Up until “that day” I thought, ‘my life was finally, perfectly, on track.’ I had bought a house 5 months prior, because I was so confident in the “steadiness” of my life. I was getting ready to step into the next exciting chapter of my career after working for amazing Godly man (alongside an incredible team) for the past 2 years. I was thriving in the Jr League and DAR moving up in leadership all the while working alongside inspirational women and giving back to the community. I had even just gone into my second year of remission. Everything seemed to be so perfectly in place, and only getting better.
Then, 5 months ago today, in but a few fleeting seconds, I changed my life forever.
In the days and weeks that followed I lived wallowing in a regret and despair that you couldn’t possibly imagine. Every day I felt like I was drowning. I could barely breathe through the never-ending tears. I couldn’t eat, or drink — I don’t even think I thought to until after the 9th day. I tried to sleep every waking moment. It was the most miserably alone and desperate I’ve ever felt.
There are a lot more details about the 8 days that followed “that day”… perhaps I’ll recount them some day. Not now. Even 5 months later the wounds are too fresh to want to dive into the details.
For little did I realize that in putting together the picture perfect life in 2014, I had let one area of my life wane without even realizing it… my relationship with God. Despite all the horrible fallout that happened in my life that first week (and the months since) something miraculous happened — I connected with God on a level I didn’t even think was possible.
In that, there was a divine humility — realizing that it’s taken me getting to the lowest of lows to stop to prioritize my relationship with God again. To stop and offer up a broken, defeated girl to the maker of the universe and realize that he KNOWS I choose everything in life over Him throughout 2014. But also to know He doesn’t care — He would literally do anything to conquer and save me yet again, simply because He loves me. That much.
And you wouldn’t begin to believe all the “God things” (those serendipitous events that you can’t explain any other way than acknowledging the hand of God is at work in your life) that have happened these past 5 months. The finite attention to detail God’s given the little things in my life to SHOW me He’s there, and that He loves me.
In moments of extreme panic and anxiety, He’s steadied and calmed me. In moments where I thought I would literally die of heartache, He’d taken my heart in His hands and given me comfort. When I’ve wanted to fight back against lies, He’s made me still reminding me that in my stillness He will fight for me and speak truth over the lies.
He’s taken the time to speak to me more deeply, more directly than ever before assuring me of His promise in the most detailed, undeniable ways — everything’s going to be okay. And in doing so, has made tears of sadness turn into tears of joy and hope for what the future will bring. #5MonthsAndHopeful
This one of those you have to be willing to go with me on this journey kind of posts… so about two weeks ago I was driving down to Norfolk before dawn for the VA DAR State Conference. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person, but I’m a huge “drive in the morning” person because it avoids traffic. So there I am, driving by myself at an hour too early to even think about calling anyone else to help pass the time… And there it went… that moment my spirit just lost it. Being THAT alone with myself. Without the ability to sleep or do anything else but drive to distract myself.
That’s when the brokenness came through. As only it does in the still, small moments.
I found myself sobbing. An emotional disaster. As if God wanted to say, ‘my heart breaks for you,’ the heaven’s opened up and it began to pour outside my car. Not exactly a safe combo, crazy rain and crazy tears, but compelled by some inexplicable force I turned to the local Christian radio station in WGTS 91.9 and the song began… “He Knows” by Jeremy Camp… (you can scroll to the bottom and listen to the playlist while you read within this post — definitely makes much more sense listening to the songs than just reading snippets of lyrics)
All the bitter weary ways
endless striving day by day
you barely have the strength to pray
in the valley low
how hard your fight has been
how deep the pain within
wounds that no one else has seen
hurts too much to show
all the doubt you’re standing in between
And all the weight that brings you to your knees
Once again God found me through the radio and started reaching a place in a my heart I had all but forgotten… but one song wasn’t enough. Next up “I Will Praise You In This Storm.” It was though the Lord wanted me declare He’s my God in the midst of my tears and the thunder that was taking place outside…
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say “Amen”, and it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away
And the car ride became a clear message from God… every song acknowledged the rain outside my car and the very thoughts living in my head. Some that I’ve said aloud for months, others that I’ve felt too broken to say out loud. The perfect series of songs just wouldn’t stop.
How long must I pray
Must I pray to You
How long must I wait
Must I wait for You
How long till I see Your face
See You shining through
I’m on my knees
Begging You to notice me
I’m on my knees
Father, will You turn to me
One tear in the dropping rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart
One light, that’s all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If You’re everything You say You are
Won’t You come close and hold my heart
want you as you are, not as you ought to be
Won’t you lay down your guard and come to me
The shame that grips you now is crippling
It breaks my heart to see you suffering
Cause I am for you
I’m not against you
If you want to know
How far my love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If want to see
How much you mean to me
Look at my hands, look at my side
If you could count the times I say you are forgiven
It’s more than the drops in the ocean
It’s worth mentioning the connection this song had to me… so while “everything” was happening, I described myself as drowning. I wondered if those who hated me wanted to silence me… to death. Certainly the death threats echoed such a sentiment, but what was the end-game for everyone else? How long could you want to hold one person under? I felt as thought I couldn’t come up for air without being immediately pushed back under, and held there. And I knew I deserved wrath, but death? Literal or not. I cried so much those days. Broken, grasping for just a few minutes of air before it all started in on me again.
I still can’t imagine what those around me who I explained that feeling to felt… I had a few reporters in tears realizing just how bad it was. How my stupid action ignited a hatred of epic proportions that no one wanted to put an end to. Folks either thought I deserved it or it was like a train-wreck they couldn’t help but watch. Either way, I’m still not sure how I made it through those days… but hearing this song made me feel as though God was acknowledging those bleak moments and feelings.
And the music kept getting more real. Which is where I admit to you, that I’ve had God speak to me through the radio before but NEVER in a way such a this. Never song after song like it was happening that morning…
No shadow comes without the light making a way
No raging storm can ever defy one word of faith
My heart remains sure in the wind, sure in the waves
You are the anchor for my soul
You won’t let go
You won’t let go
No matter what may come I know
You won’t let go
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me…
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms
He so clearly knew I was stuck in the car with Him and I literally couldn’t have run from His presence that morning. And let’s face I couldn’t make up this series of songs if I tried…
How many times have you heard me cry out
“God please take this”?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
The whole “drowning” analogy was something I talked through daily the first few weeks of December. And with thoughts of drowning, all I ever wanted was the chance to “breathe.”
Every time that you wake up breathing
Every night when you close your eyes
Every day that your heart keeps beating
There’s purpose for your life
So don’t give up
Don’t lay down
Just hold on
Don’t quit now
Every breath that you take has meaning
You are here for a reason
At this point I had stopped crying. I think I had run out of tears. My breathing steadied, but still needed reassurance that I believe in a God who loves me far more than I could ever deserve. How fitting this song came on next…
Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”
I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I’m redeemed
And because I’m so flaw-filled and human God clearly knew hearing I’m redeemed once, especially in my situation wasn’t enough. Thus He took another moment to reassure me with yet another perfect song.
I’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt
That You still love me
But in Your eyes there’s only grace now
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You brake my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be
Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
And because my God has the BEST sense of humor of anyone, “Shake” came on. Like the song that was sent to tell me to get up off my crying butt (when I stopped driving of course) and start to live again. To remember He sent His son to pay the ultimate price because we’re all sinners. To stop living in a self-hating past and to move on and praise Him.
I just can’t believe
Where my life was at
All that I know is that my heart was broken
And I don’t ever wanna go back
Ain’t no explanation
How I saw the light
He found me and set me free
And it brought me back to life
I had Shazam’d all these songs at the time and just now, nearly a month later stopped to listen to them all again in order and write this. Boy did I need it tonight.
And meant for an ENTIRELY different post (that will one day come), it’s worth noting God truly does have a history of reaching me through the radio. Check out the date of this one (November 28, 2012). Read what I wrote and then consider the fact my life just fell to pieces November 28, 2014. It’s safe to say God works in mysterious ways…
I put together all of these songs in a playlist you can listen to here or below: