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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Empty and Full (06/04/09)

TITLE: Broken Journey
By Sheree Hanna


I was depressed beyond words when we slipped the canoe into the river that fall day. I tried to pretend that everything was okay, but it wasnít. In fact, looking back at that day now, I realize that I was angry at life and at God.

I didnít want to be pregnant again. We had four kids already and I was just beginning to find parts of myself after losing so many of them. Now suddenly, I felt violated, forced against my will to enter another long span of exhausting days and nights. I felt like God had pinned me to the floor and triumphed in my powerlessness against Him. Then I felt guilty and ashamed of feeling that way as a woman of faith. After all, a real Christian woman would be thankful for another child, wouldnít she?

Somehow I got through the next eight months. I endured three months of unbelievable fatigue and my stomach churning, trying desperately to keep up with the laundry, dishes, and meals. Later, I remember sitting on the edge of the bed sobbing because I hurt all over. Then finally, a month before my fortieth birthday, our son was born. Life did go on, but something inside me died. Since that day, my life has become a journey to rediscover what I lost, and who I am as a redeemed woman in Christ.

Turning to the scriptures, I canít help thinking of Naomi on her journey back to Moab. She had gone out full only to come back empty and broken. She had buried her husband and then her two sons. When she and Ruth returned home with their few belongings, she was a shell of the woman who had left Israel twelve years before. The layered grief that had shrouded her life had caused the light to vanish from her once hopeful eyes. Cruelly stripped of those she had loved, she told her friends not to call her by her name any longer. ďCall me Mara instead,Ē she insisted, ďfor the Lord has dealt bitterly with me.Ē

Ever been there? Or do you find yourself dismissing Naomiís pain because you know how the story ends? Naomi could not see the coming redemption. She knew only that her hope had been shattered. Her tapestry did not make any more sense from the underside than ours do to us. Just as I had felt Godís betrayal in becoming pregnant against my will, Naomi could not feel Godís love in light of her loss. She felt robbed, faithless and ashamed. And the same thing happens to us when tragedy strikes, a child dies, or we experience an unexpected loss. We stagger beneath the weight of the perceived betrayal of the One we trusted most. Suddenly, feelings and messages from our old childhood wounds begin to throb inside hearts we didnít know were still broken. There seems to be no mercy for us. Instead, we feel separated from the God we are supposed to love.

During those times, well meaning friends often say things that only serve to deepen our pain. What they fail to understand is that only those who have traveled a similar road can be there for us. They have felt the anguish. They know that only the Lord can heal the wounds. They know what we need most is someone to sit quietly through the darkness with us until first rays of morning appear on the horizon.

Restoration has been a long process for me. Iíve raged, cried and wrestled with my feelings and with my God. Through it all, I have come to see how my previous experiences with my family drastically colored my perception of my Father in heaven. My pain has led me to repeatedly put the pieces of my broken heart in His hands and allow Him to lovingly put them together again.

What will you do with your brokenness, when the joy you once felt blows away with the sandy dust of a desert grave? Will you dare to pour out your soul honestly to the Father, even when it appears His hand is against you? Will you sit with your friend, though her faith is in tatters and her life lies in tear-stained ruins? Will you be the one willing to show up when all others who name the name of Christ have mumbled their platitudes and gone home? I pray that you will, my friend. I pray that you will.

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This article has been read 283 times
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Member Date
diana kay06/13/09
Gosh very powerful feelings described here. I found it quite painful to read particularly the part where the writer feels that God has somehow violated her. And I had questions not answered that left me dissatisfied. What happened in the canoe? wea she raped|? I was still puzzling over this when the writer teurned to naomi. I think I would have likes more description of the first story (well maybe) rather than adding in another that didnt quite fit. just my view.
Janice Giesbrecht06/13/09
I can totally relate to the MC's anguish of feeling that God has been unfaithful, that God has violated her trust in Him. You described that pain so well, and also the tough journey back, with God, to a place of joy and hope.

I think the story could be even more powerful if you stayed with the MC's journey instead of bringing in Naomi - that siderailed the emotions of the piece.

Thanks for acknowledging this very real part of a Christian's life.
Sharon Kane06/14/09
You know you are writing well when you get strong reactions from other readers :)
Well done for being so brutally honest. It is not easy to admit to feeling betrayed by God, yet I'm sure it is a commoner emotion than most Christians dare admit. Also not to be happy to be pregnant is kind of 'not kosher', but it is a very common experience. What makes us different from unbelievers is what we DO with these emotions. And you did the right thing; sought the road back to His side.

I struggled with the image of being violated by God, BUT if that is genuinely how strongly you felt then no one has the right to quibble with you writing it. Just do be aware of what effect you will have on your readers.

Lastly, unlike the other readers, I liked the way you brought Naomi into the tale. Yes, you left unanswered questions about your own story, BUT you showed us where you found YOUR answers. And the answers are always, ultimately, in God's Word.
Well done, and thanks for having the courage to write like this.
Marita Vandertogt06/14/09
Wow - I'm not sure how to respond except to say that I appreciate your honesty in how you reacted to God - the title is so appropriate - I think one that a lot of us can relate to. Thanks for sharing - especially the Naomi story - a reminder that when we're going through rough times, others have too, and are. Thanks too for the reminder of how we need to be with each other during those times. Kudos
Mildred Sheldon06/14/09
This was so powerful. Whoa! The title was perfect. Broken dreams and the ugliness of life. I wanted more because it did leave me wondering. Thanks for sharing the ups and down of life.
Dee Yoder 06/15/09
Let me say from the start
that I find this story refreshing and not shocking at all! I fully understand the feelings you described and have no problem admitting that I have felt helpless against the power of the Lord's will sometimes in my own life. But that only means that God has a path for me that my puny human eyes can't see the full end of! And it IS a long journey back to fully feeling trust and faith. When my late husband went to heaven, and I was "left" with our 4 year-old son, I had a real love/dislike (I won't say hate-it wasn't that)relationship with God during those dark days of grieving. Know what I felt from God? Acceptance--and understanding and an endless loving wooing of my spirit close to His so He could comfort me. I railed against that comfort sometimes, but Oh! How it healed my soul! Your story is perfect just the way it is.