Pretty Bows and Ashes

“God, I put a real pretty bow on it.”
Those are the words I prayed to the Lord this past Sunday. Like a little kid trying to express how I’ve made the best of a yucky situation. It’s ugly God, but I put a real pretty bow on it. It wasn’t my fault that I got this gift but I put a real pretty bow on it. And I wrapped it in lots and lots and lots of paper. 
But it’s a real pretty bow.
I didn’t want anyone to see the present I got from my childhood. I didn’t want them to see how it still affects me. After all, I’m a grown up now. Those things should have been dealt with or forgotten by now, right? So if I wrap it up real pretty they won’t be able to see the ugly. People won’t see the hurt I’m ashamed to have born for so long.
The problem with that is that sometimes (oftentimes) the ugly creeps through the paper. And it messes with me. It messes with my emotions. It distorts my perception of my relationships. It distorts the way I see the ones I love the most. 
Instead of believing the best I become certain of the worst. Instead of trusting I’m suspicious. Instead of loving I guard myself from the people I need the most. Instead of being who I am purposed to be I behave like the very person I’m afraid of becoming.
All because of the present I got when I was a little girl. The people that ought to have been there weren’t; the people who should have stood guard over me fell asleep; the ones who should have been diligent were lazy. And it absolutely positively stinks to admit that to anyone. To admit that it still bothers me. That one of my motivations in life is to not be like my parents.
So I put some more paper on it. And I put a real pretty bow on it. It’s real pretty.
See? At least it’s pretty, right?
Except it’s not. It hurts to hold it. Yet I’m afraid to let it go. Afraid to let it be unwrapped.
If I let it go: then who am I? What do I have left of my parents? And who exactly can I trust with this thing I’ve treated as my inheritance? What if somehow I find out that I was mistreated because there is something wrong with me? What if I’m not worth what God says I am?
This is where the rubber meets the road and I go all out in my trust of the Lord. This is where all that leaning on Jesus turns into complete and utter trust that He won’t leave me hanging. He won’t leave me with abandonment and neglect as my inheritance. He will not forsake me. He will not be lazy concerning me. And Jesus says I’m worth every step He made on that walk to Calvary. 
So I trust that He will give me beauty for ashes. I trust that He’s trustworthy. 
“… He will give a crown of beauty for ashes…” Isaiah 61:3
Until that day; until I see the beauty in the midst of the rubble wrapped in a pretty bow; I’m going to keep moving forward. Trusting. Praying. Hoping. And enjoying my life.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Hebrews 12:12 NIV
My knees may be weak. My arms may be feeble. But they won’t always be. The more I walk on my legs and use my arms the more strength and power I’ll gain. I’ll walk farther and love more than I could with a box of rubble holding me back. The more I become like Jesus the less I will be like the person I’ve been terrified of turning out to be. 
I choose to walk on. 
I’m not going to put any more bows on ashes. I won’t wrap it up any longer. I’m not going to attempt to make a curse a blessing any longer. 
I refuse to keep holding myself captive.
But I’ll keep the bows as I kick the ashes off my feet!
Is there anything you’ve been covering up, trying to make the best of a cruddy situation? Can I encourage you to be brave enough to stop covering up and start being real with yourself? Be real with God. Be real with your friends. And know that’s you are more than enough. You don’t have to be like anyone else and on the flip side you don’t have to not be like them either. Just be you: beautiful, real, full of purpose, and worth so much more than you know.

4 thoughts on “Pretty Bows and Ashes

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