Good morning my dear sister-
I just had to tell you that I appreciate your heartfelt sorrow for what I've gone through in the past, however- I actually look back on my life and smile. I'm sure you will understand exactly what I'm talking about.
You see, it is during these times that I have grown the most! I FIRMLY stand on Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose."
I know without a doubt that I have been PERSONALLY called to HIS purpose!
There are many who have judged me through the years, and for that matter, those who judge me now. I do not worry in the least about those people, because I know the valleys my God has walked through with me!
With the suicide of my first husband, I learned TOTAL AND COMPLETE dependence on God! Before that, and honestly, somewhat even after, I was a COMPLETE worrier! I obsessed that if something were to ever happen to my husband- such as a car wreck or something- that I would never be able to make it without him. He was my "first true love" (I put that in quotes, because there is so much I realize about that relationship now that I did not realize along the way- but that's for a different time), and I put him before God. It saddens me now, to look back, and see how I basically sold myself out. Now, given, I was not "on the straight and narrow" when we married, but the choices we made together, and the personal choices I made were not right at all!
I allowed myself to stray so far from God! But then, as He always does, God started pulling me back home- very gently, then more insistently. I was very willing, but still had so much to learn about Who God truly Is. (And still do, of course!)
When he died, I had nothing! Oh, yes, I had my parents, and while they were my solid rocks, along with my brother and his family- they could not really help me in the heart and soul. I would cry out to God, just begging Him to let me die!
Through the years, I've seen that the tragedies and pain in my life are actually so very beautiful! In fact, I read one of those email stories that are often floated around the internet one time that struck a cord with me. I thought I had saved it, but I can't seem to find it. So I went searching online, and found this one, that is very similar. The details are a bit different from the one that I read so long ago, but the premise is still the same, none the less.
A Quilt of Holes
As I faced my Maker at the last judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with all the other souls.Before each of us laid our lives like the squares of a quilt in many piles; an angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that is our life.But as my angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares was. They were filled with giant holes. Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in every day life. I saw hardships that I endured, which were the largest holes of all.
I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Other than a tiny hole here and there, the other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air.
Finally the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light, the scrutiny of truth. The others rose; each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been. My angel looked upon me, and nodded for me to rise.
My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life, and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, and wealth, and false accusations that took from me my world, as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully, each time offering it up to the Father in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me.
And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it was.
I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light.
An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with wide eyes.
Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded the many holes, creating an image, the face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said, ‘Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles.
Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you.’
Interstingly enough, I come from a line of "quilters". I've never really been one to do quilts, until here recently. I got an idea to make my baby a quilt. It actually turned out very good, to my pleasant surprise. So, I've taken on a couple more, One I'm struggling with, but another one I've completed and I am VERY proud of it! There is another one I'm almost finished with that is going very well- just a few minor issues with it.
Just now, as I am writing this, my mind is whirling. God is using this new sense of interest of mine with quilts to teach me even more lessons!
My life truly is beautiful, even the painful tragic parts. God amazes me more and more every day, in how His forgiveness, love, mercy.... ALL that He Is- how He could still love me through all of my mistakes. And yet.... He does!
I am enclosing 3 pictures- the first is my son and his blanket. The second is a full shot of the quilt I am so proud of. And the third is a close-up of the central theme of the quilt.
In Christ Jesus-