NOTE FROM ELISABETH: THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN IN 2013.
Many years ago, I was asked to speak at Hearts-at-Home. It was one of the best experiences of my life and one of the worst experiences of my life.
It was one of the best because who wouldn’t want to be asked to speak at Hearts-at-Home? Total honor. And they were paying me. And they put me up in a hotel. And I was getting away from my two toddlers (who I adored, of course!) for two days. And I sold a bunch of books. And I got to pray with a handful of precious women. And they took such great care of me, cutting in bathroom lines for me, and holding an umbrella over my head as we walked from building to building. (And it wasn’t even raining! I kid…)
But it was one of the worst experiences of my life because I came home on an absolute high only to receive my reviews via email a day or two later. To say I was skewered and hung out to dry doesn’t even scratch the surface. Though the women who bought my book and came up to me for prayer seemed to love me and my talks, the majority of the thousand or so women I had presented to thought I was awful. And I mean AWFUL.
An aside: I should probably mention something here that I hadn’t bothered to share with the nice people of Hearts-at-Home…I had only spoken in public as an author three times prior to my Hearts gig. So, yeah, I was maybe a tad inexperienced. And scared. And nauseous. And awful.
But here’s why I really think this played out the way it played out. I had been hiding a secret sin for about three or four months by that point. And it was affecting every area of my life. But I went on to confess it to God and my then-husband and two friends and my pastor/boss, and then I took some action steps to correct what I had done, and I confessed it to a truckload more people, and I moved on and felt the beauty that comes when you obey and live in freedom.
And every year since then, I have told myself that I would really feel full redemption – and God’s smile on my life – on this specific issue only if and when Hearts-at-Home asked me to come speak again. And every year or two I send them my updated topics list and I have yet to be asked back (because, I’m sure, they look at my 2001 reviews and think to themselves, “No way, man.”).
What does this have to do with anything? Well, I feel kind of the same way about Unraveling.
I got a divorce. Just below murder in my little grace-starved brain.
And to process it all through, I wrote and wrote and wrote. And it turns out, that whole time, I was writing a book. And I found an agent that wanted to represent me (well, I actually, somehow, found four, and then chose one). And she went on to find me a publisher. And my publisher went on to nab Lauren Winner (whom I’ve adored for years) to be my editor. And some really cool people endorsed it. And then, you know, the book landed in my hands on a warm almost-fall day and it felt all too good to be true.
I did something bad/something bad happened to me. Potato/potato. (Pick your side; it sort of doesn’t matter at this point.)
But then God.
I’m telling you, most of my best life stories start with me doing something bad or something bad happening to me and then the shift comes along with but then God did something amazing. Like he tends to do. (Show-off.)
And in this case, he let me have something that is more than a dream come true. He let me take the statement that I’ve been saying for a handful of years now, mostly to myself: that there is no way God let me be in a hard marriage and be sad and crying on my bathroom floor for the past twenty years just so I could be all pathetic. No, he allowed it for something good. And in my case: just one of the really something’s good is this hot pink thing right here. Thank you, Jesus, is all I can say.
Sweet girl, how about you?
Have you done something you’re not proud of?
Has something horrible been done to you?
Not one moment of any of it has to go to waste, if you don’t want it to. If you find yourself wondering if there is any beauty to come from the ashes of your life story, I am here to say a resounding YES. Join me in June for Beauty for Ashes.