Why Mosaics of Mercy and Beauty in Brokenness? Why is it so important to me that others struggling know they are not alone? Because not only have I survived cancer, I have also experienced first hand the effects of mental illness and addiction. Both are illnesses, yet each perceived differently by the one struggling and the world around. Every day of our lives we have a choice to either ignore, quit or fight whatever it is we face. Today I choose to fight head on, not only for myself and my family, but for others.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. Deuteronomy 30:19-20a
From the outside looking in, my life has for the most part appeared stable and strong – growing up in the ideal Christian family and then starting an ideal one of my own. How nice it is to sum up what we see as a “good life” in a simple sentence, painting whatever “ideal” picture we want the world to see. In truth, mental instability and alcoholism left my childhood foundation unstable, and inadvertently, I developed some unhealthy coping skills. As a young wife and mother I never grasped how unsettled I was, lost and broken-hearted deep within. Unfortunately, this had a lasting impact.
Faced with the longing to find peace from a growing inner turmoil, I realized I had two options. I could open my heart and explore God’s way for my life, which I thought I knew about; or continue living my own way, dictated by worldly standards. I decided maybe I could combine the two. I would continue to walk out life as a Christian on the outside but live by my own set of rules inside. Seek pleasure and comfort at all costs, and boy, did it cost – not only me but so many that I loved. I could blame my past, but I was clearly not choosing life in the present.
Circumstances eventually brought me to a place where I was backed up against a wall and my heart was finally willing to return to Who has always called me His. Life since then has been a journey of acceptance, forgiveness and restoration and for all this, I am forever grateful. I can now grasp the true simplicity of Christ’s grace and loving guidance, revealing to me what a life of wholeness and fulfillment can look like. Surrendering to the will of my Father required me to let go of what I thought brought freedom and see what he had to say about the matter. God was in control and knew I needed strengthening and maturing for the long haul..and it wasn’t going to be easy.
In 2015 my husband and I realized that our precious son was fighting a losing battle with alcohol. It’s hard to find your bearings when your child’s dreams are suddenly snatched away. Our family felt the devastating blows of alcohol addiction and before we knew it, isolation dug its claws in and the enemy began mental assaults that hit us all…especially me.
My own battle with depression resurfaced after lying dormant. Anxiety, negative thinking and resurfacing fear of what might lie ahead were unwelcome visitors and I became distraught. Why so many compounding trials in our lives while those around were thriving? I knew I wouldn’t have answers to most of these questions, but longed for God to show me, teach me, grow me so I could climb out of my pit. I soon knew I was not alone.
I see you and your love for your son. Can you believe that I love him even more? My hand is upon him and upon all four of you. Do you remember my Son and how he had to walk though many trials and tribulations? You know it took complete trust and dependence on me to endure what He did. No matter how things appeared, my love never ceased, never changed. You feel you have many things that look like failures but I long for you to learn to see as I see. Remember the example and follow His lead. Trust in me and lean not on your own understanding, I AM the way to a straight path which leads to Life. Depend on me and me alone. I have so much MORE for you. (my paraphrase from Proverbs 3:5-6).
What if every heartache, perceived loss of hope and dashed dream was actually the place of more beauty and tender mercies? I soon began to look more intently at that possibility – as I did throughout my cancer journey, yet even deeper still.
In the midst of my darkest days, I was invited to a casual gathering of local women hoping to give a voice to mental illness and addiction – illnesses where “no one brings a casserole.” Given the circumstances, I was hesitant to share my struggles, but shortly after that first gathering, Heart Tablet was formed and Mosaics of Mercy emerged, extending an invitation to truly see that “I am not alone.” More than a phrase, but the reality of genuine community walking through difficult circumstances and exemplifying how to live ABOVE potential joy robbers and into the fullness of life.
Since our first meeting, it has been clear that the best way to grow and heal is through inviting others along for the journey and trusting God to do what I/we alone cannot. As an honored torchbearer for Beauty in Brokenness, sharing this freedom with others in the midst of their struggles is part of the hope our world needs. Every encounter with brokenness serves a purpose — a purpose that may be well beyond our understanding or comfort, but the choice to believe in the healing and restoration through the Master Artist invites great freedom. Each human being has a story and is a unique work of art. Nothing is wasted; nothing is garbage but rather part of our process of becoming our true selves.
Today our son is making great strides and has chosen to face his battle head on and our whole family continues one day at a time in our process toward healing and restoration. I hope to encourage everyone as they too discover their true Beauty through Brokenness.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14