Well, sort of running with endurance, anyway... :) Definitely sounds good, right? I have been really meditating on Hebrews 12:1 lately. It says, "...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us." Kinda like starting over, emptying myself out, so that I can allow God to fill me with the things I need to get through the day. Anyway....
Today was the last work day at MDO. Talk about a looonnnggg day. I have never felt so emotional or bittersweet in my life. I woke up this morning, remembering the anxious excitement I felt on a similar morning that now feels like decades ago. When I first took this job, I knew it was absolutely God working in my life. However, I seriously doubted I would be able to keep at it for a year, while maintaining school, the adjustment to a recent move, and keeping myself from drowning with life's issues. Today, I felt such joy and thankfulness in my heart for the changed person that went to work this morning versus the overwhelmed fear-ridden person that went that first day. Such healing has taken place in me. Overwhelmingly peaceful healing.
So much of my day has been focused on reflection; what we have done over the last 9 months in the lives of the kids, their parents, and this ministry. While I focused quite a bit on the kids I wouldn't be seeing over the summer, as well as those moving on to kindergarten, I couldn't help but think over my life, where it has been, and where God is taking me. I am blessed, and I am so incredibly thankful.
Let me just say this, August feels seriously like 3 years ago. Life has gone by so fast, and yet so insanely slow. My journey has taken me down roads I never even thought I could experience, much less come out breathing, laughing, smiling and really enjoying. Anyway, back to August. My reality 9 months ago was pretty bleak. I was presented this job opportunity that was really perfectly suited for me. I was nervous, but felt like I should be capable. I was still battling the divorce process, just starting a visitation schedule, and trying to understand why God would even care for me, this divorced woman who totally ignored God so many times. I never slept through the night; sometimes because my kids woke me up, but most often because I would have nightmares that would get me so emotionally spent I couldn't go back to sleep. I felt like I was walking out hell on earth, not understanding I wasn't being punished or unloved, but that His plan was to draw me close to Him, whatever that took.
I don't typically share stuff like this, because I hate thinking about how people will react, or the ways they will judge me. Tonight, I really feel it on my heart to share little bits, and am going to do so. Through the months of August, September, October and the beginning of November, the only thing that kept me here was seriously the hand of God. Between motherhood, school, work, panic attacks, exhaustion, fear, anxiety, and severe depression, I really shouldn't be alive. I never attempted to kill myself, but prayed more than once that God would just let me die. I was tired of fighting every single issue. I was so weary of the fear that was literally eating me alive. It would be easier for God to just take me. I even wondered if maybe I was supposed to help God out and just do it for Him. My girls are honestly the only reason I am here, alive, today. I knew their lives needed me in it. So I kept breathing, even when I felt like I was drowning, I kept breathing. Completely the hand of God.
Let me just say this. God is amazing. He constantly astounds me. He knew just what I would need, and when I would need it. He knew the people I would need, the financial situation I would be in, and the confirmation of being on the right path. Why we doubt his love, plans, or awesomeness, I will never understand.
God placed me in a church during the darkest hours of my life. While I may have been working in an MDO program, the program is a ministry of the church, and takes place in a church. Where better to teach me how His love to surrounds me? He knew this environment would allow His incredible peace to wash over me. He placed me in an environment where I wouldn't be alone. He planted incredible women around me to love me, hug me, and most importantly, pray with and over me. Looking back, I am absolutely amazed at the vision I can clearly see of me literally resting in the palm of one open hand, the other resting almost on top of it, protecting me from only He truly knows what. Even when I thought He was so far away, He was so close. I used to get so frustrated that it always seemed Monday and Wednesday nights were my worst nights. It seemed that when I knew I would need sleep the most, I got the least amount. Looking back now, I honestly believe God allowed things to happen when He knew I would have people around me to lift me up. In my weakness, His strength shone through. I cannot describe how many mornings it was a child that would just smile when he or she saw me that kept me from crying. How many mornings I went to work on the verge of breaking down, and having someone stop and pray with me. This job was not just a job for me, but a realization that He was genuinely looking out for me. His plan was to allow me to heal, grow and rest in Him. I have an insanely bright future because of things He placed in my path years ago. I am so blessed. I am so thankful. Words can't even express. To the ladies that have helped me over the last little bit, thank you. You will never know how much of an impact you have had in my life. You will never know how much your hugs, time, tears and prayers have changed my life for the better. Thank you doesn't seem enough, but will have to do.
I will never say I have overcome fear or anxiety. I will never say that I will never again experience the insanity of a panic attack. I can say this: God is bigger. He is stronger. He is working for my good. Through all of the craziness, I have learned I have a Comforter. I have a Protector. I have the ultimate Provider, Helper, and Peace-Giver. So many things, can't even name them all. I have had one panic episode since Thanksgiving. I have had two nightmares. In August, I was experiencing between 3-5 nightmares per night. I never thought 9 short months later I wouldn't even be able to remember what they were about. I am so thankful, too.
I remember feeling so helpless. The amazing part? I don't feel helpless now. I feel God's power and strength pouring through me. I know that I may not like exactly where I am at right now, but God has it all figured out. I love knowing I can help the girls understand it, too, because when I am struggling with something I feel I can't do, I just have to remind myself, I can do all things.... I was tucking Sara in to bed a few nights ago, and was praying with Sara. She was worried about an upcoming situation that is a little new and a little scary for her. Her words to me were, "Mommy, I can't do this." As a mom, my heart was pretty much ripped out of my chest and thrown at a wall. I was hurting for her. It was at this moment I realized she was limiting herself to what she could do in her own ability. I looked at her and said, "Sara, you can do this. The Bible says, I can do all things in Christ, who will strengthen me." She laughed, and said, "Mommy, actually, it says, I can do everything in Christ, who gives me strength." She still said she really didn't want to do what she had to do, but knew she was able to, because Christ would give her strength. She even knew it word for word, unlike her mommy. :)
Here I sit, excited for what may or may not be coming my way. I know that with time, God will reveal the next season to me, and when He does, I will be ready. I am so happy that I have the opportunity to have my girls with me all but 4 days a month. I am so thankful God placed me in a church setting that loves me and my girls, regardless of our status. I can't wait to completely strip off these things that are just slowing me down and really run the race I was called to finish, and even more, so thankful I don't have to do it with my energy or strength!