About the Author

Amy is a homeschooling mom of 3 who began blogging in 2007. She is a worshiper at heart who seeks to encourage others through her own life experiences.

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  1. Beautiful. I love the thought of creating a new bench, when those hard relationships become overwhelming. We can believe that God, in due time, will draw those we’ve fallen out of community with to the new bench.

  2. I love this post. I know first hand what it feels like to apologize, ask for forgiveness and be rejected, but I also know our God is a loving and merciful God. If we keep believing and praying miracles do happen, maybe not in the way you want or in the time you want, but in His.

    • Yes, His timing is perfect. I think back on the changes He’s brought me through and the fight I put up as my flesh wanted its own way. But when we submit, He brings healing and restoration…all in His timing…and it’s all beautiful.

  3. I have learned to see the broken and moss grown bench and to have the courage to leave it and build another one. It hasn’t been easy, especially admitting my wrongs. The beautiful thing is that I found a new community….. one that requires a big couch! I thank all who continue to encourage me and in turn have encouraged others.

  4. Beautifully put! I too have had a broken friendship, returned and apologized but was rejected but I did it for myself to find healing so in a sense exactly what was supposed to happen did. Turning to God to heal the wound and bring new friendships that are godly is exactly what I needed! He always comes through and always in his timing!

  5. So wonderful Amy! I’ve recently realized how isolated I let myself become instead of reaching out for friendships. When I realized it I started pushing back. I don’t want to live life that way, I want strong relationships and friendships with the people in my life. Thank you for showing us we need to trust and build new benches!

    • It’s too easy to isolate sometimes. The enemy makes it look appealing when people hurt us.
      I love that you started pushing back and pursued community, rather than doing life alone. I’m praying that God will continue to bless you! {And I hope to see you at another hangout sometime. πŸ™‚ }

  6. This spoke to me with such intensity this morning. Thank you for reminding me that we have an Awesome God who will restore, heal, forgive. I have been under much scrutiny lately and have been hurt and closed the door. It does get lonely in there. I know in his time that he will show me the way.
    Peace to you Amy!

    • It’s hard to stay in community when people hurt. Pain tends to puff up our pride and keep us from making things right. The hard work of community is in forgiveness and admitting our own faults, dusting off the welcome mat and keeping the door open.
      But God needs us to be the body of Christ, right? On our own, we’re not half as effective as we are with the other members of His body.
      Prayers for you, Mary Beth. <3

  7. Thank you for this Amy! It is most difficult when the bench beyond repair involves family members, and to invite them back on the bench is not possible because of protection issues….when restoration is not possible apart from God’s intervention. .

    • Yes, I hear that. I had someone who was like family hurt me deeply. Because of what transpired, I can not trust a conversation with him and would be putting myself in danger to seek that out. But God still restored that situation as I gave it over to him. He helped me forgive in a safe way and gave me a heart that prays for this man’s salvation.
      This isn’t something that came overnight for me. I actually worked through it in a church program. Praying for your story, Crystal. ((hugs))

  8. Amy. This spoke personally to me in my situation. Both in community & family. My life abruptly changed 2 years ago. I thank God for (in) courage & all you ladies. This has been my interaction with wonderful blessed women of God & I’ve needed this so much. New season in life. Isolation is not good & difficult to move forward. With God all things are possible. Believing Gods Best❀
    God Bless You.

  9. Amy, your analogy of a bench in our garden is beautiful. It is very difficult for those of us who have experienced so much pain to take down the walls that we built to protect us. Even with a new bench in our garden, the walls must come down before the bench can be shared. Thank you for reminding us that God never wants us to live in lonely isolation. I think you opened a tiny crack in my wall.

    • Oh, Susi. Tears of joy for you. I’m praying that you see the light through that tiny crack and that God leads your hands to break down the wall further. Keep pursuing Him. Fix your eyes on Him and trust with all your heart. He’ll show you the way.

  10. Ah yes – those secret gardens can feel so safe – especially when we feel Jesus is with us… but those benches get lonely and community is His idea! I love that He gave you gentle words to shed light to your friend – and that you were willing! Praying for her along with you for restoration… and for open gates and full benches with Community that the Lord draws to her!

  11. What do you do when you feel you are trapped under that broken bench and no one, not even God, hears your cries for help and guidance; no one seems to see your hand reaching out from under the rubble of that broken bench. What do you do when you do not know how or what to pray anymore, yet know that you need to? When it is impossible to pull yourself out of isolation, but you hear no response to your prayers and pleas? When it feels as though you will be “stuck” under that rubble for a life time. When all you desire is God’s guidance and support, and at the same time faith is hard to grasp. Attempts to let go of asking” Why me God?” seem to be met with more heartache and struggle. When you know all that you have endured has a purpose, yet (at almost 30 with 5 children) you have no idea who, when, where, what, how, or why. ……Pray for me please.

    • Lord, would you please come in all of your gentleness and sweep over Dessa with your love and grace today. Please lord put people in her path that will be the hands and feet of that love and grace. Show her the depths of your love for her. May it not be about the struggles of the past, but about the love in the moment and the hope in the future. Thank you Lord for loving Dessa. Remember Psalm 23:6: “Surely your goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life.”

    • Dessa,
      Sweet sister. I don’t know you personally, but your words brought me running here. Love, let’s begin here…His word says that when we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit will pray on our behalf “with groanings too deep for words” {Rom. 8:26 ESV} . When all we have are hoarse whispers of the name “Jesus”, He hears and He IS with you always.
      Earlier this year, I felt as though I had been thrown in a pit. I was surrounded with darkness in my life and I felt desperate. Our situations may be worlds apart from each other. Our story lines may not hold any resemblance, but I can say with all confidence that when I called out to Him in the middle of my sobbing, He came. And when I asked Him to help me out of that pit, He did…but it was a process and He is still at work in me.
      Reaching out the way you have is so very brave and is just what you need to do. Yes, Dessa, I will pray for you.
      Dear Lord,
      For peace. Please calm the storm and send sisters around her to help clear the rubble. Help her hear your whispers of truth, “Loved. Accepted. Made in the image of God. Held. Forgiven. Needed and wanted.”
      Silence the voice of hopelessness and help her heart remember the hope we have in You.
      I thank you for your faithfulness. You will heal. You will restore. You will make rivers in the desert. {Isaiah 43:18-20}
      Amen.

      Dessa, this community will be here for you and I will too. You’re not alone.

    • You are in my prayers sweet women…
      I wish I had something special to say, to help heal your brokenness, but I what I can do is petition the throne room of our gracious God for you, and one day when we meet in a better place, I will hear you tell of your majestic journey in life for His glory.
      Blessings and prayers to you, Dessa
      Suzanne

  12. You have put to words what so few have understood about me. This place, this secret garden is a lonely place to be. It can be so overwhelming to find the door, never mind open it. Sometimes I would think I’ve got my God, I’m good. But it is terribly lonely. I miss community. Sadly, it’s easier to meet and get to know people that don’t know God than those that do. I’m trying to find the door, but sometimes it feels easier to be in the garden.
    Do you have any real life, practical ways to get out of that place? I love the metaphors, but sometimes I wonder how it looks in real life.

  13. Wow. I live in a city. There is always someone. Close by. When you see a person you can tell if they are real or not but on the internet, wow, so hard. We live lives that are intertwined in human contact daily. Real people meeting up with real people. It’s nice. And real. All the time. The thing is in a city with so many, if it does not work out, there’s always ever someone else. Not into cyber. Cyber is equivalent to walls.
    Think about it.

    • Karyn, I see your point. It’s very easy to isolate on the internet. At the same time, I think it’s more about the heart of someone and less about the way they choose to reach out. I believe that God works in all things and because of that, He is able to connect lives online as well as in person. He’s brought me community both ways but every life, every story will look different.
      Yes, We need those (in)RL faces. That’s what I love about this online community – they encourage the balance of both worlds, all for His glory.

  14. Yes, Becky. I understand what it is to struggle with drawing a connection between a blog post and real life. Wanting to open up and begin to live in community is very brave because it says that you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone. {You’ve got this because He’s with you!}
    Some different ideas that come to mind?
    The online community here is great! The small groups are a safe place and just ooze all of God’s grace.
    If you tweet, you can join the #fmfparty tonight as we join with Lisa-Jo Baker to chit chat and then take on a 5 minute writing challenge based on a word she gives us. It’s at 9pm EST every Thurs. and we get the prompt at 10pm. Even if you just observe or just jump into the conversation, there’s no judgement there. Just a beautiful group of women who love to talk and sometimes laugh until we cry. {Try it! I’ll be there!}
    Find a way to get involved in your church or just be open to conversation with someone while you’re there for service.
    A good friend of mine reached out to her mommy friends and started a book club that has been a blessing to everyone who joined up.
    See? There’s 1,000 little ways to reach out. Ask God how you can be intentional in community and listen to His leadings…even if it sounds crazy or like something too big for you. The truth? That’s what brought me here with these words today.
    I’m praying for you! Thank you for trusting me with that. ((hugs))

  15. This post made me cry… it’s where I am sitting right now. I have made attempts to remedy this situation, but it doesn’t change. We absolutely need the community, I know, but when the wounds go so deep and trying to fix it just seem to create deeper wounds it’s hard to want to keep trying.

    • Sometimes we get so focused on that one person and on the wounds that come from that relationship. We’re a broken people in a broken world and I’m so sorry you’ve been hurt.
      I’m praying for your healing heart right now, Karen. Seek His face. Pursue Him and trust that He will guide your steps toward community.

  16. I’ve been hurt more than once (who hasn’t) and find myself scared to seek community because of that rejection. But God is good and I know he wants us to build relationships not just with Him but with others. He recently restored a dear friendship and I am so grateful.

    • Elle, That’s wonderful to hear! It’s so great when He can help us mend fences. I’m praying God brings you to the community you can trust…even on a bad day. People will never be 100% trustworthy as we all have our faults, but God in us…we can trust and befriend that. πŸ™‚

  17. Ah, this is wonderful. I am in a place of rebuilding community myself; I recognize so much of this!

    Oddly, it was a deliberate season of withdrawal into that walled garden along with Jesus that led me to realize how high the *other* walls were that I had built between myself and other people. God can dwell richly even in our isolation–for me, he used that season to give me strength and love and turned it into a place from which I could venture forth to begin rebuilding.

    Now, I would even say, while he is helping me take down the other walls, he’s also built a gate to the innermost garden, so I can invite people in.

  18. well said. well said!!! Been there, and I see friends there. A lot of benches are lonely in the special needs world (and the rest of the world). It’s something I keep thinking about, how pain of any kind pulls focus in and isolates.

    • “how pain of any kind pulls focus in and isolates.” Miriam, there is so much truth to that. Each of us needs to discover how God means to connect us to the rest of the body and each of us needs to lay down our desires and expectations. The enemy would want us to sit alone but I’m so glad we serve a God bigger than the lies we believe and a God who made us for community.

  19. Your post brought me back decades to my childhood to a book called the Secret Garden. Your description sounds nearly identical to the garden in that book. I so totally agree to how important community is. I moved to Delaware 18 months ago after living over 50 years in NJ. How different today is for building community. I of course have been able to build wonderful friendships through my church but most of my other encounters are from community I have online – although some of them have lived close enough to meet and get together with regularly. How funny it is how things change…when we are really young we choose girlfirends – and go thru that boys are icky! phase. Then in the teen years you have your girlfirends but you are so excited to find ‘that boy’. And then as we get older we realize how truly important our girlfriends are and how truly important it is to have girlfriends.

    • Yes, Paula! Being a woman means we need other women around us to encourage us and help us through life. God designed us to need each other.
      That Secret Garden book you speak of? That was the picture I was trying to convey because it was something I knew would resonate with my friend. πŸ™‚

  20. Awesome post. I too have isolated myself during this crisis. I feel i better reach out again.

  21. Oh my I was there about one year ago. The LORD is so faithful though. Together He and I have built a new bench and HE has lead me to new friends. One of which is my soul sister in the Art of Painting. I have found a friend that has had some of the same wounds of community. She knows the path back. I am so Thankful for her.

  22. Perfect timing. I’ve been wrestling with things in my heart this time. “endings can be beautiful beginnings.” I didn’t understand it at first how God would end something in my life. And now, it’s becoming more clear to me. Thank you.

    • Step 1 of the journey is simply seeking Him. I know and believe that He knows what you need right there, right where you are. He doesn’t want to see any one of us isolated. Praying for you, Marinalva.

  23. What an encouraging post to all those out there struggling with these issues. I pray many relationships will be restored, it is so not worth it to not get over things! And isolation never works either. Protecting ourselves only hurts ourselves.

  24. I pray your friend’s new bench will be filled with grace-filled friends!
    For me, I am tired of bench rebuilding…they always get hacked to pieces along with my heart and the shards left behind cut so deep. My failure at maintaining the bench envelops me with an oppressive darkness…and I remain alone.

  25. Muchalone,
    I’m praying for you. God doesn’t intend us to be alone and sometimes the hard work of community can seem like too much or just plain painful. I hear you on that.
    Continue to pursue God and let Him lead you through this. ((hugs))

  26. I find it often times hard to maintain friendships. I don’t have much in common with a lot of people I know.

    When I do build friendships, I try to maintain them and be a good and faithful person on the bench of life. I try to always have a listening ear and an open heart to hear them out & just be there for them.