#PreApproved Writer of the Week: Alyssa Santos

October 21, 2014 | 13 comments

#PreApproved Sisterhood Series


Welcome to a new series, hosted here on the blog. Every Tuesday night, one of our PreApproved sisters will share her story on letting go of a love idol.

Together, we’re giving up our love idols, and we’re not taking them back.

We are already approved; we have nothing to prove. In Christ, we are #preapproved.

Love Idol Pain
Alyssa Santos

“I don’t know how to go back, Mom,” she says.

I tell her that in one sense, going back might be impossible anyway. We can’t undo what has happened in us. We are changed.”

– Jennifer Lee, The Love Idol

Angelo and I sat in the slanted, golden September sunshine facing the riotous remains of the summer garden. It was overgrown. The shaggy heads of the crimson bee-balm leaned precariously to the left, the old, pink rose was heavy with a month’s worth of blossoms, the lavender recalled a faded, dusty shade of its former intense purple.

We watched bees hum and dart, looking for the last of the nectar, distilled and sweet by the August heat.

It was a miracle, these moments of soaking in sunshine. It hadn’t been but a month of Sundays since the accident on the highway under the light of the full moon, the wreck that changed everything. Yet, here we sat— wholly altered and unable to return to who we were a month prior—in our backyard, chatting about our kids, back-to-school, the upcoming cross-country race.

I shifted in my seat, seeking respite from the throbbing pain and closed my eyes.

“Do you need to rest?”

A harrumph and a sigh, “I suppose.”

Angelo stood on his good leg and hopped over to my chair, careful not to hit his cast on the table leg.

“How should we do this?”

We began the cautious choreography to get me back inside the house. My husband protected my leg as I used my arms to push myself backward onto the floor of the house through the sliding door. He assisted me onto a footstool where I sat to catch my breath before the long journey with my walker down the hall and to our bed.

Several minutes later, Angelo appeared at the bedroom door with ice packs and a bottle of water. We arranged the pillows behind my back, under my left leg (that was broken in over a dozen places) and sweet relief, the ice chilled the pain and the medication began its work in my body.

Tears escaped my eyes and I whispered: How long can this last? Will I ever be normal again? We lay side by side, broken legs propped on pillows and he held my hand and reassured me that this pain wouldn’t last forever, that I was healing, that I needed to give it time.

That night I awoke from a fitful sleep. I sat up and hunched over my swollen leg. Tears fell on my sheets and my pulse throbbed in all my wounds. I ran my fingers gingerly on the scar that ran from my belly button up to my sternum and recalled these words: light and momentary troubles. Perhaps the accident was no accident at all, but an opportunity for God to reveal his glory, in me, through me. I felt an inadequate vessel, broken as I was, but a willing one.

I whispered thanks in the dark for a leg not lost, for mending bones and organs, and sighed, “In Jesus’ name, amen.” In Jesus’ name – so be it.

Steve Saint said, “God never wastes a hurt.”  He gathers up the emotional wreckage that scrapes and scours our souls to repurpose it into something beautiful. I’ve become convinced that because God can redeem every hurt, even my pain is preapproved, to bring glory to my savior. As much as I seek comfort and a life of ease, God invites me to set that idol aside and be willing to trust him—even with my pain.

I now have a lot of scars. I have days that I ache deep in my bones. I also have this tattoo. My daughter gifted it to me as a commemoration of this journey. It runs parallel to the long scar on my leg and reads: Struck down, but not destroyed.

You see we carry around death in this body. We wrestle with the killing sprees of injustice around the world, bear wounds of rejection and misunderstanding, but our God who cannot waste even a bit of hurt has even declared our suffering preapproved, acceptable, useful. We can trust by his life-giving word that he will even declare it good. And we can trust him to do this when we have nothing else in which to trust.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10,16-18)

Alyssa Santos plays with words. She also plays in the dirt, in the kitchen and at the lake.  She and her husband have four children, ages 10 to twenty. She began blogging as a personal experiment in June 2011. In August 2011, a drunk driver hit Alyssa and her family. Alyssa suffered critical injuries and nearly died. Life took on a surreal and fragile beauty in the weeks after the accident and she began to see the gift in living in moments graced. In the months of recovery, Alyssa wrote through the process of pain and learning to walk again, living with limitations and staying connected, however tenuously, to her source of joy, in search of grace-gifts. Rocks. Roots. Wings. , Alyssa’s blog, is a safe place where grace and truth and the nitty-gritty come together. She’s known Jesus as her savior since she was a little girl, and she’s come to learn that he is always saving her, always redeeming the moments, the time, the hurts and the questions. She is currently working on her memoir, studying how to write fiction, and renovating a little lake cabin they’ve named Grace Cottage.


Click here to find out more about the Love Idol movement.

Click here to purchase the book that inspired the movement.

Click here to join us on Facebook as we lay down our Love Idols and declare our #preapproved status in Christ.



Click here to print the black and white preapproved cutouts.
Place these where ever your Love Idols have lurked!

A pink PreApproved printable: to frame, to put on your refrigerator, to give to a friend.
Click here to print. My gift to you, brave soul!

by | October 21, 2014 | 13 comments


  1. Becky Keife

    Alyssa, your writing is beautiful and your story speaks to the deep beauty of a God who can redeem all things, even deep scars and searing pain. Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. Anita

    Beautiful words, Alyssa.Thank you for the reminder that our life isn’t about us–it’s about reflecting his life–no matter how he wants us to reflect it (through pain, hardship, faith, joy, peace, or just ordinary living).

    • Alyssa Santos

      It’s interesting, Anita, that you bring up ordinary living. Since this season where God’s faithfulness sparkled like a new day dawning I’ve stepped back into ordinary living. It’s an odd tension, I’ll be honest, trying to live ordinary again even though it was what I longed for: to be normal. But we have are in battles and our suffering seasons can help us see others and care with greater empathy for others in the midst of difficulty.

  3. Barb Nichols

    Beautiful words. What amazing love God offers to never waste our hurts. I want to live in that ocean of grace. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Wow, Alyssa, I had no idea…..thank you, Jesus, for this wonderful story. And thank you for sharing it here. The tattoo is just priceless, by the way!

    • Alyssa Santos

      Hey Jody – thank you! We were upheld by so much community in that season. And our kids! Even though this was scary and hard for them, and they wondered if they’d see me alive again, they soldiered on and God raised up incredible faith in their souls. I wouldn’t give that up for a scar-fee, metal-free leg. Not in a million years.

  5. Eileen

    Just beautiful. He redeems all of it! Thank you for sharing your journey.

  6. rhondaquaney

    Blown away by your beauty in words and the gift of this post. Deeply moved Alyssa.

    • Alyssa Santos

      oh, thank you Rhonda 🙂

  7. Kristyannbrown

    Thank you for telling your story. I broke every bone in my leg and knee as well as tearing every ligament. He gives a greater grace. Your words have been an encouragement to me. That through the pain, He gives Himself to us. I don’t have adequate words to express how good He has been, but reading your post allowed me to see how suffering produces Hope. We are pre-approved in our pain. Thank you. Every step I take is grace. You spoke to my soul.

    • Alyssa Santos

      Kristyann! Isn’t it hard? And yet even the process of healing (and the things that are happening in there physiologically) can be a journey that brings us into a new, clearer understanding of our own value, of how much God values us. Even in the pain and the frustrating limitations, his grace abounds more and more. Yes, every step:grace.

  8. Jennifer Bush Dorhauer

    I was pondering the clay image today. Sometimes, if the pot develops a crack while on the wheel, the potter must smash it back down into a lump and remake it. Perhaps it was looking like a bowl but now looks like a vase–we won’t know what the potter intends for us until we are complete on the other side of eternity. His transforming grace still amazes me.

    • Alyssa Santos

      Oh, yes. This is true. And he stays faithful to his task of making us useful, beautiful vessels. He never abandons us.



  1. Does God Pre-Approve Our Pain? | alyssa santos - rocks. roots. wings. - […] click over to Jennifer’s to read the rest of my story […]
  2. Snowflakes Whisper in the New Year – Janis Van Keuren - […] God nudged me into participating in the launch of a new book for Jennifer Dukes Lee called, “Love Idol.”…

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