Patti Krank: What a blessing she is to me. I’ve seen her once in person, feed her once at my home, heard her story in person once and intend on visiting her at her home at least once. But I know that God brought us together forever friends. Those around her are truly blessed by her love for her Lord, her humbleness and open brokenness. She walks daily open to His leading and willing to speak frankly about life. I have been blessed by her and I know you will be too.
Look at all the smiling faces, lined up in wooden pews. And there she sits among them, safe in her obscurity.
She’s learned well, that love is most easily lavished upon those who look good, who are successful, who are positive and happy, who follow the rules. And so, she plays the role.
But God sees her brokenness. He knows her deep desire for love and acceptance. But happiness comes through relationship, and real relationship means being honest and willing to share our real selves. Our perfectly imperfect selves.
Early in childhood I was stricken with an infirmity called perfectionism. Whether it was passed down from my carrier parents, fostered by the do’s and don’ts teachings of my church, or simply my own bent toward seeing things in black and white, who knows? Maybe all three played a part in my striving to live up to my family nickname, Perfect Patti.
The youngest child, quiet and sweet-natured, no one could foresee anything but good from me. I tried to live up to their expectations. After accepting Jesus, around the age of 7 or so, I tried hard to do things right. But, even as a child, I never felt like my good was good enough. My relationship with Jesus was more about what a Christian should do than it was about intimate friendship.
All of us are created for and by God, and all of us have within us a deep need for relationship. My own little girl heart was hungry for love and acceptance. When the teen years came I realized that the shy girl within me was able to come out of her shell and could make the cool kids laugh when she drank a little. She was regarded as “far out” by another crowd when they learned that she would sample their offerings of contraband. She also learned that she could finally receive the “love” she longed for when she gave herself away. And so she did. Body, soul, and spirit. Trouble was,[bctt tweet=” The love I chased after never seemed to last and ultimately left me feeling rejected and alone.” username=””]
Even in the midst of my most rebellious days God never ceased His pursuit of me and He stayed by my side me in every dark place I journeyed. As the downward spiral continued, my shame grew and my self value plummeted. These feelings are what caused my wildest days to be short-lived, and as a young adult I returned to church and dutiful service to God.
Service mind you, not relationship.
I was happy to be back in church because I liked living in the light much better than in darkness, and being in church made me feel better inside, except for . . . the shame that lingered.
These were some of the names that screamed inside my head. Names that my enemy, the devil, made sure I heard loud and clear. He does that you know. When we try to get right with God he comes immediately to discount our positional freedom in Christ, and he makes every attempt to derail us from the purpose God has for our lives.
I worked hard to make up for my past but there was no joy in the striving. I dutifully said, “Yes,” to every request made of me, especially by the Pastor, whose approval I desired. But my service became burdensome. Where was the freedom the Bible talked about? Where was the joy of the Lord?
Then came another time of falling away. My personal life was shaken by divorce. My church life was ripped in shreds when I was dis-fellowshipped. Wounded, I walked away from church for many years. I didn’t act out in rebellion the way I had as a teen and young adult, but I was very angry at the church, and hurt beyond words.
When I married to my current husband, I forgot my pain for awhile in the euphoria of new love. Until real life returned and the bliss waned. Over the years came more of the hard things of life (because life can be quite nasty you know). It was a desperate need for God that led my husband and myself to finally return to church. Of course I knew that God wasn’t to be found in a church building, but I also knew that following Jesus was harder without other believers and without good Bible teaching.
You’d think this would be the end of my struggle yet still . . . I felt “different” from everyone else in church. With eyes deceived by lies, I looked around and saw all the “beautiful people” and knew that I was not one of them.
This was my thinking process: I believed that church people would accept a total sinner off the street who’d sinned wildly before being saved, because they didn’t know any better. But me? I was a deliberate sinner. A church girl gone bad. I was certain that if people knew the sins I’d committed they wouldn’t like me. So I held on to my secrets, and vowed to never tell a soul.
Except for God. Though I might’ve wished God wasn’t all knowing so I could get away without confessing, I was raised in church and I knew His attributes. In rededicating my life to Jesus I confessed my sins and asked for forgiveness, and accepted His freely given grace toward me.
However, grace and forgiveness of self was not so forthcoming.
Looking back I realize that I must have thought I was pretty special, not to accept that Jesus’ precious blood was enough to cover my deepest, darkest sins! Did I really believe that God’s own Son was enough for others but not for me?
But oh, the shame! How does a church girl fall so far when she knew better all along? In my times of falling away I had God’s Spirit was constantly convicting me of right and wrong, and yet . . . I deliberately chose sin.
Over time, the spirit of shame I carried sought to destroy me. I’d broken every single one of God’s commandments, including murder. This, to me, was the worst. My internal pain grew deeper and deeper, until I myself wanted to die. A spirit of death hung over me because of an abortion I’d had at the age of 17.
Then came the time when my burden was too great to bear any longer and, at my husband’s insistence, I sought the help I needed. At the end of myself, I admitted that my way of coping with my past wasn’t working, and I finally turned everything over to God. That began my healing journey (one that I am still on by the way, because it is a life-long process) and the beginning of freedom.
[bctt tweet=”Freedom isn’t found in dark and hidden places. Freedom is found when we step into the Light.” username=””]
I tell the story over and over of how my confession to God brought forgiveness of sins (I John 1:9), but it was my confession to others that really initiated the healing (James 5:16). It was so good to come clean and find love and acceptance from my “beautiful” brothers and sisters (Proverbs 28:13). They liked me. They really liked me . . . just as I was.
Authenticity. Becoming honest about my past saved me and, to my surprise, has given me the opportunity to not only share my story, but also hear from others about their own deeply held secrets. Who knew that God would one day use my pain for the good of others?
God has a purpose for each of us before we are even a gleam in our earthly father’s eyes. The enemy also has a purpose – to steal, kill, and destroy. His plan is to shipwreck our faith and to separate us from our full destiny in Christ Jesus.
Since it is my purpose to encourage others in their faith and freedom, I can’t help but end my testimony without asking you if you are one of those people sitting in the pews pretending? All of us have brokenness when we come to Christ. Some have an immediate sense of freedom when they are saved. But many in church are still walking in brokenness like I was.
It can be hard and embarrassing to face the things that cause us pain, but it is more painful, in the end, to keep them buried. When we allow God to go to the root of the pain He promises to heal, set free, and deliver us . . . and there is nothing better than walking in the fullness of His Spirit and in power. Please don’t let fear keep you from fulfilling His glorious purpose for YOU.
Blessings dear ones,
Perfectly Imperfect Patti
In case you’re interested you can read more about my Abortion Story here. Or The Day the Church Asked for my Forgiveness here. Or all about Forgiving Yourself here. Or you can see a short Vimeo of Our (hubby’s and my) Story here. 😉
We have beauty in imperfection. Amen!