I’m still glowing after the Broken and Beautiful Retreat in Palo Alto, California. Peninsula Bible Church asked for stories from my book His Majesty in Brokenness which were fun for me to tell bringing laughter and tears to the 150 women in attendance. What amazed us all was how our God could take a little girl born without legs, grow her a set of sturdy spiritual limbs, strong enough to carry others to His nail-scarred feet. Miraculously, feet and stumps were set a dancin’ to the wonderful songs and music of Tapestry worship band and lifelong wounds were set a healin’.
Truly Broken met Beautiful through a freeing foot/stump washing ceremony followed later by a long line of women handing over their pain and shame at the foot of the cross to a Savior who longs to set us free.
It was all good. In fact for me it was a fifty on a 1 to 10 scale. But ultimately for me the highlight came while witnessing a beauty this world knows nothing of. Shortly before the Friday evening session began, I watched an octogenarian stumble as her tennis shoes caught on the carpeted floor. Timber. She was down. (Yes, I remembered well the embarrassment of many falls during my fifty years walking on seven sets of artificial limbs.)
Was she hurt? Was she mad at her decreased mobility? She was able to twist to a sitting position, though she couldn’t get up. She explained she had peripheral neuropathy. She wasn’t hurt, nor was she upset. In fact she blessed my socks off as she proceeded to offer up a prayer for my upcoming talks and for God’s blessing on the women of all ages coming through the door.
More than ever before, this retreat convinced me that we are all broken. And I now see that the invisible disabilities can be much harder than the visible. The shame of years in prison. Unvoiced pain from a dysfunctional family. Unfulfilled marriages. Deceased children and spouses. Abuse and Addictions galore. Eating disorders. Bad decisions that haunt us.
In community we can and did come out of hiding, exposed our brokenness, handing it over to God. May we live in hope – expecting that in the bowels of life’s suffering, we will be met by His without-condemnation embrace, the only one that can truly satisfy. But there’s more. May the condemner’s voice be forever silenced as we hear the Lover of our Soul whisper: I’m wild about you.
Here are some photos of the fun we had:
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like information about the Broken and Beautiful women’s retreat. Maybe you could bring it to your church!
JUDY SQUIER has authored His Majesty in Brokenness, Living in the Names of God and the Living in the Names Bible Study. Husband David and she have three adult daughters, three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren. Never did Mr. and Mrs. Squier dream that their long-awaited golden wedding anniversary would coincide with David’s memorial service. Judy resides in southern Oregon, alone, yet not alone. Thanks to the Good Shepherd!