Monthly Archives: June 2017

Are you Bold & Courageous?

invisible_woman2 2It all started off by feeling like I was invisible. What does that look like? I am in the room but no one cares. They know I am there but I have no impact. I am invisible. I feel diminished, and that is not what I want to feel. I have a mission in my life, and I cannot feel diminished to fulfill my mission.

One day I wrote on a writable mug that sat in front of me daily at work, “Don’t be invisible.” Yeah, don’t be invisible. But I didn’t have an ending on it. How do I not be invisible?

That was a few years ago. Invisible. To feel that way is not good. No impact. No one cares. I felt alone in the world. I knew that I didn’t want to feel invisible, but what should I do?
In walked my life coach. No, he didn’t have the answer—no great coach has the answer—but he asked the right questions, and he used his intuition to throw things at me to see what will stick. I had the answers inside me—I have always known the answers—sometimes I am just stuck and cannot pull them out, or I am too afraid to act on what I know is the answer for me. He told me to turn the mug around and write, “Be Bold” on the other side. After that coaching call, I also wrote this on my white board in my office, which I faced on a daily basis, “Don’t be invisible . . . Be bold!” and I drew a smiley face next to it.

Easy to write, but how do I do this. It had been on my mind for a few weeks, and with the encouragement of my coach, I had kept in on the forefront, really practiced bold actions in areas of my life where I feared being bold. Funny how in some areas, this did not scare me, but in others, my saboteurs (those imaginary negative voices in my head) came raging out telling me not to be bold or I just might get hurt. As my coach and I talked about bold, the subject moved to bold and courageous. Not just bold alone but both bold and courageous.

Bold . . . what does that mean? The dictionary states, “not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring: beyond the usual limits of conventional thought or action; imaginative.” Or, “inclined or willing to take risks.”

Courageous . . . It’s meaning? The dictionary states, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” Another definition is, “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

Bold does not hesitate—it goes beyond the conventional thought of being careful. Courage is willing to face the fear.

To be myself and live the life I want, I must be bold and courageous. I must say what is on my heart. Not so bold to be rude. For me, bold is not rude—bold is truthful, bold is loving, bold is being who I should be regardless of what anyone else thinks.

Courageous manSometimes I have allowed myself to be a victim, but I am not a victim. I needed to move forward and declare how and where I fit in this world. And as I did it, I realized this was not about me. I could reach out to someone who needed loving encouragement without expecting some great response from them. I wanted people to hear the love, kindness, and encouragement of the words, not Andrea. I wanted them to see God working in their life, not Andrea. I wanted to boldly let them know whatever the outcome was, there was a friend walking next to them. I wanted them to know that what they thought counted. I wanted them to know I could stand up for myself without being angry. I wanted to let them know I am also imperfect. I wanted them to know I am okay with all of this. It is not about me. It is about the perspective that they are valuable.

My mission in life is to show love to others, to accept others where they are. I want to cheer them on. I want to walk along side of them—not in front, not behind. I want them to know they are not alone.

It was taking a chance to let people know this, or to act in such a manner. It was scary for me to stand firm – be it at work or in relationships. It was scary to say how I really felt in my heart. It was scary to lay myself out for one to know exactly who I am. But all I have to give is myself. What else could I do? If I wanted to be who I want to be, I must be bold and courageous. I did not choose a wimpy life—I chose one to serve and to love. It takes courage to do that.

How could I impact others if I thought I was invisible? I could not do that. I needed to be courageous even if others thought I was invisible. I needed to throw the lights on and make them see. I needed to be in my “God Spot” for me to know that I belong there and can do this. (My “God Spot” is the place where I remember that I am loved unconditionally by the creator of the universe. When you think about that–really think about that–it is huge, and it gives me courage. No one can harm me with their words or deeds).Monkey jumping monkey 2

A few years ago my pastor preached on bold prayers. He said that God wants to hear our bold, audacious, crazy prayers. He stated it is nice to pray for world peace, but God wants to hear about those monkeys that are jumping limb to limb in our brains–the things that keep us from concentrating because they are the important issues in our life. Wow, not just bold in my being, but bold in my prayer life.

bold prayersSitting in the service I realized the word “Bold” was right in front of me, so I quietly pulled out my phone and to take quick photo! I also noticed that as I tried to take the photo, and was waiting for the pastor to put his arms down, when he is bold he talks with his arms in the air! Thus the photo! What a great reminder that God expects bold from me. And I need to be courageous to be bold!

It wasn’t always easy to be bold and courageous. My life has changed in so many ways since that day of coaching about feeling invisible. Invisible is in our heads. If we step out of our comfort zone in love, in our lives, in our prayers, we can see the impact around us.

What is stopping you from being bold and courageous?
What bold prayers do you need to make?
What can you learn by being bold and courageous?

Start today — Step out of your comfort zone and make yourself visible.  Impact your world!

Social Media — A Blessing or A Curse?

Unknown-2I have been using social media for a long time. It started with LinkedIn. I put my professional information on, and connected with hundreds of other professionals. The majority I had met along the way in my career. I do find it interesting some of the people who still want to connect with me on LinkedIn. I am retired. They are not in my field—they may have been in one of the industries I have worked. Or, are they just name collectors—resume builders? The more LinkedIn connections, the more I know my job? I sure hope not. Now when I go to LinkedIn, it looks a lot like Facebook. I am disappointed by that. I want the site to be totally professional. I don’t need to “like” the postings they make or wish them a happy birthday.

UnknownThen I moved to Facebook. At first I couldn’t figure this site out. Why was I connecting with people? I understood LinkedIn. I was a networker in my career. I wanted to learn from others who are on my same career path. But, why I am on Facebook? I will get to that later.

Then came Twitter. Twitter is frustrating because, as you may have Unknown-3guessed, I am not a woman of few words. I tend to be verbose, so with Twitter, I needed to eliminate a lot of words to say the same thing—a man’s dream of a site—no boring long talk! Ha!

I have not dipped my computer into Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social network out there. Except, in my single days — yes, I did Match.com and ChristianSingles.com. The difference between the other sites and dating sites, is that you get to be anonymous on dating sites until you wish to reveal your real self to a specific person.

Facebook, hands down, is my favorite. I love that I have connected with four hundred eleven (411) of my closest friends! That is kind of funny, isn’t it? My closest friend, my husband, hates Facebook. He hates to see politics no matter what the persuasion espoused, and he really hates other people getting into other people’s business, which some people do. So, I have the Facebook account. After we got married, I connected with his family, who are now part of my 411 of my closest friends. When they post photos of their kids, grandkids and special events, I share the photos with him, so he knows what’s going on with his sweet family.

lindberghschoolsMy friends on Facebook come from many areas of my life. I have friends from high school—many were not my friends in high school, but in the past 10-15 years and many reunions later, I now feel a special friendship and closeness to these folks. We have the best class from Lindbergh High School, St. Louis, Missouri. The year was 1966, and yes, we are that old. We have come to love and care about each other. We meet casually throughout the year. We don’t care who was friends in high school and who dated who, or who didn’t date anyone (me). We love sharing our lives and showing off our grandkids. Oh wow, we have gotten old! I am also connected with some of my children’s friends from school. I love seeing them all grown up with their own families, and moving through the challenges that life throws to all of us.

cd72da464182134ab1d247621854e8dd 2Another group of friends of mine are friends from church when I was a youngster–people around the country who I met at church camp. We have gone many different directions, but we love reconnecting. I have friends from work and professional organizations—people who I love to see still out there in the workforce making a difference.

The other really special group are my relatives. I have a lot of relatives, and they live all over the country. Some I knew well, and some I have only gotten to know through Facebook. I love that I have gotten to know them and their families and their cute kiddos. Otherwise, I would never know these folks. What a blessing and gift to be able to connect and get to know them.

Those are the blessings of social media. There is also a down side.

angry-blogger 2People get really brave behind a keyboard and monitor. They say things about other people that they would never say to their faces. They become vengeful and mean. I guess they think they are hurting that other person. Yeah, I guess there is a sting to read, or hear from someone else, that something negative and usually untrue has been posted about you. The sad thing is that the dysfunctional friends of these people will enjoy the gossip, but the healthy people will not like seeing that.

stopsign2-1024x684 2I don’t care what relationship issue you are going through, being angry at a friend, a break-up of boyfriend or girlfriend, break-up of a marriage, loss of a job, mad at relatives of the person you are really mad at. STOP! Remember, when your mom would say if you are pointing a finger at someone, others fingers are pointing back at you? Take your anger to a private place. I don’t want to know. Social media is NOT a psychiatrist, marriage counselor, attorney, or self-help group. Would you say these things (sober) at a party of all these people?
Would you really lie, slander, or just gossip about someone attending a social event? More people can see your posts than you think.

Just because you are miserable, angry, or whatever, don’t be bringing the world down with your rants. Don’t talk badly about anyone. It just makes you look bad and petty. I complainer2don’t care how awful that person seems to you, posting for the world to see is not wise. Do you know how many potential employers and landlords can find your postings? Complainers don’t get the job—I know—I was a hiring manager! (Also, be careful of the photos you post of yourself—potential employers and landlords just love seeing you sloppy drunk all the time—don’t think so)!

What is the purpose of saying something bad about someone on social media? Do you think it will change peoples’ minds about that person? I don’t think so. I think it will make you look small and petty. Got a problem with someone? Go directly to them. Go to a counselor. Go to an attorney. Your friends on social media are none of those. Stop being a bully. Grow up.

love-the-greatest-commandment-introduction-1-638 2When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he said, the first was “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40) He said your neighbor, not just the people you like. EVERYONE! Would you post demeaning things about yourself on social media? Of course not. If you don’t blast awful things about yourself, you shouldn’t say anything negative about anyone.

Think before you post. If you post something that you later think is inappropriate, then go back and delete it. Yes, you can delete anything you have posted. Be the big person.

9309cb2621bc670597eac2ad2bf52066 2I cannot fix others’ dysfunction. I tried once, and it threw me into counseling and a 12-step group for codependency. Remember the Serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” Don’t try to change what you cannot change. Complaining, gossiping, saying unkind things about another is trying to control someone else by your words. It’s toxic. The only thing we can change is those things we have control of, namely ourselves. Don’t think posting unkind things on social media will change anything—you are not that powerful, and you will look small.

I still love my social media. My purpose has to do with my life vision, “To let others know they are not alone in their challenges, they have value, worth, and a voice.  I want to be  surrounded by those I love and enjoy the grace of their love to reach out and share it with others.” I hope I accomplish that in my postings and in my blogs. If I don’t, call me on it—personally not for the world to see!

Think before you speak — think before you write!

Make your social media a blessing — not a curse!

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I have this Mary Engelbreit card framed. It used to sit on my desk at work.  A good reminder that we can only change ourselves, not others.

Who’s Your Daddy?

With this being Father’s Day weekend, I thought I would talk about dads. My dad and I had a difficult relationship. As a child I was afraid of him. He was tall and big and his voice boomed. He worked a lot owning his own business, and he was tough. As a teenager and through college, I disliked him.

Andrew Nothum

Andrew Nothum

He had some tough rules that I thought were really more strict than they should be. He had two favorite lines he would tell us girls. The first was, “When your feet are under my table, you do what I say.” The other was, “What is good for Bullmoose is good for the nation. I am Bullmoose, and you are the nation.” He meant them both!

Over the years, we rocked back and forth in our difficult relationship. In his late years, I made peace with who he was. I made peace knowing that he was a flawed individual, and he loved the best he could. It wasn’t always how I wanted to be loved and cared for by my dad, but he did love and care for me, up until he took his last breath in April of 2010 at the age of 90.

My dad, Andrew Nothum, was born in a German community in Romania in 1919. He was the oldest child of Barbara and Mathias Nothum. My grandfather traveled between Romania and the United States several times between the age of 15 and until the whole family settled in St. Louis, Missouri.

Passport 1929

The first passport photo.  Barbara Nothum with her 4 boys, L-R: Joseph, Mathew, Emil, and Andrew

In Romania, my dad lived in a house with dirt floors. At that time his family was Catholic, and he served as an alter boy pumping the church organ for Mass. In 1928, Grandma got all her children dressed up for a passport photo and applied to come to the United States. She had four little boys. Unfortunately, the quota for immigrants from Romania had been met and they had to wait. My grandfather continued to travel back home to be with his family.

passport

2nd Passport photo.  Barbara Nothum with her 5 boys, L-R: Andrew, Mathew, Michael, Emil, and Joseph

The following year, Grandma was ready to bring her boys to the U.S. She now had five, yes, I said five little boys! By the time the family was complete, my dad would be the oldest of seven boys, with a sister as the youngest child. The last three children were born in the United States.

In 1929, not having yet sold their home, Grandma and my 10 year old dad took a trip to a neighboring town, about 7 miles from their home. They traveled by foot, then a ferry across a river, and walked to find a man they were told about from Detroit, Michigan. Since their home had not yet sold, she went to borrow money from him to bring herself and her children to the United States to join my grandfather. This man lent her $400 (equivalent today of almost $6,000), which they did pay back in full, according to my dad.

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A brochure for the ship the Nothum family came on, The Bremen, arriving in 1930.

Grandma and her five little boys left Sekeschut, Romania, traveled by train to Arad, Hungary, then to Vienna, Austria and their final destination of Bremen, Germany, where they sailed out on the maiden voyage of the ocean liner Bremen. From the time the ship was out of sight of land, my grandmother got sea sick, and my 10 year old dad took care of all his little brothers until they saw land again. They came in through Ellis Island in early 1930. My grandmother stated of her experience on the ship upon seeing the Statue of Liberty, “Everyone on the ship stopped what we were doing and gazed at the Statue of Liberty. People were crying, the tears streamed down my face. There was silence on the ship and it seemed no one talked, we just cried and gazed at the statue.”
When my dad arrived in St. Louis, he and his brother, Joe, enrolled in school. Dad knew two words in English, “gum” and “pencil” — very important words to know in school. He was demoted from 4th grade to 3rd grade because he did not yet speak English. Fortunately, his teacher could also speak German and Hungarian, so when she gave the class instructions, while they were working, she walked to his desk and gave the instructions in German. My dad did well in math because it is the same in any language. He and Joe went to summer school in 1929 in order to learn English. Being big for his age, when he was bullied by the others calling him “Germany,” it only took a couple times of my dad walloping them that the bullying stopped!

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Andrew Nothum

Dad dropped out of high school his freshman year to help support his large family. He worked at the family grocery store. Although, it was not a very profitable venture for the family, it did feed their family well, and they sold it a few years later.

Andrew married my mom in 1942. He met her at church. Dad was working for Curtis Wright Aircraft and had a draft deferment working at a defense contractor. When that deferment was up, he moved on to McDonnell Aircraft. McDonnell Aircraft later became McDonnell Douglas, and then

Mom'swedding1942

Wedding photo: Andrew and Dorothy Tomich Nothum

in 2000 was purchased by Boeing. He was employed as a foreman until the deferment by McDonnell was up, and he was drafted into the army. He served as a Private 1st Class in the 1892 Engineer Aviation Battalion of the Army Air Corp.

Andrew Nothum Army Pvt

Andrew Nothum

Dad was a conscientious objector and served as a non-combatant medic. That meant he served without carrying a weapon. It was the stance of the church he belonged to in his youth. He spent seven months of basic training in Miami Beach, Florida, where he worked in a medical office and drove an ambulance. He then served in Spokane, Washington, and Riverside, California, and then saw action when he was sent to New Guinea where his unit built airstrips.

When Dad came home from the army he continued working for McDonnell Douglas, and in the early 1950’s he started his own business, Nothum Bros. Construction Company. He began by building bathrooms in parks, built the homes that surround the National Cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, and by the time I was an adult, he was building schools and churches all over the St. Louis area. He also purchased a company from one of his brothers, Emil, who designed and patented a machine that rolled out the seamless gutters that you put on your house. Most people in St. Louis who have seamless gutters on their homes had them manufactured by a Grover Machine Company roll forming gutter machine.

My dad was a shrewd business man. He was tough at work and tough at home. I did not really appreciate how hard he worked until I was older.

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Andrew Nothum 2009

I wanted a dad who cared about my education and the activities I was involved with at school. That was not him. He never attended parent/teacher conferences, looked at a single report card, or attended any activity that I participated in at school. Because he was successful without an education, I don’t think he recognized the importance of education in those days. When I received my Masters of Business Administration degree in 1991, he told me he was proud of me. That was big.

I wanted my dad to be loving and affectionate with my children. That was not him. He was when they were babies, but as they grew older, he grew more distant.

I wanted my dad to call me often just to see how I was. He never did that until after my mom died in 1995. The first time he called without an “agenda” I wasn’t sure about how to take that. I got used to his later years of calling me just to know what was going on. That was nice.

He was tough and he was hard. But he was my dad. I was with him shortly before he died. He outlived my mom by 15 years. We made our peace. He is my dad. I do love him. Forgiving him freed me to love and respond to others at a much greater degree.

Fabulous-Happy-Fathers-Day-WishesHappy Father’s Day to all you dads. Let your children know you love them through thick and thin—even if you don’t like what they are up to at the time. Kids need to hear this over, and over, and over.

If you have the ideal dad, count your blessings. Let him know how much you love and appreciate him for his love for you. For those of you who do not have the ideal dad, remember, he, like the rest of us human beings, is not perfect. They are flawed, some are very flawed. Forgive him. It will make your life so much better. Let him know you love him through thick and thin—even if you don’t like what he is up to at the time. Dads need to hear this also.

If you have a difficult relationship with your dad, or your dad is gone, and you had a difficult relationship with him, work on forgiving him. It makes such a difference in your life when you forgive. It frees you up to live a life without regret. Start today . . . .

Happy Father’s Day!

Love In Any Language

My paternal great grandmother was Magdalena Cherrier Nothum.  She was born April 15, 1867.  She died on my 13th birthday, December 16, 1961.

Great Grandma immigrated from Romania in 1938 when she was 72 years old.  She was IMG_0008deaf, and spoke only German.  She was 82 years old when I was born.  Although there was a language and hearing barrier, as children, we didn’t think anything of it.  She was sweet and kind.  When she saw me, she would call me “Kindie,”  which was pronounced to my young ears as “Kinnty”.  The word “kind” (pronounced with a short “i”) is child in German.  I presume that adding the “y” to the end would mean small child, although I am guessing.

girls with great grandma

Great Grandma with my sisters and me.

When I was a young child, she lived next door at my Grandparent’s home.  I was in second grade when we moved from the north county of St. Louis to Sunset Hills, a suburb in southwest county of St. Louis.  Sometime while we lived at our new home, Great Grandma moved in with her single daughter, Anna, who lived in south St. Louis.

Many of my younger cousins were afraid of her because of her austere looks.  I was never afraid of her.  I just remember feeling loved when I was around her.

When we would visit her. My sisters and I would tell her stories, sing, and dance for her.

She seemed to enjoy it and acted as if she loved every song and story, although she could not hear a thing we said.  I remember one time when we visited, one of my sisters asked her to read us something.  She reached for her German Bible and read us a passage—no idea what it was.  Then she sang a hymn.

We usually visited with her on Sunday afternoons and my sister would show her the comic section from the newspaper.  It was a comic strip called “Grandma.”  We thought she looked just like the grandmother in the comic strip.  She would laugh when we showed her the comic.

Grandma_pg6

Great Grandma Nothum fell and broke her hip.  Back in those days the hospital kept the patient with a broken hip in bed, and did not move them.  She developed pneumonia and passed away on my 13th birthday.  I was so sad.  She was the first person in my world to die.

Despite the hearing and language barrier, love speaks loudly.  I never doubted her love for her family.  I definitely felt it every time I saw her.  I don’t think I’m the only one who felt that way—I have a cousin and a niece who were named after her.

Greatgrandma

What Do Your Scars Look Like?

We all have scars. Some are small, and some of us have large scars. It can be from an accident or a surgery. Many of us have scars you cannot see. They are inside us. They are emotional scars from trauma and past experiences in our lives.

My question for you is what do you do with those scars? Do you hide them? Do you show them for sympathy? Do you beautify them? Or do you show them for what they are, and for what can be shared and learned from them?

I know of several people who have scars. Here is a short list:

1. John O’Leary – I met John a few years ago, and he is one of my heroes. When John was

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John O’Leary

a child, he was playing with fire and gasoline (not a good combination for anyone). It caused an explosion in his family’s garage, threw John across the garage, and burned 99% of his body. He had less that a 1% chance to survive the night. Instead, John survived, with the help of some special people in his life. Today he speaks around the world, has authored a book, and is an inspiration to many who think they cannot do more than they are doing.
2. Joni Eareckson Tada – a swimming accident when a teenager left Joni a quadriplegic. She has published many books sharing her story of healing and redemption, and she also has a worldwide ministry helping the disabled.
3. Dave Pelzer – a survivor of extreme physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his mother. At age twelve, a psychologist said he was not going to make it—his foster mother and social worker said, “Don’t you listen to that trash, because if you can survive all that you did, young man, I expect greatness from you.” Dave is an author of many books on survival of abuse, and a public speaker.

These are just a few examples of hundreds, probably thousands or more well-known people who have overcome adversity in their lives, have written books, and are on a public speaking circuit.

But what about us ordinary people? People who don’t seem to have a dramatic story? Or maybe we do, but don’t recognize it.

I have both physical and emotional scars. The first physical scar I received is when I had my appendix removed. That was in the good old days when they made a six-inch incision on a six-year-old, and the hospital stay was for five days. That scar is still visible. My largest physical scar is when I had exploratory surgery for my tubal pregnancy (See “Lessons Learned At Death’s Door). That scar runs completely down the middle of my torso.

You cannot see my emotional scars. It took years for me to be able to talk about them. One day a friend of mine suggested I read the book, “Your Scars are Beautiful to God: Finding Peace and Purpose in the Hurts of Your Past.”

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How do I tell my story? Mine is of an adult who walked right into the dysfunction. Why would a smart young lady do this?

I married right out of college, and two years later started a family—one child after another, and in a span of six years, I gave birth to four beautiful little boys. There were some incidents in my married life that made me feel unwanted—even abandoned. In my deep feeling of abandonment and rejection, I divorced my husband of 10 years.

As a single mom with four little boys, I had no support system. I had no girlfriends, and I had no men in my life. Family members took interest in my children but not in me. My loneliness was SCREAMING. When I met Pete (name changed to protect the innocent and the guilty), I was at my most vulnerable. Even though I could feel his dysfunction, my loneliness was screaming so loud—he was better than nothing. When he was sober, he could be nice. From that point on, my life dropped, and dropped, and dropped. I put a drunk right smack dab in the middle of my household with my four wonderful boys.

I was abused, and I let him do it. Who else would love me? He would apologize and say how he was there to protect me, and I would believe this. But while I am living this nightmare, my mom is praying for me. She is loving me in whatever way she could, when I felt the rest of the family let me go. I thought they were disappointed with me and didn’t want to have anything to do with me. That would bring me down even more. It made me all the more lonely.  Any dysfunctional person who was nice to me, even if they were taking advantage of me, I allowed to invade my life, cross my boundaries, step on my values, until I could no longer define my values or recognize my boundaries. Then it was anything goes. It is good that I did not have the desire for drugs and alcohol, because, they could have brought me to my death.

It happened one day driving home from work. Coming from downtown St. Louis, driving southwest on Interstate 44, I realized the closer I got to home the more stressed and miserable I became. Isn’t my home supposed to be my safe place? Why did I not want to go home?

Healing was hard, but I finally did it. I sent this man packing. He was not the father of my children. I went to years of counseling, and got involved in a 12-step group for codependency. I worked the 12 steps, and to this day I respect anyone who is truly working those steps to find healing in their life. They were a life-saver for me.

Why am I telling you this? I thought I was the only person going through this. I couldn’t images-1talk to anyone. I was too ashamed that I used bad judgment and what others would think of me. Funny how we worry about that, when more than likely they were thinking that my bad judgment was because I am not ending this dysfunctional relationship. I was afraid. I felt completely rejected by everyone, yet I am afraid of their further rejection. That is how denial works.

Do you have scars from a relationship? Do you have scars from substance abuse? Do you have physical scars like John or Joni? Do you have scars from incest or rape, physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse? Maybe you don’t have that deep of scars. Maybe you have been fired from a job, or you are divorced, or your business didn’t survive, or your house was repossessed, or experienced a loss of a loved one?

God can heal us, but we will still have those scars. So, what do we do with them? Do we,
in our shame, for whatever reason, bury that part of our life like it never happened? Are we still in denial? Or do we come to deal with these issues, and know that there are men and women and children going through those same things today. Do we stay silent, and let them suffer also?

Remember how we suffered? Do we really want others to suffer like that? Did I not heal from these wounds? Do I just ignore that these things happened? Do I knowingly let others in the same circumstances and suffer because they think they are totally alone? Could they be too ashamed to tell their story? Do they understand that “the truth shall set us free?”

When a child is learning to walk, they fall. Sometimes they get hurt, but they get up and try again. Why, as adults, do we stop trying after perceived failures? Why do we think our life is over? What have you learned from your scars? What have I learned from mine?

Jesus redeemed us from all our sins, not just some of them. What is sin? It is the crossdisobedience to God. Okay, so we disobeyed. But, Christ will forgive us. He loved each of us so much that he totally sacrificed his life—his blood poured out after his severe beating and hanging–to redeem us—to forgive us—to love us.

We get stuck not forgiving ourselves or loving ourselves. For years shame would creep up and devour me. I would get a flashback of an occurrence I couldn’t get out of my head. I finally turned to God’s word. Psalm 103:12 states, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” How far is that? One cannot find the other, it’s that far.

I am terrible at memorization of anything, but when the feeling of shame would sweep over me, I would just repeat to myself, “As far as the east is from the west.” I didn’t have to recite the full verse. I knew the ending in my head. When I did this, I remembered that I was punishing myself for something that God has forgiven me for—his sacrifice makes me pure in his eyes. I am his perfect creation. Just as he created in Genesis, God looks at me and says, “This is good.”

What right do I have? Who do I think I am that I cannot forgive myself? God forgives me, Jesus took the beating and death for me, and if I cannot forgive myself, I am not truly accepting the grace that God has given to me by his redemption. What audacity that is for me to think I can hold onto that shame, when the creator of the universe has let it go!

What are your scars? Are you hiding them? Is that person you sit near at work hurting? Or your neighbor? That person next to you at church? Reach out—you will be surprised. Our scars are reminders of the hurt physically or emotionally that has happened in our lives. Make them beautiful again—learn from them—embrace them as part of what has made you the strong person you are today.

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