By Cindy DeMoss
Have you ever had one of those days when you felt surrounded by darkness, when everything you touched seemed to go haywire? I sure have, more than I care to count. And, of course, someone comes up to you, smiling, and says, “Hey! How are you?” You put on your best smile and reply “I’m fine. How are you?” After all, no one wants to hear about your problems, right? And so, the cycle begins…
Here’s something I want you to remember the next time this happens to you. A counselor once told me that “I’m F.I.N.E.” really means “I’m Feeling Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotionally unstable.”
Now - how are you, really?
We are doing ourselves and each other a great disservice when we only look at the surface. In today’s hustle and bustle, no one seems to have time (or wants to take the time) to look past this façade. Instead, we accept each other’s “I’m fine” at face value, when really there are hundreds and thousands of “walking wounded” among us - women (and men) who are struggling in our midst, but too afraid to say anything or ask for help, most are too afraid of being judged. Consequently, we talk about things like the weather, what room we’re decorating, a new haircut, our kid’s little league game - whatever the case may be - but it rarely goes deeper to the relationship-building, soul-searching, or God-pleasing issues that our lives are really made of.
Perhaps we don’t want to ask, because we’re afraid that someone might ask us. We don’t want to face our “junk” either, unless we can hide it in the privacy of our own homes with the door locked and the curtains drawn. We don’t want people to see our imperfections, our sins, our struggles, and our pain. Why is that? Simple. It’s our PRIDE. I use “our” here, because I am definitely among you. I am the worst when it comes to letting pride get in the way - God’s way!
Does this sound familiar? “I don’t want to let people get too close because I don’t want to get hurt again. I don’t want people to see my pain. I don’t want to ask for help, because… I’M FINE!” Ouch! I’m guilty. Today I ask for God’s forgiveness and your forgiveness, for not letting people see beyond the surface where the real me resides, for not letting anyone see the dark places I’ve been so they’ll see how far God has brought me, for not letting people see my brokenness so they can see the power of God’s healing.
I’ve learned one of my most important lessons this year during a Bible study, specifically a post-abortion recovery study, where I learned what a gift it is to hear someone’s testimony! It’s a huge blessing when someone shares an intimate story about herself in such an open and honest way, making herself vulnerable to others simply for the sake of sharing so that others might see the glory of God and His gift of grace. I dare say, we don’t share that gift with people often enough.
When I was 20 years old, I made a horrible decision to have an abortion - a decision I would take back today if I could. But through God’s grace, He is able to turn the mess I made into good and use it for His glory. Until last year, I always gave a testimony that excluded this one area of my life. I didn’t mind sharing as long as I didn’t have to talk about this. I didn’t want to face my sin or admit I was wrong, fearing others would judge me. As with all things we don’t surrender to God, it became a stronghold in my life and I was enslaved by it, which ultimately led to shutting everyone out. Thankfully, our gracious Father works on us and through others in order to set us free from the prisons we have created.
Even though I knew Jesus died for my sins and I had been forgiven, I was unable to realize the fullness of His forgiveness. As a result, I was one of the “walking wounded” that everyone thought was “fine.” Oh, what masks we wear and how well we wear them!
Amazingly, the Lord had prepared the way, partly by using my husband as a vessel not only to bring me to a saving faith in Christ, but also to challenge me to lovingly question my “wrong” thinking and help me come to terms with what I had done. God worked through him to give me the support and encouragement I needed at a time when I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) ask for help on my own. I am grateful to have a God-fearing husband who was willing to be used by God to bear my burdens and to clean up a mess made long before he knew me.
When it became evident that God was working through my husband and other circumstances to get my attention, I knew He wanted me to ask for help. That was such a humbling experience for me - asking others for help. Yet it had never been clearer that this is what the Lord wanted me to do. And bless it, He did! The recovery study provided an outlet as well as healing, a place to share with “like-minded” women who had shared a similar experience. While our backgrounds and situations may have varied, we had a bond like none I’ve shared with any other. We laughed together and cried together and, more importantly, we shared our lives together, not just our abortion stories. Through this study, the Lord humbled me further by giving me a glimpse through His eyes of my daughter, whom I named Grace, a name fitting for the lessons that my Redeemer taught me about His free gift of grace – the gift I didn’t deserve but He gave me anyway - and His abounding love. Although it was not an easy time, the Lord carried me through it to the other side.
My pastor says, “God never wastes a hurt!” I believe that to be true, because I am living proof. The Lord continues His work by changing the wrong thinking that got me here in the first place. Once a pro-choice supporter, I realize now that the choice is not ours to make.
You and I are leaders, mothers, daughters, sisters, or friends in the Body of Christ, and among us every day are the “walking wounded.” Perhaps you’re even one of them, possibly by no fault of your own. If you’re not, you likely know someone who is. If one out of three women who have personally experienced an abortion; imagine how many more are out there struggling with other issues like death, divorce, addictions, or abuse…just to name a few!
We all need to break the vicious cycle, to never say “I’m fine” again, and to never accept someone else’s “I’m fine.” Together, let’s vow to look deeper and truly see the person we’re talking to, the real person, the one who might be struggling - whatever that struggle may be - and let us minister to each other as God has called us to do. Sometimes we need a reminder that we are so much more than our haircuts, our decorating skills, or even our kids. We are created in the image of Christ and He wants to use us for His glory. The Lord wants us to share our lives and our testimonies so others can see His glory. What is your story? Have you surrendered everything to Him to use or are you still holding out saying, “You can use everything else, but not this”? Our gracious God never ceases to amaze me with what He can do and I am humbled that He wants to use me at all.
Be a vessel. Be one that God can use - to help someone who may feel surrounded by darkness, to show compassion and not condemnation, to comfort and to show the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. It was no accident that God made women to be compassionate and nurturing creatures. He knew all along how He would use us - as vessels for His work. Arise and go! Shine His light in the darkness so the “walking wounded” can see. You won’t regret it!