Hi. My name is Helena, and um…well, I have a bellybutton.
I got it a long time ago, it’s kind of a long story. I was really young, and I was super attached to another person, and then it ended. It was shocking. It was surreal. So now I have this thing on my belly, this button-looking thing. It used to hurt, but now it mostly just hangs out covered up. It’s fine. It’s an innie. It really doesn’t hurt anymore, and sometimes it even slips my mind that it’s there. I used to stare at it all the time, but then I realized that’s kind of weird and I don’t want to be the weirdo always poking at their bellybutton, right? I don’t hide it when it shows. I used to think that people cared about it, but I realized that we all kind of have a bellybutton. Don’t we all have awkward scars? I don’t have to defend mine. It is what it is.
Being divorced for four years is a lot like having a belly button.
Even writing about it feels like I’m lifting up my shirt and pointing everyone to my stomach. It’s personal, but it’s common ground with so many. Though it was at one point my earth-shattering tragedy, the divorce no longer fills up my mind. I’m busy living life as the person I am today. Time and Jesus are healers, aren’t they? It’s amazing.
My favorite ice cream is cake batter. I really love sunrises. Happy tears find their way down my face more often than any other kind of tear. I’m a person, you know? Human. I’m growing and constantly regenerating. My hair, my nails, my skin, and yes, my heart. All these things are growing and never stop. Every single time I look in the mirror, I look different. God hasn’t stopped working on me, not for a minute. This is what gives me hope to continue to make better, wiser choices: I’m renewed day by day.
After my divorce, I traveled around the entire globe. I comforted widows and held orphans. I knocked on strangers’ doors and went inside. I spent months on the floor, reading the Old Testament war stories and telling myself that I would have been a warrior then, too, like I am now. It takes courage to show up, and I found it.
I figured out that I have access to more freedom than I thought. I had more choices. I didn’t have to be a statistic. I didn’t have to hope for a man to see worth in me, the broken sad little window puppy I thought I was. I got up off the floor and put a crown of life on my head, and bought myself two venti frappuccinos, one for each hand. I decided it was okay to tell my story, to ward off shame, and to empower other people who were obsessed with their pasts to become obsessed with the One who redeems them. Maybe if I tell my story, they’ll stop picking at their bellybuttons 24/7, and find a less creepy hobby. It worked.
I’m a difference-maker. I’m an ambassador of Christ. Yes, little old me, with the bellybutton.
I’m currently seriously dating, and I remember on the first date I had to tell him all about my bellybutton story. Because God has done so much, I wasn’t worried about what he would think. I wasn’t afraid of his reaction. Sweet freedom, huh? I told him about the girl I was seven years ago. She didn’t match the one in front of him. She was super insecure, and she was an orphan. She grew up without a dad, and her father figure had passed away when she was 18. She wanted her own family to belong in, because she was super lonely and she had this big, big heart to be a mom and wife. But she didn’t know who she was in Christ. She didn’t know how to love from a place of fullness. She needed people to make her feel worthy and safe. She wasn’t aware of the brokenness in her heart that needed God’s healing instead of a significant other. She made some big mistakes with great intentions. But the best thing that could have ever happened took place in this girl’s life: her plans fell apart! She began to live a life fully surrendered to Jesus Christ! And Jesus gave her a new heart and a new spirit.
As I looked into his gracious eyes and told the testimonies of these last four victorious years, I felt this wave of shameless joy rising up in me. I’m proud of who I am, proud of God’s work in me. I’m by no means done growing or done learning, but I’ve been redeemed and freed from my past. I’m a confident daughter of a Good Father, and I carry fire inside me. What once used to make me cry and want to hide is the reason I stand up on higher platforms. The gift Jesus gives us is sufficient and perfect: redemption. It is our right to receive it.
Our bellybutton scars and stories are always going to be a part of us, but we are becoming new day by day, slowly but surely, being made perfect while considered fully righteous. It is my sincere prayer and hope that you walk in greater measures of healing and health, so that you can experience the available freedom you were always meant to have.