When God’s Heart Broke: The Significance of the Sacrifice

So I’ve been thinking about that veil.

I grew up hearing the King James Version: Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom—Matthew 27:50-51. That veil—thick as it was shrouding the holiest place—was rent in two.

A brightness hovered over the ark of the covenant, the searing fire, Isaiah’s fire, and shone off of the skin of the many winged cherubim when he declared – I am a sinner! That holy and dangerous light remained curtained for centuries. God chose to keep his celestial, cellular, immeasurable power behind a mere cloth.

A strange word to my modern ears, this “rent”. It sounds to me like wrestle and render. No one uses it anymore. We say tear, slash, rip. All single-syllable actions.

To “rent in twain” seems a violent action, a wrestling take-down, a heated conflict, a sword-fight. A removal. I know the veil was made thick and strong to keep the power contained, unseen. It makes sense that it would take some force to rent it.

But when Easter rolls around each year, no one speaks of the veil.

We speak of the Passion of Christ, we speak of the betrayal and beating and of the nails, of Mary’s morning walk and a gardener who spoke her name and opened her eyes, of new life and a fresh start…but of the veil? Rarely, if ever.

And yet, the veil’s rending is everything.

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On one of my walking routes, I pass a cheap bouquet of flowers shoved into the earth near the entrance to a county road maintenance site. I’m surprised every time I see it—until I remember. A man committed suicide just fifty yards from this spot beyond the county fence. Someone counted him as special and on this corner, on this side of the barbed wired fence planted the bouquet as a marker. The weatherworn bleached plastic memorial marks the spot holy, directs my glance to the tragic final act on the other side of the fence.

My steps slow and I stop to wonder about the man so despairing, without a shred of hope. I think about this every time I pass the flowers. They remain season after season, ever-blooming and faded. And then my mind recalls that late September afternoon where just across the street from the place I now stand, (behind me not more than the length of a football field) a strange sound prompted me to turn my head and see flying objects soar over an open meadow through the periphery of my vision. Through the open car windows I had heard a sickening thunk as something slammed into the large, yellow warning sign painted with arrows, intending to communicate to drivers…slow down.

The projectiles were a motorcycle and two human bodies.

I heard the trio of thuds as they met the ground. Pulling the car to the shoulder I turned my face in time to see the tall grass shimmer, convulse. I watched other witnesses leap the fence and race to the dying. I remained frozen, breathing something like prayer. I had four kids in the car. I stayed with them because I knew if I, too, leapt over fences the kids would follow. What would they have seen? I couldn’t take that risk. They would have seen the mortally wounded, the invisible soul escape it’s cage leaving a woman’s lifeless form in the dry brown grass of autumn under a sky purpling dusk.

It’s a quiet road just beyond the city limits, a pretty confluence of paths leading north and south, east and west. But, it’s also a place of death chosen or death unbidden, on one side of the street and the other.

The reminders of the renting of the veil press upon my ears and clutch my throat. I swallow for a bit of spittle to quench my thirst.

            Sparrows chipped in the pines overhead, the October sky shone brilliant as a bluebird’s breast, a pickup turned the corner and rumbled east and a grasshopper landed on a tall, seeded spire of grass. I watched it swaying there on its mast. And in the midst of all the soporific murmurs of an ordinary afternoon, I think because I stopped to listen, I heard the heartbeats cease and the veil rent. I am perforated by the empty end of lives I never knew.

The yielding of ghosts.

A tear falls and I’m silly. I’m a lady wearing yoga pants beside the road, crying over the death of people she never knew. But it’s my death, too. Because we share it all—this suffering, this toddling, loving, worrying, planning life is terminal.

Just two years prior, on a different road, blood spilled from my organs and pooled in vacancies left behind where lung and spleen should have been. My insides pressed and shoved by the impact like belongings in a duffle bag. We sat in the van, shattered glass in our hair, my children crying uncomforted because we could not move to hold them. I glanced at my husband wedged too tightly between the seat and steering wheel, his face a pinched paper mask of pain. My breath shuddered weak and ragged, orphaned. My soul crept nearer the puddled folds of the veil, nearer to the glory of God behind the curtain.

I shake my head at the memory, and turn away to breathe in the air, sun-warmed yet crisp. I walk away from the tacky flowers set among weeds. I listen to my steps as I tread on fallen pine needles and crunchy, summer-dried grasses. Autumn is a death as true as any other. Its ravishing colors, its friendly afternoon warmth are a crimson trumpeting pomp before the cold of winter entombs the landscape.

But thoughts of the veil, heavy as it is, rustles in the breeze and invites me to step further still. I think that humankind, myself included, would rather rail against its fortified woven weight than tread across in silent awe—on tenterhooks or tiptoes—to consider the holiness on the other side.

Here on the outside, where death is eminent and we are all equaled by this unified sentence, we puff up, strut proud or angry or squeal about our busyness or our poverty.

We can be loud or ignorant, chanting or lobbying or hating or making love to whomever we choose.

We can be pious or pretty or gluttonous or ascetic; we can be intelligent or silly or inane.

We can be giving or hoarding or grudging or popular. We can build fences or tribes or camps or thick walls or daisy chains.

On this side of the veil we can be everything we know or have known. We can do it well or not all. We can wonder why and wail in piteous tones or we can say I told you so. We can be utterly and fully human and flesh it out in every which way.

And we do.

To take tentative steps across the threshold of the holy place, we risk dispensing our beloved humanity. It falls away like God’s own torn garments, leaving us bare and naked and hushed. It is holy and terrifying and more real than any other moment we drew breath and exhaled. It is living beyond. It is moving through alien air quieted by the voice that divided firmaments and spoke through flaming leaves to Moses. It is taking courage to fill lungs with something so clean it cuts.

We’d rather rail against the barrier of the veil or stride through, our good deeds and polished ideals clanging and clattering against the marble floors. We like the idea of moving into the holy of holies fully equipped. Or, we stand shuddering beside the doorway, fingering the torn fringes of the rent veil and whispering our lies: couldn’t be for the likes of me. Kneeling in false humility. Feet dig deep into the soil a singular experience.

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But to enter on the name of the One whose very suffering wrested the fibers until they gave way, this name that rent the veil in two and exposed the holiness of God to the humanity of people and the humanity of people to the holiness of God?

For a moment can we just openly stare at the place that is enveloped, filled and breathing with the holiness, the set apart-ness, of God? God has bared himself; his hidden glory, perfect power, immutability and mercy exposed, in full view.

Do we just walk by or shut eyes tight and deny?

Is this why the Hebrew people only breathed his name?

YHWH.

Under a gauzy, sparkling sheet of stars God spoke to Abram, gave him a new name, breathed life into the walking death that populated this planet and uttered a promise so divine, it could not be of human origin. His presence burned in the pot and moved through the divided sacrificial animals lying on the desert sand. He moved through life and death and made a promise. He revealed his love for what he’d made. His promise breathed hope and life in the midst of death.

YHWH.

And then, Jesus – the most set-apart man who ever lived, fully human but never sinning, mortal yet immortal, powerful but subjected to weakness – rent the veil and yielded his ghost. He moved through and became the promise and the symbol of a new covenant for all of us milling about, dying, outside of his glory. And every word he had spoken, every parable and healing touch all pointed to the full, round word, the invitation to be set apart: come.

Jesus’ wretched body hung naked and nailed, blood thickening around the wound, flesh tight and water running from the gash in his flesh. The very sight broke the heart of God, who mourned loudly, his robes rent in twain and the heaving and sobbing of eternal love shook the earth and darkness moved across. A grace this darkness, because it hid the nakedness of God. But in this Jesus “was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4)

Life and Light transform and illumine the dark landscape of grief and his dawning calls across the threshold of the Holy Place, “Come and you will see.” (John 1:39).

Come: Peer through the rent divide and see God, bare, unhidden.

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And I thought, as I stepped homeward, that perhaps its easier to objectify Christ, to make iconic that suffering savior with the thin, beaten body hanging on a cross than it is to look in the cave of God’s mourning, that place of utter grief—God grieving—beyond the veil. It is less uncomfortable to speak of the plotting Pharisees or Peter’s rash denial or Judas’ kiss than it might be to look into the throne room of grace to listen to the suffering of God, the ear-wrenching scream of the veil rending twain and the silent upheaval of the ghost of his son.

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But I looked, because we are drawn inexplicably to the grotesque, gaze frozen on the spot of horror, of mourning… I really looked. I stared full into a black possibility, and both options were death. I have said it this way, “As I leant, unmoving in the seat of my crushed car, surrounded by the people I love most in the world, my husband and kids, barely breathing, nearer to death than I knew and I could have slipped just as easily into more life in heaven or more life here on earth, but death would be the gateway whichever way my soul passed: a letting go. I only had the will to breathe and even then, let that go. A man slid a tube down my trachea and the last words I heard were this: I’m going to do the breathing for you.

Okay, I thought, Breathe for me. I haven’t the strength anymore. I cannot take one, more, single breath in my own power. Lifeless lungs received the air he pumped into me. I was done breathing on my own, done choosing on my own.”

I really let go.

Let. Go.

And I thank God with all the life I have in my body that the veil rent in twain, that it hung gaping, open, waiting for me.

One day, someday, I’ll fully walk through to the other side and this dying thing will make sense, not my close call, but the dying of my Savior. He was the one set apart to walk into death, rend the veil, break the heart of God and offer up all he had: his own perfect blood.

The seeds fall in autumn, lifelessness grips the earth and we lie in repose, in wait. And the spring comes verdant and new, a squalling infant red and tender and full of possibility. I walk the same path and the same gaudy, fake flowers rustle in a breeze wetted with spring rain and the tears come again, and again. Let me die a million times to know this real life, I pray.

And the veil flutters in the breeze, light, free, open, rent.

 

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Can I Shine for Jesus When my Dog Poops on the Floor? {-My Messy Beautiful}

 

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My dogs pooped in the hall. Both of them.

My cat puked in the laundry room.

I argued with my daughter.

I used bad words in said argument.

I didn’t wash my face last night.

I let my kids eat pop tarts.

I ate two desserts after dinner.

I’m having a hard time forgiving someone.

I fear I’m losing a friend and I’m not losing weight.

In fact I think I gained weight last week.

I’m a little fearful of what the future holds.

I let insecurity get the best of me.

I’ve said the word stupid about 40 times today (remember the dogs?).

I’ve already ranted and it’s not yet noon.

Since early this morning, I’ve worked on the same sentence over and again in my head and it’s just beginning to make sense:

Let your your light shine bright before men,

not so that they can better see you,

but so that they can better see the Light 

that cannot dim in storm or shadow or sorrow or

even in the fog of mediocrity,

that others may see the right path for their steps to follow

because you were beside them…shining a little light.

My society dictates that I should be able to use butter in my cooking like Paula Deen but have abs like Jillian Michaels.

I should, if I choose to stay at home rather than pursue a career, have plenty of time to organize my pantry, plan dates with my husband, read to my children, grow my own food, raise my own chickens, bake from scratch, never buy anything with high fructose corn syrup, learn photography and consistently present my picture-perfect life in amber-tinted tones on Instagram.

As a Christian I should know my purpose, never become discouraged, enjoy Hillsong worship music, write hand-written thank-yous, never sin when I argue, show up on time with the answers completed for Bible Study.

I will always be an utter failure.

Especially in regards to Jillian’s abs and Hillsong Pandora radio. Never. Gonna. Happen.

But I will keep turning toward the Light of God’s word because I really don’t want to conform to anyone else’s idea of perfect.

He tells me I am complete, lacking in nothing. {James 1:4}

He tells me I am qualified. {Colossians 1:12}

He tells me I am a gift and an important part of future. {John 17:2-24}

He tells me I can praise him and look for him and cry to him. {Psalm 116}

So when I burn the cookies, scream at the dogs, wail over the sixteenth load of laundry, He knows what I really want

to be accepted

to be enough

to be useful

to be loved.

Jesus knows me at my best and my worst and really neither extreme fazes him, impresses him or turns him off. He forgets my sin and knows my name.

He smiles when I come to him covered and disheveled in the rubbish of this world. He rubs my face gently, removes the grit and reveals the glow.

Because when I turn to Jesus, look full in his face and allow his grace to touch me, then I shine His light.

In the same way, let your light shine before others,

that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16  

Don’t forget this:

Jesus has done the work for you!

Stop trying so hard.

Let yourself be.

Let yourself be loved by Jesus.

Let his truth be invested in your spirit and give you joy

where there once was a mess of anger,

peace in the places where confusion reigned,

hope in his salvation,

and grace to get through the day–

victoriously.

Friends,
Life is messy.
And I’m so over resisting it!
Anytime we craft or create art or cook dinner, we make a mess! Anything worthwhile is messy. A friend (one who doesn’t like cooking, nor is she a foodie) mentioned to me that the reason she doesn’t cook is that it messes up her kitchen! Now anyone who knows me, knows I love food, cooking and all that’s involved in eating and that includes messing up the kitchen, so when she said that, my internal rebutter screamed “That’s what kitchens are for!”
And guess what? God’s been whispering to me “Hey Alyssa, this life is your kitchen! It’s supposed to get messy! Because it’s in the mess that the magic happens.” Then he says something like, “Chill out, will ya?”
I’ll confess something right here, if you’ve read far enough to get to this point: I feel guilty.
I’m almost three years from the day we were struck down on the highway by a drunk driver. Nearly three years from when I lay sipping tiny bits of oxygen and giving my life completely into the sovereign hand of Jesus. Nearly three years from waking up, days later, in ICU and given the prognosis: You’ve got a long journey ahead, a big recovery, but you’re going to be fine. Normal again.
And the thing that makes me feel guilty is this. As much as my life changed, as much as I breathe gratitude every single day that I get to be here a little longer with my kiddos and my sweet husband, I am still so flawed, so much the same, so prone to self-criticism and frustration and pettiness. My life is back to normal, for the most part, and sometimes that makes me angry. I want to always feel the ethereal glow of gratitude that framed those months when the pain was unreal but life was cherished.
I am the same me.
And that’s what God intended.
Have you heard of Glennon Melton? Have you heard of her book, Carry on, Warrior? Have you heard her TED talk or her unique story of learning to embrace messy?
I am connecting with other mess-makers and bad-hair-wonders and want you to know, there’s lots of us sharing our stories and our “brutiful” tales of redemption over at her blog. Take a few minutes if you like and be encouraged!

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If I’m Lucky To Be Alive, Well, I’m Screwed

Is it luck?

People tell me I’m lucky. I hear it regularly.

I’m lucky to be here, lucky to be alive, lucky to be walking.

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And it sort of makes me chuckle, because they never say I’m lucky to have my insides squashed and rearranged, or that I’m lucky to have had a titanium rod drilled through my leg bone, removed and another, bigger rod rammed through the same place. They never tell me that I’m lucky to have lost four days of my life while my family wondered and prayed and hoped for my survival. They never tell me that I’m lucky my kids faced the real possibility of losing their mom. They never tell me I’m lucky I was in desperate pain for months and unable to perform any normal tasks in my role as mom and wife.

But yeah, I get all the lucky breaks.

Others may see the results, me walking and living and enjoying life, and praise the unseen good-luck fairy.

I know the process of my pain, and therefore praise God. Tweet this!

Sometimes people don’t want to credit God for a dramatic rescue. They say things like, “It wasn’t God who stopped on the highway and saved you – it was men and women – people. If it weren’t for those people—”

Others can’t finish the sentence. But I can: If it weren’t for those people, I’d be dead.

And if it weren’t for another person (who happened to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while inebriated) we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.

And if it weren’t for this decision or that bit of timing or … where do we end?

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Photo taken on our 20th wedding anniversary, the day after I arrived home from the hospital. We both have broken legs.

The truth is, I believed in a sovereign God before we were struck down on Highway 395.

Am I lucky because I believe in a God who answers prayer?

Am I lucky that I believed in him before the crisis? Or, crazy, perhaps? Only crazy people believe in an unseen force that creates and controls the universe, right? Better be sane and chalk it up as luck.

Men and women did save me – dozens of them. From the first responders to the helicopter rescue team to the surgeon who quickly and efficiently fixed my organs, to the team of nurses who served me, to the inventors of all the medical gadgets and those who invented surgical processes. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel gratitude for the people who rescued me and cared for my family.

Their presence in my life, the fact that their lives and mine intersected in the dramatic fashion that it did, only reinforces my faith in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.

It also opened my eyes to an aspect of God’s personality that I hadn’t seen before: he’s an all-people God, too.

I caught a glimpse of God’s, all-peopleness when I visited Ethiopia in 2009.

You see, my experience in life had been defined only by what I knew, and I knew little outside of the USA. When I went to Africa, I did it with my eyes open. I didn’t want to miss a thing. I wanted to see God at work there. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I’d hoped to recognize it.

What I saw were people. Faces and faces of various shades of brown to inky black. I saw smiles and songs and grief and hunger and weariness and joy and love and pain and hope in the faces and on the skin of Ethiopia.

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I saw our commonness. And I recognized myself as I looked at them. I heard my own songs when I heard them sing. And I cried in a coffee processing plant under the gaze of the sun because of it.

I could not live in Ethiopia, but I could love Ethiopia. I could not fix Ethiopia, but I could hold hands with her people. I found God in the people of Ethiopia as they loved and hoped and walked to work and roasted coffee and slung their babies or racks of firewood upon their backs. I caught a glimpse of the all-peopleness of God in Africa.

Because no one with half a heart would call a rural Ethiopian who lives in a stick and mud hut with dirt floors and only owns the dirty clothes on her back lucky.

But we can call her saved, graced, valuable, important, vital. And her hands might very well be the life-saving, life-giving hands that a neighbor might need; her words might be the soothing hope, the sustaining truth, the bit of courage that another hut-dweller may need to wake to the next day and face it standing up tall.

And I know that as I pray for Ethiopia, so does she. And so does nurse Sophie who has given her life to meeting the physical needs of the neediest in that land, the poor rural-dwelling pregnant mommies and their fragile newborn babies. And so do the doctors who gave up lucrative careers here in the west in order to teach Africans medicine. We are connected in our humanity and in our faith in a God who sees, and cares, and hears our prayers.

www.alyssasantos.com

Our family prayed on a sweet August night a single word: help. Help came. Help came in the flesh and in the spirit. Medically trained people and everyday people stopped and physically met us in the depth of our need.

God of Ethiopia and God of Alyssa Santos are one-in-the-same. And this makes luck look even dumber.

Here is my take on the sovereignty of God, his all-knowing, all-powerful nature:

God is sovereign over all statistical improbabilities. He works his divine grace into all possible situations as he moves his creation toward that perfect, ordained moment when redemption will rush full and complete.

But, but!

We could debate and you might protest. But the truth is, if I cannot say that statement—and mean it—then why worship God at all? Why not call it luck and just move on?

Luck keeps us looking down, for the four-leaf clover or the random penny; luck keeps us looking back as we try to make sense of situations.

Praising God? Well, that keeps us facing the future with a song in our souls and endless possibilities before us.

Praising a sovereign God keeps us full even as we pass out hope to others, serving up our stories like a love-feast.

Praising God makes us rich, even as we give away forgiveness, grace, money, joy.

Praising God keeps our vision clear so that we can see the incarnate love of God not just in the person of Jesus, but in the people of Jesus! Tweet this!

Luck is chance and dice and the shuffle of cards.

Luck did not save me, never has, never will.

God, the One who knows every possible eventuality and who is powerful enough to work through all possible futures, saved me through Jesus Christ. His power was punctuated in the presence of the life-savers who came to our crash site. This love was manifested in the helping hands of the many who brought me back to health.

This was a visitation of the incarnation. Proof positive that luck is dumb and God is sovereign.

So friend, don’t discount the number of breaths you have today, or the left-turns or the standing in line at the grocery store or the words that you get to speak. God works through the minutiae of our moments and seeks opportunities to incarnate his love and his salvation through our lives. God is an all-people God: big people, little people, educated people, African people, doctors and mothers and strangers.

Look at their faces and you will see not lucky ones but a million reasons to love.

 

1 Peter 1:3 -9

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Linked up with Jennifer, Lyli and Emily today. If you click over to their sites, you’ll be blessed indeed.

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The 1 Prayer You Need To Ask When Your World Goes Dark

1 Question to Ask When Your World Goes Dark | http://www.alyssasantos.com

photo by kristy

What can man do to me?

Yeah, that.

A rhetorical question for the timid.

David asks it in the middle of a song, in the middle of describing the slanderous and wily ways his enemies had turned on him.

What can man do to me?

I whispered it in the dark, wondering if man could take away my house, my security, the place we call home, because I knew they could.

I yelled it into the open air when our pastor’s lies mounted into a pile of confusion so large that it destroyed his church, leaving his flock scattered and wounded.

I cried it alone on nighttime walks when people who loved me, didn’t anymore. They didn’t want me around. The wholesale rejection of intimate friends and relations bruised me so deeply that my breath came in jagged.

I remembered these six words in a morphine fog, as the machines that drained fluid from my lung pumped its whooshing message into my thoughts.

What can man do to me?

Turns out, a whole heckuva lot. Continue reading

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Do You Wonder Why God Made You Weird?

A number of years ago, I found myself staring at a list of things a “friend” had shared with me, about me. Tears blurred my eyes as I wrote them down on a paper.

This was a typical Matthew 18 moment. You know, where a person is offended and goes to confront the other person. I’d had a lot of experience with these in my conservative Christian college years. This one was a little different, however. I knew there had been a toxic thing at work in the circle of my friends and had seen that like all diseases, it would not be resolved without application of medicine: in this case, real truth. But the problem was, the toxicity had spread. There had been gossip and triangulating (A talks to B about C, then B and C don’t know how to hang out anymore) and misunderstandings and A LOT of hurt feelings. Truth was nowhere to be found.

I had spent hours praying over these friendships and resolved to let them go. I told these women that I loved that I would step out of the community because I couldn’t make what had gone wrong right again. Honestly, I couldn’t even see clearly what all went wrong. The confusion and frustration were affecting me, my marriage and my kids. It was time for me to step away and be God’s girl, my husband’s wife and my kid’s mom. I was devastated and sad and lonely.

It was just after this proclamation, that she decided to come to my house, with an older friend and a notebook filled with issues she had with me. We sat down and I began, “I want to say first, that I don’t know what I did wrong, what I did to hurt you, but I know I must have wounded you deeply for you to stop talking to me all those months ago and I want you to know, I am deeply, deeply sorry. Please forgive me.”

Her response? She told me that I hadn’t done anything to her, per se, nor had I offended or sinned against her. BUT, she took issue with me on about twenty items that she had listed in her notebook.

Since she hadn’t spoken with me or spent time with me in nearly a year, I was amazed and bewildered at her accusations. I couldn’t have been less wounded if she had punched me in the face for an hour. There was no spirit of reconciliation in that room. It was nearly airless by the time our conversation ended. I sat, bleary-eyed and confused and reeling, apologizing. What else could I do? I had, according to her, single-handedly destroyed my friendships and I was as good as flotsam on my own sea of destruction.

When she left, I wrote everything down that I could remember and showed it to Angelo, who, lovingly said, “Throw those lies away!” Which I did.

But first, I laid that list on the floor and joined it and asked God, “Please show me if there is any truth in these accusations – even a grain, a spot, a bit. Holy God, you alone judge sin and you can best show it to me.” I prayed Psalm 139 and begged him to reveal any reality that I may have missed in this anguished moment. “I don’t want to give anyone just cause for these misconceptions of me,” I prayed.

I needed God’s perspective. Isn’t it interesting who we listen to? Isn’t it interesting who we allow to define us?

In the following years, I learned how to spend real time with God – mostly because I had far fewer friends (okay, I had two) than before and because my identity had been hung on the wrong flagpole for so long it had become tattered, shredded. I needed to spend some time with the One who made me and learn to like myself again. He showed me the truth even in her accusations and gave me the grace to allow Him to show me a better reflection of myself–to show me how He sees me.

Laurie Wallin wrote in her new book, Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful,

“What if I told you that all those things about us—the wonderful and the weirdness—are gifts! What if you could sit at lunch with God, hold those quirky, challenging tendencies about you in your hands, and say, “Oh! I love these too!” What if who you are right now is exactly who God meant you to be? What if the weirdest, most annoying things about you exist on purpose—to bring life, joy, strength, and healing to this world?” (p4)

What if?

Maybe like me, you’ve been at a place where you’ve seen your tendencies or quirks, those strong characteristics in your personality, get you into some messy situations. Maybe, like me, you don’t want to hate yourself for being yourself.

Laurie presents those things about our personalities, those parts of us that seem to get us into trouble and then make us feel guilty, those quirks and individual traits that seem weird and troublesome as, get this, God’s design. She says,

“We’ve all struggled with this ideology—focusing not on our strengths but on our weaknesses—in some form. What began as a simple desire we had as kids to understand ourselves, others and the basic truths of the world became tangled in mixed messages and experiences of loss. Then it twisted into a deep source of pain and shame when we started to assign words like wrong and bad to how we naturally relate to life and people. (p6)” But, God says we’re all created in his image and “God says our design is “supremely good (Genesis 1:31).

You and your overthinking, overplanning, worrying, quirky self were made on purpose to reveal God to the world around you in a way only you can do.

In your weirdness. Not in spite of it.

How does that work? We find the answer in Scripture, where Pual, writes the message God gave him: “ ‘My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). (p7)

Laurie goes on to say that the original Greek word for “weakness” here isn’t sin, but our inabilities or frailties as humans. And “perfect” doesn’t mean squeaky-clean, but complete.

Oh friend, that we might embrace our own weirdness, stand tall in the confidence that God designed us the way he did on purpose in order to bring him glory in our work, in our relationships, and even in our friendships.

Can I just tell you this? I would have loved the encouragement and clear-sightedness of Laurie’s teaching in this book when I was swimming in my own despair.

I honestly believed I needed to extricate these quirks from my life in order to be perfect enough to have a friend. I was so familiar with my weaknesses, that it took me a very long time to realize that God gave me gifts (that sometimes seem a little weird and I don’t want them, thank you very much) and he made me “supremely good”.

Yes, I sin. Yes, I brought my own brokenness to those friendships, too. But do I have to limp around in the shame of my quirks’ dark side or can I find the life-side to them, too?

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful, by Laurie Wallin, is an incredible perspective shifter.

After reading this book, I am seeing myself, my past, my friends, my kids and husband differently. When my kids act out or we have a conflict, I can see their developing selves rejecting their weaknesses. I want to help them embrace the God-given strengths in their design. Overall, as they mature, they might not confuse their value with performance as much as I have. Perhaps this shift will help me help them to embrace their whole selves as God designed them. Perhaps the stickiness of sin and it’s confusion won’t define them, but God’s design will define them instead.

God reduces our anxiety as we trust in him. God reduces our insecurity as we learn more about who God made us, and we start to own our designer quirks. God reuses our strengths over time, building our understanding, wisdom, and endurance as we continue to engage people and situations. God recycles our quirks, refining and repurposing them into the strengths they were always meant to be.

What relief that God has made us and the situations we face completely recyclable! God doesn’t waste anything in us or our lives. not one thing. Will you believe that today, friend?” (p60) Laurie Wallin, Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful.

Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful is now available! I read a .pdf version and I’m itching to get my hands on a hard-copy that I can scribble in and highlight! Check out her website, too, because Laurie (read about her here!) speaks and works as a life coach, too! This book is handy, helpful, well-designed and practical and at the same time holds a precious lot of truth. Go order it today!

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