A few months ago I reminded my son not to wear a certain pair of pajama pants. “But mom, I love these ones, they’re so soft”. It’s hard to give up a really soft, warm pair of fleece pants, especially during winters in Western New York. Snuggling up in bed in his fleece PJ’s under his favorite fleece blanket was all my boy wanted to do. It was the end of the day and he wanted the comfort and security that he gets from his desired items. Thankfully we were able to find a pair of flannel bottoms that were acceptable and the crisis was averted. 🙂 You moms out there know what I’m talking about. The end of the day brings tired kids and tired kids can really lose it over something like pajamas. Of course us moms always remain patient and calm, that’s a given, right ladies?
Anyways, the reason that my son didn’t wear the pants was because they had a hole in them. It wasn’t a big hole, but its location ruled out any wears until it was repaired. His sisters made that perfectly clear when they first noticed the hole and what it was revealing. Even though the hole wasn’t very large, it provided a window to an inappropriate view. Luckily this all happened when my parents were visiting. Nana was happy to take the pants home and sew up the hole. You see, I don’t sew. I have done it before, it’s not pretty and quite frankly I really don’t like it one bit. Since my mom LOVES to sew (I may be exaggerating that just a bit), I save all of our sewing projects for Nana. Next time we see her, the pants will be as good as new and my son will enjoy their coziness once again.
I was reminded of this today as I was thinking about the holes that exist in each and every one of us. The holes we have inside of us are invisible, they exist within our hearts, souls and minds. They have been dug by our experiences, relationships and messages we have received. Some of us have huge potholes, others small divots and most have a combination of the two. I have talked to people who claim that they are the exception to the rule, that they have escaped the bruises and bare no scars of their lives and are “just fine”. I don’t buy it! Every human being who has walked the face of the earth has encountered struggle and it is impossible to not have some degree of brokenness in our lives. No matter how hard we try or how good our life is, sooner or later life leaves us with a blemish. We will not leave this life unscathed.
Oh how I wish that our holes were as easy to repair as the one in the fleece pajamas. It would be wonderful to hand over the damaged piece of myself, get sewed up and be on my way good as new. But unfortunately (or dare I say fortunately?) it doesn’t work like that. It’s amazing how quickly the holes within our hearts and souls can be created and how painstaking the recovery can be. Take for instance a cutting remark. In a split second it is said and it can haunt someone for the rest of their lives. Most of us can remember something spoken to us as children that still comes back to us even in adulthood. Not to say that these things are always detrimental and totally screw us up, but impactful nonetheless whether from the actual words or our interpretation of them. However, there are those of us whose hearts bare deep holes from lies and horrible things that were spoken to us.
As I write this, an experience from childhood immediately comes to mind. When I was growing up I was extremely shy and introverted. I was a first born and very attached to my mom. At events and other occasions while the other kids were playing and laughing, you could usually find me sitting next to my mom with a group of adults. I have been a bit of an “old soul” since I was born. I wasn’t interested in sports too much until middle school and I won’t even tell you the story about my first and only dance recital.
So when I joined Brownies around age 7 or 8 with some of the neighborhood kids (that I didn’t even go to school with mind you) it was a BIG deal!! One evening we were having a party and rotating through different game stations. The object of one game was to capture the marshmallow in your mouth while a leader dangled and moved it above your head on a string. I love the simplicity of this one, the good old days. 🙂 I walked up to this challenge with confidence and a fighting spirit. I may have been quiet, but I have always been competitive and very driven. I may have even been doing some mouth stretches as I walked across the gym. Ok, I won’t go that far! But you get the picture, I was ready. I jumped in there, cocked my head back and opened my jaw as far as possible. Did I mention that it was one of those giant marshmallows? The leader immediately gasped, “Wow you have a big mouth!”
That’s all it took. I don’t remember if I caught that marshmallow or much else from that night, except that the yarn connected to the coveted treat was red, but you better believe that I remembered those words. They rung in my ears over and over while my face flushed and shame covered my heart. There is something else you should know, I have struggled with my sense of worth and value all of my life. One of my crosses that I have to bare is fighting the lies of the enemy (sometimes daily) that can take over me that say that I am not good enough, I should be different, I am unlovable and I have to earn good things and people in my life because I simply don’t deserve them. The gift today is that I know the truth and suit up in the full armor of God on a daily basis so I can fight and win the battle that is waging within and around me. Unfortunately at age 8, I was not in this place. Instead I was a painfully shy, insecure girl who was convinced the lies were true and was naive and gullible enough to believe pretty much everything I heard. So instead of measuring the words against the ultimate Word or not internalizing the comment or speaking up for myself, I took the statement personally and the “I’m not good enough/something is wrong with me” hole got bigger. Truth be told, these words have rang in my ears many times in the years since I first heard them and shame and insecurity have resulted. They have left a hole in my heart and every time I heard and believed them, that hole got deeper.
Please hear me, in no way am I condemning or blaming the lady who volunteered her time to help with a young girls event. She made a comment that was probably more of an observation than anything. The disconnect and damage came from my interpretation of it along with the isolation that I drew into.
There was a time that I felt like a piece of Swiss cheese. I felt like I was covered in holes; the marks of my life and they varied from small cracks to huge abysses. I worried that if any of them stretched even so much as a hair that they would all mesh together creating one big hole inside of me that there would be no climbing out of. I wondered how these trenches could ever be filled in and really thought it was impossible. The ache of emptiness was escalated by the lie that wholeness could never happen. “You are too broken” the enemy screamed. “Just surrender to this because this is as good as your life will ever get”.
A turning point came when I heard about God using “cracked pots” and how His light can only shine through our holes. It has been my trenches that have led me to deeper intimacy with God and through that I am becoming more whole. God knew what He was doing. If we humans didn’t have any voids in our lives, we would have absolutely no reason to seek Him. Left to my own devices I am full of pride and ego. “I can do it myself thank you very much!”
It was the unbearable emptiness and heartache that brought me to my knees convincing me that I needed God. Oh sure, I tried it my own way for 3 decades, attempting to fill those holes with lots of other things. Instead of narrowing the gaps, I plummeted. It took me a long time to realize that these holes were God-shaped and only He could fill them. Little by little I started to understand how to do that and began to surrender to the process.
The healing hasn’t come as quickly as my son’s pajama pants were sewed up. This type of repair is a completely different ballgame, no quick fix and definitely not a linear path. Many of my holes have been stitched and restitched as they are too deep to be permanently closed the first time. But each time they are mended with God’s love and truth, the voids shrink a little. I have grown to see that my holes are a genuine blessing because they have brought me to my knees and the absolute end of myself. It is when my heart is in this posture of humility and desperation that I look up and see the most wonderful face I have ever seen, the face of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Check out the exquisite painting gallery of child prodigy, Akiane Kramarik here.
It is because of my holes that I met my God face to face and let me tell you, that was the best introduction of my life. It is my holes that lead me to the source of wholeness. My God is transforming me from holes to whole one day at a time. Today all I can say while looking into that beautiful face is “Thank you and I love you too”.
Come back next week to read about the best introduction of my life.
Until then, be blessed!
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