Grace flows from wounds such as these.
So it is time to let down my hair.
I am home from my retreat. Time to sort through the happy tears, the moments of grace, the Sacraments that came at just the right moment with just the right touch of divine intervention.
What did I learn? What broke through when I let down my guard down?
I have wounds. I have learned to ignore them. They are healed. I don’t even think about them any more. Don’t want to think about them any more.
You probably have your own scars.
A failed marriage. Twelve-and-a-half years of giving it everything. The preacher’s wife. The associate pastor’s little family. The kind of story God is writing – only it’s not so. I wanted it to be so. I wanted it to be a grace-filled story. But nope. Not a drop of marital grace. Just me, trying to figure out why it wasn’t working – even though I was trying my hardest, trying harder than I ever have at anything in my life. And it was taking everything I had to keep it propped up. A façade of a pastoral dream-family.
And then, I was nobody. Or worse. I really was somebody – but this was not who I wanted to be: a single, divorced mother of three. He kept going, becoming the preacher and marrying again and having a baby.
And I was scrambling to find myself–
especially that first summer. The kids went to their dad’s. My parents and sister went on vacation and left me to house sit. I taught summer school. I was alone.
I wasn’t even sure if God was present in my life anymore.
Oh, God Who am I?
That was 1995. Today, I am a syndicated Catholic columnist, wife, and mother of four. Yes, I am remarried. That first marriage was annulled, and life got infinitely better.
Who could blame me for wanting to forget?
Who could blame me for truly letting it all go?
I’m not even sure who that was. That person who lived back then, who passed through that brokenness, who rebuilt a life – and found grace.
He was a preacher for a short space of time. Married at least four more times. Had kids by two more women.
Yes, I felt exonerated. His life looked like a disaster from the outside. And mine?
Well, grace found me. God really did make all things new.
And I was glad – am glad.
But I willed the wounds – healed as they were – to disappear. That woman didn’t exist —
until the retreat.
Until this weekend.
You see, I went on a very similar retreat back when I was the wife of a Protestant preacher. Yes, almost everything between that retreat and this past weekend was the same.
It seemed like a cruel joke – for the first 24 hours. I spent that first day feeling numb – and trying to stay that way.
Anything that reminded me of that era of my life, I tried to process quickly and put it back in the box. I had dealt with all of that. I am not that woman. I am new. New, dammit. New.
But, oh, God, why does this retreat have to be so much like that one?
I’m almost fifty. I don’t want to remember what I was like at twenty-five!
On Saturday morning, I woke up in my little room at the retreat house, and I knew what Our Lord was saying to me.
Your wounds are what I want you to recognize – to own! Yes, own them. Don’t run from them just because they are healed. These wounds, these scars, are part of you. And that, dear one, is part of what is lovely. See my wounds? My hands? See the scars right here? Grace flows from these wounds – and I have done something beautiful–
I have redeemed scars. Grace flows out of scars – even your scars! Not because you are so great – but because I AM divine!
Then, after Mass, the priest at the retreat invited us to the Sacrament of Anointing. And I went. I went to give Jesus Christ my scars. The very scars I have learned to ignore. The scars I haven’t looked at for years.
When we turned our palms face-up, so that the priest could anoint them with holy oil, I heard Jesus say, Yes, you heard Me right. This is what this weekend was about for you.
And this morning – Sunday – I realized that the message is for all of us – for we all are wounded. We all have scars. This is the miraculous part of it all:
Grace flows from wounds such as these.
Yes, it really does.
I own these wounds. I smile as I look at these scars. Christ has claimed them. HE OWNS THEM!
This weekend, I learned something important. Jesus Christ has not only claimed the new me – He claims all of me. My yesterday. My today. My forever.
And I can trust Him with all of me.
I really can.
And now – let the tsunami of grace flow…