“So, take seriously the story that God has given you to live. It's time to read your own life because your story is the one that could set us all ablaze” — Dan Allender
Okay, it’s time to be transparent. Have you ever asked God, “Why this story for my life? Why this family? Why this abuse? Why this brokenness and pain?”
We all have a story. And for many of us, our stories are difficult — at best.
For example, if you read my story, you would come to know:
I was thrown in the garbage by my dad at four years old ...
I was sexually, physically, emotionally, and verbally abused as a child ...
And just 10 years ago, I hit rock bottom and ended up in rehab for addictions ...
But what if I told you, despite all the above, that I’m learning to be grateful for my story — my complicated, traumatic, yet redeemed life?
If I am honest, there are times that I am not happy with the story God has given me. Yet, I am truly learning to be grateful for it, because the Lord has restored every single bit of my messy life. Psalm 3:3 says that God is the lifter of our head! In other words, He takes away the shame of my story that has kept me down and stuck in the mire, and gently lifts my head with dignity and love.
One of the most valuable lessons I learned during my time of recovery is from Ephesians 2:10 which says, “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
My earthly dad said I was “garbage,” but my heavenly Father says, “I am His masterpiece – I’m the spitting image of Him!”
Think about that for a moment.
You are not defined by the person who abused you ...
You are not defined by the family who hurt you ...
You are not defined by the spouse or the parent who abandoned you ...
You are not defined by your behavior, addictions, or failures ...
You are defined by the very God who made you — and He made you in HIS image. You are God’s masterpiece, a new creation in Christ Jesus.
In the Greek language, the word masterpiece is the word “Poiema” which translated into English means “a thing to be made” — in this context it relates to a poem or to poetry. God is the poet; we are the poem. The Lord takes the ashes of our lives and creates beauty (Isaiah 61:3). He molds us, shapes us, and makes us priceless works of art.
When I first got out of rehab (for addiction), I prayed that God would use my story to bring Him Glory! I knew that only God could take the messiness of my life, the things that the Enemy meant for evil — the trauma of abuse, addictions, sexual brokenness, sin, maladaptive behaviors, fear, anxiety, depression, and more — and bring good out of it all.
God answered my prayers in bigger and better ways than I could have ever dreamed! He turned my mess into a masterpiece. And He took my story and made it a message of hope, grace, mercy, and love.
Listen, no story is too complicated, too broken, or too messy for God.
If God could rescue me from my traumatic and abusive childhood, He can do that for you. If He could set me free of my addictions and maladaptive behaviors, He can set you free too.
I encourage you to give your story to God. Watch what he does with it. Despite everything you have been through, God has a wonderful plan for you, a good future, and solid hope. He didn’t cause that pain, trauma, or abuse that you suffered in your life. But He wants to reclaim your story, and his intervention in your life will be nothing short of miraculous.
The Bible tells us that the Lord is a God who restores what the locusts have eaten and redeems our pain (Joel 2:23, Galatians 3:13-14, Luke 1:68).
As a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist, God has given me the opportunity and privilege to work with others who have gone through some of the same things I have experienced. Just as God came alongside me on my painful journey toward healing, I now come alongside others with the same kindness, grace, and hope that the Lord showed me.
If you wish your story was different but find that you are stuck in the aftermath of the terrible things that have happened in your life, I encourage you to give your story to God and seek professional Christian counseling. God can and does restore our lives, no matter how messy or traumatic. I know this first-hand. Just 10 years ago I couldn’t get out of bed. Now, I look forward to living each day knowing that God is not only with me but working in and through me to help others find a joyful and abundant life.
Friend, your story matters. And I can promise you, that when you give God your story, He will indeed bring beauty out of it and create a masterpiece of your life — a divine work of art.
Dr. Mark M. McNear is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, maintaining a private practice in New Jersey. He has over thirty years of experience in clinical work. A graduate of Northeastern Bible College, New York University, and Oxford Graduate School, Dr. McNear just released his memoir, Finding My Words: A Ruthless Commitment to Healing Gently After Trauma, through Renown Publishing.