Oh again I sit here because I need to write. Windows open and the sound of late summer crickets outside in the yard. One child sleeps, the other is at school, the dog is curled at my feet, slowing licking her paws. The morning is easy and quiet and I'm restless. I need to write not simply for content, for clicks, for shares or likes, comments or tweets. I write because I desperately need to see what I think and to put some words as a placeholder for the myriad of thoughts that meet me this morning.
Someone searched “affair” on my blog recently. I don’t know who. I only know that was the only word they searched for on my site. I don’t know if it was someone I know, someone who wanted to read my story again, or someone looking for dirt on me.
I suppose it doesn’t matter. I’ve written very publicly about my past, so it’s no secret. When people whisper, “I know what you’ve done,” it’s very freeing to whisper back “So does everyone else on the internet.” Being open about the ridiculous redemption of my life, from grave to cradled, has been one of the most fruitful journeys from the Lord.
But to know that after 12 years, that that’s still the word that follows me around wherever I go still feels like a punch.
Early on, I felt that I had the choice — I could move on and not talk about it, and still enjoy the beauty of redemption for myself. Or I could brazenly tell the story of God’s relentless pursuit of my ragamuffin heart in all of its hard truth and watch how He used it to set others free.
I went with door #2.
So in the face of the enemy who would love to use my past to continue to shame me, I'm going to remind him that Christ won and Christ continues to win. The only happy ending to my story is that Christ is my defense. I've cried about this shadow — I've asked friends "Why won't this just go away?" But how quickly I'd forget if it did. By continuing to write and speak about it, I'm raising my tired, bleeding hands toward my Savior to say that He fixed what I thought couldn't be fixed. He saved what I thought was lost. He rescued what I thought was dead.
My story is a reminder that God is merciful and running after the hearts that are prone to wander. My past is a reminder that sin is destructive, the local church matters, and that there is no perfect person. Jesus comes for the sick, not the healthy, and he found me starving to death in my kingdom made of straw.
Every now and then, I think about blowing the dust off of the book. Last night, my husband and I sat by the last fire of summer and while the embers faded from red to black, we talked about what all those stories and pages mean. Are they worth revisiting? Is it worth telling? Is it worth rekindling the fire of memory? The book wasn't meant to be a tell-all; it was a brag on the graces of God. The one I started three years ago and shelved for various reasons has resurfaced in my head and heart and I’m thinking of taking it down from that proverbial box and sharing it in pieces. Maybe here. Maybe I'll see if there’s anywhere to go with it now. Or maybe I'll just remind myself that my past isn't under a cobwebbed lock and key, and that Jesus showed up in every area of my life that needed a Savior (which, for the record, was ALL OF IT.)
Maybe you have a word that's following you around. Maybe you're tempted to think it has become your identity.
This is what is upside-down about following Christ. Our greatest failures become his trophy. While the world may try to tie a word to my identity until the day I die, and it might always be linked to my name in search bars, whispered behind closed doors, and in public statements about what I did once upon a time, there’s only one word that is stitched into the fabric of my soul, put there by the engraved hands of Christ, and it’s this — redeemed.