Confessions of a Prodigal Daughter, 1

I walked into the counseling office, barely holding my heart together as, little by little, I felt it shredding inside my chest. When had things gone so wrong? How far do I travel back in my history before finding where the pain all began? And at what point did my heart start to go off the rails? 

Now that imminent danger had passed, I had space to explore my past – all of it. 

Psychologists have fought for years over what molds a person into what and who we are. Is it biology? Is it environment – home or otherwise? Is it traumatic experiences or over-sheltering of parents? Is it our own sin-filled souls? There are so many things that contribute to who we are and who we become. The honest answer is that it is all of those things and more. 

As I sat in the chair and thought of my past, I saw the pain stretch out before me, daunting and unending.

I realized as I talked with my therapist that the further I went back in time, the further I needed to go. I felt an overwhelming sense of grief as realization struck me of the immense suffering I have endured throughout my life. How do you unwind a ball of twine so tangled and tightly wound? Yes, people have hurt me. Yes, people have betrayed me. Yes, people have failed me. And, yes, I have done all of those things to myself. How do any of us survive this world and what is the point, anyway? 

Don’t stop reading.

Truth is, we are all broken people, sin infecting our souls – every last one of us. We fail ourselves and each other every single day. Perhaps unwittingly, but we fail just the same. So who is to blame for all the pain and dysfunction in this world? We all are. 

But there is good news. 

Jesus never hurt or betrayed or failed anyone, and Jesus knows what it feels like to be hurt and betrayed and failed. Yet, his love is so deep, so full, so free, so powerful that he not only forgave all the wrong done to him, he died for all the wrong done to him. He loved us so much that he suffered in the Garden and suffered on Calvary and suffered excruciating separation from his Father. 

This is something I struggle to wrap my mind around. 

I confess that this is a hard concept for me to grasp and, even after decades of his faithfulness to me, the walls go up. The walls go up when I get scared. The walls go up when I feel threatened. The walls go up when I feel weak. The walls go up when life feels out of control. The walls go up when I’m tired of the battle. The walls go up when someone disappoints or hurts me. The walls are always going up. Yet, Jesus loves me through it all. Even when I can feel my heart beating hard and stubborn inside my chest, he keeps on loving me. Why?

Jesus knows what it is like to be human. 

He has suffered the daily grind of life. He has suffered humiliation and rejection. He has suffered the loss of loved ones. He has waged war against temptations to his limited human flesh. He knows what it is like to be hungry, tired, distraught, sad, loved, unloved, all the same emotions we struggle with in life on a daily basis. He understands our frame because he has lived in one. Sinless, yes, but it was a finite human body with human needs and limitations and emotions all the same. 

He was not born knowing he was God incarnate. 

He grew up being taught the scriptures, learning as he grew up that he was the Messiah, growing into the knowledge of what that meant for his future. He knew, because the prophets had written about him. 

So, what is the point?

I’m not really sure, other than it brings comfort to my pain-filled soul knowing Jesus suffered in life like I do, knowing he has compassion and unending, unfettered, unconditional, and too often unrequited love for me. And this is what calms the storm inside as I sit in that chair and stare at the unending stretch of pain threatening to consume my soul. Jesus tenderly holds all of my pain (no matter the source) along with all my tears (shed and unshed) in his gentle, loving, compassionate hands. When my heart is hard, he ever so gently massages it until it relaxes in his embrace, never getting frustrated with me, never laying my heart aside, never abandoning me to my pain. 

So what is this to you?

My friend, if you do not know my Jesus, he will do the same for you. If you do know Jesus, remember that he will never let you go. And whether you know him or not, never forget that you can trust him even when you can’t.  

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