Untangling Our Messy Threads
"Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been give to us." Romans 5:2-5 (ESV)
Realistically - I am more than halfway through my life. Wow. Maybe God will give me more years than I am expecting, maybe less, who knows. Either way time marches on and life moves forward in me and around me. Every day.
Looking back through the years - there have been some truly amazing and heartbreaking situations. Friends, family, neighbors...we've run the gamut of health struggles, relationship issues, financial problems, loss and grief, sometimes separately sometimes at the same time. Life hands us plenty of difficult circumstances, some self-inflicted some not so much. What stands out though, are the connection points along the way, places where my life impacts others and their's impact mine.
People's lives are deeply connected to one another, like silk yarn woven into incredible tapestries, beautiful and complex. We balance each other in texture and color, perfect in our symmetry and balance. Who knows where one string begins and another ends? Our tapestry is an amazing reflection of the beauty of the human race. What a sweet picture of who people are and what we represent.
If only. Moving forward to the next half of life I'm a little more realistic.
We the people are NOT like a beautiful tapestry. Uh no. Personally, in my humble opinion, our relationships in this fallen world behave more like a big wad of yarn, mangled and frustratingly messy. In the process of attempting to manage this tangled heap of string we hurt others and they hurt us. We jump from one piece of fiber to the next in our hope to untie knots and make sense of where a singular section of cord ends and another begins. There are some fabulous and lovely experiences along the way - God built an incredibly colorful and diverse array of yarn. However, forbearance, patience and grace is required when dealing with all the interwoven threads. That's real life.
But sometimes we are entwined with a person who hurts us so deeply the ramifications are life altering. The resulting knot of string is unmanageable, intimidating and looks to be impossible to untangle. In this case we find ourselves woven together with a life so selfish and narcissistic as to care not at all for the harm caused to other pieces of yarn. In their desire for personal gratification and glorification this individual will take scissors and tear all other strings apart. They care little for collateral damage as long as their life is maintained to their liking and uncomplicated by entanglements produced by weaving too closely with others.
The process of healing past hurts and/or abuse is messy and internally gut-wrenching. Some of us are recovering from a singular traumatic event and trying to undo the resulting knot of pain. Our fingers are red and chapped from pulling hard at the tangles. Still others are reeling from months or years of trauma deeply imbedded in the very fabric of the thread itself. The repair work not only requires unwinding all the interwoven yarn, but also taking each filament and reconstructing it with tender care. Once beautiful fibers created as the foundation for building something useful now seem unusable and worthless. Where is the value in a scratchy, broken wad of string? How do we make a beautiful tapestry or sweater from such an incredible mess? Who wants THIS??
GOD DOES. Not only does your Creator want your messy wad of yarn, he wants to repair it, care for it and turn it into something beautiful.
Thankfully, we are not untangling our messy strings by ourselves. God is guiding our hands, putting lotion on our sores, and providing friends and wise counsel for rest and help in unweaving the mangled cords. There is even room for joy in the repair work, love in the time spent and lessons learned while untangling one knot before moving on to another.
Emotions and beliefs built on dysfunctional relationships can become woven into the very fabric of who we are. Fighting for our identity is foundational to untangling the mangled pieces of our heart, because the lies we believe about ourselves are destructive and shaming. We don't start out intending to carry around guilt and shame for things not in our control, but we do it anyway. Fighting beliefs that shame us is a lifelong battle, but every day God provides the tools for his daughters to enter the fray of tangled strings and poisonous thinking. Because you are wholly and dearly loved - whether you feel it on the inside or not. Whether your ball of yarn looks valuable or not. God says you are WORTHY. So you ARE.
We can look to Jesus as the perfect example of human response to suffering and affliction. Jesus shows us that, while we may experience betrayal, hurt and abuse at the hands of others, those experiences need not destroy us. Suffering is not a joyful experience, the hurt and pain is at times excruciating and unbelievably awful. Often this suffering leads to asking ourselves questions in a way that doubts our worth. How will I ever recover from this? What is wrong with me that I let my life get to this point? Am I really that unloveable?
God's desire is for us is to live steeped in the belief that our value is found in our design and creation as his children. Rooted in this belief is our understanding that our true worth is found in Christ, and cannot be lost or damaged by others. I may feel worthless, but that is when God says clearly you are "fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14) And God means it, he isn't lying to us. He isn't lying to you.
When we fully comprehend our true identity, we will experience amazing transformation. God is doing the repair work, conditioning my damaged threads and unwinding the lies of who I believe I am so I remember who God says I actually am.
Your value is not based upon who others say you are, nor is it based upon who you think you are. Every broken fiber and tangled thread in the depth of your soul is loved by God. You are valuable because GOD says you are. And God created you, so he knows.
"For you formed my inward parts: you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalms 139:13-14
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1 (ESV)
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!" Psalm 118:1 (ESV)
Today in our podcast we hear the second part to Kelly Mallory's story. Her story of recovery and healing and how God walks alongside her to remind her she is loved, she is worthy and she is fearfully and wonderfully made.