Introductions always make me pause, though if we meet you would never guess my hesitation. In many ways I have often wrestled with the identity I wear. Usually I paste on a smile and a genuine greeting finds its way to my lips, but inside I wonder what you may want me to say, or the right word that will allow me entrance into your world. It wasn’t until I met a man who bore my sin that I actually began to find myself.
Though I look confidant, my steps are measured with caution and my eyes are scanning, constantly, to see what I can take in before I need to speak. It isn’t a fear of knowing who I am, thankfully, He has redeemed me from that illusion. More over it is a deep desire to do everything right that keeps me behind a wall. These perfectionist tendencies make it hard for me to feel like I have made a connection, because all I see is what I should have said or could have done. My daughter nailed it the other day when she said, ” Mom, you beat yourself up way too much. Stop over-thinking everything.”
Sometimes the affirmations of our loves lead us to hear the song of joy He beckons us to live within.
The Lord your God is in the midst of you. A mighty One, a Savior [Who Saves]! He will rejoice over you joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction ] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them] He will exult over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17
This struggle with joy-filled living goes deep in me. I see it now in my own kids and find myself fiercely battling for their overcoming victory on my knees. I remind them of the love of God, the full and sweeping power of His amazing grace, and the sweet gift of relationship bought by blood. I tell them these things often, but sometimes I forget to tell myself… the irony of this truth is not missed by these precious gifts in my mission field. They see it better than I do.
I think the fear of failure has plagued me for so long that it has actually become a welcome traveler on this journey to grace. Mainly because I am familiar with its message, not because I enjoy the company it keeps. It took meeting the perfected love of Christ to begin to see that fear really has no hold on me.
In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear and expels every trace of terror… he who is afraid has not yet grown into love’s full perfection. – 1 John 4:17-18 ( amp)
Locust years are beautiful as redemption is purposed through their trials.
This last year and a half has been a whirlwind ride for our family, though as I look back, no different than previous trips through the calendar of our days. Our family has experienced the amazing gift of witnessing miracle after miracle through God’s healing touch upon our oldest child, now 19, who was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy at the age of 6 months. It was through her diagnosis that the symptoms of my own illness, perfectionism, started to show.
As a momma, no matter what anyone else says to you, when your child is ill and hurting, you go back in your mind, looking for a reason that provides an answer. I kept telling myself, “If I could find the why, then perhaps I could fix it.” It’s what I do, I like to fix things.
I couldn’t fix this, but it didn’t stop my efforts to try. It actually became a vicious cycle that kept me from experiencing joy as God intended. Just the other day, when my youngest daughter spoke truth over me, I realized how the tentacles of fear and ‘not good enough’ still touch my soul. Even though I KNOW that redemption is mine and grace is my anthem.
When the Lord uses our introductions to open doors, He always walks us through them.
I had the chance to lead a training seminar last week, and by way of introduction I shared a little about this journey He has led me on. I went back to another introduction that nearly broke my heart as I was getting ready to speak to at a home school conference 4 years a ago. A friend introduced me to the group, citing all my varied qualifications for being their keynote speaker that day. Her words of affirmation are her greatest gift, she is an encourager, but she is also one who has discernment and wisdom. She included the title of Special Needs Mom in the intro and it nearly crippled me as I walked to the podium. You see, I am not ashamed of that title, I am honored that God gave this girl to us to raise and to love, but rather than being the momma who embraced the journey, my perfectionism stole the joy out of our living and made me feel like I failed even in that.
When people asked me how to educate their special needs student, or how to best meet the medical needs of their chronically ill child, I always sent them to someone I felt was more qualified. All I could see was my own inadequacy and failure, not the step of obedience I took through the doors He opened.
My friend’s introduction was truly an open door for me to be transparent and relational to those in the audience who were grasping for that next breath. It made it possible for me to witness grace to a room full of parents needing to be encouraged. I didn’t see it at that moment. I didn’t see it when I cried later. I didn’t see it when I prayed about it that evening. Yet, the next day when I walked in, a momma pulled me aside with tear-filled eyes and thanked me for speaking truth into her heart, for showing her it was possible to do what God was calling her to do.
I made the choice to be a voice of truth in their midst. It took being in the fire for me to move. I felt like a failure, but in my weakness He was the strength that brought light onto someone else’s journey.
Our stories are the catalyst for His perfect grace to shepherd joy to others.
This last week, as I led a group of leaders, and reluctantly revealed these stories of my battle with imperfection, I willingly shared more of Christ in the process. Letting others see the broken road of redemption in my own life fueled the testimony of a heart that needed to collide with grace.
It never ceases to amaze me how God’s divine appointments work out. He takes our stories and refines them so that we can shepherd joy into empty hearts. He leads us through our failures into His victory because in HIS presence is the only source of real joy that exists.
Through the valleys and over each mountain we grasp the victory as we consistently set our sights on His will and His way. Friends, truly we must behold Him in all of the journey, looking to His joy, because He has His gaze firmly set on us.
Behold, I have indelibly imprinted you on the palm of each of my hands. – Is 49:16
Dealing with the day-to-day journey of being a voice for our daughter is difficult. Living with chronic illness is never easy. Through it all we are learning to let grace win in the moments we fall short. This is the journey that I would wish to take, I would like to see her free from the burdens that this disease has placed on her. However, I am honest when I say that I wouldn’t ever give up the beauty of knowing Him as healer, redeemer, and restorer of those broken moments that sometimes litter the path we walk.
It is the broken pieces, the failures, and the recoveries that yield some of the most beautiful mosaics.
I still struggle with introductions. I still have a hard time with failure. But God…He has taken those locust years, and sprinkled redeeming restoration faithfully over me. In His presence, even in the midst of the battle, there is great joy.
You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
My journey through imperfection has led me to live unwaveringly upon His Word and to take it as my daily Rx for every need. Wherever you are friend, today, if you have a child who is broken, a marriage that feels beyond repair, a hope that seems deflated, or whatever is holding you back from knowing His deep joy, know that He has not forgotten you. I encourage you to run boldly into the embrace of grace which has the remedy for all that we bring to Him in faith.
Praying for His joy to meet you and fill you in abundance and for your own introductions to be full of His testimonies and grace!
Author, writer and speaker, Dawn is passionate about many things: God, Family, Prayer, Food, and the Word. You can find her writing about those hard questions, reasoning and rejoicing in God’s grace and mercy for those who are walking this journey to grace on her website, Journeys In Grace.(www.journeysingrace.com)