What Could Have Been

New Wine

“For the first time in my life, I feel that I am doing exactly what I should be.”

Those words flowed out of me just a few weeks ago. I’m in a crazy new role in my life…I’m a homeschooling mama. Sometimes I cringe telling people because that role has so many preconceived ideas. But regardless of other’s opinions, I know I am exactly where I should be.

A homeschooling mom, wife, writer, speaker, and youth leader. In these roles I find I can be exactly me.

Yet in this deep contentment I sometimes wonder what I could have been had the twenty something years of abuse not happened.

What if I wasn’t so broken?

Where could I be today if I hadn’t been abused?

In my early twenties I landed my own column in a small conservative newspaper. Singled-Out was intended for young Christian singles as we plodded through the unknowns of beginning our adult lives. I think my column lasted three months.

No, I didn’t get cancelled…I quit.

Can you believe it? I quit! I didn’t recognize the incredible opportunity I had and now, almost twenty years after quitting, I have returned to my first passion, writing.

I can only imagine the doors that might have opened for me had I stuck with writing in my twenties. And the craft of writing? I would be phenomenal at craft right now if I had followed through on this opportunity.

Why did I quit?

“Because I haven’t lived enough life to write about it yet.”

Yep, that was my excuse back then. Maybe what I wasn’t ready for was writing about the real life I had lived.

But I could write! I should have kept writing! Who knows what could have been?

This year seems to have been the passage out of profound brokenness and onward to wholeness. I still have flashbacks on occasion…but they no longer drown me in their darkness. I have learned how to give space for the healing while living life in the present.

But a new kind of grief needs room to breathe. What could have been…

What-could-have-beens are different than regret.

I believe regret is languishing over my own choices that have caused circumstances I wish were different. Like some friendships I walked away from because I couldn’t figure out how to stay.

What-could-have-beens are the ways I see I couldn’t be brave enough to be me, because the deepest root of abuse is shame. I was never good enough…for whatever I pursued.

I quit writing way-back-when because I was just too scared to believe I could have made my dreams happen. Because I was just too scared to believe I was supposed to make those dreams happen. Because those dreams weren’t just mine, they were planted in my depths by God. Yet I didn’t believe, deep down, that I deserved to see my dreams happen.

I couldn’t see that I WAS enough. Even then, in the mind boggling brokenness, I WAS enough.

My youth was lived with suffocating-legalistic-sobriety. By the time I ended up with a counselor at age twenty-one she told me I was having a mid-life crisis. I had the mindset of a forty-something adult!

And God spoke to me then:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— Joel 18:25a

How could God ever redeem the years of my youth? The years of abuse? The years of shame?

By healing me and placing me exactly where I should be…

A homeschooling mama, wife, writer, speaker, and youth leader.

He is giving me back what was stolen and devoured in such fulfilling ways I am overwhelmed at his Love for me.

And even today he is speaking again, because I went back and read all of Joel 18.

Then the Lord was jealous for his land     

and took pity on his people.

The Lord replied[a] to them:

“I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil,     

enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you     

an object of scorn to the nations.

“I will drive the northern horde far from you,     

pushing it into a parched and barren land; its eastern ranks will drown in the Dead Sea     

and its western ranks in the Mediterranean Sea. And its stench will go up;     

its smell will rise.”

Surely he has done great things!    

Do not be afraid, land of Judah;     

be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things!     

Do not be afraid, you wild animals,     

for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.

The trees are bearing their fruit;     

the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Be glad, people of Zion,     

rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains     

because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers,     

both autumn and spring rains, as before.

The threshing floors will be filled with grain;     

the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—     

the great locust and the young locust,     

the other locusts and the locust swarm—

my great army that I sent among you.

You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,     

and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,     

who has worked wonders for you;

never again will my people be shamed.

Then you will know that I am in Israel,     

that I am the Lord your God,     

and that there is no other;

never again will my people be shamed

Joel 2:18-27 (NIV)

No more What-Could-Have-Beens

Only new wine and olive oil

Fruit bearing

Autumn rains

Abundance

And NO SHAME

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