Note to Reader
This is a twelve month project which aims to bring to light the individual pain experienced by young women and to show how their unique stories make them who they are. We ask you to feel with an open heart and respect their stories.
I was no longer alone...
I think feeling that way for a season and then finally, we met a couple at our church, and they really started to pour into us and disciple us. I started to realize what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I had walked away from Him for such a long time that in that season of me feeling depressed, alone, and hurt, He came in. I allowed Him in and He restored that. I was no longer alone and that was the start for me to heal. It took a few years, it wasn’t overnight, and through those years I learned how to forgive. I learned that God forgave me and knowing that forgiveness showed me how to forgive my husband and myself, for things that I was guilty of or felt ashamed of and how I treated him. So I really learned forgiveness and that was the first part of being healed. I learned that He was always with me. And there were times in our marriage where the communication wasn’t always the best and I would feel alone, or the enemy would want me to feel alone, but I always had Jesus.
I remember, we moved back to Jacksonville and I was praying in the car because I felt frustrated that we weren’t making any headway in our relationship. And the next thing I knew, God spoke to me and said, “Don’t give up on him because I never gave up on you.” And that was the time I realized the commitment of the vow that I made at the altar and God restored that in my heart, and I started pursuing my husband in a different way. I started really reaching out to him, loving him, praying for him, and learning what it meant to be a wife that Jesus was calling me to be. My hope was that my husband could see Jesus in me and that was my focus and became my mission field for the next two and a half years where we finally came to a full restoration in our marriage where my husband came to a re-surrender to the Lord.
I really don’t struggle with the pain anymore. Four years ago I would’ve said there were triggers to that pain and time, whether it was a song or at times I couldn’t look at our wedding photos because I felt like that was not really us. But now I can and I can rejoice because I see where we were and where we are now, and it’s way better! We just celebrate that together! That we were young, without Jesus, and now we have Him, and it’s even better than we could’ve thought.
I can most definitely find good in my story! There is good in all pain! In James, I stayed in that book forever, it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds.” You've got to find joy in it. I think because we all are going to experience some kind of pain, we live in a broken world, we are not promised tomorrow. So yes, looking back on my pain, it sucked to walk through that. But it shaped us and molded us to make us stronger and to become vessels for the Lord to use to minister to others and love on people that may be walking through the same circumstance that we had walked through. How we were able to come out of that with Jesus, is a wonderful thing!
There is good in all pain!
How have I grown? I’ve grown so much by seeing what Jesus is able to do and restore. If He can restore our marriage and the way it was to where it is now, He can do anything. I’ve grown in my faith from that experience because it’s kind of a milestone, a monument in my life, to look back and say, “God did this, God healed this, God restored this,” so that anything else that comes my way, I’ve able to point back to that and say, “If He was able to do that, He can do this.” So my faith has grown and that’s the beauty of what He has done in our lives to bring that healing. What I’ve grown to know is that my identity is in Him. I am His daughter and nothing I go through, walk through, or have in this life defines me. I’m ultimately His and that’s all I need to get through anything in life. Who am I now? I’m His. I’m His daughter, a child of the King.
That experience taught me that my identity is not in any pain or my circumstances, I’m not a product of where I’m from or any failure or celebration. That experience has taught me that my true identity is in Jesus and nothing else defines who I am. And knowing that truth is always the filter in how I view this world, or at least try to. Of course we always slip and fall and want to wander, but that is a truth that is instilled in me. I have to point back to it to be reminded of that.
I have to keep my hands open and surrender to Him
In all the situations I’ve been through, thus far, the common thread I see in my life would be surrender. You know, like is going to happen, and there are a lot of things outside of our control. So embracing my own life, my own journey, with a level of surrendering, keeping my hands open for God to work versus trying to hold on to a situation based on how I think it should be or go. If you point back to my childhood and when my parents got divorced, if I had it my way, I would have them together but it was out of my control. I had to let it go and surrender it. With my marriage, when it was falling apart and I was trying to hold it together my way, I had to get to a point where I could let it go, surrender it, where God could intervene and restore. And even with my work, if I try to do things my own way and build a store the way I wanted it and control it, it wouldn’t be the way God intended it. And I have to keep my hands open and surrender to Him to be obedient to what He has called me to do. So the common thread in my life now is a constant, daily surrender, and being open to letting God control the things that are in my life and what I can learn and grow from it.
At the time, walking through the pain and feeling alone, it definitely made me feel like I wasn’t worth it or I had failed at something. There was no value in the situation I was in. I didn’t feel beautiful. I think that’s what pain and the darkness of pain wants to make you feel, not beautiful. So I walked through a year of just doubting myself, doubting my abilities, doubting who I am as a person because I was so alone and I thought marriage, my situation, my circumstance defined me. But in reality, I had to learn that it doesn’t. It doesn’t define my beauty or any of that. Only Jesus does.
I totally see my beauty and worth now because I know who I am in Jesus. What I wear, what I look like, my relationships and whether they are good or bad, those are wonderful things but they don’t define me. My beauty and my self-worth is in Jesus because He hung on that cross for me and I know that. That is a truth that is rooted in my soul and so, knowing that He died for me allows me to know my worth, my value, and that I’m beautiful.
The scars and the past pain is a part of my story and it points back to how God worked in my life, so I do embrace it and the opportunity that I can use it to help another couple walk through something or share hope. I’m able to reference what God did for me. So I embrace my pain. It’s a part of who I am but it doesn’t define me.
I would say to those reading this, you’re not alone in pain. You may feel like you are or that you’re the only one who has felt it or experienced it, but the truth is you’re not. First and foremost, you have a Savior that loves you so much to heal you from that. We’ve all walked through some sort of level of pain and heartache and if you haven’t yet, I’m sure you’ll walk in it at some point in life. So my hope is, whether it’s a similar circumstance you’re walking through in your marriage and you feel it’s broken with no hope, or if it’s any pain, God can bring you that hope.
God can bring you that hope.
Sharing my story has definitely helped. Absolutely. That’s one reason why when we were walking through the pain we had that couple that walked with us, loved us, and didn’t judge us for whatever we were walking through. We were able to open up authentically and share that. If you can get to that place where you’re not worried what people think of you and you surround yourself with safe people who love you for who you are, talking and sharing, I think is really important to help with healing.
It was a great experience doing this project. I haven’t talked about that pain in awhile or shared it in this way, so this was a good reminder of what God has done for us!