The Story Behind ‘Eighteen Inches’
Eighteen inches . . . A journey of one thousand gifts. . . a journey of inching eighteen inches. . . a journey of learning the power of a moment. . . a journey of seeing the impossible become possible, the ugly transformed into beauty. . . a journey of becoming an enchanted beholder who beholds the Beauty of the One who holds. . .
Eighteen Inches: A Head to Heart Journey is the story of my struggles and the challenges of discovering joy in finding God in the midst of the messiness of life, of seeing God in the midst of the chaos and confusion that often surrounds my life /our daily lives. By sharing my story, it is my hope and prayer that I can be a life-changer for others. My hope is that my story and the parts of it recorded here will bring hope to those walking through their own, even similar, stories. It is my prayer that you won’t find someone who has “it” altogether or has “it” all figured out. I don’t.
What is recorded here is also a story of discovery. In April 2013, a friend gave me the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. As I was reading the book, I was continually drawn to Psalm 27. Eighteen Inches is a journey through Psalm 27 as much as it is a story of learning to give thanks in all things: the good, the bad, the ugly. For me, it was a journey of learning how to focus on the beauty of the One who holds me (Psalm 27) by accepting the challenge Voskamp offers: to find and record one thousand ways God demonstrates His love towards me every day. As I continue to accept the challenge to record the ways God loves me, I continue to learn what it means to “Rejoice in the Lord always . . . .” (Philippians 4:4a) and build a personal relationship with Christ.
As you read my story, you’ll see someone who has failed, fallen flat on my face, messed up, screwed up. There are times when it, theoretically, seems easier to utter a complaint or pitch a fit rather than finding even the seemingly smallest and insignificant demonstration of God’s love towards me. I’m a sinner saved by God’s amazing grace –“. . . – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5) – in constant need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. I don’t have “it” all figured out and I’ve messed up more times than I’d like to admit. Going to church doesn’t make me a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s or Burger King makes you a hamburger.
It is my prayer that you will see the beauty of the One who has “it” all figured out, the One who has “it” altogether woven through out my story, the beauty of the One who holds me. That you will see the beauty of the One who holds you. I pray that you will begin to become an enchanted beholder who says, “Your face, Lord, I will seek” (Psalm 27:8b). As you read, I pray you will see my story become His-tory and see Him and His amazing grace present in every moment, even if it seems as if impossible is the only option.
“It’s a scary thing, a life-changing, paradigm-shifting thing, to honestly ask yourself, ‘Am I moving with God to rescue, restore, and redeem humanity?'” ~ Sarah Bessey
Following the end of apartheid in South Africa (1993) and the Truth Commission Bill being signed into law in July 1995, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established to help facilitate a “truth recovery process” (Krog, vi) in the post-apartheid era. Newly-elected president Nelson Mandela appointed Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the TRC Chairperson. When asked what kind of people he would like to see on the commission, Desmond Tutu responded, “People who once were victims. The most forgiving people I have ever come across are people who have suffered – it is as if suffering has ripped them open to empathy. I am talking about wounded healers. A commissioner should be buttressed by a spiritual life” (Krog, 23). In other words, Tutu wanted those who had walked through great suffering yet chose to ask God to help them forgive their tormentors. Instead of making them bitter, through the power of forgiveness they had been set free to empathize and learn from the pain and suffering and were in a place to become “wounded healers”.
To become a “wounded healer”, I must be willing to be vulnerable and share my story. For me, there’s been so much rejection that the thought of risking more rejection is a risk I’d rather not take. I need to be open to asking myself what does God want to do with my pain? How does He want to use my pain to and the empathy created through and what I’ve learned from the pain and struggles to share His love and light with others?
As I write, writing becomes a mode of learning. It provides a way to make sense of, make meaning of the events, characters, and situations. It provides a place for my heart to heal, a place where my heart can begin the journey towards becoming a “wounded healer”. And as my heart heals, perhaps it becomes a stepping stone to greater things. As C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”