I am a man who shouldn’t be writing his story—the son of a coal miner whose hardscrabble family included a grandfather with a predilection for blowing up houses and a mother whose mission seemed focused on making her son into the most fearful man on the planet. Little wonder I ended up in a psychiatric hospital before the age of forty.
For my dad the family legacy was one of disdain, ridicule, abuse, and regret. For me it was a truckload of fear that followed me no matter where I went or what I accomplished.
As a young boy growing up in the Appalachian coalfields of southwestern Pennsylvania, I had no idea that there could be better ways to live. Like other families in the area, mine was poor but not dirt poor, and there was no shame in it, at least not in the economic sense. Despite its craziness, I loved my family, regardless of the ways it wounded me.
But what does a man whose life was shaped by an often affectionate, sometimes hilarious, and always dysfunctional family have to talk about? I believe that when we zero in on another’s life, we are able to see our own story better. Most significantly, we are able to see the transformative journey from broken to beloved that begins whenever we put our hand into God’s hand and allow him to take us wherever we need to go. Just as the psalmist says in Psalm 66, I want to tell you what God did for me.
Transformation didn’t come because I did everything right, was healed every time I prayed, or because God used me. It happened and still happens as I surrender to God’s love day by day. That’s the path we are each called to take. As we stay on the journey, we’ll look back with wonder, recognizing that God has used our brokenness to help us understand just how beloved we are.
I have come to understand that it is only by looking back that we can begin to move forward on the healing path. Two things are certain: I’m still on the journey, and there is always room for one more.
How has God used the brokenness of your life to help you understand how loved you are? If you were to tell your story, what are three things you would say God has done for you?