Tone Series with Laura Distin
Documented by Lisa Larson
what do the words ‘so worth loving’ mean to you?
It means I’m actually seen in a world that’s constantly telling me I’m not good enough, smart enough, productive enough, fit enough, rich enough, talented enough, Pinterest-worthy enough, liked enough, funny enough- not enough, period. For me, it’s a grounding phrase that reminds me of whose I am and where my hope comes from.
when you hear the words dark and light, what comes to mind?
Despair and hope. Worry and peace. Pain and comfort. Sadness and joy. Tears and laughter. Knowing there is light is the only thing, now that I know He is with me and I feel His presence in my life, that helps me wade through the dark times. C.S. Lewis once said, “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” If it’s not joy, then it’s not from God. My hope is for everyone to know that the light is always there, always, as a gift in waiting.
did you find God in the middle of a dark season?
I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school through 12th grade. I grew up hearing about God and stories from the Bible, of course, but it always felt like a historical reference or something from a long time ago to me. I never felt that it had any relevance to my life, or at least I couldn't feel it. I thought the stories were nice, but not relatable. Once I graduated from high school, I left the Catholic faith. It wasn’t until I was 30 years of age, a friend invited me to go with her to her church. I can remember the moment vividly when the pastor said to the entire congregation: “Jesus is with you, sitting next to you, and He wants a relationship with you.” I had never heard anything like that until that moment, and I remember thinking, “Wait a minute. What? You mean He’s actually here? With me now?” The thought was so foreign to me, but that moment, that one statement, changed my entire life from that point forward. I began having conversations with Him, thanking Him for small things and big things and cultivating a constant, daily relationship with Him. I invited Him into every aspect of my life and even opened my home, back then, to leading a small group through that very same church where I learned about His presence. I could suddenly see Him woven into my every day. It also opened my eyes to seeing Him in my past, which I had never been able to do before then. For instance, when my dad went to the grocery store and never returned when I was 18 months old and he just decided he no longer wanted to be my dad, Jesus was there. When my mom’s alcoholic boyfriend was pounding on the door in the middle of the night and I was petrified, Jesus was there. When I was sexually assaulted in 7th grade on school grounds, during school hours and was ridiculed by my entire school, Jesus was there, even though I thought I was desperately alone. When I was in the hospital for 60 days during my sophomore year of high school, lonely, angry and confused, He was there. When I went looking for love and approval in some very dark places with some very bad people in my late teens. I always say, "it is only by His grace and protection that I didn’t get hurt or become a statistic", because honestly, there is no way I should have made it out of some of those nights alive, but I did. He was most certainly with me then. When my first husband abused me for years, Jesus was making a new way for me and strengthening my resolve. When I was standing in the corner of a bar in 2004 and realized how unfulfilled I was, how unfulfilling all of that moment was, He led me home to do important inner work so that I would no longer repeat patterns and could pour into others someday. You see, I had an epiphany in my 30s, like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, when I realized that He had actually been with me through it all (I had the power all along to go "home"), and that although I had been searching here on this Earth unsuccessfully for the void in my heart to be filled, He was the only one who could actually fill it. He had always been here with me all along and, looking back, I could now see His hand in every painful and joyful circumstance of my life. He was either creating a new path for me, using my circumstances to make me stronger, or redirecting me towards something new and better. Every. single. time. He had been using my story as His pen to tell His ultimate story, and to give me the strength I’d need to share it with those who may not yet be able to see Him. Every single one of the circumstances I have lived through, and my unshakeable relationship with Him, has only provided me the strength I needed so I could share with you now all about Him, and give you the “me too” moment you may need so you don’t feel alone here. Because trust me, you are not alone. You have Him, but you now also have the stories of the people who have shared here through SWL, and my hope is that you feel less alone, and closer to Him, and more worthy than ever before.
what did you learn about his love for you at that time?
I still find myself often wishing things were different or people in my life would be different, but I cannot change anyone here on this Earth. I cannot expect them to fulfill my heart. It is not their responsibility, nor are they capable of it. I cannot control anyone other my own self, my actions and my words, and the way I lead my life. The only one I can completely count on is my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
what would you tell the next generation about God?
You may go to church with your parents, and you may be hearing about God, and reading your bible, and navigating everyone’s belief in this thing that you cannot see or hear. What I will tell you is that He is most absolutely there with you, waiting next to you, and He is already on your side, fighting battles in your name. You may not see it now, and you will feel lonely and confused at many times throughout your life, but I can tell you, with all that I am, through my experiential relationship with Him that He is there in the midst of your everyday life. Every darkness or joy is preparing you, molding you into a stronger version of you, to search for, and find, His light. When you look back in 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years from now, and you look back on the road you walked, you will see His loving, guiding hands along your entire path. His light was, and is, with you all along. And once you’ve experienced that awareness, and your eyes have been opened to see Him in everything around you, there will be a new found confidence in you that no one can shake and that, my friend, is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive, and you’ll want to share it with any, and every, one who will listen.