Giving Purpose to the Past

I broke my rib.

It all happened a couple weeks ago when I fell down the stairs eating a rice crispy treat. 

You might think those two things are unrelated... You may think, "so you happened to be eating a rice crispy treat when you fell, but you didn't fall because of the rice crispy treat." But, you'd be wrong in assuming that. I think I might actually have fallen in response to the rice crispy treat. It was good. Like, seriously good. And I guess when I took that first bite (unfortunately on the top step) it was as if nothing else really mattered anymore. 

Including walking.

So, I fell. And apparently my rib has zero street cred because it experienced one tiny, dessert-related tumble down a flight of wooden stairs and now it's all... just, giving up on life.

The worst part was that I landed ON the rice crispy treat and when I came to, it was stuck to my back, like a jerk.
Peeling dessert off one's broken self is a special kind of low point. But that first break wasn't the worst part. 

It's the constant reinjury.

This past week I had the opportunity to be the keynote speaker at a five day conference for college students. It was an amazing time of learning and worship and shenanigans. I was able to bring my husband and our five kids, which was a lot of hard work but also really fun. Most of you think we are already insane for having five kids, let alone bringing them places... and most people would voluntarily break all their ribs rather than attempt to wrangle that many humans in a new environment. 

I hear that, and it's a toss up honestly. 

But the horse-to-child ratio there was really strong, so that helped. #notevenalittle But they did have a great time, which is good because doing what I did this past week is pretty much my dream job. My mom told me that ever since I was a little girl I would say that I wanted to be a "motivational speaker" when I grew up... so I am thrilled that my family is supportive and looking forward to (hopefully) being dragged to many more events to come. 

Followers of Christ talk a lot about giving, and that is such a good thing. We talk about giving our time (to serve others, to volunteer at church and in various ways within our communities), giving our money (to support the local church, missions, and to extend generosity to those in need), and the giving of our talents (using your voice to lead worship, use tech skills in production, or organizational strengths to assist on the administrative end of ministry.) These are all good and Biblical ways to give, and they are things that I have spent my life doing. (Well, not the leading worship part, because my singing voice makes people throw things.) 

But as I laid in bed this weekend, in tears, over my poor broken rib that had just been freshly kicked by my son on accident, I sensed that God is asking me to give more than my time, my money and my talent... He wants me to give those hidden pieces of myself that He has redeemed, and washed clean. Those broken bits that God has bound back together. Those messages and those wounds that are ugly and sometimes still unhealed, sometimes perpetually being reinjured. He used the image of that broken rib getting kicked to remind me of these spiritual and emotional wounds that we all have... those things that get rewounded by this life, and inadvertently kicked by people - even those who mean well and truly love us. I can attest to the fact that just like a hug can cause pain to a broken rib, even love and kindness can hurt if you have an unhealed emotional wound.

I was reminded of the importance of letting the God of the universe heal those wounds. Not just so we can have relief from the constant pain, but so we can give and receive love in healthy ways, and so we share our stories of hope with others. I was reminded of the importance of giving of my self. And that includes my ugly past. My baggage. My fears and insecurities. All my broken places. God's desire and willingness to make all these ugly things in me become new and beautiful is the overriding theme of my life. This weekend, I wasn't stingy about sharing that message. I didn't hold back from sharing the stories of redemption in my own life. 

Sure, It's hard to give away our money. It's sometimes even harder to give away our time and talent. But, what if, what God wants us to be most generous with, is our story of how Jesus has and is changing us? 

It hurts to have old wounds or splinters bumped. It is scary to draw close to a group of people, and trust them to be gentle with your wound story. But, I think I am all done protecting those broken places, because when we keep nursing our old wounds, we miss out on the privilege of God using our stories to trigger healing for someone else. 

I have always loved to tell stories. Whether that is through writing or speaking, it is definitely how God wired me. Sometimes I wonder if God has allowed me to experience a lot of trauma, grief, and tragedy because he has designed me with an irrational willingness to be utterly transparent. I don't want to waste my baggage, my trials, my insecurities. I don't want to hold so tightly to my life "stuff " that I waste an opportunity to share those stories of His triumph in my life. Because I gotta be honest, it feels like more than a fair share of struggle sometimes. #thereisnoquota 

So, I am resolving to pursue this thing as a communicator. I will write and I will speak, if and when God puts opportunities in front of me. I am begging him to heal those wounds from my past that tell me I don't have anything to give. I am walking away from the pride and self-obsessive insecurity that keeps me too embarrassed to finally launch the website I bought and have been ignoring, eh hem... "working on" for TWO YEARS. I am putting myself out there. I am offering myself and my stories up for His use, however He sees fit.

So there ya go. I am officially available for hire. I will speak at camps, retreats, conferences, small gatherings... shoot, I will do children's parties as long as I don't have to dress like a clown. Because, gross. And because, well, I am not a child-predator. 

I won't have the website going for a while, but in the meantime I will continue to blog here. And I will keep sharing stories and I will keep being vulnerable. And when I start to feel that crippling self-doubt... I will remember that it is fair to doubt myself, after all, I say things like "child-predator" in a blog about Jesus. But my hope isn't in me. My hope is in a God so capable of redeeming, He is even willing to use someone like me.