The clouds were dark.
The little girl stood still, silent beneath the rain that struck her skin like shards of glass. Her hands hung limp at her sides. She was weary from the struggle it took to merely walk under the force of the relentless storm.
I'm so tired.
The little girl's dress was once white and beautiful. It had become tattered and gray, a remnant of what it once was. The girl was ashamed of her dress, of her heart, of her past. She had been fighting for so long. The rain hadn't stopped for what seemed like years.
So many mistakes. So many regrets that brought her to this moment. The little girl could only stand still; too weak to press forward any longer. She had struggled long enough. Fragile, like a broken doll. Once she was whole. Once she was beautiful. Her heart had become only filthy shards that pricked the palms of her hands. Dirty. Used. Ugly.
The clouds roiled above her in an empty, darkened sky. An angry clap of thunder crashed through the stillness of the air and the little girl fell to her knees. She tilted her head up to the sky and screamed with all her might. I've made so many mistakes. I'm broken. Worthless. Ugly. I can't do this anymore.
I thought I was Your child.
Tears. Rain. Cold. The little girl was fragile and small against the pounding rain of the storm. It battered her frail form and muddied the tattered edges of her dress. Where are You?
Slowly, the rain lulled until it came to a complete stop, leaving a damp and muddy ground in its wake. Are You here? The girl's knees shook as she struggled to her feet. I need You. She lifted her arms to the sky and clenched her small fists. The rain was gone, but she knew she wasn't alone. She could feel Him. She quaked with fear and shame. Did He still love her? Could He ever forgive the things she had done? Oh, what she would have given to feel loved again, to hear the warmth of His voice whispering into her heart.
The little girl's voice was hoarse, nearly gone, but she screamed all the more.
I NEED YOU!
With a flash of light brighter than anything the little girl had ever seen before, the clouds disappeared altogether. The girl tumbled to the ground, covering her eyes with trembling hands. I'm so broken. So ugly. I've ruined everything and I'm sorry...
I still love you.
The words burned through the girl's heart like a hot iron, leaving her winded and gasping for breath.
I've never left you. You've always been My child. Will you come home?
The girl was too overcome to speak. She squeezed her eyes shut and stretched her hands up to the sky, to the light, to the warmth of the love that seemed to radiate all around her. But I'm undeserving.
You're forgiven. You're loved. You're Mine.
When the girl opened her eyes again, everything was quiet. The light was still blindingly bright, but it no longer hurt her eyes. The girl stood up slowly, hardly able to take in the beauty of the earth around her. She was standing in a garden, surrounded by green grass and brightly-colored flowers and a gurgling brook filled with clear, beckoning water.
A garden restored by rain.
I'm so ugly compared to all of this. He can give me a beautiful garden, but I'm still broken. Still worthless. A tear trickled down the little girl's cheek, but a flash of white caught her eye. Pure white.
Her dress. The little girl's dress was white as snow, just like it used to be.
The girl gasped, spinning around and watching the white folds of her dress catch in the sunlight. As she twirled, a voice murmured lovingly into her heart, My child, I can make anything whole again. You're no longer a broken, tattered doll. In My eyes, you're beautiful. You're My precious little girl.
No longer broken and ugly, but precious and transformed. Brand new, just like the garden. The little girl lifted her hands into the air and smiled up at the sky.