“Behind every pair of eyes, there is a story,” I have said for years. There is no story exactly alike. But, when we hear that someone else has been through similar struggles, we don’t feel so alone. I have thought so many times, “If they can do it, I can do it.” Others have inspired me without even knowing it. My hope is that something in this vulnerable writing pays that forward.
My story includes growing up with very little, the death of a marriage, being bullied, various poor decisions, post-partum depression, abuse, near-death experience during child birth, being a single mom, verbal cruelty from religious leaders, watching my husband suffer colon cancer and (unrelated) requiring open heart surgery, and professionally helping hundreds and hundreds of people with their problems, and seeing more death and dying than anyone should have to see. Wow! That could be really depressing, BUT…I have had a secret weapon through every single moment of every single day. The secret weapon is my amazing Father. My story could have stopped with all the depressing stuff, but it didn’t. After all the set-backs, disappointments, and heart breaks there was always peace, strength, and healing. Just when I didn’t think I could go one more step, God allowed me to put one foot in front of the other until I hiked out of the darkness and I give Him all the glory.
How did He do it? Through my amazing friends and family and children. Through His word that I hid in my heart. Through circumstances and happenings that encouraged and strengthened me. Through laughter and joy. Through gratitude. Through praise for my King despite it all. Through faith and trust. Through prayer - lots and lots of prayer.
Many prayers began with, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I trust you.” Though I didn’t like it, I knew that a closed door meant He had a different plan. Though there was weeping and pain, I knew He would find a way for it to benefit others and make me stronger. Do I regret any of it? Well, that’s loaded question, but I do believe with all my heart that I wouldn’t be as grateful, humble, and compassionate toward others if it weren’t for my past. I wouldn’t be the person I am today, so in that way, I do not regret any of what life has brought. I often tell my children that we are not going to be victims to what life has dealt us, but that we are going to process, heal, move forward, and help others with the comfort we received from Christ.
I don’t know the story behind your eyes, but I do know that God is in the waiting. God is in the trials. God is in the suffering. God is in the healing. God is in the peace. God is in the joy. And above all that, God loves you beyond anything your wildest dreams can imagine. Believe it with all your heart. And if you are ever tempted to judge another, look into their eyes and know there is a story, that you may never know, behind them.
Hoping God is a huge part of your story,
“…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” Isaiah 61