Friday, January 25, 2008

Sharing Tattoos

This morning I was pondering (in reference to yesterday's lunch) why we as women tend not to focus on the easy and good and happy things that have happened in our lives, but the difficult things, when we get to know each other and compare notes. It's a little like sailors comparing tattoos, we wear our trials like a badge and find commonality that links us. You can see this when it comes to birth stories; seems like invariably one doesn't even finish hers when another chimes in and (unfortunately) usually one-ups her in one or more ways. Sometimes it's hard to tell which one was more difficult, they all have such various elements. (Don't ever let these get started with a pregnant woman around, they can get pretty frightening!) I suppose if I met someone who'd never had trials, I'd need to focus on all the easy things instead. Somehow it seems like it wouldn't bind us as well, and I'm not sure why.
Perhaps the going through of trials shows us that God has enabled us to be stronger than we thought we could be (and of course on our own we wouldn't show up strong at all). The trials make us better, by strengthening our faith and reliance on God, and knowing He really doesn't ever fail us. As unbelievers, people do get through the trials somehow, but it isn't in victory. It may be in a resigned way, not knowing that God has a reason in it that we might know Him better; or especially, more usually, a bitter way. Bitterness shows that we haven't had God at the center of it, but ourselves, and we expect that it should have been better for us. I would much rather go through these things with Him; in fact I remember in the loss of a pregnancy resolving that I would watch for His hand through the whole process. The great thing I found was that He was all over it; I felt that He was closer than if He'd had skin. One of my favorite Bible verses, strangely enough, is, "It was good that I be afflicted, that I might learn Your decrees." This verse has gotten me through these many things (if you're wondering what, I've blogged about most of them, so you could read about them by going through the links, because they do help me learn about God and His great love) and I am strengthened.
So when women share the hard things they've gone through in life, if they're believers, it's iron sharpening iron, and we are encouraged for the next round. We see that God has gotten them through it, and He will do the same for us. Looking back in my life, it's the difficulties that have made me what I am today, and whatever that is, feeble enough though it is, it's much better than I was 25 years ago. God is faithful to provide for His people; He teaches us through these things so we can be a help to those around us.

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