“What if you gave Me your story? What if you surrendered that story to Me? Couldn’t I use it then? If you gave it up?”
These words came to me, as I hyperventilated over my bathroom sink, trying desperately to figure out what I was going to say in the Bible study that morning. What did a depressed, failure of a missionary, wife and mother have to say to anyone? What could I possibly say that would benefit anyone?
I had no wise words, no special insight.
Only my own almighty failure.
Failure to thrive as a person living overseas, having accomplished nothing in our three years in Thailand, and returning to Australia now only a whisper of a person. I had barely learned to speak Thai, I was utterly befuddled by the ex-pat community, and to top it all off, I used air conditioning. Every night. Gasp. I realized in our time in Thailand, how little I had to offer anyone. I had no admin skills, no counseling skills, no driving passions, and had pooped out all my compassion reserves.
I had failed.
And worst of all, I couldn’t seem to hide it. I couldn’t fake it. I was even a failure at hiding my failure. And yet, I was being asked to come to Bible studies, and prayer meetings. I was able to wiggle out of most of them, sighting “children at home” duty. But this was a ladies Bible study. In the morning. On a school day. There was no wiggling out of it. And so, I stood hyperventiliating over the bathroom sink, fighting the rising panic, wondering what I could say. How I could get through smiling, and hiding... praying desperately that God would help me fake it.
And then God asked me to give it up. To surrender it all to Him. He pointed out that He didn’t need me to defend Him. He doesn’t even ask that of anyone in the Bible. All the murderers, liars, and people of rather weak character that He calls, and uses, and even esteems. None of them defended God’s perfection by their own. In fact, it almost seems like their imperfections proclaim His perfection all the more. God asked me, like David and Abraham, simply to follow, and to testify.
I really wasn’t sure how I could do that. I was still desperately depressed, and battling anxiety like I have never experienced before. I wasn’t all fixed up. I wasn’t sure I was ever going to be. It was possible at that time, that “Missions” had eaten me alive, and there may not have been anything left. But He assured me that stories surrendered to Him can become what He chooses. That stories sat on and buried, will fester and rot. I endeavoured to unfurl my white knuckle grip on a story that kept leaking out anyway.
My surrendered story was received with much prayer and compassion. It was a safe place to begin. Surrounded by good food and women who cared, my story sat safely in that space. Little by little I felt freer and freer to tell it in other places. It was often met with grace and compassion, and not a few “Oh My Gosh! Me Too!” which I always find a balm.
Slowly I did begin to heal.
I still am healing. Some days I feel so weak and tired and the same words of failure, and worthlessness and unwantedness wash over me. But, then I remember where I have been. And I remember that healing can come, if we hand up our sickness to the only one who can do anything with it.