Inverting Your Pain
2.2 micrometers, less than the diameter of a human hair, that was the polishing flaw in the Hubble telescope’s mirror that caused its images to appear blurry from Earth. For most of my 40+ years, seeing God’s hand at work in my life and understanding how he was using my broken past for ‘good’ was a lot like looking through the original lens of the Hubble telescope-blurry. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, but the lens that I used to judge God’s work was flawed. Not until I spent consistent time seeking God’s will for my life that the lens through which I was looking changed. Once my heart changed, my perspective changed, and I began to see a connection I never noticed before. God was allowing those vulnerable areas of my heart to heal through a yearning to serve and build up others in the places where I had been hurt. With a newly adjusted lens, I began to see more of God’s big picture plan and understand how my childhood battles were being used to create in me a passion for ministering to the broken and lost hearts of other women. That my desire to plant seeds of hope and help them harvest their own victory is directly linked back to my own roots. I finally began to see the ‘good’.
I was 29 when my father died. It may seem old enough to handle the loss of a parent, but for me, all it did was reopen wounds that had been neatly boxed up and hidden away on shelves in my heart. The pain came rushing back a few months before he passed away as he pulled me aside and told me he had lied.
Throughout most of my elementary days, there was chaos and hurt scattered here and there in my life like sprinkles on a cupcake. Some days everything appeared normal, other days, we just ignored it and didn’t talk about what had happened. When I finally reached junior high, my heart was ready to acknowledge the chaos I’d been living in, but my head simply told it to be quiet and tried to conceal it to be forgotten. But that’s the funny thing about pain. It doesn’t stay buried or forgotten forever. It rears its ugly head intermittently until it’s dealt with and the wounds are finally healed.
My first journey in the healing process was church camp with my youth group. We had a young, college-aged man as our youth pastor. He was funny, friendly, and one night during camp, I felt safe enough to talk to him about some of the pain from my childhood. I initially felt better after our talk, but once we were back home I could tell something had changed. It wasn’t until my dad’s statement decades later that I began to understand what had happened.
After coming home from camp that summer, the youth pastor felt compelled to speak to my father about the stories I had shared with him. To cover up the truth, my dad lied to the youth pastor and simply said I was lying, spoiled, and seeking attention. While my father may have outwardly preserved his status in the community, all I learned as a young girl was that it wasn’t safe to be vulnerable with anyone, and it reaffirmed my belief that I had little value.
Year after year I struggled. Seeking validation from anyone who would offer it to me regardless of the price I paid. Throughout my childhood, I heard stories how my mother went without food at times because there wasn’t enough money to feed everyone. Since my family was so poor and already a family of 4 when I was unintentionally conceived, the doctors asked my mom to consider aborting me because of the financial difficulties of feeding another child. If your life has little value, what difference would an abortion make?
But, God saw my value and had other plans. God used my chaotic life to strengthen me and develop my character and abilities. What Satan had planned to break me and destroy me, God redeemed for his glory. God began taking my broken pieces and carefully placed them together to create a beautiful story of hope, of faith, of love, of goodness and of his redemption.
Our God is a good God. He restores and heals brokenness. God has used my past to help propel me towards a mission of helping women find their true worth and purpose; that’s the specialness of God. He uses the exact hurts and heartaches that were planted in us so that we become uniquely qualified to help heal it in others. God’s healing love is not unlike the solution to the Hubble telescope in that the solution wasn’t found in removing the original flaw but inverting it to allow a new crispness to be seen. As our hearts heal, our eyes begin to clearly see the beauty that was there all along.
With my adjusted lens now in place, I’m beginning to realize that the good and the bad of my life isn’t about me, it’s about developing in me the skills necessary to fulfill God’s calling on my life. It’s about creating sensitivities and strengths in areas for God’s purposes. We each have a unique path which we will walk, and God specifically allows our journey to prepare us to lead those we intersect with back to him. When we share our experiences, it helps others adjust their lenses to see a good God at work. In Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. What on Earth Am I Here For he states:
“For God to use your painful experiences, you must be willing to share them…Doing this will probably be your most effective ministry.”
We each have a powerful story of how God has inverted our pain for good that can bring clarity of sight to someone else if only we will choose to share it.