Broken, Mended, Beautiful
"Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak." ~Thomas Carlyle
By Robin Mullins Senger
Done with you...
A few years ago, I loaded up my three young daughters, their kittens and a pet chicken into our minivan and fled from my husband. I was scared of what the future would hold, but had made up my mind that living out of our car would be better than staying with my abusive husband.
I would never have imagined that in five years, I would publish a book, share my story publicly, and enjoy a happy and fulfilled life with my daughters.
When I left my husband, I felt like a chipped and broken cup.
Before I married Brian, my cup was whole, pretty, and of value. Carelessness and abuse chipped it over time, eventually breaking it beyond repair. It became scarred, useless, ugly, and of absolutely no value. How many of you feel like this cup? I didn’t think I could ever be whole again. I didn’t think I would ever have value or purpose. I felt irreparably destroyed by my relationship with Brian.
I met Brian at a Christian online dating site. Even though there were plenty of red flags, I justified them. And the dating site analyzer said we were a 100% match! How could that be wrong?
In less than two months we were married at a drive-through chapel in Reno. Once I said “I do,” Brian became a different person than the one I thought I had married. Four years later we were wandering around Chile with our daughters who were barely 12 months old, three and four years old. Brain wanted to live there and was looking for work, but no one would hire him because he didn’t understand the language.
One morning as we checked out of a hostel at the beach town of Iquique, Brian informed me that we were out of money and I should look for a place to sleep outside that night.
I couldn’t grasp that concept. I was sure a miracle would happen and we would be comfortable and safe in a hostel like normal. I refused to even think of sleeping in the open. Brian finally got exasperated with me, walked over to a grocery store and piled some boxes into a shopping cart. Pushing it back to me, he shoved it in my hands and ordered me to push our new bed down to the beach.
As frightened as I was of spending the night with strangers on a beach, I could never have imagined that God was going to turn that nightmare into one of the biggest blessings of my life.
The thing I was most afraid of, was exactly the thing that moved me from a path of destruction to a path of life.
Joseph, in the Bible, voices the same feeling about the adversity he experienced. He told his brothers – the very ones who had sought to kill him:
Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
As I lay on our cardboard bed that night, I experienced the presence and love of God in a way I had never experienced before. His love, not only for my family, and me, but also for each scarred and broken person sleeping on the cold sand that night – transformed my life. I have never been same.
The next morning I went for a walk and pondered my circumstances, which looked impossible to overcome. We were:
in a foreign country not knowing the language
three little girls coming down sick
alienated from family and friends
rejected by local churches and missions
And now my husband had given up and told me to accept homelessness as our new life.
Getting home seemed impossible.
I didn’t know which way to turn or what to do. There was one thing I could do though. The Lord says in Psalm 50:15, “Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.”
I did call on the Lord that morning. He directed my steps, and provided a miracle. Within two weeks we were all safely back stateside.
After getting back to the U.S., my marriage turned dangerously abusive and a year later, the girls and I fled. After that, life became even harder. I could see no light, no hope. I was depressed, thinking that I had thrown away several years of my life, and would never recover from it. Sometimes I wondered if I should go back to Brian just for some stability and provision. My relationship with God seemed to be hanging on by a thread.
One day, I took my Bible and sat down by a stream to read and pray. I didn’t think I could go another minute in my new life. Blinking through my tears dropping on my opened Bible, I was drawn to a verse,
Isaiah 51:3, “For the Lord will comfort Zion [in her captivity]; He will comfort all her ruins. And He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and the voice of a melody.”
That day, the concept of gladness, thanksgiving and redemption seemed impossible. Yet I knew God was asking me to trust Him to fulfill that in my life. It took some time, but that verse became my reality!
God can take something that has been destroyed and reshape it into a piece that is beautiful and useful.
Isaiah 29:16, “Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?”
God does understand, and even though life can seem harsh and out of control, there is one who remains in control, lovingly working on our behalf to turn it around for good.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
We don’t have to figure out everything.
We don’t have to be perfect. It is God in us who accomplishes what seems impossible.
That is my testimony today, that my faith and hope in God were never misplaced. I could never have accomplished through my own strength and wisdom all the good things that have happened in my life. God, in His unfailing love redeemed my past, turning it into goodness and wholeness. He wants to do the same for you.
My encouragement to you today is to not give up hope. Whatever you are facing in your life right now, God is bigger. He knows what you are going through, and best of all, He compassionately understands. He wants to carry you through it, just as He did me. He wants to heal the waste places, and bring joy, gladness and thanksgiving into your life.
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster – to give you a future and a hope.”
I want to ask you to do something if you haven’t done it before. Take some time with your Bible and get alone with God. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with Him. Ask Him to give you a verse that you can hold onto. If you will ask Him for this, He will direct you to something that will give you strength and hope. Highlight it, put it up on your wall, do what you have to do to keep it in front of you every day, and believe it.
My prayer for you today is from Psalm 23:
That the Lord will be your shepherd, and you will never be in need. His kindness and love will always be with you. You will find rest and refreshment, and be led along right paths. When you walk through the dark valleys of life, you won’t be afraid. For you will know your shepherd is with you, and you will have peace. The Lord will treat you to a feast, while your enemies watch. He will honor you as His guest, and fill your cup until it overflows.
Psalm 35:10, “Every bone in my body will shout: ‘No one is like the Lord!’ You protect the helpless from those in power; you save the poor and needy from those who hurt them.”
Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear [anything], for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you; I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].”