Where did Jeannie go? Have you seen her? She was just here. I don’t know where she is. I remember her though. She was a faithful, loving, a devoted wife, mother and friend. Now all that’s left is an empty shell.
That’s what happens when your world is devastated by a tragedy you never saw coming. One day you are fine, living your life and the next day everything has changed. I think when my tragedy came I forgot how to breathe for a while. I was paralyzed with fear, and grief. Everything I knew and counted on was gone. That changes you. I think many of us have experienced this and are left wondering, what happened to me? Why did this happen? Who am I now?
My terrorist attack was against my marriage. One day I was going along as normal. I had been married for 28 years, I had raised 4 successful kids and then out of nowhere a nuclear bomb exploded in the middle of my happy home. I was left in shock, bewildered, even unclear where I was and how this was happening. I felt unexplainable grief. No matter who I spoke to, no one could fully comprehend the depth of my pain. The pain was paralyzing. I’ve never felt anything like it. It is like the “unfair” type of grief you experience when someone is taken from you way too early and unexpectedly. You keep grasping for answers to “why?” and there are no answers, just pain. So many well-meaning friends tried to bring me comfort but there just is no comfort in these situations.
I’m reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst called “Uninvited.” If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. In it she deals with rejection. She talks about how when we get rejected and internalize it, and we start looking for it everywhere. For me my first rejection was from my Mom. She called me “wild child.” That spoke to me that I was not acceptable. I was “too much.” I was “a handful.” My Dad and I had a very close relationship, but when that was marred by childhood abuse I learned he didn’t love me for me, but he wanted something from me. More rejection, deeper wound. I went on to struggle with rejections from friends and boys, and eventually a fiancé. Ouch. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to build the theory that I was just not acceptable. Something was wrong with me, and nothing I could do could make it right.
I went on to marry a man who would reinforce that theory in very subtle ways. I didn’t eat the right food. I didn’t have the right body. I don’t exercise enough. There are so many things that he reminds me are not right about me. As if I need the reminder. I’d already decided years ago that I was unacceptable. I walk into a room expecting to be rejected. I think it’s why I’m so socially awkward. I walk into any social situation knowing that everyone there is prettier than I am, smarter than I am, and they are “worthy.” You see to me, I’m not even “worthy.” I’m not worthy of happiness, or love, or joy, or anything really. The people in the social situation that I’m in usually smell the unworthiness one me and I’m just an awkward mess.
Right about now you may be reading this thinking, “this woman is a mess! She needs help.” Oh you are so right. I do need help and I’ve been searching it out in lots of places like food, friends and therapists. But as Lysa pointed out, the help I need is right in front of my face. God’s word tells me exactly who I am. It tells me I am made in his image. It tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It tells me that my name is engraved on the palm of his hand. I am a friend of Jesus. I have been accepted by Christ. In Christ I have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. My body is a temple of the holy spirit. I am holy, chosen and blameless before God. I am God’s workmanship. There’s so much more but you get the idea.
The problem is when I read those verses I think, “yes, that applies to everyone but me.” That’s what rejection can do to you heart. Rejection is the lie. But the truth is when I say that, I’m calling God a liar. Who in the world do I think I am to call God a liar? And when I reject who He says I am but accept what the world says I am I’m essentially saying, “God, you are a liar, but my Mom, my Dad, my husband and all these other people are telling me the truth.” Wow, I can almost hear God saying, “who in the world do you think you are miss prissy pants to call me a liar?! Have you forgotten who I AM?” I imagine his voice booming in my ear. It’s frightening.
I focus more on who the world says I am, than who God says I am. I value the opinion of the world more than I value the opinion of God. Ouch. I have been living for 50 years as if God was a big liar. What if for the next 50 I lived as though God’s words about me were true and the world was the big fat liar? That would be awesome. And I am going to do my best to do just that.
The hard part is 50 years of old tapes are hard to erase. I’m going to have to purposefully remind myself every day who I am so that when I hear a lie I’ll be able to shake it off. Hmm…. I think I better put that Taylor Swift song on my iphone so every time I hear a lie and can hear Taylor reminding me to shake it off!
I’m a work in progress. I’ve been on the potter’s wheel so long. Even though I can’t always see it I have to remind myself that I am a masterpiece, and live that way. But I need to do more than that. I need to not join in the part of the world that rejects and tears other down. With every opportunity I need to build others up and remind them of who they are.
In the meantime, Jeannie’s still missing. The old Jeannie just isn’t there anymore. Perhaps the new one that rises out of the ashes will be stronger, more confident in who she is and with any luck at all, a little less socially awkward. P.S. This is not meant to bash my husband. He is working on his own identity. We are working to restore the damage from our terrorist attack.