My house is loud!
At the moment, I am enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet. My kids are with their dad, so it is just me, my music playing quietly in the background, and the dog lying at my feet. But, on a normal day, my house gets loud and rowdy!
With a teenage boy, a near-teen boy, a tween girl, a dog, and a puppy, my home is a revolving door. All of the neighborhood teen boys (about five in addition to my own) consider this house a second home. I frequently find basketball games in my driveway even when my kids aren’t home. A few days ago, one of the neighborhood boys was sitting at my dining room table as I cooked dinner. He had come down for help with his algebra homework. I joked with his dad that I was a one-stop shop: hit Dena’s house for friendship, food, basketball, tutoring. (I even found his dirty socks on my kitchen counter recently! Ugh! Definitely a second home!)
And, when the average number of children in my house at any given time is around seven, I GUARANTEE that my house gets loud! Really loud!
The ironic thing is that I am the quiet, reserved, calm one in my family of origin. My siblings are all far more extraverted than I am; I would never choose to be on a stage. I am perfectly happy to sit in the peace and quiet, soak up the beauty around me, let others take center-stage. While my daughter will choose the most flamboyant outfit she can simply so she can thrust herself into the spotlight, I would much rather choose a simple, classic look so I don’t draw attention to myself. I can easily blend into the background and be perfectly happy. I like the security of being with an out-going person so that I don’t have the pressure of carrying the conversation, of jumping into the middle of the action. I can simply ride someone else’s coattails.
I am a simple, quiet girl from Oklahoma. I grew up as the smart girl, the bookworm, class valedictorian, editor of the yearbook. I was too terrified to put myself out there and do something crazy like try out for cheerleader. I avoided the party scene because it was uncomfortable to be in the middle of the action. I preferred solitude, peace, a degree of anonymity.
Yet God has called me to live my life out loud!
Live out loud! The words seem to be constantly echoing through my mind. Live out loud! Be an open book. Live out loud! Let the world see your heartbreak and pain. Live out loud! Show the world the power that God has to restore a broken life.
As I attempt to follow God’s path for my life, I find myself thrust into the limelight—the most uncomfortable place in the world for someone with my quiet personality. I wonder how in the world I ended up on a radio show discussing the most painful event of my life, sharing the most intimate betrayal with an audience. I wonder how I ended up writing for an international audience at crosswalk.com. I wonder how (and why) I have a blog with the most wonderful and devoted readers possible.
I’ve been told repeatedly that my openness and vulnerability are what make my blog what it is, the things that draw people to me. Ironically, my gut reaction when I learned about my husband’s infidelity was to hide. I put on a mask and went about my life as if everything was still perfect. I hid my hurt and pain from my family and those closest to me. I pretended that I was ok.
But I wasn’t.
It wasn’t until I opened my life to others and let them love me that I began to see a bright future. It wasn’t until I was willing to admit that I was powerless to handle this pain on my own that I began to find the strength to move forward. It wasn’t until I allowed other believers to surround me and hold me up in my darkest and most difficult days that I began to be able to walk, then run, into the amazing future God has for me. It wasn’t until I opened my heart to others that my heart was able to begin healing.
I never want to wear the mask again. I want others to know that it’s ok to hurt, it’s ok to not be perfect. I want others to know that someone understands, that someone has walked the difficult path and survived. I want others to know that there is an abundant life waiting for them when they get through the darkness. I want others to know that what Satan meant for evil, God will use for good!
I want to live my life out loud, shout it from a mountaintop that God is good—even when life is crashing all around you. I want the world to know that God has the power to resurrect a broken, hurting life and make it a beacon of light to the world around us! I want the world to know that the Great I Am is standing, waiting for the opportunity to step in and reveal his mighty power! I want the world to know that there is no hurt too deep, no pain too great, no betrayal too big to be transformed into a story of redemption! I want the world to know that there is a God who sees, a God who hears, and God who loves.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-10
Peter and John were going about their normal lives when they were interrupted. They were ready to pray, worship. They were leaders in the church, important, needed. But there was a man in need. He had spent his entire life crippled, broken, hurting. So they stopped. They spoke. They offered hope and healing to this lame man begging for help. They had something he needed, and they weren’t content to go about their day without reaching out to someone who needed God’s love.
Right there, before they offered their praise to God, they offered the healing power of God to another. Suddenly, the man who had never walked before was not just walking; he was running, he was jumping, and he was praising God. Peter and John knew that they had been called to live their lives out loud. They knew that God had entrusted them with a message for all the world. They knew that their words and prayers were only a small part of what God wanted from them. He wanted them to share this message, the healing power with a broken world around them.
And because Peter and John chose to live out loud, they showed others how to live out loud. This man was not quiet about the restoration he experienced. He was LOUD! He was shouting it from a mountain top! He wanted the world to know that he had once been sick, hopeless, broken. But now, because of the power of God, he was singing a new song. He had a brand new life with a bright future!
That’s how I feel. My life was broken, ruined. My heart was shredded, my dreams and future gone. But the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ, those who reached out to love me and encourage me in the darkest days of my life, helped me see the Savior who was waiting for me. I’ve had such a remarkable change, seen such an amazing work in my life that I can’t quit shouting! I am living my life out loud! I am letting the world see how God picks up the pieces of a broken life and puts it together to make something beautiful. It might be vastly different from what I dreamed or imagined, but he promises it will be better than I could ever ask or imagine!
Are you hurting and in pain? Please don’t hide behind a mask, pretending that you are ok. Let others in. Let them lift you before the Father when you hurt so badly you can’t pray yourself. Admit your weakness because God promises that his strength is made perfect in our weakness. Has God done an amazing work in your life, carried you through difficult days of trial and tribulation? He didn’t pull you through so you could keep that story to yourself. Share it! Open up and be vulnerable! Someone out there needs to hear your story, to be encouraged by what God has done in you. He has given you a message that needs to be shared. Live out loud!
Some would argue that I’m sharing too much, too open. Some would say that the intimate details of betrayal should be kept quiet, that it’s not something to be shared publicly. But, the longer I write, the more I share, the more I live out loud, the more I find that others are waiting for someone to be open and vulnerable. Others need someone to say that it’s ok to be real. As a friend recently said, “Vulnerability breeds vulnerability.” It is my great pleasure to have you open up, share your hurts and fears with me. Our world is desperately in need of people who will be real, vulnerable, open. We as Christians need to get rid of the masks and let the world see that we aren’t perfect and don’t pretend to be. We are real humans who have the hope of brighter days because of our Savior! We need to live out loud in a world where other voices are drowning us out.
Join me today in living our lives out loud!
Missed the show? This past Sunday, I was on The Sitting Room with Kathy Chiero discussing life after adultery. Missed the show? You can listen to it at http://sittingroomradio.com/