With Thanksgiving on us I am really thinking about what Thanksgiving is all about. It’s not just being thankful for what we have. It’s also being thankful for what we don’t. This is not a concept I would have understood before the year 2014. As many of you may know, it was a trying year. A real struggle for my family and I. My family was redefined. Lines were drawn in areas I had no control. I lost some of the most important people in my life, I watched my children hurt on levels I couldn’t help. I had two choices…. 1) feel sorry for myself and follow a very destructive path filled with guilt, lies, bitterness, depression, anger, and hatred. Or… 2) turn to God. I write this today not to gain any pity, but to help someone else that may be on a similar journey. This last year I have found so much inspiration in the stories of others. So this is mine.
For years I have suffered from depression. In 2012 it got bad, towards the end of 2013 it was really bad. I dreamed of suicide. I’m a thinker, I always over think everything so I would always stop myself with over thinking how things would work for my husband after I was gone. I’m sure it was exhausting being married to me. I’m sure I wore him down. I tried so hard and yet always felt guilty for what I couldn’t do right. It was a devastating combination. I told him numerous times I wanted out. You have no idea how guilty I felt for saying that for the first 6 months after he left. It’s something I can never take back. Do I blame him for leaving? No. Did I wish he would come home? Well of course! And for a good 8 months I honestly thought he would. As the months went by I felt such a different person coming out of me, and yes I was sure he would come home. He didn’t, and I am not angry with him. But I also don’t feel guilty anymore. Guilt hurt me through the years and caused my depression. I don’t believe it is ever God’s plan to divorce. But I know God will take care of each one of us. I am not angry at my husband for not wanting to try. I’m sad about it. And it hurts. But I realize I played an equal part in this story. This year has been filled with hurt around each corner. A lot of detail that isn’t meant for the public, and honestly doesn’t really change anything except that each new hurt, each new discovery, each time I missed two of my children so bad I wanted to hurt someone, I turned to God and grew deeper in my faith. Each hurt blessed me. I know that is so loaded to even begin to understand if you haven’t truly hurt like this. If on the right path with God, hurt will drive you closer to him. And that is what happened. I’m not tooting my own horn. I have not been perfect this year by any means. But I have continued to strive to follow God’s plan for my life. I have messed up, and I will continue to mess up. The difference is I don’t feel guilty anymore. I am not defined by my actions. My actions are a reason to try different not a reason to give up and define myself as an awful person.
It’s when we lose everything, or what we think is everything, that maybe we are finally broken enough to fall on our knees and say “I give, it’s your turn God. My ways, the worlds ways, aren’t working anymore….. I give you my life, my childrens life, and my husbands life. Please take care of us!” And you know what! He did and then some. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful I broke. I begged and begged for a miracle. And I got one. Just not the one I wanted. Not the one I begged for. But I got the miracle God intended for me to get all along. I got me. I got him. I walk with Jesus through every action in my life. I wake up talking to him, and go to sleep talking to him. I talk to God about absolutely everything in my life. It started out slow…. it took time to learn to hear his responses. It definitely didn’t happen overnight. I’m still growing. He orchestrated my every action this last year. He saw this event coming before it came. He placed me in a work environment with the most spiritually rich co workers a person could ask for. They held me up on days I couldn’t hold myself. They prayed for me when I didn’t know how. They encouraged me to continue loving, and to let go of anger. They shared bible verses with me that inspired me. And the best part, they prayed for my husband as well. Each one of them understood my desire to love him still, and they encouraged it. These co workers never placed blame. If I was hurt they accepted it as that and seemed to only pray harder. I know this because of the peace I felt. There was an amazing direct correlation to my hurt and the peace that would fill me. My parents were an incredible support. They may not have understood my desire to hang on to my marriage, but they never questioned it, and they supported me completely. My oldest daughter became a huge inspiration. She just knew her dad was going to come home. And she encouraged me daily to just be patient. To keep working on me. To keep loving her dad. My oldest daughter wasn’t really a believer when all of this happened. She had a lot of questions. Through this I have watched her faith grow. I have watched her lean on God. I have watched her change… that has been inspiring!!! Through prayer I have witnessed my youngest son calm emotionally. This last year his emotional roller coaster has lessened immensely. He still struggles with his feelings and expressing them. And his struggles do cause him difficulty in school. But he has made more improvements this last year than all previous years combined.
Did I get my husband back in 2014? No. Did I get my children back in 2014? No. But I got something more. I gained a solid faith in God. I gained a trust in something I didn’t even know existed before. I learned the true meaning of love. I gained an awesome relationship with my children still at home. I became a mommy I am so proud to be. I gained me!!! What did I really lose? My guilt, my fear, my depression, my hurt, my anger, my jealousy, my panic. So this Thanksgiving what am I thankful for? I’m thankful that I broke. I am thankful that I hurt. I am thankful that I found me.
Is this where I thought I would be one year ago? No way! One year ago I was still wallowing in self pity. My husband hadn’t left. We were celebrating thanksgiving as a family. I don’t think I was really all that thankful. I think I was a pretty sad girl just going through the motions. I was miserable, and I’m guessing I made everyone around me miserable. My son screamed at everything and demonstrated absolutely no coping skills, my daughter hid in her room the majority of her time at home. I wont speak for the other two because I don’t have their permission. But my guess….. they were not happy either. That old saying “if momma aint happy aint nobody happy”, ya it’s true. I showed up in my pastors office within a week of my husband leaving and realized just how spiritually broken I was. I didn’t want to go see him. I didn’t think I deserved his help. But with the encouragement of some very good coworkers I went. That day changed my direction. The doors just started opening for me after that. Doors to teach me more about Jesus. Bible studies focusing on exactly what I needed. Bible verses from friends focusing on exactly my struggle that day or week. Devotions at work that gave me the exact word my heart was searching for. Prayers prayers and more prayers. I honestly don’t know how many people were praying for me and my family but I guarantee it was a lot. I felt the power of peace from those prayers. It was crazy!!! Some days I hurt so bad I couldn’t get out of bed. I started reading the bible in the really early hours I couldn’t sleep. Getting out of bed got easier. Some early morning hours I would find myself on the floor by my bed praying. I started running. At first God would send me on several runs a day. I wasn’t even a runner. I hated running! I remember being proud of finishing 5 miles in 50 minutes. I really wish I would have kept a journal of my running progress. Each run I would leave my hurt on the road. Leave my stresses behind. I was able to walk in my door a stress free mom. Pretty soon my kids would come running to me when I got home. They wanted hugs. They wanted to spend time with me. We would curl up together on the couch and study, or watch tv. We were a family. I finally became the mommy I always wanted to be. The mommy I think my husband always knew I could be.
My husband left December 6th, 2013 Just a few weeks before Christmas. As I come up on that anniversary I am striving to celebrate. Not celebrate that he left, but celebrate the new birth that day brought on. My story is not over. But I know without a doubt, I will be ok. I have more trust and faith with my half a glass, then I thought possible for anyone with a full glass. So to end this year I am thankful for 2014. I am thankful I had the opportunity to break, hurt, and be reborn. I am thankful for what I didn’t get in 2014 and what it really did to me. I would do it again in a heart beat to be where I am now. I am thankful for all the friends and family that held me up when I couldn’t hold myself. For all the times they gently redirected me. I am thankful for all the prayers. I am thankful for 2014.