I love those moments where God shows up, where something just can’t be coincidence and where I am left assured and reassured that God really is the God who sees me, who knows me and who loves me… That happened this weekend, but it’s going to be a longer kind of post to explain it… if you are curious though, and willing to read awhile, I’m happy to share the story with you.
I have been divorced a lot of years! My divorce did a number on my mind – it made me question my value, created incredible insecurity and gave me lots of windows to question how on earth I could still fit into my traditional, marriage-honouring church family (and how my kids could possibly fit too).
I have always processed better and heard things better when they fit with music, as opposed to straight reading of text, and in those early years of questioning, I seemed to hear much better from really old music and found incredible comfort and reassurance and truth in old hymns. (Seriously, the list of hymns that I could write similar posts about is LONG! Don’t get me started…)
One of the songs that really spoke deeply to me in those really hard early years was “Blessed Assurance” and I don’t think I have sung it in a corporate worship service at all, but thanks to my old hymn book collection and the joy of the internet, I haven’t needed to sing it with anyone else to have it be a core part of my private worship times.
The most meaningful piece of that song to me is the chorus “This is my story, this is my song, praising my saviour all the day long.” Over the years I have realized the most powerful thing I can bring to my church family is just that – MY story and MY song are different than anyone else’s in that place. God has shown me just how beautiful MY story and MY song are because of how he has used them.
I hadn’t sung that song in a good long time, and a Youtube version of it popped up on my facebook newsfeed on Friday – got seriously stuck in my head. I was singing it so loudly in the hotel room that one of my kids asked me to keep it down, and I shared the video on my facebook feed saying, “It’s ALWAYS a Blessed Assurance kind of day.” In my world, that’s true.
The very next morning, I went to register my daughter for the kids program at the Margins Conference we are attending. Now, I think one of the main things that drew me to work so hard, and save so much to scrape it together to be at this conference was the concept of training and studying about doing ministry on the margins – my single mom status having caused me to feel like I’ve been the poster person for ministry on the margins of the church itself in the past few years…. Want to feel like you are marginalized within the church, try being a single mom in ministry, but… I digress…
ANYWAY, we are here in Toronto at a national conference filled quite literally with mostly pastors and church leaders, and I went down to register my youngest daughter for the kids program. Somehow, she was registered for the program using my last name instead of hers, so the name I gave and the name in the system didn’t match. It wasn’t a big deal, it was just an administrative glitch, we dealt with it and moved on, and I wasn’t treated poorly in anyway, yet as I turned to go upstairs, it was like the emotional scab had been disturbed, and the mental questioning began – I wonder if she’s the only one down there with a different name than her mother… am I the only single mom in this whole place… does it make her sad to have a different last name than me … is she going to feel out of place… am I out of place… why are we even here?
Five years ago, that would have rendered me an emotional disaster, but yesterday it just tweaked a nerve which I determined wasn’t worth nursing further. I knew that if I nursed the insecurity, it would grow like a weed, and so I intentionally stopped myself from going there! But, none the less, the nerve had been tweaked!
I shelved all those thoughts, and walked into the conference centre. My tweaked nerve did, perhaps, cause me to notice immediately all the married couples worshiping together… Again, I wasn’t rendered a mess, but I was much more aware of my fit (or perhaps, my lack of fit!)
Ever wonder if God is really speaking? Well, I almost fell off my chair when the band started playing Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine… I’m going to tell you that I believe without a doubt that all of those pieces together weren’t coincidental. When the chorus came up – “this is MY story, this is MY song, praising my saviour all the day long” – God was reminding me that even in this place, I needed to live my own story, and sing my own song.
My story really is about His glory. And, in this world where people really need some good news, the fact that God can take a divorced single mom, and make her life and her family about His glory, well, that actually is good news. And, I perhaps needed a reminder of that.