Friday, February 12, 2010
SistahFaith Blog Tour
SistahFaith – A Revolution of Restoration
Sharon Ewell Foster
The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, "Return home and tell how much God has done for you." So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him.—Luke 8:38-39
Sometimes good news and hope are hard to share with those I love. They see that I am scarred like them so they don’t believe me; hoping that things can change is hard work. “Forgive him,” I say. “Love him. He’s in bondage, too. Don’t let him die in chains,” I say to them about a loved one who has harmed them.
Long ago, there was a rift in my family that took place when I was a little girl. The adults didn’t speak again, even to death. The children, now adults, have been isolated from one another.
As I speak to relatives I have not spoken to in years, some I didn’t know existed, they begin to share stories of anger, abuse, and drunkenness. Though they don’t know me, they tell me how wounded they are. How could this happen? We don’t even know each other.
It is not the first time it has happened. Five years ago, the same thing happened—relatives from whom I’ve been isolated began to weep and tell them their story, a story I know from my own childhood. Why are the telling me?
I know why; it’s because I have to share my story, the story of how I received love, hope, and peace from the Lord. The story of how I learned the language of love and of how He put joy in my heart. But it’s so much easier to tell the story to strangers. It’s so much easier to offer my hand and heart to others who don’t know me.
It was not easy, this change. It was hard work. I had to confess that I was broken, that I was tormented. I had to give up anger and offense at those who had harmed me. It was hard to let go of the shame. When the Lord began to pry them away from me, it was hard to let go—anger, shame, and offense were familiar. They were hard treasures to give up—they protected me and made me feel better, they made me feel justified me. I had a list a mile long of wrongs that had been done to me and I rehearsed each transgression over and over again. I’d earned the right to be angry and offended after all I’d suffered.
But, I gave them up—allowing the Lord to pry my hands and my heart open—gave them away for something better. It wasn’t until I gave them up that I realized that they didn’t protect me, they kept me bound. I gave up anger, fear, shame, and offense in exchange for love, hope, peace, and joy—beauty for ashes.
Then I had to confess that what I hated, what had harmed me, lived inside me. Cruel words lurked on my tongue and meanness had a grip on my heart. I told myself I’d forgiven those that had harmed me, when I hadn’t. The same unforgiveness that made family members not speak to each other for generations had taken root in me. “Jesus, help me.” I realized all the harm I’d done unknowingly and then I saw how I’d been forgiven, how I’d been given mercy by the Lord. I received mercy and gave mercy.
“Forgive him,” I repeat to my relatives. “Love him.” But there is unbelief. They think what I’ve suffered couldn’t have possibly as been as bad as what they’ve suffered. They don’t know how brokenhearted I was, how tormented I was. They don’t know that my dreams were night terrors. They don’t know that I was beaten and cursed and more—by people I loved, by people who loved me.
If I have suffered, then I must be pretending to be whole, their attitudes say. I have joy and peace in my life, but they think I’m faking because it’s part of what we do. We present a perfect front to the outside world—a got-it-all-together, successful, in-control façade, but behind closed doors there is raging and cruelty and abuse. But my smile is real and behind closed doors there is peace.
Your life can change, I want to tell them. You don’t have to continue the path you’re on—we can undo the hurt and anger that began before we were ever born. Your wounds can be turned to healed scars. Instead I say, “Be loving to him and he will learn to love. Speak love to him so that he can learn a new language.” In time they will see. In time they will be amazed. There will be joy in their hearts and laughter on their tongues!
Lord, help our unbelief. Help us, despite all we’ve been through to hope, to hope for a brighter day. Help us to let go of anger and shame and offense and fear. Help us to exchange them for something much more precious—joy, peace, love, mercy, and hope. Then, after you have delivered us and healed us, help us to gently tell the story to those we love, even to those who don’t believe.
ABOUT SHARON EWELL FOSTER: Sistah Sharon is an acclaimed author, speaker, and teacher. She has contributed to Daily Guideposts, Tavis Smiley’s Keeping the Faith, and to the Women of Color Devotional Bible. Her achievements include: the Christy Award, the Gold Pen Award, the Romantic Times Best Inspirational, Publisher’s Weekly starred reviews and the Essence Bestseller List. Sharon also ghostwrote a NYT bestselling novel. Visit her on the web at http://www.sharonewellfoster.com/.
Listen to Sharon - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xvH1eHJZ6E
ABOUT THE BOOK
Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? (Jeremiah 8:22, NIV)
Twenty-five women, including Bunny Debarge, Sharon Ewell Foster, Stanice Anderson, Claudia Mair Burney and Marilynn Griffith, tell their stories of coming full circle from tragedy to triumph. Each contributor keeps it holy, keeping it real in these raw, relevant tales of redemption and restoration. Think of it as Prozac for the Christian Woman’s Soul!
A twelve week study is included for churches and book clubs. Instructions provided on gathering your own SistahFaith circle.
Join the network of sistahs at http://sistahfaith.ning.com/.
Check the tour schedule at http://bit.ly/SistahFaith
SISTAHFAITH CONTRIBUTING WRITERS
• MARILYNN GRIFFITH (Editor)
• STANICE ANDERSON
• TANYA R. BATES
• CLAUDIA MAIR BURNEY
• WANDA J. BURNSIDE
• ROBIN CALDWELL
• SHELETTE CARLISLE
• LADY CATHERINE
• ETTERLENE “BUNNY” DEBARGE”
• DEE EAST
• SHARON EWELL FOSTER
• DORIEN HAGE
• GAIL M. HAYES
• DR. NAIMA JOHNSTON
• DELORES M. JONES, MSW, LMSW
• STEPHANIE L. JONES
• CARMITA MCCALL
• LAVONN NEIL
• CARLEAN SMITH
• DAVIDAE “DEE” STEWART
• SONYA VISOR
• LITTLE SALLY WALKER
• ROSALYN “ROS” WEBB
• ROBIN R. WISE
• KISHA WOODS
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