Deb Martell’s Thin Place: Nothing’s Wasted

Feb 17, 2011Find joy today

Coping strategies that serve us well in difficult times can leave scar tissue that needs to be removed. Deb walks us through a bit of her healing in today’s Thin Place. You can read more about Deb on her blog, Nothing’s Wasted. (Do you have a Thin Place when God met you? Go here if you’d like to share it.)


I was loved, so, so loved by grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins, a mom and a dad and even a baby brother. At the age of two, the first change, in a life of changes, occurred. Split off.  Torn away. A divorce not only of two people, but two families.

Memories of the dad side are minimal. Some with pain and fear, some with joy and innocence, most with an incredible awareness of being different. Being on the outside now, looking in to his newly created family. Not really wanted, but tolerated for a time.

The mom side was tumultuous but most times love-filled. Grandparents with stability and tradition. Holidays filled with nervous energy, dressed up church clothes, baking bread and platters of food, dogs and chickens and mistletoe.

And so it goes. More brothers, more divorce. More splinters in a heart that held on. Pulling the pieces back together, never quite fitting, but straining to minimize the damage. But damage there was both seen and unseen. Some pieces fit here and some over there, but most stayed hidden, sharp edges shaping the rest.

It was a battle to feel worthy, to be right, to be strong and fight. After all, the lacking must be hidden away. The broken must be buried. The fragments had to be forgotten. The face must be like flint. Pushing forward in a world where a girl should make her own way. Stand on her own two feet. Speak for herself.

Then there was the day the grace of God entered the room and the shift of all things broken began to turn. The first sharp edge was dulled and the beginning of rest and peace emerged. The words from my mouth were kinder; the desperate need to be seen and heard took a tiny step back. And the work began.

A season of building followed. Building a marriage and four children, a dream home and a church, a life filled with all things American and the pace to go with it. Everything a girl could want and then some.

But the satisfaction didn’t come, because the seeking hadn’t matured yet. The “create a clean heart in me” verse was prayed with naiveté, but honored still by a loving God.

His ways can be harsh and mostly mysterious – stage 3 breast cancer – but only He really knows, that He knows, what we need to start the softening, the mending, the healing. Years of mask-making and self-depending needed their undoing.

And so it began. Chemo, bone marrow transplant, radiation, the brink of death, five years of drugs. He made some progress. My life is not my own, but He’s got me! I was dwelling in The Shelter I so longed for as a child.

At the nine year anniversary of this diagnosis, I got a new one – AML – acute myeloid leukemia. Thankfully He’d never stopped working on me. I had spent years making meaning, learning to trust and listening. Listening to Him say, “I Am Enough.”

He was and He is. He has brought me through again. From the brink to His bounty. Not only do I have a whole new blood DNA (from a second transplant), I have a whole new heart.

Oh, we’re never finished – not in this place – but if we’re willing, He won’t waste any of it.

If we can keep “Why me?”, “I shouldn’t” and “I can’t” at bay and believe, He’ll let us see….

a glimpse into our hearts looking more like His,

a glimpse into lives made curious by our response to our circumstance, and

a glimpse into heaven itself.