I can hear flowers growing in the quiet hush outside our bedroom window. My husband’s feet are by my head under the feather tick, because I can’t sleep with my head right next to his.
He breathes too loud and I’m the kind that fights insomnia.
Tonight I’m thinking of all the women I am not, and I’m comparing myself to them, and falling short.
It hurts, this comparing, yet I can’t stop, and I’m pulling up my knees to my chest like a child. Finally I pray a raspy prayer, the desperate kind, “God help me,” and fall into sleep.
I don’t normally dream things that matter, but this night I do. Within my dream, I find my husband sobbing beside me, because doctors had apparently prescribed me too much medication, and “you should have died—but you didn’t,” he says, weeping, and my husband never cries.
And then I find my sons, ages two and four, wading in a lake, all by themselves and I don’t know how they got there, they should have fallen in, they shouldn’t be alive, but they are.
I wake up from that dream to find God, all around me.
Because here’s the thing: I should have died, twice. Once when I was thirteen and sixty pounds and hypothermic, my braces showing through the skin of my cheeks. Nurses shaking their heads wondering why I was still alive, this anorexic preacher’s kid in a green hospital gown.
And again when I was 26 and married for three years, starving myself again and drinking 12 cups of coffee a day and addicted to sleeping pills. Jealousy eating me whole for doctors saying I wouldn’t be able to have kids, and my biggest fear being gaining weight and losing my husband to a skinner woman.
Comparison was literally killing me.
And my husband and I were driving home one day and we were fighting, as we always did. I tried to drive the car into oncoming traffic, and Trent took the wheel and pulled us over the side of the road and that’s when we started over. That’s when we quit our jobs and moved to Korea and started over.
Because sometimes it takes moving to another country to see what is right in front of you.
And then a pastor prayed over us, that we would be able to conceive a son within the year—we’d been trying for a year and a half—and, following a miscarriage, we conceived our eldest son, Aiden, within the year. And two years later, his brother Kasher.
Two boys who shouldn’t have been, save for the grace of God, and I wake from that dream, the morning like a flash of yellow wings outside our curtains.
I walk to the bathroom, and this verse on the calendar on the bathroom wall.
Matthew 6:28, “Why do you worry (about clothes)? See how the lilies of the field grow? They neither labor nor spin, yet not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”
My wrist is tattooed with lilies. I got it tattooed when Mum was dying of brain cancer, because I wanted to remember that I didn’t need to worry, even as I changed her and fed her and read to her.
And now Mum is gloriously alive, after eight years of dying, and the tumor, gone.
It’s a morning of miracles.
“Look at you,” I whisper into the mirror. “The Maker of the Universe is taking care of you.”
And, sister? He’s taking care of you, too. You, whose heart has been wounded, whose soul has been scarred. You, who wonders if anyone sees you—if you’re just another mention in a tweet, just another pin, just another status. You, who compares herself to all the women around you.
Remember Hagar, and how Sarai used her and then banished her from her sight? Hagar ran away and found herself alone in the desert. But God searched for her and found her. He found her, and he called this female slave by name, and he promised to bless her.
And Hagar called him “The God Who Sees Me.”
He sees you, too, friend.
He knows your name.
He knows how many hairs are on your head.
There’s no one like you, sister. You’re one of a kind.
And He wants to bring you home.
My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away THREE copies today.
From the back cover:
“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.
“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”
Click HERE for a free excerpt.
And leave a comment below for a chance to win.
I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and then enter your book receipt info HERE, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir — an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.
ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go toward my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.Leave a Comment