From my front row seat

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Standard for Measuring True Grit


For some reason my great-grandmother was always called "Kay" when that was actually her last name.  She was tiny, practically deaf, a widow for thirty years before she died at the age of 93 – and she was tough as nails. 

Kay always wore a handmade bonnet when she worked outside, and as a child I found her collection of colorful bonnets endlessly fascinating.  She made a child-sized bonnet for me to wear, which I proudly wore when I was with her but quickly hid in my closet when I got home and it suddenly lost its appeal.  Somehow everything at her home was different, almost like I had entered another world and time.  Kay remained in another era and never embraced modern conveniences, including indoor plumbing.

Mornings at Kay’s house were sacred.  She always started her day way before daybreak and silently prepared her breakfast, which was the same every day:  one piece of dark toast topped with a fried egg cooked in bacon grease, a slice of tomato, and a cup of strong coffee.  She never said a word as she went through this morning ritual and except for the fact she placed an identical plate in front of me, there was no indication she even noticed I was there.

Kay had grey hair that hung way below her waist, which she wore in a tightly wound braid on the back of her head.  There was only one occasion that I saw her hair down and when I remarked that she looked like a witch I was quickly reprimanded by my grandmother and never said it again.   It was merely an observation…

Kay’s routine was the same every day.  After her morning breakfast routine we wouldn’t see her again until lunch.  She checked on the cows, she worked in her massive vegetable garden, she tended to her chickens, or she occasionally worked in the family sawmill. 

One day Kay did not show up for lunch.  This had never happened.  So off we went on a massive search, afraid she may have had a heart attack or gotten hurt.  The search became more and more frantic until we finally returned to the house to discover something I would never forget.

When we walked in, Kay was sitting with her left arm stretched across the kitchen table, exposing a nasty, open gash that ran almost the length of her forearm.  She was steadily sewing up her own arm with a large needle and black thread.  Except for the fact her hand was in a tight fist, there was no indication that this was anything more than just a necessary task that had to be done in order to fix a problem.  At that moment she became the standard by which to measure all strong and determined women.

It’s no wonder that I’m reminded of this often as I watch the amazing women of Blue Monarch.  I imagine that they are repairing their own wounds in much the same way Kay did, and it takes nothing less than that same level of true grit and determination to heal - with each and every agonizing stitch. 

It’s painful to take an honest look at yourself and see how your choices may have hurt your children and the ones you love, especially when you can no longer numb the pain with drugs.  It’s sometimes unbearable to see the struggles your children are having because you were not giving them the care they so desperately needed.  It hurts to process memories of atrocities you have endured at the hands of people you should have been able to trust.  And it’s even harder to come to a point of true forgiveness that will eventually set you free from the pain.

And it’s difficult beyond words to embrace an entirely new way of life in order to reach the point of freedom you want so badly that it almost takes your breath away. 

However, each step is like one more stitch toward healing and wholeness.  I have watched this process many, many times - and yet God’s healing power still amazes me!  Sometimes I think just one of these experiences could keep someone in therapy the rest of their lives.  But the women we serve throw themselves at the feet of Jesus and completely rely on Him to help them overcome their addictions, heal their broken hearts, and restore their relationships with their children who were also hurting.  They count on Him for true freedom. 

So the truth is, I have met lots and lots of “Kays” at Blue Monarch.  I tell people all the time they are the most courageous women I have ever known.  But when I picture them sitting at the table with their wounded arms stretched across the table, stitching up one painful hurt after another, I also know that Jesus is sitting at the table with them - holding their hand with each and every stitch.   And that’s why they are healed.   

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3