Tonight, I write this with my heart and my house full. Full of laughter, hope for the future and friendship. Full of some I have only just gotten to know, and full with others I have known since they were little ones.
Fellowship is such an important part of my life and I am learning it is a beautiful part of healing. Some people need to heal by being by themselves, or only with family. Part of this process of healing has been trying to learn HOW I heal. For a while I longed for a schedule that would just tell me what part of the process I was in and how long it was going to be till all of this was over and done with. I am learning now, that it will never be over and done. I will hold on to this hurt for the rest of my life. It will shape me and mold me, but the important thing is recognizing that I am in charge of HOW I let it shape and mold me.
Today I had the privilege of watching a 16 year old girl go off to prom. She is a girl who has come to be the little sister I never had. She is a beautiful, blonde, blue eyed, show choir loving, country music listening teen that has stolen my heart. Maybe because that description sounds awfully familiar? Maybe it is because I want to save her from my mistakes. I see so much of myself in her eyes. She has already been through so much in her short life. I have never felt that protective feeling over a "little sister" before. I never knew what it meant, and even resented it, when my parents said to me, "You just don't understand, it's different with a boy." They were right. I long to protect her in a way I never felt with my younger brother. I see so much of myself in her and I want more than anything to protect her from a night like I had.
Watching her go off to her prom with her friends, I was reminded about my prom. Who I was during that time in my life. Thankful I have beautiful memories and that I went with my best friend. But blown away with the memory of riding away to prom, thinking that I owned the world. That life, in that moment, was as good as I could have ever imagined it to be. I was so mature. So grown up. So ready for life. So only 17.
Looking at those gorgeous kids driving away, I knew that they were feeling those same feelings. They were on top of the world. It didn't get any better than it did tonight.
It is so cliche, but I look back on my 17 year old self and laugh at her. At how naive she was. How she thought the world was just going to be handed to her on a silver platter. That she was invincible. How funny to think that at 17 I was convinced I was ready to get out of the beautiful shelter my parents had built for me, get married to the love of my life, start a family. And that going to prom was just the beginning. I was ready. Because I was 17.
The fullness of my house tonight comes from 4 beautiful young ladies who are getting ready to step into different parts of their lives. Two who are about to graduate high school and step into the terrifying, real world of college. One who is starting her life over from scratch, praise God. And one who is just trying to muddle through the rest of high school so she can be a "grown up", something that just can't come soon enough. These girls have taught me so much in the 4 months that I have been back here in Indiana. They are just a few of the awesome women of God that I "lead" on Wednesday nights at Northside Baptist Church in a Jr./Sr. High small group. I have been so blessed by them.
My first blog entry came out of a conversation we had this past wednesday night, when I verbalized for the first time what had happened to me, to them. It was a beautiful moment of clarity and the Holy Spirit was so incredibly present. I knew walking out of our small group, and out of church that night, that I couldn't be silent any longer. Those girls had opened up their hearts to me and shown me the quiet corners of their souls. I needed to do the same. To show that there was trust and love within those 4 walls of that class room.
I know without a doubt that God makes beauty out of ashes. He makes beautiful things out of dust. He is making a beautiful thing out of my ashes. My ashes are coming back to Carmel, IN a place that I couldn't get out of quick enough. My ashes are all of my mistakes, double lives led, sins committed without a repenting heart. My ashes are being turned into beauty. He brought me back to be an example to these girls in their transition into womanhood. He led me through all of these things so that I could one day be a shoulder to cry on, not just because I cared, but because I understood and I have been there. So that I can see the signs when a wrong path is being walked down. So that I can be a vessel of the love our Father desires them to know.
My house will always be a place of safety for these kids. A place to come to when there is no where else to go but a party full of drinking and drugs and sex. A place to come when they have made mistakes and they don't think anyone else will ever understand. A place to come to pray, laugh and pray some more.
He is making beauty out of this. This is just one step. It is a beautiful one.