Sunshine through the Storm
I used to have what I considered my almost ‘perfect life’. From a superficial perspective, it was. I had an amazing husband who treated me like gold; we were best friends and had a work hard play hard approach to life. Days were spent either working, which we both loved, or having fun on our boat, complimented by regular holidays to exotic locations. We were “living the pre-family life dream” as I would call it. Life was more than great and not a day went by where I was not thankful to God.
So it subsequently came as the shock of my life when a massive shakeup occurred and I realised that my world as I knew it was coming crashing down. In a very short space of time, I went from having it all, to having my husband and marriage taken away. Everything we had built together over 7 years suddenly disintegrated. It was then that I knew I had two choices, to crumble and fall apart, or to press into God and stand strong in the identity of who I knew I was made to be!
You get to choose how you respond to situations in life. I want to share some of my journey, with the hope that what I have experienced and learnt, can help and benefit someone else.
There are 5 key areas I found helped me to positively navigate through my storm in a way that has enabled me come out a stronger person.
1. Press into God - Run to God, not from him.
When the turmoil began, I sensed the choices I made would have a significant impact on the outcome on the other side of this journey. This included the paths I chose, the attitudes I embraced, the way I held myself and navigated through each day. I made the predetermined decision to keep my eyes on God, looking forwards and up. To keep focussed on the fact that God is good and is for me.
I made choice to be in church each week and fill my mind and heart with positive, uplifting and faith filled teaching. I longed to be in God’s presence in church each week and it strengthened me every time. Reading and trusting God's Word has enabled me to journey through this ordeal in a peaceful way. I had seen how God pieced my life together in the past and I knew He would do it again and would show me what to do and help me to get through what I was now facing.
2. Know your identity
I reflected and drew upon words God had given me over 10 years ago – words about my true identify in Him and who I am as a unique woman. On the night that was the absolute blackest in my storm, I felt the Holy Spirit give me specific passages of Scripture about how God was going to get me through this time, as well as how life is going to be on the other side. I read these over every day and they helped to form my identity through the trial. I know my value, self-worth and identity is not found in another person, so therefore it doesn’t decrease or change just because somebody has hurt me.
3. Have an attitude of gratitude - even when it’s really hard
I embraced the positive things that remained in my life; things that had seemingly been overlooked in the past, like the sight of the flowers, trees and water around my favourite walk, or the sounds of the birds singing their seasonal songs. Having an attitude of gratitude and focusing on the positives in life, as hard as it may be, enabled me to still appreciate and enjoy life in a different way, through my process of navigation of the most painful circumstances.
4. Choose your travelling companions wisely
Draw close to friends and family who will walk with you, lift you up, input positively into your life. If they can help you to find laughter in each day, that’s a bonus! I am grateful that I have my immediate family members were able to talk and laugh with me each day of my journey. I am also fortunate that in my workplace (a Christian school), I’m surrounded by people who are not only my colleagues, but also my friends. What I quickly became aware of, was that others were also going through difficult times… We were able to support one another as we shared life‘s journey.
5. Forgive and be free - see things from a different perspective and gain compassion for both sides
God has taught me about forgiving out of the place of overflow. I feel like I have been forgiven, and still continually are forgiven, for so many things in my life, therefore I should also extend that to others. God forgives me for so much, so who am I to withhold forgiveness, even if it is me to whom the offence has been committed. The verse Romans 12:21 ‘Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good’ kept coming into my mind along this journey, and I found it empowering to still show mercy and kindness in bleak situations.
My value, self-worth and identity is not found in another person, so therefore it doesn’t decrease just because somebody has hurt me. I learned that holding another person to be responsible for my self-worth and value was not going to serve me well, as people are going to make mistakes.
Reading Scriptures about turning from anger and not being bitter really helped me when I was feeling angry and frustrated. I just kept trusting that if I did what God's Word told me to then I would be ok… I look at my life now, and I am genuinely happy and enjoying my life as a solo person again.
This storm has moulded and shaped me even more into the woman who God has created me to be. God is teaching me so much about myself and who I am in Him. I feel like the superficial layers have been stripped back and I am understanding who I am to the core.
While I lost my husband, my marriage, some friends, and a whole lot of unnecessary superficial stuff, I have gained a new perspective on life, a far deeper relationship with God and a fulfilling social life with loyal friends and family. I embrace it all and recognise that life is a journey… I try to enjoy each day for what it is along the way… Giving Glory to God for good things, relying on His grace for my shortcomings, and trying to encourage others along the way.