One friend’s brave proclamation

We won’t be silent any longer.

We won’t sit there in pews and pretend that we’ve got it all together, that our families are perfect, that our hearts aren’t in the midst of infarction, that our minds aren’t consumed by a growing carcinoma.

We won’t pretend that God saved us and we now live lives that are Sunday School answers.

We’re done with platitudes and generalizations. We’re done pretending that only the unsaved fall into the Devil’s snares. We’re not just saved once. We’re loved with an enduring love that saves us everyday. Saved from numbness, saved from brokenness, saved from illness, saved from doubt, saved from unbelief, saved from addictions, saved from unhealthy habits, saved from harmful mind-patterns.

She was up there, that beautiful friend of mine, and all I could do was alternate thinking “I have never seen anyone do anything more brave in my life. EVER” with “God is bent over laughing over His work right now. He thinks her personality and expressions are so funny.” And both were true.

Yeah, I think I invited her over for dinner about a week after I first met her. A week after I first shared things on a stage that I didn’t even think I’d tell a future husband, because sometimes a stage seems like a good place to start. There were five of us, but she and I stayed late on the couch after talking real life for two hours. Handing each other our truths. Empowering others to share their honest truths, and honest truth is essential for any real friendship, any real healing, any freedom from fear.

I knew most of her story before she got up there, so while I believed big in what God’s presence would do in the room, I didn’t expect that God would do anything deep in me per say. I am coming to this conclusion: God goes crazy we share His power and nature through our vulnerability…especially when we’re specific. He does crazy things. He honors it in a uniquely powerful way.

And when she talked about forgiveness, that was the part that got to me.

Yeah, it’s all facts.

My brother is getting a divorce. He has a 3-year-old daughter. We were close. They cut off contact with our family a couple years after they got married, despite living nearby. All I ever wanted was reconciliation, though as months turned into years, I stopped believing that it was possible.

We’re now getting close again, but reconciliation hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. Oh, he would never know, but I’ve felt and known and been the prodigal’s brother at times. I found it hard to forgive my brother for a decision I knew was a one-way ticket to disaster. Marrying for chemistry over character may read romantic, but character is so important for sustaining a good romance.

I empathized with the prodigal’s brother, because I knew that he didn’t want to behave or feel like he did either, but sometimes you just doesn’t know what to do with the hurt and rejection and memories of your labor when the source of those things returns. How do you give up your frustration when you are living the real consequences? When it feels like the prodigal has been put on a pedestal, and you feel unloved. When it feels like you want to insert a barb about something that happened when he wasn’t there.

Tonight God cut through, because one person shared her journey of coming to forgiveness, of releasing anger, of praying blessings over enemies. And the power of our testimony always boils down to this: If God could do it for that for her, He can do it for me. God. Is. Able.

Yeah, I’ve asked God to help me forgive before, but tonight I just felt Him really convict me, heal me, and love me. I felt Him address some specific hurts I couldn’t shake before. I had head knowledge about God’s “answers,” but not heart knowledge. Tonight I could pray blessing and healing from my whole heart. Eyes leaked steady streams of tears.

And then that one guy got up and prayed from somewhere personal. Broken families were mentioned. And I went into hot mess territory. Snots, people. Holy, good snots 🙂

God used Melissa’s fight and life and words last night to really challenge me. He used her vulnerability and honesty to make that one of the most impactful Twelve 2’s ever. On a night when I felt disconnected from the worship, no less. I marvel at it…how any good thing in my life is an act of God: surrender, forgiveness, writing, our relationship.

Last night, the church looked more like Jesus’ vision of the church to me. A hospital and not a health spa. And it was beautiful to experience healing.

And the vulnerability? It isn’t just for others.

What no one ever told me is that our shame keeps us bound to sin twice. Once, because of the sin, and twice, because it keeps us bound to a fear to share about God’s redemptive power. People know the worst of you. So when they love you, there is no fear.

 

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