So, this is where I am supposed to give you the good stuff; the highlights, accomplishments, etc. But, to give you the highs and remove the lows would be leaving out the most important part. Because pain is often what leads you to discover who you are. It’s where your roots dig deep and you are crafted and molded into something new.
It’s where we become brave.
So, here’s my story (the short version) of both joy and pain: I grew up in a Christian home with a great family. But, as loving as they were, there were bumps along the way. Like many, my story includes a variety of abusive relationships which left me carrying scars into adulthood.
I tried hard to be a good Christian wife and mommy. REALLY HARD. In some ways I feel like I’ve failed and in others I feel like I’ve succeeded. I have four beautiful girls who I am absolutely crazy about. I do the soccer-mom thing, ballet-mom thing, class-party mom thing – you get the idea (all usually with a baby attached at the hip). In juggling all of that, I went from leading small groups at church, to teaching workshops, writing books, traveling and speaking, working with youth and eventually pastoring at a church.
I tried HARD.
But, through it all, I never felt like I “fit” the Christian box. During my last year of pastoring, my inability to fit the box became clearer and clearer. I finally had it out and spent hours on my office floor crying and yelling at God. It was a hard. But, I was finally being honest. I took a hard look at what I believed about God and what he expected of me as a leader, wife, mommy, friend. (Expectations are a big deal in the Christian world)
I screamed on that floor; and God (gently) screamed back. In January my time had come. It was time to rise. I got up from that floor different than the girl who had landed there a year prior. I stood up bold and fiercely brave. Everything in my life that had been beaten into me or out of me started to fall off. I was finally ready to embrace what I knew – deep inside – about God and myself.
My relationship with God didn’t change. My love for people didn’t change – none of that was different. But, for the first time I was ready to be honest – really honest about my heart, my life and not hide behind the fear of what people might think.
I stepped out of the box. I left for good.
A lot has died since that moment: titles, relationships, friendships. Much has changed. If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed a change in my writing as well.
And, my sweet friends, as painful as this journey has been. IT IS GOOD. CHANGE IS GOOD.
I’ve never felt more exposed in my faith and simultaneously never felt more at peace. And I’m writing from that place. So, if you’ve landed here, you’re in safe company. Whatever your story, whatever place you are in your journey – you are safe to bring all your lovely broken pieces here. There is a seat for you.
Anna is the published author of two books, Forgiveness is Not an Option (non-fiction) and The Red Stones (YA fiction). Her provoking articles have been published on multiple platforms including on-line and printed magazines.
To read her parenting blog (funny, lighter stuff) go to: The TODAY SHOW Parenting Team
To view her teachings as a pastor visit her YouTube channel.