Thursday, August 20, 2015

Foreward for Half Written: Sharing the purpose behind the story

My brother’s words echoed in my mind, “Share everything, don’t hold back- the parts you don’t want to share might be just the thing someone needs to hear.”

Those are the words that kept replaying as I started writing this book. I remember my laptop was propped up on my knees as I laid on my cozy, down-filled comforter. I sat staring at the blank word document on the screen in front of me, the cursor blinking in expectation as I sat there frozen. My fingertips were locked up in hesitation, holding back from typing. The truth is I was bursting at the seams to share my story, but scared out of my wits at the same time.

I liked the comfort and control of privacy. No one had to know about the unruly, broken, fleshy parts of me. My story is not pretty; in fact, it got pretty ugly. Sharing my story would be like walking into a crowd of strangers completely naked, hoping no one would criticize my flaws.  But wasn’t my brother right? Maybe one thing in my story could make a difference. Certainly I’m not the only one in the world that is broken and ashamed. There have got to be more people out there besides me that are desperate for authentic love and healing. Yet the more I pondered sharing my story the more I realized: I don’t have to wonder about who needs to hear a story like mine. I already know there are others who can relate to me. Others who hide in the shadows with their pain and regrets. Others who retreat behind their smile, wishing someone really understood their mess.
And that is when my story begins to unravel and my fingertips start moving. They can’t stop and won’t stop. I began to fight against the enemy who tells me I will be judged, and I will not make a difference. So long ago, I remember hearing things like “Jesus still loves you” or “I’ll be praying for you”, but those words didn’t resonate with me any longer. They were merely words, words that went in one ear and out the other. I believed I was too far gone, even for Jesus.
My story is a journey to finding love, and it begins by seeking it in the wrong place. My story is about wanting to be a girl that passionately loved God but instead ran into the wilderness, over and over again. It’s about losing my innocence in the heat of the moment and hiding behind a facade pretending to be okay. But I wasn’t okay, I was wandering in empty places where my self-worth was always in question. Brokenness and promiscuity became my default. I kept making bad choices and I didn’t know how to stop faltering. I pushed despair down deeper into my soul, wishing there was someone else to blame for the loss of my emotional and physical purity. But when I searched for a person to peg, all I could think of was myself. So I just kept replaying the broken cycle and covered up the pain with fleeting passions.
I began to wonder why no one told me to hold onto my wholesomeness and that it was so precious and sacred, but I knew the truth- I wouldn’t have listened. I fought against rules, all the weighty rules. I knew in my heart of hearts if I were to seek help, I would push truth away, even if I knew what was right.  After all, who wants to truly look at themselves and see the plank in their own eyes? I did not want to peel back the layers with questions of who I was becoming plaguing my mind: What if I am truly nothing but damaged goods? What if I just don't care? What if I've gone too far? What if there is no hope for me? What if all I see is ugly? I didn’t want to know the answers.
But eventually, what was done in the dark couldn’t stay there any longer. There came a point where I would break values I never thought I would have dared to break. I ran full force into the epitome of heartbreaks, leading me to a dark place where I would have to decide if I was going to choose life or defeat, regardless of my past. I knew to find any relief or healing that I would have to bring all the dirt, grime, and ugliness into the open to truly change.  And that is why I’m going to stop holding back, and share what I have learned.
One day, I did decide to expose all my ugly stains and something  wonderfully unexpected happened. Unconditional love showed up in my life at the most undeserved times.  And in the midst of chaos, I learned to breathe again and stop pretending.  And I can wholeheartedly proclaim that this unexpected grace is not reserved just for me. This story can be written for anyone that wants to be set free and to think of themselves as treasured. What if you had the opportunity to trade ashes in for beauty? What if you didn’t have to run away with your chaos anymore? Better yet, what if your chaos can be used to make you better and whole?  My hope is that what I share will be a testament to God’s amazing love, and that you will find there is absolute beauty in your life right now- regardless of how bad it may seem or how bad you think you’ve messed up.
My story has no greater meaning than anyone else. I know God is in my story, just like I know He is in yours. The only question to ask yourself is: Have you invited Him into your story? Maybe you are in the same place I was time and time again- a place of seclusion, holding onto guilt, embarrassment, and shame. In this place of isolation you may believe that you're too much to handle, and even God wouldn’t want to deal with you anymore. If that is you, I’m here to tell you, in the most loving way, that you’re wrong. God can more than handle you and all your baggage. And the truth is that it doesn’t even have to be your baggage anymore. Maybe your perception of God is one that makes you want to keep running, like I did? And what if your lens of God could be changed by truth?  Through my story, my hope and prayer is that you will take away a sliver (or a huge slice) of who God is and how dearly you are loved, even in your messes.
I pray that that you will see how the love of Jesus shined through the darkness of my life in my book Half Written. I pray that you will embrace the same truth; that your past mistakes and hurts do not have to stay hidden or define you. Most importantly, I pray you will find, as I did, that there are new beginnings in your story. It is still being written.

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