Is your life like mine, marked by too many sad stories, too many bad choices? Does your heart look like someone is using it for target practice?
Starting in early childhood, my heart was wounded. I was ridiculed for the way I looked, being skin and bones with a fair, freckled complexion. I didn’t go on a date until I was a senior in high school. My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage leading to the sudden death of my dad 6 months later. I wrote in my journal, “My dad died today of a broken heart.” I was only 16. I have also been through the heartache of miscarriage and divorce, and the debilitating stress of financial ruin, just to name a few.
As a single mother of 3 with a boatload of self-loathing, I set out on a mission to prove to the world that I was worthy of a man’s love. I took as my mantra what another troubled friend told me after my divorce, “You gotta get out there and use men before they have the chance to abuse you.” Without going into detail, you can only imagine the places that led me. Because of my own choices and the damage caused by others who hurt me, I became a very miserable young woman. An older and much wiser friend said to me one day with all the love he could muster, “Darlene, if you don’t get rid of that bitterness and anger, it will eat you up like cancer.”
Beholding the Real Me
I walked away from him thinking how dare he!!! He doesn’t know what I’ve been through! But then something strange happened. I began to hear what he was talking about. As I interacted with family and friends, I discovered I couldn’t say hello without a sarcastic and hateful tone. Everything coming out of my mouth was tainted with ugliness. I went back to that friend and very gently, he spent the next 2 years leading me to the cross of Jesus. In one seemingly mundane moment, I prayed a prayer that changed the rest of my life forever. I asked Jesus to take over and forgive me. I asked him to rescue me from my past, and every moment since, I have endeavored to become the person God meant me to be.
Several years after that prayer, I went through a season of questioning. Like a child who constantly asks why I bombarded God with an interrogation of why I had to suffer so much. Finally, I asked God, “Couldn’t you have saved me from just one thing? What was it all for?” He lovingly replied, “2 Corinthians 1.”
I grabbed my Bible and began to read chapter 1, and it was as if God shined a flashlight on verses 3 and 4.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
Seeing God’s Handiwork
It all fell into place. I thought about how God had brought women across my path that suffered from the same things as me. Rejection, ridicule, unfaithfulness, divorce, financial stress, loss, insecurity, not to mention the choices they made out of brokenness. Being vulnerable in sharing my life, I had unknowingly comforted them and given them hope. God showed me that, although He didn’t cause my pain, He used those things to make me a stronger woman and could also comfort others through me if I was willing. Boy, was I willing!
Life got exciting after that. God used me as a missionary in cross-cultural ministry to women living in several foreign countries. I discovered life’s problems look and feel the same no matter where you live. The first glimpse of what God had in store happened when I was walking home one night in Ternopil, Ukraine after teaching a Bible study. My translator and I were talking when suddenly, she blurted out her problems. Almost word for word, she described many of the things I had been through. I told her how I learned to apply scripture to my situations and how God helped me. Over the next few years, her life transformed into a purposeful ministry helping orphans around the world.
Since that night, I have never questioned God again. Just this morning during my devotional time, I read this quote in the book, Streams In The Desert, by L. B. Cowman.
God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters -John Henry Jowett.
I haven’t forgotten one moment of the suffering, but God has taken out the sting. And, I can share it as fact without feeling the shame and guilt I once felt. God’s forgiveness working with my own forgiveness of myself and others has changed all the anger and bitterness into love and compassion. I wish my elderly friend were still around to see it.
When You Are Left Wondering Why Me
Are you questioning why? We all have stories to tell of pain and heartache. The real question is what will you do with them? Will you live life as the victim or will you allow God to heal you and use your story to help someone else?
I encourage you to spend time talking to God. If you don’t have a relationship with him, tell God you want one and then let the Bible introduce you to Jesus and to a heavenly Father who adores you. From there, ask Him to show you what to do. Find a local church or women’s Bible study group that will provide a place for you to heal and grow.
Could God have saved me from at least one thing? Yes, but then how would I know what to say when another woman wants healing and a life filled with purpose. Why me, God? Why indeed!