Recently, I traveled to Palestine/Israel and visited many sites, including the southern Negev Desert. There, I visited the Lakiya Negev Weaving Project. This project’s aim is to empower Palestinian women by utilizing their traditional weaving skills.
Even more impressive than the amazing garments and rugs that are created by these women, is the story of the buildings where some of the women live and carry out their work. The buildings were built over a long period of time. Each time the Israeli government would destroy a Palestinian home in the community, the builder would collect stones from the destroyed houses. When he began to build his own structures he used the stones from the destroyed homes. The broken and often forgotten stones were still able to be used. They still had value and utility even after they had been destroyed by forces greater than themselves.
After my mom and dad split in the early 90s, my mom packed us up and we moved in with my aunt. We moved to a small town called Perdido in Alabama. I was six years old at the time.
As the old saying goes, “Those who suffer most are cursed with a good memory.” I don’t know exactly when it happened but I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember the décor in the room and the paint color on the walls. I remember who was in the room and I remember the fear that paralyzed my body. I froze - I wanted to run but all of a sudden there were no exits.
I was just a child but that didn’t matter. I was humiliated, I was violated, I was broken. Everything in me was broken and for many years I blamed myself. It was years before I even realized I had been sexually abused- before I realized it was not my responsibility as a child to ensure I was not violated.
We never know what people carry. I’ve carried this for a long time. I’ve cried about it. I’ve yelled at God for allowing it to happen to me. I’m ashamed of it. I used to think it made me less of a man. It is hard to build when all you think you have are broken pieces.
Although I am cursed with the memory of my painful past and brokenness, God is a master builder. Like the building in Palestine, God has taken all my broken pieces and built a mighty man. I still have value and utility even after forces greater than myself tried to destroy me.
If you have also been broken, don’t stop moving forward. There is life beyond your situation. Build, even if all you think you have are broken pieces..
My past has been redeemed. I am no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.