We are currently in the midst of a semi-major construction project; finishing our unfinished basement. In addition to doing this, we will be re-configuring several rooms in our house to better fit our needs and lifestyle. While all of this may sound fancy and exciting, it really just translates to one thing; our house is a freaking disaster.
As I was attempting some semblance of order, I found myself rummaging through our bookshelf in the office, tossing into a box those books that no longer needed a home on our shelves. During this process, my fingers stumbled onto the bindings of some familiar high school and college journals.
I flipped to the first entry in a worn black journal that I knew dated back to pre-college days. The first entry said this;
“An autobiography…what a looming task! All I know is that it is something I must write. This may never be published or even read by more than a few people, but it’s the only bandage big enough to cover all my pain.”
The words came back to me quickly. I remembered laying in my old bedroom, periwinkle colored walls surrounding me, while I scrawled them with a pencil just days before I was supposed to have what would have been my sixth major spine surgery. That surgery ended up being canceled the night before it was to occur and I desperately needed an outlet for my feelings and emotions.
Unfortunately, one of those outlets at that time was the sharp end of a metal bobby pin against my wrist. The other outlet was this blank lined piece of journal paper.
As I continued scouring my journals, I came upon entry after entry identifiable only by my handwriting. They were full of a hurt and anger that I no longer feel inside. I had written them in some of the deepest corners of my depression while in college.
I tell you all of this because I want it to be a testament to the enormity of God’s work in my life. Of his ever-sustaining love and compassion toward me, even in those very dark places.
Without his grace and redemption, it would be absolutely inconceivable for me to share this next part with you.
This past spring, I was invited to write a quarterly column for “Just Between Us” magazine. Started by Jill Briscoe at the age of 55, JBU celebrated their 25th anniversary of “encouraging & equipping women for a life of faith” this year. In the process of re-formatting the layout of the magazine, they asked if I’d consider writing a column dealing with physical suffering and God’s plan for it in our lives.
After discussing it with Chris and praying through what a commitment like this would look like (and thinking of about 100 people more qualified than me to write this), I agreed to the terms and submitted my first column. It was just printed and distributed in the Fall 2015 issue.
Head Shot Photo Credit: Robyn Vining Photography LLC
I had been a subscriber to JBU prior to being a contributing writer, but it was fascinating to learn more about the magazine. JBU is distributed to over 65 countries throughout the world and translated into many of these countries native languages. It started as a ministry tool to encourage pastor’s wives and continued to broaden to the scope of women it currently covers. What is even more amazing about JBU is that, in a publishing industry that can be cut-throat, the magazine has not only survived but continues to flourish with a staff of six women and a host of donors and contributors.
I could go on and on and ON about this magazine and how God is using it, but instead I invite you to explore it for yourself at http://www.justbetweenus.org .
As I let my mind reflect on the memory of the words that my hand etched 15 years ago, I am filled with thankfulness for the opportunity that God has provided through my column, “Chronic Hope”. It’s been an answer to prayer that I could never have conjured up. An answer to that prayer that I cried desperately in my heart when I was 9 years old: “God, you have to use this pain for something good, or else I don’t want to live anymore”.
It’s humbling and overwhelming to know that he is and always has been using my pain.
I know I won’t understand the half of how he’s used it until I’m in heaven, free from the chronic hurt, but for now I take great comfort in the chronic hope it brings to my life.
“The Lord gave the word and great was the company of those that published it.” – Psalms 68:11
(JBU’s founding verse)
*Due to this opportunity, I have changed my blog URL to http://www.chronichopeblog.wordpress.com*