lament

A lament is a passionate expression of grief that God meets you in.

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Your “Ending the Pretending” testimony is a central part of you overcoming (Revelation 12:11.)

SHARE YOUR STORY

In 200 words or less, describe how are you are “Ending the Pretending” and seeking to get real with God and others. Include a picture, too! Your story is important, and your story could help others know they’re not alone.

You can share your pain, or you can share your purpose. But sharing the real you is vital to us creating an anthem of authenticity where we quit faking fine.

No More Faking Fine will peel back the layers we all hide under, and discover God when life is not going our way.

Help us deliver the message of lament in your community, and with those around the world.

Click on the link below and tell us why you say, “No More Faking Fine!”

 

Julia Worthy

We’ve lost eight beloved babies. We tried to fake fine at first, but were dying inside. Every one lost ripped our heart out. We know birthdays, smell their baby smells, picture milestones. Family demanded we not burden them with grief; so we kept it private & fake. But our miraculous God surrounded us with new family: friends in the weeds of our grief, sharing sorrows & joys, lifting us from despair, to adopt us, lament with us; so now, losing our eighth, we know we’re more surrounded in love than ever. God invites us to lament so He can bring that sweet morning joy. Laments call God to transform us, to work miracles. Jesus joins us in mourning, says Ann Weems, and “in the godforsaken, obscene quicksand of life, there is a deafening alleluia rising from the souls of those who weep”. God catches our every tear…puts stars in our skies…& we’ll take this purposeful, messy, lament-filled, loss-stricken, beautiful, overflowing life of love & intimacy with God over anything fake. Alleluia!

Beth

8 years ago, we were on a flight to Africa to bring home our 3 new daughters, sisters who were 3, 10 and 13. We already had 6 children, ranging in age between 18 months and 15 years. Many thought we were crazy, but we had felt a clear call from God to adopt and had seen Him miraculously provide. We were experienced adoptive parents, doing the “right thing”, little did we know that our soon to be 13 year old daughter would take all the trauma she had endured, and turn it into hatred for me. For 8 years, I have been the target of her anger, manipulation, lies and threats. Attachment and bipolar disorder, added to her psychosis. Now an adult, she no longer lives with us and chooses not to speak to me. I’m left suffering PTSD and grieving what could have been and all we lost, including my sense of hope and my health. Hardly anyone believed me, so, I faked being fine, while dying inside. I never knew I could cry out to God in lament. This book has been so eye opening! Thank you!

Erica Pearson

I lost my mother at the awkward age of 14. My last image of my mother is of her smiling and waving goodbye as she pulled out of my best friend’s driveway after dropping me off for a birthday party. She would die in a car wreck the next day. Teenagers are not by nature empathetic creatures. No one around me understood the language of grief. I was told to just “Move on?”As if grief had an address and I could just relocate. I learned then how to fake happiness. I learned how to bury emotion deep inside of me, while simultaneously appearing strong on the outside. In the midst of my grief, I heard a sermon on Lamentations 3 that was a game changer. I knew that if a person in Scripture could be that honest, that God wanted my story too! I now write open and honest blogs about getting real before the Lord.

Kathy Willis

I was 33 and very tired of dealing with a health issue I was told could be solved by surgery.  I had high hopes for healing when I was admitted to the hospital.  But there were complications.  I returned home racked in uncontrollable pain.  I saw doctor after doctor but nobody offered an explanation. The days became even darker when I discovered my husband was having an affair with my best friend.  I lost them both, and became a single mom.  I found myself prostrate before God, wondering how I would ever lift my head again. God did not take the pain away, instead, he walked through it with me.  20 years later another man came into my life.   We committed to a dating relationship, and the very next morning I suffered an unexplainable heart attack.  I looked at him from my hospital bed in the emergency room and said, “You didn’t sign up for this. Please feel free to go.”  He responded with words that floored me.  “I am right where God wants me to be.”  Could it be…he was willing to walk through this chaos and share the pain with me? My health is still a mystery, and I often feel God is, too.  But I know that He and the new husband He’s blessed me with will walk with me.

Rachel

I thought I had it all. A husband that loved me, a job that I loved, and living in beautiful Colorado. But I was wrong. After battling for six months with an illness and being in and out of the hospital, I found out that my husband had been having an affair for the entire six months. Being so far away from my family I felt lost. I took over fifty pills, while my husband watched, and wanted my life to end. I didn’t want to live without my husband. As I recovered in a room full of strangers, I felt so alone. Left alone to figure out the next step in my life, I felt as if a warm blanket were being wrapped around me. I was experiencing the love of God. God was with me. It was then that I knew I wasn’t alone in this battle. I had my family, my friends, and most importantly, my Lord and Savior. I knew that I would be okay. I was given a second chance, and I decided that I wouldn’t waste it. I have reestablished my faith. That’s what matters most!

Barrett Boone

When I first started driving my dad sat me down and told me “When you get pulled over make sure it’s in a well lit area. You don’t want them confusing the cellphone on your passenger seat as a gun and shooting you. Make sure all your movements are slow and comply with what they say. I want you alive son. We can sort out “justice” later, but you are important to me.” That was in 2001. This isn’t anything new, but something we’ve been dealing with for decades.

Alycia Wood

I remember that time in my life when I felt like everything collapsed. That time when I felt that not only was my life a failure, but I was a failure. I was smart, but was getting outsmarted. I was “doing everything right”, but everything was going wrong. I was strong, but couldn’t get out of bed. I was young, but life had aged my aching heart. But it was there, in every bit of agony and pain that God met me. He had a plan and way that I wouldn’t have believed had He told me Himself. He was not outsmarted, weak or tired. He was going to turn all things around for good and show me He wasn’t done with me yet. And boy, was He right. He picked me up and things were never the same. Looking back, I feel nothing but amazement at Him. A time of lament turned into a time of wonder.

Ryan Trevithick

My brother, Spc. Richard K. Trevithick, was killed in action on 04-14-04 and I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was a moment in time that stood still.  I yelled at God and was furious that He would take my best friend from this earth. I did not know why he did that.  Every day was a struggle and I began to search for reasoning on my own – without God. I met my wife a few years later and she brought me back to God. It wasn’t until the birth of my son in 2013 that the forgiveness towards God began. God gave me time to heal and called me back to Him by showing me his grace in my Son’s eyes. I can see my brother when I look at my son and it makes me think of him in heaven. God’s plan works!  Today my son Richard S. Trevithick turned 3! What a joyous occasion and time for reflection with family and friends.  It wasn’t always joyous and wasn’t always easy, but today on Memorial Day I reflect on how God heals all wounds, no matter how big.

Gary Thomas

120 is a number I’ll always hate. That’s how many consecutive rejection letters I received during an 8 year battle to get published. Magazines, publishers, agents—nobody wanted anything I wrote for nearly an entire decade. But I couldn’t put all of my heart into anything else. Frankly, I’m not a particularly skilled person and couldn’t imagine getting paid for anything else. It even turned creepy. Three early advocates of my writing—a professor, a writer, a publisher—all died after expressing their belief in my eventual success. I thought I had three thresholds through which God could push me to success, but each one closed with the weight of a literal (not just figurative) coffin. After six years of arguing with God, I distinctly sensed Him telling me “two more years.” “I can’t possibly wait that long, after already working for six,” I lamented. But, almost to the day, two years later a major magazine published an article and a publisher offered me my first book contract. Today, by God’s grace, there are well over a million books in over 15 different languages with my name on the cover. But oh, how much it hurt to get there!

Haley Edwards

Being told that I could be carrying a child that may not live to term or may not live outside of Utero was a lot to process. Living through a scary delivery not knowing what to expect, almost losing my child, and enduring the whirlwind of events that happened in her stay in the NICU were more then my Momma heart could handle. I was scared, I was angry, I grew anxious as each minute seemed to deem different news. I couldn’t understand why God would let all of this happen. I drew away from him instead of sprinting towards him. I held in my grief for a long time because I had a 2 1/2 year old and husband at home, and now this sweet newborn who required so much of me. It took me almost a year before I was truly able to lament. It wasnt until I reached out to a sweet old mentor of mine and began to process through this that I realized I was just living my life by treading water,never getting rest. What I failed to do was turn to Him in all of my grief and talk with him, dwell with him, be in community with him. It was in my grief that I was able to find peace and joy with all that this new season is bringing. It is still hard, I still grieve over the life I thought my daughter would have, over the financial hardships,etc, but I am no longer running!

Jim Daly

My parents divorced when I was five. One of the more compelling memories from that difficult chapter of my life was a close encounter with a monster, a man otherwise known as my father. My dad was an alcoholic. I have vivid memories of the night he walked into the house and started swinging away at the walls with a hammer. He was looking for my mom and threatening to kill her. My older brother, who was fifteen, put me in my room and closed the door. I pulled the covers up to my chin, hoping the fabric might keep me safe. Within a few minutes a policeman was standing over me. “Are you okay, son?” he asked. I looked up at the silhouetted figure and immediately noticed his badge and gun. “Uh, uh, yes. I’m okay,” I offered in my meek four-year-old voice. But, of course, I wasn’t fine. Our family fell apart that night. My mother would remarry but, sadly, died of cancer when I was nine. My stepfather abandoned us the day of her funeral. My biological father died of exposure when I was twelve. I was placed in foster care with an incredibly dysfunctional family whose mentally ill father accused me of trying to murder him. By God’s grace, I made it through my childhood. A high school football coach led me to Christ. Every time I receive a letter from a hurting child, I want to pick up the phone and say, “I understand a little of what you may be feeling.” If I could, I’d remind them that their file hasn’t blown off God’s desk. He knows where you live. He cares for you in spite of what you may see in the moment. What’s more, God has both the power to quiet your storms and the ability to give your life new meaning and purpose. Those aren’t empty words. I’ve lived it and know that nothing is impossible with God.

Jon Thurlow

I remember feeling stuck. Stuck in a destructive cycle of compromise. I didn’t like where I was, and I didn’t want to stay there. I just didn’t know how to get out. God spoke to my heart one night with a challenge. I knew it wouldn’t be easy if I said yes, but at the same time I felt the power and grace to go for it. Call it a window of mercy. And it worked. It wasn’t instantaneous. It meant I had to be vulnerable with God and with trusted friends. But I can look back now, and see that it changed the course of my life.

Brianna VanderWeide

When God recently opened doors to my dream job, my insecurities hit the roof. I’m absolutely terrified to mess up. I am anxious almost all the time that I will let someone down. Perfectionism has reared its ugly head in my life so many times, a different symptom manifesting from the same ugly root. I sat across from a friend and she said, “I think God wants you to fight for your freedom.”

She said she could hear my heart yearning for self-acceptance. When I pondered this concept in the past, it always sounded like a hooey self-help book. But on this day it sounded like truth. And there is shame in this, can I tell you that? Anxiety comes with this acknowledgment. The feeling of being a sham. How can I be a pastor to an entire group of women, pointing them to Jesus and His liberation, while my writhing wrists are still blistered in chains? Jesus accepted me. He is merely asking if I will accept myself. Proclaiming to God that I accept my frailty is a place of surrender and worship. Because of who He is, I can rest in who I am.

Jamie

I led bible studies in high school and was an active member of my youth group. I went to a Christian college. I led mission trips. I was a “good” Christian. I followed all the rules and prayed all the right prayers because “it’s what we do.” But somewhere along the way, I was taught that “Christian” was synonymous with having it all together. When my life felt out of control, surely it was my fault. I wasn’t doing it right. I needed to pray harder. In my questions and doubts, through my struggles and pain, I had to maintain the image of the “good Christian” and no one could know. I had to protect the image of Jesus because my humanity would surely tarnish his holiness. In my faking, I forfeited the grace that Jesus died to bring. And now, 20 years after saying yes for the first time, I’m starting over at the beginning; meeting Jesus for the very first time.

Meredith Lewis

I grew up in a Christian home to parents that were faithful believers in Jesus. I went to a Christian school were scripture memorization was mandatory and chapel was a weekly event. Then I attended a Christian college where my Bible became a textbook no matter what your major and Chapel attendance was required three times a week coupled with three available church services that were highly encouraged. I was surrounded by faith and theologians nearly all my life. So when I entered my first season of depression, the fear that my faith was not authentic resulted in an exhausting works-based, self-dependent attempt at salvation and freedom. But nothing about my effort brought me hope that I would really make it out of that season alive, physically or mentally. When I finally reached the bottom, I confided in a friend that I felt “unwell.” Turns out, she was standing next to me on the same quicksand. The feeling of community in that place was the first crack in the ice that would eventually give way to the depth of grace yet to be realized.

Kinsey Thurlow

One day I met an orphaned girl who wore sunglasses, indoors, to mask her swollen eyes. Her heart was a storm. And truth is, mine was too. A month prior, I’d lost my dad to cancer. She and I, we were fatherless, together now. We ached, with different stories, but needing the same Healer to touch our hemorrhaging wounds, to hold us in His embrace. But as I mourned my dad’s death, I felt more like I was being rushed out of grief, rather than being encouraged to let God hold me—a busy schedule pressed; that accusing inner voice told me to hurry up and get myself together; culture gave me the Be strong! message. Even so, in my grieving, I’ve discovered a God who gives me permission to break, who invites my vulnerability, who urges me to take off my sunglasses and weep in His presence—because He’s safe to unravel before. So I break open in His hand, and I trust Him to be true to His name—the God of all Comfort will comfort; God my Healer will heal; the Father to the fatherless will father.

Brett Kern

In today’s culture men are supposed to be strong. Men aren’t supposed to show weakness or cry. But when my friend, brother and former teammate died in a car accident, I couldn’t pretend that everything was just okay. I needed to be there for his family, I needed to be there for his friends, even when some thought I shouldn’t. When I went home to spend time with my wife and children I realized this life is short. Nothing is a guarantee. Soak up the moments and memories you have with loved ones. I cried when Rob died, I grieved the way I needed to grieve and not how others told me to. I miss him to this day. I think about the memories we have on and off the field daily. There is no benefit in pretending everything is just fine. We have to mourn the death of a loved one before we can move forward. Death isn’t something you get over; it something you grieve, and something that reshapes how you see the world. I think real strength means sometimes saying no to the things the world says yes to, and being there for the ones you love.

Alegra Rohr

You never know what your marriage will look like. You have hopes and dreams but nothing really prepares you for the struggle. Ours was pornography. A fourteen-year battle with pornography resulted in a seven-month separation as my husband submitted himself to a program to help him and our marriage. In those seven months I was alone in a new town with three young children. I was isolated. I felt sad and confused and wondered if our marriage would be saved. What would my life look like without my husband, and if this ‘program’ didn’t work, what would I tell my children? Many questions would plague me and I couldn’t sleep at night. Meanwhile, I had to put on a happy; positive face for my children, for my family and for those watching my process. It was a humbling and hard process God took us both through, but we have both experienced beauty from ashes. We are currently celebrating a loving marriage of twenty years.

Jerusalem Frierson

For years I walked around under the impression the things that happened in my past have no effect on me. I confused fear and anxiety with caution, and people pleasing with respect for others. When faced with the truth, I deflected and got defensive. I wanted so badly to be accepted by others. Instead of working on the real issue, I did just enough to mask the symptoms. I thought if others knew the “real” Jerusalem, they wouldn’t love me unconditionally so I did just enough to be seen as a good wife, daughter, sister and friend.

Thankfully God never gave up on me and placed the right people in my life that continue to challenge and call me out. He continues to remind me I can do all things through Him. When I’m weak, He is strong. I’m learning to be patient and know healing doesn’t come overnight. He continues to show me what it means to walk in freedom and allow Him to heal and transform me from the inside out. My future is bright. It’s time to take back what the enemy stole.  

Christopher Frierson

I wore a cloak that made me a super man—impenetrable, powerful; independent. I didn’t need to experience joy or love, I just needed to avoid hurt and humiliation. I’d never trust or give someone power to harm me. So when a crisis of my sexuality occurred, I was shielded, broken and isolated with no one to reach me. Who can save a hero?

The restorative process from the pit of pain was grueling. I’d seen fellow comrades strung along the roadside who’d turned to drugs, dual lifestyles, sexual addictions, and even suicide.  I was in bad shape, but somehow I knew the only way to the other side was through my pain. I reminded myself that Jesus carried his own crucifix through several stations, why would I be exempt from carrying mine from one point to the next?

Now it’s almost natural to boast in my weakness. I’m still tempted to project the caped crusader persona so I can appear healthy, but that’s an illusion. Living in reality isn’t nearly as harsh as having to start from scratch when faking it doesn’t get me as far as I’d hoped. My visit to the cross reoccurs. 

Erin Hinson

I walked into the doctor’s office, 20 weeks pregnant, without a care in the world and walked out with the recommendation that I terminate my pregnancy because my son had too severe a diagnosis. I felt like people had the expectation that I handle the unknown of a child with a lifelong disability with elegance, grace and courage. So I painted those expectations onto a beautiful mask.

Hiding behind that mask was easier; but the interesting thing about hiding is eventually God will find you. So slowly I took the mask off and stepped away from the expectations and began a journey of becoming the mother that my child needed, but more importantly the women that God was calling forth. It’s not always been easy. Actually it has been a beautifully broken mess of a journey, but it has revealed in me a much deeper craving for God’s Glory and given me a wonderful little boy who teaches me everyday that the beautify of this life cannot be viewed from behind a mask, but instead you must let your face shine in the sun no matter the tears that may stain your face. 

Anna L. Burrows

The thing I desperately wanted is also what I desperately feared, to be fully known and fully loved. I wore a mask that said I loved life, but inside I was lonely, hopeless and heard lies that attacked my worth. I finally broke when I realized I deeply desire to have a healthy marriage in the future and I could never do that living behind my mask. People could only love my mask, not the real me. I was sick of faking fine and was ready to share my story of how sexual abuse damaged my worth and robbed me of my true identity. I had lived a double life, hiding my hurt and pretending I was a good Christian girl with a good life. Sharing my story shed light on the darkness of the offense done to me, but also the darkness of how I strove to protect myself. I had to own and confess the damage I’d caused others and myself by faking fine to let Jesus bring healing. Jesus has taken away my shame and given me a joy and purpose from the very depths of my pain.

Rebecca Law

“Hello, can you hear me?” — I’ve often felt like I was shouting this question through a prison of unwanted emotions. You see, I had these constant companions for years that never went away – fear, rejection, and loneliness. It all began when I was 4 years old after losing my mother in a car accident, and then experiencing more pain when my father unknowingly remarried a woman who would lash out in verbal and emotional abuse for 11 years. Our family was well known in various circles and so the need to perform and make it look like everything was ok only made matters more complicated. I couldn’t be honest with myself for years and I struggled with the fear of looking like a failure if I exposed my true wounded self to the public. I was on a hamster wheel of performance, trying to run and be strong but only running in circles. Slowly, I began to let my guard down, expose my weakness and let Him in. It’s been a long road of healing in an emotional wilderness but now, as I look ahead, the sea is parting and I hear a new song…

Jordan Shive

It’s always been more than just a game. Growing up I wanted nothing more than to play college football, and I was one of the few lucky enough to be able to have that opportunity. My first two seasons playing college football were cut short by severe concussions, and having not recovered fully from the one sophomore year, I was forced to stop playing. I lost my dream. It felt like it was all suddenly ripped away from me. Being a follower of Jesus, I believe that God really does have a plan for my life—so instead of being bitter and angry at God for doing this to me, I will continue to follow God and praise Him, because He is an ultimately loving God, and if it wasn’t okay with Him for this to happen to me, then it wouldn’t have. So yes, I lost this dream of mine to play ball, but I believe with all of me that God has and will use this for the betterment of me and the advancement of His kingdom—and that is greater than any dream I could ever have.

Aaron Harris

My teens and twenties were about hiding – hiding to survive, hiding to fit in, hiding to stay in church. As a gay man trying to make sense of sexuality and faith, especially when it seemed that God was not answering my prayers and pleas, I spent years faking it and hoping things would just change. However, I had to come to a point of willingness to grieve and lament over the pain of my childhood and the struggles of my adult life. Only in coming to that place did my faith journey truly flourish. In the face of the fear of releasing the fake and accepting the truth of yourself in Christ, lament and turn to a God that can deliver you… he has delivered me, not from my sexuality, but from a life of being just fine and to a life of flourishing.

Kate Merrick

My house is filled with tiny surprises. Surprises left behind by my 8 year old daughter after cancer stole her life. Her toothbrush in the cup. Tiny leopard print leggings folded on the dryer. A grocery list she wrote tucked in the drawer. An artfully placed plastic mouse and construction paper mouse hole. Sweet surprises, yet surprisingly bitter. Following death, the grief came. Merciless, crushing. How could I laugh again when life is so cruel? Emotional poverty cast shadows on a soul laid empty and bare before the Maker. Lament.

And yet it was true lament, honesty and openness before God that sent me on the path back to laughter. It came in the pitch black darkness, small glimmers of light. Truth whispered, scriptures spoken of a God who cries with us, who sees our darkest hour, who walks with us through it.

Deep in lament is when the call came, the call to look up through the tears. To look up and see clearly, acknowledging pain and yet welcome freedom. The freedom to laugh, to enjoy sunshine, creation, air and food and love. And even tiny surprises.

Erin Marie Harrod

Several years ago as I approached my thirtieth birthday little pieces of the carefully constructed mask I wore began to shatter. This mask was so skillfully crafted that over time I became almost unaware of the broken women underneath. I had a loving husband, five beautiful children, the house of my dreams, but something wasn’t right. I reached a point where I could no longer pretend that I was fine. My life started to spiral out of control and I knew that I had to make the decision to trust God and face my past. I had been hiding a secret sin for 9 years, only my husband and a few close friends knew. In my early twenties I became pregnant and had an abortion. I lived with crushing shame, guilt and fear covered only by the thin glossy mask of false perfection. I confessed my sin to a trusted group of women and began a journey of freedom, forgiveness, redemption and restoration. I no longer cower in the shadows but have been called out of darkness to walk in God’s marvelous light. Free of shame and washed white as snow.

Maureen Buck

The memories go back as far as I can remember. One of the family relationships that could have been the closest was the most damaging. It left me seeking acceptance from others most of my life. Finding a church home and forming friendships helped but it remained a struggle. There were still situations and people that made me feel like I needed to earn love and acceptance in the most misguided ways. I made decisions that were wrong and hurt those I love. I was given forgiveness and learned it was that same forgiveness that I need to extend to others. Even with my poor choices, Christ never left me. He provided faithful people to encourage and remind me that I AM LOVED. I am reminded daily that I am unconditionally accepted by Him and I can stop faking fine.

Rick Clark

I was able to fool others. I was able to loose control and in the span of 10 years become so settled with myself that I was ok with being extremely overweight. Battling it was simply to much effort to exhaust that I told myself, “I am happy”. I felt I was a good dad and a good husband, so at the end of the day, my physical well being and appearance was ok as status quo. I had gained about 150 lbs. I was the first to make jokes about my own weight because it helped me cope with it. May 18th, 2015 I had enough. I told myself that life was meant to be better. I could be better, for me, and my family. I started to attack my obesity. 9 months later, I am not where I want to be, but I am on my way. I have accumulated just over 100 lbs of weight loss. It isn’t just my physical appearance that is benefitting, it is my relationship with my kids, my relationship with my wife, and my relationship with God. I am more positive then I have ever been. I am filed with joy.

Alana Piccone

I’ve always been a genuinely happy person. I have dimples and I use them! I think it’s what drew my best friends in. So when he died, I felt lost. There were people who needed help, so I didn’t eat. There were people who needed comfort, so I didn’t sleep. The dog needed love, so I didn’t let myself cry. I would’ve pretended he was deployed forever. But he’s not. He’s not coming back. The sign in my car saying “Welcome Back” never got used. Now my dimples aren’t as bright, and my laughs aren’t as carefree. Three years later and things still aren’t the same. Friends who were there to support now feel like strangers. I was there in the good and bad, but now I only feel associated with pain. When I lost him, I lost part of my family and part of myself. I tried to pretend it’s okay. But I want to stop pretending. God blessed me with a friendship & spiritual mentor. It’s okay that I miss him. We aren’t created for death, so when death happens – it hurts and that’s okay.

Jessica Stollings

When I answered the phone on April 19, 2014 I had no idea my life was about to fall apart. The voice on the other line was the first of many to disclose that my marriage was entangled in webs of lies and betrayals. How could this be? My husband was my best friend, the one I loved and trusted most. The pain was more than I could bear, literally. PTSD set in and just like that I went from a high-functioning woman, to one who struggled to get out of bed. For a year I went into “cocoon” mode. Protected by the Lord and surrounded by family and friends, I allowed myself to feel so that I could heal. The process was excruciating and transformational. Through it, I found beauty in brokenness, freedom in forgiveness, and the most colorful set of wings that were ready to test the sky again. If you’ve been hurt by betrayal, I’m deeply sorry. With God’s grace you will fly again. And, if your experience is like mine, you will find that your new views are stunning — filled with much more purpose, understanding, and compassion.

Krystle Edelson

In God’s providence, my life has been filled with many heartbreaks and sorrow to deep for words; yet, I have always found blessing in opening up about my trials to others. Those who know me well have learned to expect a candid answer to “How are you today?”. Yet, in the midst of a long trial with infertility and pregnancy loss I have hesitated to share. Perhaps it’s the fear of the pain that comes from the (well-meaning) platitudes of “It just wasn’t meant to be” or “It’ll happen when you least expect it”. Or maybe it’s because this is a long-suffering trial and I’m just flat out weary of honestly answering the question with, “Today is really hard. While I am waiting and trusting, my heart still aches”. But I know I can’t pretend my way through this one; I just can’t hide my light under a bushel. No, I want to use the voice and story He has given me to weep with those who are weeping, love others imperfectly through their own brokenness and share the hope of the good news found in Christ alone.

David Booth

The fulfillment of a childhood dream. That is something we all pursue, but rarely accomplish. My dream catered to what would make me look like a success to the world around me. Making it to the NHL would be the definition of success by the worlds standards. But what most people don’t realize is that true joy isn’t found by something we accomplish. My self sufficiency, the pride of my hard work, my determination, my skill, my abilities, my ego got in the way of who I really was. Then in one shift my season was over. I was completely helpless, unconscious, there was nothing I could do with my own effort. I couldn’t move a muscle. My identity that was established on my performance told me that now I am a nothing. That’s when I had to turn to God with my whole heart to get my true identity in who I am. I am loved and have infinite self worth because of Christ’s sacrifice for me. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.

Ashley Booth

I sang “Jesus loves me this I know” as a child, but never knew the weight those words carried. It didn’t feel enough to say “the Bible tells me so” when important relationships in my life told me the opposite. As a child, my sense of value was warped when someone that was supposed to love and protect me did the opposite. Other toxic relationships echoed my worthlessness. I grew up working in the modeling industry that values people only for the short time they are marketable. I spent a lot of my life searching for someone to find value in me. I had several breaking points with God. The most distinct one I remember telling God, “No one can love me or accept me as I am except you”. My husband is the first man who saw the depths of my heart and loved me the same. I learned so much about God through him. We are meant to have real relationships with God and one another. Now I can be real with God and sing “Jesus loves me this I know” and really mean it.

Jefferson Bethke

My whole life I thought God wanted me to try harder, perform more, and be the best I could be. I thought I could never be honest or transparent because that would show weakness, and God doesn’t like weakness. In college though things started crashing around me, I got kicked off the baseball team, my girlfriend broke up with me, and I got put on academic probation for such poor academic performance. It was a low point for sure, but it was in that low point I realized God actually meets us right in the mess. We don’t have to fake it, we don’t have to act, and we can be vulnerable and honest because that’s the very door in which grace entered. And in that grace we find the joy, beauty, rest, and shalom we were looking for the whole time.