Have you ever done a bunch of flips under water in a swimming pool or been knocked over by a wave and you weren’t sure where you were in order to find your way to air? Well, that’s been me for some time now. Admittedly. Humbly. Embarrassingly.
Before I left for vacation, I promised you that I would disconnect, pray, rest, be still and listen to God so that when I came back I’d be ready to serve you, my husband and my family better. I never knew the change it would bring about but I did have faith that change would happen. The funny thing is, during the vacation, I caught glimpses of what God was sharing with me. But it wasn’t until this morning during my “daily meeting with Jesus” that I was blindsided by enlightenment and found my way to AIR! I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve been living scared, insecure, and begging for oxygen all because of four tiny letters F-E-A-R.
About 2 years ago I was secure, living by the Spirit and filled with joy. I had finally reached a time in my life where it was just me and God and the hope I held for the future had me soaring! I was no longer in the trenches of bad relationships, a sinful social life or abuse. I had my crown on knowing I was a “daughter of the King.” I knew what I deserved and wasn’t going to except anything less. Enter Neil (my husband).
I was so excited when he entered my life. I just knew it was God. I met him through my Christian mentor at the church that sparked my faith to begin with just two years earlier. How could that not be God?! We had our very first conversation over the phone on the night of Valentine’s Day 2015 which I also attributed to God’s perfect plan. We talked until about 1am knowing we both had to be up for an early day but we just couldn’t hang up. I don’t think either of us wanted it to end. The only thing that made the hang up less painful was knowing we’d see each other soon due to the fact our conversation led to a date. Yay! Fast forward. We had two dates and about twelve 6 hour conversations until I heard God say “you’ll marry him.” It about knocked me on the floor and had me up all night. How could I marry him? I hardly knew him. It wasn’t my foolish, lustful desire that had me reeling- heck we hadn’t even kissed yet and due to our faith and convictions we knew that neither of us would do things in the wrong order this time (marriage first then sex.) It wasn’t the newness this time, it was the “knowing.” And just had I suspected, 8 months later, we were married. The best day of my life to date- no question.
However, as we all know (but wish), life isn’t a fairytale and no one is perfect. This is where the wave hit me. A few months into dating Neil, his ex-wife and someone else from his past reached out to me somewhat simultaneously. (Gulp) This one hurt. The ex-wife wanted to tell me all the ways he had failed her. The other wanted to share the same. Let me stop here. Women, we aren’t helping anyone, not even ourselves, when we talk to the new girlfriend about our old relationship. We tell ourselves we are helping, but deep down we know are seeking revenge for the hurt it caused. Let’s be honest. If some of your exes called your husband would it all be rainbows and butterflies? I know for me it wouldn’t. They’d probably have Neil sprinting for the closest exit door. Endings hurt. And some women just can’t contain themselves. But rarely do ex-boyfriends/husbands call the new man to clue them in on who their ex-girlfriend/wife was. So why do we? Who I was with my past is no reflection of who I am in my marriage. Sure you can still see glimpses of the old me from time to time that might appear similar but I promise you, if I was still that girl, Neil and I would have never made it to where we are now.
But all I just preached about above, I myself could never believe. Some days I focused so much on what those girls said that my work day had zero productivity and I had mine as well been in a coma. I couldn’t even tell you what I did on those days. I was living in a fog. I knew in my heart I needed to get past it. I knew I had the same stories (and some far worse) in my past and Neil loved me anyway. I knew God called me to forgive. So I tried. But as I’ve tested, challenged, and re-tested, “trying” and “doing” are two totally different things.
We continued on in our relationship. I fell more in love with him and knew God called me into this man’s life and then met his kids and saw my place there too. But some days still got me. I kept that wall of protection up “just in case” after I said “I do” and (embarrassingly enough) even up til now. But fear has been destroying the life I could be living.
Living in fear makes you feel so bad about yourself. It steals your security and all your confidence. Here enters the devil. I wanted to feel good again. This is where the devil is SO GOOD at his schemes. The devil knew if I was going to fear, sin dragged along with it. Hence the bible verse “There is no fear in perfect love.” Fear is a tool the devil uses for us to get nothing done. You see before all this happened, God was using me to change lives. I was focused on serving others and on a future of building God’s kingdom. But in order to “feel better” I started searching for ways outside of God’s plan to make that possible. So I began to focus on working out, making unnecessary purchases, and even putting this blog before the man and family I committed my life to. I started to think of only me. In my fear, I became self-serving. This my friends, only produced more fear. When I began to focus on myself, I focused even more on protecting myself from what I needed to “possibly” protect myself from. This spun me into even more fear of the future. Do you see how that works? It was a downward spiral! And not only that but it also stopped me from being who God intended me to be and hurt all the people that I am connected to- including you! I’ve been serving you from a place of fear. I’ve been serving my husband and my children from the same place. And most of the time, I haven’t been serving at all. And I’m sorry.
As I write this post, I feel exposed but I feel a healing. So let me take off the last bit of “coverings” I have left on….
Divorce scares me. It is literally my biggest fear. To post pictures of my happy life and also blog post and promote about “The Keys to a Great Marriage” only to turn around and be divorced is like hanging me on a cross to die while being laughed at. Hmm… that sounds familiar. To say I was divorced because my husband cheated on me is doubly painful. And that folks is the fear that paralyzes me. For some it’s death, others it’s speaking in front of people but for me, that is it. That is the place I’ve been living in. And I feel like a fake. Again, I’m sorry.
The book I read while on vacation was a book by Beth Moore called “So Long Insecurity, You’ve Been a Bad Friend.” God definitely worked through her to get to me with this one. The messages were being hammered down on me as hard as the waves that crashed in front of me as I read. She said God gave us our strength and dignity. IT IS OURS TO KEEP! No one, no thing, no mistreatment and no divorce can take it from us! So getting back to that point of how I’d feel if all my fears came true? Jesus kept his dignity all the way to the cross. He died being laughed at, hanging from a tree. But no one took his dignity. It was from God and he held on to it with a deep knowing that it was his to keep. This soon resulted in him rising again in front of his enemies in victory. This picture of fearlessness isn’t just His. It can be ours too. We can take up our cross, whatever that looks like, and smile in front of our enemies knowing that God has victory for us even in the face of pain. In this book I was reminded that even if my biggest fear did happen, that just like Jesus has done so many times before in my life, he would walk me through my pain, redeem my situation, and have me living in a far better place than before. He’s redeemed my situations time and time again over my 34 years. It’s time I remember, no matter what, His plans are so good! (Jeremiah 9:11)
I don’t ever plan on getting a divorce. I know I’ve got an amazing Christian man in who Neil is today and my fears are about as illogical as Superman. But I’ve officially been enlightened. We live in a sinful world and I’m not immune to divorce just as much as the next person, but what I do know now is if it ever did happen, I’d get past the pain and be victorious on the other side.
I’m a sinner and I’ll probably fail a time or two as I navigate through this new way of thinking in respect to my fears. But today I’ve been convicted and instead of trying this time I’ll be doing what it takes to live from a place of strength and dignity (Prov. 31). It’s mine. I’m keeping it. You nor anyone one else can have it.
Beth Moore, thanks for your empowering words. God, thanks for giving Beth the courage to write them. But most of all thank you for your relentless pursuit to make me better and for never giving up on me.
This is me. Fabulously Flawed.
All comments and shares welcome.