for those from different planets


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If 6 or 7 years ago you would have told me I would be wearing pants and working outside my childhood home as a campus missionary, I would have taken an exceptionally defensive posture and hurled sharp, rebuking words at you. You probably would have suspected me to be crazy… and you probably wouldn’t have even understood how crazy I genuinely was.

I never thought my life would change so drastically. I didn’t even know it was possible. Sure I thought some things would change over time, but I didn’t know everything would change. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thankful — so unbearably and ridiculously thankful — but there’s a certain wound that comes from ripping your tender life from the thing it has found itself fused to. And even though Jesus’ mercy and grace do so much to bring healing over time, there are daily occurrences that remind you that you’re just different now.

A month ago I got married… I got married!! And folks, I didn’t just get married, I got to vow my undying love and devotion to my best friend and the person I trust more than anyone else in this whole world. It was one of the most exhilarating days of my life. Truly. I’ve never felt that amount of joy all at one time — with the exception of the times the Lord has made known his redeeming hand upon my soul. I think the happiness I felt on my wedding day was just the tiniest glimpse of what heaven will feel like and to know that heaven will feel even better than marriage is something I can’t fathom existing and can’t wait to obtain.

But as wonderful as marriage to Kyle has been this past month, I have found myself in this brand new phase of life — in a new city — in a new state — and surrounded by a plethora of new people. And I’m feeling some of those old scars.

Coming out of a cult and being raised in abuse has left me with tales of oppression, fear, betrayal, and estrangement that are not the tune of my life anymore, but are bits of baggage that sort of come with me wherever I go. My life was so different. You grow up in this little bubble of a world and when you come out, you just feel like a ghost of a person in the air of reality. My friend Kate said it feels like you’re literally from a different planet… and she’s right.

The friends you have that made it out with hearts still alive are the friends you want to cling to the most because they can understand. They understand the feelings I wrestle with. They understand my experiencing homemaking as so wonderful, and yet at the same time, that it occasionally has this painful twinge that makes me wonder if I’m not just enjoying making a home because that was all I was ever educated to do. They understand because they feel it all too. 

There was so much pain in my upbringing. Thinking about it too hard just hurts. Thinking about the gross abuse my dad inflicted on me and my family is something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand. When my husband and I got engaged I thought it would be another chance for my dad to see the damage he has done and begin to make amends. I thought it just might be the smallest sliver of hope to future repentance and reconciliation, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The preparation for my union to Kyle only brought out the worst in the hard-hearted men in my family. God graciously and abundantly provided and showered me in more love from my mom, sisters, and church family than I could have dreamed of; but on our wedding day I walked myself down the aisle. And at the celebration feast of our marriage, I felt my dad’s absence with a pang of grief. As much as I believe and rejoice that God ordained all of that and that it was the absolute best thing that could have happened and even though I wouldn’t change it for anything, it doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt. It is this gaping fracture that exists in my life and its brokenness is a tangible reminder to me of sin’s repercussions.

In all of this deciphering the feelings charging through my heart, I think the hardest part of new places is that there’s this huge part of you that you have to decide what to do with and there’s no easy answer. But, the greatest caution I keep reminding myself is that I can’t ignore the existence of my past life. To do so is to surrender to death.

God is the author of my past, present, and future. He decided why my life should be the way it is and why it was the way it was. He chose my path. Years and years ago, one of my precious friends, Sarah, sent me this quote on a small piece of beautiful paper and I have it to this day where I can always read it and I often say it to myself when I doubt that what happened in my life was part of God’s divine design…

“God is God because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will rest nowhere but in His holy will… a will that is unspeakably beyond my LARGEST notion of what he is up to.” {Elisabeth Elliot}

That brings me more comfort than a thousand other women who understand my pain. We are fully and completely known by our Father. And not just known but radically and unconditionally loved in spite of being so known! Oh, we’re loved so so much. I wrestle with the memories that haunt me and seem to torture me at times, but none of them could ever overshadow the incomprehensible and unfathomable love of our Creator and Redeemer. He is more than worthy of our trust and obedience. He has given us a gift we are rendered incapable of measuring and he has granted us eternal life and unending love.

As I end this rambling session tonight, all I can think of is praying over and over this beautiful passage from Ephesians. So please pray it with me this evening…

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith — that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21

P.s. here is a little preview of our wedding shot by the talented Kristi Albert!





2 thoughts on “for those from different planets

  1. Your IG photo popped up for me and I found this post through it. Thank you for sharing. My family recently left a church we had attended most of my married adult life. The church was cultish, with much authority abuse. My husbandand I are now starting over and were pretty much shunned from the community. Its heart breaking and such a strange feeling; yet so refreshing. Its like breathing clean air after not realizing you had been breathing toxicity without realizing the way it was kilking you. I’m thankful to be out before it had a long term affect on my children. Thank you for sharing your heart. I’m so sorry you have to feel that emptiness on important days but so encouraged by the way you’ve clung to Jesus and seen how good He is through it all. He died for us because we are all sinners and nothing we do on our own can ever earn our salvation. There’s no skirt length, number of children we can bear, or any perferfection that we think our image can create that can make us closer to God. Its simply the fact that he took our sin, even our pride thinking we can be more holy on our own, and he redeemeed it all the moment he died for us down his perfect life. Thank you Jesus! I will be praying for your first year of marriage and the new season the Lord has you in. Thanks again for sharing.


  2. Shelby, that was so beautifully written. As each day goes forward I pray the unhappiness your dad and brothers laid at your feet, washes away in time. Your marriage to Kyle will double your ability to be strong and to spread the teaching of our Lord. I miss you kiddo,but you are in the next phase of your journey. God will guide you. Love you


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