Fourteen years ago this week I made a vow to be married “until death do we part”. I was unable to fulfill that vow. I have since spent countless hours dissecting how I found myself in that situation- that marriage- that courtroom- that role as a single mother. My conversations with God were fraught with feelings of remorse, guilt, weakness and shame.
Remorse because I clearly heard God say no. He sent, not one, but three people to intervene. He answered every fleece I set before Him (Judges 6:36-40). But I had adopted a warped theology concerning His permissive will.
Guilt because my decision to walk away changed the family photo forever for my children. Guilt because I knew God hates divorce.
Weakness because I didn’t feel strong enough to persevere; big enough to forgive, or have enough faith to believe God could… would change my circumstance.
Shame because my choice, my insistent choice of this man was a reflection, a mirror of my mindset; insight into the condition of my own heart. My choice exposed my own sick soul.
Yes, I felt exposed. But God. With every hard conversation with the Father, He poured His redeeming love and limitless compassion over me. His forgiveness and compassion was not only comforting, it was healing. Like a balm, “like cocoa butter on my heart.“ Homage to India Arie. And He’s been faithful to reapply as needed.
Over the years, Holy Spirit has re-informed my thinking. For example, He only has one will, and it’s perfect…always. We are the ones with a permissive will, a free will. We are the ones that decide what’s “okay” based on cultural norms, family values, and simple desire. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Yes, He hates divorce. But He will prioritize the proper positioning of our relationship with Him over any other relationship we may have. When Jesus had my undivided attention, He was eager to talk about us- my spiritual marriage with Him and what was out of alignment, not my union with that man across town.
Holy Spirit reminded me that Jesus took my shame. That it, too, was nailed to the cross. And every time I shrink under a real or perceived indictment from others, I’m saying that the cross is not enough.
Time with Jesus has healed my wounds. I have learned to dance again, laugh loudly, and sing off key—and not care who hears. Some of that comes with being over 40, but much of it is the freedom that comes with choosing to live in His love. But as with any bad fall, I was left with a few bumps and bruises and unsightly scar tissue. Or so I thought.
One day, I asked God to take away the scars. He said, “No, your scars are beautiful; they tell a story.”
I thought about that for a while.
I have a scar on my right knee. When I was 12 years old (or so), my cousin, Kevin and I decided to tie our bikes together and go for a ride. A car came down the street. I veered to the right. Kevin did not. Shaking my head.
I also have a scar/bump on the inside of my bottom lip. One summer at the local YMCA, my friends and I were trying to see who could swing on the park swings the highest. I won! I went over the bar, landed on my stomach and bit through my lip. The emergency room doctor wanted to give me stitches. But as a child, I was deathly afraid of needles and I refused. I’m now left with a trophy, of sorts, of my time at the Y. It’s a reprove to yield to the “good doctor” if we want to be whole, not just healed.
These “scar stories” have been the source of good laughs, used as warnings to my children, and a reminder of the adventurous spirit that God gave me. My scars are beautiful. And the ones I got from the fall of my marriage are no different. The Father gave me discernment for my insecurity, compassion for others for my heartbreak, and a desire to empower and resource other single mothers sitting in the proverbial emergency room.
My story, over simplified, is a reminder of Jesus’ unfailing and redemptive love. His jealousy for my heart. His faithfulness to restore and make all things new. My scars are a warning to others to heed the voice of the Father. They testify to His excessive, lavish provision.
My faith has been strengthened – built – fortified – by the thick, tough fibers of scar tissue.
Jesus’ scars, as presented to Thomas (John 20: 24-29), remind us that He gave it all for us; that He truly loved us to death. His scars tell us He has power over death. They are a promised fulfilled- a covenant established.
I love His scars. I love my scars.
What’s your story?
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love for me! Psalm 66: 16-20