This post has been on my heart for a little over a month now. I keep coming back to it, tweaking it, adding to it, and praying about what I am supposed to say. Very rarely do things get deleted, but things just seem to keep being added. I am hopeful an encouraging message will finally be posted today.
For most of my life I have been described as strong-willed, independent, hard-headed, and just a tad bit stubborn. In my teenage years, I loved a good "debate." I viewed people that needed things as weak, or soft, definitely not something I viewed as positive. I never thought about circumstances causing a person to feel weak on the inside, but look incredibly strong to everyone else.
The last ten years of my life have worn me down, caused me pain, and broken me from the inside out. I have learned that the life you planned isn't guaranteed, happiness is not determined by what others do for you, and that independence is wildly overrated. I have learned that to be strong doesn't mean winning, nor does being dependent mean you aren't strong.
Although I married altogether way too young, I learned some of my most important lessons and beliefs during that marriage that was too long in some ways and not nearly long enough in other ways. I depended upon another person for so long that I began to view dependence as the ultimate sign of "loser status." I felt helpless, hopeless and completely broken. I felt weak, exhausted and tired of feeling worthless and lost in my situation. I longed to feel independent and on top of my life again. So, when I separated and finally divorced, independence was what I craved most.
Dependence is defined (www.dictionary.com) first as the state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid, support or the like. The second definition is reliance; confidence; trust. When I read this a few days ago (this post has been going around and around in my head for a few days), I was kinda stunned. You see, the first definition makes a person sound weak, needy, unable to function without said object or person. The second definition is what I have grown to realize is an underlying source of strength.
My road over the last 5 years has had more downs than ups. In the last 5 years, I have experienced unimaginable stresses that ate at my heart, mind and soul. Aside from taking care of the girls, money was always my biggest worry. First, there was never enough. Second, what there was, was typically spent on another's alcohol problem. One night clearly stands out in my mind. One of the girls (I am pretty sure it was Cassie) was sick, and had a high fever. Not only did I have a newborn to take care of, but two other kids who needed my attention, one of which was sick. To top that off, my homework load at that point was overwhelming (oh, how I wish I had homework like those days now!). I was stressed, I was anxious, I was so tired. All I wanted to do was give up. I asked my then husband to pick up Motrin on the way back home. He said he had no money. Frustrated, I believed him, but had to pick up the phone to call family and see if someone could bring me the medicine. I had to depend on someone who had no responsibility to me or my child, and pay for medicine because we just didn't have it. When my husband walked in with a case of beer under his arm, I remember losing it. I look back at that night and know I said things I didn't mean. Looking back, I remember knowing what would happen after I lost it, knowing I would probably be "at fault" for the beer he so desperately needed. And absolutely hating myself for 1) not being able to provide for my child what she needed, 2) not being able to give my husband what he needed, and 3) not being strong enough to stop the drinking and verbal attacks from happening inside my home, especially three sets of little eyes around witnessing some of it. This night was a turning point in my walk with God. I didn't know it then, but I know it without a doubt then. Even then, in the midst of chaos and confusion and such incredible sadness and frustration, He truly was working all things for my good.
I realized then that sometimes you have to depend on someone other than yourself to give you the things you most desperately need. That night, it was a bottle of ibuprofen. Several months ago, it was a bag of clothes. Not big things, but necessary things. I remember I felt so utterly weak in the situation, and remember calling upon His name to deliver me from the hurt, from the fear, from the absolute frustration that my life was. Not but a few weeks later came a promise of deliverance. I learned how to closely depend upon God for my happiness and joy. And, most days, I failed miserably. When I wasn't focusing on how to make the promise happen as soon as possible, I was focusing on how to change the person causing my pain and frustration, rather than focusing on God to change me. Fast forward about a year, and I had finally been given release from my marriage. I was angry. Let me be clear, I was angry not only with myself for failing and being so weak and needy, but also my ex-husband, but honestly, I was mostly angry with God. Because, I had learned to depend on Him for the promise to be fulfilled. I waited. I prayed. I believed. I trusted. One night, shortly after the separation took place, I remember crying out to God. Anger and despair completely consumed me. I had been hurt by the man I married. I had been hurt by the God I served.
That night, God spoke to my hurt, to my heart, speaking life over the situation. He told me my promise was going to be fulfilled, but that my miracle had already happened, that it had never been for my ex-husband, but instead, for me. I look back to that time, so many years ago. I feel sadness, that the miracle I wanted to happen (healing in my marriage) never happened, and never will. I do not miss or regret the abuse or the overwhelming chaos. I miss the hope of what was to come.
Funny enough, I am in the middle of the "Believing God" Bible study by Beth Moore. I have never felt more challenged to believe God for the rest of His promise over me to be fulfilled. Lol, and this presents new challenges I didn't even know I would encounter. This week, I have come face to face with the reality that I have accepted defeat. I have accepted that God promised me something, but that I don't believe I am worth enough for the promise to actually happen. I believe He can do what He says He can do, but have a hard time knowing I am worth enough for Him to do it for me. I want to take control of the situation and be independent, not needing to rely on Him for anything. Some days, it feels easier to just do it on my own than without Him. To just do it my way and have it happen already. But, you know, on second thought, I think I already did that once. And, it didn't really work out all that well...
My problem lies within that. God wants me to rely only on Him. Not on my friends, not on my kids, not on my church. He wants me. He wants me to pursue Him, not because of what He can do, but for who He is - my Savior, my Redeemer, the Restorer of my soul. He knows my struggles, He knows my failures, because He already planned the way out of them. But, without trusting in Him and looking to Him for the answer, I am lost. My "plan B" was His "plan A" all along. He knew it would take me being broken and battered so that I would hit the place in my life I would be okay with being dependent upon Him. He doesn't see that as weakness at all, but strength of the best kind.
I don't know why I had to wait until now to remember these things. I don't know when all of my promises will be revealed. But, I do know until then, I can sit back and wait for Him to move. I do know that when I am weak, He makes me strong. My independence is such incredible weakness in His sight, and that He just wants me to sit back and rest against Him. I will be strong. I will be dependent. And it will all be okay. I am finally beginning to realize my failures are only in my head. My failures might just be the beginning of the success in His plan for me. So, if you read with me earlier in the week, thanks for the encouragement. The sun is finally coming out...