A life time ago I used to speak. I loved it. I would share at women’s retreats or Christmas luncheons. Sometime I would go with three other gals who had amazing stories of suffering, loss, redemption and victories.
It was funny how it came about. My mentor Paula had said for years that she wanted to connect me with Leah, another gal she mentored. She thought we would hit it off.
I will never forget that first conversation in the cafe. Leah was a three-time Olympic medalist in softball. She just looked athletic. I had a feeling that Leah could whip my butt no matter what we played. She even talked like an athlete- a coach. She had fiery eyes that would dart back and forth because she would get so excited about what she was talking about, especially when it came to the Lord. She was crazy about Jesus.
Oh my gosh, I loved this girl. I mean, I got excited even when I didn’t know what she was talking about. You know those kind of people, the kind that rally the troops no matter what they are involved in. That was Leah and it was contagious. Even sitting there in the booth I felt like I wanted to get up and make a difference- do something-anything.
Leah has an huge impact on girls all over the world, participating in camps, clinics, mission work and speaking. (You can check out her website at http://www.leah20.com )
As I reminisce about our first meeting, there was one specific moment I will never forget and it went something like this:
“I just love talking with young girls,” Leah shared with passion.
Yeah, I feel the same. That is why I became a high school teacher. It gave me in an to talk with them.
“The frustrating part for me is that while I have all the stories of success and how when you put your mind to something and work hard the rewards are amazing. I can point to Jesus and tell them He is the one that gave me this talent and this ability, but I don’t have the stories of so many of the struggles they have, you know, self-esteem issues, depression, eating disorders, suicide.”
Before I could even think, I blurted out, Well, that’s easy. I have all of those.
I have those.
I think back on that time and how blessed I was to speak on these topics with Leah and two other amazing girls during that season in my life, but I am reminded of that moment as I watched the Lord take what I use to hide as shameful- embarrassing- failure- and turn them into gold medals to display to all.
My stories. Gold medals that hung around my neck. My stories…
and here is what I learned about my stories. To be able to say to someone, I have been where you have been and I know how hard this is. I know the pain. I know the grief. I understand, dear friend… but it is different now. I am no longer there, and I know it seems hopeless or impossible, that you will never feel differently than you do right now, but it will. It will pass and a day will come where this is joy once more, is the most beautiful gift I have to give.
You see, dear sisters, to offer hope because we have walked in someone’s shoes is what the Lord meant when He said, I make beauty from ashes. From our ashes, our failures, our loss come the most beautiful moments of our lives. Our stories offer hope of a better place. Our stories shout, Don’t give up! Don’t give up! Not yet! Our stories say I understand.
I wonder, dear sisters, what your treasures lie in your ashes? If you have time, I would love to hear.