Not gonna lie. This blog post came to me while sweating my butt off on the treadmill at the gym. Happily and unapologetically listening to Katy Perry's hit song "Awake" I was struck with the thought of all the obstacles I've overcome in my sordid and sometimes soap opera-esque life.
I was overcome with a list of names, like rolling credits after a great movie. Names of individuals who have contributed in some way to my journey towards emotional, spiritual and just general wholeness. So overcome was I by this list of names and the sometimes strange and unexpected roles that they played in my life that I was compelled to write it down.
My story is not unusual. It is not unique in it's victories and defeats. As the the writer of Ecclesiastes so dismally puts it, "there is nothing new under the sun". And yet, in my ordinary-ness I am convinced that my story matters. I matter. The same is true for you, for us. We matter because we are telling a bigger story. One that started with the first creatures of humanity and is still being told today.
And so here, I will succinctly chronicle some of my life's most incredible mountains of sorrow and pain, and the beautiful souls that God brought to those mountains to heal me, lead me, push me, carry me, call me, inspire me in order to reflect more accurately the unique image that I am meant to show this world.
Orphanedness. My life-long lie. Having a troubled [to say the least] childhood riddled with addiction, co-dependency, abuse and instability. In the chaos I believed I was not worthy to be parented in a way that would protect me from these evils. And so I wandered into my future with a deep-seated belief that I was orphaned. This cast an evil shadow upon my daily life.
Sexual abuse. Twice. It wasn't until I was 27 years old that my counselor looked me straight into the windows of my soul and said the words, "You were sexually abused." I had normalized and rationalized for many, many years why my relationship with my abusers was okay. Two men. My Christian leaders who were called to protect me as a young girl. Horror ensued as I stumbled into the process of dealing with the scars they left.
My marriage almost failed. Twice. Two different seasons that lasted years a piece. Betrayal, lies, confusion, dysfunction, anger, resentment, bitterness. These things haunted my marriage and threatened my identity as a married woman. So overcome by these two different seasons, there were times that I felt as though my heart would stop beating from sorrow. I was terrified for my children to inherit the deepest sorrow of my life as their own.
Gender discrimination. Countless times I have been ignored, overlooked, pushed aside, exploited, shamed, laughed at, underpaid, under-developed- all because I am female. Well-intentioned men have refused to meet with me, look me in the eye or ride in a car with me as though my very presence would defile them in some way. Forced to give side-hugs like it is my part time job, I have been pushed to the brink of sadness over my femininity, questioning why God would give me breasts or anything else beautiful if it meant I had to be hated for it. In an attempt to be "above reproach" these men communicated to me and others that being female is shameful and deserving of marginalization. But it has not just been men. Women too, have shamed me for being too "strong", "aggressive" or "assertive". My favorite quotes are from women who tell me to try not to look "too pretty or glamorous or feminine" as a way to honor my brothers in Christ. Or better yet, that it was the way I looked and acted as a teenager that caused those two men to violate me. My fault for being female.
These have been some of the thematic challenges I have faced in my life. And so many times I have felt alone, forced to walk the Healing Path all by myself. However, as I take a pause on my journey and turn my face towards the past I see so many people there, marking my pilgrimage towards shalom.
People like Jeanne, April and Kelly. Who surrounded me with strong femininity and relentlessly cheer me on to be me, fully me.
Jess who said to me, "I'm comfortable being your 'second'. I want to serve you like Jonathan served David." Or Brandi Michelle who set her face like flint and pushed into my teaching about gender equality and emotional wholeness.
Dan Allender who, without ever having met me, penned out the words that would usher me into The Valley and straight into the waiting arms of Christ. He said my Wounded Heart could be healed. I believed him. He was right.
What about Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick who I barely know? He took his wife's name and inspired my family to do the same. My husband, my 3 kids and I changed our name to Lujan Loveless as a symbol of equality and beauty in the two becoming one.
Or Allie, who looked at me like a deer in headlights when I told her about the season of my life when I felt like a rotting, dead body in a stinky tomb. I told her God brought me back to life but not until I had died. Completely and irreversibly. She said, "I want that. I want to die to the old so I can live for the new. I want that but I have no idea how to do it." But then she took the first step, then the second and she headed into her tomb. Even from the suffering grave of her woundedness I hear her crying out to God, sometimes with the same doubt, anger and confusion I've had. But she does it. And she shows me the courage of a woman willing to give her life for the redemptive story of the Cross and empty tomb.
Then there's Phil, Jay, Bob and Dan. They are all white men who think I am worth following. They listen to me as though my thoughts and words hold weight in their lives. They heal me with their ability to submit their male perspective in order to follow my female lead. Those are men worth following. Those are men who teach me how to lead.
Trent who has faithfully friended me with wise words, fountains of knowledge and the love of a brother. He urged forgiveness, not as my Christian task but as a river to be baptized in.
Kate and Jenn shout with their lives that women are wonderful and fierce and complex. They simultaneously listen to me and speak into my beliefs of how women inform the world about Creator God.
My sisters and brother who refuse to accept their place in assigned generational curses. They fight hand and fist against the lure of the past that demands we join the ranks of addiction, abuse, co-dependency and despair.
LaDeitra and Kathy don't give up. They have stared death, heartache and loss in the face and have refused to allow those things to define them.
Debbie and Dawn used their keen spiritual strength to pray over, in, through and around me. They spoke to the spiritual forces intended to destroy me and didn't care if it made them seem crazy.
And Josh. The most consistent, relentless voice in my life. He chose me. In the words of The Civil Wars, "I don't have a choice. But I still choose you." He did. He still does. He drop-kicks my insecurities and gets in my face when I want to crawl back into the tomb to sleep. He follows me and leads me and brags about me. God has used my husband like a surgeon uses a scalpel. Cutting deep into me to extract disease. God uses my husband like a notary uses her seal. Standing witness to the finality of Christ's redemption.
There are many, many more. Too many for this post. If you are on this list, thank you does not describe my gratitude. If you are just reading this randomly, I encourage you to list your rolling credits. As I contemplate these names, there is a growing sense of space to breath in the goodness of Love and the Hope to hope. It feels pretty damn good.
The Makers Mark :: People God Used To Heal Me
7:24 PM Bob Lupton committment Dan Allender egalitarianism feminist forgivemenss gender discrimination Healing Path leadership marriage pain pastor vulnerability women in ministry Wounded Heart