I couldn’t be more honored to introduce today’s guest author–my dear, dear friend and accountability partner, Edie Wadsworth. Edie and I have been friends for years, and I’ll be honest–I thought I knew everything there was to know about her. After all, we’ve stayed up half the night sharing our darkest secrets, our deepest desires, and our hopes and dreams, held each other’s hands through failure and toasted each other’s successes.
And then I read her story, and I realized just how much more there was to learn. It gripped me from page one and didn’t let go. It is both heartbreaking and hilarious and it will only make you love her all the more, because ultimately it is a story of redemption that each and every one of our hearts need to hear. xoxo, Ruth
This is a guest post from Edie Wadsworth of Life in Grace
I stood in a room full of strangers. 500 of them. My hands were numb and sticky. I felt light headed. I was about to tell my story and Daddy’s for the first time and I wanted to throw up.
I took hold of the podium and looked out across the auditorium. I was stunned by the faces looking back at me. There were supposed to be five hundred people, but it looked more like ten thousand, a tsunami threatening to drown me. I cleared my throat and started with my opening line.
“I’m fourteen years old, and I’ve been to prison more times than I’ve been to the park or the dentist or the doctor’s office. I grew up in a broken home, the daughter of a wonderful but heartbreaking man who could never manage to stay sober.”
My voice was shaky, and my lips quivered at the end of every sentence.
“When I was seven, my cousin was hunted down like an animal and taken to prison while my sister and I stood there and watched. We visit him on the weekends. It’s a place I hope none of you ever have to go.”
You could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium. I looked around for reassurance and saw Coach Murphy sitting in the front row, eyes full of hope, nodding me on.
“Since I was a little girl I knew my daddy loved me, but his demons kept him away from us. I miss him every day and wish he wanted to be a part of our lives. The only time he ever came to one of my sporting events, he showed up drunk with one of his ex-con friends.”
I kept making eye contact with Coach Murphy, my youth leader, and finding enough strength to say the next thing on my paper.
“As hard as it’s been at times to live without a father at home, Daddy did something for me that I will always be thankful to him for. He took me to church when I was eight years old where I was introduced to Someone who changed my life forever, and that Someone is Jesus. I’m learning that no matter what has happened to me, Jesus loves me.”
Then I found my stride. My lip stopped quivering, and I straightened my shoulders, took a deep breath, and told about told my story and then I finished with the promise from Psalm 68 that God is “a father of the fatherless.”
I crumpled my papers together and hurried back to my seat, my heart flooded with relief and also a twinge of guilt for airing the truth about Daddy and me.
Years later, I would spend three years writing about my life’s most painful memories in my spiritual memoir called All the Pretty Things—a story of fatherlessness, of being untethered and unspoken for, a story of both profound loss and miraculous hope.
What I’ve learned about sharing my life is that it has not only brought healing to me but has led other women into their own difficult stories. Sharing the real and vulnerable parts of our lives with each other is life-changing. We live in a world of perfect images and superficial relationships and when one person has the courage to say the hardest thing, the rest of us stand up, one by one, and say, me too.
The truth sets us free, lights a path in the darkness for others, and heals us all in ways that nothing else can.
The Truth Will Set You Free
It’s an old adage, spoken in the wisest literature I know and it’s so true. When I first began to admit to myself that my past was haunting me, it was so scary. It took years before I could finally say out it loud, before I could finally give voice to my deepest hurts and pain. But what we keep hidden won’t go away. It will wreak havoc on us in a million ways, trying to find its way to the surface. Telling our hardest stories is like ripping off the bandaid and letting the wounds drain. Freedom will come when we finally have the courage to step into the vulnerable place of admitting we’re not okay; that we’ve been hurt, that we’re struggling, that we need help.
It Will Light a Path for Others
I remember the first time I told my story, it was as if a collective sigh could be heard around the room; as if everyone was waiting for one person to go first. Your courage will be the permission your sisters need to finally tell her truest story.
When I got a contract for a book, I gave the publisher of a list of things I wouldn’t write about. Most of them ended up in my book. Why? Because the place where the hurt lies is usually where the magic is. It’s usually the things that we’re most afraid to say that will lead the way for others to finally say me too. And then we all find ourselves feeling less alone and more able to be a comfort to our sisters who share the same pain and grief.
It Will Heal Us and Serve as our Greatest Gifts to the World
Perhaps the best thing about sharing the hard and ugly parts of our lives is that it provides a path to healing—both for us and for the world. The things I’ve been most ashamed of in my past are exactly the things God has used in my life to heal me. They’re also often the source of my greatest gifts to humanity. Growing up in poverty and addiction and chaos gave me an untold gift. It gave me eyes to see the hurt of others; it gave me compassion for people not like me; it gave me a burning desire to help others see hope in their dark places.
Our suffering, once redeemed my God, will be our greatest gift to humanity.
So, tell your story, dear sister, and watch all the ways God uses it to heal you and bless the world
Edie Wadsworth is the author of the spiritual memoir All the Pretty Things—the searing story of her soul searching journey out of the rubble of her past into the life of healing and forgiveness she never thought possible. After overcoming her difficult upbringing to become a successful medical doctor, Edie left her practice to raise her family and pursue her love for writing. She is a speaker, writer, and blogger who has been featured in various print and online media. Her passion is to love her people well and to see women embrace the full measure of their life’s passion and purpose. She has shared her story at conferences and churches around the country and is a Compassion International blogger. She writes at Lifeingrace on a variety of topics that center themselves on home—including vocation, hospitality, faith, parenting, cooking, and life in the Appalachian South. She and her husband Steve live in East Tennessee with their kids.