Rarely are your plans and God’s purpose for your life synonymous.
“I hope the cancer comes back and kills you.”
I didn’t know how to respond, other than my then-habitual eyeroll and flat, emotionless “Whatever.” Truthfully, X’s comment lacerated my soul.
Newly enlisted in the 40’s club, life was supposed to start making sense. Have purpose, meaning, using my life experience for good. Building the 401k. Going on exotic vacations and eating food with names difficult to pronounce. Right? I mean, 40 was the new 37 and we should have been killin’ it!
Instead I was sick, bald, exhausted and scared. For months I survived chemotherapy and a failing marriage. Not to mention a tenuous relationship with my teenage daughter that continued to disintegrate by the day. What was happening to my life??
Have you ever been in the presence of the enemy? Not just know he’s around and lurking, but actually FELT it and been witness to him incarnate? I don’t believe X to be evil in his soul; however, I believe he was being used as a vessel during that time. You see, I know God has plans for my life and the enemy will do all he can to derail that train. Certainly something malicious took over and the darkness was visible through the windows of his eyes.
It was terrifying. And it made me angry.
The jig was up that day and there was no return.
Don’t get me wrong ~ I lashed out many times and used my tongue as a vicious weapon. I’ve done it all my life. I’ve had to beg forgiveness, in hopes the damage wasn’t irreparable. I am not blameless nor will I ever be: I am a sinner. Thankfully I serve a merciful, loving and gracious God.
There is something about the trials of life. When the outer façade is dismantled and the real you is revealed. Recently, in an effort to encourage a friend, I stated “Trials of life strip us down to the barest of our souls and God rebuilds us from what’s left.”
Cancer. Divorce. Loss. Financial devastation. Self-doubt and loathing. Rage. Disappointment. Sadness.
This was not the end of my road. It was just a stop on my journey where I had to unpack some things in my life that didn’t serve God’s purpose for my future. It was confusing for sure. But He met me there. And my next steps led me back to Him.
I’ve had to learn to give those feelings to God because I’m not meant to carry them. That’s not to say they don’t creep back in and drop down my cheeks. Hot streaks of shame, uncertainty and deep, painful hurt. I allow myself five minutes to mourn the life I had imagined, then lay my anguish at His feet.
It’s in those times I’ve taught myself to pray for X. For his happiness. For God to bless him in ways that can only be attributed to God’s hand. I’m sure you’ve heard it said that forgiveness isn’t for the other person ~ it’s for you. And it’s true. Unforgiveness is heavy and tiring. I had to lay it down on the side of the road if I was going to move forward. I refused to be defined by this stop on my journey, nor was God going to leave me there.
I was struggling through a dark, difficult season. Brokenhearted. Downtrodden. In a valley. If you’re there, take courage. God sees you. He hears you. He loves you. He will meet you there.
He is the God of mountains AND valleys.
“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” ~ Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)