Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tales of beauty from the rubbish heap: When you question your calling

For more than four years, this blog has been my space of storytelling. Where I come and lay out the trail of crumbs from Then to Now, evidence of beauty emerging from what I like to call the rubbish heap of life. But it's always been in the back of my mind, how I want this space to be more. I long for it to be a home for your stories, too, somehow, not only in the comments section. I envision this grand, limitless book where we're all contributing pages of our redemption stories-in-process, witnesses to the pain and the glory, the searching and the finding. And I'm so happy, dear friends, to tell you that I'm starting something new this month of May. I've invited four writer friends to contribute stories each week of the month, their tales of beauty from the rubbish heap. I hope it's only the beginning of a bigger story being told here on this blog.

And now, it's such an honor for me to introduce the first storyteller, Karmen Madan. If you visit her writing home, you'll find one of the most honest, soul-searching voices I've read. She writes of her healing journey with raw clarity, courage and the eyes of one who sees beyond what is right before her, who is honest about her struggles in this trust walk with God that she is on.  She paints her journey vividly on canvas as well. Please welcome her here and, if you resonate with her story, show her some love in the comments section.

* * * * * 

Karmen's painting

Four years ago come August I started a blog.  I wasn't sure who was going to read it, if anyone, but I knew I needed to write.  My heart was locked behind a tower and writing was the crack in the wall through which it could find a means of escape.

I named my blog, Praise the Lord and Pass the Calgon.  Praise the Lord, because faith is a large part of who I am. Pass the Calgon, because the thing I wanted most of all was to be taken away... Calgon, take me away!... mostly from myself.

The more I wrote the more I let my heart slip through the crack in my wall.  I shared hard things.  I wrote of depression, abuse, self-harm, and counseling.  Always keeping the hope of faith intermingled with the hard of life.

And then I fell.  I fell hard.  And by fell, I mean like running straight towards a cliff and jumping off of it without a parachute.  

I fell from faith, "You made me screwed up! I suck, therefore I think you kind of suck and if I am sinning it is Your fault for making me this way!"  

I fell from hope.  "After 34 years of trying I am done trying!"

I fell into all the lies I had ever told myself and had been told.  "No one is ever going to love you - this is your purpose (sin) might as well fulfill it." 

I free fell down that cliff of anger and lies for 3 months before I hit the rock hard realization of the nothingness that it held.  And when I hit the nothingness, I felt like I was nothing.

It has been a three year climb out of the anger and the lies.  As I began my climb back up I felt God leading me to be transparent.  Even more transparent than I had already been. In November of 2011 I wrote:

"I feel God calling me to be transparent, because without it their is darkness 
and in darkness shame and evil thrive. Transparency is not pretty. 
It is painful. It is soul wrenching. It is admitting to both the good and the bad,
 the beautiful and the ugly, it is being fully human. It is putting yourself on the altar of other peoples judgement. It becomes their choice then to slay you 
or accept you and you have to be willing to accept both. 
(Wow, God, are you sure you want transparency from me? 
I am not sure I can take it.)"

And then I only wrote two posts in all of 2012.   Who was I to write?  I was a piss poor example of Christ and His love.  Any credibility or usefulness that I may have had prior to my fall had been left on that cliff top when I jumped, hadn't it?  I had willingly jumped and now I was covered in sins debris.  God had called me to transparency and I went silent. I locked myself up tight in my prison of shame and guilt, a prison of silence.

I knew that God had forgiven me, but I wasn't sure how to forgive myself.  In my self imposed prison not only did I quit writing, but I quit listening for God. I was too afraid of what He might have to say, because I knew it would not be, "Well done my good and faithful servant."  I was also still not over the anger that sent me jumping off of the cliff in the first place.     

In January I waded back into the blogging waters. I was feeling the call to write again, and so I wrote:

"There will always be people who will judge and condemn 
and not hear the hurt behind the bravery or who will look to add shame 
to the already shamed. Those people might hear the words, but they are deaf
 to the cries from the heart of the one being brave. Those people will always exist.
 They are the ones who keep people from bravery, from being able to share. 
But there are others too. They are the ones who desperately need to hear those
 heart cries of the brave, so that their own heart might be able to cry out with them 
and in the process both can begin to heal. And then there are those whose hearts
 don’t necessarily cry in the same way as the brave ones, but they need 
to hear those words so that they might understand and help other crying 
hearts heal. It is for those who cry and for those who need to understand 
that we should be brave; that I should be brave. Give me grace Lord to still love 
the ones who judge and condemn and give me the strength to 
not live in their condemnation."

It is often in my writing that He speaks the loudest and I can hear Him the clearest.  It was time for me to start listening to Him again - directly, because He was still calling me to write and to transparency. 

In this last year, I have tried my best to comply.  I was beginning to question the why of it though.  Why write God, when only a handful of people even see it?  Why share when It feels much too transparent?  Who is it helping? Am I mis-hearing? Am I merely being self serving in the sharing?  Can people even see You through my struggling?

After several such questions and some painfully transparent posts I went to bed with this prayer on my lips: "Lord, it isn't about the numbers.  It isn't about my popularity or my "talent".  Lord, make it about You.  I don't know why you keep asking me to write, but I know You are calling me to continue, so if it is only for one God, if it is only one who needs to hear this journey and know that they are not alone, I will keep going.

The next morning was Easter.

Before I had even climbed out of bed I checked my phone and there was an email from a reader I do not know.  She was telling me how much my sharing had meant to her and how much it was helping her in her own journey.

It was Easter morning and He had heard my prayers the night before of doubt and of "why's" and He awoke me with hope and with validation.

He had been crucified with my broken, He had laid in the grave with my despair, and He brings me restoration with His resurrection.  

He is using my brokenness and despair to bring me into restoration.  Through that restoring process He is using me to not only share my own story, but ultimately to share His story.

I want to encourage you, all of my fellow bloggers (both little and big) - it isn't about the page clicks or the comments.  It is about using our stories to share His story and helping to set other captives free.  Your words, your heart, your stories of broken and of healing, they are all important.  They all matter! Your words, they matter, keep trusting!

If God can painstakingly clean off this debris covered girl and use me He can surely use you as well.  We can change the world.

"Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples"  
Matthew 28:19

Our blogs are more than just a place to fill with words, they are our mission field and we really do make a difference.


  1. Karmen, what a tale you have to tell. Thank you for the courage it takes to step out ... and speak up ... even amidst all the resistance (both without and within). Love how you found trust to be integral in your journey. I really get that, friend.

    Amber, I love this! What a great idea to invite others into your space!

    1. Her story is powerful, isn't it? And part of that is in how she communicates it in a way that resonates with each one of us, different threads of human struggle - and the trust piece - YES.

      I'm always moved by your presence and words here, friend. Thank you.

    2. Thank you Kelli. Finding trust is a daily search, but God is so good to provide me with what I need to keep going, to keep searching.

  2. Karmen, thank you for telling this part of your story here. I've long read your comments at Amber's and though I could sense what a deep, seeking soul you are. Thank you for your bravery to be transparent. It's so painful at times, and I have also wondered why God would want this from me, and who really cares, and my numbers don't look like what I'm doing is worth it, and I so fear the judgment, too. I'm grateful to say that, like you, I am learning new rhythms of grace (not performance) and everyday death to life resurrection, and God is working through our stories to do that for us, while also bringing glory to himself, which is really the point. So humbling.
    And Amber, so glad you've hosted Karmen here...and that you're doing this series! It's going to be great, dear friend. What a wonderful idea.

  3. YAY! Such a lovely, well-written post. So proud of your journey and so THANKFUL it connected me to you. AMEN!

  4. Thank you Karmen! I am very glad as well. This journey is just beginning.......I am so excited to see where it leads.