My body hurled to the earth with impressive force, as I stumbled upon the one patch of mud amidst the grassy hillside on that summer day. It was our second date (SECOND. Date.) and I was about to show Rich the brevity of my clumsiness. He instinctively reached out his hand to lift me up and I, with a backside that looked as if I had had an emergency, quickly waddled away to the bathroom to clean myself off, self-respect in tow. Seriously, Vanessa. You couldn’t keep this side of you hidden for longer than two dates? I returned from the ladies room now looking that I had just peed myself but thankfully it was hot enough to dry my “seat” (if you will) in enough time for me to enjoy the game. It was, you see, well before the baseball game had even started.
Without skipping a beat Rich offered to buy us some food before settling back down on the potential death trap that was the grassy hill (let’s just pause to say that ladies, it is not outdated or an attack on your strength as a female for them to buy you food. It’s called chivalry, and it is in fact not dead.)
We found our way to the nacho line and after what seemed like an eternity standing there with a wet behind, we made it to the counter to order.
Nachos and two drinks.
That’s all we ordered, nachos and two drinks. He grabbed the nachos and I knocked over my drink. I shook my head, apologized a million times to the woman who had just filled said drink and reached for his cup while she refilled mine.
Yes. I knocked that one over too.
It’s a skill really. To be THIS clumsy. I wanted to pull an Urkel and just spurt out “Did I do that?”
But you see I didn’t know if Rich would find it funny. Because I sure did. I know myself all too well to know that this is not the first and would definitely not be the last moment my dignity would spill all over the counter along with my drink. You either laugh or cry when you are as clumsy as I am and I have determined to just make a whole lifetime of memories laughing at myself.
And as I peered over to Rich out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed a giant smirk as if to say, I think it is funny too and not only that, it will make for a great story one day… which it has. Not only did it make a great story but I am pretty sure the workers plotted with the guys in charge of the jumbo-tron out of sheer pity, and shortly after we found ourselves on the big screen - twice - the second time for just happening to win free tickets to real seats. Right behind the dug out... away from the dangers of the treacherous hill... thank you Rivercats.
I have shared this story on numerous occasions for numerous reasons but I was reminded of that same phrase this week. If you are unfamiliar with who Urkel is, I am sorry. I’m sorry that your childhood did not include TGIF, or Family Matters, or URKEL and if you have the time you should buy that series and just sit back with a bowl of snacks (that you won’t mind cleaning off the floor later because it is either thrown from the bowl or spewed out of your mouth from laughing so hard). It is my life. Fumbling over things… and people… causing utter havoc only to stand there with arms half raised only to say “did I do that”?
But this isn’t always my favorite quality. It's only one side of the coin. Because on the other side there lies the truth that due to being so unaware of my own actions I have unintentionally contributed to things that have brought utter destruction to another person, and with a head hung low I cry out to God, “did I do this”?
A girl shared with me this week that she has been cutting and starving herself. This was not the girl I had met last year. The one filled with God and hope and joy. This was not the girl who shared her dreams with me. This was not that girl. This was a girl in pain, turning to the very things that I had tried to self-medicate my own pain with and those four words replayed in my head over and over again… did I do this? Did I do THIS? DID I DO THIS?
Did I share my story in a way that glorifies the test instead of the testimony? Did I spend so much time talking about my struggles that all anyone ever heard was the temporary relief of my pain? Did I forget to mention how truly destructive and manipulative these things really were? How they caused more regret and more hurt than I could have ever imagined? How they stole years of my life that could have been full of purpose and joy? Did I forget that part?
I write today as one who has looked someone in the face who I may have unknowingly led to that same place of hopelessness and with tears in my now opened eyes say “I am so sorry”. Because if I have taken any of the glory that belonged to the Lord for doing what only He could have done in my life then I am wrong. Those things will never heal you. THEY CAN NEVERHEAL YOU. They are things that the enemy of your soul will dangle over you, telling you it will take away your pain, only to drag you into a deeper despair than you have ever known. I am so sorry.
I could have spent too much time talking about my own efforts to heal myself, my battle scars, that I forgot to emphasize the greatest part- the victory. How Jesus came down and died IN MY PLACE. My story isn’t about the wrong paths I took, it is about a loving and merciful God who saw me in my darkest night and called out to me to take His hand. He saved me. He changed me. He didn’t lie or beat me over the head with my mistakes. He didn’t leave me when it got too hard. He is the big deal. He is the only miracle cure for our disposition. RUN TO HIM, GIRLS. He is the answer.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says it so perfectly, "Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Him to be wisdom itself.Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy, and He freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, 'If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.' "
Don't get me wrong, we were created to share our stories. Our stories matter. In Matthew 8:4, Jesus instructs a man to see a doctor to confirm that He had healed him of leprosy so that he could have a "public testimony". A public one. But what was the man to say? What was his testimony? That he had suffered years of an incurable disease? That he had been isolated and in pain moreso than anyone could even comprehend? No, that JESUS healed him!!! The testimony was his HEALING, the testimony was meant to give glory to the healer not to celebrate having leprosy so Christ could heal him.
Our testimony is not what we were delivered from; our testimony is that we were delivered.
The greatest testimony is that you were kept from such destruction, not that you willingly walked into it. There is no such thing as "working on your testimony" my friend. It doesn't work like that. And if you have a story to share, share it! God wants to redeem it!!! Share your story with anyone who would listen, YES, but when you do be careful. Be careful that you are not just giving them a roadmap to the very place you so desperately cried out to God to pull you out of. We can very easily and unfortunately very unintentionally introduce people to a destructive behavior instead of a Savior.
Give Him the glory. Because He died for it. He did THAT.
Psalm 115:1 "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth."
2 Corinthians 4:6 "For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ."
Philippians 4:20 "Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."
Today I have seen what it is to brag of my path as if it gave me any kind of credit or pity and I am so unbelievably sorry. I have spoken too much of things that mean too little. My story has a place and a purpose, but there is no glory there. No victory of my own doing there. Forgive me, for I didn’t understand. Teach me how to humble myself and give you the honor you are due. Teach me to be less so You can be more. Redeem my story and help me not to recreate it.