But piece by piece He collected me
Up off the ground where you abandoned things
Piece by piece He filled the holes
That you burned in me at six years old
And you know
He never walks away
He never asks for money
He takes care of me
He loves me
Piece by piece He restored my faith
That a man can be kind and a Father should be great
“Piece by Piece” – Kelly Clarkson
Since the beginning of 2020, I’ve been attending Faith RXD every Friday night which is a God inspired and God filled evening exercising and discussing God’s Word. It is open to anyone, no matter where you are in faith and where you are physically. Last Friday, we were discussing God’s discipline and the truth that if He didn’t care about us, He wouldn’t care when we are doing things that He knows are very bad for us (and that we know too even if we’ve buried that guilt deep down). But instead, the Creator of the universe and the Creator of each of us, cares so deeply that he never leaves us whether we feel His presence or not and doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks it too. He incarnated as a human being, to be God with us, to show us how to live, how to love, how to serve, how to pray, how to obey, how to surrender to God and if that all weren’t enough to show His deep love for every human being, He then died and rose again. Most people would agree, a believer or not, that dying for another is the ultimate sacrifice and act of unconditional love any person could ever show. Jesus not only died for all of us, but by rising again on the 3rd day, sent us the clear message that He has overcome death – which is the sin that leads us to spiritual death and distance from God – saving us from our eternal fate of being separated from the Creator when our physical bodies die and our souls move onto eternity.
During this discussion, my friend Kelly shared how God’s love reminded her of Kintsugi, the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with gold – taking all of the broken pieces which render the pottery useless, disconnected and ugly and turning it into something even more beautiful than the original piece. And this is exactly what God does too. In my life, both of my own doing and due to external circumstances, I can truthfully say before Christ, I was shattered into a million pieces, scattered all over the place. I was so broken by the age of 30, that I believed there was no hope left in my life, the future was bleak and that despite reading numerous self-help books and everything else I tried to fix myself with, I would always be broken, beyond repair, unlovable. And of course this was the case – I was trying to piece myself together using counterfeit gold and doing it all on my own. It looked good from the outside but it wasn’t the real deal and as soon as the smallest disappointment or unmet need/expectation came along, I broke all over again but each time breaking into even more pieces. But God was there, even when I didn’t see or know it, picking up the pieces, waiting for me to come back to Him. He was patiently waiting for me to put all of my pieces into His hands and trust that He, the Potter, could not only be trusted to hold all of my pieces but promises to use every single piece to make me a new creation in Christ, reshaping my former life of sin and destruction, into a beautiful piece mended with gold, shaped by God’s own hands, to fulfill my true purpose on earth which is to glorify the Potter with my life. As Paul the Apostle clearly states, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”- Philippians 1:6. (If you want to hear my testimony to learn more about my broken path and how God straightened it to bring me to Him, you can watch that here).
To circle back to the song lyrics up top, I heard this raw, heart wrenching song Kelly Clarkson wrote about her dad when she was pregnant with her daughter. Her dad had walked out when she was younger and she always sought after his love and validation, to value her, to make her feel worth something. While I relate to this song deeply on a very personal level, when I handed my life over the Jesus, I began to let go of the need to seek validation and sense of worth from other people. Especially from the people who’ve hurt me so much. I have learned through Christ’s love, that my worth does not depend on how well or poorly people treat me, or if they reciprocate my love or not. Seeking validation from others has lead to a lot of messed up relationships with myself, friends, family, lovers, and even in the work place. By keeping my eyes on Jesus and reminding myself constantly that at the end of this life, the only thing that matters is that I lived for Him, the very one who lived and died for me, who left the 99 sheep to come after me – the sheep that was running very far and fast from the One who loves me more than any person ever could come close to loving me. Jesus has, in such a short time, restored my faith that the Father is in fact great, that He loves me unconditionally, that He can be trusted, confided in, is dependable and will never leave me.
God has been working on me hard since surrendering to Him and it certainly has not been the most pleasant at all times. But I do know that He is shaping me into something more beautiful, with the purpose of his handiwork displaying His love back to others, filling my broken cracks with gold, and shining out His love and grace through me. In January, after 19 years of dating on my own terms, God was asking me if I was finally ready to put my dating life into his hands- like for real this time. I’ve put a lot of my life into His hands yet with dating, I wasn’t ready to let go of control and doing it my way, even though my way clearly wasn’t working. At the first session of Faith RXD of 2020, the volunteer trainer that evening caught my eye. And not only because he’s undeniably handsome, with mesmerizing blue eyes and the kindest smile I’ve ever seen, but because there was this incredible peace I felt being around him, and this certainty that this was a real man of God, one who is a doer of the Word even though I had never met or talk to him before. I asked my friend about him the following week to learn a bit more and of course, see if he was single. But I was very careful to not start building up hope, dreams, expectations, day dreaming, etc. and stay present, which meant staying close to God. The following Friday, we didn’t end up in the same workout group, discussion group, or same booth at the diner after. Of course I was hoping we would’ve ended up near each other that night, to get to know him more but God had His own, better plan for our first conversation. And thank God for that because God’s ways are infinitely better than my ways, which come from a place of doubt, fear and anxiety whereas His ways come from a place of pure love and knowing what is best for me. As everyone was dispersing that night, me and Keith ended up leaving in the same direction and had our first conversation. He walked me to the parking garage, a true gentleman, and that was it. Afterwards, even though no numbers were exchanged and I had no way to know if he was even interested in me, I decided to finally hand over my love life to God. As a tangible act of faith to show Him this, I deleted my eHarmony and Christian Mingle accounts completely, even though there was still 2 months of paid subscription on both. Whether Keith was going to be in my life or not, it didn’t matter. I was telling God, OK my love life is all yours now. Whether God has someone for me or not, the only thing that matters is that I have God, and He has me. That Jesus is always enough, that he is always my everything, and that anyone else God blesses me with in my life, is a bonus. Several weeks later, much has happened since that night including Keith asking for my number, picking me up for our first date where we talked for hours over milkshakes (almond milk for me, of course) and many dates since then. Since the first time we talked, God has been and always will be the center of our relationship and we are both fiercely following after Jesus individually as well as together. I want Keith to love Jesus more than he loves me, and I know without a doubt that he wants the same for me. Each other’s purity, eternal life, sanctification (becoming more like Christ) and salvation is more important than our sinful human desires to feel validated and unconditionally loved by other broken humans – only Jesus can do that.
Throughout this dating experience so far, it is better than anything I could ever have dreamed of or forced into place. God is love so who else better to write our love stories? Jesus is the very best matchmaker! There has been a peace and deep trust since the beginning with Keith because I know Jesus is holding my heart and holding Keith’s too so there’s nothing to have anxiety over – no matter what happens, Jesus is the love of our lives and as long as we keep our eyes fixed on Him, everything will be more than OK. We started a 30 day devotional together and to quote from the Day 1 devotional, “When we devote ourselves to understanding, knowing, and following God, other things tend to fall into place.” This couldn’t be any more true and I praise God for what an amazing Father he is, blessing me with Keith, blessing all of my broken roads and filling all the cracks with gold, that lead me to him. It was all worth it. I am growing even closer to God through this, depending on Him and His guidance more than ever. This time I am doing things God’s way and it’s truly wonderful. The question I constantly ask myself every single day whether it’s regarding dating, jobs, friendships, decisions to be made, etc., is this – “Is this drawing me closer to God or further from God”? If it’s the latter, then I work with God to determine how to release whatever it is with love. If it’s the former, then I praise God for it and for drawing me closer to Him, growing even more in love and trust with God.
Whether I have 1 day or 65 years with Keith, I am praising God for every moment. And for the first time in my life, and especially the first time since my Mom died, I am fully allowing myself to feel the joy completely. Prior to this, I would feel guilty for feeling happy meanwhile my Mom was gone from this earth or feeling deep sorrow for joys in my life because I couldn’t share them with her. Or not allowing myself to really feel the joy for fear that any moment, the other shoe would drop and that joy would be stolen. Since coming to Christ, I don’t live that way anymore because my joy is rooted in Jesus and He’s not going anywhere. The other shoe will always drop while living on earth but it’s OK now, because I can turn to God and He will carry the weight of my burdens.
On this day in particular, I want to thank God for bringing Keith into this world. For running after Keith relentlessly, protecting him and being there to pick him and all of his broken pieces up. For saving him and making him a new creation in Christ. I want to dedicate the “Piece by Piece” song not only to God, for restoring my faith in who the Father is and how the Father should and does love, but also to Keith, for restoring my faith that a man of God can truly be great, kind, caring and selfless. Happy Birthday Keith ❤