Last year February before the pandemic hit, I finished a three-day personal retreat at a conference center along the beach. I spent time praying and journaling on the shore to prepare my heart for writing my new book, Sweet Like Jasmine, about how God makes beauty out of our brokenness. I had packed my bags in the car to go home when I decided to take one last walk.
I saw a woman sitting by herself in a wheelchair looking at the ocean, and as I passed by, I paused, turned to her, and said, “How beautiful you look soaking in the ocean! May I ask what brings you here?”
The woman started crying, tears filling up her gentle blue eyes and rolling down her cheeks. She swallowed to collect herself, struggling to get her words out, inhaling and exhaling each word.
I nodded, relaxed my shoulders, and sat down to show her I wasn’t going anywhere.
“I get . . . very . . . upset . . . when . . . I . . . feel . . . emotional,” she replied with great effort.
“I understand,” I said, pausing to let my patience reassure her. I silently prayed, Touch her with Your peace, Jesus. Help me to listen.
“Most people give up waiting for me to talk,” she continued. “They don’t like that I keep crying.” She spoke each word, flinching with difficulty.
“It’s hard to talk if you feel overwhelmed,” I said to her. “It’s okay. Pain is hard for people to be comfortable with.”
As she wiped her tears, I offered, “I love the ocean. The ocean is never in a rush. We can just rest.”
A smile broke through. I gently asked, “Has it always been difficult to share?”
My new friend shared her story. She had lupus, which debilitated her motor skills and impacted her speech.
When I asked about her faith, she said church friends judged her lack of faith and blamed her for not praying enough. It broke my heart to hear that. I affirmed her, “God is so loving, but I’m sorry you didn’t receive the care you deserved.”
I shared about my own journey of healing and how God helped me to stop hiding my story. I told her the parts of my story that I felt were flawed, but I also talked about how God mended my heart with His love and how He taught me embrace my true worth just as I am.
“May I pray for you?” I asked gently.
“Yes,” she whispered. I placed my hand on hers. We prayed, then hugged. My friend looked radiant.
It might seem easier to hide our flaws, but God makes beauty out of brokenness when we are willing to be honest and share our stories. When we do, others can feel safe to also share their stories, and God brings us close to one another, even allowing strangers to become friends. Through our stories, we offer the gift of rest and acceptance to each other.
God takes the stories we’ve lived through to show others that He is faithful to carry us through our hard times. Alone and isolated, we stay invisible, but when we open our hearts and share, we won’t be lonely anymore. We will be loved, and we will be made stronger.
Friend, is God calling you to step out of your comfort zone and share more of yourself? If you feel afraid, let me offer you this encouragement:
God values and treasures the beautiful parts of you that others have overlooked. He makes beauty out of brokenness. Everything you endure can become a sheltering tree of peace to others, so don’t be afraid to share. Your story is worthy to be told.
But now, says the Lord—
the one who created you, Jacob,
the one who formed you, Israel:
Don’t fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1 (CEB)
Bonnie, you’re so very sweet. What a blessing you were to our sweet sister! I pray God blessing on her and that she’ll find a place to worship where she may find some new friends. This is what Christian sisterhood should look like! You’ve come such a long way, Bonnie! I’m so proud of you! Your new book sounds amazing! I’ll look for it! ♡
Beth Williams says
That meeting was a God wink. He knew that woman needed someone to love on her & you were His instrument. Thank you for heeding His command. You made that woman’s day. Going to pray for her & ask God to show her a great Christian church where people will love her for who she is-a child of Almighty God! We all have a testimony to share. Mine is about dealing with aging parents & their health/psych issues for about 10+ years. Now I live out my testimony at work (ICU Step down clerical in hospital). Easily empathize with patients & their families. Help however I can, smile & offer to pray for them. You will often find me cheering patients on when they get walk down the hall-I may be their only “family”.
God did a work on me during my trials. Now I feel like a beautiful swan ready to praise Jesus & live out my testimony for all to see.
P.S. Just prayed for that woman. Asked God to give her a place to worship that would love on her like my church would.
This devotional was such an inspiration for me. I know first hand of autoimmune disease and how debilitating it can be. How isolated one can feel and how others can make you feel like your faith is lower than need me. But God is faithful, just and ever present. I know him as that Healer and Great Shepherd. Bonnie its a blessing to hear and see how God used you to impact. I am a MS Survivor and Warrior. Just the past two years God healed me and I’m MS free! My sister is a Lupus Warrior! I pray daily for God’s healing and peace for her soul. Our mother passed 37 years ago while we were youths with Sarcoids. God has been our All. I truly love and was inspired and blessed by your devotional. Thanks for sharing and I will be looking for your book!
connie ker says
Your story was before the pandemic hit and we were forced to be alone and isolated, distancing from other people in our lives. With the vaccines, hopefully our existence will be turning into living again. We need to keep praying for others, with others, and being thankful, remembering what God has done for us. Share your story even if you have become introverted this lost year.
Ada N Orie says
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of sisterhood. I believe God will give us these moments to minster to one another or to be ministered to if we allow him. This devotional is a reminder and confirmation to me that Jesus paid the price for everything that would hinder us to be free and minster to others. Thank you for being a blessing to others. I have been sitting on finishing my book for almost two years because there are shameful parts of my story but God is reminding me he has redeemed me and my story. Thank you and may God extend the reach of your book. God bless you!
Beautifully said Ada!
Write on! May God bless you and your story!
What a beautiful encouragement and reminder this morning not only of the Lords love and care for us, but that we also are called to love one another as He loved us. Thank you for sharing some of your story with us. May the Lord bless and keep you, and give you peace!
Thank you for sharing Bonnie. We continue to pray for our sister in the wheelchair. God bless you.
Cherlyn Hager says
God recently gave me another chance at life when one of His precious children, Katie gave me her kidney. Katie saved my life, a real hero. I knew God was in my life, I knew He heard my prayers but the three years of waiting for a match for the kidney was excruciating and I didn’t understand the wait…… but then, Katie came along and I realized her journey had to happen for God to connect the two of us and give us BOTH life! We were both very broken and He healed two people in one miracle!
Thank you for this devotion it warmed my heart!
Bonnie, what a beautiful story! I hope you’ve continued to stay in touch with this lonely gal. So often (before the pandemic) we bump into people and share a snippet of our time, but that person might need more constant support or a listening ear. It was so good that you recognized this woman’s need and responded. Thank you for showing God’s grace in such a lovely way.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Bonnie I am so pleased you could be a friend to that woman that day. That is where the Church is in so many way lacking. Some are good and caring some not. People just cry out for someone to just give them a hug. I know in the today the way things are we might not be allowed to give a hug. But just show you care. By stopping to say Hello. The Church is not the big fancy building. We the Followers of Jesus are the true Church. If we truly care. We will go the extra mile to help someone in need. Stop and listen to someone with a need. Like you that lady that day that her Church should have been there for her but we’re not. They shouldn’t have said what they did to her. As words can be very hurtful. We if want to show are true followers of Jesus we do what is right. We don’t say things that hurt. No matter who the person is. We do what Jesus would want us to do that is love them like he would. Show a loving ear to them. Be a friend to them. If we look at this way. If Jesus wanted he could say to any of us. I don’t think your doing this or this right or enough and hurt your feelings. But he doesn’t. He saying and does everything in love. Yes there are times as follower of Jesus he might have to correct us for doing wrong. But that is ok. As if he didn’t we never learn not to that thing that is wrong in Jesus eyes again. But Jesus does it in love. Because he loves us and he does it for our own good. I know someone she is not that nor am I have not that many friends in fact only one I see now and then. My other two live 86 miles away from me. But this other person. When I see her she know people don’t really like her and don’t treat her nicely at times. She finds that hard. So when I see her I treat her as Jesus would want me to treat her. I be nice to her. I being the Church to her the caring person that Jesus wanted the Church to be. People when they go to Church go home are so most them wrapped up in their own world’s. They have not time to care for someone outside their own world’s. As long as they are ok. No one else matters. That is sad. That is not how Jesus wanted the church to be. He wants it to be today a place where you the followers of Jesus love people of all walks of life. Like you to and speak to someone who you feel could do with a friendly face and we chat. Look were landed you got a new friend. You got to Pray for her. Here her story of how the people but Church should have been kinder to her and not said what they said. Jesus will bless you for doing that. Going out and being the friend she needed that day. Not judged by people in her own Church. I don’t Judge the person who is not popular like me. I love her in the Lord as she is saved. I will not be afraid to be seen with her or talk to her. I do it on to Jesus. If I was not saved I still talked to her. That just me. If she asks me to pray for he I do. Thank you for the lovely reading keep you all incourage in my prayer. Dawn Ferguson-Little
Lynne Molyneaux says
I love your heart, Dawn!
Camille Regholec says
That bible verse telling me that God calls me by me and that I am His always being tears of joy to my eyes. To know He loves me that much. Is more wonderful than my words can express. Thank you for the reminder
Beautiful Bonnie. Your gift of listening to this woman is Jesus in action. It can be hard to share our stories, as I know God’s grace but not so sure other people will gracefully accept my past. I’ll continue to pray into this and your post is encouraging to me. Will your book be on other platforms to pre-order such as Amazon Canada in the near future? I hope so!
Dana D Tramba says
Beautiful message. I teach memoir classes, “Save your Life One Story at a Time.” I will quote you when I talk about writing difficult stories because most of them do not want to relive that story to write it.
“God makes beauty out of brokenness when we are willing, to be honest, and share our stories. When we do, others can feel safe to share their stories.”
Am going to order your new book too. I have Whispers of Rest and Finding Spiritual Whitespace. The spiritual whitespace really happened to me during this pandemic. It was a wonderful time to change from a busy Martha to the spirit of Mary.
Love your sweet spirit.
This was extradinailly beautiful Bonnie, you are a blessing, thank-you.
Blessings to all,
Leslie Rye says
Reminds me of the song The Broken Beautiful by Ellie Holcomb
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Bonnie, thank you so much for sharing your faith and your heart. I find your words of “He makes beauty out of brokenness.” so comforting. It makes me think of the Japanese art of kintsugi where the broken edges of porcelain, or pottery are repaired with gold-thereby highlighting the new beauty and strength. I feel the same way about my mother at 12 and her world literally burning from the atomic bombing, but she found a strength within her even though she lost all she loved. She wanted to find beauty again. Your words always inspire me. Wishing you and your loved ones stay well and safe.
Janis Van Keuren says
Thank you, Bonnie, for writing this touching story. I will be sharing a vulnerable part of my story with an acquaintance who is going through a similar time in her life.
Reading your story has encouraged me to not hold back some critical points in my story that I might have been more reluctant to share.
Pamela Burke says
Thank you for having such a big heart. God has taken the co-occuring disorders (mental health issues and substance abuse) that I struggle with and shown me how I can help others who struggle with the same difficulties that I have. I’ve gone back to college so that I can help others in the mental health field. Tuesday, April 20th was my 9 year sobriety anniversary. God has blessed me so very much! I’m also thinking about writing a memoir and/or starting a blog.
Thank you for sharing, Bonnie! I will be watching for your book release.
It is wonderful that you took the time to speak into this dear women’s heart.
Pamela, so happy for your 9-year sobriety! May God continue to bless you and keep you. Amen!
Thank you. So moving. Thank you for sharing and for being an example. I prayed for the lady at the beach, and for you too. I remember the other article you wrote about the pink jacket and pants you received as a child. Thank you for sharing your life lessons with us! God bless you both.