Ok, let me start off by saying that I am sorry this second post has taken longer than I originally intended. LIFE. Am I right?
Now, to the second part of my story. The part where it gets good. I’m honestly at a loss where to even begin. I can honestly say that my life has been radically changed in so many ways over this past year that I could more easily count all the stars in the sky. But, this has become my story, my ministry and I choose to be obedient to what God has called me to. I am to be a light for others who are questioning where God is in the midst of their suffering and pain. He is there. Not only is He beside you the entire way, He has also gone before you and prepared your future in such an intricate way that beautifully intertwines your mistakes, your pain, your gifts and talents, your experiences and so many other details that you may never even realize into something beautiful.
I came out of that hospital an utterly broken person. I could barely stand on my own two feet. I had spent a good part of the prior year completely alienating myself from my family and other people who cared for me deeply. And guess who was waiting for me with open arms on the other side of those hospital doors…all of them. God has literally spent this entire past year loving me, taking care of me, giving me rest and healing me THROUGH different people in my life and their unique image of God himself. There are so many facets and layers and characteristics of God’s love that they literally cannot be contained in one human being.
I was the very image of the "Prodigal Son" and God met me where I was at and lifted me off of the ground so that he could heal me, love on me, show me the depths of his forgiveness, and bestow on me a feast of blessings. If I wrote the details of each and every blessing that He has given to me during this time, it would fill an entire book. My sincere desire for you, as you read this, is that you will grasp just how LOVING and FORGIVING our Father truly is. I had lied, betrayed people that I professed to love, only thought of myself and my own happiness, and so many other things that I had never realized I was capable of. I lost people I loved and considered to be family because I didn't protect our frienships like I should have and God forgave me for ALL of that before I even forgave myself.
Now, I said that I think in bullet points and this is the perfect place for them. I now give you an EXTREMELY brief list of how God has loved me and blessed me over the past year:
- FAMILY – As dysfunctional as families can be, when push came to shove, mine was there for me. They have walked with me and held me up when I couldn’t do it for myself more times than I can count. Mom, Dad, Lesli…you have all been SUCH great examples to me of God’s infinite love and I can only hope that I have the opportunity to show that kind of love towards you one day.
- Yes, my marriage DID fall apart. We both made mistakes and hurt one another deeply. But, I can truly say that THROUGH that, God created a truly unique and deep friendship between us that is unwavering. Mike is my BEST friend and I could not be more thankful for him as my best friend and as the father of our daughter. He is honestly one of the best men that I know and I am grateful that we have the relationship that we do.
- The DAY I was released from the hospital, I received and email from a pastor that my favorite professor from college (shout out to Dr. Craver!) referred to me for a position as Director of Family Ministry. After speaking to Dr. Craver and getting his encouragement to just meet with the pastor, I prayed A LOT and told God that I was just going to lay it all out on the table with him during my interview. If the church chose to hire me anyway, I knew it had to be from Him. Well, they did. They hardly batted an eye and the blessings and lessons that have come from my experience as the Director of Family Ministry with them are innumerable. I have formed some life-long friendships that were tailor made for exactly what God knew I needed.
- My daughter, Bella, has been the most innocent victim of the fallout from the last couple of years and yet she has shown me more grace and strength than I could have ever given her credit for. She is the most forgiving, comforting, kind, and hilarious child I have ever known. I am just plain blessed to be her mother. Our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds through all of this and she has been a direct source of healing for me more than she will ever know.
- One final blessing I will share:
God has shown me my purpose THROUGH my pain. I am no longer the person I was a year ago. I had to die to myself in order for him to form me into who he created me to be. Would I ever want to experience that amount of pain EVER again? No. But, I can genuinely stand here today, on the other end of the tunnel, and tell you that it was COMPLETELY worth it. I have peace that I have never known. I have strength that I never thought I was capable of. And I have an empathy for others who have found themselves in pits that they were thrown into or that they created themselves.
I am a MESS! But, I am also the beloved daughter of the King of the Universe…and that make me a ROYAL mess.