[10 years ago this week, I was born and to celebrate the occasion I wanted to share this story: my story.
I wrote this all down when I was about 23. I can hear all that I was learning about God even in these words. Much has changed. But much is the same as well.
Catch up on part one from yesterday, and then enjoy part two below.]
Here’s how Soul Survivor worked, you worship for a little while (by the way, I would have described worship at the time, as singing songs for about 30 minutes – subject: God). After the singing, someone gives a 30-40 minute talk about God related topics. Then Mike Pilavachi, who runs Soul Survivor, stands up and says, ‘does anyone think this applies to them?’ This was the part that always kind of blew me away. People would stand up. Seriously. The speaker would talk about feeling lonely or not good enough as a Christian and then about 100 different people all over the room would stand up in front of thousands to admit they needed help on this subject. And then people around them would get up, ask their name, and pray aloud with them.
I couldn’t comprehend this. Who would do that? Who would stand up and humiliate themselves that way?
After this crazy praying mayhem, more singing would ensue and then folks would go outside, hang out, play music, skate, dance, watch movies, or sleep. It was crazy.
So anyway, on this last Saturday night, a woman got up to speak. She talked about her father. She talked about how he had left when she was a teenager. She talked about how she had never realized how really angry she was with him until one day she was shopping for a car, and felt overwhelmed, and suddenly exploded with the anger of her father’s absence. He was supposed to be there; he was supposed to talk her through this process and joke and help and teach. She exploded with the pain and grief and worthlessness that stems from feeling unloved.
After this happened, she sat down before God and poured out all the issues she had. She literally wrote them down, and laid them at the foot of the cross. She handed them over to God. She said that she did this, not because she wanted to forgive or forget, but because Jesus had offered to carry them for her. So, she didn’t have to forget or pretend her dad never hurt her; she just had to realize that someone was holding her up with a love that made her whole.
Now, I’m not a big ‘issues with my father’ kind of girl. I’m sure you think otherwise at this point, but I can only assure you that I’m pretty honest about how I feel. I’m certainly the first to tell a sob story when I have the chance. In all my drunken nights before Jesus, in all my emotional times, never once was the subject of my tears or talks among my closest friends related to my father.
So this night, I remember thinking that’s really sad. Poor girl. Then Mike Pilavachi came forward and asked if anyone thought this applied to them; inviting those who needed healing to stand up.
I remember again, feeling almost embarrassed for those people standing in front of everyone. They stood up, not with some great talent to show off, or some great trick to perform, but with nothing but their pain to make them worthy of this humiliating honor.
And then I was standing too.
I remember looking at my friend Leanne, and I don’t know if my face looked anything like hers, but she looked completely confused. Like, what are you doing? And I know that’s how I felt. I don’t know how I looked.
I remember just standing there.
Last night I was reading Life of the Beloved, and now as I write this, something Henri Nouwen wrote comes to me. He talks about how we can’t run from our pain, we shouldn’t fight it. He says our pain is part of what makes us unique, for we all hurt in a completely distinct way. Our pain is part of our identity as God’s beloved. He says that all we need to do is stand in our pain. Stand in our pain. Let it flow around us, and realize that there is no shame in pain, but love.
I stood there, in a pain that I still don’t acknowledge as my own.
Leanne stood up and took my hand. She squeezed. I don’t know if I was crying then, but within moments I was sobbing. Shaking, from my soul, and dying but being born, if that makes any sense.
To be honest, I don’t expect it to. It doesn’t really make sense to me either.
It went on for hours. I cried. People, strangers, prayed around and over me as if they cared, as if they knew every moment of my life, and as if they loved every particle of who I was.
I didn’t know I was broken. But when I went to sleep that night. I shut my eyes, and I felt healed.
[read the final part of the story tomorrow! And *spoiler alert* it’s the part where I get Jesus!]