THE MISSION: Finding MY story in his
Stories saved my life.
My earliest memories with God took place in the dead of night, long after my mom had closed my blinds and kissed me goodnight. My hands gripped pages of a woman, as real as you or me, who could truly talk to the Creator of the Universe. This was better than Harry Potter. It seemed a little too good to be true.
The woman in the pages was different than the silent women in the church pews I used to fall asleep on. She was not silent. In fact, she even joked about yoga pants, poured her heart open about her high school boyfriend, and invited me in to the darkest, deepest parts of her soul where friends betrayed her and family members died.
She lived a different life. A life given for others. She was completely lit up for the living and active Jesus. Could Jesus be better than Edward from Twilight? She claimed he was.
She found her story in His.
My 17-year-old heart ached to glean anything from her. Any bits of wisdom that could help me survive my parents' divorce and my double life of playing "good girl" at school and "fun girl" behind closed doors. I ached for her desire to live for others, but I could not get past living for the fleeting "A" on the next Geometry test.
Stories saved my life.
This woman showed up in more places than that one book. Sometimes she had tears in her eyes as she sat in front of a crowd of high schoolers and her husband in the crowd, detailing her sexual baggage from college, overcome with thankfulness that God forgave her. She showed up in Nigerian garb, eyes shinning and face beaming as she glorified God for healing her depression. Sometimes she rocked black skinny jeans with holes in them and bravely told how anxiety used to control her life. Other times she sat wearily on a dock, gazing at the sunset trying to articulate how God somehow used her father's death for the betterment of the Kingdom.
Regardless of her race, age, current struggles, she always had a peace to her. An unshakable confidence that seem to say that she was fully known and fully cared for. She did not get stuck looking down at the inevitable heartache of human life. Instead, she looked up.
Her face was heaven bent.
All the while, as I searched for stories, I tried desperately to write my own. I tried to make my middle school/high school relationship into the most incredible love story. All the while, God was working harder to get my attention, begging me to look upward into His loving eyes. To be heaven bent.
God whispered "I love you."
I would hear it and keep kissing.
"I love you, Shannon."
I would hear it and focus harder on my history readings, making sure that I had written everything in the text.
"I love you still."
That got my attention.
Yes. More than you ever know.
But then... I would forget.
What unplugged my ears were the countless upon countless stories of women who had forfeited their own small stories for His much bigger one. The ones who told me that they too had kept kissing, kept stressing, and kept forgetting, but that He kept pursuing.
Both girls younger than me and women seasoned with wisdom explained to me how life was like a mountain; while we would continue to face the same issues as we drove in circles up the mountain, we would at least be moving upward. It was these vulnerable stories of "higher" that encouraged me to keep driving and seek the ultimate road map of God's Word, the Bible. To hear stories from Jesus Himself. To hear the true story that triumphs them all.
The greatest love story of all time.
That the Creator of the epic mountains, gorgeous seas, and peaceful valleys did not want heaven without me... without you...without us... so He sent Jesus to take the grave that we deserved. Not only that, but that Jesus invites me today to bring the Kingdom of heaven on earth by following him and calling on the Holy Spirit for all strength and power.
Stories changed my life.
Heaven Bent Women is a God-given mission to provide vulnerable stories of redemption for young, middle, and old that will change their downcast eyes upward. To live heaven bent.
Thank you for making the community, for loving Jesus, for reading, for writing, for asking friends/family to write, for giving your broken as God makes it beautiful. And isn't it so beautiful that you can "...declare the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" 1 Peter 2:9. All for you, God. All for you, Jesus. All for you, precious Holy Spirit.
Recycling my Broken,
Shannon Janico, Founder
Bridget Conlan, Editor-in-chief