Celebrating Every Moment ~ Scarlett & Vivienne

I listened to her message on the way home from a vacation in the mountains. When I called her back, she didn’t answer. I left a message. And, called again a few days later. Because I know the courage it took for her to pick up that phone and make the call to ask for perinatal hospice support.

The first time I met her, she pulled out the copy of A Gift of Time I had given to her through another SGM Volunteer months before. So many pages marked with colored tabs…pages that spoke to her mama heart. We call her Amazing Amanda. Because she is. Amazing. And so are the sweet baby girls who were still swimming around in her womb the day I met her and her husband Travis.
She was carrying twin daughters, and one of them (Scarlett) had been diagnosed with acrania, a life-limiting diagnois. To further complicate the situation, the girls were monochorionic and monoamniotic, contained in a single chorion and amnion, also known as Momo twins. Due to these conditions leaving the girls susceptible to a myriad of possible complications, they were closely monitored throughout the pregnancy.

It was important to Amanda to plan every detail of her time with Scarlett and Vivienne. Planning was a comfort to her. Planning gives parents back some of the control they have lost with a difficult diagnosis in pregnancy. She was very private, and needed to experience her journey on her terms in the timing she was comfortable with each step of the way. During her pregnancy, only a select few were told about her babies’ condition.

“We wanted to celebrate their lives while they were with us. This wasn’t the time for grief and sorrow. That would come later. Right now, they are with us; living,” Amanda shared.

Many families facing a life-limiting diagnosis for their child face regrets for missed opportunities to make memories with their babies. Not the case for Travis and Amanda. They made sure that every moment was filled with love. Amanda and Travis wanted to truly cherish the gift of time they had with their daughters.

Scarlett and Vivienne’s Comfort Bears from SGM were a special way to reveal the big news!

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amanda family

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Throughout the journey, the family rejoiced at each goal set…and met. To give the girls the best chance of optimal health, the goal was set to carry them to 32 weeks unless they showed signs of struggle before then. Amanda spent the last eight weeks of the pregnancy away from her husband and other two children at a well-equipped hospital two hours away from home. The staff celebrated each milestone with the Mangas family.

Amanda One Month

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Some of the planning included funeral planning, announcements, pictures, writing of the obituary, as well as what her baby girls would wear, what photographs would be taken, special mementos, etc. As we met to plan the time Amanda and Travis would have with Scarlett and Vivienne, Amanda loved the idea of using her own wedding gown to make identical dresses for Scarlett and Vivienne. One of our SGM seamstresses, Tracey Schwiebert worked to make the gowns in different sizes in case the girls were born before we expected.

It was such a blessing to be able to hand the beautiful gowns to Amanda on the day the girls would be born via the scheduled C-section. Amazing Amanda and her amazing daughters made it to their goal. You can see the sense of peace and accomplishment on Amanda’s face as she held the gowns in her arms. It would not be long before she would hold her precious girls.

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The day had finally arrived, and we were honored to walk with Amanda and Travis every step of the way. Erin Foster, SGM Remembrance Photographer and owner of Irish Eyes Photography met me at the hospital to help capture the images that so beautifully tell this family’s story.

Amanda we made it

Pastor Tim traveled to the hospital to pray with Amanda and Travis, to sit with the family, and to pray over sweet Scarlett after her birth.

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Nurse Tammy has walked this journey with Amanda since the first day the Travis family heard the news that this pregnancy was not going to go as originally planned. After working her shift, she slept for a couple hours and stayed at the hospital to join the family so she could serve as Scarlett’s personal nurse. Pictured below, Tammy comforts Amanda as she hugs her son before being wheeled away for surgery.

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Both girls were born alive. Vivienne was taken to the NICU where she responded extremely well, breathing on her own, like the fighter she is. Scarlett passed away in the arms of her mother. It was time to soak in every memory of Scarlett, time to celebrate her life.

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Family filled the room with love.

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I had the honor of singing Amazing Grace over sweet Scarlett. Helping to bathe her. Dressing her. Placing her beautiful bracelet made by Marlene (another wonderful SGM Volunteer). Taking her footprints and handprints.

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Amanda feet

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The journey of this family and these sisters, Scarlett and Vivienne, is a picture of weeping and rejoicing. The love that filled the room for every moment of Scarlett’s life and beyond was beautiful and sacred. That love is carried on in each of them and in the life of Vivienne. It was such an honor to walk with this family, to share in the miracle of the life of both of their daughters. And, to celebrate with them.

I was honored to sing Amazing Grace once more at Scarlett’s memorial service.

amanda funeral

“Scarlett and Vivienne’s birth was filled with much joy as we kept moving forward no matter how hard we wanted time to stand still some days. With out Sufficient Grace and the wonderful services, friendship and assistance offered to Travis and I, I know our road traveled would of been much harder to navigate. Thank you. That pain we felt at her passing, was eased as we instead turned grief into love in celebrating Scarlett’s life with us. You truly are one of God’s Angels.
Thank you,
Amanda”

*This story was shared by Kelly Gerken, SGM/SBD with the permission of the Travis family.
Maternity photos by Jessica Carpenter
SGM photos by Erin Foster
Cell phone pictures shared by the family of Scarlett and Vivienne

With Unveiled Face

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Yesterday during a weekly prayer session with my friend Lynette, it happened. One of my favorite nuggets of grace…when God allows His Word to come alive and the words jump out from the page, piercing into your soul, written just for you.

Three words from the scripture below… “with unveiled face.”

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Like a bride being presented to her groom, lifting the veil to see him fully in all his glory…and to freely be seen by her beloved. So many things veil our eyes from seeing God’s glory. I don’t want to be distracted with the noise of the world, the discouragement of the enemy, the comparison trap, the size of the mountain in front of us.

I want to reflect His glory, to enter into the mission field of grieving souls with a blend of meekness and boldness, covered always in love. To be so hidden in Him, so focused on the vision He has given me, that I am unmoved by what occurs in the world around me. One goal matters, to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus. To keep building this wall…in homage to Nehemiah.

I want to behold the glory of my God…with unveiled face. To abide in the shelter of His wings…to bathe in His love…to feel the depth of His grace. To be lifted in the humbling, quieted in the laying down, filled in the pouring out, renewed in the worship.

With unveiled face. With hair blowing in the wind abandon. Because I am His.

Photo credit

Redemption

The following is from Kelly’s heart. Not on behalf of Sufficient Grace.

I can tell this will be one of those nights when sleep eludes me. Words, begging for release, like they do.

I’m not sure where to begin these ramblings from my depths.

There is a woman, quite dear to me, who no longer lives earthside, but has made her home in heaven. For her, all has been redeemed. Which makes my own wrestlings regarding her life and the sorting through of my thoughts on the matter seem rather futile. Except…the thing about complete redemption… It is not so this side of heaven. We still ache for full redemption in our broken state, for the day when our Savior returns to make all the wrongs right, once and for all. How it must grieve His heart, the damaged state of our current dwelling place.

Her body lies in the ground, but her soul lives. This woman who is dear to me.

When she walked on planet earth, she was never loved as she deserved. Not once. She didn’t even love herself the way a woman of her stature ought. For she carried more grit and grace in her pinky than most people do in their entire being. She just didn’t know it. She didn’t see herself the way He saw her. If she did…if she knew her worth was of far more value than rubies, life would’ve been different.

What she didn’t know, was that it was a man’s job to protect her, to love her, to treasure her. She learned a different lesson from the women she knew. And, some of the men. The men who gave her their names during various seasons of her life didn’t behave worthy of being called her blanket of protection. In many ways, they weren’t.

So, the dilemma in my wrestling is this. I know that all the broken that occurred this side of heaven has been redeemed for her on the other side, where she now lives. She is covered in the blanket of the love of Jesus, clean and set free from everything that entangled her and held her back in this life. She is all that He created her to be…and she knows…deep in her deepest depths that she is lovvvved….loved like we have never known this side of heaven. Every wrong has been made right.

So…why…why do I still long to give her back her name? To take a piece of the land back for her? Pieces that were stolen. What does that say about my heart thumping and stumbling along earthside, trying to shake off the broken and longing…always longing for redemption…even as we drink in grace?

Redemption is an interesting craving. And, I’ve been mulling it’s inner parts…the longing desire we have within us…for rightness and justice. For brokenness to find restoration.

I tend to be drawn to the broken hearts and people, seeing…always seeing…the redeemable qualities in another. (Well…almost always.)

Recently, my “therapist-ish” friend asked me about the attraction and fierce love I feel toward broken people as we sorted through my inner pieces.

She said, “Are you trying to fix them?”

“No,” I replied, “I can see the beauty…the good in them. I can see the redeeming qualities. And, I want the good to win.”

I want the person I see and love to see and love themselves…to know their own redeemable qualities, the ones God sees, the things in them Jesus saw when He laid down His life on the cross…to redeem every broken place inside every mess of a person.

I want to see redemption in the souls of those I love. Of those around me. I want to reflect back to them, like a mirror, shining light on their best side…on the potential I see in them. I want them to lift their heads and hope.

I want them to look to Jesus to be their Redeemer, for He is the only worthy one who can.

And, even still…I long to give that woman back her name. At least this side of heaven. In eternity, it likely won’t matter so much.

A Father’s Love ~ Baby Owen

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He stood beside his wife, feeding her ice chips, tenderly. Sometimes using humor to soften the heaviness of weary moments as they waited to meet their son. Because, if he can make her laugh…then all is still right with the world…even when nothing seems right at all. Humor is a wonderful diffuser for the most painful moments. A man who can make you laugh in any circumstance. That’s a treasure.

I know. I married a man with that priceless gift.

They planned every detail, as they waited for Owen’s arrival.

Beautiful outfits, a Cuddle Cot, how they would spend their time, what pictures they wanted captured, support through SGM.

I had the privilege of walking with them a bit, during the months of planning. As baby Owen’s mother labored. And, as he was welcomed earthside.

His mother planned every moment…beginning his legacy, even before his birth, through Owen’s Gift. I’ve never met a mother who was already planning a way to help others, while still walking her own agonizing and beautiful path as she soaked in the moments with her son.

As Owen’s heart slowed on the monitor before his delivery, it was his father’s hands searching along mother’s belly to find their son’s sweet last kicks. He took her hand and gently led her to the spot where they could feel their son’s goodbye together, as she clung tightly to her Comfort Bear.

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Owen’s father wanted to give him his bath. And, so he did.

His father helped us do the footprinting, and the foot molds. His father helped to dress him. Not only his mother, but his father held him lovingly in his strong arms….arms that protect and provide for those he loves.

A builder by trade and a problem solver by nature, he used ingenuity to help us maneuver the mementos and dressing time.

Both mother and father were able to parent in the sacred moments they spent with their son.

I am so in awe of their courage and strength…and most of all, the great beauty of their love. Love can sustain a family pushed beyond the brink more than once. Love can enable a father to stand and care for his tiny son, born silently. Love can help a mother plan for a brief life. Love can carry them both through the moments and years to come.

As we are often concerned with many mothers walking through loss, let us never forget the sacred love of a father…and the deep and real grief he carries in his strong daddy heart. Not all dads are able to stand so boldly in love and protection of their families, even speaking bold truth in moments when it is needed.

For the dads carrying this weight quietly, you are not alone. Your part in your child’s life and your family’s life are so important and valid….and so is your grief.

A poem shared in the Walking With You for Fathers Booklet:

It must be very difficult

To be a man in grief,
Since “men don’t cry”
and “men are strong”
No tears can bring relief.

It must be very difficult
To stand up to the test,
And field the calls and visitors
So she can get some rest.

They always ask if she’s all right
And what she’s going through.
But seldom take his hand and ask,
“My friend, but how are you?”

He hears her crying in the night
And thinks his heart will break.
He dries her tears and comforts her,
But “stays strong” for her sake.

It must be very difficult
To start each day anew.
And try to be so very brave-
He lost his baby too.

Eileen Knight Hagemeister

If you are a father walking through loss, and would like a copy of Walking With You for Fathers, please email sgm dot shipping at gmail dot com and we will send you a copy free of charge.

To request a Dreams of You package, click here. To learn more about birth and bereavement doula support or perinatal hospice services through SGM, click here.

*Photos by SGM/SBD Birth and Bereavement Doula and Remembrance Photographer, Kelly Gerken

Servant to All

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Sometimes in the midst of walking with a family, there are moments when my own cup is filled in the pouring out. There are many moments really.

He came to pray with the beautiful parents waiting to fill a lifetime of love into the moments they were given with their son. I met him after the introductions were made beside the hospital bed.

While snapping pictures and preparing for the coming birth off to the side, he stepped beside me, looking into my eyes as we shook hands.

“I’m the doula.”

I’m used to people not knowing the meaning of the title…or this sacred work. I waited for the question.

“Doula,” the pastor repeats. “It is a Greek word…correct?”

“Yes,” I answer, “a biblical word.”

“It means servant,” he said, eyes focused and shining…like they do when delivering a holy message.

My eyes locked with his.

He continued…

“Mark 9:35 says, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ This is an amazing ministry you have been given.”

“Thank you…I’m honored to serve in this way.”

Only our Father can send a message that humbles us and lifts us up at the same time. A word of encouragement in the midst of days of pouring out.

Because He sees. And, because…although I would never call my flawed, stumbling along self great…it is a great honor to be used as His vessel…even in the smallest way. To wash tiny baby feet, to wipe the sweaty brow of a laboring mother, to gently caress the tears from her face, to speak love and truth in the dark moments.

To be a doula…servant to all.

Winners of the SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2014

Thank you to everyone for your patience, and for participating in this year’s SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2014! We wish we could give something away to every heart who entered. Please follow the directions on the reply to your winning comment on each post by emailing your shipping information and the item you won in the subject heading to sgm dot shipping at gmail dot com. We pray that this holiday season would be gentle to each of you, and that you would be able to soak in some time with those you love as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Christmas blessings to all…

Day 1 ~ Congratulations to Karla # 26 (Origami Owl Bracelet) and April Petz
(Heart Pendant)

Day 2 ~ Congratulations to Evonnie F. and Natalie Burley, You won the Sufficient Grace Tshirts!

Day 2 ~ Congratulations to Caitlyn #84, Kristen S. #19, Brianna Odom, Melissa Arconti, Lauren Marie #38 for winning the Dreams of You packages!
If you didn’t win and would like to order a package…we only charge parents the cost of shipping. You can request items here: Dreams of You Parents

Day 3 ~ Congratulations to Devon Hernandez! You are the winner of the Essential Oils/Diffuser Giveaway.

I will be answering all the questions to the Essential oils questions tomorrow and Tuesday by replying on the post. So, please check back on the SGM blog later tomorrow. You can also order doTerra oils and supplies here.

Day 4 ~ Congratulations to Amanda, commenter #40! You are the winner of the You Are the Mother of All Mothers book.
You can purchase a copy of Angela’s amazing book here.

Day 4 ~ Congratulations to Hannah Rose! You are the winner of the Sufficient Grace Book.

If you didn’t win the Sufficient Grace book, and you would like to purchase one, you can find links to do so here.

Day 5 ~ Congratulations to Toni Brabee. You are the winner of the Precious Moments Statue on Day Five of the SGM Christmas Giveaway Extravaganza 2014.

Precious Moments statues can be purchased on the preciousmoments.com website.

SGM Giveaway Extravaganza 2014 Precious Moments Finale

Today’S finale giveaway…the much loved and coveted Mommy’s Love Goes With You Precious Moments statue! <3

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Winner announcements for all giveaways will be postponed until tomorrow. Kelly is walking with a family saying goodbye to their sweet baby.

To enter today’s giveaway…leave a comment and share who you’re missing this Christmas.

Love to all…

When Human Beings Disappoint

I’m one of those people. You know the ones.

I like to believe the best about people…to believe that others will do what they say they will do. And that they will be the people they profess to be. You can imagine the disappointment experienced on a daily basis from this assumption.

It is a difficult thing, and placing expectations on another soul is never a good idea. Not unless you enjoy disappointment. In that case, by all means. Still…shouldn’t we strive to keep our word, to be the who we say we are? If we can, on most occasions…shouldn’t we?

Something lately, I’ve been wrestling with, is not only the disappointment that occurs when others take an unexpected path, or fail to keep their word. Even as I type those words, I am convicted, myself, about the times when I let someone else down. I wonder if others feel the same conviction. I would like to think so…you know, believing the best, and all. I suppose we can’t do a lot about the motives in the heart of another. Ours is only to wonder. We cannot fully know. Only God can.

It is something I’ve watched often, even in circles of ministry and serving. Motives that start pure, or seem to…and then go awry or grow weary, or get distracted…or plans that sometimes get snatched away completely. It causes me to consider how important it is to abide closely to the Lord, listening intently, waiting on His timing…and not grasping something that isn’t yet ours to hold…before it’s time.

We human beings do that from time to time. I’ve been surprised by that…the grasping. It never fits quite as well, as when we wait on the Lord. His plans are always better, anyway.

As far as the motives of people’s hearts…I like what The Voice has to say in I Corinthians 4:5:

“So resist the temptation to act as judges before all the evidence is in. When the Lord comes, He will draw our buried motives, thoughts, and deeds (even things we don’t know or admit to ourselves) out of the dark shadows of our hearts into His light. When this happens, the voice of God will speak to each of us the only praise that will ever matter.”

It can be a painful thing, when someone else has displayed wrong motives, taken something that wasn’t theirs to hold yet, wounded you with false promises, unmet expectations, leaving you disappointed.

But God knows. God sees.

The thing is, some people’s ways are all messed up. And, some choices leave a path of broken trailing behind them.

Psalm 37 is great one for reflecting on how to work through that broken trail.
The Voice ~ Psalm 37:1-2
Don’t be worried with evil workers
or envy the gains of people with all-wrong-upside-down ways.
Soon enough they will wither like grass,
like green herbs fading in summer’s heat.

And, Psalm 37 NKJ
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
And your justice as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,

The narrow path is a lonely one to walk. Opportunities to gain resources, popularity, finances…there are so many ways to gain such advances through compromise dangled in front of us like a carrot on a string. We could choose that path and prosper in our way much quicker as well. But, it is much better to wait on the Lord, to resist the temptation to grasp what He has not yet given. Watching others prosper as they make such choices can lead to discouragement. Best to remember, instead, the One who gives completely and securely when He gives it…the One with an unshakeable foundation. To dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Trust Him…do not fret.

Remember His ways are not our ways…but they are much better.

Lydia Brownback says it well:
“We can get a lot of things by sidestepping God’s ways, but whatever we get in wrong ways will bring only more misery.”

Instead of comparing, or allowing wounds to fester….though it may genuinely grieve our spirit to watch…better to wait on the Lord. Better always to rest in His ways.

Mother of all Mothers Book Review/Giveaway!!

You are the mother of all mothers

CONTEST CLOSED: CONGRATULATIONS TO CECILIA LONG!! Please email your shipping address to sgm dot shipping at gmail dot com
 

“You were chosen to be your child’s mother. Yes – chosen. And no one could parent your child better in life or in death than you do.” ~ Angela Miller, You are the Mother of all Mothers

I am so honored and excited to review this true work of art from my dear friend and fellow mama touched by grief and loss, the beautiful and talented, Angela Miller. This gorgeous, real, raw work of art that speaks to the core of a bereaved mother’s heart with love, truth, encouragement, and validation. Gorgeous art from thee Franchesca Cox, and amazing words from thee Angela from A Bed For My Heart .

I need to say something. I am a writer. I don’t take words lightly, and I’m quite particular about the use of words as I believe they are a form of art. Words that speak to your soul…words that give the nagging ache or the gaping wound a name…those kinds of words are my therapy. They always have been. I can barely process a feeling without putting the right word to the experience. It relieves me, the release. Words are healing and powerful, just as they can be damaging and destructive.

So, when Angela’s words began to woo me, something resonated in my weary depths. Yes. Speak it, sister…write it. Give this gift to the world around you. Watching her find the words…name the twisted agony of a grieving mother’s heart. Watching her process, pour out, filter through, and just say it…set a piece of me free.

I have begun to fall in love with Angela’s heart as she posts her piercing words from time to time, upon lovely graphics on the A Bed for My Heart Facebook.

I had not taken the time to read her gorgeous essay first published on Still Standing Magazine. The one that resonated as a communal outcry of validation from mothers worldwide, speaking truth into their darkness. Literal beauty rising from the ashes, before our eyes. Women looking through their tears on the computer screen, somehow less alone, if only for a moment, because someone…someone spoke the very words that counteracted the accusing lies in her face, rolling unworthiness and defeat around in her tattered, grief stricken mind, choking away the life. And, someone…someone knows. Someone speaking truth and hope, even while she sits in the pits of moments of her own utter despair.

She speaks truth to dispel the shame and excruciating guilt that cloaks a grieving mother. And, the judgment that often follows…

So wash your hands of any naysayers, betrayers, or those who sprinted in other direction when you needed them most. Wash your hands of the people who may have falsely judged you, ostracized you, or stigmatized you because of what happened to you. Wash your hands of anyone who has made you feel less than by questioning everything you did or didn’t do. Anyone whose words or looks have implied this was somehow your fault.” ~ You are the Mother of all Mothers, Angela Miller

She speaks aloud of the what ifs, the shoulda, couldas and if onlys that plague a grieving mother. She speaks against the lies that say, you failed as a mother. Because speaking it, naming it takes away its power.

Her words remind you, mama, clinging to the last thread of hope in the midst of a whole lot of broken…that “you were chosen to be your child’s mother”. Chosen. And, no one is more suited for the role than you…even in loss.

She speaks hope in the midst of grief. And, in reading her words…her gorgeous, hope-filled, truth-talking words, I find a kindred spirit. And, I believe you will too.

Because we want to share this gorgeous gift, we are giving away a copy of Angela’s book, You are the Mother of all Mothers here on this post!!! To enter, please comment about an aspect of grieving the loss of your baby where you could use some hope…something that was/is a struggle for you, or speak some words of your own hope that you wish to share, born from your journey. For extra entries share on Facebook or Twitter. And, please leave a separate comment for each entry to make counting easier.

If you don’t win…or you don’t want to wait, you can purchase this beautiful book here: http://abedformyheart.com/buy/

 

The Wounding Human Beings Inflict…and What to Do With all the Broken

We who wander on planet earth have all been wounded at some point by another human being. The deepest cuts, the ones that take the longest to heal, are from those we love. We all wound one another at some point. With our words, our actions, our indifference.

We all take the sacred gift one offers when she gives a piece of her heart, allowing another human being to tiptoe in, and inflict harm whether on purpose or inadvertently. Because we’re flawed. We speak from our broken places. We revisit our own wounds. We have moments of self-seeking, self-protection, self-preservation…that have nothing to do with loving one another.

People you barely know may speak words or exhibit behaviors that sting. Those closest to you, however, hold the sharpest weapons. They know your weak places. They know how to shoot an arrow so specifically to inflict the most damage. What is left behind…broken trust, broken hearts, broken fellowship. A whole lot of broken.

And from a spiritual standpoint, there is one who studies you and me…studies and waits for an opportune time, to whisper his accusations in the ear of the vessel doing the accusing…to divide…to destroy…to tear down what God is building up in us. And, in our hurt…we listen… to both the accusing vessel…and the reaction of the accused. We listen to the harmful words that tear down.

I’ve been wounded. And, I’ve done some wounding.

I think if we’re all honest, we’ve been on both sides of the battlefield. Those gifted with words can unleash the deadliest of insults. What does the scripture say about blessing out of one side of your mouth, and cursing with the other? We do it, as human beings.

Ironically this same tongue can be both an instrument of blessing to our Lord and Father and a weapon that hurls curses upon others who are created in God’s own image. 10 One mouth streams forth both blessings and curses. My brothers and sisters, this is not how it should be. 11 Does a spring gush crystal clear freshwater and moments later spurt out bitter salt water? ~ James 3:9-11 The Voice

And, when we’re wounded, we justify our reactions, lashing out like an animal in a cage, fighting back. Well…he hurt me. I have to protect myself. She let me down. I had every right. I’m not the one who threw the first verbal punch. At least I didn’t (fill in the blank).

I spent some time on my patio recently…something I haven’t done enough lately…indicative by recent failings to control my own tongue, my own reactions when backed into a corner dripping from wounds. On my patio, I received the kind of spanking a loving Father gives when His daughter’s heart is bent for a wayward path. Oswald Chambers is a good vessel for the truth-talking, no nonsense, lie dispelling necessary when one has spent way too much time listening to the accuser.

The wounds hurt. I won’t lie. They hurt and the words roll around in your mind long after they’ve been flung your way, piercing the outer layer…to the inner layer. But, that hurt is no excuse.

Because, we are called to die. Die to ourselves. Lay down our lives for a friend. Love dies to self. To the rights we think we have. To the justification we feel we’re due. To the need to speak our case, right the wrongs, claim our value.

It is humbling. It is excruciating. It is impossible without the prompting and empowering of the Holy Spirit. Especially when the words, the hurts inflicted…were soooo wrong. So unprovoked. Underserved.

I’m pretty sure the Savior I serve knows something about unprovoked, underserved wounds.

Humbling. Conviction.

So, when I brought my broken to the patio, my list of “look what so-and-so did to me, Dad” to my heavenly Father, in the ugliest of self-justified, victim-y whines, he answered with a gentle, life-giving, freeing spanking.

“From our Lord’s standpoint it does not matter whether I am defrauded or not; what does matter is that I do not defraud. Am I insisting on my rights? (In marriage, in friendship, with family, with children, at work)…or am I paying what I owe from Jesus Christ’s standpoint?”

“Do the thing quickly, bring yourself to judgment now, In moral and spiritual matters, you must do it at once; if you do not the inexorable process will begin to work. God is determined to have His child pure and clean and white as driven snow, and as long as there is disobedience in any point of His teaching, He will prevent none of the working of His spirit. Our insistence in proving that we are right is nearly always an indication that there has been some disobedience…
(ouch)
Agree with your adversary quickly. Have you suddenly turned a corner in any relationship and found that you had anger in your heart? Confess it quickly, quickly put it right before God, be reconciled to that one – do it now.”

As I typed those words from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, I am thinking of the one who has been repeatedly harmed or abused in dangerous ways. Neither I, nor God is commanding you in those cases to physically be reconciled (unless He works such a healing), but in your heart…in my heart…He is saying release that anger…forgive…be reconciled…in your own heart.

Forgiveness is a gift more for the one doing the forgiving. A healthy, freeing, healing release. For you. For the one laying it down, dying to self…even if you deserved so much more…and were not in any way deserving of such pain. If you cannot have restoration with the relationship (as is not always possible or best), you can still have healing in your own heart.

And, if it isn’t too late, if you haven’t spoken words that you can’t take back, lay it all down the next time someone you love spews the ugly your way. Lay it all down, first.

And, set yourself free.

For we all have our broken places…as Oswald Chambers reminds in another entry:
“There never has been a saint yet who did not have to live a maimed (broken) life to start with. But it is better to enter into life maimed and lovely in God’s sight than to be lovely in man’s sight and lame in God’s.”

He can always heal our broken places more completely than we can we strive to do so with our own devices. After all, He’s an expert at creating beauty from the broken.