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December 9, 2013

Odd Woman In

God has a plan for everyone, even broken and hurting people like me (and you)



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Most of the last two decades of my life have been spent as the “odd woman out”: out of love, out of hope, and out of control. As the “odd” one, I found myself either ignored by others or noticed, but regardless, I found pain waiting for me. Thankfully, I did not remain “out.” God’s mercy, hope, and love found me, leading me to become the “odd woman in.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines odd as “different from what is usual or expected.” As a 9-year-old little girl, I certainly was odd and so was my life. Having lost my father, and my mother being emotionally unavailable, my 9-year-old heart and mind were left to figure out life and love on their own. While friends played with Barbie dolls or spent an afternoon playing dress-up, I spent the day creating ways to have people notice and love me—even my friends’ parents. This pursuit continued throughout my life. In fact, this pursuit became a way of life for me.

Although I became a Christian in the eighth grade and was called to ministry at 16, my mother and I had a very strained relationship. Our time together was worse than any war. We said words that were as devastating as any bomb could be. I finally graduated high school and went to college at a Christian university to pursue my life in ministry. While at college, I found some healing for myself, but more important, my mother and I found healing for our relationship.

My senior year in college, God decided to end our feuding. I woke up one morning longing to be at home with my mother. I could not understand the urge and tried to fight it, but God won. I went home and for the first time, my mother and I talked about our hurt and, for the first time since my father’s death, talked about his death. I am so thankful God intervened so strongly. Two years after that moment, I found myself the odd woman out again as my mother succumbed to cancer. At 24 I had no one.

Desperate for love and hope, I clung to anyone who entered my life. Unfortunately, I entered my first abusive marriage, followed by divorce and a second destructive marriage and divorce. After my second divorce, I turned my back on God. To me, I was the odd one God never wanted. I convinced myself that if there were a God, he wouldn’t allow me to face such loneliness, rejection, and heartache. Life without him certainly would prove to be better, or so I thought.

I lived a life void of God for two years. In my world, I was finally “in.” I had everything I wanted and could not have cared less about what God or anyone else thought. I felt free. Then it happened again. I entered another abusive relationship.

This relationship left me more emotionally and mentally bankrupt than the others. I woke one morning finally realizing I had two options with my life: Either I was going to die or I could live. It was my choice. I knew where I could find life, but would God really allow me to be “in” after all I had done? God, so full of love and grace, proved to me that I was never out but always in: in his love, in his grasp, and in his plan.

Because of who God is, he did not allow me to remain the odd woman out. Instead, he welcomed me back to the path he called me to at 16. Today I serve in full-time ministry. The brokenness and hurt I endured have allowed me to provide comfort to others as well as do what Paul described: “We stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:6-9). God has proven to me that if he has the power to give life to the dead, he has the power to revive my life, and he has the power to revive yours.

No matter your past or current brokenness, hurt, or pain, God has a plan for you. As God’s daughter, “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir” (Galatians 4:7). You cannot be the odd woman out when it comes to his love. He invites you in: into his arms, into his rest, into his love. No one or nothing can snatch you from the Father’s hand (John 10:29). He is forever in love with you. Nothing you can do, or have done, can separate you from God’s love and the plan he has for you (Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 138:8).

As you pursue his will for your life and walk your own journey of healing, you may encounter doubt, confusion, and guilt. Even today, I struggled with accepting what God has given me. I am finally doing what I love: loving people and helping them find hope and healing. Yet I feel as though I don’t deserve it. However, what I, what you, must rest in is not what we deserve, but in what God desires for us. God has called us into the body of Christ, and he desires to use us (1 Corinthians 12:27). Your brokenness doesn’t make you weaker; it makes you stronger. It makes you a vessel God can use for his glory (2 Corinthians 12:9)!

No longer am I, no longer are you, odd women out. Because of God’s amazing love and grace, we are odd women in: in his body, in his grace, and forever in his love.


Peri Gilbert is the life group coordinator at The Simple Church in Bossier City, La.

Comments

After terribly failing in my marriage and ministry, this article was encouraging. I'm slowing coming to the realization myself that God really does love me in spite of my failures!

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