-up, run-down, worn-out places. It talks of brokenness and redemption, trauma and triumph, joy in the midst of pain. It speaks of laughter and healing and how God uses misfits in the most unlikely of ways. You might just recognize yourself in these words.
I have poured years and tears into these pages and I have mixed feelings as OKAYEST MOM makes its way out into the world. I am excited to finally place it into your hands. I am nervous about how the tender parts will be received.
But I am resting in this: God first asked me to live this story, then He asked me to tell it. I have done my best to do both.
If you would like to join me, OKAYEST MOM is available for pre-order. Simply click one of these links and my story will show up in your mailbox on June 26, 2018.
Thank you, friends. You make me brave.