She had every reason to be a mess. She was one of two wives (every girl’s dream). The other wife was her enemy. Scripture even says so (1 Samuel 1:7). Her rival provoked her and intentionally bullied her.
Women do that sort of thing.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the other woman had children. She didn’t.
In a culture where motherhood was a woman’s redemption, she was childless.
And childless by the Lord’s hand. 1 Samuel 1:5-6 says the Lord closed her womb. He withheld the solution to her problem. God intentionally caused the source of her pain and sorrow.
That’s nice to know.
This woman was Hannah, the wife of Elkanah. Her story is found in 1 Samuel 1-2. She was a woman like you and I, and she was a mess.
Have you ever felt a mess?
I first read Hannah’s story when I was a mess. I checked myself into a bed and breakfast four years ago this week. It was my last semester of graduate school for counseling. I was interning 35 hours a week and attending classes at two different colleges over an hour away from home. As a mom to three at home and one in college, I faced a comprehensive exam the following week. That particular Thursday, I was stressed.
I was a mess.
I needed respite – time away from everyone to sleep, be at peace, and declutter my overloaded brain.
Taking care of your mental health means you take care of your emotional and physical health, too.
I found a local B&B and checked myself out of life for 24 hours. At the last minute, I left my cell phone at home, along with the number where my husband could reach the innkeepers. Other than my suitcase, all I took was a Bible, my journal, and two hymnals.
As I sat in the room that evening, I sang from the hymnal. Tears streamed down my face for hours. The songs brought memories of happy times – where people I loved were still here, where the church I longed for was still together, and the peace I remembered was present.
Then I realized my mess wasn’t just me, it included grief of things no longer in my life.
And I wept.
As I allowed myself the space to grieve, I listened to God and poured out my sorrow and raw exhaustion. I basked in the stillness, holding on to each hour before my respite was interrupted by real life.
The last hour at the B&B, I sat on the sunporch and discovered a little book titled, “The Prayer of Hannah” by Kenn Gividend. It was a short-read, so I
read it devoured it.
The principles about Hannah were exactly what I needed as spiritual, emotional, and mental therapy. Hannah’s story put words to my “I’m-a-mess” feelings.
God saw her mess. He was there.
There’s a lot more to learn from Hannah’s story. I shared a few lessons in a retreat last weekend that was powerful beyond imagination. Hannah’s story is one all women can relate to, and one from which we can receive strength, grace, and empowerment.
I hope to share more lessons about Hannah on the blog in weeks and months to come. I’m adding the retreat, entitle “Chosen,” to my speaking and retreat packages. The sessions include “A Chosen Mess, A Chosen Response, and A Chosen Life,” all based on Hannah’s strength in her mess, her identity, and her relationships. If you’re looking for a women’s retreat for your church or women’s group, I’d love to share this with you!
So be encouraged – if you’re a mess, it’s okay. God knows where you are. He sees you there, and He’ll meet you in your need.
Spend time in His word. Draw close to Him, and give yourself grace.
Where can you invite Jesus into your mess right now?
He’s already there, just share it with Him.
And begin reading about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 and 2. Ask God to show you His truths and lessons. He will!
Dear Jesus, thank you for knowing how I feel. Thank you for seeing my mess and being right there with me. Thank you for loving me and for walking with me through each step. Help me to be still and quiet so I can hear you most of all. Amen.
I receive no compensation for the mention of the book, The Prayer of Hannah.