I Don’t Want to Be That Girl

This morning you can find me in the corner of my Starbucks, cozy with a Venti and the rain dripping down the windows.

It’s on a big street so when I get sick of writing  I watch cars.  Or Twitter. They’ve rearranged the seats in here so I can hole up in the corner in a a soft chair AND have an outlet nearby. Perfection.starbuckscollage

Or later today you might find me in my living room with my almost four-year-old. We will be watching The Berenstain Bears and playing War with playing cards on the sofa.  The dog might be sleeping on the floor next to us.

Maybe you’ll find me washing dishes or tap tap tapping on my laptop getting a blog post ready for the next day.  You might find me texting a friend or returning some emails. I might be editing some photos or helping my second grader with her Lighthouse project for school.

I do all these things, but I am not the sum of what I do. Or what I’ve done.

I know I’ve written about this before but I want to clarify something because a few weeks ago a former reader emailed me and said this:

“I’m sick of hearing you talk about your affair. Get over it, will you?”

And then she promptly unsubscribed from my email feed.

That’s fine. I know people do that. I get the email notifications.

But it actually made me think about something. I don’t want to be the girl who camps in the past, who can’t look forward, who has to use her “problems” or her sin to create her identity today. I don’t want to be that girl.

I don’t want to wear my sin like a badge.

Because I’m not proud of it. I am proud of the grace God has bestowed on me, but I am not proud of my sin. I never will be.

But here’s the thing.

It is part of me. It just is.

Call it a consequence or a catalyst but it will always be a part of me. Just like my childhood, my relationship with my sister, the fact that I didn’t go to my grandfather’s funeral when I was 10, going to church 3 times a week growing up, attending a Christian college, my best friend, Ralna, from 4th grade, throwing away the cookie a little boy baked for me when I was six-years-old.

Those are all parts that make up who I am.

So I’m not going to be the girl that camps in the past (because God knows none of us want to listen to Milli Vanilli and wear Doc Martens again) and I will not wear my sin like a I-Can-Weave-A-Basket patch, sewn on my shirt with the careful, even stitches of my mother.

I will however, let the GRACE of God that was given to a woman wretched and sin-ridden continue to cover me, refresh me and renew me. And if I have to recall that time, if I speak of God’s grace to others and use my own life as an example, if I write God’s story in a book, then I will. If God gives me the honor of talking to some of YOU who have doubts in your marriage, who have gone through the storm or who have visited Hell like I have, then I am truly humbled. I welcome it and pray that God continues to give me wisdom as I talk to you.

But I won’t camp there because in reality, even if I’m in the plush corner at Starbucks, I’m living in the middle of Grace.

What do you think? What is the balance between living in the past and living in Grace?

(If you want to read my story, click here.

If you want to email me, sarah at sarahmarkley dot com.

If you want to twitter or facebook, then clicky clicky.)

Comments

  1. says

    you hit the nail on the head for me today……not camping out on the affair, but like you, i agree that it’s a catalyst. it will NEVER “not be”…..God has used it to grow me, mold my marriage and humble me to a place of sweet brokeness. it’s just a part of who i am now…..who we are as a couple, now. He is in the business of redemption….why not share it? love it.

  2. says

    Psalm 118:17
    I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.

    Isaiah 12:4
    (In that day you will say:) “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

    Psalm 78:4
    We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.

    John 18:37
    “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

  3. says

    I am so with you! I don’t want to be THAT girl, but I definitely want to be that girl that uses all that has happened to bring light, healing, and some God-flavors to those around me that need an encouraging word, someone who has been there, someone on the other side. Because in the end, let everything we do glorify Him and how can I acknowledge all that He has done for me in that situation if I don’t talk about it in a grace-filled way… But, you’re right, it’s not letting it become the badge or the defining identity. All that to say, thank you for sharing your story and your words because I have cherished them in light of my own struggles and God-story.

  4. Leah says

    God is using your story to reach others. Please don’t let someone’s hurt or insecurities challenge or discourage you.
    Found your blog…several months later found out about my own spouse’s infidelity…now experiencing much hurt and pain…but also a very small glimmer of hope and redemption for both…not guaranteed…but maybe possible…one day at a time…but only because of God’s GRACE! Thanks for your courage and openness in sharing your story!

  5. Heather says

    I am a newer reader and enjoy your blog. Keep living (and sharing) an examined life! :-)

    The past is like a rear-view mirror. Glancing to see where we have been is important, but if it is the only place we look while driving, we will collide head-on in the present and not make it safely into the journey to our future.

    If we find ourselves stuck in the past…unable to get our eyes off of it, we need help so that we can live in the present and hope for the future. The experiences of our past journeys mold us, but if we are growing, eventually we won’t be who we were.

    Keep pressing on!

  6. T says

    Sarah, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, and it’s been inspiring to me, and I’ve recommended it to friends when they’ve been going through certain situations. And now I find myself in a situation with my husband, so I come here to see if the Lord has something here for me.

    What you are doing, by humbling yourself and taking ashes and showing how God makes them beautiful, is helping countless others.

  7. says

    I am watching the renewed woman walk in grace and battling with holding onto humility on a daily basis. I see you sharing your heart to a world that won’t always care, but being obedient to share what God has called you to share. I see a woman who used to be afraid, but is battling the fear with confidence in the One who is ordering your steps. I see a woman who knows she is not perfect, but is stiving for perfection(maturity)in Christ.
    I am with that woman in heart and striving to be mature in the Lord through His grace in my life pushing myself to humble myself before Him and realize that I am who I am today because He has taken my mistakes and used them for His glory.
    So wear His grace like a badge and press on! I love you sweet sister. I am proud of who you are becoming in Christ. Missing you like crazy!

  8. Jordan says

    Living in grace is just that… living in the now, moving forward and letting the past be the past.

    Think of when one gets saved, they are a new creation in Christ the old is gone. One doesn’t forget about the old but one it constantly moving forward not trying to move forward walking backwards.

    But then this is your blog you can write about whatever you want, it really is a privlege to read your thoughts.

  9. says

    My dad died last year. He had brain cancer. My mom and I had the opportunity to walk our faith in front of many family and friends. We were able to share where we found the strength to get through this hard time. I was talking to a friend who as a “tragedy story” of her own and I remember saying, “I don’t want cancer to my ‘story.’ I don’t want it to be our ‘thing.'” She’s younger than me, but she’s wiser (I think because of her own story.) She said, “It’s not your whole story. It’s just where this part of your story begins.”

    That was so freeing to me. I don’t like a lot of the pieces of my story. But you know what? This isn’t really my story anyway. It’s His. And how He was able to use even me as one of the characters. Maybe some of the things we’ve been through are what make people “pick up our book,” so to speak, but the Hero of the story is what will keep them reading.

  10. says

    i think living entirely in grace is seeing not only today, but the past with Grace’s eyes. I find myself visiting my hell, the past, but with different eyes than i’ve seen it with before. this time i am wearing Grace filters. i see things clearly. i see God wasn’t absent. i see the grace God had for my parents and for all the generations that went before me. i see each of them broken, and needing His love. i see that the fall affected each one of them, just as it affects me. going back helps me to go forward in truth. there are wounds that need to healed. that need to be made right in my own heart. some are my own wounds. some wounds belonged to my parents, my grandparents, my great grandparents… and i ache for them (the jesus in me aches for them). the jesus in me longs for my future generations… for them to “live in peace.” so i’m looking back, but this time with grace, so i can look forward and extend it.

    i’m working on telling my story, but my fear is that i’ll be “that girl.” that i’ll be misunderstood, and believed to be bitter. i’m not. the real story is of God, and how He makes us victorious. that is a story he wants us to tell again and again.
    We are His voice, His words, His glory… He wants us (you) to tell his stories of grace, and to keep telling it.

  11. says

    Not that you need another voice, but here’s my two cents: The only thing that matters in the end is what you did with HIS SON. How you shared your faith. The stops along the way keep us making the journey toward HIM. Keep up the good work, Sarah. God doesn’t catagorize our sins, yours are no worse than mine or visa-versa. Of the seven things God says are an abomination to Him, a proud look is the first! If it wasn’t for the saving grace of our Savior…keep giving Him the praise and glory for what He has done in your life. You’re sending a sweet smelling savour to Him in worship!

  12. says

    It shows a lot of character that you were able to reflect on what that former reader wrote and see if there is any truth in what she said rather than responding with defensiveness. That being said, OUCH! If she didn’t want to read, she could have signed off quietly rather than getting in a dig. Grace comes through clearly in your blog, and you KNOW countless people have been helped through your testimony.

  13. says

    I didn’t go through and read all the comments so I apologize if I’m repeating at all. But I just wanted to say that sharing our story is just one of the ways that the messes we make or the hurt we’ve been through are redeemed. I believe that wholeheartedly.

    I have been through some stuff. Some bad stuff. And I’ve made some horrible choices in the past. Even though I was a believer, I would not have found my way out, if it wasn’t for people being real about where they’d been. There’s no way. I couldn’t hear from God in the typical sense (couldn’t read my Bible, didn’t want to go to church, etc., etc). I was too mad at Him. But He spoke to me through others (yourself included). And then once He chipped away at me through reading and hearing others stories, I was ready to fall in His arms.

    Being stuck in the past is to not forgive, to stay in sin, to not let Him transform us. Sharing the story, to His glory and to touch others is what it’s all about.

  14. Rachelle says

    Sarah – I am new to your blog. I love, love, love it. I love how real you are and how you share your heart. Thanks for sharing. Bless you sweet friend!

  15. says

    I never, ever feel like you camp out in the past. I always hear you talking about your process, your daily life and how God is working in your heart now. I love you and I respect you. xo

  16. Cynthia says

    Sarah, hopefully that reader wont have to feel the pain and aftermath from an affair and finds herself resubscribing and digging through your posts for a glimpse of comfort and hope. Your story does affect others. We read it for who you are and what you’ve been through because many of us see a part of you in our lives. However, you are wrong about one thing…I do want to listen to Mili Vanilli..brings back fun memories but cant find it on CD….lol!!!

  17. says

    To me, I think it would be different if that was ALL you were… but I think you find the balance of showing it as a part of you and your life… a beautiful life that has been restored.

    I never ever want to be known as the sick girl. I don’t want my friends to think of me as their homebound friend. But it’s a part of who I am, so it’s a part of my story. We are more than the sum of our parts, but our parts matter.

  18. says

    wow.

    i am so sorry for yet another hurtful message showing up in your inbox.

    it is your story to tell. not as a badge, or a crutch, or even your identity. but it is part of your journey and the fabric of your life. so keep sharing. beautifully, authentically, transparently. just as you always do.

  19. Deborah says

    I actually had the same thought…….that you you seem to bring the affair up quite often and this confused me. I wasn’t sure if you were stuck in the past or using it as a life lesson to move forward from. Either way it seems to me that it is now a part of your relationship (from what I read on your blog) and I have to wonder at what point do you learn from new life lessons and tuck this one away. Not to be forgotten but just to truly move forward. If we continue to bring all our sins to the forefront for whatever reason, what place is their in our lives for anything new.

    • Vicki says

      I think that Sarah could totally “tuck this one away” and be justified. But instead of just learning their lessons and moving on, her and her husband have chosen to use it as a means to minister to other people. I’m a single, never-been-married mother and while her story doesn’t mirror my life much at all, even I can benefit from so much of what she writes. What a blessing to be able to read her advice and warnings for a future marriage should God choose to bless me with one. What an even greater ministry for those who have walked in shoes similar to hers! And if one has read much of anything Sarah has written, it is obvious that she doesn’t wear the infidelity related sins proudly nor does she shrink away shamefully. Neither of those would be helpful. She accepts them as scars in the past and just passes on the lessons she learned.
      All this from my little vantage point, not to speak out of turn or claim to know Sarah’s heart or intentions, just some observations :)

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