Courtney Stanford is a passionate follower of Jesus and the writer of her blog, Let Every Heart. She is the wife of a worship pastor and the mommy of three little men. Courtney is an elementary school teacher on hiatus, while she is currently a stay-at-home Mommy and the keeper of a joyful (yet slightly noisy) home that she lovingly refers to as her "frat house." Whether she is leading a Bible study for women, teaching her adult Sunday School class, or writing for her blog, Courtney is an enthusiastic encourager of Christ followers, especially women and children. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
We sit like sardines around the long table in the small room, a small group of adults…all with our own stories. We’re the people with stories of redemption and rescue from all kinds of hurt and all kinds of happy. Our pasts look drastically different, though some of us can relate to another’s brokenness. We were all once pretty crummy messes, you know? You, me, and the crowded small group of adults choosing to come together now as the Body of Christ. She brings her baggage and another brings his story of dysfunction. He shares a bit about his current struggle and she relates that she was once in that very battle herself. And I…the teacher? As the authentic teacher of these beautiful people who have lived real-life Road to Damascus conversions, I can only be real with them. It is the only way. I walk into the room, already resolved to admit that I scooped myself out of the house this morning, all the while clinging to God’s promises, fighting off cruel anxiety and the enemy’s lies so that I can go be in the place where I will worship and where my empty cup will be refilled with His unfailing mercy. I might as well keep it real because it’s the only way to really live and they deserve my honesty. While I’m known for “happy,” I also fight a very real battle with anxiety that plagues the unexpecting victims…even the soccer moms in minivans. Anxiety is relentless. So, I suppose I could pretend to be shiny and hide behind perfectionism but I’ve been there and done that and for what? I choose to be real.
Our discussion today focuses on being the Body of Chrit. All of us. Together. That’s how a body functions, you know. The whole group agrees. It is in our brokenness, that God has written our testimonies so that we can be whole. Broken body parts…the mess that we all all were and are, God can use that to His glory. We can take the hard times and point others to Him and tell of His mercy. We can tell our stories of His rescue. He rescued and He continues to find us and rescue us. Every. Single. Day. And when we pour out love for one another, in the Body of Christ or in our communities, we become so much more whole. The healing happens when we live authentically and we love the way He loves. In those times, we seek Him, clinging desperately to Him, especially in our very darkest hours.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. ~Psalm 34:18 NLT
I got there…to my destination-the church building. I arrived despite the unexplainable loneliness that plagued my heart (and my truly happy home) for no other reason except that the enemy had tried to keep me from worshipping my Savior. I walked into the room, not exactly on time, and told the truth because one day, perhaps my really crummy moment will encourage her or him to cling to Jesus and bravely fight the enemy in a crummy moment, too. Maybe they will tell the enemy to leave because they will remember this real account of my own struggle.
Our God is merciful and gracious to redeem us in our darkest hours. I’m learning to never hide those dark hours from others because my stories of His redeeming love must be told again and again. I’m known for “happy,” which has been strange to me ever since the high school cheerleading coach broke the news to me of my “happy girl” reputation. For real, friends. I have no idea how this happened…and my husband laughs every time someone asks, “Is she always this happy?”
No. She isn’t. (The handsome worship pastor, music teacher husband never says those words. He just laughs to himself and smiles a kind-hearted smile.) So, allow me to be the bearer of this crazy news.
Sometimes I am broken too. My brokenness is called anxiety. It is so real and so…ugly.
We all have a past and a present. We all have a future. I even have an eternal life in Jesus Christ because He has rescued me and bought me with His sacrifice. I continue to repent from the ugly words and the ugly thoughts that the enemy feeds, usually replaying like a broken record inside the broken heart of a real person. Jesus ALWAYS meets me in my brokenness. When I cry out, “Hold me, Jesus,” He always does. He simply won’t forget me because I am His child. He has redeemed and He doesn’t loosen His compassionate, loving kindness, His rescuing grasp on my unsteady heart.
And do you know what I am certain of? Do you know what that tiny room of many rescued, redeemed, broken hearts and crummy moments will stand to testify? We are here to tell you, friend. Jesus won’t let go of you either. Does a father ever loosen his grip on his child’s hand when the child is frightened, dirty, shameful, or in need of redirection? Neither will our Heavenly Father. He has you in the palm of His hand. Will you surrender your life to be known as His child? Will you tell your redemption story? He will meet you there.
From my real-life heart to yours, ~Courtney