At any given time I maintain at least six girl crushes. If you don’t know what a “girl crush is” it’s when you seriously admire another woman to the point where you’ve contemplated hanging around their mail box in hopes that you’ll bump into them and become best friends. They are rocks stars and role models for me in the areas of faith, fitness, parenting and cooking. Girl crushes are fun and fairly harmless, but it’s more important to have role models that are not celebrities but people who mentor us in our real lives. Most of us probably have rock stars at church. These women ooze with spiritual discipline always deeply engage during worship. They’re full of encouraging words and they faithfully pray for you when they say they will. Also, at least 72% of their tweets and Facebook updates are bible verses or worship song lyrics. They are truly spiritual rock stars, and the sort of women we look up to as leaders and perhaps even envy their strength. I haven’t been one of these women for a while, I have been in some very hard seasons lately. I would say that I have been more of a puddle than a rock star.
A year ago this fall I lost my mom to suicide just as I was rounding my third trimester of my pregnancy with our son, Caedmon. I felt like a shell of a person, like I was floating through life. After we returned home from her funeral in Michigan, I was nervous to go to church because I knew that my grief and weariness showed obviously on my face. At that time I was working in a college ministry with my husband and I was worried about returning to work, I didn’t want to have our students see my sobbing in our office or dragging myself to get another cup of coffee. For several weeks I lived under the lie that God couldn’t use me in that season. I believed it was better that I hide away a bit until I was in more presentable shape spiritually and emotionally.
In the middle of that season God showed me something very important. Even though I felt like a puddle on the floor, I was still a rock star in a very unique way. God wanted to use me to model what it meant to be authentic and real in a difficult season. If we are only willing to be real when life is easy we leave people to navigate the stormy seasons from scratch. Without any previous example of authentic brokenness. This world still experiences the deep pain of sickness, brokenness and loss. If we downplay how much those experiences hurt, we create a community where people don’t feel comfortable being honest and open with their struggles. This is not what God wants for his people, he created us for deep community with him and with each other.
So I returned to church a few weeks after my Mom’s death, and some Sundays I sat in my chair, buried my face in my hands and cried. When I was approached in the halls between services I was honest about how deeply I was hurting. I felt strongly that God wanted to use my season to show other people in the church that grief takes weeks, months and even years to heal. Deep hurts leaves scars on our lives, but I truly believe that the healed wounds are beautiful monuments to Gods faithfulness, and our consistent need to be close to him, come what may.
I hope that you are in a season with no fresh wounds, if that’s you try to be comfortable with those who are hurting. But perhaps you have open wounds that are only just starting, through the grace of God, to heal. Don’t feel guilty for your pain, this world is full of experiences that cut us deep. It isn’t how God intended it to be, but it’s they way it is right now. Don’t be afraid to be honest and real, especially with those you can trust. Don’t be ashamed to cry in church, you can be a pioneer who changes what is a normal response to grief and pain in your community. Remember that God can use everything, even the messiest seasons for his glory. Your perseverance. We must all remember that authentic responses to truly painful events are normal, and leading to real healing and strong women who God can use to bring the beauty of heaven to earth. We will all walk through the sunny seasons as well as the dark valleys and when we are puddles, that is when we are the super rock stars in disguise.
- Be authentic about your journey and don’t be ashamed of pain or grief when it is where your path takes you. Struggling does not mean you lack faith.
- Grab God’s hand and don’t let go, even when his ways are beyond confusing.
- When you are in a sunnier season, support and encourage authentic healing for those in your community who are in a season of brokenness.