I was first introduced to a Beth Moore Bible study as a young mom nursing my firstborn. I could barely do the homework, let alone arrive on time for class, but I sure could listen to her videos as she encouraged and equipped women and made God’s word accessible.
Fast forward a few years, and I recall my heart ripping in two—and it still does when I think about it—when she was told to “go home.” Her dignified response was telling.
I did not surrender to a calling of man when I was 18 years old. I surrendered to a calling of God. It never occurs to me for a second to not fulfill it. I will follow Jesus – and Jesus alone – all the way home. And I will see His beautiful face and proclaim, Worthy is the Lamb!Beth Moore—Twitter
And I’m moved yet again by the words and works of Beth Moore. Through her memoir All My Knotted Up Life, Moore made me laugh, catch my breath, clench my fists, and tear up more than once.
Though others have gone before her, Moore gives her readers a fresh gift of going first.
She writes, “Jesus is the only outsider who truly knows the insider our skin keeps veiled.”
But unveil she does with her words.
And I wonder. What would it look like to admit that we have pain and trauma and embarrassing skeletons banging on the door—just begging to come out and be seen?
What if we admitted…
We are broken people.
Moore begins her story at the beginning chronicling through the eyes of a then six-year-old her earliest memories. Through humor, innocence, and an honesty that aches at times, we learn she grew up in a home framed by sexual abuse, marital infidelity, and mental illness. Though they attended church and lived a moral reputation for others to see, within the walls of the Green home was a brokenness of which many of us can identity.
How often do we white-knuckle our Sunday best only to plop down in front of our ashtrays of brokenness when we get home? What might we gain from admitting we are not okay?
I think we forget that Jesus came for the not okay. In all three of the synoptic gospels, we hear Jesus say I didn’t come for the healthy but the sick, neither the righteous but sinners (Matthew 9:12–12, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:31–32).
We need to share our stories.
Prior to sharing her husband’s experiences with PTSD and how it had affected their marriage, Moore outlines a poignant conversation between them. She says to him I’ll only share what you’re comfortable with but then poses a question. It begins “What if.” What if by sharing their struggles, another couple finds hope or courage or solidarity. Though these words were penned as a preface to a particular story, I feel that this what if mantra guided Beth’s entire memoir.
Although not all of them, many of Beth’s experiences mirror my own. Though I did not experience sexual abuse, I continue to rise above the fear and verbal abuse that marked time in my childhood more consistently than the passing seasons. I grew up in smoker’s home with a father who suffered from a cocktail of mental disorders and a mom who tried her best to keep us afloat.
In the book of John, Jesus comes to a woman who walks to Jacob’s well in the heat of the day. She is a half-Jew, with a complicated past and present. Jesus offers her living water and when she responds enthusiastically that she would like to receive this water Jesus tells her to go get her husband. She could have made excuses for the man with whom she lived with out of wedlock but instead she said, I have no husband. Their conversation continues moving from her history to theology and finally to what she needs to hear most of all. He is the Messiah—the one they’ve all been waiting on.
Amazed, she goes to the people of her city and widely proclaims that she thinks she’s found the Christ—a man who “told me everything I ever did.” Everything she ever did and experienced in her own knotted up life.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”John 4:42
God can use our knotted up stories to point others to the hope of the Savior.
We need Jesus—A lot
Beth chronicles her life from early elementary to present day. Threaded throughout is the nearness of God in the midst of broken people.
If the life of Jesus was marked by pain and sorrow (Isaiah 53:3), his followers will experience much the same. In his prayer for his disciples and future believes, Jesus prayed,“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one (John 17:15).” Too often we cling to the #blessedlife forgetting the difficulties that we are promised to experience. We must live in the tension of “in this life you will have trouble,” and the joyful reassurance that Jesus has “overcome the world.”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NIV
We can take heart we are not alone in our struggles and the One who loves us most is always with us and he has overcome the world.
What can we learn from Beth’s Memoir?
Beth writes with a painful honesty that many of us wish we could master. May we learn from her example to admit our brokenness, share our stories, and look to Jesus for hope both now and in the life to come.
The yearning to belong is woven into the human fabric.Beth moore—All My knotted up life