Last week was a well-timed kickoff of my online virtual Zoom study for Discovering Jesus…
My friend, Sharon Jaynes, is a bestselling author of numerous books. She is the founder of the popular devotional, Girlfriends in God, and she is also my kindred heart sister in Christ. We were both raised in volatile and chaotic homes with dysfunction fueled by alcohol abuse. Sharon is also my courageous, overcoming and compassionate friend. This last week, I stayed in her home and when asked which of her very many bestselling books was her favorite, she pointed to her most recent, “When You Don’t Like Your Story.” And I can see why it is also becoming the favorite book to many of us! Within the pages are both compassion and empowerment and a whole lot of God’s amazing grace, redemption and restoration. It as if the words are dipped in God’s love and penned with His hope.
Like the sweet tea this southern belle enjoys, her words will be a refreshment to YOUR soul! Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of When You Don’t Like Your Story :
HOPE IN THE HIDING PLACE
I grew up in eastern North Carolina in a nice neighborhood and a nice house. But much of what went on behind the door of our ranch-style house was anything but nice.
My father didn’t drink every day, but when he did drink, he got drunk. When he got drunk, he grew violent. Yelling and violent outbursts were common occurrences in our home. My parents fought both verbally and physically in front of my brother and me, and we lived much of our lives in fear. I saw many things a little girl should never see and heard words a little girl should never hear. I didn’t know what some of the words meant, but I knew how they made me feel.
On many nights, I went to bed, pulled up the covers around my quivering chin, and prayed I would quickly fall asleep to escape the yelling in the next room. On my dresser, I had a musical jewelry box with a ballerina that popped up when the lid opened. Many nights, I tiptoed over to the jewelry box, turned the wind-up key in the back, and opened the lid in hopes the tinkling music would drown out the fighting in the next room.
The builders who constructed our house had neglected to put a wall on the far end of my closet, between where my closet stopped and my brother’s closet began. Some nights, I hid in that secret passageway. Other nights, I crawled through the tunnel to hide in my brother’s room. The worst nights were when my momma ran into my room and yelled at Daddy, “Do it in front of her! I want her to see you do it!” My mom wanted me to hate my dad, and this was her way of exposing the monster within. The next morning, I’d wake up to find my mom covered with cuts and bruises, the furniture scattered like Tinkertoys, and my dad crying and begging forgiveness, swearing it would never happen again. But it always did.
I felt that I was always in the way, a poor excuse for a daughter, and a burden to be tolerated rather than a child to be loved. If your own parents don’t love you, then who in the world would? I concluded I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, or good enough—just not enough, period. Insecurity, inadequacy, and inferiority dogged me, shouting accusations and heaping condemnation on my little-girl soul.
Now that I’m an adult, I understand that the story of my life isn’t a stand-alone volume but one in a series. My parents both had their own stories. Mom was the middle child in a slew of twelve kids raised on a farm in one of the poorest counties of North Carolina. My father’s dad died when he was six. Dad and his five siblings were raised by a single mom on the heels of the Depression. They had their own childhood disappointments, struggles, and heartaches scribbled across the pages of their lives. And when these two teenagers married, their hardscrabble stories got only harder as they tried to make a life together. I’m sure they loved me the best they knew how, but neither of them knew how to make a family work.
That’s where our family story began, but God didn’t leave us in that sorry state. I can’t wait to tell you what happened. For now, know that there are some parts of my story I spent many years desperately wishing I could rip from the narrative. But here’s what I’ve discovered: the parts of my story I wish had been edited out have become the ones God has highlighted as his most amazing work in my life.
We cannot delete, discard, or amend the past, but we can repurpose and reclaim the present. And when we do, we get something better than we ever imagined—a masterful work of God’s redemption and grace to share with the world, a world that needs to hear the story that only we can tell.
Find more about When You Don’t Like Your Story (and download a sample chapter) click here. Sign up for Girlfriends in God, watch a video of Sharon sharing about the book, or learn all the places to follow Sharon Jaynes, go here.