I have an alabaster box. It is a beautiful box, smooth like white marble, I am told it is made of the same type of stone that decorated Solomon’s temple.
It was a precious gift. It was kept on it’s own shelf to protect it, and the contents that would be placed inside, for safe keeping.
I was to keep every precious memento in it. And I did, at first.
I carefully placed the love given me inside the box; the love in my mothers eyes when she held me for the first time, the kisses on my forehead for comfort when I was scared at night, the safety I felt when my mom held my hand on my first trip to the dentist, the courage given to me through a wave the first time I stepped onto a school bus, the pride in my fathers voice when he bragged about how fast I could run, the wisdom from my grandmother she shared with me on the matters of the heart and how to make a delicious pot of spaghetti sauce (“nothing is to be wasted” she would say as she would empty the contents of left over meats into the sauce), the joy I felt when I made my first best friend, the flutter in my belly from my first crush, the sense of belonging when I would play ball with my cousins, the feeling of being needed when I held my dog as a child, the comfort in the words “I love you” and “I do” on my wedding day, the love that exploded in my heart when I had my first baby, the relief that came when I realized I could love my second baby as much as I did my first, the pride when I was accepted into college, the sense of purpose when I helped others, and the many joys and triumphs in between.
Over time there were other things I would place inside my alabaster box. Things I did not want others to see because they were too shameful. Like the night I overheard my parents arguing and my father wished us dead, when I heard the ugly word whore for the first time coming from my fathers mouth directed to me (I was too young to even know what a whore was), then when I lost my virginity to rape and was afraid to tell anyone because “what if my father was right?,” the terrorizing moment when I thought one more blow from my father would surely kill me, the look of satisfaction in his eyes to see me cry (so I stopped crying all together for a very long time), the fear and torment I carried from other girls who hated me, the things I had to do to survive on the streets as a young runaway, how skillful I became at manipulation and lying, the moment I realized the man I married was just like my father, the nights I laid in bed and tried to will my heart to stop beating so I would not have to wake up and face another day, the men I trusted with my heart only to be betrayed again and again, so I hid my heart away and gave them my body, the fake pride I carried in the form of a hard exterior, the fear of commitment, the reality of ruining relationships because I was too hidden in my fear, the shame of drinking in secret because I could not find relief anywhere else, the woman I became on the outside to hide the little girl on the inside, and the many sins, rejections, shame, and failures in between.
Soon I did not even want to look into my alabaster box. Every time I would open it was like opening Pandora’s box, there were so many evils in there, I could no longer see the innocence hidden beneath. I put that box on the highest shelf and hid it behind books and trinkets, let it be covered in dust, and I swore to never touch the box again. The beautiful alabaster became very ugly to me. It now served as a reminder to me of the things I want to forget, things loathed and hated. It didn’t take long for me to forget there were also precious things in there too.
Just because I refused to put anything more into the box, does not mean I did not still gather a collection. It was like living with a hand cart so full of heavy things I couldn’t even stand up right without the weight of it pulling me down.
I began to hate. I was wrapped in self pity, shame, anger, accusation, depression, remorse, sin…
I learned a lot through the course of years. Mostly I learned how to fake it. I learned how to stuff it. I learned how to deny it.
I painted a smile on my face, became an achiever (not to be mistaken with overcomer), and learned to fake me to everyone.
But, at night, when it was quiet, when I was all alone, I would take the alabaster box off the shelf and hold it in my hands. The outside still felt smooth, wiping the dust off I could still see the beauty of the stone, but it was heavy. I knew inside the box were some precious memories, but I was afraid to open the box, because I knew I would also have to look at the things that were not so lovely. Things meant to kill me.
With tears falling onto the box, I cried out, in muffled sobs, “God! Help me! I can’t do this anymore. Take this from me.”
With the gentleness I have never known, the love I have never felt before, He opened the box, removed every hidden thing in there and laid it before me. I could not look up, my head was bowed beneath the weight of my shame and fear. I could hear the mocking voices reminding me how unworthy I was, how disgusting, ugly, and how I have done too much to be forgiven.
As I cried, He reached over and with His hand gently cupping my chin, He turned my face towards His. I did not see what I expected to see. I expected to see disgust and judgment, instead I saw love and acceptance. I saw tears in His eyes as He took each thing out of my box and held it in His hands. I saw pain in His eyes when He saw my pain. I saw understanding when He saw how I tried to hide me. I saw laughter when He held the things that made me laugh, and joy when He saw the precious things that gave me joy.
He separated the contents of my alabaster box into two piles.
With the pile of things I held close, precious, He placed them back into the box and said, “These things, My Beloved, were from me. Keep them, cherish them, share them.”
The pile that I was ashamed of, He took them, “These were not from Me, My Beloved. If you will give them to Me I will take them. They were meant to destroy you, but if you let Me, I will use them to glorify Me through your healing and your testimony.”
With that He embraced me in His arms, soon my sobs of despair became tears of joy.
“I love you, My Beloved. I am not ashamed of you. I am not angry with you. When all others turn their back on you, I will never leave you. Though your father could not love you, I have never, nor will I ever, stop loving you. My desire for you was, and is always, hope. I will fill the emptiness you feel, because that spot is reserved for Me, and in Me you will have complete healing, wholeness, deliverance, and unconditional love.”
Then He handed the box back to me. He kissed my forehead and pulled me close. I could hear His heart and it beat my name. I could feel His breath and it gave me life.
The mocking voices were silenced. The child in me laughed and skipped. The woman in me began to blossom like a rose, each pedal opening like a bloom in the sunlight. I breathed Him in. He pulled me so close I became hidden in Him. I felt safe and loved. I felt the love of a Father. For the first time, I felt the comfort of sitting on my Fathers lap and sharing me with Him.
The love of my Father is a Daddy walking with me, holding my hand, and sharing all the wonders I see as though for a first time, laughing with my silliness, talking with me and sharing mysteries and secrets with me.
And when those moments come, when I am tempted to be scared, I feel an extra little squeeze of His hand to remind me He is there.