Anyway, this party consisted of a ton of people I used to go to church with a.k.a. people who have practically known me my entire life. I'm fairly certain that a small handful of people there changed my diapers at one point in time, and I know for a fact that they have all seen me at one time or another do the ugly cry. I have years of history with these people, but after my divorce from Ex, I wanted a new beginning. I moved about 30 minutes away and stopped going to this church. I now keep up with most of these people via facebook.
Because I'm from a small town, word gets around fast. When I married and divorced The Asshole That Shall No Longer Be Named, the entire community heard the news that I had obviously lost my shit and spiraled out of control. I can only imagine the thoughts and possible conversations that took place when this news came out. I mean...for a while there, I really had lost it. I was making terrible decisions. I was really unhealthy. I was kind of crazy.
But here's the thing...it was just for a little while. I made a bad decision, but I also made it right. I was acting really unhealthy, but I'm not anymore. I was kind of crazy. Now I'm using my past for God's purpose for me. But I got the distinct impression at this party that several of these people don't see that. At one point in time a conversation took place between me and someone who I have always loved and admired...and it sort of broke my heart.
When she asked me what I'm doing now, I replied that I am a counselor and building a practice in the area. Her eyes widened...she stumbled on her words...and then her husband walked up. She told him I was a counselor now. I think her exact words were, "Did you know Sara is a counselor now?" Pretty tame, right? But her tone, the widened eyes, and his expression upon hearing what I was up to these days communicated a message somewhat akin to "Sara's a counselor now?!?!?! But she's CRAZY!" And then this woman made a half hearted attempt to suggest that maybe I might be a good counselor because I've been through stuff.
But she obviously didn't believe it.
And again, it broke my heart. It's not that I need these people to approve of me. My life is just fine with or without their support. I have a network of people that love me and GET ME...and it's really not necessary for these people on the outskirts to believe in what I'm doing or the fact that I am actually good at it. What actually breaks my heart isn't that these people who I have known my whole life don't believe in me. What really gets to me is the lack of grace, the lack of compassion, and the inability to see past their misconceptions and the unwillingness to even try.
Situations like this make me thankful that it's God's grace that purposes my journey and not the perceptions of others. I made a mess of my life there for a good solid year. I got myself into hot water and made things harder that didn't have to be. But because of that same level of sickness in my life, I now know a deeper sense of security, and greater wealth of healing, a heavenly magnitude of mercy, and the white knuckle grip of grace.
People say you can't go home again, and this experience has made that phrase come to life for me. It was uncomfortable...unwelcoming...unpleasant...a place where who I used to be seemed to win over who I actually am. The people of my past may never be able to look past my mistakes. They may never be able to see the healing that has taken place in my life. And quite honestly, they may just not care. It's a hard pill to swallow, but isn't that just the case with humanity sometimes?
The truth is, I could have avoided all of that pain and hardship by simply making a better decision on the front end. Then no one would think I'm crazy. No one would raise their brows at my desire to help others. No one would have anything at all to say about anything. But that's not what happened and as a result I now know two things:
1. People still think I'm sick, crazy, or broken,
2. God will go to the very deepest depths of despair to meet me in my sickness, to find me in my craziness, and to accept me in my brokenness,
just so He can bring me back home again.