For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
2014… Wow. Just WOW. What a year! Soooo many blessings. God turned four years of intense pain into blessings for a lifetime. That’s the power I have found in Him. My desire and need to forgive those who hurt me, heal from many wounds, reach peace with some harsh realities, and step out in courage to begin a full life again was made possible because of the work He has done and is doing in my heart. 2014 was truly the best year I had experienced in years. I guess you could say I made up for the few rough years I had prior to it. Haha. In January of last year, I kicked the year off by hosting a ‘gratitude party’ for some of my closest girlfriends. These were women who walked through fire with me between the years of 2011 and 2014. They, through their Godly love, carried me through some horrible times. I left my ex-husband in July of 2014, and the divorce was final that December. Much MUCH has taken place since my last post in November of 2013.
To back up just a bit, though… In the early part of 2013, I was re-united with my childhood best friend. She and I had a falling out our senior year of high school. Thank God for Facebook. Haha. She reached out to me to re-connect, and it has been such a wonderful experience to have her in my life again after 16 years of separation. She is such a beautiful person – inside and out. This is just one of many people God put into my life when I needed what they had to offer most. She, too, was in a very difficult marriage for several years. Fortunate for me, when we re-connected, she had already reached the other side of those challenging years. While she never expressed her opinion as to what she thought I should do in my situation, she shared a little of her story. Her story offered me some insight to the fact that she understood what I was battling, as well as encouragement and hope for brighter days in the future. She serves as an inspiration to me today, and I am incredibly thankful to have her in my life again. Over the past year, we have gotten much closer and did a duathlon and a 100-mile bike ride together. 🙂
In August of 2013, when I moved into my apartment and was awaiting my divorce to become final, the women from my church small group got together and did something that made me feel more loved in a moment than I had ever felt before. They knew I was grieving the loss of my marriage something fierce… the hopes I had for it, the investment I had put into it, etc. In their love for me, they showered me with handwritten notes and scripture, home spa treatments, hot teas, chocolates, child band-aids/drawings/notes from their children, numerous mini flower vases to scatter around my apartment, etc. They were such a beautiful reflection of the Lord’s love to me on one of the saddest days of my life. I won’t ever forget the impact it had on me that day. Though I didn’t realize it then, that was the day I embarked on a new-found journey of deeply experiencing the Lord in a way I hadn’t in years.
For the next couple months, all I did was go to work, come home and watch movies until going to bed. I just completed collapsed, which was exactly what I needed to do. I had fought an incredibly hard fight of survival for a long while. I was exhausted. Finally, I had a safe place to come home to at the end of the day where I could relax, watch what I wanted to watch, and eat what I wanted to eat. Such simple things, but they were never things I could do peacefully during my marriage. According to Wikipedia, healing is defined as: Healing (literally meaning to make whole) is the process of the restoration of health to an unbalanced, diseased or damaged organism. In order to begin my journey back to wholeness, I needed to first start with a ‘rest’ phase. Slowly but surely, though, I was able to take on more things. I started feeling useful in my friendships again! For so long, I felt like I had nothing in me to give to anyone or anything because my marriage required everything I had in me just to survive it. So, it was nice to feel like I was back in a position to reciprocate within my friendships! God also started putting special people in my life that I could actually witness God’s goodness to and share my story with. Sharing my story with others has proven to not only be impactful to others but has also served as an integral part of my healing process. I had also forgotten what it was like to feel competent at a job. After some healing, the fog of constant personal distraction was lifted from my mind, and I started having clarity of thinking and was actually feeling on top of my workload for the first time since being hired.
My divorce being finalized in December of 2013 offered me a great opportunity to start 2014 with a clean slate, a fresh start.
Challenging myself physically was one of several areas I focused on to help my healing along, and I have experienced a lot of reward in. During the marriage, I was not well physically. The stress took a toll on my body. My hormones got all whacky – literally. My TSH levels got off, and it was affecting a lot. (My doctor tried to put me on a permanent medication, but I declined because I knew it was because of the temporary stress I was under. As I suspected, my TSH levels have gotten back into a healthy range since leaving the marriage.) I experienced a lot of problems with muscle tension that resulted in a frozen shoulder. I lost weight. I just wasn’t very healthy. If you have read my previous blogs, you know that I have been trying to maintain some sort of regular exercise regime. During my marriage, I was depressed and really struggled to find the energy and motivation to be consistent with anything that was healthy for me. And then when I took the time to just rest after leaving my marriage, I embraced gentleness and quietness and slowness again. This invited a lot of strolling down the sidewalks of my neighborhood but not intense physical activity. It really wasn’t until I finally re-gained some life in me during the rest phase that I prepared to get active.
I started going to the gym and doing a lot of hiking. Then, my co-worker who was undergoing some pain from her divorce just as I was rising up out mine asked me if I would be interested in doing an 8 day backpacking trip with her. What a blessing! It was a healing trip for her and an empowering one for me. I ended up backpacking the entire Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail over the course of 9 days. What has also been cool is how – like my childhood best friend spoke compassion and understanding into my life when I was hurting – I was able to offer that to my co-worker just a few short months away from my own divorce. That backpacking trip prompted me to embark on more physical challenges. I eventually signed up for monthly meetings with a personal trainer and monthly challenges. I started with small challenges and built up… 5k, then 100 mile bike ride, then a duathlon, then a 8.5k mile run up and down a mountain. Alongside all of this, life became very full socially, as well. People who hadn’t been in my life for a while were suddenly back in my life. New friendships started forming. Life was FULL! 🙂 Every weekend during the summer was some outdoor adventure (zip-ling, caving, paddling, camping, mountain biking, road cycling, hiking, competitions, etc.)! I am SO happy to have been liberated from the weight of the difficult marriage I was in. It has been nothing short of amazing what God has done in my life and the lives of others I’ve been involved with since the divorce. It’s like I was living in darkness and now I’m back to the light again, like I was in prison and I’m now free again, like I was death walking and am now fully alive again!
While all of that phase was really needed and perfect, at the close of 2014 I felt the need to step back and reflect a bit on this past year. It’s been a whirlwind, and I have been taking some time to process all of it over the last month or so. I get excited when I think of what God has already done to turn the painful times into such awesome blessings, but I get even more excited when I think of what He has yet to do and how he has yet to use them.
I look back at pictures taken during my marriage, and I can’t see any light in my eyes. But when I look at pictures taken now, I see life in them! I actually look younger. It’s crazy! I’m just blown away with how different life is for me now. While I had never adopted a negative mindset toward men in this world as a result of my experience with my ex-husband (because I have dated some wonderful men in my life), I have to admit that it has been nice to have had some very positive dating experiences thus far that have served as wonderful reminders that there are still really good and loving men out there. 🙂
More than probably anything, it has just been so great to come back home to myself again. It had been a long time since I felt in tune with myself and my sense of purpose. Little by little, though, I have been developing a deep sense of this again, and I am so outrageously thankful. It’s something I have prayed for for a very long time… years! I am trying to live purposefully in all areas of my life, but I realize I am still in a re-building phase with some things. My job, for example, is to help in the protection and restoration of the rivers in my state. I’m proud to be a part of this work, and I feel I’m where I am supposed to be within it for right now. However, I feel a certainty within that God will place me back in social service work again. It’s a desire of mine. Working with people in need is one of my greatest passions in life – a passion God placed in my heart. And if there is anything I am learning more and more in this life, it’s that He often does give us the desires of our heart. They just don’t always become actualized when or how we envision them. (And sometimes they are more than we bargained for!) He knows best as to what it will take for me and when I will be ready for the change. I just have to trust the process right now. Everything works best when it’s in alignment with His timing. I truly feel He is preparing me to one day be back in the social service field working with people in need. Until then, though, I’m just going to keep moving forward on this adventure He has me on and relish in the blessings along the way. 🙂
Laura Story’s song, Blessings – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ
Here’s to a wonderfully mysterious, adventurous 2015!
God is good, y’all! Until next time…