About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Robin,
    This is the first time I have read anything you have written over here! I came looking for Ann Voscamp and voila! there you are! Your verse from Romans reminded me of the verse in Hebrews 12: 14 “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy: without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Did you know that your heart can be strengthened? Hebrews 13:9 says, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them. We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.”
    I have discovered Ann Voscamp in the past year and am learning and meditating much more ever since. You both are amazing ladies!

    • Terri,

      HEY!!! So glad to connect HERE, too!! (and, yes…Ann? Well, when I think of her, I think “The cheese stands alone,” which is actually a very high compliment meaning I think her writing voice is singular and the deepest (human) pool I dare to swim among bloggers.)

      I *almost* shared the Hebrews verse you mentioned but this was ALREADY so long I resisted :). So that makes me especially thrilled YOU, a reader, shared it!! Thank you.

      Thank you, too, for your kindness; you’re amazing in your own stead.

  2. When my husband had an affair, I thought the pain would never go away. Broken hearts do heal, but I don’t think the pieces grow back together exactly like they were before. I believe our hearts are forever changed by that pain. But just like a bone that knits itself back together after a break is stronger, I believe our hearts emerge stronger when we allow God to put the pieces back together again. I also believe a deeper level of healing comes when we allow our pain to be used to help others. I can’t explain how it works, it just does.
    God can do phenomenal things with and through our broken hearts. From our deepest pain is born our deepest passion. God is so good. My hope for that person out there still trapped by the pain is that they will find some small way to start comforting others with the knowledge they have learned from their experience. Watch the mystery of how God heals your heart through ministering to others.

    • Oh. Penny.

      Your first sentence stole my breath. What a significant testimony you have to share, one which NO ONE would ever ask for, but through your experience can minister HUGELY to others! There is “the other” side to your pain, to your husband’s indiscretion; I’m sure God did a transforming work in both of your lives (maybe others?) through the circumstance of dreadful choice. That you’re using it to honor Him, is evidence of your maturing faith.

      Oh…lovie…how I wish this was not your (or anyone’s) story to share, I’m thankful you’re willing to encourage others and bear testimony to God’s goodness and healing. His ways ARE mystery, which in a convoluted way strengthen my belief (that He CAN’T be explained).

      {{hugs}} and blessing to you, friend. Thank you for sharing your changed heart.

    • Penny

      May God continue to bless you and continue to heal you so you can minister to others. You sound like a huge bless ing to soo many hurting people out there–I wish no one ever had to deal with indiscretion, or other marital sins!!

      Many hugs to you and your family! My prayers are going out for you all!

      YSIC

    • Charina,

      Sometimes word void is WORSE than word spoken 🙁 (that, I know from experience, too :(. ) In spite of this being your to endure, I’m thankful, with you, for your assurance in Christ.

      Praying….

  3. The story is much too long to tell here, but yes. I was deeply wounded in 2010 through a breakup I thougth my heart could not survive. It did, though, and God is using the brokenness in ways I NEVER would have guessed. I now work at a radio station (which was not even on the radar of my life…ever) as a producer for a talk show largely geared toward women, and the hurt I went through in that season (combined with all the other experiences, both good and bad, that I’ve had thus far) have provided just what I need to relate to our listeners and to do the job!

    Thank you for this post; God is taking me on a new journey – one of daily (sometimes minute-ly) surrender to Him. I loved your sentence: “What once would have splintered my heart is now seen through Spirit yes.” My heart quickened when I read that because I can see its truth playing out in my life and that gives me such HOPE!!! : )

    • Rebekah,

      Isn’t human inclination to “wish” away the pain or to preemptively “prevent” it to begin with? If you’re like me, we pray for protection AGAINST such things. And yet, look at how God is blessing you and others through what you’ve learned the hard way….no, the HEART-way.

      You can’t imagine how much it means for me for you to share that a word or two of mine resonated with your own heart; which in turn, buoys MY heart. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing a sliver of your story.

    • Rebekah,

      It is truly amazing how God takes our past hurts & wounds & uses them for His purposes! Puts us on His journey–one designed by Him for us individually!

      God is sooo good to us and cares for us in ways we never imagined!

      My prayers are going out for you and your family—may God surround you with His grace, mercy, love & peace to endure this situation!

      YSIC

  4. Your post spoke to me in so many ways today, so many things I need to hold on to with both hands. “A broken heart, although painful, isn’t bad.” It makes one look at life’s experiences through different colored lenses, and that is transforming. Thank you for speaking to my heart this morning, giving me much to think on. And by the way, I love all kinds of “cheese.” *smile*

    • Ahhh, Beth…first, I’ll start with your last line–you DID make me smile!! 🙂

      I *think* I might be older than a fair number of incourage readers–I’m closer to being a grandmother than a first-time mom, and MERCY WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?! I only share that to share this: I’ve lived through some pretty painful heartache and low times in life, and I’ve learned that strength comes from the gettin’ through it all. And maybe one of the biggest things I’ve learned is how all things–ALL THINGS–work together for GOOD because God says they do! So in the heat of what DOES NOT MAKE SENSE from a human perspective–disease, infidelity, job loss, poverty, genocide, etc., God is accomplishing an (ultimate) Kingdom work.

      The longer I live, the more clearly I see this (though it’s still veiled in part). That you seem to be looking at your circumstance a bit differently is evidence of a maturing in your faith (I think). So, thank you for letting me know that the Lord used a thought or two of mine to encourage YOU. I’m grateful He did and you told :).

      • I, too, am older than the average reader, having already sent half my children off to college (*gulp*), and hopefully have matured on the way myself. But isn’t it strange how we can hold on to the feelings we have from those hard times, no matter how long ago, and still perceive them as “bad”? Even though I know with every bit of my heart that all things work together for good, I still feel…bad. The images and feelings that accompany those memories seem to be engraved in my mind and don’t change with the passage of years. So I see now that I need to use the truth to change the feelings, the perceptions I have unknowingly held on to, and I need to do that with intention and faith, knowing my God is good…all the time! Thank you again, and so glad to have given you a smile back!

  5. What a powerful question you asked: “What if on 12/31/12, I had spent the 365 days leading up to it reading Scripture daily, devotionally…passionately…relationally…?”

    Truth be told, most of us are challenged with that same thing – and how to respond each day out of love and passion for Christ … and not some self-imposed guilt trip.

    I’m facing that crossroads question, too … http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2012/01/our-crossroads-moment.html

    • Oh, Linda…since I wrote this piece, there are days where I’ve barely “got it in.” Ugh. Doesn’t that sound wretched? BUT, my fervor is still present and I’m THANKFUL. I WANT to read, not study, but experience, ya know? I can’t imagine there’s blessing in motivation by guilt; do you think God would rather us not spend time in the word if it’s just a matter of obligation? Hmmmm….

      Regardless, I’m praying over all who find this piece that, together, we’ll spur one another on to love and good deeds…a unity of desiring to desire God. 🙂

  6. This is my story from yesterday, and my facebook status for today:

    I noticed her. That’s how it started. I saw her–small and slumped, carefully surveying the selection of milk. She was there for an unusually long time, balancing the weight of the refrigerator door on her back. I watched as a little boy almost careened his cart into her frail frame while his mother impatiently clucked at him and redirected his efforts. I watched the other shoppers move around her, all in a hurry, all with lists, all with a purpose to their steps. I watched her and wondered if her resolve matched the steely grey of her hair or if her heart and mind had finally accepted the realities of her aged body. I approached her and moved the door off her back with my arm. ‘Oh,’ she startled, as her bright blue eyes turned to meet mine in greeting. ‘They really know how to wedge these cartons in here, don’t they?’ I smiled. ‘Can I help you get it out?’ I didn’t need milk, but I would pretend, I had decided, in the event that my helping would hurt her pride. ‘Well, I thought I saw a 20th date on one of these, but now I can only find the 18th,’ she explained. I knelt down and studied them for her, lifting each one and saying the date aloud. ‘Here’s one with the 22nd. Even better!,’ I told her. I lifted the container and placed it in her cart. A gallon of milk. In her younger years, she probably threw her babies weighing much more than this into the air, catching them in strong, confident arms after gravity exerted its pull and before they tumbled back towards the Earth. She probably cooked and cleaned and kissed and bandaged and mended and loved. She was needed. I was sure of it. But today, she needed me. I’m asking you to notice them today–the ones who need you, if even for just a minute, to take the weight off their back, who need a hug, a warm smile, your listening ear. I believe that the world can be changed one small kindness at a time. I believe you are just the one to do it….

  7. Wounded, yes…broken, very much so…by the one who is most often the anchor of a family, better known as Mom. She is bipolar and won’t accept it. I don’t even want to imagine where I would be if God had not entered my life at such a young age. I’ve been striving to live at peace as much as I’ve been able to… forever. But now? I turned 50 and with it came the normal things that seem to happen around this age with an extra, a diagnosis. Dealing with the empty nest, menopause and my husband’s diagnosis of lymphoma have taken over and she chooses this time to become more difficult than ever. I pray, I seek and still I have questions and I don’t see how it will all fit together as my family now grows with grandchildren. So I don’t see yet how God will use this for my good, but in the middle of it I’m finding a voice, I’m speaking of mental illness when God allows an opening and I’m making difficult changes in my relationship with her. I’m changing the rules, we have all lived by. Its hard. She’s my mother. But. God is my heavenly Father and knows what is ahead and loves me. These are the things I must remind myself of every single day.

    Thank you so much for this site and all of you who write. Right here, as well as reading Ann Voskamp’s blog, I have received the encouragement that I have needed to keep my focus in spite of circumstances. I have been a pastor’s wife for almost 30 years and have sought to encourage many, but its been difficult to find encouragement for us.
    Thank you so much. I am really sorry this is soooo long.

    • Thank you Barb – I am crying as i read your thoughts. I too am your age and have dealt with mentally ill parents and siblings my whole life. It is difficult to forgive and move on with your life when you wake up and see all the devastation from this illness that won’t go away. God has always been my soft place to lay my head but in every day life it is so hard to deal with the fall-out. I often feel like the “prodigal daughter” the good one, the lawyer, the healthy one why can’t the ugly, rageful ppl get healthy? I pray and it saves me. Peace to you Barb and all you are going through and thank you for your thoughts that spoke to me today.

      • Thank you Katie for replying. Your words is my “grace” today. Knowing there are others when for so long it seems you’ve been the only one. I hadn’t thought of being the prodigal daughter before as we usually think of it in light of the one who has gone astray in a negative way. But it fits. Thank you and God bless you in your journey.

    • Oh. Barb. My goodness.

      *This* is when (in)courage is good. When sisters encircle circles and simply love. Praying peace, praying healing….just praying.

      Never apologize for sharing your heart, your hurt. You…are….loved!

  8. Wow, how your words ministered to me today. The timing and the exact phrasing, the scripture above all marked a blessing on my heart today. Thank you for each part of this post and know that a southern sister in Christ was touched profoundly. Going to re-read again and seek more beautiful truth nuggets. Hoping to pass on the blessings over at wynnegraceappears . I will so be looking for your next post!!! Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth!!

      YOU blessed ME! I reread this post today, almost having forgotten what I had written before; is it crazy to say it spoke to me again? SO thankful it meant something to YOU.

      xo

  9. This is lovely, and so true. I appreciate the scriptures…I think if we are too “tough” to be damaged by those daggers, then are we truly His? He desire, like you said, broken, soft spirit. Not that he wants us to hurt, but there are teaching moments in everything…

  10. Robin, once again your post came dancing into my life…thanks. Got a few scars from some hurts.

    I like what Liza said in her relpy before me. For too many years I was “tough” now I am a scared broken vessel, laid out before Him to use as He deems worthy for His glory.

  11. I loved your article as it truly describes a loving heart: I think it’s important to keep thinking of the wounds in a person’s heart and how they may be tormented by their past or even something going on in their present that they live with or have to overcome to help strengthen your own heart as you wait for their healing. If we start to believe or accept from them that it is our fault, responsibility or our strength that they need it places a huge burden of fear and anxiety on us; we need to remember that only God can heal them and stay in Him for strength and just keep trusting, never lose hope. If you don’t, start to take care of yourself so you are better to care for others and to stay in compassion, only a “well” person can do that.

    • Liz,

      “Well” is relative, don’tcha think? (small smile)

      Yes….God is the only healer. I can’t help but beg for his intervention in all things.

  12. Our hearts are fragile, as the Tinman said in the Wizard of Oz, “I know I have a heart because it is breaking”

    I know mine is too sensitive, I have to often remind myself I take things people say far too seriously. But I also know God has given me a tender heart for good things.

    When people wound me with their words, I ask God to guard my heart from taking it into a deep place, and also for it to not cause me to grow cynical.

  13. Oh, Robin. I am new to this community, but your words spoke to my heart.

    Decades of battling eating disorders. Drugged and raped in college. Suffocating depression and anxiety. I am learning the power of giving voice to these hurts. These are the darker parts of my story.

    BUT….that is NOT the end of the story! I no longer see myself as a victim. Sin (from ourselves and others) packs along so many lies. It has taken me years to un-learn them, but God’s truth has sifted my heart and I have discovered there is pure gold lying at the bottom. Brokenness? Yes. Pain so deep I thought I would drown. But it was the brokenness that drove me to cling to truth and never let go. The evil that was meant to steal, kill, and destroy has been overcome. I KNOW what it’s like to trade ashes for beauty, sorrow for joy. He is able to do exceedingly more than all we could ask or imagine. If I hadn’t walked through those dark valleys I would not appreciate the sun as deeply. He has given me a new song –one that I can share with others who have been down this path.

    • Sarah,

      I don’t know you, but your comment tells me, dear sister, that YOU are on recovery’s road! To God be the glory, yes?

      Your past pain breaks my heart, but your healing (even if it’s not complete yet) has GOT to encourage others! Clearly the Lord has accomplished great things in you, for His Glory.

      I’m so glad you found incourage…… 🙂

  14. my husband and i have recently been discovering the cracks in our marriage that were so thin before but have grown so thick, they’re impossible to ignore. last night he told me my wrongdoings with such a hardness that i knew i had deeply hurt him. i had helped to break his already broken heart. this morning i read leviticus about laying one’s hand on their sin offering before giving it up to the lord. i confessed the ways i had hurt him and pleaded that his heart not turn to stone. i have hope that God has taken my sin offering, burned it on the altar, and is already moving in His mysterious ways to change me so that i can participate by His grace, in the softening of my husband’s heart. thank you so much for your timely words of wisdom. keep loving God, being loved by Him, and writing of that wonderful love!

    • mj,

      Marriage is NOT easy and I envy or doubt those who seem to indicate it is :/.

      Praying over you right now, thankful you’ve begun to recognize your role in the bruising of your husband’s heart. That might be the first step to healing…..

  15. I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for over a year and a half and this last December my boyfriend came to my home town to propose to me, what I didn’t know was that he had cheated on me a few month before that and I had to realized it by my self which made my heart breake even worse because i had so much trust on him and our confidence on each other that though if something like that would ever happed to us I would be the first person he’d ever tell that but… I wasn’t. My boyfriend never touched any girl but we all know that just even have the desire or lust for anybody else feels like the worst treason and even though this has helped him to surrender his ”man struggles” to God and even though I have ”forgiven” him, I’m struggling every single day to keep on with this:
    (Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8)

    I know God is telling me to let go of this things, I can tell that He has changed my now fiance’s heart into a totally new and beautiful one and I’m so glad He did! but for some reason mine is still so broken and instead of pulling me closer to Him and to my fiance; every time he asks me to pray with him or read some scripture together i can’t help to feel this rejection or to feel doubts and fear of trusting him back again.
    I please ask for your prayers.
    All this has being very recent to me and my heart still needs a lot of healing I know but I trust that God has a plan and he has blessed my life through my fiance in many more other beautiful ways and just by all this love I have for him that i know i need to stop all this fears and Love and support him through all this things in excat the same way that he is trying SO HARD to do it for me every day… I just don’t know how and I need God’s help.

  16. Robin,

    Your first paragraph spoke volumes to me. “But the tiniest of daggers can pierce skin’s shield and impale my heart. Pieces shatter, blood flows, wounds seep. In that moment I take my eyes off Christ and I forget who I am.” Oh how sooo very very true that is for me lately.

    The past fall was rather hard for me at work with my job completely shifting from patient care/triage to paperwork only. There have been many, many days when even the slightest things said would just set me off & worse yet…that’s when the devil would creep in and say things like “you’re stupid, not smart enough, idiot.” It all made me feel so worthless & hurt–like I wasted a lot of time in mylife studying & job searching for what?!

    Slowly, but surely the Lord is beginning to work in me a miracle–through simple devotions, Bible readings, music & His gentle loving touching hand on me and my life!

  17. My heart has been breaking, bleeding for a lo-oong time, but I get moments of reprieve (scar-forming?) so last week in worship service I was moved to pray that my heart always stay tender to the pain and suffering of others so that God’s love can always move through me. Umm, this has been a HARD week! Every blog I’ve read and (comments too) has torn my heart open. I am so encouraged that there are such faithful, compassionate sisters out there to minister, and I have NO idea how God can flow His love through me. Many, many destructive lies whispered to me this week, crushing weights of single motherhood added, nothing left to give. I (have to) believe this *will* work out for good, at some point, but right now there is NO earthly way. My husband left me and our two young children just over a year ago after 15+ years of marriage, and I cannot describe how deeply this has confused me when I want to believe in God’s plan, His good and perfect will. I don’t have the strength to ride this out so I MUST lean into Him, and I *don’t* see the way. My heart aches so heavy and I am sinking lower this week – I am surely being shown that I cannot just try harder and dig deeper (lies both from the past and from lips more recently). It will get “worse” as we have to sell and move out – to where? – and I struggle to figure out how we will survive, and what I must do. Everything about this hurts. I don’t know what miracle I am waiting for, either. Will the Lord work a mighty miracle in my (ex)husband’s heart and return him to belief? Return him to our family? Or is there a “better” future for us that I am waiting for – but how can a broken family be “better”? Time will tell……

  18. I am finally starting to see the connection between the friend issues I had in middle/high school and my insecurity now. God has transformed my heart, but I’m finding that these memories creep back in and threaten to take the life out of me. But God is the ultimate healer, and He’s so much bigger than my past!

    Such an encouraging post, Robin. Thank you. 🙂

  19. Robyn…each time I read a post you have scripted, my insides stir and move in gigantic ways. It is the Spirit moving your fingers, your lips, and the result is beauty far more radiant than can be described.

    Thank you for being so open. So wise in your own experiences. Thank you for being transparent with your struggles, to show us with similar follies (or even different ones) that He blessedly works through the heartache to flourish maturity and wisdom in His truth.

    I have been scalded by both the well-meaning barbs of others, and the sheer judgement from more without the bother of pretense. We hurt one another in this broken, post-Eden habitat. As much as I’ve begged for ways to be different, for my heart not to hurt so much nor care when the disdain of others fall on my ears – I know that this wish is incorrect of me to ask. Instead, I am to come to Almighty Him with my woes. Let His eyes gaze over me, His words heal the broken, His ways adorn my every act. I am to trust that when He fought for me, He longed for the day when I could finally understand there is no more need for me to battle and flail. His cross finished my need to perform for anyone – even Him.

    My heart is His. My life is with Him. My days are never more to be spent fighting the current of popular opinion. You remind me of this. I am emboldened by your ability to show your heart and how God has whispered into your corners of pain.

    Thank you Robyn. I never walk away from reading your sentences without a resolve of support and a stronger handle of the only Truth that ever will be. His.

  20. As a child, I grow up with an emotionally abusive mother, a father who was unfatithful and my sick grandmother living in our home. My teenage years were spend traveling back and forth to and from a nursing home every weekend. I was mother hen to my little brother. I found out about my father’s infidelity, before my mother did at age 16. At 18 he traded us in for a new family. At 20 I married my high school sweetheart. The first 10 years of our marriage were spend enabling my mother. My husband and I both worked at my father’s business. The stress was slowly taking a toll on my physically. My husband and I escaped the stress by remodeling a our entire home. Our first business failed. I got pregnant with our first child and suffered with extreme anxiety. I stopped talking to my mother, when the baby was 6 weeks old. That went on for six years. I’m still astranged from my father. We stopped talking, when first baby was 18 months. JESUS saved me. Second baby born…three years appart. We lost our second business in a flood two weeks, before I gave birth. She was born naturally…8 pounds 11 ounces. I breastfeeding them exclusively. Sleep deprivation. We started struggling financially. I miscarried third baby. Family deathes…right after. Debilitating anxiety… I continued to mother and homeschool. I’m still mothering and homeschooling. I’m happily married. GLORY TO GOD! My heart was once hard. Through all of this it is much softer and much more prepared for Christ. Presently, He’s showing me how I’ve been emotionally dependent in the past and how I MUST LOVE HIM AND BE LOVED BY HIM FIRST. I started out a rough pebble. The crashing waves in my life have thrown me and tumbled me. I am coming out of it all soft, polished and beautiful in HIS HANDS. I would have never survived without OUR LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!!!

    • No wonder you suffered anxiety being yourself and what you needed to be for your family for all those years. So happy you have found your strength in who you are in Christ and can see how these events have shaped and taught you so much – you know how rare you are to not be bitter but to be able to grow in grace? You are a Jewel!

  21. Sorry for the poor spelling… I wrote reply with tired eyes and hands. Love and prayers to all of you…

    • I pray for you Jen ! Live courageous, God will not fail you ! He will not let you down or dissappoint you. He does not promise more than He can deliver. He will never say anything that is ‘too good to be true’ ! You are deeply loved by Him who will never let you down !

      May the peace of God be with you, with love, Ruth.

      • Thank you, Ruth! You’ve inspired me to look up and meditate on scripture verses, that include GOD’s promises. Thank you, also, for reminding me, that GOD will next let me down…

        • One of His promises I received yesterday is Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

          I wish you an encouraging week Jen ! Ruth.

  22. “A broken heart, though painful, isn’t bad.”

    So true, and I’ve never looked at it like that. I look upon myself as being “broken”, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing?

    You’ve given me something to think about, ma’am! 🙂

  23. The Lord touched me through the words this brother wrote…esp. of the need we have of the heart of Christ, one of contrition & a broken spirit. He is all we need.

  24. Oh, I had to come back and read this several times because I had tears in my eyes each time I read through it. By some measures, I have had an incredibly blessed life. Yet I have also been set in places where I have seen an awful lot(serving as a missionary in a refugee center, working in the court system, etc..), and I have sometimes wondered why God has shown me so much of hurt and sin. But perhaps He makes me see it because He wants me to serve Him in it.

  25. Robin thanks so much for your beautiful, challenging words. I have had deep hurts, wounds, scars but He took all those and is making something beautiful. Ears to hear, eyes to see where to minister Small Graces. They are all around. Sometimes they just need a smile. I am so very thankful that He took my broken spirit and healed like only He can. Blessings to you today.

  26. I love lurking on (in)Courage, but I just wanted to comment and say thank you, Robin, for your words. It’s a beautiful perspective that I so often forget: in the midst of circumstances or fears I don’t understand, God has a purpose and I can trust in Him. I’m only twenty, but a wise older woman who has seen her share of pain once said, “Having experienced so much of life, I can tell you that it is hard. But I an also tell you that there is nothing to fear.” Reminds me of the Proverbs 31 verse – she is clothed in strength and dignity and smiles at the days to come.

    Knowing that God has a purpose, strength to sustain, and beauty to bring from whatever comes.

    But thank you also, my sisters, for your words – the comments show that this is such a loving and real community, and it blesses my soul.

  27. Your words encouraged me when I first read this back in February, and again this morning when I was reading through my “starred” blog items. Thank you for speaking from the heart.