I needed to do more than hide my bruises and cover my pain.

Before I Could Forgive, I Had to Lament

I didn’t want to show up at church. The black-and-blue marks already beginning to appear up and down my arms documented another night of fighting between my mother and me. I hadn’t slept much and was sure I wasn’t ready to face the shiny, happy people in my church who never seemed to struggle with anything. But I knew that my absence from the Sunday service would raise more questions than not. Reluctantly, I covered up in a long-sleeve shirt and went.

The friendliest woman in the entire congregation greeted me at the door. Becky had a beautiful family. They were so picture-perfect that I felt embarrassed for her to know the kind of family I came from. Her home was always filled with her kids and grandkids, and they matched their outfits each year for their Christmas card photo. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be included on a Christmas card.

As I exchanged hugs with Becky, I did well at concealing the heaviness in my heart and my aversion to being there that morning. As I listened to Becky share her anticipation over her daughter Anna’s upcoming wedding, I felt even more miserable. Anna was her fourth child, and the last one to marry a godly spouse.

“Please pray for Anna,” Becky asked, a slight frown wrinkle forming on her brow. “She’s really struggling.”

I was confused by this request, considering how Becky had just gushed with excitement and joy over Anna’s wedded bliss.

“Anna doesn’t want to lose her last name,” Becky confided. “She doesn’t want to lose that connection to her family heritage.”

I had absolutely no idea how Anna felt. I hated my name—every part of it. Esther seemed too old for a young person, …

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