where i’m from…

(the words below are my own “answers” to this post…I couldn’t help it – God just welled it up in me till I had to pour out.)

I am from a small town with a big chair.  I am from mason jars and big pots of beans I helped Grandma shell.  From GA’s and Missionettes and HigherWays Youth Group.

I’m from a Momma and a Dad that both had father’s adopt them.  From a broken marriage, no house in particular, and a hard upbringing.

I am from bologna and cheese sandwiches, fried spam and fat-back that only Grandma could make taste great going down.

I am from swim parties and cook-outs at Pawpaw’s house, and running in sprinklers at Memaw’s house.  From country ham, grits, and the best BBQ in the world!

I am from Grandfather’s whose love gave  security as a child – safe in their presence.  From Aunts that fed me and loved me good; Uncles who spent time with me when they might not have.

I come from K-Marts and A & P’s and Food Lions; from Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and The Cosby Show.  I come up from behind books that took me places delightful when mine wasn’t…or even when life wasn’t so bad.

Where I’m from, Jr. High boys dress up like Garth and Tim and the girls sing Shania and Faith.  From country music and the a.m. gospel station late into the night with Grandma.

Where I’m from, it doesn’t matter if they know your name, they want to know you…even in the WalMart line!

I’m from Great-Grandma’s that had a strong faith in God in the midst of violent husbands and rebellious children.  From Grandma’s who rarely know their great worth and Grandpa’s who never knew just how much they meant to the broken and scared little girl they saw on the weekends.

I’m from a Momma who sails on the wings of emotional highs and lows.  From a Momma I have never understood but desperately love and want her to know Love.  From a Dad who didn’t live with me or near me, but wrote me letters…just like my Heavenly Father.

I’m from Church Mommas who took time with a little, lost, struggling, socially awkward, foot-in-mouth girl, and they grew me up into a Woman after His Heart.  From Church Dad’s who took the time to build me up – time that they might should have been spending with their own.

Eleven years ago I left where I am from, and didn’t know if I’d ever want to go back.  Home holds the hurts and immaturities and bad decisions.  To go back wouldn’t just “be going back to the way things were” – it would bring me face to face with all the ways I had fallen.

I am Much Afraid who took her journey with Sorrow and Suffering from the Valley of Humiliation as she sought to go on the heights with The Good Shepherd.  I left thinking that following Him would give me Joy and Security as companions, but when the days were filled with griefs and trials and the bottom fell out several times I was left wondering and yet still traveling.

Here I am now, on the heights – literally.  The elevation is something over 6,000 feet above sea level and The Peak stands boldly out my front door.  I stand here, after 11 years of forgiving and healing (and knowing there’s more to come), and turn around and look back at “home”.  For a moment I thought “look how far I’ve come…where He’s brought me…”  And then something happened I did not expect…

“My Lord, I will tell you what I learned.”

“Tell me,” he answered gently.

“First…I learned that I must accept with joy all that you allowed to happen to me on the way and everything to which the path led me!  That I was never to try to evade it but to accept it and lay down my own will…

“Then I learned that I must bear all that others were allowed to do against me and to forgive with no trace of bitterness and to say to thee, ‘Behold me – I am thy little handmaiden Bearing-with-Love,’ that I may receive power to bring good out of this evil…

“You always treated me with the same love and graciousness as though I were a queen already and not wretched little Much Afraid…My Lord, I cannot tell you how greatly I want to regard others in the same way…

“The fourth thing…was really the first I learned up here.  Every circumstance in life, no matter how crooked and distorted and ugly it appears to be, if it is reacted to in love and forgiveness and obedience to your will can be transformed…

“Can nothing be done for them down there in the Valley?…If the Shepherd could deliver me…from all my fears and sins, couldn’t he deliver them also from the things which torment them?  “Yes…if he can turn Sorrow into Joy, Suffering into Peace, and Much-Afraid into Grace and Glory, how can we doubt that he could change (them too)…completely (deliver them) from all the things which torment them…

“Oh, if only we could go to them!  If only there were some way of helping them to find what we have found…He brought me to the heights just for this…

~Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

I have turned around.  I now look back at my where I am from, and I see with new eyes, feel with a re-formed heart, and think with a transformed mind.

First, I see His hand and foot prints everywhere I ever was.  Second, I see His redeeming love, not just for the little girl sitting in a camp at the beach 16 years ago, but for all the family and friends and acquaintances I once rubbed shoulders with, spoke words to, shared holidays with, went to school with, and just sat with.

So, now, where I am from isn’t just a place I left, it’s a place I love.  I give thanks for all the mess and  hard and hurt because they gave me what I needed to begin walking this journey with Him.  Though it would seem such a past would cripple a person, instead it gave me a reason to walk.

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I am from hymns being sung at Carolina Memorial Baptist Church and hands being raised while singing “Shout to the Lord”.  From homecoming potlucks and picnics and Everybody’s Days and downtown Christmas parades.  I am from the Byerly’s, The Wards, The Curry’s, The Tomaso’s.  You make everything glorious

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

*David Crowder

(What does that make us?)