Exfoliating the Hard Places

Lately, I have met so many women who say they've been hardened by life. It's no wonder. Life is hard. It rubs up against us and leaves a new rough spot with every trial, every heartache, every tribulation, every loss. I've met these women in the isles of the supermarket, behind a counter in the mall, sitting next to me in a coffee shop, and at the sink in a restroom. Young, beautiful women who love life, but are struggling to enjoy it. I am encouraged that each of them, sometimes after involuntary tears, others after long hugs, and one, after a breakdown right there in front of other shoppers, said they were trying not to let the hard places remain. Oh the joy I felt when I saw their eyes moisten with hope! And even though I didn't want to stop the happy tears, I knew exfoliating off their hard places wasn't going to be easy. I know, because I've experienced the softening of my heart. But as difficult as it is in the beginning, when your all good and warmed up in God's grace, His peace passes all the pain and causes you to melt in His goodness.

You certainly don't forget all the hurt, how can you, for it brought you to where you are today. But, somehow, it no longer makes a difference. All that matters is where God brought you to, not where He brought you from. And then you keep wrapping yourself in His grace and goodness until you can make it out of bed. Then out of the house. Then out in the world of scrutinizing eyes and tongues that hiss with judgment and sympathy. Then, out of pain, and into your new normal. I do not believe we can just adjust our attitude and move on. I think it is impossible, without first grieving our losses. Our lost loves. Our lost dreams. Our lost plans. Our lost promises. Our lost futures and the visions we held so dear, believing they were all we had going for us...that we were nothing without them. When we do that; say goodbye to what we hoped for and acknowledge what we are now, then we can move on. We can wake up, look at our new faces in the mirror, hardened eyes and all, and let God make something beautiful out of what's left of us. He always paints a much prettier picture than anything we could have imagined. And it's a good thing too, because I don't believe we'd be happy and satisfied if He left us in our old picture of perfect.