At any given time I maintain at least six girl crushes. If you don’t know what a girl crush is, it’s when you seriously admire another woman to the point you’ve contemplated hanging around her mail box in hopes that you’ll bump into her and become best friends. My girl crushes are rocks stars and role models in the areas of faith, fitness, parenting and cooking.
Girl crushes are fun and fairly harmless, yet it’s important that our role models aren’t just celebrities but women in our real and everyday lives. You probably have a few girl-crush worthy rock stars at your church. These women ooze with spiritual discipline and always deeply engage during worship. They’re full of encouraging words and they faithfully pray for you when they tell you they will. Their tweets and Facebook updates are usually encouraging Bible verses or worship song lyrics. They are truly spiritual rock stars, and the sort of strong, confident women we look up to and perhaps even envy.
I’ll be honest, I’m not one of these women right now. I’ve been in a truly difficult season for over a year and I would say that lately, I’ve been more of a puddle than a rock star.
A year ago my mom took her life just as I was rounding my third trimester of pregnancy with our second child. After her death I felt like a shell of a person, just floating through life. When we returned home from our 2000 mile round trip journey to arrange her funeral I was nervous to return to church. I was somehow running on empty and grief and weariness showed on my face. I was also working in college ministry at the time and I worried about returning to work. I didn’t want my students to see me face down on my desk sobbing, or dragging myself to get another cup of coffee. For weeks after my Mom died I lived under the lie that God couldn’t use me as I was, that I was too weak. I believed it was better that I hide away for a while until I was in a more presentable shape spiritually and emotionally.
In the middle of my puddle months God taught me a new and valuable lesson. Even though I felt like a puddle on the floor, I was actually a rock star in a unique way. God wanted to use my puddle-ness to model what it meant to be authentic in a gray and difficult season. You see, if we’re only willing to be real when life is easy we leave people to navigate the stormy seasons from scratch, without any previous example of authentic brokenness. This world is a mess and we all experience the deep pain of loss in some form or fashion. If we downplay how much those experiences hurt, we create a community where people don’t feel comfortable being open with their struggles. This isn’t what God wants for us; He created us for close community with Himself and each other.
So, back to my story. I returned to church after my Mom’s death, and to be honest some Sundays I just sat there, buried my face in my hands and cried. When I was approached in the halls between services I was honest about how deeply I was hurting. I felt strongly that God wanted to use that season to show others that grief takes weeks, months and even years to truly heal. Deep hurts leave scars on our lives, but these healed wounds are beautiful monuments to God’s faithfulness, and our pressing need to be close to Him, come what may.
I hope today you’re in a season without fresh wounds, healed and whole. If that’s you today, strive to be comfortable with those who are hurting. On the other hand, if today finds you with fresh, open wounds don’t feel guilty about your pain. This world is full of experiences and moments that cut us deeply. It isn’t how God intended it to be, but it’s the world we find ourselves in.
Mind if I offer you a little encouragement to take with you through those messy, painful times?
– Don’t be afraid to be honest and real about your pain, especially with your trustworthy friends.
– Don’t be ashamed to cry in church, you can be a pioneer who changes what we view as a “normal” response to grief and loss.
– Remember that God is resourceful and uses everything, even the messiest seasons for His glory.
– Be authentic about your journey and don’t be ashamed of pain or grief when it’s where your path takes you. Struggling does not mean you lack faith.
– Grab God’s hand and don’t let go, even when His ways are beyond confusing.
– When you’re in a sunnier season, support and encourage authentic healing for those in your community who are in a season of brokenness.
– Remember that the battle against death has already been won. Even on the darkest days, the light of this truth sustains.
This authentic way of living leads to true healing and strong women who God will use to display the whole and beautiful reality of His heaven here on earth. We’ll all walk through the sunny seasons as well as the dark valleys and when we’re brave enough to be puddles, that’s when we’re the true rock stars in disguise.
Leanne Penny started life in West Michigan and along the way the journey has taken her to Ada, Oklahoma where she currently resides with her studly husband Kel Penny and two ridiculously fantastic children Noelle who is two and Caedmon who will be one just after Christmas.
Her path has taken her through some very dark valleys which include the death of both her parents and her sister’s brain injury as a result of a car-train accident. Through all the heartache she has struggled and strived to choose joy and see hope no matter what the circumstances. In her early twenties she started writing and with a few starts and stops has continued to use that calling to help and to heal.
These days she can be found wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt either at home, church or unfortunately Wal-Mart. She is easily distracted by coffee, crafts and the Food Network but is trying desperately to be faithful to God’s call to write about her journey in hopes that her pain will be made beautiful for his glory. You can visit with Leanne at http://www.leannepenny.com