My amazing sister in Christ is writing for me today. I’m in awe of this woman. I don’t know what I did in life to deserve to have women like this call me their friend.
Here’s Brandi’s story.
I laid in the middle of my living room floor, weeping, right there on my shag rug in front of my entertainment center. I didn’t have the energy to drag myself over to the couch, the rug would have to soak up my tears. The kids were at school, thankfully, and I had time to truly give in to the war raging in my soul. As a newly single mama, my life had fallen apart at the seams. I felt like I was losing everything I had once held dear. People were being nasty on an hourly basis and I was scared to check my email for fear of a new “loving” email that would bash me for leaving. I was in therapy now, coming to terms with what had been to me over the years. I felt like I was drowning in the pain. “Please Jesus,” I whispered in my pain, “please let this all be worth it.” In that moment, I heard the voice of my God, so kindly and gently whisper back “I will use every tear.” I’m not sure if I even believed in that moment – it felt like too much to bear, much less to be used in some grand scheme of beauty – but I let my heart rest for a moment before returning to my tears.
2 years later, I stood in the blazing sun in front of 1,500 single mamas and widows in the Teso region of Uganda to preach at a conference our newly formed act of love, Beauty for Ashes Uganda was putting on for our mamas. I was to speak on trauma and healing and the beauty He can bring from ashes. I took a deep breath, walked on stage and began…
“I know what you’re thinking. You are probably thinking, ‘What can a mzungu (white person) tell me about healing?’ You are probably thinking about how I have not lost a child to malaria, I have not stood by as my village was terrorized by Joseph Kony and his rebel army. I have not watched my friends be gang raped or had it happen to me. I have not experienced deep hunger. Well, you are right. I have not experienced those things. I have not experienced the same trauma that you, sweet mamas, have experienced. But, I do know trauma. I know abuse and abandonment. I know what it’s like to feel so broken you don’t think you could ever be put back together again. I know what it’s like to be treated more like trash then treasure. I know what it’s like to feel used and tossed aside. I know what it’s like to have people you thought loved you walk away and treat you like a disease. I know what it’s like to be laying in the dirt and to have people say ‘He will turn your mourning into dancing’ and have it feel like they’ve just asked someone who broke all of their limbs to get up and dance. I know what the dirt of trauma and brokenness is like….and I know a Jesus who met me there and healed me.”
Over the course of that conference, I got to teach on healing and on beauty and on letting Jesus into the depths of your pain and having Him meet you there. It was beautiful and having Jesus speak through me to these ones who were so precious to my soul was an honor and a privilege. One of the best moments of my life, however, came a few days into the conference. One of the Ugandan conference organizers approached 2 of the village women to ask how they were enjoying the conference. The mamas looked at the woman and said Jesus was speaking to them through my talks. They ended with this, “We can listen to her. She knows our pain.”
Right then, I understood the worth of my experience. Jesus had been teaching me about my worth, but these women in one simple statement taught me that all of that pain was worth it. These women were worth it. They were worth the hours and days of tears. They were worth feeling broken. They were worth the PTSD I had after leaving and how I would throw up everything I ate for months. They were worth the staggeringly hard journey to healing. In that moment, I closed my eyes over my tears and whispered to Jesus “I would do it all again.” I would willfully choose the path of pain that had been thrust upon me for the privilege it is to speak healing to thousands of hurting women across the world.
Genesis 50 follows Joseph, who is being reunited after years of pain and trouble with the ones who caused that pain. Joseph, however, says to them “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Gen 50:20).
I don’t know where you are in your path of pain. Perhaps your pain is long ago, yet you continue to wonder what it was all worth? Perhaps you are smack dab in the middle of your pain, laying on your rug sobbing? Perhaps you are slowly coming out of the fog of pain and trying to make sense of it all? Wherever you are, be there. I am not here to convince you to put a smile on your face and pretend it’s ok. No, what I wish I could do is lie down with you on that rug – hold you close while you wept and simply whisper, “He will use every tear. I promise, dear one. He will use them. You just keep crying. You keep seeking Him in this pain. You keep healing and pursuing that healing, even when it’s hard and all along, He will be weaving together some sort of beauty. I promise.”
A little bit about Brandi:
I’m Brandi – I’m a single mama to 3 precious ones (2 are bio and 1 is adopted from Liberia, West Africa). I also have the honor of running 3 non-profits: She’s Worth It (which raises money to fight human trafficking), SoulCare (which does two retreats a year to pour love into non-profit leaders like they pour into others around the world) and Beauty for Ashes Uganda (which empowers 968 single mamas and widows in rural Uganda to reach long-term sustainability). I’ve been called “difficult to describe” and “an enigma” by many. I am passionate about healing, freedom and fighting for beauty in the deepest, darkest places on earth. Also, I love Jimmy Fallon and Brene Brown – I think those 2 sum up my love for deep healing and the absolute ridiculous quite well We would totally be best friends – all 3 of us – if given the chance. I’m just sure of it
Check out Brandi’s blog I Am Me.