A few months ago, we had a caseworker visit for our sixteen-year old son who is in foster care. We were talking through some of the issues that come from having a child whose life has been full of trauma, and attempting to knit him into the fabric of our family, creating something entirely new. Our caseworker looked at me and said, "April, you have to understand that he came with a history book. And his history book says "Moms abuse you and Moms abandon you. And every time you show up, and every time you don't hurt him, but you help him instead, you're rewriting his history book."
"His history book says Moms abuse you and Moms abandon you...you're rewriting his history book."
Those words have been ringing in my ears and echoing in my heart since that day. I think of them when I interact with all of my children (not just the teenage son in question.) And I think of them when I interact with my husband, and friends, and extended family. Because we all have history books, don't we?
I talked here about how I preached a sermon at church in February. And shortly after, I spoke at a women's retreat. And since then, I've been working with our pastor on a few minor projects, getting his input and guidance on a big writing project, and being (constantly) encouraged to step out of my comfort zone, and really take on this big thing I feel God calling me to (even though I don't know exactly what it is yet.) He's been pushing me to think differently about myself, about the world around me, about the Word and how I interact with it.
At some point, I realized that he's rewriting my history book. Because my history book says "Pastors use you, abuse you, and discard you." And although I've had some good pastors in recent years, the chapters about the painful pastoral experiences I've had are long, and hard to read. They're even harder to share with others.
I was meditating on Ephesians 4:11-16 over the last few months and I have been pierced through the heart by this specific section (v. 14-16.)
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.I've often heard this passage used to talk about confronting sin in others. However, I think there's so much more to "speaking the truth in love." I think more often we actually need the people around us to speak the truth of the Gospel, the truth of God's Word to us. We need to be reminded where our strength and grace and mercy comes from. We need someone to speak the truth of right doctrine when we get a little lost, and speak the truth of our call to maturity in the faith when we find ourselves feeling lazy or falling into self-pity.
And we also need to speak the truth about what we see in others...the truth of their callings and identities in Christ. We all desperately need to be reminded that we are called to love others in ways that are specifically designed by God. We need people who see the value that God has planted in our hearts and help us cultivate that so that we grow up "into him who is the head, into Christ." We need people who show us what it looks like to grow in our own gifts and abilities so that we look more and more like our big brother Jesus.
I am so grateful for the people in my life who are rewriting my history book. My prayer is that you have people in your life who will speak the truth in love, and help you rewrite your history book, as well.