Sometimes warriors wear high heels and tiaras and carry flowers.
Last week my friend Jennifer and I had the honor of getting to help celebrate the accomplishments of some of our favorite young women at Saving Grace.
As we stood on that stage asked them to join us one by one as we read simple short paragraphs about their journey my eyes filled with tears over and over again. Girls who were abandoned, abused, neglected, homeless, in debt, pregnant, unloved, alone... one by one they got out of their seats and walked to the front of the room looking beautiful. Each one of them faced a crowd of people with their heads high and smiles on their faces. Why? Because the words that were used to define them no longer applied. They are no longer abandoned, unloved, or alone. No longer filled with anger, or shame, or fear. Love does that.
Love changes us. Slowly but surely, over time, love covers over the multitude of sins that have hardened our injured hearts.
It's not easy being loved, being changed. It's hard stuff. The stuff that causes tears and fits of anger and hurtful words to be hurled at the ones trying so hard just to love us. When love is a foreign concept it causes smart, beautiful young women to attack and withdraw. It takes a lot of patience to love a broken girl.
Sometimes finding healed is harder than continuing in the cycle of sin and neglect. Sometime it's easier to stay behind the walls protecting our hearts where alone is better than abused. And while I don't know everything about the journey these women have taken from brokenness to beautiful, I do know one thing for certain... their journey was long and hard and they faced many battles along the way.
I've found in my own life, and in the lives of so many others, that God doesn't let us heal in isolation. Mary DeMuth says "God uses good community to heal us from bad community." For someone who has been injured by those that should have been our protectors this truth can seem harsh. Why is opening up to someone else necessary for me to be healed? Honestly, while I'm sure there's some scientific explanation, I sure don't know what it is. I do know that God says in James 5:16 "confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed." God ties our healing to people.
Where community is involved there is also risk involved. Avoid community, avoid risk and you might avoid some hurt. But you will also avoid healing, and love, and friendship, and family.
"God sets the lonely in families." Psalm 68:6
It's what we all want, deep down. To be loved, to belong, to have a place and arms that are open to us. Wanting that and allowing ourselves to be healed enough to be a part of that are two different things. Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to allow ourselves to be loved. To quit running from love. To quit fighting against love. So simply receive.
Healing is hard. It takes courage, and perseverance, and vulnerability, and humility, and lots of time. But it's worth the hard, worth the risk... all good things are.
The girls of Saving Grace taught me that.