The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always. He provides me rest in rich, green fields beside streams of refreshing water. He soothes my fears; He makes me whole again, steering me off worn, hard paths to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name. Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness, I am not overcome by fear. Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted. You spread out a table before me, provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies; You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil, filling my cup again and again with Your grace. Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me where I go, always, everywhere. I will always be with the Eternal, in Your house forever. -Psalm 23:1-6 The Voice
Her name is Carol, and she is the very first person to speak HARD truth to me. She offered a simple invitation to join her at the local park, where our children could play together, and we could talk. I was excited and eager for any opportunity to meet with another mom that would also provide respite from playing referee to my three preschoolers ages 5 and under.
We met, settled the children in swings, sandboxes, and on slides, then sat down, to chat.
She began our conversation with, “I’ve been wanting to speak with you, about a concern I have concerning you.” That’s when I realized there was an ulterior motive to this playdate, an agenda for what I thought was an innocent invitation. She continued, “I can’t help but wonder why you dress in a way that seems to purposely cause you to fade into the background. Why do you prefer to go as unnoticed as possible?” I was silent. She went on, “Well, I think I might know the answer, because I was once just like you. I want you to know this. I SEE you. And, I UNDERSTAND your pain. However, more importantly, Jesus sees you. He, too, knows what it’s like to be you. Remember, He suffered much. He was mistreated, beaten, and abused. And, he died to give you freedom. Jesus wants you to be free and whole.”
WOW! To be honest I was taken aback by this conversation. Although her accusations were correct, I had lived this way for more years than I could count, and I did do all the things she mentioned, for the reasons she mentioned. As much as it hurt, I saw and heard the truth of her words. I was hiding, and I was very comfortable. I was trying and praying so desperately to go unnoticed, thinking safety could be found in being in the background. It was exhausting and completely draining. If you’ve ever been a victim of a heinous crime, you understand what I’m talking about. I was living in a desert place, dry as dust. Thirsting for real, “living water.”
I desperately wanted to lie in green fields by refreshing water, to have my fears soothed, and to be made whole again. I wanted to be led down roads of truth and righteousness. I wanted to feel his comfort and protection in the darkest moments. I wanted Him to anoint my head with soothing, fragrant oil and fill my cup again and again with Grace, Grace, Grace.
But first I needed to face the truth, and here it was right in front of me in the face of a fierce, sweet friend. I had to listen to this woman that I held in great respect. She was the same friend who convinced me to go on my knees before Christ and offer myself up to become a leader in preschool, which would later result in a calling that would span over 30 years. Now this friend claimed to have struggled with the same pain. This is a friend I could trust to speak truth.
I cannot thank her enough for revealing the truth of Jesus to me, for giving me the confidence to rise above the pain, to step out in faith and take back my life. The life Jesus died to give me.
I’d like to say it has been easy, but that would be a lie. It’s been hard. Yet, it has been worth it. Do I still struggle? Yes. Like many women who have walked in my shoes, I struggle daily. However, I am stronger today than I was yesterday.
I confess, some days I do grow very weary. It’s then that I am reminded that Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
His rest is enough for me.
Thank you, Jesus, for carrying my burdens. Thank you for revealing Yourself to me in a faithful friend. Thank you my Eternal Shepherd for caring enough to take me by the hand and walk me through it.