If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would describe myself as a “strong” person I don’t know that I could have. I would have described myself as loud, fun-loving, adventurous, and friendly. Today if you asked me I’d probably tell you that I pretty sure I’m nothing short of bionic, made of kryptonite, and a super ninja warrior. It’s nothing I’ve done personally to gain those titles, but more so what life has brought me through. I’d like to share with you where I found my strength and to encourage any of you who may be struggling that you can come out on the other side stronger, better, and happier.
Just as most (dare I say “all”) of us have experienced throughout our brief layover on this planet there are certainly going to be times of stress, trials, and hardships. That may come in the package of a divorce, a death, a loss, or a disappointment. You just fill in the blank with whatever meets your specific need. I’ve said many times that in Scripture we are never promised this will be an easy ride, but we are promised that it will never be more than we can bear. I’ve gone round and round with God on that one a few times, but as much as I balk and protest He always ultimately proves Himself to be true.
In the last few years I’ve learned that a few things are vital to our successful survival here in this tornado of chaos that we call “life”. I don’t want to give the wrong impressions- life has been so good to me. I am blessed in so many areas and for those glimpses of fulfillment I am so very thankful. I’ve learned that much (if not all) of the “chaos” in my life can be attributed to poor choices on MY part. Sure, we can’t control death and certain other unfortunate circumstances which quietly creep into the corners of our lives, but we do control other factors which can lead to many complications. I’m going to speak to you as if I were speaking to my friends, so let me share with you what I feel each of us as humans must possess in our aresenal of weapons to defeat and conquer the “ugly” in our lives.
First, it is imperative, IMPERATIVE that you have a strong faith in Jesus Christ. I’m telling you that without Him a successful, peaceful, planned out maneuvering of this daily life is impossible. I became a Christian at the age of 10 and from that moment I’ve had an ace in my pocket which has brought me through 42 years of this life thus far. He is Who I turn to when I simply feel I can’t take another second. He is Who I cry out to when I desire nothing more than to pull the covers up over my head and simply lay there and let life pass me by. I’ve never ever been a person who would consider suicide because I simply think that is the most selfish act a person can commit. A permanent solution to a temporary problem and that’s the key. As badly as you may feel today- as hopeless as you may feel- you won’t always be swimming in this sea of despair. As a teenager, during times of stress, I began visualizing myself literally crawling up into His lap and saying “I can’t do this anymore”. I would close my eyes and just feel His arms engulfing me, pulling me in, and telling me that everything was going to be okay. This is a visualization that I’ve found myself melting into so many times over the last few years. He is our Father and He loves us unconditionally. There is nothing- absolutely nothing- we can do that will change how He feels for us. I find such peace and comfort in that.
Second, friendship. I don’t think you need to have a million friends. I think we all need to have one or two TRUE friends who aren’t afraid to be straight shooters with us. We shouldn’t seek to surround ourselves with “yes” friends- people who will agree with every statement we make and every decision we come to. I think the truest friends are those who aren’t afraid to have the uncomfortable conversations with us out of love by saying, “What the hell are you doing?” If everyone in your circle thinks all of your decisions are wonderful then I’d be tempted to tell you that you may need to reevaluate your relationships. Some of the hardest and most difficult conversations I’ve had with people come from my truest friends who only want what is best for me and aren’t afraid to rock the boat a bit to tell me. We aren’t flawless. We all make mistakes. We are supposed to sharpen each other “as iron sharpens iron.” Iron is strong. It can be painful. Listen to those well-intentioned friends and count your blessings that you have them. The Amy Jos and the Kell’s and the Loris and the Jessicas and the Carolynns in my life were strategically placed here to help keep me grounded. I am undeserving of them, but so eternally grateful for them.
Third, you have to find your purpose. Mine, easily, is being a mother. On my hardest days it is the fact that I am a mother which keeps me pushing ahead. I prayed wanting to have these babies for so long. I don’t take the responsibility of motherhood lightly. Moms often joke that as mothers we don’t have time to be sick. A mother can have a temperature of 103 degrees and still get children bathed, dressed, and ready for school- pack lunches and attend a PTA meeting. It’s our calling. On the “impossible” days those two sweet faces make getting out of bed possible. I have no doubt that they were “gifted” to me as an acknowledgement of responsibility and as a requirement of growing up- maybe even quicker than I expected.
I hope if you’ve read this that you’ve taken something from it. A year ago I literally couldn’t see even a day ahead without my heart racing and feeling sick to my stomach. I cried out to God, to my friends, to my family and I was heard. The loveliest part of my support system is that while they listen and hear my pain, instead of laying in the floor and crying with me and wallowing in sorrow, they are strength for me and immediately ask me “So what’s the plan?” They are eternal encouragement to me and help guide me through the muck and the mire. Sometimes it takes someone outside of yourself to help you pull yourself up by your boot straps and move forward.
I want to offer encouragement today. Peace can be had. We must be patient, make wise choices, and be still enough to listen to the quiet, but ever-speaking voice of God. Don’t be afraid. Even during the struggle you are facing you can rest assured knowing that He is already there on the other side waiting to guide you through. Find your peace. Allow it to come. Be obedient. Listen. Calm yourself. The reality is our future is already in His control.