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Many, many years ago, we were given a paper in church that required us to fill out a questionnaire in order to identify the predominant themes in our life. I obediently filled mine out, along with my story of “how I got saved” (pardon my Christianese), and tucked it safely within the back pages of my Bible, where it still lives today. The point of filling it out was to be able to clarify for ourselves our own narrative, so that if we were ever asked to, we could share our testimony. Being extremely shy, I never intended to share my story with anyone. I didn’t even know I had one. The major theme of mine was rejection, although grief, loss and depression ran a tight race behind.

Every loss that I’ve ever experienced has been primarily a result of having been rejected or left behind, whether by my biological father, my spouse, a trusted spiritual leader, or a mentor. I was not one of those children who believed that my parents’ divorce when I was a child was somehow my fault, or that I was in any way to blame. I don’t remember feeling anything but sad, to be honest. Nor did I feel that it was in any way my fault when, years later, my father disappeared suddenly, in the middle of the night, leaving everyone to assume he was either dead, or had somehow fallen off the planet. (Come to find out, he was living a whole new life on the other side of it, complete with a new identity and a new family, but that’s another story for another time). I’ve always had a pretty good grasp on reality for the most part, and I assumed at the time that he had problems of his own, and in all likelihood was running away from himself, more so than from any of us. (Still is, now that I think about it, but that, too, is a story for another time).

My husband also left (more than once) to pursue a life out in the world without us, but that one did feel a lot more personal, I have to say. As did the rather sudden departures of various spiritual leaders and mentors in my life; especially those who swore up and down that they would never, for any reason, put me through the same hell I had already lived through in my past. But, away they went, without warning or cause, leaving a snarled mess of unfinished conversations, broken promises, and heartache behind them.

Abandonment and rejection are not at all the same thing. What my father did was abandonment – he left, I believe, for reasons that were pretty much all about him. What the others did was rejection; they were saying, in effect, that they just didn’t want me. Or at least, they just didn’t want me any more. For whatever reason.

These themes: grief, loss, depression, and rejection are woven throughout the fabric of my life; to pull them out would be to undo the whole. But also woven through this story are the themes of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and deliverance, placed lovingly and deliberately by God Himself. He gathers up all of those random, broken pieces and threads, and turns them into a beautiful whole. What’s more, He doesn’t just crumple it up and throw it away, or get tired of us, or turn His back on us. When we bring all of our brokenness to Him – even that which we’ve brought upon ourselves – He welcomes us with open arms. There is absolutely no rejection for those who become His children through faith in Christ.

This is what is known as “healing”. Our personal healing lies in the telling of our testimony; all that we’ve been through, and all that God has delivered us from. Our testimony becomes our ministry, so to speak. God rescues and redeems us from the depths of our sorrow, and strengthens us to go and help other people up and out of theirs. And then – if we’re willing – He uses us, unfinished and imperfect as we are, to weave beautiful new threads of grace and mercy through the lives of others.

I am grateful – so grateful – for all that God has done in my life. For all that He has set me free from, and for all that He has healed me from, and for everything that He has brought me through. I still have a long way to go, and a lot to learn, but I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone on this journey, and that there is hope at the end of it.

“It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell.” – Walt Disney