Bewildered, I try to recall when everything became a muddled mess. The truth is that oftentimes when we feel as if our lives are coming apart at the seams our minds can become fuzzy. The nonstop stress and darkness are a heavy burden. For those who are enduring painful trials, you know what I am writing about because you are there and it does not feel good.
Today, I am not going to say that you should have more faith. Nor am I going to suggest that you don't trust God. Instead, I am going to be transparent, share my own challenges about my life unraveling, and how I am still holding onto a thread of hope because I refuse for the enemy to defeat me.
It's so easy for others to tell us that we simply need more faith, more of God, and to trust that everything will work out fine. Yet, when we are reaching rock bottom, we sincerely do not need to be kicked down any further, criticized, or judged. Simply stated; when our lives unravel the last thing we want to hear is that our faith is lacking. Seriously, why do Christians behave this way?
When we are already hurting, we do not wish to be hurt by condemnation. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, when family or friends accuse us of doubting God, it actually does more harm, rather than good. It is discouraging; not encouraging. During times when our lives are unraveling, what we truly need from others is more love, more grace, and more compassion.
At this moment, I most definitely feel as if I've been hit on every side by ongoing enemy attacks, setbacks, and hardships. Despite the fact that I have overcome past trials which were quite hellish, it does not make this current circumstance any easier. However, it does give me an extra dose of hope that if God can help me overcome my obstacles in the past then He can most surely equip me to rise above whatever I face today.
For those who are wondering what in the world I am going through, here's a snapshot of my past six months. As you read through each battle of mine, you can see the intensity heating up to a higher degree.
- Delayed Book Launch: The world of self-publishing can be exciting and stressful all wrapped up into one brilliant package. Writing a book and working through the process of editing, formatting, designing book covers, and birthing a book is a true labor of love. In the fall last year, the person I had hired to do my editing and formatting had unexpected conflicts and after three difficult months, she quit at the last minute. My book launch was not only delayed, but it needed edited and formatted all over again. Thankfully, my amazing author friend, Karen Malena, referred me to a local gal named Michele Jones who happened to be a published author who was talented in editing and formatting. Isn't it fascinating how God connects us to the right people at the right time to fulfill His glorious purpose? Praise God that this issue was resolved and my book, Reinventing You, was launched at the end of December 2015!
- Loss of a Furry Friend: On my husband and my 27th wedding anniversary, our beloved lab, Samson, past away. Perhaps only dog-lovers can fully grasp the heartbreak of losing a furry friend? All I can say was that I have lost many loved one's and friends, but I have never been so engulfed in grief as I have with the loss of my pet. Despite the suffering and pain, God has worked powerfully in my life by using red cardinals that are symbolic of grief. I am in awe that on specific days when I was an emotional wreck over missing Samson, out of nowhere a beautiful red cardinal showed up in my back yard or wherever I was at. It was like my heavenly Father reached down to wrap His gentle arms around me to say, "My dear daughter, I know your pain, I feel your pain, and I am sending you a double portion of my love."
- Another Loss of a Furry Friend: On December 16, 2015, my family bought an adorable Shiba Inu puppy who we named Maia. While we desperately wanted to recover from our grief of losing Samson, we thought that adding a new addition to our family would ease the pain. Looking back, I now believe that we rushed into it too soon. Truthfully, we should not rush grief. Instead, we need to allow ourselves to go through the seven stages of grief. Long story short, I loved Maia and I wanted it to work out with her, but in reality the timing was not right. Unfortunately, her disposition was too hyperactive, too destructive, and it only added to the stress that my family was enduring. Add on top of it that my husband got laid off from work and the bottom line was that we could not financially afford to keep Maia. The good news is that the original breeder was able to successfully re-home Maia with a loving family.
- Job Loss: In the beginning of 2016, my husband completed a long-term project in commercial construction. Once this job was finished, his boss stated that there was not much work. For a few weeks, my husband was sent to a temporary position that was located one hour from where we live, which was an inconvenient, but we were thankful that at least he was still earning income. On the downside, his pay was drastically reduced because he was no longer on an A scale job. This most definitely increased the family stress and pressure on my husband. A few weeks ago, my husband was laid off from work. We've been through this at least seven other times in the past eight years. Our local area has economic challenges, especially in the winter months. Ultimately, we are praying for God to guide us and direct us to follow His will. We are seeking a possible relocation if this is the Lord's will and we are fervently praying for steady, acceptable employment. Although we do not know the answers and we do not know when my husband will obtain new work or be called back to his job, we are trying with all of our might to trust that God will be faithful. It may not be an easy road to travel, but can say that in the past God always provided for our needs. We never went without food, a home, or clothing. If God was faithful before, He will be faithful again.
- Diagnosis of Cancer: Last month, my mom and I went to the movies. Afterwards, when my mother stood up, she became very ill. Her legs were wobbly, she was dizzy, her head hurt, and she experienced blurry vision. I suggested that my mom go to the emergency room, but she did not want to. She's a very independent, feisty woman who tries to push through setbacks. However, for several weeks following this illness, she continued to experience migraines, dizziness, and numerous symptoms. Eventually, she scheduled an appointment with her doctor who sent her for a CT scan. Immediately after the testing, the radiographer met with my mom to inform her that the CT scan revealed an egg-sized tumor on the front lobe of her brain. From this point onward, it's been like a tornado has ripped our lives apart. This is not simply a little unraveling, but more like a tsunami! On March 8th, my mother had neurosurgery in which the egg-sized tumor was removed. The bad news is that the neurosurgeon discovered cancer cells in other areas within her brain that were not removed. For those who have battled cancer or someone you loved had died or survived cancer, you know this is quite a horrific ordeal. To watch someone dear to you suffer with cancer, is heart-wrenching. As a passionate and knowledgeable advocate of holistic wellness, it pains me to watch my mother succumb to chemotherapy and radiation. On the pharmaceutical labels of those treatments, it actually states that chemotherapy and radiation are carcinogenic. What is wrong with our Western medicine that uses cancer to treat cancer!? This is a whole other topic that I will address in my holistic nutrition and wellness blog. In the meanwhile, I respect that my mother chooses to use the traditional cancer treatments and that she has the choice to do whatever she chooses with her health and body. Regardless of her chemotherapy and radiation, I love my mother, I support my mother, and I will stand beside her to lift her up in prayer for a full healing.
This leads me to the topic of trusting God and being scared. Many Christians claim that you can't have faith and fear simultaneously. I am here to say that I believe that is a false myth. Quite frankly, I have unstoppable faith and I still experience fear from time to time. Cancer is frightening! Losing your job is downright scary! Real life is rough and I am being real over here to say that when our lives unravel we can be greatly tested. The Bible does say, "These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold - though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)
So how do we trust God when our lives unravel? I wish that I had easy answers, but I do not. Instead, I will share what I am doing in the midst of these dark storms. I take one breath at a time. When the burdens are too heavy for me to carry, I plead for the Lord to give me the strength to keep on walking in faith. Daily, I surrender these unbearable situations to Jesus. When I am confronted with a roller coaster of emotions, I let the tears fall. During moments when I feel weary, I practice self-care to nurture myself. Grown-up coloring books, candles, soft music, and healing essential oils can lift our spirits!
Lastly, I realize that I do not need to keep it altogether, to be perfect, to always be brave, or to beat myself up in moments of despair when my faith is faltering. Instead, I give my own self grace, gratitude, and love. Pressing into the Lord, I soak up His promises that declare He will sustain me. Today, whatever you are going through, no matter how hellish your hardship may be, hang onto this verse and say it out loud daily, "Lord, sustain me as You promised, that I may live. Do not let my hope be crushed." Also, lean on this scripture that has been another one of my favorites, "Surely, God is my help, the Lord is the one who sustains me." (Psalm 119:116 NLT and Psalm 54:4 NIV)