The year 2014
caused forced me to morph into someone that can find gifts in the midst of pain.
There were warning signs that something wasn’t right the previous November. My two best friends – women I had been inseparable from for going on four years (our kids too) – had been spending more time together without me, which was rather unheard of. I brushed it off, justifying it to myself because they had more in common at this juncture. Both were homeschooling their kids while we did public school. One was a single mom, the other sincerely unhappy in her marriage, while my husband and I were honestly happier than ever.
So I disregarded their avoidance as a weird little season, anticipating it would pass. Even after I had a pretty significant surgery that November and neither of them checked on me for weeks. This alone was totally out of character for them, but I chalked it up as a phase. However, things were never the same and for months every attempt to spend time with them was abruptly avoided.
Fast forward through the holidays and into the beginning of that year. It finally occured to me that this isn’t just some phase. My journal entry from February 20, 2014 says the following:
Feeling down. Rejected. Hard on myself today. Then God tells me:
“You’re worth fighting for. Those who won’t fight to keep you are the ones I’m removing from your life. Those that remain are there to encourage and love you the way you deserve. You’re worth fighting for.”
So I call them on the complacency… I asked them what was going on. What I received in response within hours of that word from God was a laundry list of grievances dating back at least two years, including berating me for continued selfishness, manipulation and attacks on my children (and my parenting). It seriously felt as though someone had dropped an anvil on my chest.
Let me be clear, these women are Christians. They love God. But they are both very passive. What I didn’t realize was that they held on to grievances and they stocked piled, seeding bitterness toward me that festered and spread. Rather than address issues when they arose, they let on like nothing was ever wrong. I am a Type A personality, so I never let things go for long. My attempts at strengthening our friendship over the years by airing things out came off to them as selfishness. And they held on to things for so long that their checklist was full of inaccuracies.
At any rate, I was devastated. Despite the fact that several people in my life reassured me that their accusations were nothing but lies, I constantly wondered if I was terrible at being the person I had always tried to be – loving, compassionate, prioritizing others.
I asked God why and my journey entry from Feb. 23, 2014 reflected His answer:
“Because you won’t let go. Because I can’t remove the muck from your life that’s weighing you down if you continue to jump back into the mudpit, blind to what it’s doing to your heart. I’ve left you nothing to wallow in but ME.”
Enlightening, but I wanted more. I needed a confirmation from Him that I wasn’t who they said I was because my self worth and identity had been called into serious question. During worship at church that week I remember sobbing, begging God for answers as to who I was and if I had failed Him miserably.
We had a guest speaker that Sunday – he had never been to our church before and he had never met me, nor did he know what I was going through. During a moment when he was providing congregation members with words intended to be directly from God for their given situation, he looked right at me and said:
“God is doing a great thing in you. You are right where you’re supposed to be. You are thankful. God sees that. Be thankful. Nothing happens that He hasn’t purposed for you.”
That was so incredibly freeing.
I had also started the book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Arejust a couple of weeks before the tsunami of heartbreak crashed into me, and there was no doubt it was divinely intentional. The book is amazing – I can’t emphasize that enough – I’ve read it twice more since then. It literally changed my life in a multitude of ways.
Upon finishing Voskamp’s book, I joined a book study through our church on God is Able by Priscilla Shirer. It was a natural progression from one book to the other, just when I needed it. When I finished this book (equally life altering as the other), I worried that I wouldn’t have anything else to feed into me because I was still hurting – the pain was still raw.
Then a dear friend felt led to buy me the book Friendships: Avoiding the Ones That Hurt, Finding the Ones That Heal. Again, life altering, as I started to learn how I had become so dependent upon others to get me through hard times and rarely went to God about them. And why those women hurt me so deeply in the first place.
Good gracious… God was protecting and guiding me all along the journey through deep sorrow and pain, knowing exactly what would need to feed my soul in order to heal. One book stirring a revelation for my heart that led to the next revelation and the next. Steps ordained by God for the perfect time and in the perfect order to get me just where I needed to be to hear from Him.*
I’m long since in a place of forgiveness and healing now. I share only to show where God started a life-altering journey to spiritual abundance in me, full of hard but necessary lessons that I, in turn, now share through #LiveAbundantly in the hopes that they will help you too.